Retrospectives – Halo Single-Player Campaigns part 1

When people think of the Halo series, they’re quickly reminded of the college dorm-room deathmatch. Halo is the quintessential multiplayer experience on consoles, but it wasn’t always like that. Before 2001, Halo meant nothing to people. It was just another FPS game that Microsoft was using to launch their first console, the Xbox.

To really get players talking (and ultimately spending their hard-earned money), Bungie had to create a compelling single-player campaign. If the core game was bad or run-of-the-mill, no one would care about multiplayer. And a launch game’s success is usually dependent on word of mouth. Look at Wii Sports. The more people that enjoy it, the more they talk, and the better it sells (which basically means more people to play multiplayer with).

Contrary to popular belief, Halo was originally all about the single-player, story-based campaign, which is the complete opposite of what it is now. →  Read the rest

Review – Metal Slug Anthology

Old games don’t stop aging, and when they get old enough anniversaries are certain to pop up. These are great opportunities for everyone in gaming. Publishers get a fantastic excuse for re-releasing old games from dead platforms, and despite what message board all-stars will tell you, gamers can also benefit from these “franchise-milking opportunities”. They give some a chance to play a classic they missed out on, or for an old fan to have an entire series on one neat little disc. Good times all around.

Except it is rarely the case where things work out so squeaky clean. Sometimes a company will take it too far, such as Nintendo’s audacity to charge twenty dollars a pop for NES games that had a 50% chance of being tucked away somewhere in Animal Crossing. →  Read the rest

Will Blizzard get blown out the airlock?

Everyone is quivering with anticipation at Blizzard’s upcoming “major” announcement. They have been hiring MMO developers, and they have a terribly neglected (but still hugely popular, especially in Asia) franchise in Starcraft.

Although an RTS Starcraft 2 might be desired by some, Blizzard has no choice in this matter but to go MMO. First, the revenue opportunities of even a mediocre (by Blizzard standards) MMO are far superior to a blockbuster RTS– a fact most likely first and foremost on Blizzard’s parent company, Vivendi’s, mind. Now that Blizzard has established itself as such a cash-cow, they will be held to those standards until they fail (capitalism is great…just ask the USSR). Just to give you a flavor of what we’re talking about, the WESTERN MMO market broke $1 billion in 2006, according to this report with WoW accounting for 54% of that marketshare. →  Read the rest

Review – Advent Rising

This is one of those times I’m sorry I listened to the reviews on a game and passed it up. I had been following Advent Rising mostly because its story was written by Orson Scott Card (author of the Ender’s Game series) and it was originally supposed to be an epic, three-part sci-fi adventure. From the screenshots and scraps of gameplay videos I saw, it looked quite promising.

However, upon its release Advent Rising got anywhere from mediocre to downright insulting reviews. Most complained of crippling bugs and game engine problems, making the game virtually unplayable. Others said the story was boring and then made worse by bad voice acting talent. I have no idea what game these people were playing.

You see this glowing orb of destruction … yeah, not many people can do this.

 →  Read the rest

Review – Nanostray

While somewhat unpopular with the general populace, shooters seem to be a favorite genre of a few of us here at Videolamer. There are several reasons for this, including the fact that shooters are more old school than just about any other genre out there. The qualities that make up a good shooter really have not changed over the past couple decades. You control one ship against a horde of enemies, and only your guns and manual dexterity can save you. Good shooters differentiate themselves from mediocre shooters through subtle gameplay differences such as finely tuned balance and difficulty. Power-ups are often included, but are non-essential (as Ikaruga has demonstrated). All that is really required are impossible odds and a screen crowded with lasers.

Pipes in a shooter haven’t looked this great since Axelay.

 →  Read the rest

Best Game Ever – Xevious

A blaring chorus of trumpets signifies the launch of your Solvalou fighter, followed by an endless loop of piano keys. And so begins Xevious, one of the best and most important shoot ’em ups of all time.

Take this you mother…ship!

Xevious is actually quite different from some of its predecessors. Previous efforts from Namco, such as Galaxian and Galaga, were similar to Space Invaders. They gave the player very limited freedom of movement and a slow ass little laser, a put them against wall after wall of foes. Xevious is a very early example of the modern ‘schmup. You can fly in any direction on the bottom half of the screen (albeit slowly). Enemies also begin to use more modern tactics. Rather than relying on sheer numbers to overpower you, they use speed and firepower. →  Read the rest

Fevered Dreams of Video Games

the ultimate lasers…

…black and white… all rotating, is one superior? lasers everywhere…

white and black two way… four options but with homing blast, but which is the most true?

This is a rough transcript of my thoughts during a recent fever induced delirium. They may not make much sense to you, but I had pictures going along with the words in my head. Also, they didn’t really make sense to me. All I know is that when I’m very sick, I dream about shooters. This specific half asleep half awake episode seemed to be both comparing the minimalism of Ikaruga to the chock full of weapons Gradius V. I also thought I had come up with the perfect laser approach in all games. This makes no sense, of course.

Since this illness has kept me away from the site for almost a week it makes sense that I’d have writing on my mind. →  Read the rest