Saturday, September 30, 2006

Videogame Outsiders #51

Included among the links section is a weekly games podcast called, "Videogame Outsiders." It's a terrific show to listen to, especially when you just want something playing in the background. I'm not too thrilled with the idea of listening to a podcast about video games, but the three hosts of this show keep things informal and friendly and bouncy.

This week's show is Episode #51, runs about 90 minutes, and includes happy banter on all things games...and anything else that's happening in their lives. Click on the link and give 'em a listen.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Lost in Blue

Speaking of Nintendo DS rarities, here's another standout title that's become impossible to find - Lost in Blue. It came out around the same time as Phoenix Wright and Trauma Center and Trace Memory; strangely enough, Trace Memory is the only game that you can actually find anywhere. The others have become cult classics, or sorts.

Lost in Blue was a game that went over the heads of most of the prozines and professional game websites. I've become suspicious of the supposed gaming skills of these reviewers. I don't think many of them are very good at videogames, having become spoiled by years of bad console copycats of the same three genres over and over. This game is a bit of a throwback to the classic era of Commodore 64 and Amiga, games that are remarkably deep and complex, and almost always too much for arcade kids to handle.

Big freakin' deal. If you have the patience and imagination, you'll really understand just what it is that makes a game like this click. I don't think Lost in Blue would be a success without the stylus and touch-screen, which is used to deliver a sense of immersion that otherwise wouldn't be possible. And I think that's the thing that makes this game a success.

Basically, you are shipwrecked on a tropical island, and are left to fend for yourself. Using the stylus, you can sift and dig through the sand or grass in order to find food. You can shake palm trees in order to score some cocoanuts. Later on, you'll find some wood and a cave, and start to make simple tools.

Here is one of my favorite moments so far - making a fire. You combine tree bark with twigs to build a fire. Then you use the shoulder buttons to move the twig and build some friction. Eventually, you'll build up a spark. Then, you must blow into the microphone until that small spark builds into a flame. That's pretty bloody cool. I was having flashbacks to the fire-building competition on Caveman Ugh-Lympics.

Pretty soon, you've found another survivor, a pretty girl, and you'll both have to struggle to survive, keeping a constant eye on your stamina, hunger and thirst. You can forage for vegetables, crabs, clams, cocoanuts and spices (!), and then the girl will cook them together into a variety of recipes. Joy - it's the Giligan's Island version of Cooking Mama.

Oh, and there are mushrooms all over the place, although only one kind is beneficial. The rest make you sick. The correct color mushroom changes with every game, so you pretty much have to experiment to see which kind doesn't make you sick. Nice.

I'm still farily early in the game. Eventually, you're able to make spears and start fishing, which makes survival much easier. Then you start exploring the island, making many discoveries and uncovering more of the story. Apparantly, there are five different endings, as well as the ability to play again as the girl, so there' s quite a lot of life in this beast.

I was able to score a copy of Lost in Blue almost by chance. It's become very rare, so unless Konami issues another print run (as they've done with Phoenix Wright), you'll have to do some searching around to find one. How appropriate.

Cooking Mama

Cooking Mama is the latest quirky, out-of-left-field game for Nintendo DS, and if there's any justice in this world, then this game will become another hit. It's been pretty hard to find at stores, so it seems this may be the case.

Games like this are the reason the DS is such a great little handheld. Isn't it fun to see videogames that are, gasp, new? Aren't we sick and tired of being sold endless Doom clones and Tomb Raider clones?

A game that revolves around cooking? It seems like an oddball concept, but it works perfectly. It probably works because the DS has earned a reputation for the quirky and experimental games. It's become acceptable, almost expected, so see something like this. Now if we could only do away with all the bad commercial tie-in games, we'd really be making progress.

Cooking Mama is the first game to take the microgame concept from Wario Ware and run with it. I've always been a fan of the Wario games, especially Wario Ware: Twisted on GBA, but it seems as though it's a genre of one. What else can you do with the idea of the mini-game? Well, you can cook recipies.

That's all Cooking Mama is about: collecting and cooking recipies. You go in a step-by-step process with microgames that involve chopping, filling, pouring, washing, mixing, and frying your food. You also have the option of mixing different recipies, like adding cooked rice to your chicken or curry.

Each step is judged by Mama with gold, silver, of bronze medals, unless you really screw up, and then she gets royally pissed off. The final recipe is judged with a score out of 100, and you get the appropriate medal for your efforts. You also unlock new recipes, which eventually adds up to around 75 or so. It's a pretty meaty little game.

It's also fairly cheap, at $20 a pop. Smart move. I'm never happy with the notion of paying $35 for a new DS game, but $20 is more than adequate. Usually I have to wait a few months before the prices drop, so this means I get to enjoy Cooking Mama when it's brand-new.

Be sure to get your mitts on this game while you can, before it becomes the next DS rarity ala Advance Wars, Phoenix Wright, Lost in Blue and Trauma Center.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Classic Videogame Illustrations #2

This is the illustration for Pac-Man on the Atari 400/800 computers in 1982. It's a little different from the Pac-Man that you're used to seeing, eh? It's a very Americanized version, even down to the Pac shirt. Atari was known for its vivid, imaginitive game illustrations; this was somewhat necessary due to the primitive graphics of the time, but great artwork nontheless.

This second illustration is from the instruction book. It essentially is the instruction book. It's another great example of being aware that this is only a simple videogame, a collection of abstract symbols. It's an iconic style. Of course, today we could easily render the cartoon graphic-style as shown in these illustration. But answer me this: would Pac-Man retain its iconic power? Would it really look as good? Would it have captured people's imagination the same way?

It's a good question to consider in this endless rush for prettier graphics and greater detail.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Today's Advance Wars 2 Custom Map - Adventure

Download Advance Wars 2 Custom Map - Adventure

Here is another of my custom-made maps for Intelligent System's Advance Wars 2. It remains my favorite game in the series, and there's still a vibrant underground map-building community.

Adventure is a 3-player map, and pays homage to Warren Robinett's classic videogame. It's a tightly honed and perfected map that moves quickly and offers you numerous opportunities for offense and defense. Like all of my maps, I spent many hours trying to find the right gameplay balance of challenge and fairness. It's probably my favorite of the whole pack.

You can download the Adventure AW2 map and run it on the excellent Visual Boy Advance emulator. Of course, you'll also need a copy of Advance Wars 2, but I'm obviously not going to help you out on that. If you're able to, give this map (and all my others) a try.

Yaarrgh! Ahoy! Enjoy Talk Like a Pirate Day?

Aye, mateys! I hope you all enjoyed Talk Like a Pirate Day. Be sure to share the root beer, enjoy all the new loot, and feed the parrots.

Also, if you haven't yet done so, this is a perfect opportunity to buy the DVD for Animal Treasure Island, the greatest pirate movie of all time. Hey, it's a Miyazaki movie. What more do you need to know?

Sage Words of Advice on the Price of Consoles, or Grow Up

Are you still unhappy that Nintendo is selling its Wii console for $250? Angry that Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony's new game machines aren't cheaper for you? Well, guess what, kids? If you don't like it, you don't have to buy it. Really.

There's this sense of entitlement, a notion that these companies exist solely to alleviate your precious boredom. That's not the case. These are corporations, and they're in the business of making money. If you cannot do that, you go out of business. If your company is large enough - Microsoft, Sony - you can afford to lose a lot of money in the short term, in hopes of gaining those long-term profits. It still hasn't happened for Microsoft, and this is why you're not going to see any price drops for the 360. They're losing $120 on every console sold, and have already bled a billion dollars. They cannot afford to cut the price anytime soon.

And Sony? Their monstrosity costs $900 to build for each unit. The company as a whole is bleeding money, and if Blu-Ray (Sony's real gamble) tanks, they'll be in a mountain of trouble. From now on, it's a game of chicken between the executives and the stockholders. First one to blink loses, but don't drive over the cliff.

Besides, kids, don't you already have 50,000 other video game machines lying about? Who said that you have to throw everything away every five years and start from scratch? Where was that written in stone? You've been suckered by consumerism, kids. Suckered by hype. Suckered into believing your self-worth is determined by the consumer products you consume, and the amount of debt you accumulate.

This is a generation that doesn't know the value of money. This is a generation that feels a sense of entitlement, that everything should be theirs for the taking, free of charge. This is where the whole Napster controversy came from, and the battle over online piracy. You just think that you deserve all the toys in the world, no strings attached. Well, I'm sorry, kids, but it doesn't work out like that in the real world. Don't like it? Tough.

So if you're complaining about the prices of the new consoles, that's fine. Just don't buy them. Just don't consume. Pick up a book, pick up a guitar, pick up the pretty girl sitting next to you.

Oh, by the way, any chances you'd read advice like this in any of the prozines? Hah. Fat chance.

How Thin is the Wii Lineup?

Alright, now that I've had a day or so to absorb the information of the impending Wii launch this November, I can start to examine things in a more critical light. As is often the case, I'm a sucker for early hype and first impressions, and sober thinking only returns later after a time.

I'm remembering the 1994 Summer CES in Chicago, when Nintendo unveiled one of its greatest surprises - Donkey Kong Country. The game was a sensation at the show, since it came as a complete surprise. It was only after the show winded down that I and the rest of the zine crew realized that, no matter the graphics sheen, the gameplay was a little basic. At the end of the day, DKC was just another platformer. A solid one, yes, but not the harbinger of a new age.

I think a similar attitude is in place for Wii. The new control scheme - Wiimote and Nunchuck - is indeed revolutionary, and it's pretty easy to get swept up in all the momentum at first blush. Videogames have been anything but innovative or fresh for a long time now. The economics of the business and the bad habits of the consumers have sucked all the joy out of games. It's all down to Doom game, Driving game, GTA game, and Madden. Sequel of a sequel of a sequel of a movie tie-in. I don't know about you, but I think that's a crushing bore. Fucking boring.

So then Nintendo comes along with Wii, promising a new age of immersion and invention in games, and it's easy to become swept up. It's the answer to all our prayers. It feels like you're a kid again, with an Atari joystick or NES pad in your hands, and the possibilities are endless.

Will the Wii console deliver that? Does the launch lineup deliver. Hmm. I have to conclude that it's a mixed bag. Wii has enormous potential, and one day I hope that we'll see new kinds of games that were never possible before, just as the more inventive titles on DS have demonstrated. But is that happening how? I don't think so.

Basically, this is the first generation of games software. Developers are still learning the ropes, and practicing with what works and what doesn't. There are a lot of games that serve to show off the new Wiimote, but little else. This is more evident with the Japanese conference, which occured simultaneously with Nintendo's presentation in New York. What we have are a lot of tech demos. Potentially fun tech demos, yes, but gameplay-wise, we're going back to the simplified days of the Atari 2600.

Obviously, there's Wario Ware, which seems to fulfill the same thrills as Wario Ware: Twisted on the GBA. It's a perfect opporunity to experiement with new control schemes and gameplay ideas, and wrap them around the micro-game format. It's a formula Nintendo has honed over several years. It works, fusing a lot of off-kilter humor and paying tribute to Nintendo history. I think the whole Wario Ware franchise is being milked dry, but it should work for one more installment.

So you'll be wise to grab Wario Ware for Wii. Where does that leave all the other simple demo games? I suspect this is one reason why Wii Sports has been included as the console pack-in. The novelty of the game - its control scheme, the bright, retro graphics - has a definite hook, one that guarantees everyone will want to try their hand for a game or two. But what's left after the novelty wears off? What happens once you're used to swinging a Wiimote? There's not a lot of depth or strategy to Wii Sports. All you reall ever do is swing the controller around wildly.

This is a game for children. It holds you by the hand and coddles you. At what point do the training wheels come off? Should I be able to play an actual round of golf, or move my tennis player around the field? All I'm doing is swinging the remote. I'm still eager to play, and hopeful that it becomes popular at parties, but I also remember the great multiplayer Dreamcast games like Virtua Tennis and SF Rush 2049 and Chu Chu Rocket and Power Stone 2.

Nintendo has a second set of Wii Sports mini-games including Duck Hunt, and it seems the complexity is being increased. These still aren't games that are worth $50 at retail. Let's hope they price these things appropriately.

Apart from Nintendo, there's Hudson's airplane game, which looks a lot like Pilotwings. It seems, again, the whole thing rests on the novelty of holding the Wiimote like a paper airplane and making your own buzzing sounds.

There's Ubisoft's Rayman Raving Rabbits, which certainly has a twisted sense of humor, but it's really a collection of mini-game demos. There's a simplified lightgun game, a simplified rhythm game, simplified FPS games, and some Wario-styled bits like milking or twirling cows.

There are a number of racing games that involve holding the Wiimote like a steering wheel. Excite Truck, Tony Hawk Downhill Jam, Sonic Rings. They all look pretty good, and I'll be looking very closely to see how they perform. Excite Truck is looking like a good second purchase (after Zelda, of course). Still, playing Devil's Advocate, these games look simple, stripped down, wrapped around the novelty of the controller. I hope I'm wrong here, but at least with Sonic and Tony Hawk, we're getting stripped-down games.

Okay, fine. The early Wii library will be just like the early DS library. Lots of short demos posing as games. That's to be expected, I suppose, but I sincerely hope developers don't use the mantle of "reaching the mainstream non-gamer" as an excuse to churn out one Atari 2600 game after another. It's bad enough that the hardware is so weak - the "Supercube" is really going to look dated in a couple years against the 360 and PS3.

So, okay, the best game at launch will be Zelda (a Gamecube game), followed by Red Steel and Excite Truck and a whole pile of tech-demo party games. Hmm. Is that gonna cut the mustard? For the first six months, sure. Nintendo's going to sell every Wii console that hits the shelves. After that, it's anyone's guess. The second wave of software titles next year is going to be crucial.

Oh, and by the way, if this is the only Zelda that ever comes out for this console, I'm gonna be seriously pissed off.

Notable Wii Games To Watch

The Wii's launch is looking very, very good. There's a solid mix of inventive, new games and sequels to the best-loved names. It's far better than the nearly exclusive reliance on brand-name franchises on Microsoft and Sony's consoles. There's even a few DS ports, which should be interesting. Without mentioning the obvious hits (Zelda, Metroid), here are a few titles that really grabbed my interest:

Excite Truck

This racing game just looks better and better. At least, it looks better to my eyes than the last time it was shown, at E3. I still don't have any clue if multiplayer is included, but it would be almost criminal if Excite Truck was only for one player.

Anyway, this is one of the first must-play games on my Wii list. Especially when you factor in the fact that Wiimotes and Nunchucks are sold seperately, Excite Truck becomes an easy buy. Big air, blinding speed, multiple tracks, and smacking into other trucks? Yeah, baby!

Cooking Mama

This has just been released on DS, another in the long line of quirky, inventive DS titles. A cooking game? Haven't really seen anything like that since good 'ol Burgertime. It looks like it couldn't possibly work, yet it seems irresistable. You've got to give it one try at least. I think the DS developers will adapt to the Wii the fastest, treating the Wiimote much like the DS' stylus.

Battalion Wars 2

A cooler-looking sequel to the real-time strategy game from Gamecube. While I hope that this series doesn't present Intelligent Systems from bringing out a Wii version of Advance Wars, I'm thrilled to see this game appear on the new console. The graphics look a lot better, heavy on the color saturation and meaty explosions. I'm wondering why people so easily complain that Wii is the weakest console of the current crop. Since when does this pass as an eyesore? Too bad the online service won't be open until next year - this would be a perfect contender.

Marble Madness-Type Thing

I don't know the name of this title, and I'm scouring around the internet to find some gameplay videos. But, hey, it looks really cool. This will probably another one of those titles that gets lost in the fog, as most consumers spend all their money on Zelda and Metroid and Madden. Not that it's a bad thing; let's just try to notice the other titles. Any game without a roman numeral at the end needs a fair shake.


Another show-off game, or the Wii answer to Katamari? Hard to tell just yet, but any game that allows me to break apart and smash anything in sight can only be good. Good to see that Konami isn't resting on their laurels, giving us something unique and new. As best as can tell, the game involves scooping up little aliens which may hide within the nooks and crannies of your house. The only way to find them is to zap everything in sight with your ghostbuster gun.

Trauma Center

The second of three Nintendo DS ports/sequels (the third being Big Brain Academy), this should become a fan favorite if the handheld version is any indication. It promises to be a perfect showoff title for the Wiimote, and looks pretty damn good to boot. The designers are insistand that this is not merely a port, but a complete, new game in its own right.

Metal Slug Anthology

Classic gamers take note! Do not let this one slip through your fingers! Metal Slug Anthology is the complete collection of every game in the series, but the most important news is the all-new control scheme - using the Wiimote to fire. You simply aim the controller like a mouse and fire away, and the Nunchuck controller moves the characters. It's a title that SNK Playmore has become proud of, and it's the lone classic side-scroller in the entire lineup, so don't miss it.

Harvest Moon

Shown at the Japanese premier, which means it won't appear Stateside until sometime next year. Hey, if it shows up earlier, all the better. I know that the DS version includes all-new gameplay mechanics that take advantage of the hardware, so let's cross our fingers and hope those innovations appear on the Wii as well.

Project HAMMER

The E3 version looked pretty good, but a bit choppy. This new photo looks much better, especially with the backgrounds, and I'm hoping the speed and rhythm will have been sufficently improved. For some odd reason, there hasn't been any really good beat-em-ups since the 16-bit days of Final Fight and Streets of Rage. What's the deal with that?

Red Steel

An almost guaranteed hit among the Wii crowd this holiday season. It's certainly among the more ambitious titles, and easily the most "adult." Most of the major concerns from E3 have been addressed, if reports are to be believed. The designers have completely ripped out the old sword-control scheme, and instituted a new one that promises far more fluid movement. Will it be actual one-to-one movement from your Wiimote? Will there be lots of cool explosions? Will we be able to shoot everything in sight? We're all rooting for Red Steel to succeed - you, me, the guys and gals at Lucasarts. Best to iron out all the kinks before the lightsabre game comes out.

Sonic Whatever-The-Hell-It's-Called

Please don't suck, please don't suck, please don't suck, please don't suck.

Ah, who am I kidding? It's gonna suck. Tom Kalinske had to have made some sort of voodoo pact when Sega was shuffling him out the door.

Virtual Console Support - And My List of Demands

This photo comes from the presentation speech by Nintendo yesterday. It shows the extensive support among third-party publishers for Wii's Virtual Console.

Currently, there are only a small number of titles set for release on VC at the time of launch, around one or two dozen. Nintendo is promising a steady stream of releases among various consoles. It seems most of the major NES players are present. And is that the Masya logo I see? Will we see M.U,S,H.A. and Target Earth on Virtual Genesis?

At the very least, I'm hoping that Nintendo and the third-parties will release titles a lot quicker than Micorsoft's trickle with XBLA.

Now, minna-san, here's what I want to see from the Virtual Console: online multiplayer. I want online multiplayer games on this thing. And I'm not opening my wallet before I get it.

Here's my angle: I have a computer, and on my hard drive are emulators for nearly every major games console ever released. At any time, I can fire up and play Atari 2600, Atari 800 computer, NES, SMS, Turbografx/PC Engine, Genesis, Super NES, Sega CD, Jaguar, Nintendo 64, Lynx, Gameboy, GBA, and, for a time, Saturn. There's also this little thing called MAME, which runs thousands of arcade games.

Why should I shell out $5, $8, or $10 for a sinlge game, when I have all of these same games on my PC? Why should you cough up your hard-earned money when compilation releases like Midway Arcade or Namco Museum offer far more games for a low price? Nintendo, you see, needs to bring something more to the table. Merely offering existing ROMs for download isn't going to work.

$10 to play Mario Kart 64 sounds too expensive, especially when I'm having to pay $60 for extra Wii controllers. But what if Nintendo offers online multiplayer? Mario Kart 64, four player games, against anyone in the world? That's a deal! Sign me up; I'll be the first in line.

A cursory glance at the greatest multiplayer games - Herzog Zwei, Super Bomberman 2, Warlords, M.U.L.E., NES Ice Hockey - shows the immense opportunity that Virtual Console could offer. From a technical standpoint, it's a cinch to achieve; emulators have been including online play for years. In fact, it's something that Nintendo could implement at a future date in time, reworked into their emulator program code.

Microsoft bleeds consumers dry with Live Arcade, but they've figured out how to tap into the online world successfully. Nintendo always lags behind these trends, preferring to stay in their own world and call the shots. That isn't an option here. Software publishers are eager for the added revenue stream VC and XBLA provide, but will consumers pay up for their old games again, without any new extras? You already paid for Super Mario Brothers on NES, SNES, Gameboy Color and GBA. Think it's worth another five bucks?

So there are my demands. I want online multiplay on VC, or no dice. I'll simply wait for the emulators to appear (and they will, I promise you that), and then burn a few disks. I already bought these games once when I was a kid, and I'm not getting suckered like the rest of the chumps.

A Look at Wii Sports 2...or Whatever It's Called (Wii Play?!)

A look at the extensive media from Nintendo's big blowout includes many screenshots from upcoming Wii titles. One that I'm really looking forward to is the next installment of the Wii Sports series. No, I don't know what it's supposed to be called, so for now, let's just call it "Wii Sports 2." Let's take a look at it.

Duck Hunt

Well, if they don't come out and call it "Duck Hunt," we'll still know what it is. This shot shows the target screen segment; also included are skeet shoots, and, yes, ducks! I'll bet you the dog is hidden in the game somewhere. Please, please, please, bring out all the classic gun games like Operation Wolf, Virtua Cop, Time Crisis.

Ping Pong

What's with the sudden interest in Ping Pong? Maybe it's something game designers have to do every once in a while; kinda like throwing on your old Motorhead records to get back in touch with your childhood. Another no-brainer game that should be a lot of fun to play with friends. The only problem is that Wii owners will already have played Tennis, which looks much prettier and also features doubles matches.


Hey, classic gamers, remember Fishing Derby on the Atari VCS? That was David Crane's game, right? It's still a fun little game to play with a friend. It seems Nintendo must have played a couple games themselves. I really like the graphics style of this game, very similar to the zen-inspired cartoon drawings in Isao Takahata's My Neighbors the Yamadas. Have you noticed that Wii Sports 2 is a much more competitive beast? Better save up on extra controllers.

Air Hockey

Another game with inventive graphics. I love it! Neon lighting that evokes the memories of classic games from the early 1980s. If the speed is sufficently fast, and you can pull off some cool bank shots with your Wiimote, this will become a party game classic. Count Air Hockey as my favorite after Duck Hunt.


Hmm, a single-player game? Strange. I guess we need a change of pace now and then. I've seen some brief footage of this, and it looks like it could be really good. Pool usually doesn't translate well into a videogame. Will you be able to spin the cue ball, and make crazy trick shots? I'll assume the gameplay will be kept basic, so we'll have to wait and see.

Um....Uh, What The Heck is This?

This would be the, I dunno, the WTF game in Wii Sports 2. It looks pretty tripped-out, and again demonstrates how the design team is trying to push graphics into some novel directions. Given the relative weakness of the hardware (GC x 1.5), this will become necessary as time goes on. Hmm. I hope this is fun to play. Lasooing? Bumper Cars?

Ahh - some online research reveals this to be a "match" game, where you rotate your character to match the outline in the bubbles, before they reach the bottom of the screen. Surely the oddball of the pack. I really wish Nintendo would share the drugs instead of hogging them all.

Finally, I've discovered the name of this compilation: Wii Play. Huh. Yeah. Can we find somebody who Nintendo can use to come up with better names for things?

Quick Comparison Time - Saturn Hockey

Just for quick comparison, here's how Sega's NHL All-Star Hockey stacks up against the '98 edition. It's a pretty vast improvement, after Sega finally made some sense out of the Saturn hardware.

Hockey was never represented well in the 32-bit era. The games were never anywhere near as good as those old Genesis EA Hockey carts. There was one notable exception: Virgin's NHL Powerplay Hockey, which appeared on PSX and Saturn to rave reviews. I do remember Next Generation praising the Saturn version in particular, citing it as the superior version.

NHL All-Star Hockey '98 is, in fact, developed by the same team responsible for Virgin's game, and is in fact the follow-up to that game. I'm assuming that the mean bastards responsible for Sega's hockey game was sent to trial for crimes against humanity.

Nintendo Wii Fully Unveiled - Price, Packaging, Games

As all of you are likely aware, Nintendo has finally announced the full details about its upcoming Wii console, including price, packaging, and software lineup for the holiday season.

I must admit that I was a little disappointed at the price. $250 sounds a bit much for an over-clocked Gamecube. Then, thankfully, I discovered that Wii Sports will be included as a pack-in game. That makes all the difference for me.

I thought $200 would be fine, so $250 for console and game works. This also, I think, situates Nintendo perfectly for when Microsoft or Sony start dropping the prices on their consoles. Sooner or later, Xbox will go down to $300 (let's just forget the cheaper versions, which are completely worthless). Nintendo should be able to either a) introduce the "core" package sans game, or b) bring the pack-in model under $200 or eventually $150.

Bottom line, the Wii console will always be significantly cheaper than the Xbox 360 and the SIX HUNDRED FUCKING DOLLARS.

Wii Sports is a perfect pack-in game. It's more of a show-off than anything, and lacks the serious depth to compete with other titles. You can't move the players in tennis, for example. So it won't dethrone Virtua Tennis. but as a pack-in, it's a great introduction to the Wii.

Complaints? Sure. $40 for Wiimote and $20 for Nunchuck? You have got to be bloody kidding me. $60 for a fucking game controller? Booooo!!!! What a rip-off. So now I have to start making tactical decisions about my money. I get a couple more Wiimotes for Wii Sports and Excite Truck and maybe Sonic (if it doesn't suck eggs as usual). Then, later on, I score a couple Nunchucks for Madden and Red Steel and Zelda.

Damn. They nickel-and-dime you to death, don't they?

So, here's the final tally. For $250, you get Nintendo Wii, one controller (Wiimote and Nunchuck), Wii Sports (Tennis, Golf, Home Run Derby, Bowling, Boxing), backwards compatibility with the Gamecube library, and online capabilities. And did I mention that Wii will be region-free? That's a very good deal. I like that deal.

I think Nintendo is going to be very successful with Wii.

Johnny Turbo and the Sods of Generation Z - "No War 4 Empire" Excerpt

You know how the prozines and video game websites always use cute graphics for each games console? Well, here's mine! Like it? I think it manages to communicate everything you need to know about Sony's new game machine.

The Playstation 3 will not be coming down in price any time soon. If I remember correctly, it costs Sony $800 or $900 to build each unit. The cost is fucking horrendous. It's a one-two punch of the Blu-Ray drive (which has been nothing but problems) and the Cell processor.

The reports I've read (Merrill-Lynch, for example) state that PS3's price will fall dramatically over its lifespan, but this still means that it won't drop down to $300 for three years. For now and the foreseeable future, this new game machine will cost $600.

For me, and just about any sane individual who works for a living, the Playstation 3 will be forever remembered by its other, unofficial name - SIX HUNDRED FUCKING DOLLARS. From now on, that's the name I'll be using for Sony's new console.

It's a perfect storm for Sony. Just about everything has gone wrong with the company, and they're betting everything on PS3 pushing Blu-Ray into millions of homes. I don't have the heart to tell them that Americans have been getting poorer during the Bush Crime Family's watch, or that our wages have been falling, or that we have to deal with such meaningless trivialities as health care or education or buying your cousin that body armor the Pentagon won't supply.

$600 for a toy? Okay, perhaps you're not listening properly, so I'll repeat. SIX HUNDRED FUCKING DOLLARS - a toy, encased in plastic, that plays games.

Sure, it's bound to sell its initial runs this year and into the next, just because of the hardcore nerds who've been conditioned to behave like domesticated pets. Fetch, boy, fetch! Woof! This makes me wonder just how expensive a videogame console would have to be for the fanboys to actually balk. It must be nice to have all that disposable income. Was it inherited or did it come from the lottery? Oh, for those good old days when wealthy parents would simply buy their kids an oil business or the White House.

I'm reminded of something Hunter S. Thompson wrote in his final book: no one is ever going to shed any tears for the spoiled little sods of Generation Z.

I wonder just what the impact in Japan will be. On the console front, Sony dominates. If the PS3 goes over like a lead balloon, just where will developers go? Microsoft was pronounced Dead on Arrival, and the Xbox 360 hit the discount bins five minutes after it came off the boat. Unless Japanese consumers hold their collective noses and stick with the lima beans, they're not going to change their buying habits.

So if you've been developing for PS3, and you're left holding the bag, what are your options? What's going to sell, besides the two or three most easily-recognized franchise titles? EA Sports, sequel, movie game. That's it. A lot of developers are going to lose a lot of money on this; it's just a question of economics when the hardware sucks all the air (and stray cash) out of the room.

There is that third option, Nintendo. But they've opted out of the rat race that Sony and Microsoft have become trapped in, and chose to take their own quirky path. It's been a successful move for them, especially with the DS handheld. That thing has become a license to print money. The Wii, I think, will enjoy a similar success. Heaven knows it's got the killer hook - everyone who walks by one will want to try it out, just once. And then they'll take a look at the price tag, and realize it costs less than a third than Sony's SIX HUNDRED FUCKING DOLLARS.

So Nintendo's got the hook, they've got the mojo. But let's go back to my earlier question from a moment ago. What happens to those developers who spent their fortunes tied to Sony's wagon? Where can they port their games and break even? Where can they make their escape? In Japan, at least, XBox 360 isn't going to happen. That leaves Nintendo as the other option.

Now here's the real kick in the teeth. The Wii has the killer controller, it's got the killer price, but the hardware itself? It's shit. I don't know if I can say that, honestly, since we're past the point where any modern games can look like shit (unless you're making a poop simulator, but that's neither here nor there), but the Wii appears to be little more powerful than an over-clocked Gamecube. Not really a problem for Nintendo, who have figured out that "videogames" have a certain stylized look to them, and are perfectly happy with staying there. The 2D sprite-based games on GBA and DS aren't that far beyond the Super Nintendo era.

Again, where does that leave the developers? Where do you cut your losses? How do you recoup your investments and enormous costs of making games on the SIX HUNDRED FUCKING DOLLARS that aren't selling because John Madden isn't on the box? If Sega wants to put Virtua Fighter 5 on some other console, what options are there?

None. There are no options. For better or worse, a lot of the videogame industry is tied to Sony's fortunes. So you're pretty much screwed. I suppose there's the chance that there are enough spoiled brats and rich nerds who've never learned the value of money. The spoiled little sods of Generation Z. They could save Sony's executives from the wrath of stockholders, right?

Yeah, right. I'm sure there plenty of parents, and plenty of girlfriends, who wouldn't mind at all that their Johnny Turbo has maxed-out his credit cards to play games on a SIX HUNDRED FUCKING DOLLARS machine.

Oh, by the way, Johnny, you do know the EA Sports games will all be stripped-down versions of the games you already have on your Playstation 2, right? It's a wonderful little scam they pull with every new console; they've been doing it for years. The classic bait-and-switch. Just though you should know that before your second mortgage comes due, and your girlfriend walks out the door.

Worldwide Soccer (Victory Goal)

Worldwide Soccer was one of the launch games for Sega's Saturn back in the summer of 1995. The Saturn launch was pretty lousy overall, aside from Panzer Dragoon, which was excellent enough to make me trade in all my old consoles and games for one.

I'm not sure if that was the wise choice, since by then all the hype and attention was squarely on Sony's Playstation. Saturn was practically considered stillborn, an impression that only changed in 1996 with the one-two-three punch of Virtua Fighter 2, Sega Rally, and Virtua Cop. Even then, it was only a temporary reprieve before everyone went back to PSX.

This meant a lot of really fun Saturn games were completely overlooked. In retrospect, the early Saturn games weren't necessarily bad, but they were clearly victim's of Sega's terrible decision to rush the hardware out the door three months early.

The only real complaint I ever had with Worldwide Soccer was its name. It was originally titled Victory Goal in Japan, which is much cooler. Everything else worked wonderfully, especially when given the dearth of quality games in the months after Saturn's launch. It's little more than an arcade game, but since when did that become an epithet? You want a fast-paced, exciting game with great graphics, typical Sega Van Halen-style music, and a lot of action.

It's a good example of the Sega arcade style; everything is layered with a professional sheen. Again, it was flatly ignored by the prozines, which was completely unfair. I don't know how the game fared in Europe and around the world, where Soccer is far more popular, so I can't say if it's just a case of American ignorance.

For those who sat down for a spin, Worldwide Soccer was a great amount of fun. It really came together in versus play, and I remember many a heated match that went down to the wire. Heck, even after WWS '97 came out, this was still fun to throw in now and then. I'm reminded of all the great multiplayer games on Dreamcast. Here's one game that would have been perfect for that console. Too bad Virtua Striker was such a dud.

Videogame Classics - Worldwide Soccer '97

Here's a screenshot from one of the finest sports games ever made, Sega's Worldwide Soccer '97 for the Saturn. For a console that was legendary for being difficult to program, titles like this were like lightning in a bottle. There are a number of Saturn games like Virtua Fighter 2, Virtua Cop 1 & 2, Sega Rally, NiGHTS, Burning Rangers, and the three Panzer Dragoons, which boasted some of the best polygon graphics of its day.

I don't recall if the American prozines gave much attention to this game. Probably not, for a variety of reasons. They were far more enamoured by Playstation, soccer remains an obscure sport in this country, and so on. Next Generation, thankfully, was the notable exception, giving Worldwide Soccer '97 tremendous praise and considerable exposure.

To their eyes, this was the best soccer game ever made. Today, it still holds up wonderfully, sitting right between Sensible Soccer and Konami's Winning Eleven/Pro Evolution Soccer series. The last time I owned a Saturn was around five years ago, and this game was nearly always being played at the house by other roommates.

WWS' best qualitites include the terrific graphics and animation, and the play-by-play commentary of the action. For me, there's something else this game does that I've never seen in any other sports game since then. That quality is tension, simple, nail-biting tension.

Let me explain how this works. It's very simply, really, and it all comes down to penalties. Under most sports games, when you incur a penalty, the computer flashes it up immediately. Doesn't matter if you're talking American football or soccer or basketball or hockey. If you get fouled by the refs, the game tells you immediately.

Here's what Worldwide Soccer '97 does. Say you're on defense, and you tackle the ball-carrier from behind. The whistle blows, and the referee walks up to the players. He stands for a moment, and then either takes up the ball or reaches for a card.

If he's going for a yellow or red card, he still stands there. He reaches in his pocket, and he waits! He waits for a second, and then he pulls out the card.

Aw, crap, he pulled out a red card! I'm dead! Fuck, fuck!

This is really fantastic tension, because once you've been fouled, you don't know what's going to happen. And the referees hand out yellow and red cards like it's water. If you like to play aggressively (and I often do), you're going to collect a lot of cards. Standing there and waiting for your punishment can be sheer terror.

Sega made another update, Worldwide Soccer '98, which features smoother graphics and better passing and a second color commentator who sounds like he's completly drunk off his ass. But they took away the fouls - the refs hardly ever handed out any more cards. So, needless to say, I didn't enjoy this version as much, and we all went back to WWS '97.

Why other developers like EA haven't discovered the thrill of this is beyond me. Issues like penalties and injuries in Madden would be much more tense if the players had to sit and wait for the situations to resolve. Visual Concepts figured this out, and in NFL2K they included the occasional referee conference on the field.

All the prozines and gaming websites have ever focused on are graphics, graphics, and graphics. Don't they understand that there are other things that make a great game succeed? Aren't they aware that technology renders all graphics obsolete? Perhaps they've bought into the corporate hype that we have to constantly consume, consume, consume.

There's a reason why "videogame journalism" has never been taken seriously. If you're working to bring about change, then you'll have to liberate yourself from those childish notions of hype. You've got to stop playing salesman for the advertisers. You've got to discover just what makes a game work.

Man, oh, man, I really wish I still had a Saturn.

Pettibone Tribute Special - "Sy Sperling"

Once again, our tribute to the life and times of Sean Pettibone continues with this terrific rant, which originally appeared in Ben Leatherman's zine, Fanarchy. Ben was an odd duck; I once heard that he appeared at E3 in a bear costume. Again, my thanks to Jess Ragan for his On-File database.


Sy Sperlng and His Damnable Wave of Lies
by Sean Pettibone
Appeared in Fanarchy

Sy Sperling, that "not only the president but also a snazzy dresser" spokesman for the Hair Club For Men is also a lying motherfucker.

Okay, here's my case. On every commercial they show a picture of a guy without hair, presumably some time earlier, and then later, in the SAME outfit- with hair. MY problem? These commercials have been running for years, and every time they show Sy (or one of his soldiers of the balding army) without and then with hair, they're shown in an IDENTICAL suit, but not the ones they wore in the last commercial.

Are we to believe that every time the Hair Club produces a commercial, they fly their clients in, dress them in new outfits, shave their heads and take a picture; then wait a few months for the plugs to set in, dress them up in the same friggin' outfit, and take a NEW picture?! Or do they just do like a hundred photo shoots in 1985 and disperse them throughout the years? Bullshit, Sy! Besides, the poses in the before and after frames are IDENTICAL, with no perceivable change. I won't mention the fact that even the wrinkles in the clothing show no differentiation between the two pictures. It's obvious that either some tricky computer graphic manipulation is behind this, or the aliens.

Sy, how can you expect us to believe that you can put hair on a bald man when you can't even put an honest commercial on TV? Yeah!

Pettibone Tribute Special - "Shinobi III"

And now, friends, I want to print some of Sean Pettibone's classic writing from the videogame fanzine era. Hopefully, I'll be able to find a few essays around the internet. Jess Ragan's On-File zine database in invaluable here. Take care, truth-seekers:


Shinobi III (aka Shinobi Why?)
Review by Sean Pettibone
Appeared in MASTERminds #13

"I'm far too fucking cool to read the instruction booklet," I thought to myself, so I'll skip the plot save for my basic summation that as most guys in tight little suits and shuriken belts do, you're out to stop the evil Zeed or something and save the world.

This is a huge disappointment. This is disappointing not because it is a bad game, but because it is 1993, and this cart parallels the original 1990 debut on the Genesis in terms of graphics, sound, and innovations. A few scattered bonus rounds don't cut it- it's boring and offers nothing new for the player.

A bland color palette, lame-o scrolling, and stiff animation sum up the visual presentation. "Do you hear something?" covers the audio, and "What the hell did I rent this for?" will most likely describe your overall feeling after dragging yourself through five minutes of this. Hang up the ninja suit- this sucks.


Sean Pettibone Has Died (8/21/76 - 4/20/06)

Now for the bad news.

On Saturday, I discovered that one old friend from the fanzine days, Sean Pettibone from Michigan, has died this April, just shy of 30 years. He most likely never knew this, but he was a tremendous influence upon me, a 20-year-old kid who never really had any chance to live, and desperate to reinvent himself and connect to the flow of life. Strange, that I was older in years, but not in spirit. Pettibone was my teacher.

I just discovered this sad fact today, almost by blind happenstance. It's a sadness that washes up like the waves, dragging along the sands of my memories, memories long absorbed and log forgotten. Thirty years old. Snap your fingers, children, and it's gone.

Where does it go, these memories of the past? What is the past? Where do we go? No one knows but the mystics or the materialists. Try to determine if the sound at the center of your being is the voice of God Almighty, or the sound of your own voice, without going mad.

So, anyway, I don't wish to drag you all down. In this course of this life, you will be handed some pretty hard blows. We must all face these; first, as those around us pass into the darkness, then, when we follow them.

The spirit of death hangs over this land. We must be mindful. I can do nothing but pray, meditate, and weep.

Sean Pettibone wrote and published In Between the Lines, one of the great videogame zines. He also contributed to countless others, and was one of the giants of the scene. He was also one of the core members of GEA, the first...well, I'm not too sure just what it was. I think it was our attempt to create some kind of industry organization, or mouthpiece for the underground. Nothing much came of it, apart from a couple issues of the GEA zine, and my radio appearannce in Duluth, MN during the Joe Lieberman video game violence controvercy.

10 Favorite Gameboy Advance Titles

As the Gameboy Advance nears its final days, I'd just like to waste a few paragraphs to highlight my favorite games from its vast library. It was a great little machine, and killed far too many hours of my life. At least I was able to write a little bit about it; true to form, I focused most of my attention on the hidden gems and sleeper hits.

You already know all there is to know about Super Mario World and Yoshi's Island, and Joe Schmoe is always gonna shell out for the latest Madden and Harry Potter. Let's see what else is out there:

1. Advance Wars 2 - Of the three Advance Wars titles on Advance and DS, I'd say this one is the best. The balance between the different characters and military units is just about perfect. The DS sequel messes things up somewhat with the CO tag-teams, which complete obliterate any enemy army on most missions. I hope that this series doesn't follow the same path as the Bomberman games. Why tinker with a perfectly good formula? Until the next DS installment arrives, Advance Wars 2 has the crown.

2. Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap - Question: will Minish Cap be the last traditional, 2-D Zelda game? I certainly hope not! Capcom had finally figured out how everything should work, tapping into the magic of the original Zelda, and with enough new ideas and quirks to keep you hooked. There's quite a bit of the Mega Man influence here, another classic series that I miss dearly.

3. Kelly Slater's Pro Surfer - I was a big fan of the surfing competition from California Games on the Lynx, so this game was like manna from Heaven. I was never enamoured by the Tony Hawk games on the Advance, mostly because of the button scheme and angled viewpoint. Kelly Slater, I think, worked to the handheld's strengths, without losing any of the immediacy or complexity you'd expect. This was the first thing I grabbed when I bought a SP three years ago, and was happy for a very long time.

4. Hikaru no Go 2 - I wrote about this a couple posts down, so no need to rehash everything. It's a terrific strategy game that should have been brought to America, but wasn't. Of all the times we need Gamefan around to beat the drum....

5. Pinball of the Dead - Exhibit #1 why emulation is no match for the real thing; although, it must be said, if it weren't for Visual Boy Advance and the rom sites around the internet, I never would've discovered how good the Advance was. It helps, I suppose, if you remember Naxat's classic Devil's Crush from the Turbo (and later Genesis). Now I get the portable version, with three pinball tables? Groovy.

6. Wario Ware: Twisted - Much more refined and focused, and a lot more weird, than the original. The control scheme is just bloody perfect - have you tried this with a svivel chair? Slam down a couple drinks and then give Twisted a try. This is probably going to be the Wario Ware title by which all future ones will be judged.

7. Lunar Legends - This is the, what, twentieth revision of the classic Sega CD game? Whatever. I've had a lot more fun with Lunar than any of the other RPGs on the system. Perhaps it's because none of them possess the same charm, or the lovable characters. Perhaps RPGs have just stagnated many years ago. If that's the case, why not stick with one of the classics instead?

8. Motoracer Advance - Another sleeper gem that deserved far more attention than it received. There are a lot of these games lurking around, if you know where to find them. Remember arcade racing games? Back before anal-retentive realism sucked all the joy of life out of them? I'd rather race through traffic, crash into chickens, and watch cheerleaders.

9. Pac-Man Collection - According to Next Gen, Pac-Man Collection is one of the top-selling games for the Advance. That was a pleasant surprise for me, but I shouldn't be, really. It's always reliable, always there when you need it. I still think the cartridge is chincy as hell, though. Would it kill Namco to do a Pac-Man compilation right for once? Where the hell is Junior?!

10. Tactics Ogre - There have been a number of turn-based strategy games on GBA, at least three by my reckoning. I think the best was the first, Tactics Ogre. This was an early title for the handheld, but you wouldn't guess it from the presentation, or the graphics, or the complex gameplay. Strange, isn't it, that both the Onimusha and Final Fantasy titles were so much easier and simplified?

Honorable Mention: Broken Sword; Car Battler Joe; Double Dragon; Medal of Honor; Rainbow Six; Sheep; Shining Force; Super Dropzone; The Three Stooges; Turbo Turtle Adventure; Virtual Kasparov.

Michael Palisano's The Laser

Searching around the internet for culprits stealing my photos, I made two striking discoveries, one great and one terrible. Here's the good news.

Michael Palisano was part of the fanzine crowd of a decade ago, and published a high-quality zine called The Laser. Like most everyone else, he was writing about videogames, in the standard mix of reviews and commentaries and countless letters from everyone else in the scene. Over time, the layout and style of Laser improved and evolved, from hastily assembled newsletter designs to stylish columns and artwork. He also began writing a regular comic, one that revolved around a woman with long hair and a polka-dot dress. Perhaps she was Michael's archetype, ala Hayao Miyazaki?

Who knows? I always enjoyed it back in the day, especially the later, art-driven issues. I was taking a similar direction with my own zine, so it felt like an inspiration.

Well, thankfully, Michael and The Laser have continued on to the present day, as a long-running website. It's a very extensive site, featuring countless game reviews and articles and whatnot. The old zine is present in the archives, including all the covers. The two covers you see above are from those archives, and give you a good idea of its evolution over the years.

I've added The Laser to the blogroll at V-The Next Generation (see above), so be sure to pay a visit and look around. If you're ever curious about the '90s zine crowd, this is an excellent place to go.

V - Issue 1 - Available For Download

Way back in 1993 I started a videogame-themed zine called V - The Videogame Experience. It ran for eight issues over the next three years, led to a couple freelance-writing jobs for professional magazines, an appearance on radio (over Joe Lieberman's crusade against games - remember that farce?) trips to Consumer Electronics Shows in Las Vegas and Chicago, and many friends from around America, authors of such zines as Digital Press, Paradox, In Between the Lines, The Laser, MASTERminds, Video Revolution, Video Apocalypse.

You can download the first issue, which came out in March, 1993, on my main website, It spans 24 pages, includes reviews, several lengthy commentaries, and an extensive walk-through of the NES classic, Simon's Quest. The layout and design took forever to create; even now, I wonder just where the inspiration came from. My artistic abilities were completely latent then, practically non-existent.

I tried to add a direct link to this blog, but couldn't for some unknown reason. You can download on my main home page at

Screenshot Comparisons - Ms. Pac-Man

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Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Ms. Pac-Man is my all-time favorite videogame, so since I'm so focused on portable games, let's compare how this game fared on Nintendo's Gameboy Color and Atari's Lynx.

The Gameboy Color version is just terrific. The graphics are brought into a close-up view, and you scroll around the maze ala Jr. Pac-Man. This isn't a perfect rendition of the arcade, but the sounds are very close, and, most importantly, it plays wonderfully. If I had the means to do so, I'd probably still slug this cart around (which also comes with Super Pac-Man, btw). My only real gripe (and this will be leveled at any home version that doesn't comply) is that the speed button isn't an option. Sue me, I'm spoiled rotten. Whatever.

The Lynx version was programmed by the same person responsible for Shanghai. Shanghai is one of the very best Lynx games, but Ms. Pac-Man feels more like a learning experience than anything else.

I've never quite figured out just why this version slogs at such a slow pace. At the start of a maze, you can almost see the game take a slight pause as Ms. Pac eats dots. Are you telling me the frame rate can't handle this?! You've got to be freakin' kidding me.

The GBC version takes the ideal route by presenting a close-up view. Handheld screens are just too small to cram an entire arcade game onto; at least, that's the case with one such as this. Even on Gameboy Advance, Pac-Man looked and played far better zoomed in than the full-screen view.

Why this was never decided upon for the Lynx version forever remains a mystery to me. I suppose I should track down the programmer (whose name I'm forgetting right now, sorry) and ask him. The graphics are so zoomed out that it all looks, well, it looks like an Atari 2600 game. It doesn't look at all like something you'd expect from Lynx. It sure as heck doesn't look anything like the illustration on the box.

To its credit, Lynx Ms. Pac-Man features a large number of new mazes in a widescreen format, but the speed problem is still an issue. The game just barely moves along, only really picking up steam after half the dots have been eaten. And it never gets any faster on the later levels.

I know this version of Ms. Pac-Man has always had its fans, and I did buy the game back when it came out. But I was never happy with it. It remained a disappointment, below the standards of the early Epyx titles.

One final word on this subject. There was one segment to the Lynx version that I thought was superb. It's the third intermission, where the stork delivers Jr. Pac-Man. This scene is drawn with a large Pac and Ms. Pac, and a wonderfully colorful stork that drops the baby in a wonderfully fluid animation.

It's a terrific little sequence that someone should have shown to the suits. "Hey! This is how it should be made! This would be worthy of the Lynx!" I don't know if anyone ever got that chance, or if the game was even a high enough priority. It probably wasn't; still, when Atari was clearly struggling against Nintendo, every shot counts. Every game has to be dazzling from the start, or it's no dice.

Videogames of the Damned: Dirty Larry: Renegade Cop

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Dirty Larry: Renegade Cop has one quality in its favor, and that's humor. It's a pretty jokey take on the tired Dirty Harry/Bullit cliches, and there are some nice cut scenes throughout the game. But that's it. The actual game itself is terrible, just awful. It's essentially a side-scrolling beat-em-up ala Kung-Fu Master. Not a bad idea for a game in, say, 1985. But this was released in the '90s, after Double Dragon, after Final Fight, after Streets of Rage, and after Street Fighter 2.

Going back to a simple, literally one-dimensional game is just unacceptable. Move left, move right, throw punches, fire guns. That's it.

Dirty Larry is an example of a game that's created without any real understanding of modern videogames. Game design in general is just ignored; we're left with a painfully slow game that's riddled with repetition and little skill. You're going to be hit at least once by every enemy that walks onscreen. The end result is a poor imitation of an outdated genre of videogames. Everything just smacks of amateurism.

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If you ever sit down and play Dirty Larry, be forewarned: you'll be seeing this screen a lot.

It also has to be said: this game is far below the Lynx's abilities. Shouldn't games continue to push its console to the limits? There were better-looking games on Gameboy Color. Heck, there were better-looking games on the original, pea-soup-green Gameboy. There's just no excuse for this.