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Gitaroo Man, the odd one out when it comes to Music Rhythm games

Rhythm games have been around since 1978 with a simple game called Simon, a simple pattern-memory game than soon after in 1987 Dance Aerobics was released for the Nintendo NES allowing you to create music by stepping on the Power Pad; but it wasn't until 1996 it got its first true rhythm game released on the PlayStation called PaRappa the Rapper. Gameplay mechanics was straight forward with it being a rhythm game using the buttons L1, R1, X, Square, Circle and Triangle to rap. Between the stage's teacher and Parappa, the teacher raps a bar at the top of the screen will appear, showing you the symbols that match up to the teacher's lyrics. You must make Parappa rap in response to the teacher by pressing the buttons with the correct timing to match the teacher's line.

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It wasn't until later when other developers and companies would jump board on releasing a rhythm game either on consoles or in arcades like Dance Dance Revolution, Beatmania, Vib Ribbon and Guitar Hero. On June 21st 2001 for Japan and 2002 for both North America and UK/Europe, a PlayStation 2 title was released called Gitaroo Man which was developed by iNiS and published by Koei. Gitaroo Man at the time when it was released felt like a good guitar rhythm game, think of Um Jammer Lammy but expect it was a fully 3D game.

I loved Um Jammer Lammy for the soundtrack and visuals but felt a little short for a rhythm game, okay yes Gitaroo Man can be a short game if you can manage to clear the game within a day but this game really did offer a challenge depending either playing either on Normal or Hard setting.

The gameplay has you play as the main character U-1 first given a tutorial stage giving you the basic idea and structure on how to play the game and getting through each round. When it comes to the main levels it might feel like a fighting game at first when you notice the health bars on the top of the screen for both U-1 and your opponent, using the left analog stick to tilt the stick to follow the Blue Zone line, using the circle button to play the notes that you see on the screen so you may have to tap or hold down the circle button to play the notes if you want to defeat your opponent or guard from attacks from them. You use the circle, X, square and triangle button to avoid attacks from your opponents as well, so there is a challenge thrown in at the same time. One phase could be Charge Phase where you can gain power/health before taking on your opponent and Battle Phase is used to attack your opponent and Final phase is towards the end of the round where your opponent is on their last bit of health which is where you come in to take the final blow and defeat your opponent. If you have small hands you were given two more choices on playing Gitaroo Man using the right analog and the buttons so think of using one half the PS2 controller, I thought this idea was helpful for some players who want to play a good rhythm but have small hands just change the settings for the controls and you are sorted.

The story however does feel like something out of an Anime series like Kill la Kill where the plot would make no sense but the gameplay and the soundtrack overall make the game both fun and memorable. Story follows U-1, a young boy who is frequently ridiculed by classmates and can't stop thinking about Pico, because he has a massive crush on her. Puma, a dog with the ability to speak, teaches U-1 to play the guitar, simultaneously teaching the controls of the game and subsequently revealing to him that he is the last legendary hero of Planet Gitaroo, and the possessor of the Last Gitaroo. When they are then attacked, Puma transforms into Puma AC-30 and gives U-1 the Gitaroo, transforming him into Gitaroo Man. So yes, like I've already just mentioned when we've seen stuff like this done before in a few Anime series you’re the last of your kind and to get stronger you need fight other characters to defeat the main villain in the game.

I loved the character designs and the visuals, for a game that was released 15 years ago, it still holds up today even on the PSP it still looks impressive. Gitaroo Man Lives was released on the PSP in 2006 which was just a port of the PlayStation 2 version but on a handheld but with a few slight changes added in and taken out of the PSP version. The soundtrack what really makes Gitaroo Man shine each of the stages have one good memorable tune that will be stuck in your head once you've beaten the level a few hours later you'll have that tune stuck in your head. There have been times where I'll end up playing a certain level every time I play this game I always play the Second Stage- Flyin' to your Heart and Sixth Stage- The Legendary Theme (Acoustic) because they are both memorable to listen to every time.

It did offer multiplayer for up to 1 - 4 players on the PlayStation 2 and for the PSP version it was 2 players, the multiplayer is still fun to play with friends think of a fighting game but expect that it's a rhythm game. It might have got mixed-reviews on release but it was still a cult classic for the PlayStation 2 library loved by fans and critics. You would be very lucky to find the PlayStation 2 version at a good price because this game is quite rare to get a hold off, I've managed to find a copy of it in GAME for £9.99 and this was going back to 2007. I would love to see Gitaroo Man making a comeback either as a remastered title for the PlayStation 4 or at least as a PlayStation 2 title from the PlayStation Network just add trophy support, have the game in 1080p and throw in both multiplayer and online rank scores and I'm sure a lot of people including myself would pick it up if it got released on the PlayStation 4 unless there is going to be a sequel I would like that much more. I do feel like Gitaroo Man was one of those games that felt like the odd one out when it comes to music rhythm games due to very low quantities when it was released back in 2002 for both North America and Europe, if it was released on the PlayStation 4 would encourage more people to consider the game even more.

If you did manage to play Gitaroo Man, have a favourite track from the game?

Would you love to see this making an appearance on the PlayStation 4?

Let us know in the comments-

10th Anniversary Blog- Professor Layton and the Curious Village

This one surprised me this morning after someone posted a tweet about it on Twitter, I didn't know that it has been 10 years Professor Layton and the Curious Village made its first debut on February 15th 2007 for Japan. The rest of the world didn't get their hands on the game until a year later, released for the Nintendo DS and was developed by Level-5 the same developers that have made other games including Dark Cloud, Ni No Kuni, Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King and Rogue Galaxy.

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But the creation of Professor Layton in came from Akira Tago who was a Professor at Chiba University, he compiled a best-selling quiz book series called Atama no Taisou, there were 23 volumes of these puzzle based books were the first book was released all the way back in 1966. But he was also behind the designing for the puzzles for the Professor Layton series, but however he died at the age 90 on March 2016. With Akira Tago being supervised direction on the game's development, Akihiro Hino was the producer, lead designer and scenario on The Curious Village but he was also the producer for the later games in the franchise.

The first time I've heard about Professor Layton and the Curious Village was when Grainger Games were selling the odd copies of the US version of the game but the reviews I've read online and it kept receiving scores of 9/10. I did pick up the game a few months later when it was released in the UK plus my sister wanted to play the game as well, but I did hear that they had different voice actors when comparing the UK version to the US version; you had Christopher Robin Miller voicing Professor Layton and Maria Darling voicing Luke Triton but in the US version you've had Lani Minella voicing Luke. Now look up on YouTube and compare which voicing sounds better for Luke, you may want to check out the other characters voicing as well if you compare both the US and UK versions of the game on which version sounds better.

For the story for the first instalment in Professor Layton's first adventure, the world-renowned archaeologist and enthusiast of puzzles, riddles and mysterious things. Even the most baffling of cases is no challenge for Professor Layton, with his apprentice assistant Luke investigating the fictional village of St. Mystere about an artifact known as the Golden Apple, an heirloom that the late Baron had left as a test to determine who would receive his fortune after his death. But when entering the village of St Mystere the residents of the village really do love a puzzle, this is where the game really shines for the Curious Village.

Like Brain Training you'll be using the touch screen for writing down your answers to puzzles and writing notes as well. There is no time limit like solve this puzzle in a minute no take long as you like or come back it later and do another puzzle. Most puzzles will be easy or basic to do, but how ever some puzzles you'll really to think. Most of the puzzles range from easy to hard where some puzzles you really do need to think if it's the right answer or not some puzzles could be straight forward like moving a ball from one end to another, or trying to fill up two glasses of milk that needs to be 5 litres each or trying to guess how many squares you can see on one screen. Once you've beaten the game there is still a lot of stuff to do, puzzles you've missed out or want to do them again that's not a problem and there's over a good 130 puzzles to solve. Every week you can download a weekly puzzle by using the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection on your DS, this was later used in later games but the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection is no longer available on Nintendo DS now meaning you can't download all puzzles if you've bought the game like right now; but you can solve all the downloaded puzzles from the 3DS versions of Miracle Mask, Azran Legacy.

If you look at the visuals and animation used for the Curious Village, the character designs and setting look very like Mr. Ben and The Triplets of Belleville so I can easily see where the inspirations and imagination came from when deciding on what art style and illustrations to use for the Curious Village and for its later games as well. Overall after the success of the first game five more games were released for the Nintendo DS and 3DS including a movie along the way called The Eternal Diva and a spin-off title called Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney. There is another Layton game coming to the Nintendo 3DS sometime by this year called Lady Layton: The Millionaire Ariadone's Conspiracy which will be the seventh game in the series and follows a new protagonist named Katrielle Layton, who searches for her missing father who is Professor Layton.

It wasn't the story that was well-written but the puzzles kept me thinking for hours, even for a good few days I can remember that I've struggled on a certain puzzle in the game and took me at least a good week to solving it. I do like a good challenge when it comes to video games, but as I've already mentioned the puzzles in the later games had a good challenge there have been times when I'm either on the bus to work or out with friends I would try and solve a puzzle or two. Not only that Professor Layton was also my very first cosplay this is going back to 2012 I did when I started attending more and more anime and video game conventions you can easily say that the series has made a bit of an impact during my life especially when it comes to handheld gaming, I was even crazy enough to cosplay as Professor Layton and heading over to GAME in picking up the latest game for the Nintendo 3DS.

Overall this is one of those games you should check out if you've not yet played it or at least give the series a try you would be surprised how charming and challenging the games can be.

Have a favourite puzzle in the Curious Village?

Let us know in the comments-

*Here are a few photos of myself cosplaying as Professor Layton which I've already mentioned in this blog*

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Five Years Later- PlayStation Vita

The PlayStation Vita itself felt like the odd one out when it comes to a handheld console, over the years since the Game Boy was first released back in 1989 and still one of the best-selling handheld consoles ever since. There have been other handhelds released over the years and other big companies like Sega and Sony wanting to compete with Nintendo when it comes to handheld consoles. And of course, other third-party companies like Tiger Electronics, Atari, SNK, Bandai and Nokia have also released their own handheld console want to compete in the handheld sales.

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Sony released their handheld console the PSP back in 2004 around the same time when the Nintendo DS was released for both Japan and North America, the system might not have sold as many as the DS but the design, the battery support and the games released for it were impressive on the PSP. With it only selling 82 million units sold since its release worldwide but still impressive for Sony.

Sony released their second console in 2011 in Japan but the rest of the world got their hands on it back in February 2012. Even tough that it still hasn't done well in the sales with the Nintendo 3DS selling more systems around the world including the New Nintendo 3DS has sold well which now has Amiibo support for certain games like Smash Brothers and Animal Crossing.

Don't get me wrong I do love the Nintendo 3DS for the design and the games released for the system especially if you love playing JRPG games on handhelds. PlayStation Vita it might not have sold as many as the 3DS has on the handheld market but it still knows how to make good games for the system since its release. There's been some good titles including Persona 4 Golden, OlliOlli, World of Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, Tearaway and Freedom Wars. Not only that if you own either a PlayStation 3 or 4 and purchase a certain game through the PSN Store most of its games are Cross-Buy titles meaning if you bought it on a system like the PS Vita you can get the PS3 version of it for free. More and more games through its PlayStation library have been using this idea on getting more and more people to play these games, games like Flower, Dead Nation, Grim Fandango and Oddworld: New N Tasty have used this idea and it has worked. More and more indie games have made its way to the PlayStation Network using the Cross-Buy feature including more games coming on the way for this year, plus the chance to download PS1 and PSP games on the Vita.

Remote Play has been used as a second screen device through the PlayStation 4 for streaming content directly from the console to the Vita, same goes with the PlayStation 3 just remember to look at the back of the games to see what games can be used for Remote Play. Going back to its sales in general aren't that great to look at when comparing this to the 3DS which is a shame because I like the PS Vita for what it is in general so why did it fail in the first place? Because the Memory cards were expensive alone from 4 GB, 8 GB, 16GB, 32 GB and 64 GB this really did took a chew for some gamers especially if they wanted the extra space for downloading more games through the PSN Store and retail stores wouldn't have many Vita games on the store shelves just leaving one shelf worth of Vita games both new and pre-owned.

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PlayStation Mobile was a service that never really took off despite availability on a range of handsets by many manufacturers. The storefront closed on September 10, 2015, after which point it will not be possible to activate devices for PlayStation Mobile or download existing purchases this still took a massive bite out of the PS Vita itself because when the PS Vita was first announced at E3 2011 that AT&T would be partnering with Sony their 3G PlayStation Vita for the US market and ended up being one of Sony's biggest fails at E3.

There have even been games announced for the Vita but got cancelled later in development they were all good announcements at first but a few years into its cycle you are disappointed that they have been cancelled and reading articles and seeing odd images online give us an idea what the game could have looked like on the Vita cancelled games like Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon because I don't Know, another Uncharted sequel, BioShock and an inFamous game.

There was another option you had when it comes playing Vita games was PlayStation TV which was a microconsole and a non-handheld variant to the PlayStation Vita, you could either use a PS3 or PS4 controller for playing certain games and applications from cartridges and from the PlayStation Network. But not all content was compatible on the device, since certain features in the PS Vita such as the gyroscope and microphone are not available on PlayStation TV; I can remember that it was bundled with the 1TB PS4 console if you bought in certain stores and also this was help to encourage more people to playing games from the PS Vita library, but it never really took off well and Japan discontinued PlayStation TV just last year but still unknown if elsewhere have discontinued it but if its cheap and you want to play Vita games on a big TV I would say no to that.

Not only that I know that the PlayStation Vita is perfect for playing JRPG games but over the past five years there have been some odd choices on why it was released on the PlayStation Vita and a big gamble for other developers wanting to release a game on the Vita because some developers think that it might not sell well for that handheld due to the poor sales. But it didn't stop both Disney and Avalanche Software in releasing Disney Infinity 2.0 for the PlayStation Vita, it is not a bad game in general, I can understand why they would release this on the PS Vita encouraging younger children and newcomers alike into the series and one of those games that can be fun to play on a handheld console. For PS Vita fans like myself this can offer quite a lot replay value and showing off how good games look on the PS Vita especially when someone has the idea of bring a toy to life product to a system that not many people would have considered picking up to begin with.

If you are on PlayStation Plus you would be surprised what free games would come up for that month, you must remember to have enough space on your memory card when downloading and installing games. If you are an indie gamer, it does have a strong indie side for the PlayStation Vita you would be surprised that some games you might not have heard turn out to be good. Let's just hope either at E3, GamesCom or anywhere else for this year that Sony has more news and announcements for the PlayStation Vita because if they don't things maybe looking grim for Sony when it comes to the handheld market meaning less games and plus most online sites have already mentioned that Sony has pretty much given up all hope for the PS Vita. But it’s not all doom and gloom there are still some good games coming this year for 2017 including YS Origin, Danganronpa V3, Valkyria Revolution, Salt and Sanctuary, Atelier Firis: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Journey and Uncanny Valley.

I know there's still mixed thoughts in your heads saying is it worth getting a PS Vita? Their cheap enough as it is already and most of the deals are bundled with the handheld, a 4GB memory card and a game in both retail stores and online stores it is worth the purchase once you've decided on getting a PS Vita even after the first 30 minutes you finally realise how amazing the PS Vita is and glad you've bought one in the end and really handy to have if you are out and about a lot pretty much gaming on the go.

Do you own a PS Vita and have a favourite game?

Would you recommend the PS Vita to anyone you know?

Let us know in the comments-

Could the Spyro Trilogy get the same remastered treatment as Crash did?

The Skylanders franchise has been around since 2011 on both consoles and handhelds expect for the PSP and PlayStation Vita, it has been praised to the younger audience and to those who have been collecting the figures for each of the games since it was first released in 2011. I did a blog about Is the Toy-to-Life Genre dying down? last year after the announcement of Avalanche Software closing the Disney Infinity franchise, don't get me wrong I enjoyed both Disney Infinity 2.0 on both the PS4 and PS Vita plus 3.0 as well for the Star Wars franchise and the designs for the figures too.

Activision recently announced that there won't be a new Skylanders game or a new starter pack coming later this year, but however Skylanders: Imaginators will be a launch title for the Nintendo Switch next month but however, they did state that a mobile version of a Skylanders game will be on the way later this year. I do like the idea of Activision taking a little break from the Skylanders franchise when it comes to selling for consoles and of course a break for the parents to when they buy the odd figures for their children for both Christmas and birthdays but also a good chance to pick up any other figures in the past at a cheaper price. Both Nintendo's Amiibo and Lego Dimensions are still selling well worldwide when it comes to sales, both may have had a slow start but soon after slowly picked up after more figures were announced and level-expansion packs for Lego Dimensions.

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Going back to the Skylanders franchise, with the next game being on mobile devices it is very likely that it'll use cards or possibly draw your own Skylanders character in the mobile version; unless it jumps on the same band wagaon where you have to capture wild Skylanders out in public and train them similar to Pokémon Go. If Activision went forward with this idea for mobiles, it wouldn't stop them or anything because the Skylanders franchise has been a success for the Toy-to-Life genre but since it was first released back in 2011 some fans weren't happy with the deign look for Spyro.

Okay yes Spyro the Dragon has been a childhood icon and nostalgia character for the PlayStation since his first debut in 1998 for the PlayStation where Insomniac Games developed Spyro the Dragon and of course Sony was wanting more family-friendly games for the PlayStation library and compete with Nintendo with the Nintendo 64. The Spyro trilogy on the PlayStation were a huge hit and being one of Sony's memorable mascots for the system but after 2000, Insomniac Games wanted to work on something new for the PlayStation 2 and having no ideas for another Spyro so it was up to another company to make a new Spyro game for the next-gen console which was the PlayStation 2 and GameCube. Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly was developed by both Check Six Games and Equinoxe Digital Entertainment; but the game was completely rushed trying to get a Holiday release for 2002 and was given poor scores and being one of the glitches games ever made.

Soon after Spyro: A Hero's Tail was released in 2004 and then a new trilogy but was done as a reboot called The Legend of Spyro, in A New Beginning which was released in 2006 where it states that Spyro was raised by a family of dragonflies in a swamp; but afterward travels to the dragon temple, to find it under attack by Cynder, a dragon in the service of the Dark Master. Two more games were released soon after and that series ended in 2008 plus of course you've had Elijah Wood voicing Spyro and David Spade voicing Sparx. The Legend of Spyro trilogy also got mixed-reviews on release a 3D animated movie was meant to be released soon after 2009 but got delayed and soon after cancelled Activision decided to go in a different direction for the Spyro franchise which turned out to be the Skylanders franchise which brings us here today.

Not only Skylanders were popular on consoles, it also had it's own comics and a spin-off TV series called Skylanders Academy which only had one season at the moment. But there was one episode in the series where Crash Bandicoot lands in their world and the Skylanders team help Crash out to get him back home, but also when Skylanders: Imagination was released both Crash and Cortex were playable characters if you bought the Crash Edition either on PS3 or PS4 and of course at E3 2016 Sony announced at their Press Conference that Vicarious Visions and Activision as their publisher to release a rematsered trilogy of the first three Crash Bandicoot games for the PS4 called the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy set for a release for 2017. After hearing the announcement at E3 2016 I knew straight away it was going to happen especially after following multiple rumors and speculations since 2013 just after the PS4 was released worldwide where Sony have got their classic mascot back for the PlayStation.

You can read my past blog on that Don't believe until you see it at E3 when it comes to Crash Bandicoot which I was kind of right about it after the announcement and after watching the first trailer for it in December from the PlayStation Experience 2016, I knew that I could trust Sony and Vicarious Visions on remastering the first three Crash Bandicoot games. But let me ask you this if you've played any or all the Skylanders games I know that he was in both Skylanders: Imagination and Spyro Adventures but was he in any of the other Skylanders games as a big role?

Okay why am I asking this question you may ask? Because when watching that Skylanders Academy episode with Crash Bandicoot and of course the remastered collection on the way does make me think could Vicarious Visions could do a remastered collection of the Spyro Trilogy? I can easily tell that more and more people will likely be picking up a PlayStation 4 later by this year when the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is released this year, okay yes you may get one or two odd people complaining it's not the same as the original trilogy. Now look at the recent news of no new Skylanders game for consoles this year and now look at the relationship between Sony and Activision when it comes to the PlayStation 4 on getting DLC first for certain games like Call of Duty and Destiny which got content first for the PS4 before other consoles did, there have been news and rumors that a sequel for Destiny was planned for a 2017 release if more information gets announced at E3 2017 in June during their Sony Press Conference it is very likely Sony has made a few secret deals with them when it comes to publishing games.

If a remastered trilogy was announced for Spyro the idea would be good and of course bringing back our childhood and nostalgia for our favourite PS1 classics, if you look at both PaRappa the Rapper and Final Fantasy VII Remake they are getting the same treatment for the PlayStation 4. So, if a Spyro trilogy was made this would make a lot of people happy and the sales for the PlayStation 4 would be making more money when it comes to sales worldwide and once again be a console for the family-friendly audience.

But like I said in this blog this was my theory and guess not saying it will happen at any time soon, you may never know it could if something got mentioned at E3 because by next year it will be the 20th Anniversary since Spyro the Dragon was first released on the PlayStation, so that did leave me with questions after reading the latest news on Activision.

What are your thoughts on Activision not releasing a new Skylanders game on consoles this year?

Would you want to see a remastered trilogy of Spyro the Dragon?

Let us know in the comments-

Let us know in the comments-

My Top Five Favourite Themes/Level Music in Video Games

So with Valentine's Day coming up like most people including myself aren't doing anything special on that day, well they would be if Persona 5 was released on that day but expect it got pushed back two months later but there's still a few good games coming out this month. A few years ago I did a blog on my favourite openings to video games, thought I'd do something similar this time round based around love and gaming and talking about my five favourite video game themes/levels; I won't be adding any battle music in this blog because I'm likely saving that for another time and also if you are suspecting any Final Fantasy music in this blog their won't be any but you can read my past blog on My Top Five Favourite Themes/Music in the Final Fantasy series

This hasn't been an easy one when it comes to music in gaming especially when picking only five to make it on my list, there's been so many memorable themes/levels over the years here are my favourites-

Green Hill Zone (Sonic the Hedgehog)-

Even though Sonic the Hedgehog was the first game I've ever played along with Streets of Rage when I got my first game console which was the Sega Genesis, when starting up the first level on Sonic the first three stages are Green Hill Zone you are just welcomed to a memorable tune that will be stuck in your head for a very long time. From running through loops, to jump on Dr. Robotnik's enemies to collecting rings; hearing Green Hill Zone in the background was my warm welcome into gaming and I'm pretty sure it was everyone's else when it comes to Sonic the Hedgehog.

Andy's Neighborhood (Toy Story 2)-

I've actually recently been playing this game again on my PS Vita and wanting to download a few more PS1 classic as well. Okay yes Toy Story 2 might be an easy game overall but the music on Level 2 Andy's Neighborhood is just one of the most memorable pieces in the entire game. There have been times where I've easily kept tapping my foot to this track alone it just feels jazzy and upbeat for a level, I know that the PS1 had a massive library of platformer titles for the system with memorable themes and levels but this one just top it all off.

Signs of Love (Persona 4)-

This has been one of those themes where you can easily listen to after a long day at work or from studies, there have been multiple remixes on Signs of Love for Persona 4 over the years after its release in 2008 but I prefer the original version more out of most them. There have been times I've either sang to the lyrics to the song or even whistle to the theme when I'm out with friends or getting work done, I can easily remember still playing through Persona 4 for the first time on my PlayStation 2 I was easily drawn more into the story more than the gameplay but the soundtrack is still one of the best I've heard in years and also still my all-time favourite game in general.

Flowing Destiny (Zone of the Enders)-

Zone of the Enders wasn't a bad series especially when it was developed by Hideo Kojima, when hearing Flowing Destiny at the end of finishing Zone of the Enders is memorable to listen to but when you get the chance to listen to it again in Metal Gear Solid IV on the iPod Flowing Destiny does pop up on Snake's track list. The reason I found the ruins of Shadow Moses in Metal Gear Solid IV more memorable was that I played this in the background when exploring the ruins and bringing me nostalgia and flashback moments from the first Metal Gear Solid. Hearing just the theme in both the first and second Zone of the Enders game just brings back memories of both Metal Gear Solid and Zone of the Enders especially when thinking about memories and gaming moments.

Alive Inside (The Walking Dead: Season 1)-

The Walking Dead: Season 1 was on my top favourite games for 2012, I know that the Telltale Games like to release their games episodic with a strong drama story in each episode. Season 1 of The Walking Dead left me wanting more out of the game and the choices I've made weren't that easy to make and of course the outcomes on Lee, Clementine and the rest of the group in Season 1. Hearing this theme alone makes the game more memorable and caring more about the characters in the story, the ending for Season 1 just had me crying making a very hard choice. In Season 2 your given more choices and with the start of Season 3 happening at the moment I'm pretty sure there will be more tough choices and hearing this theme in the background will make you feel closer to the characters. I would love to talk about the first episode of Season 3 if anyone else has played it already because there was one moment I was just in shock and dropped my PS4 controller to the ground when I saw that moment.

What are your favourite Themes/Level music in a video game?

Let us know in the comments-

10th Anniversary Blog- Okami

I still think 2007 was a great year for gaming especially on next-gen consoles like PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360 but also a great for handhelds too. But for the PlayStation 2 which was still selling strong since 2000, there were still games being developed and released for the system and remained popular through the seventh generation of gaming coming right up towards the eighth generation of gaming. Overall for 2007 for the PlayStation had a really strong list of games released for that year including Final Fantasy XII (UK/Euro release), God of War II, Tomb Raider Anniversary, Rogue Galaxy, Persona 3, Odin Sphere and The Simpsons Game.

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There was one game that shined out more than other games that were released during that year, I'm aware that Okami was released in 2006 for both Japan and North America but it wasn't released until 9th February 2007 for UK/Europe. I remember reading reviews on this a few months before and playing the demo from the Official UK PlayStation 2 magazine, I was quite impressed how well detailed it looked for graphics and visuals.

Hideki Kamiya was behind both story and director for Okami, but he also well known for directing other titles in the past including Resident Evil 2, Devil May Cry and Viewtiful Joe all under Capcom, Clover Studios were behind the development of the game and would later develop and release God Hand. The art style was heavily inspired Japanese watercolour and wood carving art of the Ukiyo-e style, such as the work of Hokusai. Okami would later be shown at E3 2005 and only 30% was already completed but soon it added more content in gameplay including the Celestial Brush and the combat system in place. The game was released a year later in 2006, however just a few weeks following its release in North America to strong critical reception, Capcom announced the closure of Clover Studio.

It was later ported to the Nintendo Wii but having Ready at Dawn porting and developing for the Wii version, it still got positive scores and reviews but wasn't as great as the PlayStation 2 version was. And a HD version was released in 2012 on the PSN Store for the PlayStation 3 in high-definition and also had PlayStation Move support including trophy support.

The story is loosely based on classical Japanese history with a mix of Japanese myths, legends and folklore stories telling the story how the land was saved from darkness by the Shinto sun goddess named Amaterasu, who took the form of a white wolf. After 100 years since the white wolf Amaterasu and the swordsman Nagi fought and sealed the eight-headed demon Orochi to save Kamiki Village and Nagi's beloved maiden Nami. Going to the present day of the story Nagi's descendant and self-proclaimed greatest warrior, Susano refuses to belive in Nagi's legend and frees Orochi, who escapes and curses the lands. The wood sprite Sakuya and guardian of Kimiki Village calls forth Amaterasu and asks her to remove the curse that covers the land. Accompanied by the artist Issun (an inch-high creature known as a Poncle) helps Amaterasu restores the land to its normal state and of course stopping the eight-headed demon Orochi from cursing the land.

It wasn't the story that was well-written and detailed but the gameplay structure felt more like a Legend of Zelda game but playing as a white wolf, you had different weapons including mirror weapons, beads and glaives to fight against enemies, you can unlock more weapons as you later progress through the story. But the strongest part about the gameplay was the celestial brush the more techniques you learn the easier it will be to defeating demons, but there will be some moments where you'll be using the celestial brush to solve certain puzzles in the game, I really do like this gameplay mechanic when it comes to games plus when I did GCSE Art and A-S Level Art at college I really did keep coming back to game a lot when it comes to art and inspirations.

Another thing I loved about Okami was how much kanji was used through most of the game but also the graphics and visuals looked beautiful to look at especially on the PlayStation 2 at the time. From the villages to temples to the lands of Nippon there was just something special about this game, the 3D animation used cel-shaded watercolour effects on the environments and character designs. Even the soundtrack was amazing to listen to as well, for an action-adventure it did just about everything right for an action-adventure game it's no wonder it got positive reviews and scores on release and you can easily spend a good 30 - 50 hours trying to complete the main story. This is one of those games that got positive reviews but not many people had bought it on release it was also the same with the Wii release as well because it is a shame not many people bought it because it was that good for a game that was released in 2006/2007. There was a direct sequel called Okamiden which was released on the Nintendo DS in 2011 that got positive reviews as well on release but it had the same fate poor sales due to it being not advertised that much I remembered having trouble finding this game at a good price on release in 2011 then managed to find it at a good price on ShopTo.

Some fans are still hoping for a sequel to Okami in the future because it is still unknown if Capcom will ever do plan to make another Okami game in the future unless the PlayStation 2 version gets released on the PlayStation 4 with trophy support it would be a good idea if it did get released on the PlayStation 4 and also a good chance for some players to pick it up if they missed out on the first time. Ten years later I still think that Okami has aged really well over the years and is still on my top ten favourite games of all time, it was also my game of the year for 2007 as well.

Is Okami one of your favourite games on your list?

Have any favourite moments?

Let us know in the comments-

Comic Review-Darth Maul

Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace was one of those movies where you either loved it or hated in the prequel trilogy in the Star Wars franchise. Don't get me wrong Episode I is still watchable when it comes to pod racing, John Williams soundtrack or seeing the mysterious Sith apprentice Darth Maul where almost every child included myself wanted their face painted like Darth Maul. There has only been very little information on Darth Maul in general after the release of Episode I and not much of back story around the character.

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A video game was in the works a few years ago called Battle of the Sith Lords was being developed by Red Fly studios in 2010 working with both LucasArts and Nintendo to releasing a game on to Nintendo systems but was meant to be a stealth-action game similar to Batman Arkham Asylum and focuses on Maul's origin story. But the idea didn't get passed the first stage and George Lucas wanted the idea to go in a different direction in what Red Fly Studios had in mind and struggled for seven months getting prototypes and getting the game to run. In 2011 the game idea was cancelled and soon after Lucas selling his company to Disney. However, in 2015 someone from Red Fly Studio did wanted to try and approach to EA on getting the game idea forward but it is highly unlikely it'll happen.

When it comes to novels, stories and TV episodes from the animated series The Clone Wars Darth Maul has made multiple appearances. This isn't the first Darth Maul has appeared in comics from 2000 by Dark Horse Comics based on scripts and storyboards of an unproduced 4-episode story arc intended for The Clone Wars Season 6. But when Marvel started doing more Star Wars comics on the main series and series on certain characters including Princess Leia, Darth Vader and Han Solo.

You don't know what to expect next from Marvel, when I found out that a series on Darth Maul was going to happen you are curious to see where this goes with it only going to be at least three issues in the series. It has been confirmed that the story will be taking place before the events of Episode I The Phantom Menace so it is a nice idea to focus the story around that event. With Darth Maul being Darth Sidious apprentice, Maul grows restless and just wants revenge pretty much want to take on the Jedi.

You have Cullen Bunn working on the writing for the series, in the past he's been notable for his writing work on Uncanny X-Men, various Deadpool miniseries and The Sixth Gun. But also you've got Luke Ross working on the art style for Darth Maul but his work is also well known in comic books including Captain America, Indiana Jones and Spider-Man. I do like the idea of both coming together making it feel it has a darker tone to the Star Wars franchise plus you've also got Nolan Woodard working on the colors as well.

But what I've read from the first issue I was actually surprised how good it was when it comes to explaining a backstory on a character which we don't have little information on. Plus, also a good alternate theory on what if this was based on a video game if a Darth Maul game idea went forward but the ideas are endless but still the original idea that Red Fly Studios had in mind could happen one day. If you are a Star Wars fan like myself I would recommend you taking a look at the Darth Maul series if you can you'd be surprised how well detailed it can be.

Five Indie games you should take a look at during the start of 2017

The start of 2017 has been pretty mixed during the first month, with the recent news of both John Hurt and Masaya Nakamura the founder of Namco both passed away this week; Donald Trump is the 45th President of the United States, Microsoft cancels Scalebound for the Xbox One, more information including a release date and line-up of games for the Nintendo Switch and of course Sony confirmed closure of Guerrilla Cambridge.

You can read my past blogs below if you've missed them this month-

I would admit that 2017 has already been a good start for game releases with games like Resident Evil 7, Yakuza 0, Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8, Dragon Quest VIII, Digimon World, Tales of Berseria and Gravity Rush 2 all released in January. But for if you are an Indie gamer or love playing Indie games on Steam, there's quite a good list of games that have just recently been released. I only looked this up recently after hearing the news all over the internet last weekend about a game called Panty Party from what I've seen from just the trailer is just what on earth is this? And why is this thing, I mean a pair of panties shooting at another pair of panties, I mean who ever made this game must have been on something but from another point of view, it looks like one of those that people would be made enough to play and review for a 2017 game.

But going back to the Indie side of gaming, looked at the recent releases from this month on steam, reading odd reviews, played the odd demos and seeing gameplay footage. These games in fact look really good for an Indie title especially on Steam, here are a few games I would consider taking a look at and would likely pick up at some point on Steam and most of these were on the kickstarter campaign to begin with-

Nefarious-

For an action platformer that looks a lot like a Mega Man game crossed with Metal Slug, where you globe hop between several kingdoms kidnapping princesses who alter gameplay in unique ways. Then thwart various heroes in reverse boss fights, recreated iconic battles where you control the boss, pretty much the opposite where instead of playing as the Hero in the game instead you play as the Villain and trying to kidnap the princess. The 2D visuals look impressive for a 2D platformer to be fair this looks a lot more promising than Mighty No. 9.

Hive Jump-

The first thing you'll probably say is that a 2D styled Contra game? The answer is yes it does remind you of the run 'n gun game but with a really strong co-op set in the 24th century where humanity is at war with a hostile alien race. Outnumbered a million to one, mankind’s only hope of survival is the J.U.M.P. Corps. Its mission is to fight the alien menace hive by hive and planet by planet. Up to 4 Players band together in Local or Online Co-op to kill aliens, avoid traps, collect treasures and discover lost relics. Defeat fierce alien bosses to complete your mission and save the galaxy. There's even multiple ways in playing game either online or offline up to 4 players likely this aimed more for people who want a hard challenge when it comes to gaming.

Alpacapaca Dash-

We've seen them at conventions and in stores but who doesn't love these adorable alpacas? Now there's a game based on the animal called Alpacapaca Dash, which is an endless runner with lasers and alpacas, a fun, cute and addictive game, getting the highest score, the highest amount of coins, unlock all alpacas and play until you can fully restore the world. It may feel like a mobile or flash game straight out of Newgrounds but it's actually pretty addictive and at a very cheap price of 79p on Steam right now.

Nine-

Running around in the dark with a flashlight and no memory what so ever, this horror title you play as a nine-year old girl trying to find a way out of this maze and all you will hear in the background is creepy and horrifying sounds, there are some moments that will make you jump but there's been a few moments where you'll need to look for a set of keys in order to press on and getting out alive. I do admit the graphics and visuals look pretty decent for an indie horror game filed with darkness, light and blood on both the floors and walls.

TattleTail-

It might not be Five Nights at Freddy's but when looking at the trailer reminds you of that game, I'm aware that this was released almost a month ago in December just before New Year. It does feel like a Slender game mixed with Five Nights at Freddy's with it being set in the 90's if you grew up in the 90's Furbys were on everyone's list either during Christmas or Birthday. Even my sister had one at first they look adorable to look at but after a few hours and making sounds they can be quite annoying to hear, story is set in Christmas 1998. The world’s most annoying toy just came out, and yours won’t stay in his box. Can you stop Tattletail from getting you in trouble before the bloodthirsty Mama Tattletail hunts you down? Like Slender having a flash light to see in the dark but in order to keep your Tattletail quiet and not getting you into trouble you need to care for it by feeding, brushing and recharging it if you want to survive in this horror game. I do like the idea around this because it is rare to see a game pull off this idea if you are not too careful when looking after someone, it's like that one level in Earthworm Jim where you had to keep your sidekick Peter the puppy safe from harm and getting him across the level without him turning into the hulk and making him angry.

Those are just some games I would suggest to you in checking out on Steam.

Is there any other Indie games that caught your eye or attention which I didn't mention in this blog?

Let us know in the comments-

20th Anniversary Blog- Final Fantasy VII: Part 3

If you read my blog on 20th Anniversary Blog- Final Fantasy VII: Part 1 and 20th Anniversary Blog- Final Fantasy VII: Part 2 looking at the 15th Anniversary of Final Fantasy VII, in Part 1 talked about the history and why Final Fantasy VII is still the most popular title in franchise and in Part 2 talked about Dirge of Cerberus which had mixed reviews on release but it has been one of those games where you either love it or hated it. In my third and final part of my blogs on the 20th Anniversary of Final Fantasy VII, thought I'd talk about its prequel that was only released on the PSP it was first announced back at E3 2004 prior to the release of the PlayStation Portable. Not much information was mentioned on Crisis Core when it was first announced in 2004, but there was very little information about the game but a few images of gameplay footage but it wasn't until towards 2006 there was more and more information on the game.

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Crisis Core was released in Japan on September 13th 2007 and June 2008 for both North America and UK/Europe. So it would be ten years ago when this game was first released on the PSP, but I would admit that the game really still holds up today in the handheld department especially for the PSP.

When Crisis Core was released in Japan on September 13th 2007 and June 2008 for both North America and UK/Europe. So it would be ten years ago when this game was first released on the PSP, but I would admit that the game really still holds up today in the handheld department especially for the PSP.

When Crisis Core was released in North America after the first month it was released it sold over 301,600 copies behind the sales for God of War: Chains of Olympus which sold 340,500 copies and Crisis Core became the second best-selling game for the PSP during the month of March and the sixth best-selling game overall; for UK/Europe it sold 550,000 copies in UK/Europe but still not bad a for a PSP game especially if you are a fan of Final Fantasy VII or love playing JRPG games.

Story focuses on Zack Fair where he dreams is to be a hero just like Sephiroth who is Shrina's best solider. At the start of the game, he is a 2nd class Soldier operative, another character called Angeal who is a 1st class Soldier and helps out Zack as much as he can. A solider called Genesis and several other Solider forces desert Shinra after an operation in Wutai. But they go missing and so it's up to Zack, Angeal and Sephiroth to find Genesis and find out what's been going on. But the story is told really quite well in Crisis Core and also explains a few good answers that weren't mentioned in Final Fantasy VII itself but also gives you a clear idea what happened Sephiroth before he went crazy and taking revenge on the world. Plus, seeing a few familiar faces in the game makes the reason why you want to play more of Crisis Core for its story but the saddest moment is the ending which is really sad to watch after clearing the game but it does a really good job in ending the story but starting a new which is where the main story for Final Fantasy VII starts to come in and playing the role of Cloud.

Looking at the graphics and visuals for Crisis Core really do look well detailed especially on the PSP, both this and God of War were two biggest games in 2008 and also making a strong shine for the PSP alone. The CGI cutscenes look amazing and completely well done which is pretty much close to the movie Advent Children, but the cutscenes and gameplay graphics look well done feel a little similar to a PlayStation 2 game like Kingdom Hearts or a Final Fantasy game but poured into a handheld game. The main problem you may have in Crisis Core plus pretty much the same problem in most PSP games is the camera controls using the shoulder buttons L and R triggers to move the camera around but say if you’re in a random battle and the enemies kept attacking you and you’re in a small area it can be a little annoying.

Crisis Core was a real-time combat RPG game, when your exploring Midgar which is the Final Fantasy VII world in the series you can explore the areas when you’re on a mission or playing through the main story. But most battles will appear randomly out of nowhere and that is where a battle will take place. You can either fight or flee the battle by using the PSP analog stick to move around. If you’re fighting enemies, you can attack or use magic or special attacks at enemies. You'll only have up to 7-9 materia slots when playing Crisis Core. Materia however is something that you can use to learn new magic or special attacks you can also upgrade them by mixing items and other materia together. If you have played through Final Fantasy VII I'm pretty sure you'll know why materia was important to use in order to learn new moves and boost attacks, HP and defence. Another important part of gameplay in Crisis Core which like mechanic to affect the combat system. The "Digital Mind Wave" (DMW) features two sets of three spinning wheels; one set with numbers one through seven, and another with pictures of characters that Zack become friends with during the game.

The DMW automatically spins as long as Zack has at least 10 Soldier Points; Soldier Points are awarded to the player by defeating foes. If the DMW stops with the same three pictures lined up, Zack will then perform an appropriate Limit Break attack or ability that can greater harm an enemy or significantly heal Zack. Additionally, in this case, if the number slots give two or more of the same number, the materia in that slot will power up. Should the numbers line up as "777", Zack will gain an experience level, increasing his health, soldier points, and ability points in combat. Otherwise, if there is no match on the pictures, matching numbers on the slots will still grant temporary bonuses in battle such as limited invincibility or zero-cost use of skills and abilities. The chance of matching pictures is tied to the current Limit level, which is raised by taking damage in battle and reduced upon successful matches, and after certain storyline events, through heightened emotions towards a specific character. After collecting certain items in the game, the pictures on the DMW may also randomly change to summonable creature, which have more destructive and beneficial Limit Breaks should the pictures match up.

Beating Story mode can take you up to 20 hours, but if you want to take a break from the main story you can play through other missions by standing on a Save Point. The Missions for Crisis Core can help you level up and earn new items and summons you can use in battles. The soundtrack and voice acting did a great job as well and having Ayaka performing the ending theme "Why" and fitted in really well for ending and of course having Takeharu Ishimoto for composing the soundtrack.

If you own a PSP and still haven't played Crisis Core I'd highly recommend you checking it out if you can but also a good start part point if you still haven't played Final Fantasy VII in general; but however Crisis Core was only released on UMD disc for the PSP meaning that you can't download it from the PSN Store either on your PSP or PS Vita. Which is a shame really tough if Square Enix did consider releasing it as a Remastered title for the PlayStation 4 it would be a smart idea if it happened unless it does get added to the Final Fantasy VII Remake once it's released but we'll never know if it will happen or not.

You think Crisis Core still holds up today since it was first released?

Would you love to see this as a Remastered title for the PS4?

Let us know in comments-

20th Anniversary Blog- Final Fantasy VII: Part 2

If you read my blog on 20th Anniversary Blog- Final Fantasy VII: Part 1 looking at the 15th Anniversary of Final Fantasy VII, in Part 1 talked about the history and why Final Fantasy VII is still the most popular title in franchise including sequels and prequels to the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII. With Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children being a success on direct-DVD sequel in 2006 for both North America and UK/Europe, another Final Fantasy VII game was released during that same year Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII was released for the PlayStation 2.

What were you suspecting in a sequel for Final Fantasy VII? Will Cloud be the main story in this title? No you end up playing as the role of Vincent Valentine where the story is all focused on his past and why he seeks revenge on Professor Hojo. In Final Fantasy VII he was only an unlockable character when Cloud and his friends find him sleeping in a coffin in the basement of Shinra Mansion in Nibelheim, you can ask him to join your party in stopping Sephiroth. Many fans and gamers have used Vincent in their party team when it comes to playing Final Fantasy VII. I do feel like this was a cool idea at the time when the game was first announced around the same time when Advent Children was in development around 2004, Vincent has been a favourite to many fans for Final Fantasy VII and to be honest would you rather have Vincent in party more than both Yuffie and Cait Sith?

Story takes place three years after the events of Final Fantasy VII and a year after Advent Children, where Vincent is targeted by Deepground, a mysterious organization that plans to awaken a creature known as Omega, with the ability to destroy the planet. But it's up to Vincent get to the bottom of the mystery of why Deepground want to awake this creature and with the help of Yuffie and Reeve to helping him out.

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What was different about Dirge of Cerberus is that the first thing you will notice that it takes a different turn when it comes to gameplay mechanics with Final Fantasy VII being a JRPG, Dirge of Cerberus felt more of a third-person shooter with a mix of RPG elements. Some gamers felt like this was a lot like Resident Evil 4 with the over-the-shoulder perspective, although you can switch to a first-person perspective if you wish. You can select and equip what guns to use like pistol guns, shotguns and machine guns, you can also use melee attacks on enemies but also you can also gain exp points from defeating enemies. So there are some RPG elements when it comes to leveling up Vincent and also gaining gil to buying items, new weapons and upgrading weapons.

Gameplay controls were easy to handle depending on if you were in to shooters or not, but you also had a choice of difficulty settings from Normal to EX Hard mode, but however the gameplay felt a little weak for some gamers especially when the reviews came out for this back in 2006 leaving with a review score of at least 6 or 7/10 but it was still worth a playing through but was however a little short when it comes to finishing the game. In the Japanese version of Dirge of Cerberus there was Online Multiplayer support that allowed you to play as a Deepground soldier and complete various missions. When brought to both North America and UK/Europe however, this feature was removed, this was because the online service was unpopular in Japan. It is a bit of a shame that this feature wasn't added in for the English release but with it being released in 2006 it would have been a little pointless with the PlayStation 3 being released around the corner during that year.

The graphics and visuals did look impressive for a PlayStation 2 especially the CGI cutscenes, but when it comes to both the gameplay for Dirge of Cerberus it still looks impressive for a game that was released in 2006 but sort of felt a little too late for the game to be released, I do like the Devil May Cry style settings around Vincent on the dark visuals and settings. If this game was released a little sooner like 2004 or 2005 it could have done a better job when it comes to both sales worldwide and plus when you look at the graphics and visuals to Dirge of Cerberus it really does feel like it should have belonged to that year because the game would have hold up more for fans of the series and to gamers. With it being released in 2006 the PlayStation lifespan on games were slowly dying down with the PlayStation 3 coming along the way, plus of the likes of Final Fantasy XII being released during that year it sold more copies and got even more positive reviews than Dirge of Cerberus did.

So does the sequel hold up today? The answer is both a yes and no I do agree that this appeals more to the fans of the series, story was pretty interesting and explained a few things that weren't answered in the original game. Even the voice acting was pretty good as well having the same voice actors that were in Advent Children lend their voices for Dirge of Cerberus and of course some locations you end up exploring and visiting may bring back some nostalgia to some Final Fantasy VII fans. But the downside to this game that it felt really short for a Final Fantasy game, I know that it was first shooter in the Final Fantasy franchise but for a first attempt it didn't do too bad. But some of the enemies and bosses you end up facing do feel a little repetitive and don't really leave much of a challenge, like I said it could have done a little better if it was released a lot sooner during the PlayStation 2 lifespan. If it got re-released on the PlayStation 4 it could sell well if Square Enix decide to go forward this move even add in the extra content that was in the Japanese version but wasn't in the English release, unless this is bundled or gets added in Final Fantasy VII Remake when it gets released in the future.

Would you say Dirge of Cerberus was a good game?

Let us know in the comments-