Review: Raiden V: Director’s Cut (PS4)

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How great is UFO Interactive’s Raiden V: Director’s Cut? So great that I went and grabbed the previous installment on the PS3 (which just so happened to be part of this past weekend’s PSN Flash Sale and was $2.99 very well spent), slightly kicking myself (ow!) for missing it a few years back. I’d been cutting back on arcade shooters for a while, but something about this well-aged series has always drawn me to it. It’s probably because it brings back certain good memories, but it also helps that it’s been a consistently entertaining set of games despite some lesser console versions not being as fun.

This newest installment is more polished visually and aurally and thanks to its busy color palette and tons of explosions, it really looks and feels a hell of a lot busier to the eyes and reflexes. There’s so much going on that I found myself laughing out loud (to no one in particular, as usual). Skilled developer MOSS has reworked the traditional vertical arcade game screen so it’s packed with information to the point of distraction should your eyes float to the left or right of where the real action is. But you won’t let that happen, right?

Hey, the future of the planet is at stake, pal – eyes on the prize and all that.

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8-Bit Adventure Anthology (Volume One): The Throwback With Bounce Ability

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Adventure game fans of old will really appreciate this one, a triple threat of classics set to be re-released by Absolution Games in the form of 8-Bit Adventure Anthology (Volume One), coming October 31 to Steam, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. No fancy updated visuals here (other than what looks like sharper cover art) for the three titles included.

So, what’s in that set, you’re asking? Well, let’s WALK up to the DOOR and take a PEEK inside:

The 8-Bit Adventure Anthology (Volume One) includes these classic games:

Shadowgate™: The wind whistles through the silent halls as you step through the stone threshold. You’ve just entered Shadowgate, a once shining castle, now an evil, dark moldering ruin. Swallow your fear and take up your torch. You are the ‘Seed of Prophecy’ and in your hands lies the fate of the world itself.

The Uninvited™: The last thing you remember was a figure appearing in the middle of the road and the sound of your sister’s screams over the screeching tires. When you come to, you discover two horrifying things: your sister is missing and the mansion that now looms before you seems to be calling your name…

Déjà Vu™: It’s 1942 and you wake up in a seedy bathroom with no idea how you got here or, for that matter, who you are. You grab a .38 hanging on the door, stumble up the stairs and find some stiff slumped over a desk with three bullet holes in him. You check your gun. Three bullets are missing. This is gonna be a bad day.

Yep, I can hear your brains all clicking into place now (well, those of you who recall playing these on PC or the NES back in the day). How about some screenshots to get you grinning? Okay, LOOK:

Pricing hasn’t been set yet, but I’m betting a few of you will be ignoring those Trick or Treaters just so you can camp out at home with the lights down low as you click away at solving and surviving the mysteries and assorted deathtraps that await. Well, that’s my plan and I’m sticking to it. While it won’t be a HIT with the kids ringing my doorbell, I’ll feel better knowing I’m not responsible for any cavities in the not to distant future.

-GW

Raiden V: Director’s Cut Blasts Onto PS4, PC

 

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Holy Cats – bullet hell pioneer Raiden is a quarter of a century old. Actually, it’s 27 if you go by purely chronological order, but I believe the series took a tiny bit of time off between installments and developer changes. Anyway, UFO Interactive and developer MOSS are finally jetting out the PS4 and Steam versions with added content (it seems Xbox One owners who got this last year are missing out) as Raiden V: Director’s Cut .

 

 

If you’re a longtime fan, well you know the drill in this arcade shmup: earth gets invaded by a fleet of alien ships and it’s up to you (solo play) and a partner (if you go co-op) to take out the trash before it blows all over the globe. Actually, those aliens end up invading a few global spaces, so it’s up to your fast reflexes and non-blinking eyes to get the job done.

Game Modes:

•Story Mode – All new story full of twists and turns! The story alters depending on your performance!
•Boss Mission – Defeat bosses under special conditions and compete in the leaderboards!
•Gallery – Dozens of character, concept, and game art waiting to be unearthed!

Features:

Tag in a friend and unleash devastation on your enemies!

Extreme Graphics – Full 1080P support to bring every explosion, missile attack, and Boss Kills to earth-shattering realism on HDTVs and monitors!

Tri-View HUD – New levels of frenetic, heart pounding, pulsing action as real-time game status changes, command center data and gameplay simultaneously update you on the action and your performance!

Fully narrated storyline for the first time in the series!

Fight your own path through a branching storyline!

Choose between three different ships to pilot, each with their own strengths and weaknesses and outfit them with nine different weapon types!

In addition to the game currently available on PSN, gog.com and Steam, you can also download some really nice free themed wallpapers for your PC here. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to get some eyeball exercise with a side of reflex action testing (or, I’m downloading this as we speak, folks).

-GW

Review: Night Trap: 25th Anniversary Edition

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Good luck finding one of these, folks!

NT_tinyPlaying Night Trap after about 15 or so years away from any version brought back a few sour memories. Not those about the game’s campy/cheesy vibe and still somewhat clunky gameplay that’s better if you don’t use a walkthrough to blow through your purchase within the first hour of the day you buy it.  Nope, I ended up thinking too hard about how a bunch of overly zealous politicians lied their asses off to the public (and themselves) about an intentionally silly videogame being a potential root cause for real-life violence and mayhem.

Just as they did with comic books, Dungeons & Dragons, and Hollywood movies before that (I’d include Prohibition in this as well, but let’s not get too carried away today), Night Trap was made an easy scapegoat back in 1993 along with Mortal Kombat and a few other games deemed inappropriate for kids who very likely knew they weren’t being brainwashed into axe murderers en masse. As a result, it ended up selling out in spots, was briefly taken off the market but eventually reemerged on 3DO, Sega 32X, MS-DOS, and Mac OS, turning absolutely no one into a sex fiend or blood-lusting serial killer (well, the last time I checked, at least). In terms of the remaster/re-release, Screaming Villains has definitely delivered the definitive Night Trap experience, which is kind of like saying you’re getting dented canned tuna for dinner, but it’s the best damn dented canned tuna you can buy.

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Jerry Gets His Curtain Call…

Ugh. I was in bed the entire day thanks to not feeling so hot, but now that I’m up and find out Jerry Lewis has left the building, I’m wanting to go crawl back under the covers for a bit. Anyway, the first film that sprung to mind that I think you should catch was The Bellboy, written, directed and starring Jerry as Stanley, a silent bellhop hardly working at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach. It’s weird and funny as hell with a few fun cameos and a corker of an ending.


 

There’s way too much to say about the man from his comedic talents (and some fine dramatic work in film and on TV) to his charity work that a great deal of today’s younger folks probably have little to no idea about (those MDA telethons used to be wonderful family time gatherings back in the day).

I suppose I could say a few more words, but it’s late in the day and I’m gathering a few thousand other writers have popped their own opining up. Me, I haven’t yet read my email since yesterday evening. Anyway, go watch some of his work at some point if anything just to see how remakes often don’t do the originals much justice.

-GW

Songs For Spies (A Playlist)

Wow, you take some time off the internet to get better and stuff just falls apart in a bunch of places, huh? Anyway, as some of our intelligence agencies are under pressure from a guy with not too much intelligence at all, I decided to sweep up some music off YouTube to keep our sly guys and gals upbeat and maybe chuckling a little.

1. Secret Agent Man – Johnny Rivers
(Yes, the DEVO version is also recommended!)
2. I Spy (For the FBI) – The Untouchables
(feel free to substitute the cool Jamo Thomas version if you prefer)
3. Spy World – Wall of Voodoo
4. Somebody’s Watching Me – Rockwell
5. Heroes – David Bowie
6. Back In The USSR – The Beatles (but you get the Motorhead version just because it’s awesome)
7. Vanishing Spies – Frank Black
8. Don’t Worry About The Government – Talking Heads
9. Every Breath You Take– The Police
10. We Are Detective – Thompson Twins
11. The Big Heat – Stan Ridgway
12. Territorial Pissings – Nirvana
13. Men In Black – Will Smith
14. Senses Working Overtime – XTC

Um, I think that’s it – feel free to add your own tunes to this little mix. Over and out.

-GW

Bill Paxton: It’s Hard To Forget The Guy You Saw In Everything


 

So, we’ve lost Bill Paxton too. Foo. Rather than run clips or comments of and about the well-known sci-fi/fantasy flicks he was a part of, I’ll just leave two viewing suggestions you may not have seen or maybe have seen but not in a while. Up top is One False Move, director Carl Franklin’s great, kind of 90’s noir about a trio of criminals who commit a series of murders in Los Angeles and escape to the tiny town of Star City, Arkansas. Paxton played the bored and too eager for action sheriff Dale “Hurricane” Dixon who gets more than he bargains for after LAPD detectives roll into town. The film also features Billy Bob Thornton (who co-wrote the story with Tom Epperson) in a key role as one of the killers. I won’t spoil more other than to say it’s a brilliant thriller with a few curve balls up its sleeve.


 

The second film is in my opinion, Sam Raimi’s most perfect movie, 1998’s A Simple Plan. Author Scott Smith adapted his great 1993 novel into the screenplay and we get Paxton and Thornton working together again as Hank and Jacob Mitchell, two brothers who along with a friend of Jacob’s (Brent Briscoe), discover a crashed plane with a dead pilot and over 4 million dollars in cash inside. Yes, the take the money. Hank being the smartest of the bunch keeps it safe, but things go deep south as greed, anger and a bit of murder follow the man and their ill-gotten sack of loot. Both films would make a nice double feature, but feel free to add the excellent, disturbing Paxton-directed thriller Frailty to that short stack (or tall stack if it’s a marathon):


 

Yeah, I said two films, I know. But I think Bill would have probably appreciated the gesture, this going off script stuff. So long, pal – you made the movies you were in a lot better for a good while and will continue to do so each time fans go back and discover or rediscover everything you were part of.

-GW

Switch-ing: With Reservations (And Some Ironing), Yes.

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Not surprisingly, actually getting out and about to lay eyes on and try out something for oneself is a hell of a lot better than sitting on one’s rump in front of a computing device babbling nonsense about what one thinks they know about something they haven’t touched yet. Be it food, books, movies, or in this case, Nintendo’s upcoming Switch game system, you really aren’t doing anything other than heavy guessing and heavier petting of your own negativity until you try the darn thing out.

Spending about three hours with the system and way too many games for one event revealed at its recent NYC showcase reveals it’s a solid bit of kit with a few big to little issues around things like software/peripheral pricing and a to be announced (imperfect) online service that sounds as if will need some major tweaking if it’s going to compete with the (less imperfect) services Sony and Microsoft offer for their game hardware.

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Let’s get the first point out of the way: that live press conference from Japan was somewhat awful if judged by western perspectives. The droning English narration, the greatness of Goichi Suda trying to work the room off-script and failing spectacularly as he revealed work not yet started on the return of Travis Touchdown, the too-sedate responses to every announcement – none of these made for good optics.

Couple that with too many YouTubers and a few games journalists putting out quickie bash pieces so quickly that by the time a bunch of post-conference trailers that weren’t shown dropped online, many complaints about the small software lineup were rendered invalid and worse, the short attention span theater antics didn’t take into consideration that early announcements change into more concrete plans that make better sense as launch windows open.

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But let’s talk games from this point onward until I get to the problem stuff I see that needs ironing out. Continue reading

Oh, Deer! In the Headlights, Sideways, Somewhat Allegorically

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Current mood:


 

Oh, Deer! is apt enough and more than fast enough for these testy times that I can recommend it even though I’ve yet to actually play it. Scoreless swerving past or through lines of poor digital deer is an odd metaphor for the daily careening many of us do while glued to a news source, real or “alternative facts” based, eyes wider than usual. While this may not seem all that deep, developer Necrosoft Games is proudly stating this is indeed a beta that will end up as a more fully polished product. Initially released as a 49-cent PlayStation Mobile game (I missed it on the Vita? Noooooo!), it got bumped up to subscription-only freebie beta build for Humble Monthly subscribers where it caught fire and careened into a game a lot of folks want to see get completed.

So, yeah. Get this if you’re cracking up or something. Amusingly priced at an apocalyptic $6.66, that entry fee also gets you whatever ends up being the final version of the game whenever the fine folks at Necrosoft get to completing it. Hey, the world may end before that happens or it may not. No matter what, you’ll be able to swerve past or slam sideways into all the deer you choose without guilt or incurring and insurance fee increases.

-GW

Happy New Year (Take 2)

(Thanks, TroniCPol!)

Hey, my mood lightened! Ha. Anyway, I was trying to think of an appropriate New Year’s thing to post when it hit me that I hadn’t played the late Kenji Eno’s very offbeat D2 in about four years. It works as a perfectly bleak yet eventually hopeful holiday horror game experience for the period between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Thanks to just being too busy to unearth one of my Dreamcasts, make sure the battery is working so that I could start playing about nine hours before midnight so the end credit sequence ends with the onscreen game clock counting down to the New Year and getting a cheery message for all that effort, I haven’t gone near this gem. But that’s going to change.

Anyway, backlog or not I’ll finally replay this classic at some point this year just to see if I can speed through it a bit faster. Much of the game’s length is due to extended stretches of cinematic sequences that can’t be skipped, so it’s a pay attention game almost all the way through, lousy US dubbing and all.

Ah well. Anyway, Happy New Year, people – 2017 is going to be innnnnnteresting.

-GW