Review: Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack!!! (PlayStation Vita)

I’m not the first to say this – and to be honest, I was CERTAIN that I would disagree – but Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack!!! (Blobs from here on in) may well be the best of PlayStation Vita’s stellar launch line-up… And it’s a PSN title, priced at just AU$11.95.

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Review: Capcom vs SNK: Millennium Fight 2000 (Dreamcast)

In the late 90s, fighting game crossovers were all the rage. In fact, for a few years into the 00s, crossover titles were fairly common, at least in the Capcom stable. To some degree, there has been a bit of a resurgence at present, what with Marvel vs Capcom 3, Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe, and the upcoming Street Fighter vs Tekken, but nothing can compare to the number of titles released ten years ago…

 

And this? This was one of them. Released only on arcade and Dreamcast originally, Capcom vs SNK: Millenium Fight 2000 (developed by Capcom) - to my knowledge, at least – came and went somewhat quietly.Then again, I wasn’t an avid fan of either Capcom or SNK at the time, so perhaps I just missed it.

With characters from Capcom titles (Street Fighter) battling characters from SNK (King of Fighters), players could select a team of one to four characters from multiple streams (weighted depending on overall strength), and could select fighting rules according to “grooves” (either an SNK groove based on KoF ’94 – ’98 or a Capcom groove based on SF Alpha). Yes – it was overcomplicated, and I’m sure my lazy explanation above did  nothing to help you, but it doesn’t matter. None of the finer details meant anything to me, at least.  I simply choose a couple of characters, and fought valiantly (I like the odd fighting game, but I’m no pro). Continue reading

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Review: Syndicate (Jaguar)

Syndicate, released in 1993 by Bullfrog, was a kind of action-strategy set in a sci-fi universe, and was fairly well received by game critics at the time. In the game, the world is run by a number of competing corporations (syndicates), and it’s your particular company’s goal to take control. As such, you take on missions in the various regions of the world (countries to you and me), and deploy a team of four operatives to achieve a set goal.

The main game utilises an isometric view, and you can direct your team either individually, or as a whole, depending on how you think the mission is best tackled. The game plays itself out in real-time as you navigate your team around the city streets looking for your target.

The beauty, though, lay in the detail – not only could you choose which operatives to send out (from a list), but you could also choose what equipment each individual took on the mission, or even what cybernetic enhancements each individual had applied (to make them faster, more accurate, etc.). On top of this, you could invest some of your earnings into researching various technologies (primarily weapons and cybernetic enhancements), which injects a kind of RPG quality into the title. Continue reading

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Review: Rez (Dreamcast)

Early this Millennium, legendary Japanese video game designer/producer Testsuya Mizuguchi had a dream to create a game that tapped into the idea of synaesthesia – essentially a scientific term referring to the experience of differing sensations to what should be expected (e.g., “seeing” sounds – this is a VERY loose description of the phenomenon). Rez was the result.

Essentially an on-rails shooter, you control a computer avatar in cyberspace, shooting down foes to eventually take down the enemy AI. It’s a beautiful-looking game, everything is “drawn” in polygons, giving the title a very retro, kind of Tron-style feel. The interesting gameplay element that has been included here is a method by which you “tag” enemies before you take them down (so shooting is somewhat more detached or passive).

The music that accompanies the game involves some sublime electronic beats, which are supplemented by your actions within the game. Everything you do, every foe you tag, every bullet you fire and target you hit will cause the game to produce a sound – which ingeniously synchronises with the in-game music. In this way, Mizuguchi somewhat achieves his goal for synaesthesia. In fact, he also created a … ahem … vibrating peripheral to go along with the title. Essentially just a vibrating box that players could put in their pocket or… wherever… so they could feel the game as much as they heard and saw it.

OK – it only works to a degree, and it can be argued that it’s more synchronicity than synaesthesia, but still, it can be fairly mind-blowing when it all comes together… Continue reading

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Consol(idol)ation: Sega Dreamcast [UPDATED]

Sega’s last attempt at hardware, and arguably their best, was the Dreamcast. Released in 1999 (in Australia at least), and discontinued (in Australia again) in 2002, it just didn’t have the legs to compete with the BEHEMOTH that was PlayStation 2… Sega dropped out of the hardware race to focus on the games themselves – potentially something that worked out for them in the long run, but sad, considering how great the Dreamcast was…

Even given its short lifespan, the Dreamcast still enjoys a cult following – games such as Crazy Taxi, Jet Grind Radio, and Shenmue are considered some of the best titles ever released on a retro console (I said SOME OF, not THE best, so keep your opinion to yourself, people!)… Soul Calibur is such a good conversion it’s considered by many to be the best game released on the Dreamcast. It was really that good, and the quality of the titles is evident from the second you run up the machine.

Beyond that? It was the first machine to have an inbuilt modem, and the first to connect to an online network for gaming (and as such, a precursor to services such as Xbox Live). It had a fairly revolutionary controller for the time, with a very interesting memory card – it was itself a kind of game controller. And if that’s not enough to convince you of how awesome it was, there are STILL some independent developers making games for it (not so many these days, but it is a much-loved machine). I simply HAD to get one. Continue reading

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