Now that I am 30…

A nostalgic look back at the childhood of a small English kid.

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Archive for the ‘Video Games’ Category

I’m still alive and I’m playing…

Posted by iwata33 on Thursday 29 July 2010

Deathspank Art

Yes, my yearly drive to start blogging again has started, we shall see how long it lasts this time.  Just to dip my toe in I am going to talk a little bit about what games I am playing at the moment.

Deathspank – X-Box Live Arcade

Produced by Hothead games (Penny Arcade Episode’s 1 & 2) and with games consultant Ron Gilbert (Monkey Island 1 & 2), this game plays like a generic light role playing game in the same mould of Diablo.  You are sent on quests, collect items and continually level up and upgrade your abilities and weapons.  What makes this worth playing is the humour and style of the game.  The quest are very generic, kill this many creatures, collect this many things however the way the story is delivered and presented to you as the player engages you and overides the fact that you have probably done these same quests many times before in all sorts of other games.  With a heavy does of influence in gameplay from World of Warcraft and storytelling from The Secret of Monkey Island, this game is well worth playing.

4 out of 5 stars

The Secret of Monkey Island 2: LeChucks Revenge Special Edition – X-B0x Live Arcade/PC/iPhone

A re-make of the 1993 classic graphic adventure by Lucas Arts again with Ron Gilbert being the main designer.  This version has updated graphics which are beautiful, spoken dialogue using the same voices as the other games in the series including the recent Tales of Monkey Island on the Wii and PC.  The Monkey Island games have long been a favourite of mine and could possibly be my favourite franchise of all time.  The storytelling is awesome and the jokes of pitch perfect.  The puzzle are ingenious and if you don’t give in to checking hints, it will have you scratching your head and then smiling from ear to ear when you work out what to do next.  All I would say is if you haven’y played any of these game before, start with The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition also on the above platforms, as it is slightly easier and will give you a great introduction to the genre and the story

4 out of 5 stars

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker – Playstation Portable

I am a great fan of the MGS games, but the problem is I am not very good at them.  The last MSG game on the PSP I just got frustrated with, especially the mechanic they had in the game where you got people to enlist in your army and help out.  They have simplified this for this version using a helicopter to air lift them out rather than you have to carry them to a truck. This along with all research and upgrades you can do and the variety in the missions makes this a really deep game that keeps you coming back for more.  The only sticking points are the bosses which take the form of tanks in the early game, but once you have got your head around how to defeat them, you soon progress. This is one of those must have games for the PSP and there aren’t many of those.

4.5 out of 5 stars


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Possibly the best games franchise ever…

Posted by iwata33 on Friday 11 April 2008

Mario Kart Wii came out today in Europe and after running to the shop to pick it up, playing it for 2 or 3 hours and then kicking some butt online, I started to think back 15 years to when I first played Super Mario Kart on the SNES. Yes thats right 15 years ago, I was a small 15 year old lad back then, I didn’t have a SNES, no I was firmly in the Mega Drive (Genesis in the U.S.) camp, but my friend did have one. Also back then there wasn’t any sort of specialist games shops at least not in Britain, so the best you could do was ‘Dixons’ or ‘Curries’ or in our case ‘Debenhems’. I remember it was a Saturday morning, we were browsing through the small games section and my friend picked up a blue box. As has become the case with me and really big surprise games, I had heard of this new racer but didn’t think it would really be that good (I also said the same about ‘Goldeneye’, ‘Call of Duty 4’ and ‘World of Warcraft’, as you can see I’m not great as spotting a sure-fire hit). So my friend bought it because he had heard that it was suppose to be very good, not only in one player but also two player, and again back then there wasn’t a great deal of multi-player games out there, you had to grab them when they came along. We took it back to his house and began to play. As many of you might remember this game had quite a steep learning curve, it was the sort of game that took a while to become good at but once you did it was incredibly rewarding. My friend got very good at it and still sees it as the very best Mario Kart game there is. (I would have agreed with him up until a couple of years ago). I could never complete the special cup though, it was just way too hard.

With the release of the N64 I became a nintendophile through and through. I have have bought every Mario Kart game on the day of release (the only one missing from the picture above is the GBA version and that is the only one I haven’t kept over the years). Mario Kart 64 wasn’t well received at the time but I really liked it, some of those courses are still classics and being able to play 4 players made it one of the first true party games. Mario Kart on the GBA was great and harked back to the SNES days even giving us some of the old tracks to play again. Double Dash tried to combine the new look of 64 version with the old racing style of the SNES and did it with some degree of success and Mario Kart DS really perfected what all the other versions had tried to do and with the added online play it made this game one of the essential buys for the new system.

So how does the new Mario Kart Wii live up to this history, well Nintendo does not have a habit of disappointing its fans (unless you speak to some of the fans who played Mario Kart 64 back in the day, and with Star Fox 64 (See Infendo Radio) ‘Do a barrel role’, oh and by the way Scott Slippy is one of my heroes). Well in this case they have done it again, this is about as much fun playing a game as you can get whilst holding a big plastic ring, in other words, a lot of fun. First of all you have the normal amount of new tracks, four cups, four tracks per cup so 16 new tracks. Then you have another 16 tracks that have been hand picked from all the other games and well you know the rest, hopefully from reading one of the 101 other reviews out there, and if you haven’t then pop over to one of them and check it out for a more professional review. All I want to say is that Nintendo are really doing a good job of pleasing lots of different demographics, I would consider myself a serious gamer (not to happy with the word ‘Hardcore’) and I have found it to be immensely fun, deep, challenging and addictive but equally my girlfriend will pick it up, have a bash and have fun with it and she is about as casual as you can be with games. The online options are really well thought out and I can’t wait until they activate the online challenges that the game promises on its online screen. And to top it all off the Wii Wheel works really well its responsive and fun and as a result I have just played the last three hours using nothing but the wheel. I never thought I it would be that good.

Suffice to say Nintendo have honored the proud tradition of the Mario Kart series and given us, it’s fans, what I think I consider to be the best in the series so far, man I can’t wait for SSBB.

If anyone would like to meet me online for a leisurly drive (with Shells!!) then here is my friend code


Go get this fantastic game and happy driving


Posted in Video Games | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Very Cool Warcarft Movie

Posted by iwata33 on Sunday 16 March 2008

For the last few years (in my late twenties thats why it counts) I have been playing a small relatively unknown game called ‘World of Warcraft’. I recently stopped playing due to the fact that I found I was not playing (or doing for that matter) much else in my life apart from playing WoW. However I still keep informed as to what developments are going on and I am eagerly awaiting the next expansion when it comes out. For now though there are many excellent machinema movies that have been made from the WoW game. The one I have added here has got to be the best, loaded with movie references and genuinly fuuny, go watch it and find out just why WoW is such an interesting and good game. (It allows people to do stuff like this)

Happy Hunting


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The Lock-On Days…

Posted by iwata33 on Wednesday 20 February 2008


What some people may not know is that Sega, didn’t just make video games back in the nineties, they also made electronic games such as this fine time waster, Lock-On. Between 1994 and 1996 myself and key friends from my college days used to play this pseudo zap zone/paint balling game on a dog walking path in the Sherwood area of Preston, Lancashire.

The game consisted of a gun and a headset. When playing the game you would shoot the gun at the headset which would then make a noise to tell you that you had lost a life and a little LED in the headset would tell you how many lives you had left. There would also be an eye piece that would hang from the headset that would reflect how many lives you had so that you could keep track of them. Now bare with me, I know how it sounds, and for those of you that know me, and already think I am a huge geek, this will do nothing to persuade you otherwise. However we did try and inject a certain coolness into the whole thing. For a start we tore the eye piece off, then it just became the headset. Secondly and you might notice this from the pictures, we covered both the bright blue gun and headset in black tape. This had a duel purpose, firstly they looked much better and secondly it allowed us to hide in the undergrowth and behind trees much better, remember I’m a geek!

There would be about 7 or 8 of us that would play so we would split into 2 teams and basically play a paint ball style hunting game where we had to defeat the other team by slowly taking lives from each other. (Hey at least we weren’t stuck in doors all the time playing video games :-)). Now if this weren’t bad enough there were a number of what you might consider politically worrying things that would occur during the course of a game. For a start the teams would often just be Catholics versus Protestants, yeah I know, but that sort of thing was still important then. We were also running around with black looking guns in a public place, can you imagine that happening now and the kids being allowed to get away with it, not to mention most of the time we looked like terrorists with balaclava’s and black jumpers on.

When I look back at these days I can’t help but smile, they were ace, we were carefree, we would spend a good chunk of our Sunday’s running, jumping and generally having fun in the fresh air and it was free which to a student make whatever it is worth doing in the first place. Lock-on will always live in my heart as one of the geekiest things I have ever done and yet sometimes I wish I could go back to those days.

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Spectrum 128K – My First Games Machine

Posted by iwata33 on Saturday 27 October 2007

Spectrum 128k and Games

Yes this is my first proper post, and this is on the first games machine I ever owned, well thats a slight lie, as a family we did own a computer before the ‘Speccy’, know as ‘The Einstein’, more on that in a later post. However the Spectrum 128K was the first proper games machine that I owned and shared with my brother. As many of you will probably know the Spectrum was of British design and first released in this country in 1982, known as the ZX Sinclair Spectrum. The model I played as a kid was the +2A 128K version (Amstrad’s design after they purchase Sinclair in 1986) which my mother and father bought for me in 1987. The +2A was the pinnacle of the spectrum design with an attached tape deck, (previously the tape deck had come separately) and a plastic keyboard, (after reports that the original Spectrum’s rubber keyboard melted after a few hours of play due to overheating). The Spectrum was able to play a tonne of different games, as well as having a built in ‘Basic’ language editor that allowed the user to perform basic programming. I remember spending one half term sat in my room with this tome of programming language and my Spectrum. After many hours and much typing lines of code I managed to program myself a ‘Chess Piece’, I was so pleased, I managed to make something of nothing. I had been ‘bit’ quite early on by the video games bug, and still to this day 20 years on I play more games than I ever have, but this one incident really showed me as a small impressionable 10 year old child just what a computer could do and more than that what anyone could achieve with one of these devices, just a bit of time and a lot of patience.

As for the games well, lets just say I know there is a thriving emulation community out there that like nothing more than to get a couple of classic games from this era and get them going, (I wonder if they emulate the 25 mintue load up times that we used to have to endure, I remember being able to make and drink a cup of tea in the time it took for my games to load, and yes that confirms it I am British, and I was drinking tea at ten years old). but most of the games from that time sucked, there were some I enjoyed but for the most part Spectrum games were largely unplayable by today’s standards and 25 minutes is a long time to wait for a game to load, and godforbid it crashed within the first couple of minutes playing.

I used to do my paperround with a good friend of mine, we would sit on the wall outside the paper shop counting the £10 we had earned that week (yes, £10 but I had done about 4 rounds a day to get that), then we would take ourselves off to town. I live in Preston in the north of England and every Saturday there would be a market with a games stall. Your average Spectrum game would be about £1.99 or £2.99, then your real good games, I mean the ones that had been ported from the arcade or the Amiga would be all the way up to £9.99. Way to much for us to blow on one game. Instead we would buy up 5 or 6 games between us, go back home and put them on, 3 or 4 would be either rubbish or not work at all and then you would have one game that was half decent, 2 if you were lucky and if you were really lucky you would get a good game that was two player, those were the best and would often have us coming back day after day. But for the most part games from this era were mostly throw away, however I didn’t do that and so now I have a carrier bag full of tapes with Spectrum games on, in future posts I plan on high lighting a few of the better games and also a few of the classics, the games that had to be played, such as Hero Quest, based on the board game and one of the last to be released before the machines death, this game was so cool because you could save your game, something that up until that time had been just a dream for anyone playing a tape based games machine.

There is so much more I could say on this subject but I think that this post has gone on a bit so I will fit it all into future posts. You know I am getting quite nostalgic about all this, I might boot the old girl back up and see what she can do, time to get the kettle on.

What was you favorite Spectrum (or Commodore 64) game? Mine had to be the classic adventure game ‘Dizzy’ (much to the disgust of my friend who was a little more hardcore). Let me know what your favorite game was by leaving me a comment. If you would like to find out more about the Spectrum then please go to this excellent archive World of Spectrum.

Posted in Video Games | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »