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since 18/08/2006


Crisis Core - Final Fantasy VII (PSP) 16/04/2012

Crisis Crap

Crisis Core - Final Fantasy VII (PSP) I've seen Crisis Core being described as an action RPG, but the game suffers from too much staticness! There are too many sequences showing battles being set up, and in-battle too much time spent watching slot reels fall into place. Then there's the accompanying naff action sequences. Also, not being able to skip sequences sucks. Some positives and negatives: [+] The ending wasn't bad [-] The best music in the game are the classic FFVII tunes. Much of the new music is not so impressable. [-] Exploration is light - largely linear, straightforward chest-hunting. [-] Crisis Core has a camera which doesn't rotate against walls - which just isn't good enough! Even if the game is light on exploration it should still have a fully rotatable camera! Also, the in-battle camera is sloppy. [-] I just don't seem to be a fan of voice acting in video games. Aerith sounds like a hippie! [-] As for the fighting - give me turn-based battling anyday... I liked Final Fantasy VII enough that I didn't want to see any spinoffs - whilst Dirge of Cerberus was somewhat likeable, Crisis Core is a terribly disappointing cash-in.

Starshot: Space Circus Fever (N64) 23/12/2011


Starshot: Space Circus Fever (N64) Starshot isn't the most intuitive character to control - holding the jump button has him bouncing but his first jump doesn't gain as much ground as his following jumps. There's an instance whereby Starshot is required to transport a device to the ship and to pull this object towards the teleporter you push against it. Also, with regards to the jumping, you can spend an awful lot of time jumping AT objects rather than on top of objects, which is annoying. There is plenty of platforming in SSCF, and over bottomless pits, as well as endless space. Which can be a nightmare - especially the flying! Thankfully the camera can be moved to help judge jumps, but this is where the controls then let you down. You do however, have unlimited lives, so when you die you continue from the last checkpoint. Luckily, these spots which act as check/save/return-to-ship points are fairly frequent throughout. If, on starting up again from these points then chances are any task that's been accomplished, along with the fuel tokens, has been noted - and saved. So progress can be made when playing in short bursts. It's a good thing that being brought back to life not only has Starshot back at full health, but also some ammo replenished. However, I think that they could have done without the ammo collecting - combat doesn't play a big part in the game; few sections where you have to make the shots count. The camera can be unhelpful. Sometimes it feels as it's drifting off slowly into space - you can ...

Breath Of Fire (GBA) 13/11/2011

Puff Of Smoke

Breath Of Fire (GBA) Fairly recently I started this game again for the fourth (or is that fifth?) time and, as I hadn't played it in a while, I couldn't figure why I never saw this RPG through to completion. After clocking a few hours it had became evident why. The story. It's only when I'm truly stumped on a game that I refer to a walkthrough, and I had to on this title because sometimes it's just not clear what it is I'm supposed to do. I'm not asking to be held by the hand and have everything signposted (however important things are highlighted), but there are times when it's like you'll just have to try out everything in order to progress. It could be that there was an NPC you needed to talk to, but when there are townspeople who simply say the same thing, which can be disheartening. As a rerelease of a SNES game they really could have fleshed the story out. So as I was searching every crook and nanny, there were some other aspects which put me off. Now, whilst you can now run - unlike in the SNES version - they haven't toned down the encounter rate so it'll seem erratic, and it can be enfuriating, even if the fights are fairly fast paced. Also, a fair few hours into the game and I'd occasionally encounter enemies from the first area, which was annoying. The first, and perhaps the weakest, entry in the series. Breath of Fire (GBA) - 4/10

Ridge Racer (PSP) 11/11/2011

Redundant Ridge Racer

Ridge Racer (PSP) Ridge Racer for the PSP shares its name with the first game in the series, but it's neither an enhanced remake or re-release. Although it borrows tracks (both racing and music!) from previous games, it does boast a Nitrous System which is new to the series. It's a feature that fits in well because charging the bar to use these boosts only requires players to drift - throwing your car around at unrealistic speeds - which is what the series is about. Being a Namco game, the presentation is solid, as expected. In the game's main mode, World Tours, you need to place at least in a certain position in a race before you qualify for the next. The position required advances too, so by the final race(s) of the tour you'll be need to be winning races. Although the position you're required to place is shown pre-, and after the race has started, it would have been better had there been indication as to whether requirements were being met (or not) during the race, as I'd forget when I was making my way through the game as fast as possible: the biggest problem with Ridge Racer is that there are too many tours, and for a veteran of the series, too many tours that aren't challenging - of which they have to complete to unlock the tougher tours, as well as faster cars. Despite the name, this isn't the definitive Ridge Racer game. In fact, the 'sequel', Ridge Racer 2 is an update of this title - the same game but with much more in the way of cars and tracks to offer. So there's no need to even ...

Medal of Honor: Frontline (PS2) 10/11/2011

Back With Frontline

Medal of Honor: Frontline (PS2) Despite being on the superior PS2, Frontline is inferior to the Medal of Honor games for the PlayStation. The game takes place during the original Medal of Honor, with you controlling the same player character, Lieuetenant Jimmy Patterson. Whilst some of the weapons not being that accurate is realistic, Lt. Patterson's proficiency with a gun seems to have taken a hit during this time - you'd think in his situation he should be reloading his weapons quicker! And you feel something's up with his aiming. And why do the crosshairs - when switched on - are absent for the sniper rifle when not aiming? The PlayStation Medal of Honor games had a nice touch of humor (humour) to them, which Frontline doesn't have. There's a part in the game where you're supposed to motivate someone into leaping into the ground below, and to do this you break the barrier they're supposedly leaning on so they fall down. But what's also not funny is that you have to aim for this haystack otherwise you risk dying. The musical score and sound effects add to the atmosphere, but not so much as in the PS MOH games - it just seems undermined somewhat here with enemies firing when you're close-by even if you're not in their firing line. The average level is much larger than those in the PS MOH games, but they feel overlong - many last around half an hour. The problem this poses on Normal or Hard difficulty setting - where health isn't fully healed between levels - is when backtracking for Health ...

Chiquito, Glasgow 16/07/2011


Chiquito, Glasgow STARTERS Went to Chiquito with a mate after watching a movie, and as it was (Orange) Wednesday I was surprised the restaurant was rather empty. Yet it took us quite a while to get seated because it just happened that all the other staff were working in the other side of the restaurant, and they thought not to check if there were customers at the door. A pair behind us had already left. When we were noticed finally - it's not as if the waitress went out of her way to attend to us, instead she had to sort out a few bits and bobs here and there. So not a good start. MAIN We went for the 2 courses for £9.99 meal deal. The starters - meatballs and chicken wings - were alright (the latter was a bit burnt). Onto the main, my mate had the Smokin' Texan Chilli Hot Dog (a foot-long hotdog!) and I had the Pollo del Fuego "Fiery Chicken"! My mate halved the hotdog and I had his 6-inch. Ahem. Anyway, I felt it (ooh, er) was nothing special and my mate said the sausage to be like the cheap ones that you can get in a supermarket. The Pollo del Fuego was an even bigger disappointment. It's rated as Super Spicy (the highest hotness rating) and we only found it to be mildly spicy - and this coming from someone whom can't really handle his hot foods. In fact, both the starters, which were rated medium for hotness, were hotter than this Fiery Chicken. Thus the only challenge was finishing ALL the food since I had to go for an extra portion of chips... The service throughout as we were at our ...

Duke Nukem 64 (N64) 20/04/2011

Duke Nukem 64

Duke Nukem 64 (N64) *Review focuses primarily on the single-player aspect of the game.* The N64 port of the PC FPS, Duke Nukem 3D. Muchly censored. KICK-ASS WEAPONRY! Highlights include: setting up, and luring enemies into setting off a laser tripbomb; shrinking enemies with the Shrink Ray and then squashing them; and causing the enemy to expand and explode into a smattering of blood and gore with the Microwave Expander. The likes of the Pipe Bomb, Grenade Launcher and Missile Launcher also give explosive action. Exclusive to the N64 is the Plasma Cannon which, when fully charged, can do devastating damage! COOL ENEMY AND LEVEL DESIGNS However there are some spots with flickering (damaged) lights which I found really annoying. There are a few boss battles in this game, the first perhaps being the toughest. The last level boss is kinda lame. Though there's no in-game music, the use of sound effects is effective, and the instrumentation for the opening theme is great. Presentation could have been tighter - the story dialogue scenes skip ahead too quickly! NO SAVE GAME ABUSE! I prefer this version of the game over the other ones as there's no mid-level saving - so no save game abusing! This creates a better challenge although there are places where instant death can occur.

Dynablaster (NES) 20/04/2011

Hardly Dynamite

Dynablaster (NES) Bomberman II - or Dynablaster in Europe - is barely an improvement on the first. There are themed worlds this time around, but the only difference is the graphics. In fact, it's pretty much the first game with varying visuals. It's similarly of low challenge - sure you might see the prompt to continue a few times but that's because it's nowhere near as generous with rewarding lives. I did worry about the stricter time limits on the later levels, and I would imagine they'd pose a problem if the player hadn't picked up on powerups. What little storytelling is just stills (with one funny exception) of Bomberman stood in front of the next 'world'. Audio-wise, there's not enough tunes for the worlds to each have their unique theme, and the use of music is annoying - collect the stage's sole powerup and it switches to an upbeat tune. This grew old really quickly, and if I could I'd sometimes leave collecting the powerup until the enemies were cleared and I was able to exit, as it was that irritating. The game did have three new types of enemies which stood out - the chameleon?/bomb, the blue bomb defusing blob and the ghost, whose initial appearance was what brought about hope to this being a decent title. Turns out this was almost as bad as the first. Review is from my forum entry on Port Saiid (which is under the same member name).

Bomberman NES Classic (GBA) 13/03/2011

Bomberman Without Multiplayer!

Bomberman NES Classic (GBA) Ask any gamer who has been around the blocks what they associate with Bomberman and most likely they'll tell you: multiplayer fun. But the game that ignited the start of the series was simply a single-player game, and which I found wasn't even much fun. Now, whilst I couldn't see these "Classics" (sarcasm intended) being chopped and changed to rectify this - especially moreso as this is a console to handheld rerelease - this is just such a poor pick. And this in the light of 'Donkey Kong' and 'Ice Climber' - which were not clever choices for the Classic NES series. For those not in the know, Bomberman is about placing bombs strategically so as to eliminate the enemies by their explosion. Blocks also need be blown up, not only to reveal the stage exit, but also powerups. However, from the first level to the fiftieth, there is only one powerup hidden in each, of which, block arrangement aside, they all look the same and there's no changing tunes - except at the bonus levels, but these are no fun either. Sure, the enemies get ever-so-slightly tougher later on and the time limits are tighter, but the rewarding of lives is generous - if only Bomberman was as rewarding a game to play. It is nice to find though that detonators (the coolest thing here, which allows players to set off the explosion) do feature in the first Bomberman game.

Jordan vs. Bird: One on One (NES) 10/11/2010

Larry Bird Can't Dunk

Jordan vs. Bird: One on One (NES) I'm not too knowledgeable about basketball, but I do know that Michael Jordan and Larry Bird are two of the greatest players in NBA history. Players can play as Jordan in the Slam Dunk Contest, or as Bird in the 3-Point Shoot Out, or as either in the One On One competition. And there are warm up sessions for putting practice in. Now, they say white men can't jump, but whilst Bird can in this title, he cannot dunk at all; Michael Jordan however, can fly - not only does he have many slam-dunk moves, but his shooting ability appears to be about the same as Larry's (which it really shouldn't be). That said, if this game was a player then they'd be good offensively - pulling off three-pointers isn't hard and the many dunk moves are not too difficult to do - but they could be better defensively, as there's not much in the way of steals and blocks. Attempts to steal tends to bring about blocking calls, though fouls can be turned off. The traveling violation whilst in the air (at falling) might seem silly, although I guess it's just assumed that the chance to score would thereby have gone. But there's no buzzer beating shots - a letdown being that when the clock expires out the game stops straight away. Beating the computer opponent at One On One on any of the four difficulty levels is fairly easy, as it took only a few plays for me before I figured out a winning way. Whereas in the Slam Dunk Contest, outscoring the CPU is difficult, though they do screw up once in a while, which ...

Sehnsucht - Rammstein 03/11/2010


Sehnsucht - Rammstein A highlight of 'Sehnsucht', and the best thing about this record for drummer Christophe Schneider, is that Till Lindemann, "has begun to sing [more], rather than just speaking"*. So there's more singing here than on the predecessor, Herzeleid, and it's not just from the Rammstein frontman - with the singing stretching as far as to the warbly middle eastern wailings which start off the album and title track. And there are also female vocal parts, as found in the following song, 'Engel'. Still, much of the music here has simply the song title making up the main lyric for the chorus. Of the guitar-work and beats, these are never needlessly complicated with the riffing and rhythms throughout being tight, and above all, terrific. Sometimes, the guitars will back off from the action in some sections, but even when it comes to solo spots it's keyboards over guitars - with Flake throwing in a fair few effects for good measure. Edited highlights: 1. Sehnsucht A strong start to Sehnsucht, with those warbly middle eastern wailings and some solid riffing. 3. Tier Don't be fooled by the indie-esque intro - this song's an altogether different animal! 4. Bestrafe Mich German for "punish me" - the switching between sparse and chugging guitar parts and some great singing from Till makes this a pleasure! 6. Bück Dich German for "bend over", this is a brutal and brilliant track which will have you headbanging! However, had it been up to me, I'd have been a bit more unrelenting with the ...

Curse: The Eye of Isis (PS2) 12/10/2010

Curse Me Inside

Curse: The Eye of Isis (PS2) A survival horror set in 1890, at the Museum of Great Britain, where players get to control two characters. THUMBS-UP: Four fascinating environments to explore and decently designed boss battles. With the lantern, the game's lighting effects get to be shown. THUMBS-DOWN: Feels like a bugged conversion - on the odd occasion a saved game will need be loaded again because of an error in displaying the visuals.* Being able to manouvre the maps would have helped, though there are times when they may just malfunction.* Curse: The Eye of Isis isn't without the problems that tend to plague (as well as cheaply heighten the tension in) survival horror titles - though the characters are able to strafe and fire, movement can be made tricky because of the dodgy camera work. The AI is shoddy, as adversaries are sometimes seen at a standstill despite being shot at. CHALLENGE: Curse features flamethrower weapons in which their fuel containers can be refilled at a few points throughout the game. A couple of these containers can be collected, so ammo preservation - at least on Normal difficulty setting - wasn't such a problem, though it can make inventory management a tad trickier. Curse can take about ten hours to complete, though neither the puzzles or boss battles in this game are tough. FIN: Curse: The Eye of Isis is an average adventure that's plagued with problems and which, is short on scares. *These could be due to a scratched disc (game bought secondhand).

Smash TV (NES) 04/10/2010

Double Fisted Action!

Smash TV (NES) Set in the (then future) year 1999, 'Smash TV' sees contestants competing for cash and prizes - like the latest VCRS! - in a violent TV game show whereby it's kill or be killed. Inspired by the film 'The Running Man', this is an arcade shooting game that's no walk in the park: "good luck - you'll need it!" AUDIO Can make out muffled speech samples however not much going for Smash TV musically, since the game has only a single theme which, though it is a decent tune, is short and is not looped - so it'll play on starting each stage but not last long enough to accompany the action (or even the closure credits) all the way through to the end. Despite fewer themes than the Super Nintendo version, the sound effects are easier on the ears here as there's no high-pitched high-power grenade lobber weapon in the boss battles. SUPER? The action in Smash TV stays smooth throughout as there's no slowdown, though there is slight sprite flicker when the going gets hectic, however this can be forgiven given the high enemy numbers. I've never played the arcade original; I prefer the NES port of the game to that for the SNES - I am mindful of the stationary mines in this version of the title (as well as others), since these are overlapped by the plentiful power-ups, pressies and prizes that appear. Not only can they not be triggered under a shield, but they cannot be set off by the enemies either! And, although Mr. Shrapnel is substituted for a rolling bomb, the shrapnel shards are trickier ...

Creative Technology Infrared Remote control for Speaker(s), Digital player 15/09/2010

Does The Job, Though Disappointing

Creative Technology Infrared Remote control for Speaker(s), Digital player This was bought for the Creative Inspire T7700 as it's wired remote control unit - the MZ0005 - had become faulty. I didn't really have a choice but to buy this unit - I had no need for the wireless remote control (this takes a CR2025 battery). As standard, there's a headphone jack and an Auxiliary Line-in for audio devices, and a short input cable (0.5m) is supplied. But unlike the MZ0005, the i200 has a standby light for when the system is powered off, which I'm not keen on there being. The system is straightforward to setup and use, with a button to select between adjusting the volume or bass levels. Sadly, there seems to be a sensitivity issue with the dial sometimes - when I want to turn the volume up just a touch it'll go down a whole notch and vice versa. This could be a one-off, but I've had problems with Creative products in the past - not least the previous remote control unit, and also an MP3 player which, not only was bugged, but didn't last long. I would not buy from this brand again.

Eternal Quest (PS2) 13/09/2010

Eternal Quest, Limited Fun

Eternal Quest (PS2) Eternal Quest plays similarly to a ChunSoft Mystery Dungeon RPG. The plot in this game involves a village called Jinuma coming under attack from demons, but in this title there's no town to explore and no NPCs to talk to, and so no shopping - just crawling through randomly-generated dungeons. THUMBS-UP: The only options in this game are sound settings (between stereo/mono) but the music - traditional Japanese instruments over modern beats - is not bad. The auto-mapping is handy. A nifty touch is that rooms and their contents are mapped immediately whereas corridors are not - which would be true to the visibility in these areas. The closeness of the camera to the character changes too. THUMBS-DOWN: A limited inventory means much item and equipment juggling. Many of the equipment is represented by icons which mean magical powers are present - but these are difficult to discern. It would have helped to be shown the enchancements that they'd bring about. There are only six enemy types to encounter. Cannot save without exiting back through to the title screen. The Jewels - indicated by the green gauge which fills up as enemies are eliminated - is so powerful that, when unleashed unto multiply enemies, the game goes jerky. Not like the graphics look great. Such is the randomness of the dungeon layouts that Gyokuro - whom you control - sometimes starts close to the exit. The theme of the dungeon is also random, so as well as being different from floor to floor, on loading up ...
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