Archive for August, 2009

Batman: Arkham Asylum: Post-Script.

When I first heard about Batman: Arkham Asylum, I wasn’t impressed. Why should I have reason to be? Outside of a few games here and there, the Dark Knight’s adventures are usually abysmal duds.

But I do love Batman the character. When Batman: The Animated Series came out back in 1992, I watched it without fail. It was such a brilliant, well written show. Kevin Conroy was a perfect Bruce Wayne/Batman. Mark Hamill was a magnificent Joker, and Paul Dini’s scripts were thoughtful and mature, bringing to life Gotham City in ways that I think most realized Bob Kane’s dark world.

Imagine my glee when I found out all parties were involved, not to mention Arleen Sorkin as Harley Quinn.

As you may have read, I liked the demo a few weeks back. It made me understand how the game played, as my incorrect impressions were Batman largely just snuck around to avoid getting caught. Like Sneak King with Batman in it. But stealth is an oft-forgotten part of Batman games, as is utilizing his detective skills. And of course, Batman must plow through punks and thugs like balsa wood.

I beat the game tonight.



To Read the rest of this entry

Tradewest Returns.

I read the news that the UK/French offices of Midway are renaming themselves Tradewest. It’s somewhat amusing to me as Midway (then Williams) bought out Tradewest to get into the home console market and not rely on Acclaim to publish their arcade games.

Maybe some of you younger folk remember or at least heard of Tradewest.

You would know it more as the NES version of Double Dragon. Or Battletoads. Or that inexplicable Tarot card game, Taboo: The Sixth Sense. But for me, I knew it a little differently.

I was born, raised, and grew up in the small town of Corsicana, Texas. One average, the town has only been 23,000-24,000 people, and is more world famous for its fruitcake than its history in the video game industry (in the defense of Collin Street Bakery, they have amazing cherry ice box cookies).

But as a kid growing up in a small town like that, knowing that a video game country lurked out there by the highway was somewhat intoxicating. We weren’t Los Angeles, California or Redmond, Washington or even Austin, Texas. And we certainly weren’t part of Silicon Valley. Having Tradewest and seeing our hometown Read the rest of this entry

Happy 20th Anniversary, Genesis.

Considering that the online gaming sites are covering the event, I suppose I may as well, since I was there from the start.

I’ve been a Sega fan for a long time. So much so that I was only one of two people in my hometown who owned a Sega Master System. Oh sure, I owned the NES and all that came with that (the Master System came as a gift from Grandma), but I was well aware of Shinobi, Space Harrier, Altered Beast and Phantasy Star long before many of my peers.

I got the Genesis in 1989 for my 13th birthday, again being the first to adopt Sega’s new system. It was a short-lived “victory” for me as two of my grandparents died a week later (my Mom’s Mom and my Dad’s Dad), so I had a blissfully unaware week prior to those losses, and in the long run, playing games after the fact kept my mind focused on other things. While this is a little more personal than I usually delve on here, I figured it was only fair to share the context of where i was in that time in my life.

Of course, I got Read the rest of this entry

5 Favorite Games Part 18.

1.) Braid (Microsoft) – Simply put, Braid is an unforgettable gaming experience. Designed by Jonathan Blow, the game is a platformer/puzzle hybrid that looks like a painting in motion. What is so brilliant (and often maddening) about Braid is that all of the answers are right in front of the player. You don’t need to go ahead a few levels to find a necessary power-up, it isn’t a matter of forgetting to do something earlier in the level. What you need to solve any puzzle is given to you, and can be solved right there. The puzzles makes sense, once you understand how to master the game’s mechanics. It’s being able to see the solution that is right in front of you is the aspect that will melt your brain. But it’s worth it. For as minimalist as the story is, finding all of the pieces opens up the conclusion, and you will never look at the “save the princess” scenario the same way again.

2.) Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Nintendo) – No self-respecting game list could ever omit this title. The Zelda series has always maintained consistently high quality through Read the rest of this entry

Lucasarts and the Return To Glory.

Or more likely, return to the days of old.

I’ve always been a fan of Lucasarts. I used to love their past library of titles, both computer and console. But it’s been a while since the company has captured my attention like it used to. Sure, I enjoyed the LEGO Star Wars and Indiana Jones games, and actually was a big fan of Force Unleashed (mostly for the story, and barring the Star Destroyer control level). But my biggest love for the company was in the 1990’s with PC titles like Jedi Knight and X-Wing Vs. TIE Fighter, and the fare for the SNES, Nintendo 64, and the Rogue Squadron games for the Gamecube.

For quite some time now, Lucasarts has been exclusively focusing on games based off the Star Wars prequels for a while, and as a result, a lot of their original titles just simply went on hiatus. Fortunately, it seems that Lucasarts has been remembering more of its roots over the Summer.

It’s always something of a double edged sword when it comes to a company re-releasing their back catalog. If a company doesn’t release their older, out of print games, then Read the rest of this entry

Batman: Arkham Asylum Demo Out.

It’s hard to find a good Batman game.

Oh sure, there’s the ones from Sunsoft based on the first movie for the NES and Genesis, Konami’s Batman Returns for the SNES, and the LEGO: Batman game that came out last year, but most digital adventures of the Caped Crusaders have been, well, crappy. And that’s putting it gently.

So I’ve been cautiously optimistic about the new Batman title from Eidos-Square-Enix-Warner Bros.-etc. – It’s too easy to buy into the hype, to get caught up in the fact that they brought over Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill to reprise their roles as Batman and the Joker from the brilliant animated series. But a free demo stands for the option to try it out with nothing to lose but some time on your hands.

And the verdict? I like it, from the brief demo I got to play.

Most games focus on the punching and kicking of Batman without the intelligence, stealth, and detective work of the character. On the other side of the coin, due to the hype on the “stealth” aspect, I thought it would be all sneaking with little emphasis on fighting. Batman’s not about that, either. Read the rest of this entry

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