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MC_Bally_Who Blog

Troll Spotting: 5 Gamespot Community Troll Types

The Scholar

Famous for cluttering comment and forum pages with mindless sprawling literature of minimal merit, with their best efforts often accumulating as impassable blocks of text or text walls. Often retaliating to 3rd party opinion with various free rights and freedom of speech violation claims, the intent of these trolls may be purer than first meets the eye, but they may be fearfully out of touch with their target audience.


'Wall 'o' Text':because paragraphs are for noobs.

The Eeyore

Famous for complaining about review scores, unable to justify their own opinions or enjoy things for what they are, eeyores live in a state of virtual limbo, stuck between narrow minded expectations of how they wish things would be and the wall of hate they receive from the more optimistic and balanced of the community. A sad existence indeed.


'This game NEEDED 11 10's, Gamespot sucks.'





Sh*t snipers (or SS)

Long range text-turd flingers rather than ropey marksmen, sh*t snipers are known for their immense personal targeting abilities (despite poor vantage offered from hiding behind computers in their parents basement).

Also famous for their fascist sympathies, sh*t snipers target individuals for their belief systems, ideologies and occasionally racial or specific geographical origins before trying to enforce their unshakeable and often detestable beliefs on others in a low stooping and persistent manner.


'OPEN': What true warriors strive for.

The troll troller

Troll turned troll slayer, troll trollers are known for their wit, impressive use of irony and ability to leave less skilled trolls in a state of keyboard psychosis without needing to have the final word. Whilst they could be mistaken for white knights amongst keyboard warriors, approaching such individuals with any words of praise is not advised as doing so may result in character assassination or in the very least an abrasive case of burn.


Life lesson: trolling a troll still makes you a troll.

Pole Position: Will Gran Turismo stay on top?


With Gran Turismo 6's first release date pretty much just around the corner it's had me pondering... What does Gran Turismo have left to offer on current gen consoles? What does the future hold for the Real Driving Simulator, will I finally be able to put jet wings on my bright orange Honda Civic? So many questions...

For those who dont know, Gran Turismo is one of the bestselling videogame franchises ever. Clocking in at almost 70 million sales worldwide since the release of the first game back in 1997, it's hard to ignore the immense love, acclaim and popularity the series has had the joy of receiving. Praise for the series has manifested itself in a number of ways ranging from a vast array of awards and accolades from gaming publications across the globe to a Gran Turismo themed Café at the Twin Ring Motegi Circuit in Motegi Japan, and, lest we forget Snoop Dogg's contribution to the series success, his masterpiece, 'Dogg's Turismo 3'.

Back to sanity. The last two entries in the series have been flying the flag high with the PSP title shifting 4.2 million units worldwide (despite mixed critical reception) and Gran Turismo 5 has achieved the best sales for any PS3 exclusive in Europe and the UK to date racking up over 10 million sales as of May this year.

Doggy D-O double G in the Motherf***ing Gran Turismo 3... *Sigh*

On the GRID and the DIRT in Criterions pits

There has been some stiff competition on the racing game grid since Gran Turismo came rolling onto the scene. Currently we have the likes of Codemasters GRID and DIRT titles as well as Criterions Need for Speed and Burnout blended mutant race babies, but the real opponent is parked in Microsoft's garage; the Forza Motorsport series.

Though whilst not quite as strong selling as Gran Turismo, Forza has topped over 10 million sales since the series inception back in 2005 and things are on the up with great sales on the new set of wheels that is the Forza Horizon series. Whilst each previous Forza Motorsport to date has been released once over two year intervals, the handing over of the horizon games to Playground games (Which houses a number of Codemaster talents) and a plan to up the speed in which core series titles are released will apparently allow the biannual production of Forza franchise titles.


'I do it Forza thrills'

Keeping up with the Joneses

Whilst I'm not often one to hold a games quality solely against its review score, it is easy to note that whilst the sales are still good for Gran Turismo, the last few entries in the series may have put a slight ding in the series bodywork reputation wise. The prestige feeling of previous Gran Turismo titles have made them feel like a true work of love. A beautiful machine crafted to exquisite specifications, a veritable chariot of the gods when compared to other slapped together soapbox racers something that Michael Schumacher would want to ride off into the sunset with before wining, dining and getting soapy with it in a luxury car wash...

So what happens when more Gran Turismo games come out of the factory less than perfect? With its main competitor gearing to release titles biannually (and ones that are likely to be of sound quality given that each titles will have its own development team) is it just a matter of time before the sales start to plummet and both the supply and the demand wane by comparison? Will Gran Turismo be able to compete on its name alone? or will it fade into a shadow of its former self, dating lesser and lesser racing celebrities before turning into a dark, sinister creature of the pits preying on young Formula 3000 drivers to quench its oily sexual appetite?

With all this said. Sales and review scores dont seem to go hand in hand quite as much as they used to. I mean just look at all the sales Call of Duty has made despite all the terrible review scores... wait.


'You're a dirty, dirty car...'

Conclusion: The Final Lap

I love Gran Turismo and I really want to see it stay at the top of its game. It still sells like $10 Ferraris, it's got heritage and has had worldwide impact like no other racer on the market to date. Grim visions of cougarish antics on nubile racing hopefuls aside, it appears all we can do now is see if Polyphony Digital have pulled up their fireproof socks and put on a shiny new helmet for Gran Turismo 6. See you on race day.


Review: Hotline Miami (PC)


Ill get it out of the way. Hotline Miami is perhaps the best 80s themed cocaine-bloodlust infused top down murder simulator ever created! Now that might sound like a steep claim to anyone who hasnt yet had the joy of experiencing what the game has to offer, but to cut a long story short this game combines spot on control, a sweet 16bitish visual style and an awesome driving electronica sound track that complements the action on screen wonderfully.

The game really isnt all that complicated, the idea is usually just to kill everyone in an area, room or building, starting with your bare hands and working up through a variety of different weapons to execute bloody visceral brutality on everyone in your way. The gameplay for the most part is in a pretty much standard top down shooter style, but what sets it apart from other top down shooters is a near perfect feeling  control scheme and a couple of extremely visceral hand to hand moves that make the game feel both refreshing and brutally interactive. Beyond this, as the game progresses, you are given the option of using different masks that augment certain abilities, such as allowing you to punch harder, kill people by hitting them with doors or giving you access to more weaponry. These add some nice variety on how to approach each level.

When trying to take your foes down in any given level, (aside from the aforementioned face masks) a number of considerations have to be taken into account. First of all you die in pretty much a single hit so stealth kills are always a good idea. You can keep things quiet through using melee weapons such as knives and baseball bats to avoid grabbing attention from additional adversaries. Taking a loud approach requires you to make clever use of doors as cover or a means in which to stun enemies and finding sensible choke points to avoid being overwhelmed by a horde of alerted enemies.

Speaking of death, its something the game appears to want to immerse you in at every given opportunity, if you arent decorating walls with the blood and grey matter of your enemies then you are likely having your own smeared about the place by them. Your personal death count will likely be counted in 10s before the completion of each mission as one moment of hesitation or poor planning will likely result in death. This really adds to tension in the game when you know that you are nearing completion of a level, but doesnt often amount to too much frustration as it takes little more than a press of the R key to get you back into action at the start of each short stage.

As you progress through the game you will learn a few clues as to what is actually going on around your character, what kind of person your character is and who keeps leaving messages on his answer phone giving him the orders to go out and commit such vicious acts. The story isnt in depth by any means but the game provides such a unique style and atmosphere that you cant help be intrigued as to what all of this mess is about, and you will find out relatively quickly if you keep your reactions sharp and your cocaine consumption to a minimum as the game really isnt very long. The games length is perhaps the only real negative to Hotline Miami as it can be completed comfortably in 3 hours. That said, the high score and ranking system, steam achievements and unlockable masks add to the replayability if the fast, slick and brutal gameplay isnt draw enough on its own and there are a collection of secret items in each level to solve a mysterious puzzle.

Hotline Miami is a short but extremely entertaining murder fest that is easy to recommend to anyone who likes fun, lots of red and purple pixels and awesome 80s style settings.


The darker side of the war between VHS and Betamax

Bite-size Reviews: Frozen Synapse (PC, MAC, iOS)


Im a bit of a novice when it comes down to tactical strategy games. My previous experiences with the genre basically boiled down to me finding the game too complicated, too slow and required too much time and effort for very little overall reward. After picking this up for next to nothing and having very low expectations I can officially say Im blown away.

This game did seem to get some pretty decent reviews upon release and I can totally understand why. I can equally understand why it was slightly less well received by the player base. Its a punishing game with a lot of variables and tactical factors to take in to consideration, with many new players likely requiring a sizeable chunk of time to tackle the steep learning curve. There is however a very intuitive feature that both alleviates some of the games difficulty and adds a neat touch to the overall gameplay experience which comes in the form of a preview of your planned tactics so as to get a general idea of the results of your actions and clean up any slight mistakes in your actions or maneuvers. There is a catch to this mind you, being that you can only see the playing out of the exact orders you planned your units to carry out with the enemy static in the positions there were in at the previous turn, meaning that the actual result of your actions when you commit to plan may vary somewhat considerably.

The bulk of the gameplay boils down to organizing units in a  relatively small environment using clever timing, intuition to guess your enemies next move and cramming as much strategic ideas into five seconds that will play out when you have confirmed your turn. The list of units you will encounter for use is as follows: a machine gunner, shotgun unit, sniper, grenadier and rocket unit. Each of these provides the kind of tactical consideration you would expect and they are more than enough to make the gameplay complex and interesting when combined with a number of other variables such as stance, different cover heights and the five second turn limit. This gameplay is spread out over a couple of single player game modes in the form of skirmish; a game mode that generates random scenarios for you to indulge in a quick tactics fix and a campaign mode which provides an ever increasingly difficult set of 55 levels for you to flex your strategic mind muscles within these levels you will eventually use 5 different units each with different weaponry.

The multiplayer is particularly rewarding as the tension can reach ludicrous heights against an equally skilled opponent.  That said, the matchmaking isnt sophisticated enough for you to avoid some of the real life military tacticians who appear to play this in their spare time (an important consideration since most of the current player base has had two years of frost between their neurons).

Not forgetting the subject of presentation, the game isnt going to (and didnt) win any awards for its graphical prowess, but it is aesthetically pleasing with very simple, clean and stylish, VR-esque vibe to it and is complemented by a great electronica soundtrack that really adds to the atmosphere. The rest of the sound is serviceable and there are no real complaints minus the lack of any voice acting in the cut scenes. Story wise there isnt much to speak of. You come for the tactics, the gameplay and the challenge on this one.

On a whole Frozen Synapse provides some great brain flexing strategic fun, a somewhat unique presentation style and some tense multiplayer tactics to boot. I recommend Frozen Synapse to anyone who likes to think before they shoot.


"Anything could happen in the next five seconds" 

Shadows of the Eternals: Pedophiles, empty pockets and Eternal Darkness.


The spiritual successor to the much loved 2002 survival horror classic Eternal Darkness: Sanitys Requiem has been floating around in development purgatory for some time now, walking on ceilings, hearing voices and telling itself this cant be happening!. Exploring the chances of this gaming resurrection coming to fruition provides some excitement and a little bit of trepidation, however the first gameplay trailer revealed a couple of months ago and the playable demo at Comic-Con (which should be shown today) will give us an idea about what we should hope to expect any financial, development or reputation issues aside.

At the end of June a developer at Precursor games, Kenneth McCullock, was arrested on child pornography charges, and whilst it is hardly reasonable to hold the company on a whole as anyway affiliated or to blame for an employee delving into child sex offences its hard to ignore the kind of stigma that many will attach to both the company and the project in hand. Whilst the official story for the halting of the original crowd funding drive was solely that exciting new opportunities were being explored, the fact that this coincided with the aforementioned series of events it makes sense that they were using this time also as a way to stop, take check, do a damage report and see if the demand was still high enough to continue with the project; which apparently it is, with the next kick starter starting in the next week or so.

There are a few mixed feelings surrounding this new title anyway, ranging from concerns about the developers recent efforts, lack of funding (the kick starter raised around 20% of the funding they were aiming for) and obviously the pedophilia stigma. Precursor games does contains former Silicon Knights staff of whom were responsible for some great games in the past; the Legacy of Kain games, the highly acclaimed Metal Gear Solid remake the Twin Snakes and of course Eternal Darkness but the studio has hit a few somewhat bum notes in recent years with the disappointing Too Human and the critically panned X-Men: Destiny which had little to no redeeming features in my opinion.

One could argue that publishing pressures were perhaps to be to blame for the poor product that was X-Men Destiny under Activision and that the more talented members of the development team were busy at work on Shadows of the Eternals but we should still remember that a large chunk of the best work that has been produced by members of Precursor games was under Nintendos Wing back on the Gamecube which was roughly a decade ago, an eternity by gaming industry standards.

If the game ever does see the light of day, it appears that many of the great concepts and ideas used in Eternal Darkness such as the sanity effects will be utilized and the use of the Crytek engine will allow for much more ambitious environments and gameplay that could really add to the experience, but a flashy engine will mean nothing if they cant recreate the signature vibe and atmosphere of Sanitys requiem, which will be no mean feat.

Lets hope for the best, or donate, or donate and hope for the best. Or I suppose just go and play Eternal Darkness again?


"Sorry you're too old to be the Charlemagne's choir boy"

What is the SEGA SPECTRUM?


A bit late to the party on this one, waiting for the dreams I cast about a new Sega console to come back from Saturn. The Spectrum, whatever it is was meant to be announced almost a month ago at E3, but never showed up. Is it something boring and overly technical? Is it shiny and brings Sega a second console genesis? Are people waiting with expectations or am I the only one who cares? Anyway a few theories as to what this thing may be:

1. It's a collection of new Sega IPs!

Perhaps the spectrum will be a number of new IPs from across the spectrum of gaming genres. As to what the different colors mean? Well perhaps an IP in four different genres? Four main target markets they wish to throw their games at? Different flavors of ice-cream Sega recommend consuming whilst enjoying their new titles?

With some perhaps misguided optimism I would like to think that this is at least whats on the table here.

Sonic's new friends: Try-Hard the Tanuki, Specials the Snake, Adam Sandler... the list goes on...

2. Its a new Nintendo and Sega collaboration!

You know how well F-Zero GX/AX turned out (or at least you should). (Aside from many things) Whats to say that Spectrum isnt the next Mario Paint game aimed at a more artistic/ mature audience?
Think about it, there are so few Microsoft paint style games on modern consoles. Nintenga could be here to set that straight.

Admittedly there are a number of holes in this theory, not least to mention that no sign of any involvement from Nintendo is present, but I guess more importantly the fact that a new Mario Paint title would struggle to find a gap in the market among the everlasting popularity of paint on Windows 98 and the increased sales of real paint, paper and berets is worth noting too.

Slight doubts aside, the look on the faces of those long awaiting a new Sega console would be both priceless and akin to the Dreamcast logo itself.


The new face of the beret: Wadysaw Brzosko = THE TREND

3. A new console?

Can you imagine? I dream about this!  VMUs make me spit magic. I want a Crazy Taxi 5. I want a Shenmue 4. I want a Sega Bass Fishing 2097. I want a Dreamcast 2! Actually come to think of it, I want it to be 1998 again. Come to mention it, I think thats what a lot of people hoping for a new console actually want.

 The fickle mistress that is nostalgia aside, lest not forget that the standard of Sega games in the last 10 years has been a bit inconsistent to say the least; Sega murdered Sonic in 2006 and have wacked him with a defibrillator a couple of times since (with varying success) sparks of genius like Valkyria Chronicles and solid titles like the Yakuza game have also been seen, but we all know that what most Sega fans are still waiting for is some high definition Seaman on their screens

David Seaman learnt to play football on Virtua Striker: FACT

4. An easy to port from arcade board thing

Sega sometimes make them big noisy game boxes that clutter rooms at the top (or sometimes bottom) of shopping malls in Asia and perhaps feel that a tool allowing an easy extraction of goodness from the aforementioned juicy game crates to paste into our home gaming  juice boxes is the order of the day. Simple, logical and sensible, like orange juice with breakfast I feel.


I'll stick to orange juice thanks

5. A new game engine?

Spectrum: A band of colors, as seen in a rainbow, produced by separation of the components of light by their different degrees of refraction. Graphics are made of colors and stuff right? I mean it all makes sense really and games need engines. Sure theres Frostbite, Unreal etc. but I want everything to look like Space Channel 5. EVERYTHING. Cant go more into detail on this one, I dont get paid to do technical lectures, I play games and pretend I get paid for writing about them.


Who needs realism when you have Ulala and that guy?


A HD rerelease of Master System games, a stolen and rebranded ZX Spectrum, Segas foray into the house paint industry, Hajime Satomis camp alter ego. 

Capcom and Valve collaboration? Why?

Resident Evil meets Left 4 Dead

For those not in the know, Capcom announced on the 15th March that a free DLC pack will allow characters and enemies from Left 4 Dead 2 to be used in Resident Evil 6 multiplayer and vice versa. I love Valve games, I love Left 4 Dead and I used to be a huge fan of Resident Evil up until Resident Evil 5 so the thought of this is actually kind of cool to me.

Im pretty sure most of you would agree that adding awesome characters into a somewhat sub-par game isnt really going to make it any better, but adding additional enemies to mix up the pace in an awesome game can never do any harm (I didn't say which was which! You thought it, I didn't say it!). Besides the price tag is $0 so I suppose one shouldnt complain too much


Did they get to Tokyo by chocolate helicopter?

So why such a collaboration?

Capcom and Valve...these two sure make interesting bedfellows don't they? Capcom have been slandered for their abuse of DLC and half-baked sequels in recent years with no apparent shame over milking the cash cow, whilst Valve have stood firm with a community focused approach encouraging fan satisfaction by delivery consistently high quality (albeit in much lower quantity) titles with sprinklings of free stuff to keep the smiles on gamers faces. It doesnt take a genius to see the potential advantages for Capcoms reputation to be collaborating with such a bastion of consumer satisfaction like Valve, and whilst Valve games always sell well a nice bit of P.R never does any harm in adding to the Half Life 3 budget (since thats where all the money is going right Valve?... right???).

'You mean you'd actually pre-order and pay money for Super Half Life Episode 2 Turbo 3D HD Edition?'

Could this mean more cross-overs?

Capcom love cross-overs, it's not exactly news. Perhaps Valve is just like a one night stand for them with some added social benefits? Im sure they will stay friends on Facebook. Valve on the other hand? Perhaps it just adds food for thought in the future as to who elses bed they can slip into when they get a little lonely. 

I doubt how far this specific relationship could go to be honest. Perhaps a Team Fortress vs Capcom game would be amusing?  I dont really see that one on the horizon though and Im pretty sure Gordon Freeman is so over Mega Man already. Just a thought, I would pay thousands for a Viewtiful Coach game.

Coach is King
'Henshin a go go my ass'

5 Nasty Video Game Boss Related Incidents *SPOILER ALERT #4*

So this is a blog post. I think I used to do these more regularly in the past, but things appear to have changed? Id like to say Ive been saving the world or at least collecting golden coins in the sewers of a tropical paradise between bouts of community service. The truth is Ive been travelling the world and striving to be a man in the hopes that maybe, someday,  Ill be cool enough to be a supporting character in a generic JRPG.

Any way heres a list of 5 things that are loosely related to bosses in games that I like to play sometimes.


5. Tutorial Boss: Demon's Souls
Lets cut to the chase, Demons Souls is a wonderful albeit horrifying experience. It trains you in the art of stoicism and forces you to accept defeat again and again. Give this game to your kids. There are no star stickers for just turning up to class, but if you pass all your exams, get to a great university, get an office job, pay off your student debts, buy a house, get married, have a family and pay off your mortgage when youre 60 all your dreams will come true

I spent a good few hours on the character creation screen for this one, I really wanted to make sure that my character looked exactly like Sean Bean so I could deliver a kind of justice that only a man from Yorkshire could truly understand. I wanted to be a man. Winter was coming; I would stay Sharpe and do this for England! I would strike down my foes like a true ruling steward of Gondor!

I achieved this for the best part of 20 minutes before pooping my pantaloons at the speed in which the Vanguard Demon made me into a handsome pancake. You can defeat this boss apparently, but unfortunately Im not Japanese and I dont have a million thumbs.

Glenn the Plumber

Now listen up Glenn the F***ing Plumber!

4. Forrest Kaysen: Deadly Premonition 

On a scale of 1 to Wilfred Brimleys cholesterol, I rate this as a guaranteed myocardial infarction.
Seemingly harmless at first Kaysen lulls you into a false sense of security; helping you with cases and even providing a bit of Willy to keep you going throughout the lonely parts of the game. Its near the end of this tale however that things get more than a little freaky.

First, Kaysen kicks you in the balls by killing your love interest, he then bounces at you like a fat purple ping pong ball and shortly afterward he proceeds to chase you down an impossibly long staircase looking like the love child of Gene Simmons and a H.R Geiger inspired Ribena mascot.  He then grows to Godzilla like proportions with his only weakness being a human sized figure of himself stuffed in the pocket of his dungarees. Weird no?
Oh my heavens
This pretty much sums it up, thanks whoever made this picture.

3. The Moon: Legend of Zelda Majora's Mask

Whilst not a game boss in a typical sense the moon in Majora's Mask is one of the creepiest villains to appear in any video game. His (or her) intention to slowly and deliberately embark on a direct collision course with Hyrule doesnt exactly come across as the decision of a typically happy, well rounded individual anyway but it is made creepier by the transfixed expression on its face, the evil desire burning in its eyes and the simple fact that it has time to think about what it is doing yet makes no attempt to deviate from his/her new found, terrifying destiny.

This kind of thing makes me glad that most gargantuan spheres in our galaxy dont have faces, not naming any names but one of the better ones should hurry up with the new Adventure of Dr Freeman title to be quite honest.
'When you are the moon, everything falls the same...'

2. Sonic 06: Boss Battle ft. Silver

If youve made it this far into the game theres probably something wrong with you anyway, but in a section of the game like this, you really have to stop and question what the hell you are doing with your life. Not only is this boss completely broken (in the sense that it can trap you and kill you by hitting you multiple times before you even hit the ground) but the time it takes to complete this fight through pretty much sheer luck alone gives you more than enough time to think about how awful this series had become by this point. On a brighter note, some of the newer titles have been pretty impressive, so Im not actually sure why were still talking about this one. Go and play Sonic Colors or something.

Game design tip #14: The use of some kind of in game physics is advised

1. Cheap Fighting Game Bosses: A large percentage of all of the fighting games ever made

Learning combos, counters and throws is a joy in any well-made fighting game.  You spend hours in practice mode, get great scores in survival mode and have perfected your technique against human opponents, yet when you take a crack at the games arcade mode you grind to a halt at the end stage. Unblockable low blows, silly combos, disproportionate speed to size and strength and general all around quarter gobbling absurdity stands there slapping you in the face. There is nothing in the world that frustrates more when playing a fighting game than an imbalanced end boss yet so many game designers seem incapable of producing good end bosses for fighting games on home consoles, even today. Im kind of looking at you Seth and you Jinpachi and you M.Bison and you Dural and you Shao Kahn (etc).


'Shao Kahn! That's why mums go to Iceland'.

So thanks for reading. My English ability is slipping since Im in Australia at the moment. What should I write blogs about? Tell me. I need inspiration and love?

SUPER NINTENDO! Where have you been all my life?

I know why they call you super...

I finally bought a Super Nintendo! Childlike wonderment and awe has filled the SNES shaped hole that once made my life feel vague and empty!

As a young child in the first half of the 90?s, a Super Nintendo was completely off the radar for me in terms of what I wanted in my life. I liked Lego I liked cake and I wanted to be a hedgehog when I grew up (without even knowing what a Sonic was). I now know that that?s a real shame since I wasted time with things real kids were supposed to be doing rather than spending my time playing gems such as Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario World and Nigel Mansell?s Championship Racing(?) like I have found myself doing in the last couple of days.

I?m not a stranger to Nintendo consoles. I?ve owned all the other Nintendo home consoles (even the NES) and enjoyed them thoroughly, and due to this it?s a mystery to me as to why it?s taken me so long to pick one of these up.

I managed to purchase mine on Ebay in a bundle which included two Super Nintendo?s a load of control pads and a few games. The best part is that I just managed to sell the other console for more than the price of the package combined, so I essentially got paid to have a SNES!

Gloating aside I must say I?m pleased with the console I chose to keep. It has an interesting makeshift, two tone colour scheme going on due to a combination of the usual discoloration and what appear to be some replacement panels. As per usual with older Nintendo consoles it works as if it were brand new and I love the overall sturdiness of the thing combined with the satisfying clunk that comes with changing and inserting games.

The two games that have really grabbed my attention so far are the aforementioned Donkey Kong and Mario games, but I hope to pick up all the obvious greats over the coming weeks. I?m finding the two games surprisingly challenging due to an immense break from not only retro games, but games in general due to an extended period of travel, but I?m hoping this system will kick my ass enough to get me prepared for that copy of Dark Souls I have lying around!

So anyway my neglect of this wonderful console is all but 16bit water under the bridge now and I really hope to get my teeth into some of the games available for the system. If there are any little known or unusual titles that anyone has to recommend please let me know and I?ll get on to tracking them down.

I was going to include an epic explanation as to how in love with this system I am right now, but the fact that I?d rather rush off and play it to death probably gives it more justice than I?m able to explain.


This blog is in memory of the millions that died in the great banana famine of '93

Undead Knights PSP Review

They were dead, but not anymore. Play as a zombie, make more zombies and have a zombie themed party in a medieval setting on your PSP. Undead Knights delivers what it says on the tin.Jam Fest
Ye olde Medieval jam fest... thou art repetitive in thy attire

Undead Knights is a hack 'n' slash game created by Tecmo for the PSP. The game sees you fight your way through a series of levels as one of three knights, killed by their King for suggesting the Queen's involvement in witchery and other 'questionable' behaviour.

The three are given a chance to exact their revenge on the king after being brought back to life by an individual known as 'The Beast' and becoming 'Undead Knights' with the power to turn the living in to the undead. This is an interesting premise, yes and Undead Knights definitely features some interesting ideas and creativity, but the game on a whole is a bit of a loud, bloody mess without one specific redeeming feature.

To get it out of the way, the single worst thing about Undead Knights is the nightmarish soundtrack. To get an idea of how bad the music is here, imagine a chainsaw being put through a washing machine on spin cycle with a sprinkling of grenades and two note heavy metal riffs. Let's just say, this game on full volume is… an experience.

Before I go to town on ripping this game to pieces, as mentioned before it does feature some interesting concepts. You turn your hapless enemies into your undead allies by pressing the circle button and waiting for a red circular gauge to fill up before they succumb. This adds a small element of strategy early on as you can be vulnerable to attack during this time. This would be ok if it lasted, but after purchasing upgrades from a menu available between levels, you will be able to deliver damage and transformation fast enough to throw any strategy out of the window.

Some other upgrades available to you include the expected health increases and basic combo's (which are very basic) but at least give you something to work towards and create a slight feeling of character progression, and being an upgraded powerhouse with an army of undead can be pretty fun in short bursts.

When you do manage to amass a group of undead, you can order them to attack other enemies, fences and other defensive fortifications as well as do certain contextual actions such as form a bridge or gather around you in a defensive manoeuvre. This system controls relatively well but the crosshair you use to direct the undead does feel slightly clunky and inaccurate which is a shame given that controlling the undead is the game's main selling point.

At its best the game feels like a horror themed combination of Dynasty Warriors meets Overlord, which is actually surprisingly refreshing, however the games' neat ideas and even its main gimmick aren't expanded upon anywhere near as much as you might like.

Despite the zombies being the best part about the game, they also seem to come with a number of questionable design choices. For example; regardless of how well armoured or powerful the enemy you just turned into a zombie, it will be exactly the same as all the other weak, blue bodied corpses that you have shambling by your side. Different zombie types would have gone a long way to adding some much needed variety. Whilst this distinct lack of variety hurts the game during anything longer than short play sessions there are a few interesting uses of the zombies in combat, such as the ability to throw them to stun enemies, or latch onto bigger foes, while you watch on in glee as it is pulled to the ground with blood spurting from its body.

It would have been great to spend upgrade points on your zombies, allowing the building of an unstoppable undead army with enhanced abilities, but unfortunately no such features are present.

One unfortunate side effect of zombies in a standard hack n slash formula way the game seems to be deliberately obtuse at times just to force you to use zombies and keep them relevant. For example, while you can merrily smash your way through barrels, crates and pots in order to find souls and health items, you can't smash down fences or gates or even kill enemies with a shield without help from your undead. While it is disturbingly satisfying to have a horde of zombies eat a well armoured knight alive while he screams for help, the fact that you can't land a good hit on him with your huge melee weapon detracts from the feeling of power you have as a super powered undead knight in your own right.

Ultimately this game has a huge number of flaws. Undead Knights can be very repetitive, the music is awful, there are a bevy of graphical oddities and a number of questionable design choices, but look past all these and you may have some simple gory hack 'n' slash fun. There are also a couple of simplistic multiplayer mini games, playable over adhoc mode, but they serve as nothing more than a slightly amusing distraction.