Spy Hunter

With its smart weapons, awesome cars, Spy Hunter was viewed as a very stylish game back in the arcades on the early 1980s. It was a title that playing into any boy's fantasies- secret agents, nasty weaponry, and a driving lincese. Make no mistake though, it was the action packed gameplay that kept people coming back for more again, again, and again...


The year that the war ground on may have been 1943, when rationing continued to bite down hard, construction work on the Pentagon was completed, and the Japanese forces were driven back from Guadalcanal, but it's a whole lot more enjoyable if you think of it as this wonderful little vertical-scrolling shooter from Capcom, released for the delight of the arcade-going populas in 1987...


The game isn't just a good looking isometric dungeon crawler, it is THE best dungeon crawler. A simple - almost brainless trek through caverns and catacombs filled with vile creatures, not to mention all the loot. Blizzard spent a lot of time working on the generation of the game's spaces, making items, enemies, and geography be different every single time you load up the game...

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

The Elder Scrolls games are best known for the fourth chapter in the series, Oblivion, released in 2006. In comparison,The Elder Scroll's Morrowind is altogether more of a curate's egg, neither as commercially successful nor critically applauded as it's successor. Perhaps because of that, however, it's also a much more interesting game...


Rogue first appeared on college Unix systems in 1980. It contains an infinite variety via a series of randomly generated, ASCII-rendered dungeons that must be explored in a bid to retrieve the Amulet of Yendor (Rodney spelled backwards) from somewhere behold the twenty-fifth level -- an unlikely achievement given the imposing difficulty of even the earliest dungeon layers.

18 August, 2012

North & South

  • Release Date: 1989
  • Platform(s): Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, MSX, NES
  • Developer: Infogrames
  • Genre: Action / Strategy

The American Civil War was surely not the most pleasant of wars. Wedged uncomfortably close to the nasty delights of industrialization, it was a muddle of shelling and gunpowder, in which people got their faces burned off, or were accidentally run through by their own side's sabres; it was a conflict in which troops were regularly trampled under horses, and that nice Kevin Costner almost had his leg lopped off and went to live with the Native Americans.

North & South tells a slightly cheerier story. A mixture of cold strategy and fast-paced battles, Infrogrames's classic is based on a Belgian comic called Les Tuniques Bleus. This means that verisimilitude was never going to be that high on the agenda. That said, beyond the chummy cartoon faces and quiky animated asides (you can tickle the photographer on the main menu screen by goosing him with your mouse pointer), it's still a smart tactical challenge all the same.

North & South operates in two modes. There's the overworld view, in which you move troops around a map of the United States, staking out territory and pincering your enemy. There's also a battle mode that allows you to race through enough stripped-down skirmishes more personally. pushing around a range of infantry, cavalry, and cannons.

The story moves at a pace while excellent audio and visual presentation give the whole thing a sheen of polish missing from many other games of the era. The ending sequence, in which weary troops march home, the war over, set new standards for animation at the time of its release. Taken as a whole, North & South, while not particularly deep, makes for a pleasant arcade strategy experience even today -- if you can track down an original copy and coax it back to life, that is.

15 August, 2012

Breath of Fire II

Release Date: 1994
Platform: SNES
Developer: Capcom
Genre: Role-Playing

Breath of Fire II is an RPG great on a console crammed full of them. Released on the SNES, it joins the likes of Secret of Mana, the Final Fantasy series, Chrono Trigger, and the original Breath of Fire at the very top of its chosen genre. It takes place 500 years after the end of the original game to tell the story of Ryu Bateson, a blue-haired boy hero on a quest for justice, which is launched when his friend is framed for a crime he didn't commit.

The game picks up the day/night cycle from its predecessor, which sees the world and its inhabitants transform with every sunset, and it features the turn-based, random encounters that are a staple element of the Japanese RPG genre. Picking the right formation is a crucial part of combat strategy, while another key feature is each character's special ability, such as Ryu's dragon transformations or Bow's fusion form as a giant, cannonball-launching mech.

One of the best things about the game is the way the world is gradually opened up. Each party member has a unique skill that they can use outside of the normal course of play, so fishing and hunting skills, for example, unlock different mini-games. But the ability to swim or bridge chasms allows the party to access more of the increasingly vast game world, and it's the pacing of exploration is one of the game's greatest strengths. Another is the way the game prefigures the Dark Cloud series by giving you the ability to build your very own town, choosing its architectural style, and gradually filling it with non-player characters that can help you on the main mission -- a mission with multiple endings, depending on how effectively you steer Ryu and friends on one of the classic quests of 16-bit storytelling.

14 August, 2012

Wave Race 64

  • Release Date: 1996
  • Platform: N64
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Genre: Racing

Let's be honest, nobody ever fell in love with Wave Race 64. Despite hailing from the same stable as Super Mario and company, this Jet Ski racing game with its four identical riders just doesn't have the personality for that. The visuals don't help either. Superficially, Wave Race 64 is even a bit-- whisper it-- annoying.

Yet the game made a splash (I apologize deeply for the lame pun) on release and, unlike many other older games, it's still worth checking out on its own merits, irrespective of its historical value (which isn't much; the game spawn no great lineage of Jet Ski titles). It's all about the realistically modelled water, and the joy of steering your craft upon it. The N64's innovative control stick had already proved that analog was the future, thanks to the fin control it afforded Mario in his N64 debut, but Wave Race 64, itself a very early game for the console, was an even more convincing demonstration. As you steer your bouncing craft across the choppy surf or pull a hairpin turn, you can almost see the old two-dimensional, on or off era sinking beneath the waves.

The game is structured as a conventional racing game, albeit all at sea. In most races, you need to beat your fellow skiers around an island in various weather conditions, while also steering your craft past navigational buoys. Correctly passing a buoy boosts your speed, and at maximum power you really fly. Championship, Time Trial, and Stunt modes round out the package, and the mandatory two-player mode is also good  fun, despite the somewhat restricted view afforded by the split-screen implementation.

Wave Race 64 remains one of the best water-based games you can play -- although admittedly that's a genre with limited competition.

12 August, 2012

Totally Radical Video Game Ads

In today's flashy, business-minded world, the people in charge of game advertising are creatively stuck-in-a-rut; they have to worry about unimportant things like 'making a game look good' and 'being in good taste'. 

But in the 'all or nothing' days of the 80s and 90s, designers and advertising execs were true artists. They were responsible for game ads that were so beautiful, so enchanting and so magnificent, that they could make the majestic supermodel/author Fabio disgusted by his own immaculate reflection. 

So join us for an edition of Totally Radical Video Game Ads, where we'll gaze in amazement at some incredible (in the good and bad sense) game ads and art from yesteryear. 

If it wasn't for the old game being advertised, you could be mistaken for thinking that this is a photo of a random group of annoying, modern-day hipsters. Luckily, these people have an excuse for looking so ridiculous. On a side-note - did the dog eat the kid and steal his sunglasses?

With all the pervy dudes that have likely ogled this poster, it's unlikely that the 'kit' was the thing that truly came first. (Seriously though, only in the 80s could that be an appealing look.) 

There's a revolution under way - hordes of talentless jagoffs have been destroying Aerosmith's 'I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing' with their horrendous karaoke skills for far too long, and the only person that can stop it is Milla Jovovich in her Ultraviolet costume! 

The original Johnny Cage actually endorsed this piece of $#@+? Sub-Zero should have ripped his head off when he had the chance.

It's official - playing Taito games will give you gonorrhea. 

The sexual tension between these two is palpable. What you can't see is that just below the frame, they're already 'head-to-head'. 

To be honest, I can't really fault this artwork. It's flawless. It also makes me wish that it was publicly acceptable to walk around with a pair of nunchucks hanging from your belt. 

I'm trying to figure out what this view of an excited dude's nasal cavity has to do with Star Wars. Is he the final boss? Does Luke have to force-guide some missiles all up in there? 

Seriously, my mind is truly boggled by this ad. 'Wouldn't trade these adventures for all the slime in Hollywood'? What the $%&# does that even mean? Since when are the turtles massive slime-fiends? I missed the episode where Raphael was caught with a slime-needle sticking out of his arm. The half-assed attempt to link it to the live-action film is also pretty weak. They should've said 'All the Pizza in New York'. That would've made sense. Perhaps the guys behind this ad confused it with that other show, Teenage Hollywood Slime Turtles.

 It's official - Nintendo endorses criminal behaviour. Running and jumping while stabbing and looting? All in a day's work. Now with Nintendo's official golden seal of quality! 

Only you can save Maria - at 126 beats per minute. No wonder Dom failed to save Maria in Gears of War 2, he forgot to bring some funky house music to put her back in the dancing mood. 

Here we have Ben Stiller (in character as Simple Jack) telling us that it's cool to 'Kick Some Balls'. By the look of his exploding left testicle, someone took that suggestion all too literally.

Source: IGN Australia 

11 August, 2012

GoldenEye 007

  • Release Date: 1997
  • Platform(s): Nintendo 64
  • Developer: Rare
  • Genre: Shoot 'Em Up

You could argue that the title of Best James Bond Game ironically sits with a series that has nothing to do with James Bond, the Metal Gear series. Less debatable, though, is the holder of the title of Most Important Console First-Person Shooter. Before GoldenEye 007, and adaptation that played fast and loose with the 1995, many would struggle with even the idea of such a thing.

Unlike contemporary Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, GoldenEye 007 proved that joy pad controls were not a disability. Both games featured precision aiming thanks to the N64 analog stick, but Rare knew best how to use it. Revelling in the lack of hyper-kinetic PC controls, it made a game in which every shot felt like something handmade. Hit a shoulder, and an enemy might pirouette to the floor; the groin -- an natural favourite -- and they'd fold and keel over; the head, and they'd drop as if hit with a pole-arm. Games like Virtua Cop got there sooner but, to borrow a phrase, nobody does it better than Bond.

In single-player mode, GoldenEye 007 features a rarely emulated difficulty method that switched objectives at each level, making it highly replayable even now. But the game's split-screen support for up to four players, as much as a testament to the N64's hardware layout, was the proof of concept for all console multiplayers. When games like Halo try to capture that feeling via Xbox Live, what they are referring to is the sight of your armchair buddy being dropped by the Golden Gun, on of umpteen weapons and modes that kept this game going for years.

Culling gadgets and characters from the entire Bond universe, GoldenEye 007 pounced on every opportunity its license could afford.

08 August, 2012


  • Release Date: 1999
  • Platform(s): PC
  • Developer: Sony Online Entertainment
  • Genre: MMORPG

In the 1990s, role-playing games already had a solid and devoted fan base, with opportunities to imagine great fantasy worlds while acting out the life and times of any class, race, or even sex of choice. By late in the century, multi-user games of increasingly cutting-edge visuals were braving the fledging Internet. it wasn't until the arrival of EverQuest, however, that the entire experience of online role-playing was elevated and thrust into the true 3-D age.

Requiring a quick, consistent Internet connection and an expensive 3-D graphics card, EverQuest occupied a niche of a niche in 1999. But such technology is used to its full potential, the classic fantasy world of Norrath coming to life in a way that captured gamers' imaginations and kept them coming back for more... and more... and more for a surprisingly long time.

Oh, sure, the svelte elves aren't outfitted to survive sprawling plains, mountains, and cavernous dungeons, but hell if they don't lure leering players to unload a few precious gold pieces to aid a fawning damsel in undress. Or you can take on a noble paladin role, vanquishing this and dispelling that; or skulk with the rogues; or cast with the mages; or so many other options that the world experience appears endless. You explore, learn trades and skills, as well as languages and even a whole new shorthand vocabulary (including the oh-so-appropriate moniker, EverCrack).

No doubt building a world and game mechanic from scratch brings attendant teething problems, imbalances, and even straight up breakages, but between the zone exploration, the ambition, and opportunity for socializing with fellow gamers, the overall experience compels any RPG fan to commit for a long, long haul.