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Matadore Blog

GameSpot Game Banner Marathon

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It seems as though GameSpot is looking for some banners to adorn their updated game pages... mostly some of the older or lesser-known games. Link to topic But by older, it could mean just less than a year old, all the way back to the NES. So, I figured I'd dust off my PhotoShop skills and have a go at some of my favorite games... although some have been done already (like Star Wars KOTOR II). But, I've done a few below, and I'll update this post with ones I complete in the coming days. Congrats to all those who have had their banners chosen... some of them look incredibly sharp and professional! I hope to be among the ranks of the "chosen ones"... so without further delay, here's what I have so far: My personal banner ------------------------------------------- [color=orange]Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (XBOX, PC)[/color] http://webpages.charter.net/jsbryan/kotor.jpg http://webpages.charter.net/jsbryan/kotor002.jpg http://webpages.charter.net/jsbryan/kotor003.jpg ------------------------------------------- [color=orange]Star Trek: Bridge Commander (PC)[/color] http://webpages.charter.net/jsbryan/STBC.jpg -------------------------------------------- [color=orange]MegaMan (NES)[/color] http://webpages.charter.net/jsbryan/megaman.jpg --------------------------------------------- [color=orange]Jedi Knight: Jedi Outcast (XBOX, GC, PC)[/color] http://webpages.charter.net/jsbryan/jedioutcast.jpg ---------------------------------------------- [color=orange]Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy (XBOX, PC)[/color] http://webpages.charter.net/jsbryan/jediacademy.jpg ---------------------------------------------- [color=orange]Gladius (XBOX, PS2, GC)[/color] http://webpages.charter.net/jsbryan/gladius.jpg ----------------------------------------------

Video Game Review - Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (XBOX)

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[color=yellow]Star Wars is a universe of vast possibilities and endless wonder. Many people who have embraced the movies have also followed an "expanded universe" in books, comics, and of course video games. The bad thing is that you can count the number of "good" Star Wars games on one hand, using less than 5 fingers. Fortunately for XBOX owners, LucasArts and BIOWARE have added another title to those select few, and it is at the top of the list as the BEST Star Wars game ever -- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. KOTOR is a RPG set back 4000 years before the events of The Phantom Menace. The Republic has just resolved the issues of the Mandalorian Wars, and are at a weakened state. Now a new threat is emerging, one which strikes very close to the Jedi Order: The Sith. Led by Darth Malak, the Sith hope to conquer the Republic while crushing or turning Jedi over to the Dark Side. The Jedi ranks are falling, and the hopes of the Republic rests with one person: you. You choose your path between the light and the dark in this 30+ hours of pure Star Wars heaven. The gameplay is similar to turn-style RPGs, except KOTOR is not so restricted as other RPGs might be. You can move around during battle, change targets, use weapons, items and eventually the Force, and assign your party members to a certain "role", like Jedi Assist or Grenader. Your characters have different categories that you can enhance each time you level up, such as Skills, Feats, Force Powers, etc. There are also many ways to go about creating different types of characters. If you want someone to provide blaster cover while you use melee weapons, you can designate points to your Attributes, Skills, and Feats to greater enhance those traits that would suit the kind of character you want. Of course, the most anticipated weapon choice is weilding a lightsaber, of which you can use a single lightsaber, 2 lightsabers, or the dual-bladed lightsaber a-la-Darth Maul. The story is very deep, with twists and turns galore. And to make your experience more unique (and to add to the replay value), your Light Side/Dark Side tendencies give you different situations to any aspect of the game. So, it may be the same twice... but you'll have to play it through several times, and as both Light Side and Dark side, for that to occur. KOTOR retains the Star Wars feel from the movies, so it is much like playing a very long, interactive Star Wars movie. Also, the music may not have been done by John Williams, but Jeremy Soule did such a good job its really hard to think that Williams didn't do the score. Voice acting is just as excellent, with tons of spoken dialogue thoughout the entire game. The graphics have been argued as one of its downfalls, but I think its a unique look for the game, and it really doesn't detract from your overall experience. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is without a doubt a game for every Star Wars and RPG fan to have in their personal collection. After all these years, LucasArts finally got it right... and the Force is very strong with Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. [size=20]Matadore's Score:[/color][/size][color=#99FF66][size=20] 9.6[/size][/color]

Video Game Review - SVC Chaos: SNK vs. CAPCOM (XBOX)

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[color=yellow]Ever since the Street Fighter II craze of the early 90's, I've been a huge and loyal fan of CAPCOM's ground-breaking fighter and their multiple incarnations. I've even tried to get into the cross-over series like X-Men vs. Street Fighter, or Marvel vs. CAPCOM, but nothing beats the one-on-one, normal gravity, un-superhuman speed of any of the SF games from Street Fighter II through Street Fighter III: Third Strike. It was quite nostalgic when I got Street Fighter: Anniversary Edition for the PS2, and being able to play Street Fighter III: Third Strike was great... now I'm just waiting for the XBOX version so I can play it again. I'm also hoping CAPCOM Fighting Evolution for XBOX turns out well. Anyway, back to the game at hand... Many fighting fanatics in the late 90's wanted to see a game that pitted their favorite fighters from different games against each other. One of those dream games was having Street Fighter characters face off against their SNK rivals from Fatal Fury, The Art of Fighting, etc. Since these were 2 separate gaming companies, many thought this would be unlikely. Low and behold, SNK and CAPCOM teamed up to create a few games doing exactly that. SVC Chaos: SNK vs. CAPCOM is the latest foray into this clash of fighting titans. Unfortunately, none of the SNK games I consider to even be ranked in the same category with the Street Fighter series. The only SNK series I mildly enjoyed was the Samauri Showdown series. The others were just sub-standard rips of Street Fighter II, with uninteresting, uncreative characters and horrid gameplay. When SNK and CAPCOM chose to have their fighters battle each other, I hoped CAPCOM would mostly be in charge, especially in the graphics and gameplay departments. This unfortunately wasn't the case... and its even more apparent in SVC Chaos: SNK vs. CAPCOM. Actually, chaos describes the game quite accurately. I think the only thing CAPCOM had to do with this project is put its name on it, to its discredit, and to lend the SF characters to get massacred by SNK. Oh, where to begin... Let's start with graphics. This thing looks like it was made for the Gameboy Advance and formatted to fit your television screen. Meaning everything looks pixelated because it was enlarged to fit to the screen... especially the backgrounds. Backgrounds at the various stages in Street Fighter II (made in 1990, mind you) are more fluent and aesthetically pleasing than these blocky Apple IIe creations. A checkerboard has more graphic complexity than these backgrounds. But don't let SNK stop at the nauseating stages. Next, they have to mutilate the Street Fighter characters in every way imaginable. Screenshots of the game look attractive as far as the look of the characters... but when they're in motion, you can't help but blow your lunch all over the tv. Every character needs a horizontal hold adjustment outward, because they look like they've been the victims of being sandwiched by elephants during mating rituals. Their animations are all a bit choppy, not at all the fluid eye-candy of Street Fighter III: Third Strike, or even the Street Fighter Alpha series for that matter. I can honestly say that the animation in this game is similar to that of Street Fighter I (yes, that's Street Fighter 1... one... uno... the first SF game ever...). And that isn't an exaggeration. The characters in SF I were abused by the same elephants that squished the SVC Chaos: SNK vs. CAPCOM characters, and the animation was only about 3 frames for each move, and that's being generous. Just take a look at the fighting stances of the characters... most notably M. Bison, Sagat, Chun Li, Ryu/Ken/Akuma/Dan... they're chaotic. (At least SNK was nice enough to warn us about the game in its title...) And not only are the characters victim to shoddy digital surgery, but so are their bag 'o treats. (i.e. special moves... mainly projectiles) Since when does Ryu attack his rivals with flaming pancakes? Or that might be blue syrup, I can't tell. Next is the gameplay... or the total lack of any. CAPCOM had a formula for gameplay success with Street Fighter II, which trickled down to its many offspring and was even tweaked and perfected by the Alpha series. SNK, however, never got it right. And they still haven't figured it out. The controls are absolutely not responsive. And they'll go down for every other XBOX game you own once you get frustated enough to HADOKEN! the controller into your wall. But I don't recommend it... you probably own more controller-worthy games than this rental, so try to restrain yourself... it's hard to do, I know. (If you bought it, go immediately back to the place you bought it and make up any excuse necessary to get your green back.) Try doing a Dragon Punch with Ryu or any of his look-alikes... HADOKEN! No, Dragon Punch.... HADOKEN! And the vicious cycle continues. Gone are the medium punch and kick buttons... although "Hard Punch/Kick" serves as both. With Ryu, you can't do a low sweeping roundhouse kick unless you hold diagonally down and forward and press the Hard Kick button. Otherwise, he'll just do the medium low kick move, and the frustration meter climbs. Instead of the medium attacks, you have 2 throw buttons. Is that really necessary? Plus, there is some other button that combines 2 attack buttons which I haven't figured out the purpose of yet, and a taunt button. All these decrepit buttons, and the only one you need to be concerned with is the eject button on the front of the console. For the sound, replay value, storyline and other remaining aspects of the game I'll try to sum up briefly in this paragraph. Sounds like they ripped the effects from the Street Fighter Alpha series or more recent SF games. The music is appalling. Blanka beating on Zangief's skull sounds more musical. Its better to go to OverClocked Remix.com and download SF remixes from there (I highly recommend "Club Del Toro" by Rayza... remix of Vega's stage) and turn the music volume in the Options menu all the way down and the computer speakers up. Then again, I highly recommend waiting until Street Fighter: Anniversary Edition makes its way to the XBOX, and leave this game in the bargain bin. That covers the replay value: NONE. Storyline... as with most SNK fighters, storylines are irrelevant and laughable if the attempt is made to give it some substantial "story mode". In Ryu's ending, it of course eludes to the fact that he disappeared after the final battle. (Anyone surprised?) But then SNK tries to rationalize it with rumors of alien abduction. Uh... Street Fighter... aliens... can't imagine why E.T. wants to abduct Ryu. Maybe he wants to learn the secret of the flaming pancakes? Or what its like to be in an elephant sandwich? Also, who does SNK think is reading the incoherent dialogue before each match? Even if you are quick enough to catch a glimpse of the Street Fighter Alpha-esque dialogue sequence, then none of it makes any sense. But, it flashes by so fast that you more than likely won't catch it. All things being as they are, SVC Chaos: SNK vs. CAPCOM is something to definitely avoid at all costs. Let your memories of the beloved Street Fighter characters live on untainted by this mess and hold out for Street Fighter: Anniversary Edition. [size=20]Matadore's Score:[/color][/size][color=red][size=20] 2.0[/size][/color]