A challenge to my readers

Dear readers,

You let me down. I posted almost two weeks ago about a cool shoot ’em up called Blazing Star – that’s Blazing Star by the way and not Blazin’ Squad, a frequent misnomer in my house. Anyway, I explicitly mentioned I had Blazing Star on Switch. And yet not one person piped up in the comments to warn me about… Caravan mode. That’s right, it’s thanks to your negligence that I’m in a mess of trouble! For the lucky ones who don’t know, caravan mode is a five minute only score attack mode included in every NeoGeo re-release put out by Hamster, complete with online leaderboards.

After I completed that post, I decided to take a quick peek at the high score modes Hamster included. That “quick peek” soon became an arresting diversion, swiftly followed by addiction and then obsession. And now look where we are.

All I can say is I hope you’re satisfied. I do not feel I should bear responsibility for this tragic turn of events. Even so, reluctantly, I must beg for your help. Can any from among you put an end to this madness? Are there any willing to take on the caravan challenge, and de-throne my score?

Yours five minutely (and no I can’t pause),

Adrian

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Fine dining for two with Overcooked: Special Edition (Switch)

Waaay back in 2014 we had a post about ‘the best games for couples’. The post tells an embarrassing story about me before listing some of our favourite gaming experiences as a couple. In the years since Maya and me have played many games together, and our list today would probably look quite different. One new addition would surely be Overcooked: Special Edition. This is a nifty co-op game that tested our relationship – mostly in positive ways, I’m pleased to report. Continue reading

Dead Space (PS3) – Resident Evil 4 to the bone

Alongside Mirror’s Edge, Dead Space was EA’s other critical darling/commercial flop in the Wii/360/PS3 era. Unlike Mirror’s Edge, which is an original attempt at a first person platformer, Dead Space is a loving tribute to Resident Evil 4. It’s a tightly paced re-imagining of Capcom’s classic with some cool twists of its own. A handful of hours in I’m greatly enjoying it, and can recommend it above Shinji Mikami’s own spiritual successor to RE4, The Evil Within.

The aforementioned twists on the formula are: environments with zero gravity, and vacuums with a limited oxygen supply; unique weapons that depart from the usual pistol/shotgun/submachine gun formula; a heavy emphasis on dismembering foes. Where I’m at in the game, these have all proven themselves to be strong additions to the tried and true winning formula for the third person shooter laid down by Resident Evil 4.

How about that formula then? It’s been executed extremely well so far. There’s the strong sense of atmosphere, with plenty of tension as you encounter increasingly ghoulish scenes aboard the space station USG Ishimura. There’s the quick pace and a clear objective at all times. Frequent interactions with your capable comrades on the intercom or in person serve a dual purpose, just as in Resident Evil 4: they offer a welcome spot of relief from the grisly surrounds, as well as keeping you clear on your next objective. The Dead Space devs did their homework, that’s for sure.

There’s still plenty more of Dead Space for me to see – I hope – so maybe things will change. But as it stands I’m having a great old time and I can’t wait to see what other surprises the devs have in store for me through the rest of the game. I’ve also heard nothing but positive things about Dead Space 2, which I am dying can’t wait to check out too.

Catherine (PS3) – a flawed curio

Some great ideas, executed not so well. That summarises Catherine in a nutshell for me. It’s a pity because I admire Atlas and their willingness to go off the tried and true path. Like other Atlas titles (notably the Persona series), Catherine is divided into two distinct styles of gameplay. We mostly watch, visual novel style, the protagonist’s intense social challenges in the day, and then take full control of him during his dreams at night in a series of puzzle challenges. Continue reading

A memory of Blazing Star (NeoGeo)

Like many teens, I did the whole rock band thing. In the mid 2000s, I was in bands, writing and performing my very own terrible music, and spending a lot of time in dingy urban rehearsal studios. It was in one of these rehearsal studios that I encountered a classic shooter of yore, Blazing Star. At the time I didn’t make register its name – it was simply one of four games available to play for 20p on a NeoGeo arcade cabinet. It was the first 2D shooter I’d every played on an arcade cabinet, so it really stood out to me. The arcades I went to were host to lightgun games, Dance Dance Revolution and networked racing games that cost £1 at a minimum – whereas this NeoGeo cab was something completely different at a fraction of the cost. Continue reading

An overdue update

We’re in trouble here, aren’t we? It’s been two months since my last blog post. But, more significantly, is that I have hardly thought about this site during that time. That leaves me with only two options:

  1.  A radical rethink in how the blog is run.
  2.  End the blog.

Continue reading

Switching things up with Hollow Knight (Switch)

I finally caved and bought a Switch. No going back now – and hey, I finally get to make my own Switch pun. I’ve not owned a portable system since the GBA. Times are certainly a-changing; I’m sad to write that I’ve put my CRT TV away in storage and a few less-used consoles are to follow. I still have plenty of old games to write about on the blog so no worries there. It’s just a bit of a bummer when life gets in the way.

Getting back on track here, even I have to confess that the Switch is very cool. It’s a slick piece of kit with a great gimmick of coming off the telly and into your palm whenever you like. To be honest the way I’ve used it so far is no different to off-TV play on a Wii U, but it’s always nice to have the option to take it out. Small as they are the joycon controllers are nifty too. I only have a couple of games, most notably Super Mario Odyssey – it turns out Switch games are expensive! – but I’ve put the most time by far into Hollow Knight. Continue reading