Category Archives: download

The Secret History of Star Raiders

Back in the stone age days of the Atari 2600, when it was the videogame system, there was one game that stood out away from the rest, and not for any good reasons. That was Star Raiders.

Everyone had Star Raiders, but I don’t think anyone liked it, or even played it. Ninety-nine percent of all Atari games used either a joystick or a paddle controller, but not Star Raiders. It had a big number pad controller with a phone cord like cord. As an oddity it stood out, and as I said, I didn’t know anyone who played it, maybe because it was a bit difficult to play or to understand how to play. My Atari is long ago stored away, and I’m not digging it up any time soon to check it out – so forget that noise.

But the facts are of course that Star Raiders predates the Atari 2600, and goes back to the Atari 400 and 800, and the Atari 8-bit family of games. Yeah, this is one of the ancestors. Star Raiders may have been crippled by the limiting graphics of the 2600, or at least that’s what my computer geek friends tell me. I have also been told that it was the precursor to later games that I have enjoyed like Starmaster and the Star Trek arcade game, and even Wing Commander. The original SR even borrowed itself from Trek, Star Wars, and even Battlestar Galactica in its own designs. Man, I wish I remembered this game better, or at least played it.

Now imagine my surprise when I saw Star Raiders listed as a free download at the PlayStation Store. I downloaded it but only remembering it vaguely from childhood I didn’t play right away. After learning more about it, I was eager to play and jumped right to it.

Wow, the visuals are something else, but man, the controller directions are among the most complicated I have seen so far for the PS3. Steering was insane, but the format was eerily similar to favorite games like those mentioned above, Starmaster and Star Trek. It was very cool. I will have to learn more. I’m sure it will be worth it. And I actually feel a little bad I didn’t put more time in with the 2600 version.

Pac-Man from Hell

Now I know Pac-Man. Heck, we all know Pac-Man. This thing, Pac-Man Championship Edition DX, that I downloaded from the PlayStation Store is not Pac-Man. I don’t know what the hell it is, but it scares me, it scares my heart, my poor poor pacemakered heart.

The board is horizontal, rather than vertical, much like the Atari 2600 Pac-Man game. Unlike that version, this does look like Pac-Man, and the graphics are very precise and very vibrant. Psychedelic acid trip vibrant, and the music is pulse-pounding house techno that seems to get faster and the game gets more frantic. I could feel my heart beating in time to it with the pressure of the game.

There are advantages. You get bombs to blow up the ghosts, but it doesn’t really seem to help as they recover quickly, and there are ghosts everywhere, sleeping until you pass near. They just keep coming. It’s almost as if someone decided Pac-Man wasn’t hard enough, it needed to give you a nervous condition as well.

Flash Friendly Blob

Tales from Space: About a Blob, another one of my free downloads from the PlayStation Store is cartoony fun that doesn’t require much thinking or much imagination. In other words, it is just The Non-Gamer’s speed. And sometimes, after trying to play DCU Online, or heavens forbid, BioShock, that is exactly the kind of game you want.

The game borrows quite liberally from Monsters Vs. Aliens‘ B.O.B., more than it does from the original movie The Blob with Steve McQueen or any of its sequels and/or remakes. And that’s kind of cool, as I said, this is more cartoon than anything else.

You’re a blob, small b, and you absorb things, and you’re on the move in a laboratory (or a farm if you’re daring and want to try the ‘hard’ level). Honestly, I don’t know if there’s much more to it. Don’t get burned, and keep moving. Simple. Just like life.

About a Blob has a nice flash animation intro in the spirit of keep-it-simple-stupid, ya know. It’s easy to learn, lots of tips, all the stuff that for The Non-Gamer makes for a near perfect demo. Just my speed, I like it. The longer I played, the better I got. I had a good time. What more is there to say? Thumbs up.

Don’t Call Dr. Beat, or Anyone Else

At this point, I have about five dozen games downloaded for free from the PlayStation Store. I wish I knew about this option before I ever went to the real bricks and mortar store to buy games, or had friends lend me games. As it stands, I haven’t touched any of the purchases or lenders in months – I’m just playing free downloads. Burnout CRASH! is just one of them.

Burnout CRASH! is a racing game that is apparently part of Criterion Games’ Burnout videogame series. I liked it immediately because it had old music (“Crash” by the Primitives circa 1988) for this old man, and that’s a plus. The tunage was powered by Autolog, some kind of online gaming thing. They wanted me to buy into it, but I passed – I’m spoiled by all this free downloaded games.

At first glance, Burnout CRASH! appears to be what I like most about Smash Cars and the GTA games (and what I really wanted to like about Incredible Hulk) – smashing stuff. There is however a whole lotta introduction and directions. With so many rules, all the fun was being sucked out of this game more and more. Now I know I’ve complained about lack of directions before, but for a game where the point is to break stuff, it just seemed like far too much. Most infuriating of all was the voice of the stereotype west coast radio DJ constantly asking, “What are you waiting for?” That pissed me off.

The game itself is simple despite multiple unending instructions. You crash into an intersection with your car, and then blow up repeatedly, trying to cause as much collateral damage as possible. Sounds simple, right? Maybe I’m just not playing it right.

Just when I was convinced I couldn’t be annoyed much more, I hear the song “Dr. Beat” by the Miami Sound Machine from the dark disco days before they let Gloria Estefan take more control. It’s one of those songs that made folks hate disco. It made me hate disco. The tune plays whenever an ambulance comes onto the screen – which is a lot.

Take that, couple it with five to ten minutes of introduction, along with five to ten minutes of tallying my score, and I’m just angry. Why can’t the game just let me break stuff in peace? And you know what even makes me more angry? I can play this game. I can operate the controller on this one. Too bad I’m not playing it any more. As of now, it becomes one of The Rejected. It made me too mad.

The Rejected

Once learning that I could download game demos from the PlayStation Store, I have been a downloadin’ maniac. And once I figured out that if I didn’t like them, I could delete them… I’ve downloaded even more and more. This blog entry is about some of the games that didn’t make the cut for me, and why.

Heavy Rain ~ I remember a few years back when this game initially came out. It was a big, big deal. It was called “an interactive drama psychological thriller video game.” Besides being a mouthful of adjectives and noun, it was also supposed to have phenomenal special effects. In the one sequence I was able to see, and not get past, yes, the effects were pretty cool, but again, as I said, I was pretty much just stuck in this one alley and couldn’t go anywhere else. With my low patience tolerance, I deleted this one fairly quickly.

Marvel Pinball ~ While I am a big Marvel Comics fan, I am not much of a pinball player, especially not in a video game where you really can’t move the machine or ‘finesse’ the ball where you want it to go. The Bride however is a big pinballer, both real and video. I figured this would be a good game for us both to play. Sadly, after many attempts, I have yet to make this one download. There is always a problem. Oh well.

Rocketmen: Axis of Evil ~ Along with Ghostbusters and the similarly titled Rocketbirds, this game is just too damned loud. Every time I passed by it while looking for another game, the volume of it would blast so loud for just the second the cursor paused on it – I eventually just deleted to make the noise stop. I still have no idea if it’s any good or not. It certainly looked intriguing in a Dragon’s Lair anime way.

Lemmings ~ I love Lemmings, and on the PC version of this game I rocked it, and enjoyed it immensely. I loved Lemmings and as I said I was pretty good – no such luck with the PS3 version. It reminded me a bit of the PS3 Elevator Action (which I’m sure I’ll talk about here sooner or later), as it resembles the original game but has different dynamics and controls. I couldn’t do it. So because I was ashamed of not being good at a game I used to be good at – I deleted Lemmings.

Seeing how inept I am at this gaming stuff, and how enthusiastic I am at downloading free demos, I’m sure this list will only grow. Time will tell.

Where’s the Bacon?


The Baconing. This game was another free download from the PlayStation Store that went unplayed for a while. Well, I did try to play it, but without reading the instructions, good controller skills, or that wonderful virtue, gaming experience – I couldn’t make heads nor tails of it.

Luckily, the Dark Crystal gave it a try on a recent visit, giving me some idea of what was what in the world of The Baconing. In this sequel to two previous games (DeathSpank and DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue), you play as DeathSpank, an arrogant good guy (voiced by game and animation veteran Michael Dobson) who has unwittingly created an evil duplicate of himself, the AntiSpank, and must stop him to win the game.

The game has unique animation and plays similarly to a funny animal version of Diablo or Gauntlet with a Monty Pythonic sense of humor. That sense of humor is what makes the game for me – as a player or as a viewer. That last part is important as it negates the horror of the turn wait. That’s a good thing.

And although I did enjoy this, I do have one question – where’s the bacon?

Pain and Addiction

You might ask where I’ve been. It has been some time since I’ve written this blog. Well, November had something to do with it. I’m a writer, and November is NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. You can read about it here, but that took up quite a bit of my extra time. I was also sick, and had a twisted ankle in there as well. I could easily make those excuses, but it wouldn’t be entirely true. The truth is I’ve found a PS3 game I really like. It’s called Pain.

I have the Dark Crystal to thank for this new addiction. Late one night she sent me this quick text: Go to the PlayStation Network and find the game called Pain. I’ll give you ten bucks for the download. You will love it! I did eventually, at first I was skeptical, and I didn’t quite trust the PlayStation Network after that wonderful hacking scandal. Once I had the game, and started playing I was sooo hooked.

Pain is kind of like Angry Birds, only instead of birds, you’re flinging people from a slingshot into at first a cityscape and then other worlds trying to break stuff for points. Besides the obvious buildings, cars, billboards, signs and the like, there are also explosives, tunnels, even mimes and monkeys as obstacles. The whole time your people are screaming in agony, making snarky remarks and getting tossed about like crazed ragdolls.

Besides different backgrounds to be flung into, there are also a variety of people who can be flung. You can be a rapper, a gamer girl, a cheerleader, a wrestler, a cowboy or girl, a ninja, a pirate, a cat, an old lady, even characters from other games, or ‘celebrities’ like Santa, Flava Flav, Elvira, George Takai, Elvis, Andy Dick, or David Hasselhoff. Yeah, even The Hoff.

Thank you, Crystal, for hipping me to this terrific game. And just for the record, I’ve never felt the need to collect that ten bucks, especially not for the hours and hours of fun I’ve gotten from this game.