This mission doesn’t really have much in terms of plot twists.

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English: Logo for the video game series Deus Ex.
Image via Wikipedia

After taking a break for the holidays, I’ve got a video game review for you of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. It’s not the best game in the history of gaming… but you can see it from here.

Gameplay Footage by: J2JonJeremy

This week I give my thoughts on this year’s Spike Video Game Awards – an awards show so bad, that my camera and the Gods Themselves conspired to save me from having to do a video about that steaming pile of crap.

This week I have another video game review – as I take a look at the last title to come out of Bizarre Creations, James Bond 007: Blood Stone.

Gameplay footage by:
Shockwave981 – http://youtube.com/shockwave981
TheMediaCows – http://youtube.com/TheMediaCows

Featuring a guest appearance by Diamanda Hagan!
http://diamandahagan.wordpress.com

SOPA = Less Liberty and more Robo-Justice For All
Image by DonkeyHotey via Flickr

This week I’m going off on another rant, as I discuss the opinion voiced by the International Red Cross about depictions of war crimes in video games, as well as giving a call to action on the Stop Online Piracy Act.

CGW Issue 1 CoverI’m taking a break from Analog Computing this week to instead take a look at the first issue of Computer Gaming World, for November-December of 1981.

We start off with an ad from SSI, hyping their port of their Civil War Strategy game “Battle of Shiloh” and the World War II game “Battle of the Bulge: Tigers in the Snow.” It’s kind of interesting. Nowadays we’re used to strategy games which will take either larger battles or even campaigns and allow the player to control them from the strategic level all the way down to the tactical level, like with the Total War games. Whereas here, on the other hand, you’re either on the strategic level, or the tactical level. If you’re on the tactical level you’re controlling a fairly generic fight or only one battle, and if you’re on the strategic level you’re either controlling a massive battle (like the Battle of the Bulge), or you’re controlling an entire theater of operations. (more…)

Just in time for the 25th Anniversary of the US launch of the Nintendo Entertainment system, my Where I Read for Nintendo Power has reached issue 50, for July of 1993. It shouldn’t be a surprise to say that this issue’s cover game is a notable one – Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for the Game Boy – the first portable outing for the series.

Our letters column for this issue has an interesting question – when they added two more face buttons on the SNES controller (in addition to the two shoulder buttons), why did they call them X & Y instead of C & D? According to the official answer, it comes from CAD, and relates to the fact that X & Y are the secondary buttons, as opposed to the main A & B buttons. I don’t know enough about CAD to say how definite that is (aside from X & Y being the axis for any two-dimensional plane), but it sounds good. If anyone who knows more about CAD wants to chip in with more information on what could be referenced here, I’d appreciate it. We also have a couple good-bad Legend of Zelda jokes, from Alex in Victorville, CA:

Q: How did Link help his team win the basketball game?
A: He used his hookshot!

Q: What did Zelda tell Link when he couldn’t unlock the door?
A: Triforce. (Get it, “try force” – I’ll get my coat)

WWF Royal Rumble Guide

So, just to get the age of game across here – it still has WWF in the logo instead of WWE. It’s got the Big Letter logo instead of the Scratch logo. The Undertaker has a goatee only, no moustache. Also, it bears mentioning that of the five wrestlers pictured here – Bret Hart, The Undertaker, Rodney “Yokozuna” Anoai, Curt Henning, and Scott “Razor Ramon” Hall, two are dead (Henning and Anoai), one is out of the business due to being an alcoholic (Hall), one basically can’t actively wrestle after having too many concussions (Hart), and one’s retiring Real Soon Now (The Undertaker). Hey, at least it doesn’t have Chris Benoit in it, if it did then the game wouldn’t exist anymore. 😉

The game itself has four gameplay modes – single player career, tag team career, three-man tag, and battle royal. It’s interesting to note that when wrestlers use a chair as a foreign object, they hold it upside down. Of course, like most steel chairs on WWE programming, they can only withstand a couple swings before becoming unusable for anything really. It’s also interesting to note that while the game has a tag team mode, only two real “tag teams” are represented here – Mr. Perfect and Ric Flair, and Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon, and both those are situations where one wrestler was the other’s “bodyguard”, not that they were a regular tag team and neither team ever held the Tag belts. I bring thus up because earlier games usually had one tag team in it that had held gold, usually the Road Warriors/Legion of Doom, or occasionally Demolition.

We get a list of wrestlers here, and their signature moves – which is a new touch for WWE games. However, the game doesn’t include submissions, something that WCW’s first game did include. I don’t recall if this game includes rope breaks on pin attempts though. Still, from a feature standpoint, they’re behind their competition.

Run Saber Guide

This is a sort of run and slash action-platformer like Strider. We get maps of the all the stages before the last one, including boss strategies. Of note – according to wikipedia, the boss for level 2, a massive reclining undead woman, was originally just a massive reclining woman in the Japanese version, but Nintendo of America had them change it to avoid their “No Violence Against Women” policy – the same policy that lead to the stripper-riffic women from Final Fight being changed to transgender men in the US release of that game. Yeah, their priorities weren’t in the right place.

E.V.O.: Search For Eden Guide

Before Will Wright gave us Spore, we got this ambitious title from Enix for the SNES. Basically, you control a creature of your own creation, and earn Evolution Points by surviving, by eating creatures and so forth. Evolution points can be spent on various genetic mutations that will help you do better later on. For example, as a fish, you can evolve a lure similar to the lure of the angler-fish, to help draw in food.

Edutainment Games

We get a run down of various edutainment games as we approach back-to-school season. Several of these games, like the Miracle Piano Teaching System, have previously been covered by the magazine, and nothing is really in-depth.

Bubsy Guide

This game is a little interesting, as while the game was originally licensed when it was released on the SNES, the Genesis version was initially unlicensed (a licensed version was released later). We get maps for levels 1, 4, 7, 10, 13, and 16 (the final stage). We don’t get any boss information though, it’s entirely possible that the game doesn’t have any bosses until the end, or that the bosses are on the levels we don’t get maps for.

We also get a gallery of the covers of all of the last 50 issues of Nintendo Power. Thus far I have to say that I like the cover of issue 2, the Castlevania II cover, the most. Our Nester’s Adventures strip covers TazMania and is has no useful advice at all.

50 Year Retrospective

This is, as it says, an in-depth retrospective. Apparently they consider the Castlevania II cover their “worst” cover, because it gave kids nightmares. Personally, I would say any piece of cover art good enough to cause nightmares would be a sign that it’s quality. Anyway, the official history here downplays the magazine’s role as a piece of advertising, instead describing it as a way to give a lot of information about Nintendo games for fans, and not including advertising as a way to avoid any awkward conflicts of interest, never mind that this is a house organ, and thus will probably skip on saying anything too negative about their products.

At the very least, they attempt to leave the American kusoge (shitty games) out of the magazine, and to be fair, with the Quality Control picks I’ve played, while some are bad, I haven’t seen anything as bad as Deadly Towers, or the far, far worse Dragonlance: Heroes of the Lance in the magazine, at least not very often.

While the Starfox comic continues, I’m still not going to cover it because it’s still not good.

Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening Guide

So, this guide covers enough of the overworld map to get you to the first three dungeons of the game, and maps of those dungeons. That’s unfortunately it. Most other guides usually give a glimpse and maybe a few hints of what’s to come later, but this has none of that, unfortunately.

Gargoyle’s Quest II Guide

This is a sequel to the spinoff game based on Ghouls & Ghosts/Ghosts & Goblins. We get strategies for all the bosses right off, as well as a full two-page spread of the overworld map. We don’t get maps of the dungeons, but I’m okay with that. Frankly, I wouldn’t have minded if, with Legend of Zelda, we had gotten no maps of the Dungeons, and just gotten a complete overworld maps and a few useful notes on the dungeons (for example, in this dungeon you can only defeat some enemies with jars, and you can only lift those jars after you find the Power Bracelet in this dungeon).

T2: The Arcade Game Guide

This is a port of the arcade light gun shooter… for the Game Boy. Yeah, no good can come of this. Mind you, I liked the arcade game, but light gun games really need to be played with a light gun – either one hard locked to the machine (T2, Operation: Wolf), or a couple on cables, possibly dual wielded.

The Addams Family: Pugsley’s Scavenger Hunt Guide

Moving to the NES, we have a licensed game based on the Addams Family animated series. I watched this show a fair bit as a kid, and I have to say that the animated format probably worked better for the Addams Family than the live action format, at least outside of big features like the two films with Raul Julia. We get a map of the hub area and notes on the individual levels, but no full maps.

Mighty Final Fight Guide

So, what do you do when you want to port one of the best fighting games of the last 5 years to the NES, when the system can’t handle it? You put out a Super Deformed version! Thus, we have Mighty Final Fight, a version of Final Fight with Chibi characters. Plus, it has a level up system, and we have Guy in the game! We get maps of the levels and notes on beating the bosses. Frankly, I like this game’s visual style, and I’m probably going to make it my Quality Control pick.

Bubble Bobble 2 Guide

Remember Bubble Bobble? Good. Now you’re getting more of it. We get notes on a smattering of levels from the game and their World’s bosses – 3, 11, and 15 in World 1, 21, 24 and 36 in World 2, 42, 45 and 59 on World 3, and after that is the final world.

We also get a mini-merch catalog, which includes the opportunity to get every single back issue of Nintendo Power for just $50. That’s actually a pretty good deal. There’s also a Member’s Only shirt, and the Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Adventures graphic novels.

Top 20

For our Top 20 this issue, Star Fox now holds the top spot on the SNES, bumping down Street Fighter II (original version) and Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. On the Game Boy, Super Mario Land has once again been bumped off the top spot, and not by Metroid II. Instead, Super Mario Land 2 has claimed the top of the charts, pushing Samus and Kirby further down the charts. On the NES, Mario 3 retains the top spot, followed by the original Legend of Zelda (who has been on the Top 50 for the magazine’s full run), and Mega Man V. It bears mentioning that every NES Mega Man game is on the charts and every Metroid game released as of this issue is on the charts. We are missing Zelda 2 from the charts on that franchise, and the original Super Mario Bros and Super Mario World are absent from the charts from that franchise.

Now Playing

Now for the best of the rest. Ultima V: the False Prophet is getting a SNES release. Unlike the PC games you can’t carry your character over from the last game. Seika is releasing Super Turrican, JVC has the Wizardry clone Dungeon Master, There’s also a Game Boy game based on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Pak Watch

As my favorite wrestling commentator, Jim Ross, is fond of saying, business is about to pick up. Capcom is preparing to release Street Fighter II Turbo, with the ability to play as the bosses, as in Champion Edition, plus a speed boost. However, Midway has their own major fighting game on the way, albeit in a bowdlerized fashion – Mortal Kombat. By bowdlerized, I mean that many of the finishing moves have been toned down, though the people writing this column attempt to downplay this – and fail. Ultimately, this game, more than Sonic vs. Mario, is what truly divides the Genesis vs. SNES camps.

Konami also has a fighting game of their own, with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters. This one also has its own differences between the Genesis and SNES versions. The SNES version has more characters from the animated series (like Bebop and Rocksteady), while the Genesis version includes more characters from the comics (like Casey “10 Minutes For High-Sticking” Jones). Finally, Capcom is taking Mega Man to the next level with Mega Man X for the SNES.

Finally, for my Quality Control pick. While Super Turrican in the Now Playing section caught my eye, I’m going to go with Mighty Final Fight.

If this isn't a cheap shot, then I don't know what is.

After a far too long delay, I’m finally carrying on with my Nintendo Power Recaps with issue #49 for June of 1993. Our cover story for this issue is the crossover that nobody was really anticipating – Battletoads and Double Dragon. It perhaps bears noting that it is the Battletoads which are hogging the spotlight here (no pun intended) while one of the Lee brothers is in the far background.

The letters column this issue has a request of more reviews of alternate controllers. It does bear mentioning that as we moved into the 16-bit generation, magazines dedicated less space to reviews of 3rd party controllers. Gamers still knew they existed, thanks to massive numbers of ads but we didn’t get dedicated reviews of them.

B.O.B Guide

This is a side scrolling run-and-gun game from E.A. for the SNES. The game follows a teenage robot who crashes his dad’s spaceship on a planet full of enemies. He has to fight through them all and make it to his date. The game incorporates falling damage, related to how quickly you fall, which is a nice touch. We get maps of stages one through six, as well as weapon and utility item notes. I’m also noticing that none of these stages have boss fights, which was probably a daring move for the time. There are some more difficult stage-specific enemies, but no set-piece boss fights, except towards the end of the game, which isn’t covered in this guide.

Taz-Mania Guide

So, Taz Mania is running wild, Brother. Unlike other versions of Taz-Mania, this one uses Mode Seven graphics, to make this a sort of racing game, with the player standing behind Taz as he runs down roads wrecking havoc, collecting Kiwis along the way. We get maps for the first 3 stages and, due to the camera angle not allowing screen-shot maps, they’re hand drawn.

Casino Games Round-up

First up is Vegas Stakes for the SNES. We get info on the five different casinos you can play at, none of them officially licensed. The games are the usual games for a casino game – 5 Card Stud, Blackjack, Craps, Roulette, and Slots.

Next up is Super Caesar’s Palace, which does have an official license. This game has only one casino, but a slightly larger collection of games. In addition to the usual stuff, there’s Red Dog (draw 2 cards and then bet on whether your card will be in between the two). There’s also horse racing and keno.

Yoshi’s Cookie SNES Guide

Well, Yoshi’s cookie has gotten a SNES port, which means it’s time for a guide for the SNES version. Of note with the SNES version is Bullet-Proof Software, the same people who brought us Tetris, developed the game. Alexey Pajitnov even did the puzzle design..

Power U

If this isn't a cheap shot, then I don't know what is.This is basically a Q&A column, with a bit of FAQ to it. We’re starting off with a surprising cheap shot at Sega and the Genesis, with their response to the question “Does the SNES have Blast Processing.” Nintendo’s response is, basically, “Sega won’t tell us what Blast Processing is in the first place, so they really can’t say. The closest they could get to a straight answer was Sega saying that developers program their games to get the most out of the console’s system resources. That’s something the SNES, and for that matter, all consoles are capable of, so if that is the real, technical definition of Blast Processing, then it’s essentially meaningless. Or Sega just didn’t tell Nintendo because they’re a competitor, and Nintendo’s just going for the blatant low blow. I’m going with the latter because we have an actual honest-to-god editorial cartoon mocking the Genesis.

Next up is a question about whether the SNES CD-Rom or the Super FX is better. I’d say the Super FX is better because it actually came out, though Nintendo says it’s apples and oranges. We get another question about the lack of first party sports games, and Nintendo decides not to give a straight answer and points to all the third-party titles instead of saying “We’re getting out of the sports games business because Madden is awesome”.

We get a question about what all the possible colors on the SNES do. Well, Timmy, they help the SNES show many different types of colors on-screen at once, including multiple objects that are the same color.

Finally, we get detailed information about the SNES’s processor speed, and then a side-by-side statistical comparison on the SNES and the Genesis in terms of processor speeds, memory and that sort of thing. As any PC hardware buff will tell you, that information is meaningless without benchmarking but even now nobody’s written benchmarking software for the SNES and Genesis. It would be interesting to see, if you wrote such an application, and were able to create cartridges for the software for the SNES and Genesis, how they would turn out.

All in all, though, this article reminds me a lot of some of the raw numbers articles from EGM that came out earlier. I wonder if it was a response to how popular such articles were.

Battletoads in Battlemaniacs Guide

The SNES finally gets its own Battletoads game. I should really hunt down the arcade game version of this on MAME, if for no other reason because it was dramatically more violent than the home console versions, and just to compare it to the console versions or something. We get maps for every level except the last, including the rocket-bike levels, which is a really nice touch, though you don’t get timing information. Still, if you’ve played the first Battletoads game, all the levels look pretty much the same.

Battletoads in Ragnarok’s World Guide

Like with the other Battletoads games, this one, for the Game Boy is pretty similar to all the earlier games. You have several brawling stages, you have a jet bike stage, and you have a stage where you zip around on snakes.

Battletoads & Double Dragon Guide

This little guide covers the NES version of the game. While this version keeps some of the classic Battletoads level types – brawler, Rocket-bike, Swinging wrecking ball, it does ditch the snake level type, which is nice.

Controller Roundup

We get a run-down of various notable controllers, both first and third-party for the SNES. This includes a few 3rd party controllers that are only available in Japan, like ASCII’s one-handed controller for use with Wizardry-style RPGs. Unsurprisingly, ASCII also what is basically a memory card unit for your SNES that lets you transfer your saves between games – like the Wizardry series, which ASCII also released in Japan.

Bubble Bobble Part 2 Preview

This is more of a preview than anything else. We get a refresher on the gameplay mechanics of the Bubble Bobble series.

Titus The Fox Preview

Mascot-based action platformer, and the rundown of the gameplay mechanics we get makes it clear that it doesn’t have particularly much to distinguish it from other games in the genre.

Raging Fighter Preview

This is Konami’s fighting game for the Game Boy. We get a list of the roster and a stat breakdown. No move lists though.

Normally I don’t go into counselor’s corner much, but there’s one trick of note here – we get a 3 page spoiler-free guide (not that it matters much) for Destiny of an Emperor for the NES. For those who don’t remember, that was the Romance of the Three Kingdoms themed RPG from Capcom.

Also, for this issue’s Nester’s Adventures, Nester (playing Batman Returns) would learn to use a cape attack when a heart is in the area, if it wasn’t for the fact that Batman and Catwoman were teaming up to hit him with a logic bomb so they can go off for a hot date.

Fire and Ice Guide

Another puzzle game for the NES gets a guide. We get maps of a few of the rooms, as well as some notes for the level creator.

I’m not going to go in-depth here, but we also get a run down on a bunch of upcoming hockey titles and, with Father’s Day coming up, we get a repeat of some hints for games that you might want to play with your dad.

Top 20

For the SNES, Legend of Zelda regains the top spot, while Mario firmly retains his hold on #1 on the Game Boy and NES.

Now Playing

Of note among the also-rans is The Terminator for the SNES, which apparently is too easy for power-players, despite the fact that it has no continues, and it drove the Angry Video Game Nerd up the wall. There’s also Super James Pond for the SNES, and F-15 Strike Eagle for the Game Boy.

Pak Watch

Sunsoft has an upcoming Bugs Bunny game based directly on several specific cartoons, which will likely be a future Quality Control pick. Jaleco has the fighting game Tuff E Nuff. Koei has PTO, and JVC has Dungeon Master.

So, for my Quality Control pick. I’ve already done Yoshi’s Cookie, so that’s out. I think I’ll go with Raging Fighter, just to give a Game Boy fighting game a try.

C'mon, find the enemy's bullets. I dare ya

I have a lot of music on my computer. A lot of music. Currently, iTunes says that I have enough music to play for 8.9 days straight. Consequently, I like games that let me bring my music into the games in means that matter, by procedurally generating content based on my music, and I’ve purchased a lot of games that let me do this. I’m going to call these “Custom Music Games”, because “Music-Based Procedurally Generated Games” is clunky as well.

However, such games don’t lend themselves well to full reviews, because the game experience itself varies based on the music you’re playing on it. With that in mind, I’m going to present this roundup of Procedurally Generated Music Games. I’ll be discussing the good, the bad, and some songs that I think that work well with them. (more…)