Category Archives: playstation

The Injustice Demo

My friend Ray and I got together to try out the new Zinburger in Cherry Hill, then came back to the house to chill and of course, sooner or later, the PS3 was turned on. I always cruise through the PlayStation Store before I do anything with the PS3, and lo and behold, there was a demo available for the new Injustice: Gods Among Us. If you think these two comic book nerds could resist trying it out, you’re fooling yourself…

Once it downloaded, we found ourselves with a two-player fight game that only allowed us the use of three characters (well, it is a demo) – Batman, Wonder Woman, and Lex Luthor. Once we started playing this game, that Ray had initially heard bad off-putting things about, we were having a ball.

Once Ray started to actually pay attention to what controls did what actions, and I started getting into my button mashing groove, we started to not only have fun, but also really get the hang of the game. We really dug it, and I’m betting we’re both getting copies of the game the day it comes out. Yeah, it was that good.

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The Namco Museum and Xevious

Just to show you all what a big old fart I am, and how out of touch gaming-wise I am, the very first free download I ever got from the PlayStation Store was this – Namco Museum. Yeah, I’m old. Deal with it.

As the name might imply it’s a small collection of old games from the 1980s, namely Pac-Man, Dig Dug, Galaga, and Xevious. To be fair, it’s actually the trial for Namco Museum Essentials, and has much more available but I haven’t purchased the whole package yet. And I have looked, but there doesn’t seem to be an option to buy it. One problem with this one is that the games are presented in their original arcade form – vertical, on a horizontal screen. Oh well.

With the exception of Pac-Man, these are all games I spent a generous amount of time with at the arcade. I was never big into Pac-Man, but the others I loved. Dig Dug I’ve talked about before, everyone knows about Pac-Man, and Galaga is really just a color evolution up from Space Invaders. Xevious is the one I want to talk about today.

Xevious was a vertical scroller from back in the day, 1982, known for its bouncy tunage and unique breaking glass sound effects when you blasted the disc things that spun through the air at you. That effect is recreated here but the controller again makes what was easy on the arcade game difficult here – shooting and bombing simultaneously.

Xevious is a fun game without becoming too monotonous, although it remains much the same throughout. I remember the ship you pilot is called oddly the Solvalou, and that the sides of the arcade game showed pics that didn’t exactly match the game itself. Always fun, even in this format.

The Lego Pirates

I love Lego. It was a toy I didn’t have as a child so I have always had a fascination with as an adult. And now that recently Lego has been putting out Lego versions of superheroes, I love them more. I really groove on having my own Lego versions of the Justice League and the Avengers.

That said, I think having special Batman, Avengers, Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, and all the other sets for Lego kinda takes some of the imagination play away from the kids. Especially when a set is supposed to be put together a certain way, rather than letting the kid built what he or she wants, ya know?

Soapbox time over. Lego also seems to be a major force in videogames. Heck, one of the first games I reviewed here was a Lego game. Folks seem to like using Lego-ized characters in videogames. This time we have Disney’s Pirate franchise in Lego Pirates of the Caribbean. The animatics in the opening of the game are recreations of many moments from the movies done Lego animation style. The game itself however is something else.

The demo I downloaded from the PlayStation Store wouldn’t let me free play until I completed the story mode. That was disappointing. And once I hit start, there were more movie recreations in Lego style. There was more TV watching here than actual game playing.

When finally I was allowed to play, there was more disappointment. Without an instruction manual (good luck finding one online, PS seems dead set against supplying instructions), I was at a loss as to what to do. I collected coins Mario style but then found it impossible to leave the room I started in. I suppose I’ll have to wait for one of my gaming guru friends to come over. At least I can play with my Lego Avengers until then…

The New PlayStation Store

Since getting my PS3, and writing this blog, I have been quite dependent on the PlayStation Store. It’s where I get all the wonderful free trials and demos I play and write about.

As with all things that we rely on on a daily basis, whether we realize it or not, they are just old and lousy. No matter how good we think they are, and how much we live them – trust me, it’s all old and lousy. You know how I know? Because invariably, something ‘new and improved’ will come along. Like today.

Welcome to the new PlayStation Store. I am, of course, hesitant. Both because I am old, and because I liked the old interface. Just because something can be improved, doesn’t mean it should, ya know?

All that said, it does seem like a happier, shinier, and most importantly, easier to navigate interface. It gives a good view of everything the store has to offer – movies, television, applications, and (whodathunkit?) games. Use the left side menu if you want to find specific games, or types of games, however.

Nice, for once, it’s a new and improved that is new and improved.

The Ghost of Portal

I hate Q. You know, Q from “Star Trek The Next Generation.” Or more accurately I hate John de Lancie, who provides the voice that annoys in the game Quantum Conundrum.

More than a year ago, maybe two, when I discovered what a great place for customer service the Marlton Game Stop was (sadly, it’s gone now), I asked for a gift recommendation for The Bride, who at the time was well immersed in Portal. I wanted something like Portal for when she finally finished Portal. A game that was not yet out was suggested – Quantum Conundrum.

The game never came out. At least that I know of. I looked and asked and asked and looked, but for the most part no one else had heard of it. Imagine my surprise when it showed up as a download from the PlayStation Store. It was quickly purchased and brought to the attention of The Bride. Happy way late Christmas/Birthday/whatever present. She took to it, like, well, like The Bride to Portal.

In the game John de Lancie voices Professor Fitz Quadwrangle, who much like like GLaDOS in Portal, never shuts up. It’s to the point of madness, and it’s not even about cake this time. The professor’s house has become a maze of alternate dimensions, and you the player, his nephew, have to navigate your way through the house, with the help of his clueless disembodied voice, until the house and the professor are all back in the same right dimension.

Quantum Conundrum is a puzzle game, so it infuriates me almost as much as de Lancie’s voice annoys me. I can’t play it, but The Bride loves it, so I can’t complain.

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.

Partially Fatal Inertia

Now I downloaded a lot of free demos for the PS3. Some because I knew the game, some because I thought they looked cool, and some because I thought I could write about them here in the blog. Fatal Inertia EX falls squarely in both the second and third categories. And apparently it’s not even really a PS3 game, as it is only available as a download. I’m not sure what that even really means bottom line, but it is an interesting point.

Stripped down to the basics, Fatal Inertia is just space motocross, so yeah, just a race game basically, but wow, what a race game. The graphics are startling and fun just to watch, as long as you’re not playing. The problem, at least for me, was, as usual, the controller. I needed lots of practice steering before I could master anything else like the racing part. It’s fun though, and I can see how this would be a blast for someone who had mastered the controls.

Once you know what you’re doing as far as the racing part goes, you can worry about other stuff like smashing into stuff, running out of gas, brakes overheating, or, say, even winning the races. It was very frustrating at first, but the more I played, the more excited I was about it. That said, I still can’t play, but I want to.

At higher levels it becomes a bit like the old “Speed Racer” cartoons where you can fight with the other racers as you race. Nice. It adds a whole new dimension to what I thought was just a race game. I just need one of my game gurus to come over and show me how to do this.

Incident at the Atco Multiplex

One of my recent downloads from the PlayStation Store has been X-Men, not a PS3 or PS2 dealie, but the real classic arcade side scroller. Old folks like me may remember this bad boy from the early 1990s when arcade games still existed where everyone could get to them as opposed to antique stores and othersuch places.

The X-Men arcade game was by Konami, and was as I said, a side scrolling fight game. You could play, with other players, anywhere from one to six different X-Men characters. The choices available were Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, or Dazzler, and you fought your way through multiple levels of Sentinels of varying power levels past bosses who were all major and minor X-villains all under the control of Magneto. Simple game, but for the time, this was a major thing.

I was thrilled to find it on the PS3. Ray was unimpressed when I told him, I was full of the excitement of a kid on Christmas morning. “This is why you like it,” he said, “It’s moron simple, you just hit stuff.” That may be, and it may be simple, as I said, but it was cool. Now in the age of an Avengers movie that makes over a billion dollars at the box office, but for the time, it was awesome, and it takes me back in time. Then nobody knew who the X-Men were, and comic recognition was low, so for those in the know, an X-Men arcade game was a special thing.

I remember distinctly the X-Men arcade being at the Atco Multiplex movie theater. The Multiplex was built on top of the old Atco Drive-In, a place of many childhood memories for me. I remember climbing to the top of the screen one afternoon with a friend when we were kids. I also remember seeing probably my very first movies, either Jungle Book or Doctor Doolittle there, when I was much much younger. And of course I took dates there when I was much much older. Eventually it was demolished, paved over and replaced by the Multiplex. The Multiplex itself is now long gone, a deserted church the last time I checked.

The Multiplex had a gigantic lobby, with videogames on either wall, and at the height of its popularity, the crowds were always around the X-Men machine. I still remember the Friday night I saw the end of the game. I kept my date waiting, and we were late for the flick we were there to see, but I saw three players – Wolverine, Storm, and Colossus – I still remember finish the game. This was a huge thing. How rare it was to see someone win a videogame, and I saw it that night. I remember the crowd, probably two dozen people at the end, cheered.

And that was the golden age of videogames. Say what you like, Ray, I’m going to enjoy playing my new hitting stuff game, and when I win it, which I hope I can, it will be a crowd from a dead movie theatre from over two decades ago I hear cheering.