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Retro City Rampage Review

The word “retro” is thrown around a lot in this generation. By definition, Retro is typically an aged or outdated style, fashion, mode, etc. Anything from more than 15-20 years is typically considered “retro”. Sometimes ideas challenge that definition and present the question: Can a modern game with modern ideas and innovation be classified as “retro”?
Retro City Rampage is one of those games that stands up to the challenge. Does it succeed or does it fall flat like the sprites it emulates?

(Game Modes)
Retro City Rampage features a long and robust campaign mode that continuously hammers your memories with references from the 80s and 90s. Some of these references are hilarious while others are primarily designed to make you reminisce of not just video games, but pop-culture as well. I can’t count how many times I caught myself thinking about the times I first played the games that Retro City Rampage was copying.

In addition to those modes, Retro City Rampage also provides “rampage” side missions. I haven’t gone on one of these types of missions since they were last used in the Grand Theft Auto series: Vice City. Essentially, they are score chasers, which I have never been heavily into with any game. RCR, on the other hand, successfully captures what I liked with the GTA rampages. These challenges are the perfect excuse to bring your 8-bit chaos fantasies to fruition.

(Gameplay)

When you start up the game, the very first “retro” reference that you are shown is the presentation of the game. You play in a top down, over-head view similar to the original Grand Theft Auto. Occasionally the game will give you a different camera view similar to the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game (which is also referenced multiple times). Retro City Rampage constantly introduces new game play elements into the fray that can make the player confused. Having a brief tutorial would have been nice, considering the game tosses you into the frenzy and expects you to know what you are doing. This aspect could potentially put some gamers off of the game and that would be a shame.

Much like GTA, RCR has a wanted level system displayed by a meter where the color green means you are safe and the cops don’t care if you exist. However that meter will quickly climb as it seems that every little mistake you make (like bumping into another car when a cop is near) pushes you further towards the red, essentially meaning you are screwed. Luckily, there is a way to get rid of the wanted level. Scattered about the map (usually in alleys) are items called: “Stealth Coins” which, once you collect one, makes the police mysteriously blind to your actions for a limited time allowing you to make your escape.

Another issue that proved to be annoying was the lack of detail on the in-game map. The map places little color filled circles on places of interest on your map, but this is a little frustrating when you are cruising around or trying to find a specific shop. If you don’t remember the general location of that store, you could be forced to wander the streets until you stumble on it. I had this issue after I completed a mission that required you to wear a propeller hat. I couldn’t remember where the hat shop was, so I had no choice but to wander the streets.

When you decide to take a break from all the 8-bit violence, there is an in-game arcade that has several games waiting for you to play outside of RCR’s many mini-games. Of these arcade games, a plump, meaty, and for lack of a better word, “drippy” character makes an appearance in a game with Virtual Boy graphics. (You can draw your own conclusions from those hints)


(Sound & Visuals)

Compared to modern day titles, Retro City Rampage may not be something that spectacular, but it wouldn’t be fair to compare this game to anything other than a game from the generation that it mimics. Both the sound effects/music and visuals of RCR successfully recreate the presentation of the best games of yesteryear. The sound effects are the same that you would expect from the 8-bit era of gaming, just slightly enhanced to maintain the authenticity and to make sure that the game won’t drive you crazy from the bleeps and bloops.

One of the things that makes this game stand out is that it gives you the option to adjust graphic filters. You can apply an old time (80s’ish) TV that surrounds the screen with all of the glorious knobs that you had to turn to change the channel (unless you had one of those ugly slider cable boxes). You can select graphic filters that make the game look like it’s being played on the Gameboy’s green and black dot matrix LCD screen or you can set it up to display as classic VGA. There are a crap-ton of options that allow you to customize the game’s graphics to suit your nostalgic needs.

(Trophies)

Retro City Rampage has a total of 14 trophies and of those, you have your typical “Do this just because it’s possible” trophies: “Feeling Groggy” requires you to “get ‘sick’ off of milk.’” Not all of the trophies are that easy. You also have your collectables which consist of loot bags, pay phones and invisible walls. (I know, it sounds weird, but it works with the aesthetic.) There is a trophy called “Death Cam, No death” that requires you to complete a mission called “Death Cam VHS” without dying. The name of this mission may be stirring up some thoughts in your head right now and if you are wondering, “Death Cam VHS” is similar to the arcade classic “Smash TV”.

(Conclusion & Thoughts)

Retro City Rampage is Brian Provinciano’s open love letter to a long gone generation in our gaming history. With all of the content and constant references to the 80s and 90s, you can tell that Brian’s heart and mind belong to video games. Retro City Rampage proves that a modern game can be “retro” when it’s being developed with the creator’s love for a long gone generation as the constant focus. When you purchase Retro City Rampage from the PlayStation Network, you’ll see that Retro City Rampage is a part of the “cross-buy” program. So you get both the PlayStation 3 version AND the PlayStation Vita version all for the low price of $14.99.

 

SCORE:
9.0 out of 10
Very close to absolute perfection

PROS
The ultimate 8-bit nostalgic game available for home consoles
A ton of content and customization options
2 games for the price of one through the cross-buy program
Epic in-game arcade games

CONS
The controls can be a bit confusing at times. A brief tutorial to introduce new game play elements would have been nice
It can be difficult to find some of the shops without a map with a little more detail

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3DS 3DS Reviews

New Super Mario Bros. 2 Review

New Super Mario Bros. 2 is one of the newest big titles released on the Nintendo 3DS. This time around, Bowser has kidnapped Princess Peach, but besides that, the Mushroom Kingdom is overflowing with coins! Now Mario must rescue her, and also collect 1 million coins! Why? Who knows?

When it comes to the story, there is nothing new what so ever. I would try to put the coin side quest as a main plot point, but besides you trying to get 1 million coins, there’s no backstory to it, and no explanation on why we must get that many coins. It’s an incredible challenge. Not because of difficulty, but because of the time consuming grinding you will be doing. The whole game was incredibly short. I beat all of the worlds in less than 4 hours.

Gameplay is still the same. Control is still fun, and the levels are designed the old Mario way: some fun and entertaining, and others a bit lazy feeling. The core system used now is based around trying to get coins. There are now golden Flowers, which turn anything Mario fires at into gold coins. There are also gold rings, which make enemies turn to gold at your touch, letting you get a bunch of coins when you defeat them. Even with this though, getting to 1 million will take you a long time. I’ve spent exactly 8 hours on the game, and I’ve collected a little less than 50 thousand coins. I loved playing this, but getting to that million is just too much of a grind for me. You will end up playing only a handful of levels over and over, just because they give the most coins the fastest. It’s a shame. If they just increased the amount of coins from defeating golden enemies, and maybe increased the frequency of golden flowers, it could have been faster, easier, and even more fun. It still is fun if you play it in small chunks of time.

The soundtrack of this game doesn’t sound any different than previous Mario games. That isn’t a bad thing, but a bit more originality would have been appreciated. I really loved the visuals however. The 3D still gives a bit of a head ache after a while, but the style of the game was really easy on the eyes. Besides that, nothing is new.

New Super Mario Bros. 2 is a risk of buying. If you love grinding for hours and hours, then this is an absolute must-buy. If you hate repetitive game play, chances are very high you will have wasted your money. Even with the grind, in my opinion, NSMB2 is a must have in anyone’s 3DS collection.

 

3/5

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Playstation VIta Playstation Vita Reviews

LittleBigPlanet Vita Review

LittleBigPlanet Vita is a completely zero-compromise LittleBigPlanet game. It refuses to sacrifice any of what makes LBP so great with its transformation to the Vita, and feels completely natural on the system. While LBPV doesn’t revolutionize the core formula of LBP, it does have the best story mode in both level design and hilarious characters, while also implementing touch in a way that works remarkably well. It’s amazing that Double 11 has simultaneously created the best LBP game while also making the best thing on the Vita yet.

 

The most surprising thing about LBPV is how naturally it translates to the Vita. Its simple and familiar controls quickly become second nature. Anything that you want in an LBP game is here; gadgets, tools, visual fidelity, creation tool, and even 4-player multiplayer are there in full force. If you’ve never been into LittleBigPlanet before, LBPV isn’t going to sway you. There’s no doubt that it is the strongest game in the series, but it is more LittleBigPlanet and not much else.

 

In typical LBP fashion, the story consists of a new fantasy world, now Carnivalia, in danger of destruction by a fearful force, played by The Puppeteer this time around. From there you can expect to travel from world to world, each one varying from each other visually and aesthetically, and also encountering wacky characters. Although LBPV’s story is uninspired and predictable, it’s the most well done story mode yet. Each world’s level feels more cohesive than ever before, and each character encountered is well-voiced and entertaining. LBPV also puts a much larger emphasis on cutscenes than before, including more legitimate voice acting rather than gibberish with speech bubbles.

 

LBPV has the best use of the front and back touch screen on the Vita yet. You can interact with objects directly in the world, like holding down a block and letting go to act as a springboard or extruding platforms to run across. These simple implementations inevitably become more complex, but it never becomes intrusive or annoying because the game never requires twitch-accuracy. You can always take it slow and take your hand off of the screen. It’s also a nice touch that back touch blocks and front touch blocks are different colors and have specific features that make them easy to point out. But LBPV’s touch features venture far beyond platforming implementations.

 

Apart from the core LittleBigPlanet story levels; Double 11 has included an extra pack of standalone games that have nothing to do with LBP, called the Arcade. Each game takes advantage of one of LBPV’s biggest new features, the Memorizer, which now allows you to create a level in which the player can save progress to return to later. Not only are the games are very simple and serve as an entertaining distraction; they also serve as inspiration for what people could do in the creative mode.

 

A lot of LBPV’s creative mode is unchanged, though there are a few important new features like the Memorizer. The addition of touch significantly changes the flow of creating. Shapes can be reshaped and moved with two fingers. If you drag a finger while forming landscape, it really helps you to make small details. For those who are very much used to the classic creation controls, you can still use two sticks instead. There are also a slew of new in-depth tutorials to delve into, all voiced by the wonderful Stephen Fry, of course. Seriously though, the tutorials can get insane, which makes me all the more amazed at the things that the community has already made, and what it will eventually come up with. For every LBP game to date, the community has found ways to surpass the creativity of the included levels. If this is to stay true with LBPV, I can’t wait to see what the community will come up with, because we have big shoes to fill.

 

The game also adds multiplayer into the mix, unlike its PSP cousin from years past. Using the on board microphone and keyboard on the Vita makes it much easier to communicate with people you’re playing, especially when playing with headphones. It also seems (as early as it is) that server fidelity is much better than in the past LBP games. It can sometimes get confusing when figuring out who should activate a touch-compatible object when any of the four players have the ability to. I only ever had a few hitches, and when I did it had more to do with my proximity to the wireless adapter in my house. Assuming you have a good internet connection, multiplayer on LBPV is a ton of fun.

 

The soundtrack in LBP games have always been fantastic, and LBPV is no exception. This time around the soundtrack focuses much more on ambient tunes that do a fantastic job of establishing atmosphere. Not to mention that you can create music using a simple sequencer while making a level, which has already led to some really cool tunes in some community levels I’ve seen thus far.

 

While we have yet to see the true potential of the community in LPBV, I’m extremely excited to see what in the world people are going to think up. Being that it’s on the Vita, coming back to the game every once in a while to see what’s new in the Community section is easier and more convenient than ever. For those without a 3G Vita (like myself) have the opportunity to download any community level for offline use, which is easily one of the smartest things they could’ve done.

 

Who would’ve thought that more LittleBigPlanet on a more convenient system was all that was required to make the best LBP yet? With how poorly LBPV could’ve turned out being attached to a different developer and the potential of sacrifices on the Vita, it’s all that more amazing that they pulled it off. It’s not going change the mind of anyone who’s never enjoyed the floaty platforming of Sackboy, but will completely satisfy the fans. Pick it up, because it’s the best the best thing on Vita to date.

LittleBigPlanet PS Vita gets a 5/5

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3DS 3DS Reviews Playstation 3 PlayStation 3 Reviews Reviews XBOX 360 Xbox 360 Reviews

Sonic Generations Review

It’s been a long time since I have looked forward to playing a Sonic game. To be fair, I was never fond of any of his 3D outings with the original trilogy the stand out games. When I first seen Sonic Generations image and video coming from E3 I thought it at least had a good chance of reinvigorating the Sonic franchise. The promise of playing as classic Sonic and new age Sonic appealed to me. Although it wasn’t on my must buy list, it was one of those games I hoped I would get around to playing.

The story starts with a birthday party being thrown for modern Sonic with many of the characters we know in attendance. The party doesn’t last long when the Time Eater appears throwing Sonic and his friends into separate portals in time. When Sonic comes to he finds himself in “white space”, worlds with no color where he and classic Sonic must race through levels to return color to the worlds and restore time.

Each act in the game is taken from a different Sonic game starting with Green Hill Zone from the original Sonic the Hedgehog to Planet Wisp from Sonic Colors. There is only one zone per act, but the game play is doubled as you have to play through the acts as classic Sonic and modern Sonic. Thankfully, there is a different experience depending on which Sonic you are controlling. Playing classic Sonic shows the world level in 2D while only using original moves spin attack and spin dash. Switching over to modern Sonic changes the world into pseudo 3D environment where the camera will pan from a view behind sonic hurtling forward to side-scrolling sonic. The developers also included moves taken from recent sonic games. The homing attack from Sonic 4: Episode 1 makes an appearance when playing as modern sonic. This is a great inclusion as it helps Sonic flow with speed through the 3D levels easier. And lets face it, Sonic is always better when you are able to glide through the act as fast as you can. Other notable mechanics are available in Planet Wisp from Sonic Colors. It maintains Wisps allowing Sonic different properties to reach other parts of the level.

 

Using the Wisps is by no means bad game play, but it does distract from the game and feels much less of a Sonic game. I found most acts that were based on pre-Dreamcast games felt excellent whereas post levels didn’t have the same flow to them and broke up the pace of the game. This may be down to level design as latter levels feel less colorful and it loses its cartoonish charm. With only nine acts in the game, the main story is very short and can be completed within a few hours.

To give the game some longevity, there are many challenges in each act. The challenge levels vary from speed runs, ring collecting or using a friend’s skill to complete the mission. Although there is no need to complete all challenges, one per act is required to release a key. After every 3 acts, Sonic will have a boss battle activated by using the key from each of the acts beforehand. Further time can be spent gathering the elusive chaos emeralds. Three of these can be obtained by locating the familiar faces of Shadow, Silver and Metal Sonic between the challenge areas. Each has a test for Sonic to pass. Although it fleshes out the game somewhat, it still feels incredibly short.

 

This may not be the full return to form that the Sonic team at SEGA were hoping for, but it is definitely a huge leap in the right direction. If you are interested in Sonic, I would recommend this as a rental or maybe picking it up if you are able to get it in the £15/$20 range.

Sonic Generation garners a 3/5

Categories
3DS 3DS Reviews

Radiant Historia Review

What if the world, you know, was about to end during your lifetime? What if the decisions you made were pivotal in the salvation or destruction of the world? How would you react? What if you had the ability to go back in time to those pivotal decisions and change your response creating a new outcome (but creating further problems down the road that can still lead to the end of civilization)? How would you react?

In Radiant Historia, for the Nintendo DS, you are confronted with this concept. In this turn based RPG, you play as Stocke, a special intelligence agent from the nation of Alistel. You’re assign to help your kingdom as it is at war with another nation called Granorg.

During a dangerous missions, you unlock the power of a mysterious book called the White Chronicle. The White Chronicle allows you to determine a critical event in your past travels and choose another path. If you chose to go north on a fork road and you got your party members killed, travel back in time and go south (allowing you to keep your newly acquired stats, skill, currency, equipment, etc.) .

In Radiant Historia, you are resetting the events of the game without pressing the reset button on you DS. There is a catch in the storyline of Radiant Historia. Changing an event in time gives Stocke a vague premonition about the future (that can be a pleasant prediction or a dark foreshadow of things to come).  Unfortunately the game does not give you any indication was to what path will lead you to those premonitions or what future consequences will come altering your past decisions. In saving a friend, during a bad decision, your kingdom may be in danger of losing the war and you will be forced to make another tough decision ahead.

With foreboding events appearing before you, the end of days riding on your decisions, and the ability to go back in time to take another route (whether it’s 2-4 different decisions for 1 event), Radiant Historia definitely gives you replay options without having to start a new game. You are granted the ability to take the road less traveled without wondering What if I took the other road?

The concept of Radiant Historia has a unique ability to grasp for the RPG lover. If you are an RPG fan that enjoys turn based RPG combat, then this game is up your alley. The combat is very generic, but does have some new unique tactics to help. You don’t have the ability to go back in time during a battle (it would be a great addition for a possible sequel) but you can cluster enemies together in battle allowing one player to attack multiple enemies at once.

The game also introduces change turns mode in battle, which allows you to change a character’s turns with another character’s turn in combat. This give a new approach to combat when you want your healer to fix up a party member before an enemy attack or when you want your strongest fighter to deploy the most damage with the cluster enemies function.

When you are not in turn based combat, the game switches to an over the top view (much like you have seen in early final fantasy games or the dragon quest series) which can be a rather frustrating part of the series. This type of the game wants to play, like the legend of Zelda series, where you can move objects around to get to new paths and items, but doesn’t entirely work.

With that being said, the story of war and changing the end of the world is intriguing and complimented by the nicely designed illustrations of characters throughout the games. If you’re an RPG fan looking for an RPG to try on your DS, Radiant Historia is worth giving a try. I know, after buying the game, I have never though, What if I spent my money on another game.

I give Radiant Historia a thumbs up for our ProvenGamer fans.