Articles tagged with retro

Posted by Ben at 17:05
We took a look at Slime-San a week or so back, based on what I played it's pretty promising.

You might roll your eyes at this but Slime-San is a retro, tough as nails platformer, and while that might sound well-trodden, it's shaping up to be a good one

Slime-San will be available from Steam and Humble Bundle on April 7th
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Posted by Ben at 08:22

Weíve covered a few Astro Port games now, and they all have a few things in common. They all feature some great, simple gameplay ideas, and theyíre all fantastically retro. Wolflame doesnít have the lovable kitsch of a Supercharged Robot Vulkaiser, but it may well be a better game.

Wolflame reminds me of being a kid in my local youth club, itís that era of shoot em up, pre-bullet hell where the only gimmick of note are your options. Travel up the screen, blast everything, pick up stars, occasionally drop a bomb, there was nothing complicated about those shooters, and thereís not a lot complicated about Wolflame. You travel up the screen, blasting away at enemy ships and buildings, picking up options, collecting stars for points, until you reach the boss, kill it and finish the level.

As mentioned Wolflame isnít ever a bullet hell shooter, but itís undoubtedly where the difficulty comes in. Wolflame suffers the way a lot of shooters do, in amongst all your outgoing fire, all the explosions of decimated ships, itís hard to pick out the single shot thatís inevitably going to kill you. Itís not helped that a lot of enemies have a habit of holding on to their bullet before pinging it at you, by which point your focus has drifted away from them. Itís a smart attack, but itís slightly frustrating losing a life to the only bullet on the screen. There is some more precise dodging later on, particularly if youíre playing on a harder difficulty.

At various points through the levels thereís support ships you can shoot down that will drop Ďoptionsí. The options will be one of 3 types, leave them to float around a while and theyíll change to another one. Theyíll either attach to the left or right side of your ship depending on the arrow on their icon. You can have different types on either side, and with each one you pick up you gain a level for that side. Thereís a charged blast, a homing attack, and lock-on lasers. Iíll be honest, getting level 5 lock-on lasers is pretty much letting the game play itself itís so powerful, so long as you keep an eye out for stray bullets.

For those chasing a high score the options are key here too. Once you get one of your option sides to the max level, picking one up will instead reward you with a chunk of points. Destroying certain buildings will result in gold stars, managing to get to the end of the level without dying will result in a points bonus.

Probably the biggest obstacle for the high score chasers is the gameís length. Wolflame has 10 levels, all a decent length, all with the occasional checkpoint if you die. Itís a fairly difficult game, you can continue your way through it, at least on easy, and clever use of save states might help you with the rest. Dying does mean youíre put back a bit and stripped of your pickups, but thereís a fair chance the next one you get will restore, or partially restore what you had. Not always though, Iím not sure why it differs, but being stripped back to your basic level certainly does increase the difficulty for a while.

Wolflame is good. It feels achingly retro, but at no point does it feel throwaway or spent. Itís just about difficult enough to engage the hardcore, lengthy enough that us shooter tourists will have something to get out teeth in. Itís a chunky, crunchy kind of a game, itís not especially flashy, beyond just being a good game thereís nothing unique to entice you, but thereís really very little to fault.
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Posted by Duane at 03:17
Rather alot of indie games have spent the past number of years appealing to gamers by using "retro" graphics, i.e. everything has used pixels for a long long time now, many claiming they're "8-bit" (even though their far too polished for that, and whilst I definetly grew up playing NES and Master System titles and then later SNES and Mega Drive, I truly got into gaming with the advent of polygon based games courtest of SEGA's Saturn and Sony's PlayStation.

So I'm kind of interested in "Back in 1995", a adventure/horror games by Throw the Warped Code Out, that is being released on Steam later this week, watch the trailer below and you may just agree with me that it has an air of Resident Evil about it (minus the zombies... thus far anyway).

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Supercharged Robot
Posted by Ben at 15:24

A good chunk of my early play time with Supercharged Robot Vulkaiser was spent with a grin on my face. As someone whoís watched his fair share of old Japanese cartoons, it really is a well observed little thing. From the slightly cheap looking splash screens, the pompy music, even the loading screens and level title cards, itís chock full of character. Then thereís the game itself, youíre a giant red robot who can fire his fists like missiles and combine with his co-pilots like Power Rangers.

Itís not all just for colour either, which pilot you combine with affects your type of attack. Take Rocket Kaiser for example, combine with him and your shots will be accompanied by powerful missiles, with the charged weapon essentially being a huge bomb, great for taking down powerful enemies, but a spread of enemies could easily swarm you. In that case youíd be better off with Needle Kaiser, a wide shot type, but sheís weak both in terms of armour and damage dealt. Drill Kaiser is hugely powerful, but her range is tiny, meaning youíre putting yourself in danger every time you attack. Thunder Kaiser is something of a mix, his standard attack has decent range, his charge shot is powerful, but his bomb is feeble

Supercharged Robot Vulkaiser has a peculiar kind of difficulty, the most notable thing is that it must be beaten on a single credit, thereís no continues to be had. Playing on the easy difficulty Iíve raced to the end of the game, once not even really trying whilst capturing our First Play video. The step up to the next difficulty level though made me hit a wall Iíve struggled to get past. Iím not sure what it is thatís stopping me from getting better at the game, it could just be that Iím not the gamer I used to be. I do sometimes feel a bit blind to the incoming bullets, but no more than any other shooter, but I think itís actually more to do with the shame of Vulkaiser. Your hitpoint is fairly small, still easy to hit, but only a tiny part of your giant mech, but because youíre essentially controlling a giant line whilst looking at the enemy, itís very easy to drag it in to incoming fire.

Supercharged Robot Vulkaiser is a little sparse in terms of modes. Thereís the story mode and Ďtrainingí, which is just the main missions there for you to retry. Iím not sure Supercharged Robot Vulkaiser is the game to spend hours practising, learning patterns. The training mode does allow you to complete stages though, opening up the next one you couldnít reach in a single run. Itís not a bad way to see the later levels on the harder difficulties, which at least helps keep things interesting. If you are chasing score then it does separate them by difficulty, and I think the scoring system works by rewarding you for destroying enemies as quickly as possible as they appear on screen, so maybe there is something to be said for spending the time learning patterns.

In terms of presentation, the game has no resolution options. As soon as you hit play though youíre presented with the option to go full screen, which may seem like a small thing, and does cause some problems on a 2 screen set up, as it merely changes your resolution to match the gameís. Itís welcome though, weíve reviewed a couple of games in the past year or so that havenít had that option. One of the drawbacks though, and this is kind of funny if youíre not playing seriously, is it means that when you unlock an achievement, or a friend signs in to Steam, you canít see a third of the screen. So if you are planning a serious run at the game, maybe turn off notifications.

Thereís no doubting Supercharged Robot Vulkaiser is fun, but a lot of that comes from its charm. It does a great job of harking back to old-school anime, both in tone and theme. Iím less sure the game itself rates as highly or holds up to repeated playthroughs. Which is a shame, I really like the mecha gimmick of combining with the other pilots, and their strengths and weaknesses do add a level of strategy to the game, itís just a shame the level design doesnít build on it, instead feeling more like a shooting gallery. Still, for the price itís a fun bit of nostalgia, hard to dislike, and not something youíll have seen too often
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Supercharged Robot VULKAISER!
Gameplay Video
Posted by Ben at 02:11

Not the most memorable name, but one that is pretty fun to play

Supercharged Robot VULKAISER is a side on shooter, the kind you used to get, and the kind that's having a bit of a resurgence on Steam. What marks it out is that it's inspired by the classic robot animes of the 1970's and 80's

There's a gameplay video below where I play through the game, it's worth watching for the post-final boss alone.

There'll be a review of Supercharged Robot VULKAISER a little later in the week, it's released on 4th June, so I'm aiming for then (it's priced at the not unreasonable £3.99 too fact fans)

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Posted by Mark at 16:24
The Teletext Preservation Project- a project to preserve Teletext- has recently come into a load of updates from Digitiser from 1995 to 1998.

Spanning 125 different editions of the daily games magazine from the era where we lost the SNES, the MegaDrive and the Amiga in favour of PlayStation, Saturn, Nintendo 64 and Windows 95-based PCs, the Archive features lots of the Digi-o-humour we've not seen for years.

It's also interesting how little has changed- the standard coverage basically stops for E3, and the letters pages are still full of accusations of format bias and asking if developers have run out of ideas.
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Posted by Mark at 12:11
As Google slowly wraps its intertentacles around the entire world, it was only a matter of time before it came to this:

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Posted by Mark at 11:52
Last year's Replay Expo- a large retro gaming event held in Blackpool- was something that we missed altogether.

Despite this obviously crushing blow to the event, they've chosen to press on with another one this year, tweeting the details yesterday evening.

The tweet in question tells you very little- only that it will be on over the weekend of October 13th, it will be in an as yet unspecified location in Manchester, and will have a new name altogether.

There's also little on the matter of what's going to be at the show, but last year featured a range of old games to play, a number of tournaments from modern FPSes to Pinball, as well as BAFTA-sanctioned talks.

Will Bitparade actually be there this time? No idea.
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Posted by Mark at 13:09
Via the gift of a trailer named "Guess Who's Back" (below), Sega have just confirmed/responded to/done a thing coincidentally related to rumours that popular Dreamcast game Jet Set Radio is going to be making it to the console download services- or at least, the HD ones.

Of course, previous Dreamcast remakes haven't fared very well on a technical level, but since there's no broken PC version in between for Sega to parp onto the services, there's every chance that this may even be half decent.

No release date set yet.

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Posted by Ben at 19:26

I was never the biggest fan of the original Prince of Persia, and itís slightly unsettling to think it came out when I was in primary school (although this version came out in 1999 to coincide with Sands of Time), let me just say then that my appreciation for this most retro of games has increased dramatically.

One of the most striking things is that this is a game based around the 1989 original, running on a humble Game Boy Colour, is how well it runs. The graphics are fairly simple, but still plenty clear enough, and sharp enough on the 3DS screen to look good. The animation is the star though, itís amazing how nice it still looks, itís a shame there arenít more games like Prince of Persia.

The gameplay though is much more divisive, but weíll come to that later. If youíve yet to reach your 20ís then thereís ever chance youíve never played the original Prince of Persia, so for your benefit then the original PoP games were ruthless puzzle platformers. The prince moved at a sedate pace, but there was always the chance that his next step would activate some spikes, or maybe open the door to the exit. Sometimes youíll need to hop past a saw, sometimes take a running jump, sometimes grab a ledge with your fingertips. Thereís a huge satisfaction from working out the correct route through a level, solving the problem of how to traverse the platforms.

This sense of reward and progress is exemplified by the addition of a 1 hour time limit. The prince has to escape the dungeons before the Sands of Time run out, you can use as many lives as you like, but each failed attempt is time wasted. Itís a nice challenge for those familiar with the game, and itís a very good way of seeing your progress. You may only get to the third level in your first hour, but getting there again on the second attempt might only take you 10 minutes. Thereís a password system so you donít have to start again each time, however my experience of it was that it started me with only 20 minutes left, despite it taking me no where near that long to get there. All that being said there are obvious flaws with the time limit, and I think Iíd rather the game without it, itís hard enough on its own.

And thatís where the problems come in. While the animation is great, what it does is create input lag, you sprint towards the end of a ledge ready to leap the chasm, but end up just running off the end into the pit of spikes because the game decided you missed the beat. Itís a problem magnified by you restarting the level every time you die, thatís fair enough and not what Iím complaining about, but it means you have to redo sections youíve already bested. This means that when you all of a sudden fail to make a jump you know to be incredibly basic.

Itís incredibly frustrating, so much so I rarely wanted to play my full hour, by the 40 minute mark I was often ready to turn off. Itís worse when you feel like your inputs have just been ignored rather than the lag costing you. And this is where the time limit becomes such a problem, youíd happily keep playing until you nailed it, but knowing you donít have a hope of getting to the end of the game doubles your annoyance.

Itís a shame too because Prince of Persia almost won me around and Iíve had twenty-odd years of not liking the game. I can see that fans will love it, because bar the lag input I kind of want to too. If you feel the need for some retro Prince of Persia on your 3DS then donít hesitate and pick it up, everyone else Iíd suggest be a bit more cautious.
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