Legend of Zelda, The: The Wind Waker (Long)

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Legend of Zelda, The: The Wind Waker (2003)

Review, 05/11/12

INTRO

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was released for the Nintendo GameCube in Europe on 3rd May 2003. Following the immense success of previous Zelda games, including A Link to the Past, Link’s Awakening and Ocarina of Time, fans eagerly anticipated the latest instalment in the series for the Nintendo Dolphin, newly dubbed the GameCube.

To demonstrate the power of their upcoming console, a Zelda tech demo was shown as part of Nintendo’s exposition during the SpaceWorld show in the year 2000. It featured a short swordfight between the adult incarnation of Link and Ganondorf, showcasing realistic graphics much improved from the blocky polygons featured in the previous two 3D Zelda games, Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, both released for the Nintendo 64.

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11 Poorest Powerups

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11 Poorest Powerups (2013)

Please be advised that this feature contains strong language.

INTRO

You get killed an awful lot of times in video games. Sometimes in the customary ways (falling into curiously bottomless pits, being blown away by a Franchi SPAS-12 shotgun, being crushed by some hulking enemy, falling foul of an evil glitch put in by negligent developers); others in more interesting ways (being beheaded by a chainsaw, being swallowed whole by a massive fish, having a cow land on your head arsefirst). You lose again and again, and the aggravation mounts. What do you need? You need powerups – certain new abilities or items that can swing the game back in your favour. Some hand you such a terrific advantage that they are absolute must-haves, while others give you incremental boosts that all add up to let you topple that tough as nails boss.

But not every powerup is up to scratch. Here, in no particular order, we look at 11 powerups which are at best non-offensive and at worst actively conspire against the player. Note that imitation powerups that do actively harm or impede the player character, like the Poison Mushroom of Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, do not count. No, these are powerups which the game purports to be beneficial but, really, the programmers might as well not have bothered. Or worse, these items can be so worthless as to be damaging, if employed in the wrong way. Note that a powerup here can be any and all kinds of things to aid the player, from an item in Zelda to a spell in Final Fantasy. Please enjoy.

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Terranigma (Long)

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Terranigma (1996)

Review, 17/11/12

INTRO

Who doesn’t love the Super Nintendo Entertainment System? Its excellent library of games cannot even be counted on all fingers and toes: that ever-present plumber alone crops up with Super Mario World, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, Super Mario Kart and Super Mario All-Stars. Other top notch SNES showings include The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Metroid, and Rareware’s Donkey Kong Country trilogy. RPGs your thing? Take a look then at Chrono Trigger, EarthBound, Secret of Mana, Final Fantasy 4 and 6 (and a fan-translated 5), even Mario shows up again in Super Mario RPG. And all of this is even before we get onto the Capcom and Konami showings.

Those games are must-haves of the SNES, with many of them made by development powerhouses (in this case Nintendo, Rareware, Squaresoft, Capcom and Konami). Of course, with almost 800 official SNES releases in PAL regions and the US, there was bound to be a few lesser known games, even by the well-known developers. You might have played Capcom’s Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting and Mega Man X, but have you played U.N. Squadron? Probably Konami’s best known SNES outings are Super Castlevania IV and Contra III: The Alien Wars (Super Probotector: Alien Rebels in EU), but have you ever given underrated platformer Sparkster a shot? There are probably dozens of games on this beast of a console just waiting for you and I to fall in love with, so far-reaching is the console’s appeal and the genres of games created for it.

Who are Quintet? They are a heavily obscure Japanese video game developer who were active in making games during the 1990s. Or should I say “were” a video game developer? For even that bastion of knowledge Wikipedia states “the current status of Quintet is unclear”. This sounds like a pity, as Quintet were responsible for the development of four heavily underrated and loosely connected games for the SNES: ActRaiser, Soul Blazer, Illusion of Gaia (Illusion of Time in EU) and Terranigma, all later published by Enix (now part of Square Enix). The latter three of these games have the strongest connection with each other, and are sometimes called the Blazer or Gaia Trilogy, but ActRaiser itself created some Quintet trademarks and signature darker themes that were further established in the latter three games. Now brace yourself for this history, it’s difficult to keep it all brief.

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The Top 18 Fucker Donkey Kong Country Levels (Feature) (2012)

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The Top 18 Fucker Donkey Kong Country Levels (2012)

Please be advised that this feature contains strong language.

Feature, 26/11/12

As if Mario and his travails weren’t enough to whet the appetite of SNES-owning platforming fans, up stepped Donkey Kong with his fantastic monogrammed tie. And he brought his buddies too! Actually, it’s well he did, since the big man (ape) is only playable in two of the four games we’ll be looking at in this feature. In fact you could easily argue that it’s Diddy Kong who’s the centre of the piece. But who likes Diddy Kong these days?

The difficulty involved in finding every single wee collectible that the games have to offer would be bad enough if some of the levels involved weren’t already ball-busting to get through by themselves. For all the joys brought by these games, they also were capable of ratcheting up some severe frustration. Here, we will look at the four Donkey Kong Country games (the SNES trilogy of Donkey Kong Country, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest, Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble! and the excellent Wii callback, Donkey Kong Country Returns). In particular, I’ll be going through some of the most difficult and aggravating levels they had to offer, from not-too-baddest to hardest. You could probably that I’d be looking at them from a disgruntled player’s point of view, seeing as how I’ve used ‘fucker’ as an adjective to describe these fucking dickcrushingly difficult levels. 18 levels in all, in fact. A level for every… Kong?  Continue reading “The Top 18 Fucker Donkey Kong Country Levels (Feature) (2012)”

Gran Turismo 5 (Long)

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Gran Turismo 5 (2010)

Review, 07/11/12

INTRO

Oh, how I love racing games. I see them as one of gaming’s purest tests of skill; when done right they are a wonderful mixture of patience, focus and control. Game series like F-Zero, Wipeout, Formula One games and the less item-infested editions of Mario Kart can serve up a choice of well-handling racing, or frantic crash-heavy rampages. Taking risks, keeping concentration, and outfoxing challenging opponents to get across the line first is an attractive design for a video game and always has been, at least for me.

But those are futuristic racers, kart racers or heavily specialised racers. What about Gran Turismo 5? What about this more realistic effort (or “The Real Driving Simulator” if we’re going to be official)? The Gran Turismo series has always earned great praise for its realism, graphically and in its gameplay. Of course, the PlayStation 1 and 2 entries are going to have less appeal these days; impressive though they once were, they were always going to be shown up by the constant forward march of technology, rendering their respective consoles obsolete. Such is the folly of a game series that tries to emulate reality. Even if graphical improvements in games will provide diminishing returns eventually, we will take a look at the latest entry to the Gran Turismo series in absolute terms, just short of two years since its release. We will see how it stands today and whether it can leave a lasting legacy.  Continue reading “Gran Turismo 5 (Long)”