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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.


      +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 won third place in’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

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

Back Cover

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 (

      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.


      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.


      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.


      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.


      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.


      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).


      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.

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


      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.


      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.

Level 1 & Level 15 of Sneaking Mode

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.



      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.


      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.


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

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.


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.



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

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 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.

      Samuel leaves me at the dock to the Lighthouse, and says Martin, Pendleton, & Havelock have turned on each other. Can’t say I’m surprised. Then he says he is disappointed in me because of my actions. Well excuse me for trying to save my own life. I knocked out many guards, and I never killed any Weepers. Was it not enough?

      I then feel the Outsider’s protection against Samuel gone. I ready my bow, ready to kill Samuel as he leaves, but then realize that he is one of the few that didn’t betray me. Plus, he also saved my life. I watch him go away, remembering what he said; we’ll never see each other again. I then remember I didn’t say goodbye to Cecelia and wonder if I will see her again, too.

      Realizing my actions of killing only partially have created a bad outcome, I don’t really try to knock anyone unconscious anymore. My psychic text powers alert me to the fact that I’m still a bad person even for killing a few people. I alert myself to some guards and then Stop Time at the exact moment they shoot their gun. I then possess another guards body and leave him right in front of the bullet. I watching as Time returns to normal, and the bullet flies right at the other man, killing him instantly. I possess one guard and take him into the water, killing him instantly. They all live on an island, yet never bothered to learn how to swim. Upstairs is a metal walkway that leads to a door, and I hear and guards above, but start firing my gun to get them down here. I quickly rewire an Arc Reator and it kills 3 of them slowly, meaning I have to run around them as it kills all of them in a few second. I possess the next few and walk them into the reactor.

      My wave of destruction is cut short when I enter the Guardhouse and find Martin and his men (a combination of city Guards & Overseers) are attacking Pendleton. They have already blow out a hole in the fort. I approach the guards and Martin while Martin is yelling at Pendleton, only to find that they are not interested in fighting me. I stand directly in front of Martin’s face, and he just stares at me; NOT A SINGLE PERSON OF THE 7 PEOPLE IN THIS OUTDOOR AREA TRY TO ATTACK ME! Martin must realize that I’m here to kill him, right? He shows no emotion and just stands there, dumbfounded at my resurrection. I decide to let him live, as it appears he is waiting for me to kill him for the guilt he must feel.

      I search all around the complex, going along the rooftops, the middle areas, and the ground, in what is a very large circular Guardhouse. With so much cliff and water below me, I start knocking guards unconscious and throwing them off the balcony, where they smash against the rocks or fall into the sea to drown below. Sometimes I see their small, lifeless bodies floating in the water around the island.

      When I eventually find Pendleton, atop the guard tower he doesn’t talk to me, just stares at me like Martin did. So I kill him for setting me up in the duel to die all that time ago. I was expecting something more epic. Maybe an apology. Maybe a final death threat. Why just a vacant stare and no dialogue? I don’t have my closure. I didn’t hear you suffer and scream as I watch my spring blade cut you to pieces. Then I climbed to the tallest tower and chucked your body into the raging rivers below. May your soul be damned to hell, Pendleton.

      Upon returning to different areas, I find that guards are magically returning in areas I already cleared (No one else ever attacks me in this outer area, and continues to stand still ignoring my footsteps and obvious facemask that matches all wanted posters. I leave to explore the other dock, but find absolutely nothing other than a few guards and a health potion. I do see two large, empty boats, so perhaps that is where the reinforcements that populated my cleared areas came from.

      The Lighthouse towers in the distance; who knows how high it is? There is only one way to the Lighthouse, and it’s through one small metal platform holding one guard and an Arc Reactor. I can see a small metal walkway under it where a re-wire weapon is housed. I possess the guard then take out the Whale Oil. Now there is nothing stopping. I gaze up at the tower and wonder how it was built is the could only only carry a few pounds at a time across this very small walkway. They had to have hauled the parts by ship and used pulleys…somehow. I’m just going to assume the Outside helped them.

      I see Lightning crack in the distance over my town of Dunwall. But, then I turn toward our city, and it’s on fire; I see nothing but smoke. What is happening to my city while I am gone?

      I climb down and explore the Lighthouse’s bottom, but there is nothing there. I then return to the elevator to begin my accent. As I rise, I wonder why there was only 1 guard here; if I know there was only one way into my house and someone wanted to kill me; I’m pretty sure I would have placed at least 10 guards around this elevator.

      I start by going up the steps and Blinking behind a guard, who I knock unconscious and throw off a balcony. I watch him fall for what feels like a minute. I follow him with my zoom eye until he vanishes from site; that’s how far up I am.

      I Blink behind the walkway the opposite direction I’m suppose to go, walk around the corner, up an air conditioner, and find myself on top of the Greenhouse. In the distance, I hear Emily and Havelock arguing. He is struggling with Emily, and tells her that I’m a bad person. Emily says that I am her friend and that I am coming to kill him. She is right about that.

      Instead of helping her, however, I go down the stairs and find a maid that Havelock has killed. I toss her over the balcony and continue downstairs and find…the maid hanging straight down off the balcony railing. Her toes are hanging on the edge, supporting her entire weight as she flows with the wind.

      I walk into the Greenhouse and find Havelock’s notes. He says everyone in the conspiracy must die except people with something to lose. He also wonders if Emily is my child. I wonder about that , too. I also find a mattress on the floor that I can tell is where Emily was kept.

      I finally decide to save Emily and Blink over to where Havelock is, and accidentally knock him unconscious when I wanted to kill him. Emily thanks me for saving her, then asks if I killed them all. I tell her yes, and she says it’s a good thing, as she’d have them all killed anyway. I have just saved the future Empress of Dunwall, but how will she rule now that she has been surrounded by death and betrayal? I killed for her so she could take the throne; all she has learned from that is that you must kill to get what you want. The future is bleak, and Dunwall will most certainly suffer under her rule.

      The Outsider does not say hope is completely lost; for he can give me the ability to turn back time to when I first arrived in Dunwall, and try again. I accept the Outsider’s gift, but now I can only think of how angry I am that nothing went the way I wanted. I had tried to be equally punishing and forgiving, only to find no middle ground. There is only one thing to do now. Now, they will all pay; everyone in Dunwall – I will kill them ALL!

The End?

Continue To “Kill Everyone Playthrough Stats (In the Near Future)”

Return To: “Mission 8 – Hound’s Pit Massacure”

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

VIP (with Pamela Anderson)

VIP US Cover

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.

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?

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


      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.

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.

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!

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.

 photo VIPBomb.jpg
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

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?

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

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

Viking - Cover
Cover For All Countries / Watch the Trailer Here

      In Viking: Battle For Asgard, you are a Viking warrior who is nearly killed by undead Vikings, only to be saved by Freya (Goddess of beauty and love) from near death to be her Avatar. Hel (Goddess of the Underworld) has raised an undead Viking army to take over Midgard and free Fenrir (the wolf god) from his chains. This will start Ragnarok, which will destroy the gods and cause a long winter over the Earth; for the first god to set Ragnorak in motion will be the only god that lives to rule over what is left.

Viking - Hel
Hel seeks to conquer all of Midgard & Asgard with her undead horde.

      The opening prologues for each world have dark and gritty comic book inspired panels with a very good voice over. They are entertaining to watch, and two describe the back-story of Drakan (Hel’s Avator) and Hel herself.

Viking - Comic Panel
Prologue to the game

      You start off in your own village, having brought about the end of the zombie siege on your town. One thing you’ll notice, is how lively the area is; there are people fighting with a group of other watching & various people will occasionally stop and sit on the ground to rest. There are around 50 people or more in this town, and you can only talk to 5 of them; you only talk to who is necessary. In later areas, with larger towns and a group of 200 or more people, random people will tell you where the important people are (so you don’t get lost; or, maybe you don’t know how to read a radar), but these people are never on your radar.

      Your radar in the upper right hand corner actually has a story purpose. It is a glowing amulet from Freya that allows you to see what is important near you (such as people), and if you select a place on the map, it will allow it to become a dot on your radar so you can find it without pausing to check the map all the time.

      The best thing about the map is that every time you find a settlement, town, cave, or important event, it will be marked on your map so you can always find it; which is a really good idea. In addition, the symbol will become blue when you haven’t finished that ‘level’, and red once you have conquered it. Sometimes, these levels need requirements, such as freeing two towns before you can attack the castle.

Viking - Map
Here you can check all your objectives and your current position.

      The world outside the town is large, and you want to search everywhere for captured Vikings, as this will increase your army. You see, in Viking, there are 3 type of things you do; attack, sneak, and go to war.

Viking - Battle

      In the beginning, you will find some random undead that you need to kill that charge at you. Every time you attack, that enemy makes the sound of sword cutting bone, immersing you into the battle. In addition, when you attack an enemy long enough, they will get a Square above their head. This indicates they are dying, and if you let them die, you will get 1 pink enemy to fill your elemental attacks. But, if you kill them quickly before they fully die, you will get a slow-motion cinematic kill, along with 3 red energy balls. Each cinematic attack varies so it never gets old. Plus, you won’t be doing it all the time, as in large groups, doing this will most likely get you stabbed in the back; enemies do not wait in line to attack you.

      Regarding the combat, you had better pick your fights carefully; it is hard to run away. If you run from a battle, every 3 seconds you will be attacked in the back because the enemies runs faster than you do. This is also why stealth plays a large element in the game.

      In the first captured settlement, stealth is figuring out that attacking lone warriors when they walk away from their captured human will limit the number of enemies by half. When you attack an enemy, every enemy near them within a certain radius automatically knows where you are, and when they know, they create their own radius, resulting in a quick death as they all charge and pile upon you. You can take out only around 4 enemies at once in the beginning, but by the end, with the variety of attacks you can purchase and the fast movement, I was able to take up to at least 10 at once.

Viking - Cut
If you select ‘X’ your character will perform an instant kill; but this only happens
when the enemy hasn’t discovered you, or they are dying

      The game gets more fun once you purchase the stealth kill. The best part about it is, you don’t have to be really close to an enemy to use it, but make sure that no enemy has spotted you. Later in the game, you will find large patrols of marching guards. You will need to be in a good place so they don’t spot you while roaming the land. After the first island, it gets harder, because most groups will always have a horn blower that, if he spots you, will call every undead near and far to come and attack. In addition, there are 5 cities that must be snuck into to do a secret objective. These towns have hundreds of undead Vikings, and you must study their movements, know when you can attack, and find out how to sneak around, or you will die quickly by alerting the entire city.

      Your health regenerates, but only in open areas, and never when a single enemy is still looking at you. You must run away (if you can) or kill everything on the screen before you can heal again, which is why choosing your battles is important. I like this mechanic, as it forces you to be smart about when you engage the enemy.

      The attacks in the game seem simple. You press X to attack quick, and Square to attack hard. Square you can hold down for more damage. You can also press Square after X for a combo. Later, you will buy attacks such as X, X, Square, and selecting X while in the air to attack from the sky.

      Every time you connect with the enemy, you will receive a small disc shape under your life bar. You can have up to 5. Now, you can hold L1, and chose to attack with X or Square, and your attacks are now more powerful (if you have bought them), but depending on what move you use, you will extinguish 1, 2 or 3 discs, then have to use normal attacks again to build it up again. This is a very interesting idea. It keeps you from being overpowering all the time, and gives you nearly double the additional attacks when fighting the enemy. Plus, since you are using only a few new moves at a time, you are given time to learn each move as the game progresses (and you can practice using each specific move in the arena). Your move set by the end of the game is so large you will learn to fight and improve better, despite the fact your character never gets any stronger or gains any Experience Points; it is you who is getting better.

Viking - Behead
Cinematic Kill With Bone Crushing Sound Effects

      Later, you can buy elemental attacks (which has a power bar that fills when you collect red energy from fallen enemies). When you chose to activate an element, it becomes imbued to your sword and you can attack with Fire, Lightning, or Ice. Fire and Lighting make you cause more damage, but Ice will actually freeze enemies in place, and if you attack them again, they shatter; this feels much more powerful than the other elements, since it even works on shield and armor grunts if you bypass their defense. You can also chose to use an extremely large amount of energy for a massive attack, but I never found it helpful for Fire and Ice (Ice & Fire always missed, even when I was surround by people). Only Lightning is useful, as it target locks on 1 foes; but only 1 foe; it’s wasted on most regular enemies unless they have shields, or are wearing spiked armor. In addition, you can use your elemental powers near your army, and every troop in certain radius will also get elemental sword attacks.

      Finally, is the war. Along the way, you can find and free captured Vikings. When the war finally begins, you will have a large army, and you will want to empower them with your elemental attacks. The map will show you things only you can do to turn the tide of battle. It actually feels like a massive battle (there is never any slowdown), and knowing it’s coming and increasing your army to decimate the enemy is incredibly fun.

      Later, you will unlock dragons to aid you in the war effort. When you kill a boss on the battlefield, you will get a dragon medallion (you can only ever have 3 at one time). You can then summon the dragon as an air strike to attack a boss (for 2 dragon medallions) or a group of archers that your army can’t get to quickly, or at all (for 1 dragon medallion).

Viking - Dragon Strike 1
Dragon Strike

Viking - Dragon Strike 2
Dragon Owned

      There are some video games that make you think just a small tweak here and there would make you not annoyed or angry. Viking seems to have addressed all of those minor problems that current video games still do not on occasion. I noticed these:

1) You start over at the beginning of the settlement when you die. You can do each one in less than 5-15 minutes, so there should be no complaining, as you should be smart enough to sneak around on occasion.
2) All Vases, Treasure Bags, & Chests glow; you can even see them in darkness and far, far away.
3) Every vase you destroy automatically places the money in your inventory; you don’t have to let the gold fall to the ground, then wander to pick it up.
4) Every single piece of treasure (no matter how minor) is auto-saved, so that even when you restart a mission, you don’t have to collect all the treasure in one play session.
5) Every conversation you’ve had is saved so you know what your missions and objectives are.
6) Once you talk to someone; that’s it, you can’t physically talk to them again (except with a few exceptions). This is easier because after a major event, you don’t have to worry about talking to everyone just to make sure something else has opened up.

Viking - Impale

      Story: 10 out of 10

You never speak a single line of dialogue. This brings back the older ways of video games where they make the character not talk so you can put your own feeling into the game. Freya starts off in a loving and nurturing tone, but as the game progresses, she get more and more angry at different sights that have been conquered and destroyed, that she commands you to destroy the undead army sa if their veyr presence is an insult. you slowly realize you are just a tool for her, and nothing more.

Story Cons: The one story flaw is that I predicted the twist (not in the story, but in your heritage) in the first 5 minutes of the game; this is because the first person I talked to (a shaman with visions) stated too much of a hint. Another is Draken’s back story. You get it in the beginning of World 2, then he taunts you in the middle of the game. But, when you finally meet him, you go straight to the fight with no dialogue; and nothing happens after the fight; he vanishes forever. This is missing buildup and tension; this was a missed story opportunity.

      Music: 8 out of 10

I don’t really remember the music too much, but the one thing I love, is that I don’t need a single subtitle. Every word is vocally recognizable, and nowhere does the music make it hard to hear what anyone is saying.

      Challenge: 10 out of 10

The mix of hardcore battle attacks, logical stealth, and massive wars make a polished game that is also not too hard (I only played Normal mode so far). You have unlimited tries at each settlement. I also seemed to make the challenge on myself harder. If you free the Vikings from their cages, they will fight the undead with you, but any lone undead too far from the battle will simply disappear. I would make it a point to kill every enemy myself before opening the cages.

      Fun: 20 out of 20

Nothing prevented me from playing this game, and only this game, until I completed it.

      Control: 10 out of 10

The controls are varied, but they start small and build up; plus, you can practice all of them and get a feel for how they work. Nothing ever felt off or unbalanced about the controls.

      Graphics: 6 out of 10

Eh, what do I say. The graphics look good outside, but you’ll be looking at a lot of the same characters again and again; even the end boss, though she looks different, has the same attack as most of Giants you encountered.

Viking - Giant
Hi. I’m the Giant you will fight so much that I will cease to be a Sub-Boss and become just a
common enemy because you’ll have memorized by attack patterns.

      Extras: 0 out of 10

Sadly, there are no extras to this game, not even any codes. There were some hidden skulls in 3 towns that you are forced to sneak into that are hidden as to make the stealth hard, but they don’t register. In fact, there are no trophies on the PS3 version of the game even though the XBOX game had Achievements.

      Bonus Points:

      + 5 Making Video Game Mechanics / Cliches Actual Story Point

The vases you destroy with gold in them are the villagers that escaped before the undead Vikings attacked, and hoped that one day they would return home to start their life anew. The radar is actually an amulet given to you by Freya to find your way, in addition to pinpointing important people to talk to, treasure, and major locations. The undead Vikings still hoard gold even though they cannot use it because their greed follows them into the afterlife.

      +10 Making Stealth Work

The game isn’t entirely stealth based, but the times it is, it feels realistic and it isn’t out of place. You wouldn’t go straight into the enemies front door and fight 100 enemies by yourself would you? You can try.

      -2 Forgotten Game Mechanic

At one point you will find yourself stuck and unable to progress (at just the first world, no less). It is not stated anywhere in the game or in the manual, but you can actually climb vines that are covering a wall.

      Total Points: 76 out of 90

Nothing else to say. I think this game has been vastly underrated and not given enough chance. I would love to see a sequel, or at least a spiritual sequel.

Fun Glitches

There are a few small glitches here and there, but they never do anything and are mainly just fun to seek out. Once, I waited for a traveling group of 60 undead to wander into town at the exact moment I freed my captured Viking breather. However, the Vikings went straight into standing and walking mode and did not help me fight; I was immediately killed. On my next life, I found that you only had to free the city for the entire group to just disappear.

Another glitch is rare, but you can make it happen. When an enemy is dying if you wait until he is about to disappear, and attack him with the death kill as some of him is still on screen (right before the Square button vanishes) you will initiate a slow-motion cinematic death attack against absolutely nothing.

Viking - Freya Profile

Viking - Hel Profile 2
Hel – You can tell she’s evil because she has less clothes

Here, watch another trailer:

Mission 2 – Kill The Religion: The City

   &nbsp  One of the first things I see now that I am released from prison, and it’s the City Watch dumping bodies from a bridge into a boat below. One of them says “I think that one moved,” but they toss it over anyway. “Well, it’s not moving no more.” Great. I’m so glad I used to work with these type of people.

   &nbsp  I see a Wall of Light, which is a wall of electricity that will disintegrate anything that walks in front of it. I instead go the other way and find two guys just walking about. I don’t know why they are here when the City Watch is just a few paces away. I point my heart at one of the men and it says he reports his friends to the Lord Regent.

   &nbsp  I make my way into a house and find Granny Rags, an old woman who has her house suddenly attacked by the Bottle Neck Gang. She says if I help her, she’ll give me something, so I place a springwire trap on the ground then open the door. It kills one, and then I quickly make short work of the others with my sword

   &nbsp  Granny Rags gives me a bone charm, then asks if I can help her take care of the street gang itself by poisoning their illegal elixir they make. I think about it as I make my way through the city. I walk through the city streets, avoid people, and end up accidently saving a shopkeeper, who gives me some good deals; even the heart agrees with me on that one. I further explore the city and find two thugs having a disagreement with some other thugs (they think one of them is stealing money from a City Watch corpse), who then kill each other. This city has gotten so disgustingly evil since I’ve been gone. I decide to end the lives of the 2 people remaining.

   &nbsp  I make my way to a scientist’s house who has some rat poison I can steal to poison the elixir supply of the street gang. There are also questions about how the rat plague appeared, since most rats seem to have started in the inner city instead of the docks.

   &nbsp  Leaving the scientist’s house, The Blink power comes in handy when jumping around out of view, but I still take the time to enjoy the scenery and look for any possible wall I can mantle and climb over. I constantly look for other ways to walk, jump, fly, & yes, even fall.

   &nbsp  I make my way back to the Distillery. I am told that I should not enter, and retract my steps. Luckily, I find that I can walk on the pipes above and sneak past them all (no one ever looks up). I hear people talk about someone who could move very fast and wears a mask; but I haven’t been here yet, so I don’t know who they’re talking about. The Outsider has given many people these powers before, but for what purpose? I quickly find some secrets inside, steal many valuables, then search for the elixir to poison. I finally do the deed then quietly escape without being noticed.

   &nbsp  I return to tell Granny Rags the news, and find she has built a totem to the Outsider. The Outsider suddenly appears out of nowhere. Is he following me everywhere and watching me non-stop? Is he tracking everything I do to make sure I complete a task for him? In Thief, the Trickster watched over Garrett for a while so he could get him to steal an artifact for him (both creatures are enemies of the church and considered the true evil by them, mind you) so I am suddenly worried he is keeping tabs on me for a reason. But, he speaks so calmly it’s almost like he cares about Granny Rags when he says she used to be very famous, so much so that many people vied for her hand in marriage.

   &nbsp  I have fun knocking out guards in the middle of the street, and then I reprogram the 2nd Wall of Light and purposely cause a commotion. Two guard runs toward me and are quickly vaporized. Another guard looks at me and tosses a grenade, but it evaporates. He walks slowly, then stops, slowly, then stops, slow, then stops. Hello, you’ve seen 2 friends and a grenade vaporized; do you really want to come after me? Finally, after his 3rd stop, he growls impatiently, draws his sword, and runs directly at me in a rage. I watch his body explode into ash. These guards are not very smart. Anyway, with the street now mine, I make my way to the Overseer property.

Continue To “Mission 2 – Kill The Religion: Corruption”

Return To “Mission 1.5 – Secrets & Stealing”


      Descent seemed interesting at first; it was a 1st person shooter in which you took control of an aircraft that was capable of turning any direction in a 360 degree radius. My friend mentioned that it was a fun game from his childhood, and so I was excited I could have a fun early 3D experience. I was wrong. My friend had played the PC version. I was playing the Playstation port.

      Look at this opening and playthrough of the 1st level: Looks cool, doesn’t it?

      Imagine Doom with a jetpack, and you have an understanding of the controls, and even the graphics. Because you are in a 360 movement environment, you can get very disoriented by flipping your ship around. Also, since locations can be anywhere, what you think is a hidden path is simply a regular hallway you are not used to looking for in a 3D space.

      Descent has a Save feature, but it is horribly implemented. You can save anytime, anywhere; and loading brings you to that exact location. What is does wrong is save exactly how many lives you have. I was on level 7 and saved with only one life left. Once I died, that was it: Game Over. Reloading the level starts you with the 1 life I had saved. Basically, you have to keep replaying the level over and over again to get better, then only save when you know you have a decent amount of lives. I have only seen Turok: Dinosaur Hunter use this before.

      All of your weapons use energy. Once you are down to 0, you cannot attack at all. This doesn’t happen often; it only happened to me once. Luckily, there is always an energy chamber on each level that will refill your energy back to 100.

      You start the game with a dual laser which can increase up to 4 levels; this will be your main weapon. Next is the Plasma gun. It uses 2 energy units every shot, but is powerful enough to kill most creatures in one blow (if you can hit them). Fusion has to be held down for more powerful shots, but in just a few seconds will explode in your face and cause you damage. The Vulcan (you will soon realize) is the best weapon, and runs on ammo instead of energy. Most of the time enemies can be slightly stunned by the Vulcan and not fire at you. It doesn’t happen all the time, but works 100% of the time if you can shoot first before the enemy has time to face you (which is rare).

      You also have auxiliary weapons; which are missiles, homing missiles, proximity mines (I found these useless because most enemies never chase you), and a smart and mega bomb (both good for taking out multiple enemies or one big enemy).

      You start also with 100 Shield, which is basically your life. Like Doom, both your Shield and Energy can be extended to 200 by collecting extra upgrades. Also, every level has a red, yellow, and red door that requires a key. The red door will always be the last door (as it holds the core and the exit).

      Now, as you progress, you keep your weapons from level to level. When you die, your ship explodes and leaves every weapon you had where you died. You have to travel to where you died and collect your weapons again. This can be problematic if it was in a nest of enemies. Later in the game, starting any level with anything other than the ultimate weapons would make the levels impossible.

      The controls are very hard to explain. You can turn right and left pretty quickly, but it always seems turning up and down feel really, really slow; a huge problem when you need to attack enemies above and below you. In addition, you will often be attacked and not know where to look, as you are not fast enough to check every spot. Also, most battles will happen in corridors, where it is impossible to avoid enemy fire.

Hey, Those words are upside down. You can chose to play with the large
aircraft status screen, or no HUD screen at all.

      I don’t see how anyone can have fun with this game the way the enemies are designed. All enemies (except for one) have guns. Some have minor damage shots (making the first 3-4 levels somewhat entertaining), but then you have these big red robots that can shoot unlimited homing missiles at you. You cannot move to shot them often, as they will often shot you before you’ve taken your first shot. In addition, there is one enemy that has no bullets at all; anytime his gantling gun makes a movement animation, it automatically hurts you.

      The enemies love to stay exactly where they are and never follow you. You can rarely lure them into a side view, or your proximity mine. You can only lure the first 2 enemies types from the first level, which become more and more rare Most of the time, you fly into a room, only to be attacked by 4 robots hiding in the corners. Sometimes, they are above you, other times, invisible. You can’t possibly kill them all before your ship explodes. You can’t back away and have them follow you because they won’t. What can you do? You guessed it, run right into it, kill as many as you can, explode, return to collect your good weapons while being shot at, kill as many as you can; repeat. You could try to strafe, but that rarely works. If you can see the enemy, they can shoot you better and with near perfect accuracy.

      It also doesn’t help that when you get, your ship shakes and moves away from the enemy, meaning you have to focus your shooting reticule over the enemy again. Also, trying to find the other robots in a room where each shoot takes 10 Shield away is very frustrating.

      To end each level, you have to find the red Core and destroy it. The Core attacks you and is usually surrounded by other robots. Once destroyed, you have 45 seconds to find the Exit (hopefully you scouted for it earlier) or be destroyed along with the base. However, the base becomes dimly lit (making it hard to see), and the entire base is shaking (making it hard to move). This is good for building tension, and probably the most equally frustration/rewarding aspect of the game. The shaking can disorient you, causing you to fly into walls, so you had better take your time, yet still hurry. However, it’s almost pointless; if you don’t get out in time and your ship explodes, you still beat the level, you just won’t get a score for that level (Score: 0). It’s as if the game knew these parts of the level were too hard.

      There is a 2 player game, but you need 2 Playstation consoles and 2 copies of the game. This was an early Playstation 1 game. I have heard it is fun. I would assume it would be more fun to shoot another Player (someone who actually moves). Also, I have seen videos now of the PC version, and it actually looks very good.

Now, let me show you the frustrating enemies you will encounter

      Story: 7 out of 10

The main character is very satirical of his job and the people that hire him. You are hired by a mining company to destroy the mining robots that are going crazy and killing everyone. It’s not known if they are controlled by terrorists or are sentient beings rising against their masters. However, your bounty hunter ignores most of the mission briefing, as he is telling you his cynical throughts of the world. Great start to a horrible game.

      Challenge: 3 out f 10

The challenge seems appropriate in the first 3 levels, but the difficulty ramps up to crazy levels. And since you can’t replay a level with a set number of lives, going through the entire game is a chore. The challenge is not well adjusted.

     Music: 10 out of 10

Ironically, thought the gameplay is awful, at least you are stuck with a great tune while trying the same level over and over again. Not only does each level seem to have a different techno theme, but I would actually get the soundtrack to this game.

      Fun Factor: 2 out of 20

Sorry, you were fun the first hour only. After that, I didn’t enjoy it at all.

      Controls: 4 out of 10

Looking up and down should have the same speed as looking left and right. Seriously. At least any button can be mapped to do anything. Most of the spacial issues have more to do with…

      Graphics: 3 out of 10

…the graphics. This game is in those large Playstation boxes, indicating it’s an early game, but still, the graphics are very bland and flat. There is never any indication that something is the floor , ceiling, or wall. Once I thought I had visited a mirror room down the hallway, only to realize I was now looking up at the floor in the same room. There is no straightforward level or rooms, as if the design of each level was, “Lets make it as long as possible until we run out of memory for each level.”

      Replay Value: 0 out of 10

Sorry, I won’t be playing this again.

      Extras: 5 out of 10

There are a few cheat codes, which is a good extra, and you will need them if you actually want to finish the game.

      Bonus Points

– 10 Abandoned

     Total Points: 24 out of 90

      Once I start a game, I finish it until the end, no matter how good, bad, mediocre, or boring a game is. There are a few rare games that occasionally make me break this habit. This game was one of them.

      If you couldn’t tell, this game is hard. Lives are rare. You have no leeway for error, as the slightest wander into two enemies can kill you instantly. Enemies wait for you to enter the room giving you no strategy; all the game becomes is move in, shoot, leave the room, repeat. On rare occasions you might have an enemy move toward the door once you are out of the room so you can strafe and shoot it, but all this became mind-numbingly boring and repetitive to do 40 times a level. Enemies can always shoot better than you when you try to hide and many later ones have homing missles, so hiding won’t always work. You lose an average of 6 lives on each level. I know this because I used a cheat after Level 7 to get more lives. However, this just made the game even more boring and repetitive that I gave up around level 15. I hadn’t used cheat codes in a decade, and this game made me use them. That should tell you a lot about the game.

This review is also available at:
      VideoGameGeek / RetrowareTV / GameFAQS

This was a really fun adventure game since you have no weapons or attacks, you’re normally scared when the hedge clipper man starts following you as you run around frantically trying to find somewhere to hide.

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