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Sega re-releasing the Mega Drive in the UK

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Sega have announced the return of one of the greatest video game systems ever produced. The Mega Drive.

The new super-slim version of the console comes with 2 6-button controllers and 15 legendary games installed including:

Alex Kid
Alien Storm
Altered Beast
Arrow Flash
Bonanza Bros.
Columns
Crack Down
Decap Attack
E Swat
Fatal Labyrinth
Flicky
Gain Ground
Golden Axe
Shadow Dancer
Sonic And Knuckles

More importantly though, the console is compatible with all of your old Mega Drive cartridges. Not only that but it's region-free, so get ready for the market for obscure Japanese Mega Drive games to explode!

The console will cost £37.99 in the UK and is available now for pre-order fromPlay.com

Release date is April 24th.

Other regions have not yet been announced.

Source: HookedGamers.com

Review - Killzone 2 (PS3)

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My second published videogame review is up on HookedGamers.com. It's for Killzone 2 and you can find it here.

Any feedback is much appreciated!

Street Fighter IV from a noob's perspective

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This week I have found myself playing an awful lot of a game I never thought I'd have a great interest in, Street Fighter IV. Growing up in the nineties as a keen gamer I was very aware of the huge fanbase for Street Fighter II though I never really jumped on the bandwagon. I dabbled with Hyper Fighting in the arcades, as everyone did, but even simple Hadoukens were beyond me.

In the late nineties, with the coming of the original PlayStation, my perspective on fighting games shifted dramatically when I played and loved the first Tekken. Since then I have strived to play more and more titles in this increasingly niche genre, even going back to play beat-em-ups from the 16bit days. For some reason though, I still never sunk any time into any of the huge number of Street Fighter games.

It was strange then that I felt so compelled to pick up Street Fighter IV for the Xbox 360. Honestly, I think I just wanted to be a part of a true gaming phenomenon and that's exactly what Capcom's franchise has become. Of course, the price of my interest was spending an entire weekend trying to learn one of the most mechanically complex games ever made.

After several days of playing I still haven't finished the arcade mode on medium difficulty and I'm almost completely useless with every character, except for Ken and Sakura, but despite all of this I have been having a huge amount of fun.

I would definitely reccommend Street Fighter IV to everyone out there, no matter how frightened you may be by the massive barrier to entry that greets first time players. Learning the mechanics of the game from scratch has been a lot of fun, despite my inital intimidation, and I've even managed to win a good few games on Xbox Live now.

Perhaps the most amazing part of the game though is seeing just how mind-bendingly good some people are at the game. I have lost several Xbox Live ranked matches purely because I was sitting in front of the TV, mouth hanging open, completely blown away by the moves my opponent was combining.

It has been an absolute pleasure to come in at the bottom end of the skill tree and learn so many new things. If you're on the fence about whether or not to buy this game, I throughly reccommend it. Its one of the most pure and entertaining experiences that videogames have to offer. Sure its insanely hard, but that just makes winning all the more satisfying! Hadouken!

My top 10 retro games that need remakes

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10. Star Wars Trilogy Arcade
Sega - Arcade - 1998

This is a game which I imagine people will be surprised to see on this list, but hear me out! The gameplay of Star Wars Trilogy Arcade would really lend itself to the Wii. The game's first person lightsaber sections, blocking laser blasts from Boba Fett or duelling with Darth Vader, would be a fantastic fit for the Wii Remote once Wii MotionPlus is released later in the year. Sega could add extra lightsaber levels based on other scenes from the movies to further what was already a great package in the arcade. You could even use two Wii Remotes as handlebars during the first person Speeder Bike sections from the arcade version. Make it happen Sega!


9. Super Hang On
Sega - Mega Drive (Genesis) - 1987

Put simply, Super Hang On is OutRun on 2 wheels. This awesome motorcycle racer was a Mega Driver launch title and massive arcade hit, because it was one of the only racers at the time where you actually sat on a motorbike in the arcade. Sega have been making new OutRun games for a few years now and they're easily their best examples of contemporary remakes, so why not set that same development team on a new Hang On. Riders and bikes should be customisable (as in the Mega Drive version) and a Burnout-esque boost option should be included. In the original game travelling over a certain speed for a short time would give you access to a boost as long as you could maintain speed.

One of the game's many endings had your rider being revealed to be an old man with a long beard and pipe. That alone makes this game worth remaking!


8. Earthworm Jim
Shiny Entertainment - Mega Drive (Genesis) - 1994

There have been rumours circulating for the last couple of years that Earthworm Jim 4 is in development but nothing has ever appeared. A new Xbox 360 or PS3 Jim game, done right, would be an awesome platformer. It's worth mentioning though that the only attempt at doing Earthworm Jim in 3D so far was terrible, but put the TV show's voice actors in there and we might ignore the wonky camera controls!

If a new game isn't coming it would be great to see the original game remade with new high-def graphics for XBLA or the PSN. Surely it would make sense to make some use of the assets from the failed PSP remake?


7. Streets of Rage
Sega - Mega Drive (Genesis) - 1991

Lately, Sega have had a bad habit of butchering 3D versions of their old franchises (Sonic, Golden Axe, After Burner - the list goes on!), so Streets of Rage in 3 dimensions is probably a very bad idea. However if it worked in a similar way to the fighting mechanics of the quietly awesome Yakuza series it could be pretty good. Though, it would of course need a lot more rocket-firing police cars! If all else fails, a high-def remake would me more than welcome.


6. Lylatwars (Star Fox 64 in USA)
Nintendo - N64 - 1997

Since this was released Nintendo have experimented several times with putting series protagonist Fox McCloud into 3rd person adventure games. What fans really want though is a new air combat game now that he N64 game's graphics are starting to look super dated. The Star Fox series could almost certainly find a new generation of young fans on the hugely popular Wii system. Just imagine using the Wii's motion controls to "do a barrel roll!"


5. Road Rash
EA - Mega Drive (Genesis) - 1991

For many of the games on this list (mainly the 2D side-scrollers) HD remakes are a great idea, but when it comes to Road Rash, it's definitely time for a new 3D game. The excitement and tension of constantly being right on the edge of being knocked off your bike has never been captured by any other game. But then, that's probably because there's never been another game like Road Rash!

Although, come to think of it, it would be amazing if Road Rash was just added as a game mode to Burnout Paradise. Just think of those motorbikes at those ridiculous speeds, only now the riders have chains. Now that's DLC people would pay for. Epic stuff.


4. GoldenEye
Rare - N64 - 1997

This is a remake that very nearly happened as a re-textured high-def version for Xbox Live Arcade. Unfortunately business politics are likely to prevent this Bond FPS from ever being seen again. The original was developed by Rare exclusively for Nintendo, so any release on 360 would have meant Microsoft paying royalties to Ninty. To complicate things further, Rare are now owned by Microsoft, who theoretically now own the assets from the original game. On the other hand, employees who left Rare to form Free Radical might still have some ownership rights over GoldenEye's art. Even more confusing is the fact that Activison now have the exclusive James Bond rights so no other publisher can release a 007-themed game!

Don't shove your N64 in the closet just yet. GoldenEye isn't going to get remade anytime soon, regardless of how much the fans may want it.

3. Sonic 3 (& Knuckles)
Sega - Mega Drive (Genesis) - 1994

When they were originally made, Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles were intended to be one game, but Sonic Team missed their development deadline and shipped the games separately. The infamous "lock-on cartridge" technology was developed to allow the different game cartridges to share data, so owners of both could play the games as one experience, as originally intended.

Sonic 3 (& Knuckles) was the name given to this combined experience and it makes for arguably the definitive Sonic experience. A full HD remake with new sprites and backgrounds in the manner of Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix would make this one of the best games of all time. Sega need to drop the rubbish they're producing with games like Sonic Unleashed and give the fans the remake they deserve.

2. Metal Gear
Konami - MSX 2 - 1987

Hideo Kojima's original Metal Gear was experienced by very few people outside Japan. The game was difficult to find in Europe and was never released in North America, except for as a radically altered and inferior NES port. Because so few people played the game it would be fantastic to see it remade in full 3D using the Metal Gear Solid 4 game engine and controls. Add in full voice acting (including David Hayter of course) and cut-scenes and Kojima Productions would be onto another winner.

Most people have very little knowledge of the story from Solid Snake's first mission. Remaking it would make this important first chapter much more accessible than having to find a MSX 2 and a copy of the original game, or finding a copy of MGS3: Subsistence (on PS2), which includes the game and its sequel, Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, as bonus content.


1. Final Fantasy VII
Squaresoft - PlayStation - 1997

The possibilities of a current-gen FF7 remake were first seen in a PlayStation 3 tech demo shown at E3 2005, in which Square had remade the game's timeless opening cut-scene using the new PS3 hardware. It sent fanboy hearts fluttering and with good reason. It was amazing.

If the game ever really is remade (Square are willing to stick the FF7 name on just about anything these days, so why not?) it really ought to have its wonderful midi soundtrack remade with a full orchestra. In fact this has already been seen to some extent in the game's movie sequel, Advent Children. It's important though that there is no voice acting, in order to maintain the silent charm of the original game's characterisation.

An updated Final Fantasy VII with spectacular new PS3 graphics, but with its original and perfect gameplay mechanics unchanged, would instantly become one of the best games ever made. That's why it's at the top of this list.

My top 10 of 2008

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1.

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, EURO/UK box art
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of The Patriots

Arguably the greatest masterpiece of the Metal Gear franchise and Kojima's best game to date.

The final chapter in Solid Snake's epic story is unlikely to be topped for many years to come. I seriously doubt if anyone other than Hideo Kojima will ever again create such a perfect blend of gameplay and story.

2.


Grand Theft Auto IV

As much of a leap forward for the series as GTA III was from the original 2D games.

GTA IV may have displeased some fans with its more realistic direction, but there
can be no argument that it is still an astounding game.

3.

Front cover of Rock Band 2 (US) for Xbox 360
Rock Band 2

The original Rock Band was a truely great game and Rock Band 2 followed that up by ironing out all of the kinks, as well as giving players the best setlist ever seen in a music game.

With weekly DLC Harmonix have kept me completely hooked on this game, simply by adding more and more songs that I just have to play.

4.


LittleBigPlanet

In an era where every game seems to be dominated by space marines and violence LittleBigPlanet has been a breath of fresh air. Gorgeous visuals, great old skool platforming and its ground-breaking creation tools have made this a must-have for every PlayStation 3 owner.

Niggling content ownership and online problems aside, the quality of the paltforming was certainly the nicest surprise of 2008.

5.


Burnout Paradise

By borrowing Test Drive Unlimited's open-world model Criterion Games revolutionised the Burnout franchise.

Frantic races, all new events, sublime online play and terrific crashes make it one of
the most adrenline-fuelled racers around. Add to this the copius amounts of free DLC
and you've also got one of the best value-for-money games of 2008.

6.


Mirror's Edge

Battlefield developers Dice took the FPS handbook and tore it up when they set about making this platformer. A truely unique look and incredible controls made for an enthralling experience once you look beyond the occasional bit of trial and error.

The sense of inertia and movement is the real party piece in Mirror's Edge you'll be hard pressed to find a game with more intense set-pieces.

7.

Box art for Limited Edition version of Gears of War 2.
Gears of War 2

Gears 2 presented a much more refined experience than the first game, while maintaining everything that was good about the first game.

The campaign is much more enjoyable and the new additions, especially Horde mode, made this one of 2008's great multiplayer experiences, despite the matchmaking problems in competitive modes.

8.


No More Heroes

It hasn't been a great year for Wii software, but No More Heroes definitely stood out from the crowd.

Suda-51's mad art and design has never been more obvious than this game, which follows the story of an otaku who buys a Beam Katana (read: Lightsaber) in an online auction and sets about becoming the world's greatest assassin, just to get a hot blonde chick into bed with him.

If that last sentence didn't sell it to you, then I don't know what will!

9.

Left 4 Dead Xbox 360 box art
Left 4 Dead

Valve have proven in recent years that they have a knack of knowing exactly what consumers want and there's no way they could go wrong with "zombie apocalypse shooter!"

While it lasts the co-op experience in L4D is second-to-none, but its incredibly short length prevents it from going any higher on my list.

10.

Front cover of Prince of Persia (EU) for Xbox 360
Prince of Persia

Prince of Persia follows the Assassin's Creed school of simplified but very graceful 3D platforming. Set in a gorgeous open world with perhaps this year's most striking graphics, it's a truely great game, despite its relative simplicity.

Unfortunately, out-dated object collection mechanics (did we learn nothing from Banjo Kazooie?) prevent it from climbing any higher on my list.

Pre-Christmas Gaming

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Usually in the weeks running up to Christmas buying games is the last thing I'm thinking about. The priority is obviously to find presents for friends and family and my normal reaction at this time of year is to ask for games for Christmas and wait for the January sales to pick-up any big titles I may have missed. This year though, things have been a little different.

Videogame retailers in the UK have reacted to the recession by putting lots of major releases on sale before Christmas to encourage people to keep up their normal level of holiday entertainment spending. GAME & GameStation have had a different title for half-price everyday, while HMV have had weekly deals and Zavvi have dropped the Xbox 360 (Arcade SKU) to less than £100.

As a result of this, I have found myself buying games that I normally would have left until after Christmas. These have included Tomb Raider: Underworld (360), Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe (360) and Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction (PS3), which is on Sony's budget Platinum label.

I've been having a great time with MK vs DC. Cross-over fighting games or fighting games using a unique license have always intrigued me. I even enjoyed the novelty of Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi (PSone), despite the game's very questionable quality. In MK vs DC, the contrast of the bright DC comic book characters (except for Batman and Lex Luthor) against the darker MK fighters makes for some great looking fighting. The combat's melding of 2D and 3D mechanics works a treat and any game where you can make The Joker shoot Sub-Zero in the face gets a thumbs-up from me!

After MK put me in a good mood I moved on to spend some time with Lara Croft's latest, Tomb Raider: Underworld... and my mood was spoilt. After the game's intriguing opening prologue I was faced with one of the worst opening levels I have ever played. Despite being visually breath-taking there was almost no indication of where to go or what to do and to make matters worse, this was happening underwater while Lara was being attacked by sharks. Things didn't improve on dry land where the game was so dark that I had to alter my TV's brightness levels just to make the game playable. It was with a great sigh of relief that that I ventured into the much better levels that followed. Unfortunately though, the immediate fun of the series' previous title Tomb Raider: Legend has been spoilt by convoluted puzzles. In the end it's not a dreadful game, its just not a patch on Legend.

I haven't jumped into Ratchet & Clank yet, but I loved the demo when the game launched last year and I've been looking forward to trying the full game for a while.

When Christmas rolls around in a few weeks the gaming certainly won't stop. My lovely girlfriend has bought me Left 4 Dead and Prince of Persia (both on 360) and I have asked my family for Resistance 2 (PS3), Far Cry 2 (360) and LocoRoco 2 (PSP). I'm also providing some festive gaming for others too. My brother already knows that I've bought him World In Conflict for his shiny new PC, my girlfriend is lucky enough to be getting a PSP from me with 2 games and my dad is getting a very special gaming gift imported from Japan.

Now stop reading and get yourself down to the sales!