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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.

*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