I look at The Little Mermaid on Nintendo, and how it is both easy and fun, compare it to the Game Boy game, the Genesis game, and do a brief look at some weird anime based on The Little Mermaid, and try to find the live-action version I watched as a child. Plus, watch me go on many tangents of all the variations.

      So come with me on an adventure under the sea!

      10:23 – Little Mermaid Video Game Starts

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Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse NA Version (JP & EU use the same photo)

      Mickey, Goofy, & Donald are playing catch with Pluto, when Pluto chases a ball into the forest. Goofy goes to look for him, and when he doesn’t return, Mickey goes after both of them. I guess Donald (shown only in silhouette) was happy to let you all die. He’s written out of the script except for that cameo in the beginning cinematic.

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      Taking control of Mickey, you learn the controls before running into a Wizard’s house who tells you he saw Pluto taken away by Emperor Pete’s forces. He tells you to give up looking for your dog, but when you refuse, he decides to help you by spreading helpful boxes across the land. He will also give you some powerful costumes later.

      Control wise, you can jump on enemies and make then dizzy. While dazed, you can pick them up and chuck them like a Koopa shell to take out more enemies, and you don’t have to worry about it hurting you if it bounces back. You can also pick up blocks and toss them the same way, but you must be facing the right or left of the block to grab it; it won’t work if you are above or below it. You can’t hold enemies or blocks out in front of you to prevent damage, either; all enemies and projectiles go through it and hit you, so you have to throw them. You also need to pay attention to which blocks you need to jump on so you don’t accidentally remove a platform you need, otherwise you have to walk about 3 screens back then return to get the block to reappear. You can pluck fruit seeds from the background and throw them, then they suddenly develop wings and fly up. You have a brief window to jump up and hold onto them before they take off. Once you grab hold, it flies diagonally upward in the direction you are facing.

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Mickey flies through the air, waiting for the flying chickens to run into him.

      Coins can be used to buy items at the item shop. The shop has hearts to refill your life, an extra life, energy for your costumes, items that cut the costume meter in half, and a heart container that allows you to get hit one more time for the rest of the game. You can also collect some items for a score, but the score does nothing in the game since you have unlimited continues.

      As the 2nd level begins, you are given a magic turban. Select the Turban icon with the L or R button (the game doesn’t pause) and then change into it with A. Mickey goes behind a curtain, then comes out changed and ready to do battle. Your turban allows you to swim underwater easier and faster, and also fires energy shots, but you have a meter for it that makes it’s use limited. You can also charge the shot for up to 4 different blasts. You can eventually buy an item at the shop to be able to use it twice as much, but it’s so expensive it will be a while before you can afford it.

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At the beginning of the 3rd level, you get the Firefighter costume. This allows you to shoot water from your hose. In addition to hitting enemies, it can also put out fires (which only happens in level 3) and move blocks (even blocks in the air) to get into holes or jump to other platforms.

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In the 4th level, you get the Climber’s Outfit. This is a grappling hook that allows you to swing along the ceiling and even pull yourself up onto any platform above you. It has no meter and can be used indefinitely. You can pull enemies and blocks to you, also. When you die, your meter for all your costumes goes back to full.

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      Mickey’s Magical Quest is a very easy game, but that’s understandable since it stars Mickey Mouse, a character for younger children. Also, it doesn’t penalize you for anything, which is good. You have unlimited continues to start at each sub-level, your meter goes back to full after every life, and you don’t lose any of your coins when you die.

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Mickey Vs Emperor Pete

      The bosses are pretty large and also very fun. The most annoying battle was a giant bird, as you had to sense when it would fly at the screen, then quickly dodge the enemies on the ground and jump up and hold onto a ring. If you failed, it was an instant death. The toughest part of the main game came in Level 1-2, where you must run on top of a falling ball to prevent yourself from falling into spikes. However the ball changes in speed constantly, so sometimes you’re trying to keep up with it, only to run off it as it slows and you fall into the chasm below. Easily the most annoying part of the game, but luckily it only happens once.

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You have to grab one of the two floating blocks by quickly switching into your Climber’s Gear,
or else it’s instant death for you.

      After each boss, a ghost of Pete flies away, indicating he was controlling them. Finally, you face Emperor Pete, who is extremely large. You don’t want to touch him at all, or use the Firefighter Outfit, as Pete responds by using an attack that is harder to dodge. In just about 2-3 hours, my first adventure with Mickey was already over. There were a few parts here and there where you die a few times before just using trial and error to solve it, but with unlimited continues, it’s hard to complain of any difficulty.

      One of the most wasteful opportunities are the enemies. A few of them only show up 3-4 times on one screen total, and then never again. Why bother making an entirely new enemy just to only have it appear for a few seconds? They should have used them more or created a few more levels for more of them?

      That’s all there is to the game. There isn’t much else to describe.

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      Challenge: 9 out of 10
This was made to be simple, but there are a few times that the design made it obvious they forgot to dial it back, such as the ball run and instant death boss above. They also have a hidden heart container you can only get to with the Climber’s Gear, but it requires precision on something that’s hard to use swinging across a ceiling with no floor (so lot’s of instant death).

      Story: 3 out of 10
Sorry, but the Super Nintendo had been out for a bit now, and the story is very bare and just an excuse to play the game. They all least have the Wizard talking helpful exposition at the beginning of the game, but otherwise, he shows up to give you a costume, Goofy shows up to give you the Climber’s gear, and then you get an ending.

      Fun: 20 out of 20
Despite being easy in most parts, it’s still enjoyable to play. The use of throwing blocks and using the costumes makes for some variety to make it stand out from most other platforming games.

      Control: 9 out of 10
The game is really easy to learn. The only thing that is difficult to learn the controls for is the Climber’s Gear.

      Music: 7 out of 10
The music is very cheery and engaging, but only slightly below the quality that would want me to listen to it’s soundtrack on my own.

      Graphics: 10 out of 10
Everything looks bright and colorful. Every boss is very large and detailed. The backgrounds are well done and all enemies have many animation sets.

      Replay Value: 5 out of 10
The game is quick to play through. Because it’s over so quickly, you’ll most likely forget most of it and play it again some time later. Since the game doesn’t force you to play through it to the point of repetition and boredom, I can see it being picked up again and again.

      Extras: 2 out of 10
There is a cheat code to get every coin, heart, and costume at the very beginning, plus 990 seconds on the timer for every level.

Total Points: 65 out of 90

This is the shortest and easiest review I’ve written because there isn’t much to describe. Ultimately, Mickey’s Magical Quest is a game for younger kids, but also for those who just want a quick, one-night game that provides some fun and relaxation.

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Wolverine: Adamantium Rage (Super Nintendo Cover)

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Wolverine: Adamantium Rage (Super Nintendo Back Cover)

      Another superhero video game. Now, Wolverine: Adamantium Rage was released on the Super Nintendo. On previous Super Nintendo outings he teamed up with Spider-Man in Arcade’s Revenge, then the X-Men in their game, and now he finally gets a game all to himself. However, what occurred was an absolutely horrible game that is largely unplayable. Which is really sad, because all the elements of a good game are clearly here.

      I will only be reviewing the Super Nintendo version; I won’t be comparing it to the Genesis version, which is a different game entirely and made by a different studio. Bits Studios (responsible for the awful Spider-Man 2 & 3 Game Boy titles) made the Super Nintendo version, whereas Teeny Weeny Games made the Genesis version.

      You are Wolverine. You are breaking into Xavier’s computers when you find there is a message directly sent to you. How did this happen? Who cares. It’s time to go to Canada and cut people up. Wolverine: Adamantium Rage is a very unusual beast. Just look at the controls page in the Instruction Manuel.

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      Did you see that? Please tell you noticed it, too. Wolverine has around 20 different moves. You would think this would make for a very entertaining game. Well, let’s describe the moves in theory anyway before worrying about the execution.

      Next, let’s look a Super Nintendo controller. You will need to see this to understand just how the controls on this game work.

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The 2 buttons at the top are ‘L’ and ‘R’.

      Ok, now here is the gist of it. Ignore the “Crouch and Slash” (Box #4), as I never did it. You can punch, good for trapping people against a wall so they can’t attack back, but mostly for punching in close combat rather than using the claws (yes, I just said that about Wolverine, who is famous for his claws). Ignore the Throw A Backhand (Box #6), because you really aren’t going to try and punch behind you; enemies move too quickly to switch your brain to use your other hand to be able to use that (plus they will run through it due to the awful hit detection explained later).

      You can Kick by pressing Y, but look at “Throw A Front Kick” (Box #10). You have to hit Y, then hit Up afterward. That could not be more awkward. Nothing is ever stationary for this to work. “Attach To A Wall” (Box #11) sound complicated, but it’s just jumping with the B button, then selecting X to stick to the wall. To jump to the adjacent wall, hit jump (B), and Wolverine automatically jumps to the wall and attaches himself to it. Be Warned: Hit anything else and Wolverine falls, and you aren’t allowed to control anything or try to stick to the wall again on the way down. So basically, it’s annoying is what I’m trying to say.

      “Forward Dive” (Box #12) is the Up button. Why? You jump forward. Is this for avoiding close combat situations? You accidentally hit this button all the time trying to do other moves and it will sometimes throw yourself off a cliff. Luckily there are no platforming segments that lead to instant death (most of the time). “Slash With Claws” (Box #15) is the R button, and what you will be using the most. It’s the most effective weapon. “Claw Uppercut” (Box #17) says you must first crouch by selecting Down, then hit A. This is useful for flying enemies that are too high to attack. To attack people in the air, you have to press ‘Down’, then press ‘B’ to jump while still holding the Down button. Wolverine will jump upwards, and you must hit ‘X’ as you jump in the air to strike with your claws. However, it has to be very precise. Since only the tips of your claws do damage once they are fully extended (read that again to see how broken the controls are), it will look like your claws and body went right through an enemy and no damage will occur. You end up waiting for the bad guy to fly higher so you can actually hurt him, while trying not to get hit from his fireballs.

      Now read the bottom text of the moves page; there are even more moves than present. The 1st special move is done by pressing R and A. It looks like a normal backhand punch, but then the punch swings forward. You can even do it while running. And though you can hit people close to you, good luck hitting them after they’ve already hit you, because once you are hit, your attack animation is halted and you don’t follow through with the move. This is the slowest move in the game, so you’re not ever going to use it. The 2nd special move involves crouching first, then selecting X, and then selecting A right after. You must hit X first, otherwise he just punches someone. If done correctly, you will stand up and hold both hands outward with your claws extended. This is intended to hit enemies to the left and right of you. I can’t mention this anymore without telling you that it doesn’t work. I tried this ability many times, and often, enemies just causally walk through your claws because of how poorly designed the hit detection is. This secret attack actually becomes essential on Lady Deathstrike. There is an open electrical wire, and if you perform this 2nd special move on it, you will have electricity all over your body for 2 seconds. Lady Deathstrike will lose 15% of her health if she runs into you. If you attack her normally, every attack only does 1% damage.

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Oh my god, guys, I actually made a direct attack. I might actually have a chance. *dies*

      This is the real problem of the game; hit detection. Seriously, the massive list of moves and the inventive idea with electricity on Wolverine’s claws is a good idea, but they all fail because of the hit detection. YOU HAVE TO HIT THE ENEMY AT THEIR FIRST WALL OF PIXELS ON THEIR BODY WITH YOUR FIRST PIXEL ON YOUR CLAW/PUNCH/KICK. Even then, you only hit them with your attack ONCE YOUR ATTACK ANIMATION IS COMPLETE. If an enemy is already walking toward you and walks past the tip of your claws in the middle of your attack, he will take no damage, because the tip of the claws only damage him when they are fully extended. And now the enemy is right beside you and can attack. This…this is a major problem.

      The other, significantly major problem is attacking people already running inside you. When an enemy and you share the same space, neither of you hurt each other with your bodies. However, your attack will never hurt them, AT ALL. I’m not joking. You have to run away from them, turn around, hope they didn’t follow you, and then attack, but only if they are far enough away. You can try to run, turn around, run, then jump kick, but this isn’t how a game should be played for every enemy, and you will still miss because your flying kick must be pixel specific on a moving target. Does that sound like fun? Also, you run too fast and the screen jerks too quickly to follow you when doing so, making it hard to time your return attacks because you have to attack BEFORE the enemy appears on screen in most instances.

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Darn it. Now that I missed he’ll start runing back and forth in my character model shooting at me,
reducing my health, while I have to run away, turn around,
and wait to predict his movements so that I can strike at just the right time.

      Also, due to the poor hit detection, your regular fists are better than using your claw in some instances. You can punch a ninja to death by trapping him in a corner. But, if you try the claws, they often fail to hit and just make you get attacked. Your regular punch should not be better than your claws. You are Wolverine!

      And yes, cheat I did. After failing about 10 times on the 2nd level where you fight Tri-Fusion, I had to use a password. You have to fight 3 bosses at once, with no chance to heal. And each boss has completely different attacks, and they randomly teleport and exchange places with each other constantly. The worst is that the hit detection is poor here, you are always hit by an unblockable 4-armed swordsman, and the giant has a ground pound which is impossible to time to jump over. In Level 3, I failed to defeat Lady Deathstrike before the time limit. I was making my special move to extend my claws toward electricity to hurt her (as stated above), but Lady Deathstrike will come toward you, shoot her hand at you, and stop your attack. It is very rare that she will run right into you. And when she attacks, she deals you a lot of damage. You can hide on the top floor to heal, but that wastes time and just brings Elsie Dee, who kills you instantly and gives you a game over. Also, you have to be extremely precise because of the hit detection I mentioned before. If Wolverine becomes electricity and Lady Deathstrike runs through your claws before they stop extending, she runs right up to you and attacks you. So, good luck.

      On yeah, did I forget to mention the time limit? You have half an hour to get through each stage, (through there is 1 instance where you start a bomb and have to get out quickly independent of this). Also, every time you die, the timer keeps going. Unfairly, the timer is hidden, so you never know how long you have. I had to look up on the internet (not the manual) to find out that it is 30 minutes for each level. So if you die a lot and finally get to the boss, you might find a small girl in red clothing flying toward you (you only get a 15 second warning before she appears). But, because of how awkward the controls are, you won’t avoid her. She touches you and and it’s an instant Game Over, regardless of how many lives you have left.

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The worst level is the maze level, with multiple flipping doors where the switches are hidden throughout the level, and each door flips to make you travel horizontal or vertical onto a different path; leading to a headache of a level when you have a time limit.

      I only played through the rest of the game on a Game Genie. I gave myself infinite health, but the time limit remained. I still died 3 times this way before beating this game.

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      Story: 2 out of 10

It tries at a story, but it’s really just a cutscene that leads to the next boss, who is behind an entire level to get to, who leads to a next boss that was controlling them. You start off in Weapon X fighting robots. You go to Japan to fight ninjas (The Hand). You do into a drug-induced hallucination to fight supernatural things like a dragon. You fight mercenaries on a roof in Toyko. You go to the Hellfire Club. You end in a sewer as the final two levels. Yes, a sewer level.

Why does Shinobi Shaw have a Data file, but he isn’t a boss you can battle? You never find out why he wants to kill Wolverine (or why the mystery boss wants to kill Wolverine, either). Shaw points at you for Fugue to attack you, and she is the boss in the next level, too. Why isn’t Shaw the next boss? His variety would have helped, but then no one most likely made it this far without cheating. Also, it’s weird that the plot seemed to be Shaw planned everything, only for the big reveal to say it was The Great Beast (the leader of The Hand) for a giant Deus Ex Machina boss fight.

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Sebastion Shaw; he gets a Data File despite only appearing once to command Plague to attack you.

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The final boss, The Great Beast, leader of The Hand. He felt easy, but then I was cheating.

      Music: 3 out of 10

The opening theme is actually really catchy. I tend to like it, and it gets stuck in your head. However, the rest of the game is weird synth music that isn’t memorable and feels out of place for the game. It’s really upbeat for a game about killing everyone in your path.

      Graphics: 6 out of 10

The graphics are one of the only high points of the game. The variety of the backgrounds in the levels is really well done, and they all have a distinct look. Enemies change from level to level, and most bosses all have interesting looks and abilities. However, nothing really stands out.

      Challenge: N/A

The game is hard, but not on purpose. If the hit detection worked, you’d have a huge challenge incorporating all these fighting move into the game and it would be fun and challenging, with only occasionally awkward controls. However, since the game is always awkward and hit detection is broken beyond belief, I can’t even give it a worthwhile consideration of points.

      Fun: 5 out of 20

Ok, it might not seem like it, but I had fun the first 2 hours. However, as I went on, I got frustrated at boss after boss and angry at the controls. Later, when I used Game Genie, it was only fun half the time because the hallucination level that contained monsters had enemies that took forever to kill. You end up repeating the same patterns over and over with them.

      Replay Value: 2 out of 10

It would be fun to play again with a Game Genie in the far, far future, but otherwise I’d never play it again the way it’s normally supposed to be played. It’s cool to place on my shelf and look at, but mainly serves as a game for me to warn others against playing.

      Extras: 4 out of 10

I gave it 2 points for the Character Profiles, and 2 for the password system. You can look up the info for all the villains in the game. Now, I was a reader of X-Men, but I didn’t recognize any of these villains except Lady Deathstrike (I thought Shinobi Shaw was Sebastian Shaw at first). Maybe this was a 90’s thing, but I read X-Men in the 90s and watched the cartoon, and I still recognized no one, so I suspect that most of the characters are from Wolverine’s actual solo series.

      Bonus Points

+5 Points – Trickery

The game really sets you up for thinking you are going to play a good game. You see this list of moves, character lists of all the bosses who are from the comics, the manual was really well presented for fans, and you are also introduced to that cool opening Wolverine song that gets you ready for the cool game you think you are about to play. So, it deserves some credit for it’s preparation, even if the execution never worked.

Final Points: 24 out of 80

I don’t know what else to say. I actually enjoyed playing the first level, but all enjoyment was destroyed by the 2nd level boss (actually 3 bosses) which were nearly impossible. Yes, I was enjoying what was a horrible game because it takes a really bad game for me to realize it’s a bad game. I was giving this game more of a chance than most because I usually enjoy everything, and then it came to a screeching halt. I wanted to like this game. There is obviously lots here that should work. If you removed that stupid jump-the-way-I’m-facing jump Wolverine does when you hit the Up button, and actually made it so that you could hit enemies anywhere on their body, and could hit them during the animation movements, the game would actually be fun. I wonder if someone good at hacking roms could do this?

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Spoiler: Wolverine returns to the mansion thinking he’s about to be attacked,
but it’s really a Welcome Home Party. Check out Bishop’s crazy face

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Granstream Saga – North American Cover

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Japanese Version (the Euro version just has more logos blocking the art)

      Grandstream Saga is an exciting action/adventure game with some RPG elements.

      In the world of Grandstream, there was a war between the Imperial Wizardry (evil) and Allied Spirit Army (good). The Imperial Wizardry used a weapon both sides had agreed not to use, but weapon was miscalculated, and it shifted the axis of the world, causing the ice caps to be on the equator, melt, and flood the world. Before the world was destroyed, 4 Wise Men created 4 gems and created 4 flying continents. Every few decades, these gems must be recharged or the continents slowly sink toward the water below.

      It is now 100 years later, and the wise men’s descendants are missing. Your home continent of Shilf is slowing descending toward the water. Your father is cutting off parts of the flying island to slow its decent. However, Eon (you) spots a bird’s nest on the falling piece of land and risks his life to save it.

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I was busy risking my life to save baby birds so the player knows I’m pure of heart.

      What later starts out as a search for a missing boy leads you to discover your powers to recreate items from scraps with a magic bracelet you’ve had since you were born. It never displayed any magic until now. From there, you learn the Imperial Wizardry never truly died. They have kidnapped the wise man’s descendant, Arcia. You smuggle yourself about a pirate ship that’s going to trade with them to try and rescue her. It is there you meet Laramee and her spirit bird Korby. Laramee helps you board the Imperial ship, as she is inspired by your heroism to save someone you’ve never even met. It is on this mission the stakes are raised, as you learn you must seek out a magic verse for Arcia to sing at each continent to recharge the magic of the continents to keep them afloat before all of humanity is extinguished forever.

      But first, in the middle of that story, something rare happen (for American video games of this time). You are smuggled into a treasure chest placed in Laramee’s room, and you open it up to see this:

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There is no nipple, so it’s not nudity.

      I don’t know how this was approved during translation. But, the game is really G rated, with only some serious themes popping up at the very end, but they made sure you knew this scene was there; it’s even on the back of the game box.

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      The characters have fun interactions together. Kobry the spirit has a fun antagonist relationship with Laramee, and he has many comedic conversations with Eon (especially if you try to search through a bonfire for secret items). The tone is very good at mixing a light-hearted feel between the characters with serious disastrous events going on (the storyline about the religious cult on the 2nd island being my favorite story). The last dungeon quickly gets very serious, and not every character walks away from this game alive.

      You have an overhead map screen. You can rotate the map in any of the 8 compass directions. I usually just keep it pointing straight North. Your character actually walks relatively fast, so I already like that I don’t have to take forever to get anywhere.

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      You can wander around towns and talk to people, and sometimes you need to talk to a particular person to progress the plot. In addition, there are items shops which you can use to buy herbs to heal your Life Points, and Magic to increase your Magic Points (both are always slightly random, but you learn to figure out the average the more you use them). You heal and save games in churches, and healing yourself is free. There are weapon shops, but for some reason, something always prevents you from buying items at them in each town. The reason for this is because you have to find all the weapons in the game yourself, so they pretty much just exist to screw with you and your RPG expectations.

      The is an action game. When you run into an enemy on screen, you quickly go into a battle screen (it is only 1 second by the way—-no long loading times). The screen expands for battle, but it adds some black barriers to prevent you from going too far away (you can never run away from battles; one of you has to die). You hit Circle to block, and you can block attacks and take no damage. However, if an enemy’s weapon starts to glow purple, they can break through your block; you need to dodge or attack them quickly to interrupt them.

      Another fun and helpful ability is that when you block, your character automatically faces the villain no matter where he goes on the screen. If you aren’t blocking, the enemy can move left and you will still be staring at a wall unless you turn around.

      Your movements are slower now in battle compared to when you were walking. Luckily, you can tap the control stick in any direction to make a fast dash out of the way. Sometimes you can dash a few times to get behind an enemy who is blocking to attack them where they are unprotected.

      You hit Square to cast magic and X to attack with your weapon. You can chose between a dagger (low damage, fast speed), a sword (average damage, average speed), and an axe (high damage, slow speed). Along the way, each weapon will obtain 3 different secret buttom move combinations that must be input with 3 button input on the control stick followed by the attack button (but enemies can still block it). It makes your sword glow purple followed by a 2 or 3 prong attack. It is really useful to use these to save time when fighting enemies with really large heath bars, as each enemy (and you) have multiple EP bars, which each represent a full Life Bar. When one life bar is gone, you lose one EP and another full Life Bar appears. Luckily, if you only have 5 hit points left in your life bar, and are dealt 100 hit points of damage, you will only lose 5 Hit Points; the damage doesn’t carry over to the next EP bar. The only exception to this when you attack the enemy with YOUR super move (so, a trade-off for them being able to block your super-moves).

      Some enemies have a shield like you do, preventing all damage with a block (they even block your super moves, which you can’t do). Luckily, after a few swings, you can knock an enemies’ shield off, but you have to be quick to stand between them and the shield. If the enemy is near the border of the screen, the shield will just fall right under them and they will pick it up immediately, so it’s best to lure them near the center of the battlefield.

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You really start to hate all enemies with shields (yes, I know he doesn’t have one).

      You have to learn each enemies’ weakness. For instance, in the first dungeon, the metal guards should be attacked with the dagger, because you can kill them without getting hit because you’re too fast for them. But with later guards in that level, you should never use an axe because they are too fast to ever land in a hit.

      You can also run…at the enemy. If you run directly at the enemy, you can temporarily stun him, even if they have their shields up. However, you have to back up quite a bit, which will prompt them to use their long range attack. You have to study their movements and wait for the right opportunity to use this. This is the most useful skill in the game in my opinion.

      The game is very challenging, too. I was always low on healing herbs and magic replenishment. It felt tense not knowing when the end was, and if you had enough energy or herbs for the enemy battles. Each battle is a risk, especially when you don’t know their movements and weaknesses for the weapons or how big the dungeon is. Money is also scarce, so you can’t go battling creatures for money because money is rare (which makes you struggle with what to buy at the shops)

      However, one thing I hated was a dungeon you teleport to that you can never go back into. I forgot a sword there that I can never get again. I actually reset the game and replayed the first 3 hours to get it because it gave me 3 attacks at once instead of 2, and I didn’t feel like playing through the game on a harder difficulty.

      My most hated enemy (in the first dungeon, by the way) was the turtle-like creatures with blades for hands. Not only are they faster than you and anyone else in the game, they have twice the range, charge at you with spinning blades, and jump over you when you’re about to attack. They take a long time and are very annoying. Luckily, I can shoot them with fire three to kill them (when I actually have some magic power).

      You will get magic throughout the game, but you have to actively seek it out, and some are purchased at a shop by buying a mysterious stone. You have spells for outside battle such as teleporting back to the front of the dungeon, healing, and freezing an enemy so you can move by them. You also have battle magic, which is the normal fire, ice, and lighting type attacks, but you also get spells to temporarily increase your defense and attack power. However, some enemies later in the game block spells as easily as regular attacks, but luckily the early enemies can’t so well.

      Another odd departure from traditional RPGs is that you don’t level up after a certain number of battle victories, but at certain parts of the game. There is no need to fight everything in sight. The game can be much shorter if you do this.

      Interestingly, no one has faces. Their character models have really detailed clothes, but they have no facial features, those are left to the anime portraits that appear when some of them talk. This game was apparently one of the first video game to use fully polygonal backgrounds (instead of 2D backgrounds) Also, anime cutscenes are shown at many parts of the game. I really enjoyed these.

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Notice how no one has a face on their character models.

      The game rewards exploration. You must look everywhere to find better weapons. Usually, you’ll be fighting tough enemies, and finally, 75% of the way through the dungeon, you’ll find a fire sword that makes fighting the ice enemies in that dungeon much easier. Getting to defeat them in less time after taking a long time to defeat them previously feels very satisfying.

      Music: 10 out of 10

The music from the first level stuck in my head after the game. As I played further, I realized I actually wanted the soundtrack to this game. The music changes to match the tone of each level (for the towns and the dungeons).

      Challenge: 10 out of 10

It’s a medium challenging action adventure, and feels that way pretty much from beginning to end. It never really spikes to too easy or hard.

      Fun: 20 out of 20

I was pretty addicted to this game. The battles were fun and challenging, making every single enemies a challenge rather than a ‘Tap A To Attack And Win’ fight.

      Control: 10 out of 10

The controls are simple, and being able to use your dash in any direction really helps in battles. The three weapon types all have their own feel to them, as does each magic spell. I never had any problem with the controls interfere with my enjoyment.

      Graphics: 8 out of 10

The graphics are really bright and everything stands out very well. Everything is

      Extras: 0 out of 10

There are 2 secrets. One is finding the hidden shopkeeper who will only sell you things in Bronze, Silver, or Gold (items you get from treasure chests throughout the game), but he can give you better weapons when you need them. The 2nd secret is one I hated. You see, I forgot one important part of the game that I skipped in the actual game. When you defeat an enemy without getting hit and without using magic, you get a Specter Force. If you open it, it’s a weak item. But, if you chose to copy it, you then can try and defeat the next enemy without getting hit. Hidden this way are 6 Spirit Cards

I gave up on this after an hour or so of frustration. You have to do this 8 times to get the last card. However, getting any of the other 5 cards is random. If you unlock the 5th Scepter Force, for instance, you get one of 5 items, only one of which COULD contain the card for the 5th time. Most enemies are impossible to fight without getting hit at least once or twice, even with better weapons and armor. Luckily, you can skip this, and it does nothing to hinder you in the game.

      Replay Value: 2 out of 10

Unfortunately, this is where the game struggles. After you’ve beaten the game, you’ve played all there is and there are no real side quests. Granted, it’s about 30 – 35 hours, but this is one of those games you play once, and then maybe you’ll play it again in 5 years once you’ve forgotten how cool it was.

      Bonus:

      +10 Anime Cut Scenes

I really liked the anime cutscenes. They brought more life into the characters and showed them with more emotions than the text could. Not to mention adding energy to some high-intensity scenes.

Total Score: 70 out of 90

      One thing I have to mention, though, is it’s focus on story. There is a lot of dialogue in the game. So much so that I felt that I only participated in battles about 50% of the game. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just different. The characters are interesting, but their interactions with each other are what is actually the fun part of the game. I thought the story was different than most RPG’s I had played before, and in the end, the game even takes a dramatic twist that you didn’t see coming (but it makes sense in retrospect given some of the plot and character backgrounds that have been spliced into the story up to that point). I was satisfied with both endings (but liked one better) once I finally defeated the boss and overall enjoyed the game enough that I would recommend it. It wasn’t very popular over here upon release, so it is very cheap (under $10.00) when you can find it.


Slayzer: The Stupid Brother Of Laramee

      I hate Slayzer. He is an idiot. He destroys 3 of the 4 orbs needed to power the flying islands because he thinks I’m going to use the power for control, even though he OVERHEARD OUR ENTIRE CONVERSATION about the continents falling into the sea and that the orbs are needed to kep them (and all humans everywhere) afloat. You find much later he wanted them destroyed so that the balance of the world could return to normal, but, seriously, there is no normal and it couldn’t be again; all 4 islands would go under the sea, everyone would die, and there would be no humanity or land. This is where I would put curse words if I could.

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*This review tied for 1st place in VideoGameGeek’s monthly video game review contest for June 2013. The theme was Over 18.*

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      Hydrophobia was released on the PC, and later for the Playstation 3 with an enhanced version. This is a review of the Playstation 3 Version (it is digital only, and has no physical edition). Note: This game was not used with a Motion Controller.

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Start Menu

      Hydrophobia takes place in a city where you are an engineer with the night off. The world is celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the Queen of the World (a giant ship that houses an entire city), with advertisements of NanoTech in the background (a group who wants to make food for everyone). This immediately reminded me of Journeyman Project, where you roam around your room before a big event, only for a huge catastrophe to happen. Of course, said catastrophe does happen.

      You play as Kate Wilson. You start in your apartment and can explore as much as you like, and even find some hidden objects. All are useless for the game, but they all have a story, which lets you learn more about the character before you begin, such as a picture of her graduation, a letter from her dad, as well as a book with a brief summary of this future world. Your character’s electronics suddenly stop working, so you set out to see your co-worker, Scoot, and fix the problem, only for an explosion to happen while you are on an elevator. You find nothing but chaos on the floors below; everything is damaged, and you find terrorists (Malthusians) have invaded. The story of who they are and the world you are in itself is actually really clever, and is more exciting in the game to experience as they unfold (even though, technically, your character knows this already).

      The game starts out with you running around a ship’s deck in 3rd person, and your co-worker Scoot will talk to you to tell you where you need to head to get out alive and where to manually alter some doors (someone on the inside gave the terrorist’s the computer codes and they have all been reset). There is a 3 dimensional map to help you find your way. This map can be flipped in every single direction and zoomed in and out to find the path you need to take. You can also convert it into a ¾ perspective map.

      The explosions around the area have unleashed water around you; the visuals of the water are the best I have seen from any game, and the mechanics of this are very well designed, also. Sometimes, you will open a door, which will only partially flood the room. Then, another door will flood the room entirely. The water even leaves the room if you open a door to a room which held no water in it. The water effects and the reality of it make for a very fun game, but also terrorize you, because you never know when, at any moment, the entire room will flood while you try to find the exit.

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The room is only partial flooded here, enough to leave flammable gas vents to tend with.

      Once the room is flooded, you have 15 seconds to find an exit, or you will drown. What is great about it is, before the water comes, there will be music, and sound effects of creaking pipes and electrical problems; but once the water engulfs you, you hear it all stop, and the only thing you can hear is your arms swimming through water and the ship creaking. This immerses you into the game, immediately tells you something is wrong, and you start to associate the complete removal of all those sound effects and music with “Oh crap; I need to find an exit before I drown. Where is it? Where is it!” It gets creepier; as you drown, it gets harder and harder to see where you are going , and you start to hear voices toward the end which sound like a little kid calling for help. This is made to make you panic and realize you are about to die, and you feel very relieved when you find land just a few seconds before death.

      Because of what I stated above, the game really draws you into the experience and makes you a part of the game. This is all your doing for an hour or two; no enemies in sight. Eventually, you find the terrorists and have to hide.

      Then, you find a gun, and the 2nd part of the game begins. This gun is a force gun, and pushes the enemies away. A few light blasts and the enemy falls over unconscious. If you charge it, however, you can unleash a large blast that can stun an enemy unconscious instantly. Shoot them while they are down and you will kill them (as they can get back up shortly). At times, you will be going from room to room, killing enemies. Also, you will be swimming in the water, killing enemies while under the water and trying not to drown (They will normally have underwater gear; you won’t). Luckily, your gun works the same under water as much as it does above it.

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Quick, hide behind the…glass?

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A better hiding place

      Later, you will find other weapons, but your default weapon is much better. The only things you will want to use are the grenades. The grenades that attach to the enemy and count down from 10 before exploding are really fun to use. You can ONLY use weapons, as Kate has no experience in hand-to-hand combat. To avoid enemy fire, you have a cover system to hide behind a wall, then release a button to appear briefly out in the open to take shots.

      Throughout the game, you will need to pull our your computer table (that is see-through) and use it to find hidden keycodes on the walls to get into other areas. In addition, the philosophical works of the terrorists’ inspiration are also hidden on the walls as well, and are just for world-building and getting 100% completion.

      Finally, you combine with a virus that doesn’t kill you, and it gives you complete control over water. This starts the 3rd and final part for the game. You can cause water to rise very high, and lift boxes with it. Yes, this means puzzles attempts; you must bring a box over electrified water so you don’t die of electrocution, for example. But, it is also useful for pushing back the enemies, and you can also slam boxes and explosives at them.

      There is a downside to your powers; the virus is slowly killing you. Occasionally, you must collect inoculations to keep the virus at bay; you suddenly become very sick and can only walk, the screen covering up with the virus to prevent you from figuring out where to go. You must find the inoculation quickly or die. Luckily, these are in exact scripted locations, and not on a timer, otherwise you’d be trying to speed through the game the whole time.

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Kate Wilson after being infected with the nanotech virus

      Unfortunately, I feel this part of the game is over too quickly, and I wanted to play more with these powers. There is a mini-game you unlock after beating the game where you are in a watery arena below and a metal grate upper level around the corners, and you must complete different challenges with your water-based powers. It’s a fun diversion after the game is over; though it can be frustrating until you learn a trick you can use on the AI. While on the catwalk, simply use your water-based powers to bring a box toward you near the corner and block one direction of the walkway completely off. Then bring another box to block the view below so no one can see and fire at you, leaving a medium sized hole on the other corner. Now, there is only 1 direction most enemies can fire at you, and you have a hidey hole should combat not go your way (as you will still need to go out and find the enemies sometimes due to the time limit).

      Another aspect of the game is hacking. This is done by putting your computer tablet (that doesn’t ever stop working from all the water) near a door and playing a mini-game. Here, you can the control the left axis to increase or shrink a wavelengths size, and the right button to change it’s distance between waves. You must make an exact match of the wavelength already on the screen. It’s not a bad mini-game, actually, and doesn’t overstay it’s welcome.

      Along with the same tablet you carry, you can see the world on a different frequency; the backgrounds look a different color, and there are words and graffiti from the terrorists, as well as arrows you can follow to the key you need. You can even find the entire teachings of the man that the terrorists follow. In addition, there are arrows and hidden key codes written on the wall. This serves two objectives, a way to find keys, and a way to show through the story that this was an inside job to leave clues for the terrorists once they got on board (a pretty good combo, I’d say).

      The game is mostly linear, and has a pick up and play at anytime feel to it, as all you have to do is see where you have to go on the map (if it wasn’t there, you could spend a long time backtracking the entire game for no reason).

      The only problem I had with the game were all the hidden items; and they were mostly memos (I found a bottle of depression pills I couldn’t use for some reason). I like the house items, as it reveals most of the character and is optionality if people want to skip it. However, the problem I have is looking for small hidden objects in a game that is hugely immerse and life-threatening at any moment. These collection items can completely kill the mood and bring you back to reality. When I realized I was running around an entire wall and every single computer to look for memos, I had broken out of the experience and just stopped collecting the items altogether.

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      Story: 10 out of 10

The story is told in pieces as you uncover it, through your characters room, the memos left my other employees and the terrorist themselves, books on the history of your world, the ship, and the terrorists, plus the hidden keys that actually tie into the plot of the game. The world around you is introduced slowly so it feels surprising. It gets more points not just for the original story, but for how it’s told.

      Graphics: 8 out of 10

This is an independent game, with pretty decent graphics. The water is the best part. However, since you are on a ship for most of the game, I was surprised at how different each room was from the other; with only 1 room being a copy of another. Also, the water tosses on your screen as you move, as if your TV was a real video camera in the water.

      Music: 10 out of 10

I don’t remember the music. Do you know what I do remember? The sound of nothing as I scourge a ship looking for survival from explosions, electricity, and fire as they all crackle around me. The sounds of my feet trashing through the water, the slowing down as I try to silently sneak up on someone, hoping they don’t heard my footsteps. The total abrupt silence of nothing but the ship creaking around me while I drown, my breath getting quicker and quicker the more my character thinks they will die, the screen getting brighter and thicker as my mind enters a hazy fog of death. No, it’s not just the music, it’s the combination of music absence, and sound effects, and how they are used, that make this work.

      Challenge: 8 out of 10

This game is really hard in some places on the Hard difficulty. On Normal, it is also fairly difficult. There is one part near the end that I think many people could have a problem with; the 2 symmetrical large rooms (separated by a middle underwater hallway). You have to contend with around 20+ people underwater shooting at you, and people on the balcony (who can hide in cover) shooting at you, twice.

      Fun: 18 out of 20

I enjoyed the hell out of this game.

      Controls: 9 out of 10

You scale pipes to climb to higher places. You pull out a gun to shoot at people. You also have some fun grenades you can throw at people. To switch guns or select grenades, you have to pause the game. Though I found that even in hard mode the Force Gun is still the best weapon.

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Climbing up pipes to get to a room on the floor above you; never has a video game done this before.

      Replay Value: 7 out of 10

Aside from going through the game again for the collectibles and medals/trophies, the game is still fun, but might lose some of the immersion when you know what’s coming and what to do.

      Extras: 3 out of 10

There is mini-game where you use your water control powers in a challenge room. It’s fun and frustrating.

      Bonus Points:

      + 2 / – 2 – Collectibles

I’m torn here, because on one hand, the collectibles really add to the world of the game, but on the other, they ruin the sense of immersion that this game is good at producing.

      +10 Immersion

Seriously, how often do you really feel a part of the game. You always feel like you’re going to drown, you’re on edge from falling and fighting enemies.

Total Points: 83 out of 90

      Hydrophobia: Prophecy, is a very entertaining game, and can be yours for a very cheap price. It’s also not very long and doesn’t need that much of a time commitment. I recommend it for people who want to know what it’s like to feel really immersed in a game.

      I really hope that Episodes 2 & 3 in the planned trilogy actually getting made.

      It’s hard to do the game justice with still pictures, even with a trailer here; you should skip to the 1 minute mark: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZceJsTwdcg

*This review won third place in VideoGameGeek.com’s monthly video game review contest (in which I got beat my by other review–Hydrophobia). The theme was any game rated M or above.*

Metal Gear Solid VR Mission

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Metal Gear Solid VR Missions – US Cover (The EU version is just zoomed in 25%)

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Back Cover

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Japanese Cover


      Metal Gear Solid had some VR missions being built around the game, but the designers had more ideas than would fit on the disc and decided to create a separate product for the VR missions. Thus, we have this.

      Inside, there is no instruction manual, just a small art paper that unfolds for TV warnings. Booting up the disc shows you a small movie with Solid Snake (the character you play) doing many of the VR missions you are about to experience (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmzUgBZZAe4).

      VR Missions is set up into 4 categories: Sneaking Mode, Weapon Mode, Advanced Mode, & Special Mode.

Weapon Mode & Advanced Mode

      In Weapon Mode, you are given only one of the weapons (of 8 total) along with a limited amount of ammo. You then must play through 5 levels for each gun and destroy all the targets (most of which move around). After you complete these levels, you can then complete for the fastest time in getting the level completed, where any extra ammo you have on you subtracts from your total time.

      Weapon Mode can be hard on occasion because you actually have to follow targets and watch their patterns. Only knowing where they will be at certain times will make it easier to plan when and where to shoot them so you can get them all destroyed quickly. Also, just because you have that weapon, doesn’t mean you can’t still use your hands.

      The format for Advanced Mode is the same as above, only now you fight against real people. To me, however, these humans made it easier than the targets to get the best time. For instance, on the Stinger level, the Targets come from all angles and you have to turn not only 360 degrees, but also look up and all around as the Targets fly all around the level, but the humans are on the same plane as you. Also, since Advanced Mode is people, you will get 3 seconds removed from your time if you complete the level without being seen. I will now describe each weapon and how they play for both sections since they are so similar.

SOCOM

      One of the more challenging weapons to use. You Hold the Circle button to have the gun auto-aim in front of you, then release it to fire a shot. To get the best times, you have to learn how to use this because every bullet counts, and if you misfire even 1, you can lose out on 1st place. Most targets take 3 shots, but I occasionally kept shooting 4, having to reply the level again. I don’t feel this weapon was made with timed attacks in mind. However, once I got to the human levels, I found it just a little bit easier.

C4

      You have a C4 Explosive that you can lay on the ground, and can then detonate later. Both the Target & Human levels of this are really fun and only slightly challenging.

FAMAS

      My most hated weapon in this game. It’s basically a machine gun that has no aim at all. You tap the Square button to fire, and hold it for rapid fire. You can auto-target automatically, just make sure to use the control stick and not the directional controls. It was the only human mission where I died before I could even get to the time trial.

      I really hate this weapon. It took me the longest to get that best times here. You basically have to cheat to win these levels. When the level starts, keep the X button held. You will now run while holding your weapon, and can fire, also. Just don’t release the X button and hit it again or you will go into a crawl position, immediately ruining your chances of a good time. I don’t understand why run and crawl were not separate buttons.

Grenades

      The Target levels are Medium to Hard and really need you to think and strategize how to plan the grenades and their explosions (as it takes 5 seconds after you throw it before it explodes). Oddly, these levels have the biggest gap between your score and 1st place, as I constantly found ways to improve the 1st place score by nearly a minute.

      Oh, but then you get to the Humans. This is the only level where the Human level is harder than the Target level. You sort of have to cheat, too, by preparing to throw a grenade, allowing yourself to get knocked to the ground. Why? When you are knocked down, you are temporarily invincible, so the grenades explosion won’t hurt you, but it can take out lots of enemies.

Claymore

      Place the Claymore mines on the ground (which are hidden from your view) so Humans and Targets explode when they get in front of it. If you have the mine detector (sometimes hidden in the stage) you can see the mines and what direction they are facing. You can also place them on the ground in front of you to have them explode the enemy instantly, but if a stray bullet moves you even slightly, or you tap the directional pad at all, you will walk in front it and explode, too. Though it is amusing that the AI doesn’t feel the need to move when they see you placing a mine. Both the Modes are really fun for this one, and not all that challenging (expect for the final Target level).

Nikita

      This is a missile that, once fired, you then control with the control pad. If it faces any direction for more than 2 seconds, it goes that direction as super-speed. You can also control it in first person, as well as make it explode whenever you want (useful when the target is just slightly out of reach).

      Next to the FAMAS, these levels are the most frustrating, especially the levels with corridors you have to navigate through. It’s hard to control to avoid the super-speed, so you end of wiggiling the rocket (which looks weird on screen) just to prevent an instant explosion into the wall, and in 1st person, it can be hard to tell if you’re too close to a corner.

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You must guide the missile up ramps to blow up the red box targets.

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      This is a sniper rifle that you must use in 1st person mode. Both modes are challenging, but not to hard. The Targets still require planning ahead to know where they will be.

Stinger

      This is one of the easiest weapons to use in both modes. You have a rocket launcher that is operated in 1st person, and it has an auto-target. Once the target locks, and you fire, you don’t have to watch the rocket hit your target, and you can immediately go to the next target.

Sneaking Mode

      There is also a Sneaking Mode, one I enjoyed a lot. It is split into 15 levels. You must do each level twice, once with No Weapon, and another with the SOCOM (both are timed). When in SOCOM, you must kill every enemy before the exit appears, but being seen instantly ends the mission. With No Weapon, the exit is already there, and you must get to it without being seen or the mission instantly ends (you don’t have to kill anyone, you can just hide and run to the goal).

      It’s a little hard, but not too difficult. Plus, you can cheat a little here too. You can throw a guard onto the ground, and still have 3 seconds before he gets up, and by then you could already be at the exit. Plus, it doesn’t count as being seen. This feels like cheating, but I feel the developers knew people would use this, as the times I got were only slightly near 1st place when doing things like this.

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Level 1 & Level 15 of Sneaking Mode

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Can you sneak past these 5 guards without being seen?;
Also, in Weapon Mode, you have to kill them all silently before the goal will appear.

Special Mode

      You have to unlock this mode by getting a certain number of the game complete. These levels are all really fun and have many different game types to play. Every missions is timed, except Mystery and 1 Minute Battles.

Mystery

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      Through 10 levels, you have to figure out the murderer in each one by looking at 1 of 3 suspects, and choosing the right culprit and dragging him to the exit. For instance, in one, a murderer has lost his glasses at the crime scene. You have to drag each suspect away from their standing position, and whichever one walks into the wall on his way back and knocks himself down is the killer.

Puzzle

      Ten (10) Puzzle based missions. These can be a tad frustrating. Some are hilarious, such as the one where you knock a guard so that he keeps knocking into all the other guards like dominoes, each falling off a ledge in the process. Some require thinking differently than you have been (or finding ways to abuse the game mechanics). The hardest was figuring out you have to plant C4 on the ground, then on a human. You have to explode it so he flies north, and once in the air, you have to explode the other grenade so it takes out the camera.

NG Selection

      Eight (8) completely random and strange missions, all of which are really fun and unusual, such as World’s Smallest Stage where you have to kill 1 soldier in a small 3 x 4 grid without being seen and fighting a UFO with a rocket launcher.

Variety

      Ten (10) completely different missions, such as throwing grenades and people into holes, punch-killing invisible soldiers, and fighting giant sized guards.

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You heard that last sentence right; giant guards. Not pictured: UFO battles.

1 Minute Battles

      You have 1 level for each Weapon I’ve stated before, as well as No Weapon, with each of these having two levels; 1 for Targets, 1 for People. The goal is to kill as many Targets or People within 1 minute to get first place.

Vs 12

      You start with a completely different weapon set and limited ammo for each level (You are only given 3 max of each weapon except for rare instances with the SOCOM), and must kill 12 people within a time limit. This is really hard to figure out as each weapon usually causes an alarm. One of the most frustrating categories.

VR Mission

      You have to complete 10 levels, back to back. You have to incorporate everything you’ve learned into these 10 missions and beat them all in 7 minutes to get first place. Having a few more combination missions like this would have been really fun.

Ninja

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As the Ninja, you can take all 3 of these guys out in 1 second

      These are 3 really fun levels where you control the Ninja and slice and dice your way through guadrs. The only thing that’s missing is that this would have been a lot more fun with just a few more levels.

     

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Final Breakdown

      Story: N/A

There isn’t one.

      Music: 2 out of 10

The music is repetitive, as you will hear the same background music for each individual mission, and the same sound effects at the beginning and start of each mission.

      Graphics: 5 out of 10

The graphics are just grid based for most of the levels. The only exception is a mystery level or two which takes place in a fully decorated room. Most graphics are just used from the main game, with nothing new really added. However, the graphics do look decent for what they are.

      Fun: 18 out of 20

This game is made just to test your reflexes and brain, and it’s really fun to do the main levels, and though occasionally frustrating to get the best times, is still worth the playthrough. I found myself liking the Special & Sneaking levels more than the ones with the weapons.

      Extra: 10 out of 10

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This is seriously a special feature; taking pictures of polygon girls.
The rumor of this game is that it’s only rated “M” because you can take a picture of her panties

Unlockables include, strangely, photography rooms. You have 3 rooms where you can photograph a girl at her desk, a girl standing, & another girl standing. You can get closer to her the more you play the game. I don’t really understand the point of this, especially since a picture takes up an entire block of memory (not to mention just being creepy).

Also, you have 3 trailers that Konami made for Metal Gear Solid shown in 1997 before the game was released. Also, there’s the intro movie at the start, and a demo movie with the programmers beating missions certain ways to give you hints, if you wait at the starting screen long enough.

      Controls: 9 out of 10

The controls are simple, you move with the directional pad, duck with X, run with X if you hold it, hold R2 to access your weapons, and hold R1 to access items. However, once you pick up a weapon, each one has a different control scheme (see Weapons above) with a different button used to fire it (and in some cases, a 1st person perspective). This gives more variety to the game.

The most frustrating thing is trying to choke a guard. You have to be perfectly still, or hardly moving (making it hard to choke moving guards). If you are moving at a walk or run, you instantly flip the guard. The annoying thing to control is crawling, because the controls change depending on what direction you are facing, but luckily, you don’t need to do it often.

      Challenge: 10 out of 10

God yes is this game challenging. If you liked Metal Gear Solid’s weapons and wanted to play them in more bite-sized levels, this game will give you a fix. Just know it will take you many, many hours to master and complete the game 100% with the fastest times possible.

      Replay: 5 out of 10

The replay is built into the game’s structure. You can complete the level (finally, after many tries) only to find you didn’t get the 1st place time score. Guess you’ll want to keep playing until you get it. However, once I was done with the game fully, I don’t really have a reason to play it again for another decade.

      Bonus Points

      Level Design +10

The levels are designed exceptionally well, and require some thinking to proceed. Some even include false areas to make you think that it’s a better place to go and accomplish the objective. It took some thought to plan and program these levels correctly.

Total Points: 69 out of 80

      The entire game is fun if you are just playing to play through each mission (except for any FAMAS and Nikita level) and having no story, is easy to pick and play whenever you want. But, if you are going to try and get the best times, it will get a little frustrating on the Weapons Mode (Targets), and with some levels on Advanced Mode (People). Overall, I enjoyed it, as it caused me to think and experiment with different ways to do things to get a better score.

      For help, I recommend watching this YouTube walkthrough http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=A30E52E32C3ACE16 as someone did a whole walkthrough getting 1st place for everything; useful on occasion when you can’t figure out how to get a faster time.

      Sometimes a game jumps out on the shelf and into your eyes saying, “Look at me, don’t I look awesome?” This game was not one of them. However, this games’ cover was amusing. I mean, just look at it!

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North American Cover

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The disc, since I have no foreign cover to show you.

      So, despite by better judgment with the poor proportions and NO pictures of what the game even looked like, I bought it for $1.00 because…why not.

      Get Medieval is a PC Game from 1998 from Monolith. I put it in, not really expecting much of anything, and get a bad menu screen. The design isn’t bad, it’s just that whenever you leave a menu, the music from the previous menu is still playing even though it loads a new theme, resulting in 2 songs playing at once.

      Next, I watched the opening movie/cutscene. This wasn’t like any cutscene I’d seen before. Based on the video, a dragon burns a village , four heroes pose, then they go together into the dragon’s castle to stop him. However, if you listen to the audio, people are cracking jokes at what they see. At first (since the menu had problems) I thought that the game messed up and played a different audio track, or a gag reel. Then, it cuts to the four warriors, and one voice mentions what they are doing in that scene It was then I realized that the voices were trying to be regular people role-playing their characters in an RPG or video game. Maybe they thought the opening was too generic? The game tries for comedy, and in-game it works, but in the opening scene it does not. The actors constantly talk over each other on occasion, but it sounds like they were all recorded together, but they never actually talk to each other, so maybe the editor made it look like they were all playing together. Also, it sounds like it was all done in one take. It is really odd. See for yourself.

      I check the menu link to find that the link still works, and the company that made this game later created FEAR, the only game I’ve heard of, but never played. At the end of the game, when the credits role by, the screenplay for the opening and closing cutscenes role by in it’s entirely. That is pretty interesting.

      Ok, time to stop the anticipation and actually play the game, not knowing at all what I’m getting into. I start by choosing a warrior. There is a muscle-bound warrior with a helmet that talks like Arnold, a sexy mage, an elven archer, and a female knight. Each of them has little sound bites when you click on them, telling you why you should pick them. I chose the sexy mage to play as the magician.

      Then, the game starts on an overhead dungeon perspective. I am near monsters, treasure chests, gold on the ground, monster generators, and my health of 999 starts ticking down. I then realize I am playing an updated version of Gauntlet.

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Can you figure out what everything on the screen is just based on my review?

      I walk around and collect gold and attack some spiders. You can fire in any of the 8 directions, along with 2 types of barriers; those you can shoot through, and those you cannot (the same goes for the enemy). You also have a spell which turns every enemy into a rat which runs away (but you can still kill them). Spells are powered by scrolls, but these are rare. There is also a disc you can activate under your character, but it appears to do nothing.

      There are also weapon and shield upgrades. And you will need them. When I first got to the boss (bosses appear every 5 levels in the level itself) I was so underpowered I couldn’t win, but when I came back, I could beat him in 15 seconds with rapid fire. You must seek out the Shield icon to increase your defense, and a double Sword icon to increase your weapons power. However, they don’t work automatically; collecting 5 silver of each icon before your Defense and Strength levels up, but collect the gold icons to go to the next level instantly. You can only have a max of Level 5 for both Shield & Strength, but it will always be taken away from you at some point. There is a very fast thief hidden in various parts of different levels and in treasure chests. When he touches you, you revert back to level 1 for both Strength & Shield. You then have only a few seconds to kill the thief and get it all back or else he teleports away, never to return. In a way, this sucks because it punishes you for exploring, but it does keep the game balanced. I wonder why they just didn’t reset your power after every level, or have less of the power-ups around, for you keep all your massive power and defense from level to level, resulting in you finding many worthless power-ups.

      Also, you have to be careful where you aim. If you shoot and hit a power-up, health, key (yes, trapping yourself in the level), and treasure chest, it will flicker in and out for 2-3 seconds before disappearing. You can still get the items or open the chest if you run over to it quick enough. If you fail to get it, a voice will tell you “Destroyed” or your character will say, “That was a stupid thing to do.” The only thing you can’t accidentally destroy is the gold.

      There is gold everywhere in this game. You don’t buy anything with it. Instead, it’s your score that also plays into your actual Level (independent of the Strength and Shield levels). I don’t actually know what leveling up does, though, as the Shield & Sword have such a huge, noticeable impact on the game already, so at first I thought it might just be an arbitrary score level. The manual never mentions this, but the score does give you extra lives when you go beyond a certain amount, so that is the only reason to level up and get gold.

      You can also get many Cursed items. One makes pressing up move you down, and left move you right. There is a Mask of Evil item (the most common special item), in which all the enemies run away from you so you can kill them without worry. Invisibility make you unseen to enemies, but they can still hurt you if they touch you. Odder curses are “Player now moves like the Bishop / Pawn.” This means you can only move diagonally / vertical & horizontally. The game is really hard to play like this for the 2 minutes you have to endure it. There is also the obvious invincibility item late in the game where nothing that touches you can hurt you, but you still have to fire at the enemy to kill them. The worst curse, however, is the Timer Curse: if you don’t find a health powerup in 30 seconds, you die instantly.

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Flee, evil creatures, from my MASK OF EVIL!

      There are bronze, silver, & gold keys; with Gold keys opening most doors and treasure chests, and silver being reserved for more searchable keys and doors. There is also the Skeleton Key. The Skeleton key counts down from 45 seconds, and you must reach the door with the Skeleton lock before time runs out. However, in that time, you can also open every single treasure chest and door without using the keys you already have. The worst placement of these keys is after a boss. You have to collect it to walk through the passage after you kill the boss, and must navigate a maze to find where to use the key. If you don’t make it in time, you can see all the treasure and powers you could have had to start the next level (but you can still beat the level). You must also avoid traps; there are electric tiles that turn on and off you have to avoid, and most are usually everywhere in a boss fight to make it harder. Slime exists to slow you down to half speed.

      The hit detection is exact, meaning it can be bad when your weapon is small. It’s annoying when it flies right by them, only for them to get in range of you and throw their weapons. You can only ever move fast enough to dodge when they throw it from ¾ of the screen away or more. You had better not collect all the health and leave some for later, as items never disappear (unless you shoot them).

      The worst way to die is being overwhelmed. If you are touched by an enemy for about 3 seconds, you are dead. Each touch drains your health considerably. You and the enemy don’t move, flash, or bounce; you walk through each other and take damage. It’s getting away quickly that can be the problem. Also, touching a boss is an instant death. After playing an entire level, you fight the boss right after. If you die, you still have 2 lives left, and 4 continues (In a four player game, everyone has 3 lives and 1 continue—it’s the same number of lives and continues for each number of players).

      The enemies are challenging, too. I’ve had to play through many of the floors again. The enemies that throw things will hit you all the time unless you hide around corners, but good luck since as you wait, more come out of their generators. The last 5 levels have the fastest enemy generators (flying dragons), and you need to be quick to get through these final levels. The bosses are hard unless you have leveled up your Shield & Sword, so you normally have to go through the entire level not collecting them, then going back once you’ve cleared the whole floor so you can be sure no thief will steal your stats on the way to the boss, or just learn where they are and hope you kill them before they reach you. Don’t worry; you will die and have to repeat the level a lot, so I’m sure you will remember where the thieves are.

There are also terrain traps. There are electrical squares that hurt you when charged for 3 seconds, but they also have 3 seconds of deactivation where you can pass through them. However, it’s hard to maneuver through them sometimes when enemies are chasing after you, and they put these tiles everywhere on boss battles. There is also black sludge’s that slows your walking down, and red fire blobs; they are the only enemy that cannot be killed because they aren’t technically enemies (they don’t move), but each time you hit them, you lose 300 Hit Points.

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One of the early bosses. Run and only fire once before running again if you want to survive.

      You can also trap yourself in the level if you try to explore, as your health will lower as you do. There are no hidden walls, but there are hidden portals that are disguised as a regular floor in various places. You can also trap yourself from ever exiting the level if you go crazy with your keys and use them to open every single treasure chest without using them on doors (gold are used for doors and Treasure chests).

      You can save, but only at the beginning of each level. I had to replay a few levels trying not to die often since you only have a limited number of lives to beat the 40 levels of the game, as saving saves all your lives AND continues. So you will have to replay some levels to get better at them if you ever want to reach the end.

      One thing that is amusing is your character. They make comments on everything, and luckily they say a lot of different things so it doesn’t get repetitive and boring. My sorcerer complains if I go too long without killing something, and often gets exciting when killing multiple enemies at once in different ways. Also, it’s fun to get the enemies to kill each other. If you walk along a door without unlocking it, if they are ranged enemies, they will throw their weapon at you, killing the enemy next to them. You can do this until only 1 remains.

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Every blood splat here are all bodies killed by the enemy while I simply move up and down

      The game include Local & Online Co-op. I doubt there is anyone online playing it at all (as the game couldn’t connect to anything). You can play the game with two people in your living room, with each person using a different side of the keyboard. In addition, you can play a random, computer-made dungeon anytime you wish. The game says there is a Dungeon Creator, but I could never find it to make my own levels, and I tried searching through the entire CD’s files. I could not, oddly, find the options to create fan-made levels in the menu.

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      Story: 3 out of 10

Did Gauntlet have a story? This one doesn’t either. However, it does have a CG opening and intro, so there is that. Also, the dialogue it funny in the game, so I will give it a little bump.

      Controls: 10 out of 10

Everything is very simple. Press arrow buttons to move in any of the 8 directions. Press 1 button to shot forward. Press 1 button to ignite your magic bomb. Press a 3rd button to attack close range (but you will never use this).

      Graphics: 7 out of 10

After every 5 levels, the dungeon design changes (all doors, walls, and enemies get a new design, even though they mostly act the same way. The old enemies come back mixed with them, but it looks different and avoids looking at the same thing over and over again. All the bosses are gigantic, too. You can tell effort was put into this game.

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The blue circles are monster (blob) generators, whereas the golden circles are teleport pads.

      Fun: 13 out of 20

Despite the fact that the programmers are being a dick to you on many occasions, such as the skeleton maze key after a boss and placing multiple pathways where going the wrong way wastes the item you just got, I had fun playing it, but got frustrated a lot, enough so that I would quit the game and not come back for another month or so. It can also get repetitive if you try to play through the entire game in a few weeks.

      Challenge: 10 out of 10

The game is tough. You will die multiple times trying to figure out the design of each level, and having to learn where to backtrack so you won’t die instantly in a giant enemy rush.

      Music: 6 out of 10

The music is fun to listen to. It’s not memorable, but it does work with the game.

      Replay: 10 out of 10
I would play this game again with someone else, as it would be fun to try and tackle the game that way, though we would probably need to use some cheats to avoid getting agitated playing the same level over and over again.

      Extras: 10 out of 10

Included on the disc is a demo of Claw, a 2D platformer that looks like a cartoon. You are a pirate cat and it looks like your goal is to collect every single item in the level, for at the end, it tells you all the items you found out of how many. The sprites are very big in this game. There is also a trailer for Get Medieval, Claw, Rage of Mages, & Shogo (a mech game). However, the main bonus is the random dungeon generator and the level creator. You can play a new level all the time, and create your own, as well.

      Bonus Points:

+5 Design-Your-Own-Levels

Though I couldn’t find it, that fact that you can design your own levels and upload them anywhere for anyone to play through the main game itself is a really awesome idea, and very rare for a game made in 1998.

Total Points: 75 out of 90

Overall, an easy time waster. Plus, since the game saves at the beginning of each level, and there is nothing complicated to remember, you can easily play this game at your own pace by coming back to play it when it suits you. A fun diversion, and worth the $1.00 I spent on it.

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Oh no! Bats, Spiders, & Rat Creature! What will I do?

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Turn them all into rats!

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And watch your enemies flee in terror.

Donkey Kong Land

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US Cover (the Japan & European covers all use this image, but with different text).

      Donkey Kong County was a huge hit on the Super Nintendo. It utilized impressive graphics that made it appear 3 dimensional in its 2D world. With the success of that game, not only did sequels follow, but also a Game Boy spinoff.

      The Game Boy game, Donkey Kong Land, is an entirely new game built for the system. However, there isn’t really anything new in it. Everything from the previous game is here; all the backgrounds and enemies are taken from the Super Nintendo game. But, you will be impressed at the graphics, as it looks like they somehow got the 3D look for the characters on the game boy (well, 3D white, black, & green, but still 3D!).

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Super Nintendo on the left, the Game Boy (Super Game Boy version) on the right.

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Game Boy Color version (released after Land), and the Game Boy again (No Super Game Boy).

      You can play as Donkey Kong or Diddy Kong. When you die, the other character comes out to replace you (as both characters can’t be on the screen at once). Both characters can jump on enemies, run by holding the A button, and spin when pushing the B button. Luckily, like the Super Nintendo game, you can still roll off the ledge and then magically jump in mid-air to reach places further away. Donkey Kong doesn’t have his slapping-the-ground move, but it wasn’t really helpful in the regular game anyway.

      Each level is a 2D sidescrolling and platforming level where you must get to the Exit on the other end of the screen. You will find a few Checkpoints along the way. All the enemies from the previous game are here, such as running, jumping, and stationary lizards, dangerous bees, and chomping lizards that you can’t roll into. New enemies for this game include flying pigs that travel in horizontal lines, and a sea creature that moves vertically very quickly. The enemies that are most annoying are the rolling barrels that turn into stationary snake generators, as they can never be destroyed and caused me lots of deaths when trying to jump over them or jump across a platform. Once you destroy an enemy, they are gone for good (unless you die, of course) and no amount of running 4-5 screens over and back will resurrect them; you will just have to forget bouncing off of them to travel along the trees for now.

      The enemies aren’t the only thing that returns; all the backgrounds from the previous game– pyramids, jungle, factory, ships, caves, and more–return also, as if they were ported to the Game Boy and just had the color removed. Even many of the songs appears in Game Boy form and are still fun to listen to. There are some original songs, but they aren’t as engaging.

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Seen here is familiar territory–snow levels and underwater chase levels.

      Other things that return are barrel blasting levels, swimming away from a sea creature that’s chasing you, and rope levels where you magically go up or down quickly while holding onto them. There is no mine cart level, but it wouldn’t work here: the screen is very small, and you are a little large, so sometimes it can be hard to see that an enemy just entered on screen until it is too late when you are running. If you are walking, you will be fine. The new level type is a moving platform that moves a different direction ever time you jump on it. This level is the most annoying, as anytime you try to land, the thing has already moved, and you’re trying to calibrate your landing on the small platform to compensate for it’s movement, you sometimes walk off into death pits instead. Plus, if you try to jump on enemies that block your path, you will propel yourself upward so quickly, the screen quickly jerks with you, meaning you just lost where the platform went, as well as the entire screen you were just on. And then you fall back down and hope you know where the platform is.

      You start out on a map screen, and select the level you want to play. Once you beat the level, you return to the map to select the next one. Every level must be completed expect for 2-3 of them. At certain places you will get an explosive barrel at the end of the stage, and you can use it on 1 of 2 rocks, each leading to a different level.

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You can use an explosive at the end of a certain level to chose a path. Also, here’s Rambi.

      You will want to collect the letters K, O, N, & G that are in each level. Whereas in the original game, they were only an extra life, here you need to collect them to save your game after each level.

      You can also collect bananas, with every 100 giving you an extra life. There are also 1-up balloons. The new addition is Donkey Kong coins. Every so often, you will enter a secret room with a barrel in the sky moving left to right, and a button on the ground. You have to jump in the air and land on the button, which makes the barrel shoot out a coin in one of 5 directions. You have to collect it quickly before it goes through he walls or floor, and if you do, you get an extra life. Rambi the rhino returns for you to ride to charge into enemies. Espresso the ostrich returns to help you glide, but he is only available in bonus stages.

      There are 1 to 2 secrets in each level (though none in underwater stages). You will know if you entered every secret area when an exclamation mark appears near the stage on the map screen. Secrets are found by looking for secret barrels to jump into and jumping on holes in the ground to summon magic ropes. Oddly, there is only one secret where you destroy a wall like in the Super Nintendo game (in the first level).

      As with any game, there are 4 bosses that must be beaten, and all of them are original. The first is a flying manna ray that moves faster with each hit. The second is a clam that shoots pearls at you underwater, and you have to make sure he hits you where the reflecting item is. The third is a mole that comes out of 1 of 3 holes who throws his hat; simply jump over it and land on his head. Finally, King K. Rool returns, and you have to hit him 12 times. He throws his hat just like in the first game, but after 6 hits, he will start randomly throwing, running faster, and start bell-flopping, with rolling under him being the only safe options.

      After you beat the game, you only get the credits. There was no story in the beginning, so I wasn’t expecting anything, but I also got 100% of the game completed, and there was no reward for that either.

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The Super Game Boy version looks great, unfortunately,
the rest of the game doesn’t look like this and is only monochrome.

      Story: 3 out of 10

The story exists only in the manual. The game itself has nothing, not even after you beat the game. The game happens because Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong bet Cranky Kong they could still have a fun adventure without amazing graphics and sound. The story in a little amusing in the book.

      Sound: 10 out of 10

The Game Boy is playing the Super Nintendo music through it’s speakers. The songs are still addicting here.

      Graphics: 10 out of 10
The graphics all match the Super Nintendo, only they are black and white. Even with a black-and-white pseudo 3D look, you can normally see where you are going (unless you run at full speed), and nothing blends into the background

      Controls: 10 out of 10
I mentioned every control above. The controls are simple to use and never interfere with you enjoying the game.

      Challenge: 10 out of 10

The game is moderately challenging, but what makes it harder is having to collect the KONG letters in every level just so you can save. This forces you to try out areas that might be secrets (or death) and do more challenging things than you normally would. Luckily, every loaded game starts you out at 6 lives.

      Fun: 15 out of 20

This game was fun, as it was pretty much Donkey Kong Country on Game Boy; you can’t really go wrong here. I just had some problems with the quickly popping-up enemies and the annoying screen cut that happens when you jump off someone into the sky.

      Replay: 5 out of 10

The replay happens while you are playing the game. See, if you don’t collect all the KONG letters, you can’t save. And it’s usually easier to go into the level you know than to start an entirely new level where you don’t know what to expect. In addition, you will replay levels to find all the secret entrances. As such, you won’t want to replay it again, as you will already have done so.

      Extras: 2 out of 10

There are no extra features or special things in Donkey Kong. The only extra I count is the bonus game and the coins you collect for it to earn extra lives. The other is because it’s Super Game Boy compatible. The title screen is impressive, showing yellow, red, and brown all at once, but once you start playing, you can only play in monochrome. Annoying, every time you enter a special room, the color resets to the defaults, but luckily you can just hit X to turn it back to your preference.

      Bonus Points:

None

Total Points: 65 out of 90

This is definitely worth a play on your Game Boy. It’s a simple sidescroller where you just jump on people, jump over platforms, and occasionally do some more variety than just jump on enemies heads. That, combined with the fact you can save on every level (if you find the KONG letters) means you can pick it up and play anytime without having to defeat entire worlds before you can save.

Review Also At:
      VideoGameGeek / RetroWareTV / GameFAQS

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*This review won 2nd place in VideoGameGeek’s monthly video game contest for May 2013. The theme was Law*

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Shadowrun US & EU Cover

      My experience with Shadowrun is only through the Super Nintendo game. I’m not going to compare it to the Genesis version, but they are completely different games. I finally got a hold of this game and expected it to be entertaining, but it was not. It was not fun in the slightest.

      In 2058, technology and flesh bond. The Matrix is invented, which allows people to jack into cyberspace. Around the same time, Elves, Dwarves, and Orcs returned to the world. Some were hiding in human guises, whereas others were normal humans who turned into them.

      A Shadowrunner is someone who steals data from corporations for their own profit by jacking into their Matrix systems (they occasionally break into buildings and steal packages or save lives, and occasionally do escort missions, such as walking an NPC from one house to the other house directly next to it). Your brother (a Shadowrunner) is killed, and you fly to Seattle to find out who killed him, by becoming a Shadowrunner yourself.

      The game is played in an Overhead perspective, along with a character portrait of yourself in the far right. It will show your current Mental Health and Physical Health; if either of these reaches 0, you die. Your current spell or weapon will also be displayed under it.

      Right off the bat you will die—all the time. You start walking and immediately get attacked by 1 or 2 people. You can’t fight them very well. So, you’ll have to get money to buy better weapons and protection. When fighting, you simply press A, and your character will attack with the gun or magic you have equipped. The enemy you attack will be surrounded by a either a Green, Yellow, Orange, or Red square to indicate how close to dying they are (in that order). Hit B to change the enemy you want to target. Hit C to control another Shadowrunner with you (if you have one).

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I’m attacking the guy on the other end of the screen
while I’m getting beaten up by the guy in front of me.

      One of the aspects I like is random encounters. Occasionally, you will be interrupted by your display screen with various different options to choose from. A Lone Star (police) will come at you, and if you just talk to him, he goes on his way (with a small percentage he will see your illegal weapons and shoot at you). However, if you try to run, he appears on the game map and starts shooting at you (though occasionally you might be able to get away). Many of these encounters are the same thing with a random outcome. In one instance, A sick man will ask for help, and if you help him, he gives you money. Sometimes, however, he will be an instant killing vampire.

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A random encounter like this will pop-up and stop your movement in the overhead world,
forcing you to make a decision.

      To raise money, I find a Johnson. They give you missions so you can earn money. When I first started, I was given simple escort missions and prayed that no one would run into me on the way to both locations (you have to walk to where the guy is, then take him to his destination). Whatever you do, you need to save immediately when coming out of the 2nd location for the escort mission. Many times, enemies will already be outside 2 seconds after you exit, giving you a limited opportunity to save because you can’t save during combat (you can’t enter buildings either). Nothing sucks more than accomplishing your mission and getting the money, only to be gunned down immediately after trying to simply walk one step.

      Fighting is at first frustrating, then boring. Every enemy will always come right up next to you and start shooting or punching; enemies cannot be stopped or slowed by guns or magic, they continue to walk right toward you as if the bullets or spells are not there. You end up having to run away a lot while fighting. Luckily, if you are far enough way (not office building levels) your other Shadowrunners won’t get hurt if they are way off-screen.

      The first few hours of the game, if you are caught with 2 enemies or more, you die in 3 seconds with all of them punching you. This game is really hard in the beginning and leads to many deaths simply from just trying to cross the street and find a building. Realizing that taking a taxi would be suicide if every level was harder than this one, I spent over 2 hours doing Shadowruns to afford the best gun and armor, and enough to pay off the gangs to stop attacking me. I was still not ready. In the next town, I died all the time just trying to move. I returned to the original city to earn enough money to get the highest level Zap spell and to hire another Shadowrunner full-time.

      When hiring another Shadowrunner, you can set them (and yourself) to 1 of 5 reaction levels since the AI will control the other ones, and each one affects their defense and attack (if you tell them to be totally offensive, their attack power goes up, but their defense is weaker). Just remember that spells bypass armor altogether.

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This is your character and his items. The Damage refers to how powerful the shot is.

      When you are injured, you can stay at a hospital to heal your Physical and Mental energy, and how much it costs is relative to how injured you are. Hotel heals your Mental energy only (but fully) but here you can also increase your Karma points.

      Doing a Johnson mission will give you Karma points, as will killing a certain number of people. You use these to increase your stats, and there are a lot of stats; around 20. You need to decide what to focus on (for each Shadowrunner). Charisma makes you drive the prices of gods down and get by guards in corporate buildings. Body increases your defense. There is a separate skills for Medkit. What your skill in it is depends on how much health you administer. Spell makes your spells more accurate and powerful. Guns make your guns more accurate and powerful. And, yes, accuracy is a problem. When using magic, you raise your hands and a small circle moves around you, but sometimes you can press the button, and your arms will raise, but nothing will happen (this is like a Miss in an RPG) and the same can happen for bullets. Lastly, all the Shadowrunners you hire also earn Karma points so you can make the ones you like more powerful, as their stats are permanent, no matter how often they leave the party.

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You can raise every stat here except Essense & Magic (and Sorcery for some). Also, each character has a different Max Limit, with the Orc only able to go to a 4 Intelligence, whereas you can go to an 8.

      I returned to the major part of Seattle, but I couldn’t do many of the Shadowrun missions; they were all too hard. Just going into a building to find something or someone sounds the alarm pretty quickly, for you see, you need a high Charisma to pretend that you work there, and it doesn’t work all the time. Also, once the alarm starts, the guards spawn indefinitely unless you turn off the alarm, but there is only 1 computer that will allow you to do this per floor. Escort missions would be in different towns, which cost a taxi, so you won’t end up making as much money. You could hack into the Matrix now, but the stuff you buy for it only has a limited number of uses, so occasionally I found my Attack or Deception powers just suddenly disappear and I realized I wasted my entire trip in here. Also, I was still not powerful enough to kill Ghouls for extra money (abandoned houses contain infinite spawning Ghouls, and you are sometimes hired to kill them with a price per Ghoul). All I did was find a wide place to run far ahead of the Ghouls, shoot a spell, repeat. But just screwing up once resulted in an instant death too many times.

      Matrix runs are really hard to describe. They are insanely boring. You are a metal avatar traveling from Node to Node looking for a download jack to find information you were hired to retrieve. You can chose 4 of the 12 items for the computer deck (you can never actually buy all 12 at max level, as even the best computer doesn’t have enough memory to fit them all). Your avatar appears before a node. Each node will continue doing what it’s doing or attack you. You can chose to attack it or try to get buy it. Sometimes trying to sneak by it makes it enter attack mode, then you have no choice. If you sneak by it, though, you will not be able to Transfer data if there was a data transfer jack there, so you will need to attack it. Luckily, there is a Matrix map that displays which areas are Data Transfer points. Your attack will miss all the time unless you upgrade your attack more, so yes, even more items to buy and upgrade. Where will you find the money for all this, and just how much time do you want to invest in this game? There are many other things you can buy, such as health, slowing down the Nodes attacks, confusing them; but for the most part, you can do pretty well just using attack and deception only and ignore everything else (and increase your Computer Stat) and explaining every single computer app you can buy might sound like there is depth to this game, but it is really just very dull.

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Here you stock up on your computer programs, like Attack and…well, you don’t really need anything else.

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You have 3 attack options, each doing more damage than the other. I assume using the strong one all the time is what led to my Attack option going away forever.

      You can hack into random low-level Matrix areas and steal anywhere from $50 – $200. But when most magic and upgrades cost 14,000 for the Level 4 upgrade (not counting the high price at level 8 and the massively expensive computer boards that are over 200,000) you realize grinding in a different way is all you are doing. To hack into specific locations, you need a password from a Johnson because it’s for your mission. To hack corporate buildings, you need to be in the actual building itself (but to do that, you have to have a mission reason to be there). It’s only later that you can discover a Johnson that will hire you for Matrix mission for the big corporations and give you passwords to hack from the outside. Hire him all the time, as the passwords are permanent even after the mission is over; this way you can go in and make more money on the side if you wish.

      After traveling to all the other cities and learning everything I could about the story, I eventually gave up on the game. Yes, I could do stupid little side missions only and gain money to get better stuff, but I already did 6-8 hours of this stuff; I was not wasting anymore time on this. I never give up on a game, but this game made me abandon it.

      I would have given up there, but a few days later I looked to see if there was a cheat code; and there was. I gave myself 250,000 to see if it would actually change the outcome of anything; it didn’t.

      I eventually gave in and did it 3 more times, making my stats (and my 2 other Shadowrunners’ stats) up a little and getting them the best armor (you can buy items, armors, weapons, magic, and cyberware for any of the Shadorunners you hire). And, if you dismiss them (or they run off after dying) they retain all their items and stat bonuses.

      I hired a 3rd Shadowrunner permanently, then we died really quickly. I then show up at the hospital with $350.00 taken from me. It takes forever to earn that much money. And if I try to hire the same Shadowrunner again, his prices goes up because you nearly got him killed before. You can hire Shadowrunners for the short or long term, but both prices go up if you let them die. Can you guess what you have to do? Yep, reset the game and reload your game.

      Still, the combat just gets worse. None of the enemies have any concept of anything but run right at you and attack, even people with guns. Only other wizards will stand afar and shoot at you. Even when I became powerful enough to stand a chance, fights just weren’t exciting or fun; they were all boring and not well constructed.

      An important thing you have on you is your Notebook. This keeps track of plot points so you know what or who you are looking for. It also includes a list of every Johnson that offers missions (and where they are located) and every Shadowunner you can hire (and where they are located). However, there is no Map; you will have to remember all the 50 buildings or so and what they are for. There is a map included in the manual which lists which doors you can go in, but you will have to write in what the buildings are yourself. In addition, the Notebook also keeps a list of contacts. You need to meet people and pay them for contacts. These people sometimes give you more contacts or help you out for a price (such as getting into you into a prison to break someone out, or selling you discount weapons). It wasn’t until much later that I realized I had missed the most important contact of the game; the guy who sells you keycards for corporate buildings so you can sneak around without being attacked on site if you fail your Charisma check. This finally made the corporate missions a little easier, but you can still screw up with the random co-worker that likes to talk to you all the time. Now, corporate raids were the best source of money as there are safes all over the place with money inside. Occasional you find grenades instead (?) but you can then sell those for money. This is when I started making more money to buy things. I could then afford to buy computer apps to infiltrate corporate computers to find even more money in Data Transfers in addition to money hidden in safes, making an average of $1,000.00 each mission, plus the $2,000 for completing the mission successfully.

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I’m a beefy, chest-exposing guy with a blade on my arm and this is my half-naked elven co-worker;
we totally work here.

      Random Mentions

It’s mentioned that you shouldn’t carry illegal weapons, but I never had a problem with it. My Orc Fighter carried an illegal shotgun the entire game without incident.

Everyone starts with 6.0 Essence. If you equip yourself with genetic modifications, you lose that Essence and spells are less effective. My elf Decker had an Essene of 1.6 because her focus was in computer hacking, not magic, so equipping her with things wouldn’t matter. Early in the game, it’s better to hire her to go into the Matrix rather than going yourself. These modifications are the weakest aspect of the game, as you never need anything that will drop your Essence detrimentally.

Item overload. There are over 100 unique items and every single item is available at the beginning of the game. You won’t know where to begin or what to spend your money on, let alone what’s worth buying. This is both a blessing and curse, as the exploration should be fun, but in the beginning you die way too easily to really enjoy it.

Spells. When using guns, you use ammo that you can run out of and have to buy replacement clips. But with spells, some drain your mental Energy. They can damage an enemy really quickly, but drain you a lot. Usually, you stick to the weaker, non-draining spells so you can attack indefinitely and save the big spells for when 4-5 enemies show up on-screen at once. You can buy items that absorb your drain a limited number of times, but that felt worthless and too costly to me when you can only hold 8 items and you really need to pay for a helicopter to bypass a half hour stage that is full of insanely powerful Weindigos.

Hilariously, if you max out your best computer with every application you can, you will no longer be able to download data in Matrix runs because you used up all your memory, which means you can’t make money this way the rest of the game. Luckily, you can still download plot relevant data.

 photo ShadowrunTitleScreen_zpsdb95d3a8.jpg


      Story: 10 out of 10

The story (for the time) is more involved that most. There are many twists in turns in solving your brothers murder. In addition, the personalities of some of the character are very interesting. Even the Contacts system, in which people join a contact system for money to help people do illegal things, is interesting and very fun to read and use. Also, the random story moments that pop up when just walking around lead to a feeling that anything could happen at anytime that could sometimes reward you, but for the most part leads to situations you will try to avoid and help develop some tension.

      Sound: 5 out of 10

I only remember the theme song from the title screen. I know there are other songs there, but I can’t remember any of them even after playing for over 20 hours. That comes to average in my book.

      Graphics: 5 out of 10

The graphics are very detailed when looking at faces and people. However, the sprites are very similar and small; making battles hard to maneuver and sometimes you forget where you are and which character you are controlling.

      Controls: 8 out of 10

The controls are very simple, as stated above. It is the stats of your characters and weapons that make it seem complicated, but otherwise, A is attack, B is focus on another target, and C is switch characters. The only odd thing is when you turn, your entire body turns along your shoulder, so sometime you make some awkward moves when traveling around the map and it can make you run into an enemy or go in a door you don’t want to go in.

      Challenge: 5 out of 10

This game is challenging, but the challenging isn’t alleviated by maxing out your character, unless you REALLY max out your character. The reason this isn’t a high score is because there is too much grinding and repetitive play, as well as an unusually high learning curve in the beginning. If you enjoy games that really change you, however, you might want to check this out.

      Fun: 3 out of 20

I really don’t know why I continued playing. It was fun the first 2 hours or so, then a little more fun once I cheated and gave myself money, but each only lasted briefly. I wanted to play to see what they did with the story, but eventually the story moments became fetch quests and even that lost its appeal. Looking at GameFAQs reviews, however, not liking this game seems pretty rare.

      Replay: 0 out of 10

I’m selling this game. That should tell you how much replay value I am giving it.

      Extra: 10 out of 10

I give a high score to it’s extras. It has lots of bonus side missions. And though they can get repetitive, they made many different buildings to infiltrate, along with many different escort and Matrix hacking missions. Though it will become a requirement to do almost all of them to earn money, you can tell they really enjoyed making their Shadowrun missions. Also, there is a cheat menu that does amazing things. Simply select A, B, B, A, C, A, B on the title screen, load your game, then go to the menu and scroll past the Save/Load option and select the blank space; you now have 8 cheats you can do to the game.

Bonus Points:

       +5 Random Encounters

The random encounters with individuals in distress, random animals you have to hide from, and even undercover cops pretending to sell illegal weapons to trick you so they can kill you (they never try to arrest) are really inventive. I haven’t really seen anything like it before and really believe something like this should be incorporated into other games.

      Total Score: 51 out of 90.

I still see a lot of positive points in the game, but the few major negatives I have with it seem to supersede all of it for me. I thought it would be fun the way the Super Nintendo game was. Alas, games with the same name for different systems back then really were completely different games.

See the review at:
      VideoGameGeek / RetroWareTV / GameFAQS

*This review won 3rd Place on VidoeGameGeek’s Monthly review Contest for March 2013. The theme was Licensed Games.*

VIP (with Pamela Anderson)

VIPUSCover
VIP US Cover

VIPCover1
VIP European Cover

      VIP warrants a different type of review; I am going to show you the game from beginning to end, describing the odd mechanics, the bad story, the boss battles, and the mini-games as I progress. There might or might not be comedy.

      VIP stars Pamela Anderson. It’s based on the TV show, but I could care less about it. In normal reviews, this is where you see the history of the show, it’s reception, and the game’s similarities to the show—there’s going to be none of that. If you want to learn about the show, search Wikipedia or buy the TV series on DVD through Amazon.

      The game starts with you getting a call from a doctor who says people are after him. You are bodyguards for hire. He says people are at his house, but then later says he’s in the middle of a surgery. Your Receptionist asks him if his practice and his home or the same thing, leading to a very, very poor opening attempt at a joke. Apparently the TV show was tongue-in-cheek (with Pamela Anderson as a bodyguard, I can’t imagine it ever being serious).

      Anyway, you drive to his house and see men in suits and shades (I’ll call them Thugs, since the manual calls them that). It looks like the thugs just sat around on the doctor’s lawn waiting for you to arrive. It should have taken you some time to drive through a major metropolitan city to get there, at which they should have at least gone into the doctor’s house and started looking for him.

Game Mechanic #1 – Fighting: Easy Mode

      This game can best be described as an ON RAILS ACTION GAME. What does that mean? Well, you have no control over where your character moves or walks. Once they get to a location, they stand still and enemies run toward them. You are then given a sequence of 2 buttons to press on-screen (they can be any of the 8 buttons [4 directional, Circle, Square, Triangle, & X). The manual states “you need rhythm,” to master this game, but all you need to do is hit the symbols in order, and within 2 seconds.

Photobucket
Can you press buttons? Then this game might be for you!

      Combos come into play here in an unusual way. By hitting the 2 buttons, you attack the thug, but then you rack up Combos, which increase your points by 50 points with every hit. This means that by the 10th consecutive hit, you go from getting 100 points her punch to 600 points per punch. However, as soon as you mess up, your Combo is lost, and you must start over.

      The weirdest part is how the buttons you push don’t correlate to how many combos you perform. I selected 2 buttons for Pam to punch the thug once, just once. Then, another time I selected 2 buttons, and she hit them three times with her bag for the same response. You have no control over this and it’s completely random how many times they will hit the thugs.

      And yes, you read 2 things right from above; there is a score, and you attack people with your handbag. This is as stupid as it sounds, and looks even more ridiculous in action. Did Pam fill her bag with cement then let it dry?

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This purse is able to knock out over 100 people over the course of the game.

      Lastly, is Counters. If you hit the last button in the sequence at the same time, (or slightly before) the time ends, you get a Counter, which gives you a x2 to every attack you make to that enemy from the button press (which can be 1 – 4 based on what you read earlier). Trying to get them on purpose is not worth it, as you could very well miss a Combo line which is worth more points to continue than failing and resetting your score to 100.

Game Mechanic #2 – Shooting Mode

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      You start learning how to shoot with Red Sports Bra Woman. How? Your character stands in one spot while you control the green circle on the screen. You shoot at enemies with a handgun in the same way as an early 90’s light gun arcade game; only you don’t have a plastic gun and its now 2001 (when the game was made). Combos work the same way here, but you can miss and not screw up the combo. The Combo is based on inaction here. If you shoot down all 3 thugs, you must kill another thug within 2 seconds or your combo is lost. Basically, you will never extend your combo beyond 6-8 in these rounds.

      As for damage, you cannot move your character. If you fail to shoot someone in the short time frame (though most thugs stand with their guns pointing at you far too long) you are hit, then your character ducks behind somewhere while the other thugs shoot, and you won’t move back out until it’s safe.

      You get health (green balls) and score multiplies (yellow balls) here and in the fighting stages, and they magically fly to you no matter where they are. This is nice, since you can’t actually move your characters to collect them.

      You then switch between fighting as Pam & Red Sports Bra Woman until you get into the mansion. Then, I am not joking, you Tap X to push the door open and push the thug resisting it back. Pam then puts her hand in the air and shouts, “Yes,” as if this is the most important thing she has ever done.

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Press X repeatedly, forever

Level End Status Screen

      The first level ends and you get a status screen. It tracks your Accuracy, Max Combo, Counters, & Total Points. It then grades you. It counts up my point total from 0 upwards, which is crazy to watch because every 5 seconds is only 10,000 points going by. I then realized that my score was over 200,000, so it took over a minute for the score to tally. Then, I am given Rank: B. Surely I should play again to get a better score. Pam’s face is in the lower left corner. If you get an A ranking, she will hold her hands up in a pose right after your ranking is determined. I feel so rewarded.

Bonus Features

      It is here you can save your game, but you can also buy photos and movies with your score. Your score IS currency. For instance, the photo costs 10,000 points. However, if you give up your score, how can you ever get a truly high score if you are always spending it? Though I don’t see myself saying to a friend that I got an insanely high score on a video game with Pamela Anderson in it, then asking him what his highest score was. For one, he won’t have the game, and two, he will wonder why I played this game in the first place (as I’m sure the readers of this article are doing right now)

      There are 40 photos and 24 movies to unlock. However, the pictures actually spoil the game by showing scenes that happen in the future. In addition to computer shots, there are also model shots from the 4 women and 2 men of the TV show (though most pictures are of Pam [surprise!]). I then buy my first move, and guess what it is. If you guessed that the opening cut scene must be paid for, you guessed correctly. Seriously, f___ you, VIP. Every video game lets you watch these for free after you watch them in-game the first time.

Game Mechanic #1 – Fighting: Normal

      No, I didn’t play the game again on Normal Mode as I’m not a masochist and there are no difficulty settings for this game. The game gets harder (ha!) starting with Level 2. Now, for every thug you must press 3 buttons, and you will have to hit 4 if you are surrounded by a 2nd thug. You must still press this within the 2 second time frame. It just got real.

      This is also where the rails segment become apparent in the fighting. All the thugs have predetermined times they will enter the screen. If you fail to hit the thug, he stays there as his friend comes toward you, and a 3rd thug could appear in the room because he was supposed to at that time–meaning your reward for failure is a harder game, as now you have to make 4 button presses in the same 2 second time frame, and maybe even 5 if you really suck.

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If you defeat this guy, you only have to worry about the guy behind you, but fail: and you
have to fight them both, with 1 extra button (now 3) to press within the same 2 second time limit.

      However, the game is good as helping you along. If you fail 3 times, you will get a simple Triangle button to help you. Halfway through the game, however, this becomes useless because 2-3 hits kill you before this option can appear. Also, it makes you learn the game as you progress by starting the game with 2 buttons, then progressing to 3 by the 2nd level, and 4 buttons at the last level. These are two compliments of the game, but will they be the last?

      You finally get to the Doctor’s operating room. Pam says, “Are we too fashionably late?” Groan.
I see that only 3 photos and 1 movie have unlocked for me to purchase, and then it dawned on me that I have much longer to play than I anticipated.

1st Fake Boss: Dodge The Sniper

      The first Boss is a sniper on the roof that you run away from. You view Pam and Red Sports Bra Woman running, and you must hit either left or right when the icon appears on screen. Do the VIP characters have spider-sense or see the future? They run so slowly as if their lives aren’t important, then simply walk the direction you push to avoid a sniper bullet. Also, the Doctor appears to have teleported away because he only exists in cut scenes. You never see him in-game even though he should clearly be there.

      I just realized the doctor you saved left someone to die on the operating table. Once you find the doctor, you escape, leaving the person on the operating table from the opening cut scene to die from poor surgical practices. It’s doubtful he spent time fixing him and told him to hide, as the doctor probably went right to hiding in his closet.

      Two new characters, Black Man & Ponytail Woman appear. Their Receptionist; who you find out is really a computer hacker, says she will flood the cell phones with 4,000 oms (or noms) to block their communications. First off, how does she do this? Is she blocking every phone in the city? That’s not possible because the other characters communicate to each other later. How did they find out who the bad guys were? And how did she know which phones to ‘hack’ since they don’t know who the bad guys are yet? Did I mention this was 2001? Arghh!!!!

      Anyway, Pigtail Woman is a stealth level (and I have no idea how she knew where to go; is this a business?) where you only press 1 button to move around. Hilariously, most guards can’t see you even though they are staring directly at you; it’s when you’re moving (and by moving, I mean pushed the button to see what your character does) that you have to worry.

1st Mini-Game: Cell Phone Hacking

      You start out with a wavelength that alternates between up and down. You control a small white dot in the center of the wavelength. With your white dot, you press either up or down to move the white dot where the wavelength’s top or bottom is. The only problem is you have 1 ½ seconds to do this, as the screen doesn’t scroll, it performs a jump cut to the next wavelength that was next to it (before eventually cycling back repeatedly), so that while you are selecting up, you will now press the new center white dot you are controlling up when you wanted to move it down. This is just aggravating and just feels like a game with no skill made to waste 3 minutes of your life (more if you fail).
      Next, Black Man magically appears driving a car for the thugs to chase him. How did he find them? GPS was not invented yet, and he found a moving car that was somewhere in the city—oh, he is talking on his cell phone while driving really fast, so maybe Pam told him where they were every few seconds. And how was he able to convince them to stop following Pam’s car when they have the Doctor they want? And how does he arrive back at the VIP’s safe house without having someone follow him there? This…if this is how the TV series is written, I’m glad I’ve never watched it.

      You find that the Doctor did some facial reconstruction for the mob boss DeCarlo, and you hilariously see that the Doctor’s badge is actually just clothing texture so it looks like part of his body. The faces of all the characters in the cut scenes are good, look sort of realistic, and are able to convey some emotions. And here I am giving another compliment to this game.

      Anyway, you then control Black Man as he goes out to a punching bag tied to a palm tree and starts hitting it. I’m not making this up. Pam stands by you and cheers you on the more you hit it (you hit it the same way you would a thug, but you don’t get combos). The boxing scene is ridiculous. Did the game developers have a strict rule that the game must be at least 4 hours long if someone is able to play the game perfectly? This just fills like filler. Then, once you are done, Black Man takes one last kick to the tree and a thug falls from it. What? How? Red Sports Bra Woman is on the balcony and sees this, but the top of the tree is visible DIRECTLY IN HER LINE OF SITE and it’s obvious that there is no way he could have been hiding up there, unless Red Bra Woman wanted her friends to die. I give this scene a double face palm. See what I did there?

      “How did they find us?” “How many blond bodyguards do you know?” Writing 101 ladies and gentlemen; the forced explanation to cover the plot hole. It would have been easier to say that Black Man didn’t actually lose them.

Real Boss #1: Regular Shooting Thug + More Health

      You start out in shooting mode and have to shoot out the tires to the limo, even though it’s sitting perfectly still. Once that’s done, the boss appears, ducking out from the limo to shoot at you. He’s no different than a regular enemy with an extended life bar and really easy.

     The worst thing is that my health with the girl I’m playing has the same health from when I played her 20 minutes ago, even though I controlled Black Man in-between her segments; not one of the 5 characters you control heals between any level; you can only heal by not getting hit and collecting health energy. This is the worst aspect of the game, as later I started at a boss with only 1 failure meaning my death. Pressing continue doesn’t help, because you start with the same level of health you had when you started that segment.

      At least, when you continue, you don’t go back to the beginning of the level. If the level is divided into 3 character segments/areas, Continue starts you at the beginning of the new area (argh, another compliment—at least this makes up for the horrible health saving).

Boss #2: Regular Fighting Thug + More Health

      Anyway, this is the first time I felt the game got difficult, as the enemies start becoming 4-5 button combinations more often with just the simplest of failures. You then play as the Asian Man beating up Boss #2, who is just a regular 3 button press thug you have to fight for 5 minutes. Pam then follows him to a dock, and I think he’s going to get away by boat, but then, he runs on the boat, the screen loads, and he then runs across 7 boats forming a line to the beach. How can these boats be used if they are on the beach? What’s the purpose of the dock if no one uses it? And the boats aren’t logically spaced; how is anyone going to get to them without getting wet or walking across a boat someone else owns? Then, Pam somehow beats him to near death. Black Man catches up to him and says, “Tell DeCarlo how much that floor tastes.” First off, it’s not a floor, it’s sand. And second, he can’t tell DeCarlo because you kidnap and interrogate him. Learn how to properly threaten people!

      So, you learn from Boss #2 that Doctor has blackmailed DeCarlo, but Doctor says he charged him a bill he didn’t agree with. You find that DeCarlo has a microchip company and learn that DeCarlo has a computer expo opening the next day, so Ponytail Woman goes to the convention/headquarters holding a gun while walking up to the entrance of this all glass building. Even once you’re inside people could see you from outside; I thought you were the stealth expert?

Boss #3: Sniper

The Sniper is a blue trench-coat wearing man who runs from location to location trying to snipe you. This is ridiculously easy as you can see where he runs to, so you can plan ahead. The difficulty for regular fighting increases after this battle, as the price for failure is a mass of enemies; fail 3-4 buttons presses, and you will most surely die. You eventually find the computer and tell Hacker Girl that since the computer isn’t on any network, you need her here. “Oh, an away game.” When asked if she can do it, she says, “I’m the Shaquille O’Neil of computers.” … Moving on.

2nd Mini-Game: Sliding Puzzle

To hack the mini-game, you have to play the most annoying game you played as a kid. You remember those sliding puzzles? These!

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Yes, this picture is from the same game.

      And you must do 3 of these in 5 minutes. Are you trying to recreate his eye for a retina scan? Anyway, I discovered the math and pattern to beating these easily (sorry, I want to feel special) and then you ‘hack’ the system by ‘guessing’ the password. This is not hacking! No TV show knows what hacking is.

      Black Man comes to save Pam, but she is busy painting her nails and doesn’t listen. He asked where the doctor is, but I’m wondering if they killed Boss #2, as he never shows up again. They’ve killed tons of thugs, so I assume they executed him. Thugs approach Pam, and you have to ‘Tap X’ to prevent them from getting in the door 3 times. The 3rd time is impossibly hard. I don’t know how anyone is supposed to get through this without a turbo controller (or pausing when your hand gets tired), and I’ve done mini-games like this since I was born. Then, the thugs enter (what was the point), and Pam throws beer bottles at them, because she doesn’t believe in using guns (didn’t you read the manual yet?). It’s still a shooting stage, through using beer bottles instead of bullets. Eventually, a Gatling Gun man forces you outside, and you fight…

Boss #4: Punching Again

      Just more button combos. He’s really strong, so you can only take a few hits. Even when you win, you lose, with you and Black Man on your knees and being held at gunpoint. The scene cuts and it feels like they were executed on the spot. I only know they are kidnapped because THE MANUAL TOLD ME. Yeah, the manual spoiled it’s own story. Ironically, the manual has back stories for each of the main characters, and even the bosses, which is odd, since the villains have no character (or even dialogue) in the game itself.

      You eventually play as Ponytail Woman again in a shooting stage and have to protect your friends creeping around, but it feels like they have unlimited health so it’s actually an easy protect mission. You then escape with your computer disc before the cops arrive. Oh, and once this level started, you see the raw power of the graphics; a 2nd and final enemy type. No longer is everyone wearing suits and sunglasses. Now, you can fight people with green shirts and cameo pants. Is there a secret militia hidden in the microchip building? Or did the develops accidentally confuse militia with mafia? Hacker Girl goes to the office, and everyone else goes to the safe house to find Pam & Black Man kidnapped, but find an ominous message. They race to the office and find a bomb.

3rd Mini-Game: Bomb Defuse

      In this mini-game, you have 3 buttons you can press, each under a liquid. Every time you press that button, the liquid raises. If you don’t press the button, the liquid will continue to drain. If even 1 liquid lowers completely, you lose. You can only press 1 button every second, so you have to know when to press to eventually fill all 3 liquids. It’s very simple. Think of the hostage mini-game in Chrono Trigger and that’s what it is. After you defuse the bomb, it still goes off (Do you ever succeed?). You toss it behind your desk and everyone takes cover behind a couch. Surprisingly, the mafia couldn’t get enough explosives to blow up the building as you all miraculously survive; the bomb only takes out a desk.

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Despite disarming the bomb, it still goes off.

Determined to save your friends, you all go straight to DeCarlo’s home/castle/stronghold. Seriously, it’s a parking garage, then it immediately looks like a castle when you enter the 2nd floor.

      While kidnapped, Pam says Cliche Line #12, “You’ll never get away with this,” in what sounds like a child trying to lie to their parents. After Pam & Black Man are alone in their storage room, Pam pulls out her make-up which is actually a secret phone. She contacts her friends, but this cutscene and development is not useful; they were going to come and rescue her anyway.

Game Mechanic #1: Fighting – Hard

      Though the shooting gun game never gets harder, upon reaching DeCarlo’s home, the game turns into hard mode. Now, you must input 4 buttons within 2 seconds for each thug; meaning you must hit 5 or 6 if surrounded by 2 or 3 thugs respectively. It is harder than it sounds. You have to train yourself to block out all background distractions; don’t scratch that itch or you will die.

      I just realized you can try to cheat the game by pressing pause, and the button combinations are visible on the screen. You would think this would cause cheating, but the minute you hit Start, the game has a 1 ½ second delay before starting again (and you can’t press a button while the characters are still frozen between unpausing and the game starting again). It’s actually harder if you try this and is not recommended.

      You start in the parking lot, switching between all the characters. Every sequence takes place in only one screen; it’s like playing an old arcade game. Complete the screen, then move on.

      Then, I kid you not, DeCarlo says to use Pam & Black Man as hostages, but he sends in his thugs that you have previously defeated in hand-to-hand combat one at a time into your storage room. You easily escape and magically appear with the rest of the gang in the parking lot. You then find an elevator that takes you up into an extravagant ballroom; the elevator is hidden in a pillar in that room that only 1 person at a time can go through apparently (based on the scale of your character to the elevator).

Boss #5: Gatling Gun Man

      This boss has 2 forms. First, he walks in the open and shoots his Gatling gun. Then, he hides behind a statue and tosses grenades you must shoot. If you are quick at shooting and re-loading, you can take half his health while he walks back behind the statue. His 2nd form is on another stage. He slowly walks from pillar to pillar and is completely invincible while doing this. You can only attack him when he appears from the pillar to fire, and only a maximum of two times. He still tosses grenades.

      Mini-Game Fake-Out. This is not a real mini-game. You have to blow up 4 doors, but to do so, you must hit the button in order. It’s just a slower version of fighting a thug.

Boss #6: Sniper Again

      The helicopter is about to take off, and you have to ‘hit the engine’. However, the wording is wrong, as you want to fire at the blades. Anyway, you can’t do this immediately, as the blue sniper is back, and he’s glitchy as hell. When he pops out from behind the left pillar, you can only hit him on the right side of his body, but you can hit him anywhere when he pops out of the right pillar. The timing here must be precise or else he will shoot you and kill you in 3 hits.

Boss #7: DeCarlo’s Muscle

      DeCarlo’s bodyguard comes to fight, and this battle seriously takes 10 minutes. But, the annoying thing is he is now 6 BUTTON PRESSES! you can’t take more than 3 hits from him or you will die (less if you aren’t fully healed; which you won’t be); there is really no room for error. This takes mastering and some people won’t be able to do it.

Fake Boss #2: DeCabra

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Pam taken hostage (this picture is from the PS2 version)

      This isn’t really a boss. DeCabra takes Pam hostage and threatens her with a gun. You tap X a lot to beat him up and win the game. All 4 women and the 2 men talk about the Doctor opening a new practice (I don’t know how that’s possible since he left someone to die at his house), and then there is a joke about someone implying getting breast implants when they were talking about something else. Everyone laughs and the credits role. It’s here you see the entire Chinese cast. I had no idea that Chinese video game developers were a thing.

      Now that the game is over, you have to play it again. Yes, the final movie is 1 million points. I had to play the game another hour to get that and unlock the additional pictures and movies. One thing that is annoying is that in the Picture menu, if appears there are 8 pictures you can unlock because they have Question marks, but that’s not true. I wish they had designed the menu better so people wouldn’t think they were missing something.

      Why did I spend another hour to get the last movie and some random pictures of Pam posing with a gun as if she knows how to use it?

VIPBack
Action Never Looked So Fake

Score Breakdown

Story: 2 out of 10

Sigh. The writing is terrible. All the jokes, while trying to be tongue in check, are not funny at all. The story is very basic, and there are loopholes and general reality flaws all over the place.

Sound: 1 out of 10

There are ONLY 2 TRACKS OF MUSIC IN THE ENTIRE GAME. It’s so repetitive and ear bleeding. The only positive thing I can say is that there is more than 1 song.

Graphics: 6 out of 10

They are slightly above average because the backgrounds are made to look realistic and come out a little average, but are all identifiable, and the cut scene models are actually pretty good for Playstation 1 technology.

Controls: 10 out of 10

All you do is push the button that comes on the screen in a certain time limit or move a cursor over a body and press a button to shoot it. Though very simple, there is nothing flawed about any of these controls except for the Sniper glitch mentioned earlier.

Fun: 5 out of 20

Eh. It’s not really engaging. It was worth a small time waster, and I enjoyed playing something different and laughing at all the horrible story elements, just enjoying the ludicrousness of it all, but….

Replay Value: 0 out of 10

I won’t play it again…ever. There would be nothing different, but yet I will still keep it because I have to show someone just how bad this game is and prove a travesty like this exists.

Extras: 1 out of 10

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Bonuses include CG cutscenes stills and real-life pictures of the 5 actors modeling

It gets 1 point for the pictures, but it fails at extra content for movies, since the movies are just the cutscenes you already watched.

Bonus Points:

+3 For Rising Difficulty

The game is good at starting you out in what looks like a simple game, then increase the number of buttons you have to push twice throughout the game so you actually have to improve.

Total Points: 28 out of 90

      VIP is not a very bad game, it’s just mediocre; but the awful story just adds to the guilty pleasure of it all. It’s worth a play, but afterward you’ll probably just want to pass it allow to someone else so they, too, can enjoy the insanity.

      It’s not over; VIP was also released for the Playstation 2! Apparently, it plays the same, but has much, much more dialogue and story (plus completely different graphics). There is also a version for Game Boy Color & Game Boy Advance. I would totally pick these up at a flea market if I found them, and would then set out to waste what little time I have left in this world reviewing them.

Additions: I just realized the Pamela’s character on the show doesn’t believe in guns (this is why she only attacks people with a purse and beer bottles) yet the pictures and promos for the TV show (and this game) show her with a gun. That’s like having Batman pose with a gun for his first movie poster, only to see the movie and have it tell you he doesn’t use guns while also showing you why he doesn’t.

This review is also on:
      VideoGameGeek / RetrowareTV / GameFAQS