Saturday, 13 November 2010

Hidden Gems - Bonk's Adventure

Bonk's Adventure is a platform game released on the TurboGrafx-16 in 1990,
Set in prehistoric times, dinosaurs wearing propeller caps and shades rule the earth...naturally.
It's about a boy-caveman with an abnormally large noggin called Bonk.
He attacks by 'bonking' enemies with his head, either headbutting or doing an aerial slam with it.
The 'Power Mushrooms' of the game are hunks of Meat, you eat one, steam'll burst from Bonk's ears and he'll get mad, momentarily freezing enemies if he does a head stomp, eat another and he'll turn invincible charging through everything in sight and will freeze enemies for much longer.

You play through 5 worlds, each containing various amounts of levels, to beat King Drool (A large green dinosaur) and rescue Princess Za (a cute pink plesiosaurus)
So all in all a storyline that everyone will be familiar with.

It's an easy enough game to get to grips with, simple to get through, and in general very fun
the levels are bright, colourful, vivid and most, creative (one level has you going through a dinosaurs insides!)
Others though are pretty stereotypical for prehistoric times, (jungles, caves and savannas)
but this doesn't mean to say that they aren't great looking levels!

The music, in my opinion, is absolutely fantastic.
They suit the levels and feel of the game perfectly and are very memorable,
one of my personal favourites is the Swamp theme, which I am listening to now actually!
It's always a pleasure to listen to and sometimes I stop in the middle of the game just to listen to it.

At the end of every world there's a cool looking Dino-bones elevator that takes you to a boss stage (music kicks ass there too!)
The bosses are all Dinosaurs full of character that have been brainwashed by King Drool via an egg shell on their head, the main idea is the same, keep smashing their head till the shell and the spell breaks.
After the fight, you have a little cutscene where the brainwashed Dino introduces himself and thanks you for breaking Drool's hold over them it's pretty cool.

Wrapping things up Bonk's Adventure is an awesome game that was sadly ignored because people at the time were fussing over Mario and Sonic instead, so to you people that bought Bonk when it originally came out.. Well Done! I bet you got hours of enjoyment outta the game.
Bonk went on to have many sequels (which I may review in the future)
and a couple of Spinoffs (which I may buy in the future)
I'm not surprised at all, because after beating this wonderful game, you'll be hungry for lots more!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Street Gangs / River City Ransom

Don't be fooled by the titles, these two games are one and the same.
River City Ransom (North American version and the name which I'll refer to this game by) and Street Gangs (as it's known over here in the UK), follow the story of guy called Alex and his friend Ryan, Alex's girlfriend Cyndi has been kidnapped by a guy who goes by the name Slick. In the prologue, you read Slick's letter to Alex, letting you know that he has pilfered his partner, So it's up to you (playing as either Alex or Ryan) to fight your way through several different gangs and their leaders in order to get to Slick and beat him to win Cyndi back.

This game plays very similarly to Double Dragon, another beat 'em up, and there's a reason for that too which I will cover in a future post.
River City Ransom, is essentially a beat 'em up (in which you can roam left, right, up and down)
with hints of RPG in it, what that means is to get stronger you have to build your stats up (an element that many dislike) but it's pretty simple in this game, when you enter one of the many stores in the game, you can either buy food to eat or items to equip, each item/food increases certain stats by certain amounts, so it's important to remember what boosts which. (or alternatively search up an online guide or FAQ)

As you enter each area, under the area it will usually say '_______'s turf!'
Many gangs are present in River City Ransom, you'll start off with easy ones like
'The Frat Guys' and 'The Generic Dude' and as you progress in the game the tougher ones will come out to challenge you. Members will wander onto the screen for you to beat up, their death (or KO) is indicated by dropping of a coin and a humorous phrase such as 'Mama!' and the famous 'BARF!' (above)
as you beat the gang members one by one, sometimes their leader will come out to fight you, an awesome, adrenaline pumped track will play when this happens.
The bosses are much harder than their lackeys so it's best to try and keep your distance and attack when you can, this is the only time where the phrase 'never kick a man when he's down' is nonsense.

Along the way, you'll find weapons to help kick ass and amazing powerups that are really worth saving up for, especially Stone Hands and Dragon Feet, which, when equipped, will allow you to do a turbo-powered triple punch or kick respectively, you'll wanna pick these up as early as you can.

The shops are located in between 3 or so areas that are ruled by gangs, they serve as a check point too so if you die at any point you'll be taken back to the last shop you visited which is really handy and relieving.

River City Ransom is such an enjoyable game with what I'd say is almost infinite replay value because it's a beat em up that can be picked up and played at any time, it has a variety of cool and funny features
(such as the option ask for a smile at a burger joint or Merlin's secret shop), you can play simultaneous two player and seriously, nothing is more satisfying than Triple-kicking a Gang member to the face.

-  Toku-R

Monday, 8 November 2010

Hidden Gems - Do-Re-Mi Fantasy: Milon's Doki Doki Adventure

I'd be surprised if you'd played this game before, I'd be surprised if you've even heard of it.
Due to the fact that Do-Re-Mi Fantasy: Milon's Doki Doki Adventure was never released outside of Japan.

The reason I got to play it was because of it's release on Wii's Virtual Console.

One look at the game and you may think this game is for children, while it's true that this game has got a child-like look to it, but I'd love to see a 6 year old beat this game.
The games gorgeous visuals, happy creatures and cheerful backgrounds all disguise how devilishly hard this game can get, at first the game is simple, if a little too easy, then my god does the frustration kick in..
Now don't get me wrong, I love the game to pieces but it's easy to become angered at it.

However, if anything the frustration compels you to keep going in this game, that and the aforementioned cheeriness of the game.
The story, which I am assuming since I cannot read japanese, seems to start off with Milon and his friend playing in the woods when a dark force captures his fairy friend and takes her away, now it's Milon's job to rescue her.

The gameplay is fairly simple too, it's a straight forwards platformer where you have to blow bubbles at enemies and then walk into the bubbles to get rid of them, either that or you can jump on an enemy to turn it into a temporary platform, though this will not kill it.
At his strongest Milon has 3 hit points recognised by the colour tunic he is wearing,
(Green -3   Blue -2   Red -1)
You can pick up spare tunics which will give you a hit point for everyone you find, you can also pick up musical notes which serve no other function but to give you a life when you get 100 of them
(there is no point system in the game)

As I said before, when you first lay eyes on this game and it's levels you will love it.....or be sick from all the cuteness. Seriously though, every level has been well worked on, even the little touches add to the charm, in one level a towere of wine glasses fill up, overflowing into one another, it really is a cool thing to see

The music in the levels really adds to the excitement too, for instance in the first world there is a really calm woodsy track playing in the background, but 3 levels into that world, there's a section where the wind is blowing tremendously, enemies are flying across the screen at you and the music is real dramatic and very fitting, in other worlds there are always 'Haunted house' levels which all have the same song but it's really fun to listen to, the kind of song you'd hear at a spooky amusement park or something similar to that.

At the end of each world there is a boss to fight too, first one being a giant woodman
(similar to that guy from Tekken)
and others consisting of, Fairytale Women to Giant Snowmen, it really is great stuff seeing the ultra inventive and original touches they've added to the bosses
Believe it or not this is a boss, hit her and she'll turn ugly, literally!

Wrapping things up, Milon's Doki Doki Adventure, is a great game
and very visually appealing, I love this game to bits... but I've yet to complete it!

Darius Gaiden

Darius Gaiden (that's Guy-Den not Gay-Den)

Is possibly one of the best side-scrolling shooters I have ever played.
There are quite a few games in the Darius series, but today I will focus on Darius Gaiden.
To begin with, the graphics are fantastic! From the futuristic buildings, to the inside of Spaceships everything looks amazing. It has a wide range of really cool effects too, lasers shooting back and forth, the you seem to zoom through time and space in between levels and the way the bosses explode.

Speaking of the bosses, they are really interesting in the way that they are all based on a Sea creature of some sort, for instance the first boss Golden Ogre is an Ogre fish and Double Dealer is a flounder.
Mini-bosses (that can be claimed) and even some smaller ships are also marine creatures.
Another thing that is pretty interesting is the way you can choose your own path.
You'd start out at 'A' complete that, then you can choose from 'B' and 'C'
and it fans out until the last (and seventh) stages (V-Z)
This means that you can only play 7 out of 28 (one for each letter of alphabet with 2 V's and Z's) levels in one go, which I believe give the game alot of replay value, so it's a challenge in itself to play through each of the stages and beat all 7 final bosses (which take AGES)
Playing though 7 levels IIRC, will take about 20-30 mins so it's a great game.

A claimable mid-boss indicated by the blue sphere on it
Game play wise, it's a typical Side scrolling shoot 'em up but it has some other interesting features,
The Capture Sphere (which I mentioned earlier) is one of these features.
On your way through each level you will come across a slightly bigger ship than the others with a blue and orange sphere on it's back, you can either shoot this ship like all the others, or you can aim for the sphere.
If you do this, eventually, the sphere will come loose and float towards you, collect this and you'll have claimed the ship to use against others!
Different ships have different effects, the ship in the picture above with breathe fire and is incredibly useful.
Another cool feature is the way you can upgrade, you will come across several coloured emblems which will upgrade either your rockets, bullets, shield or give you an extra black hole (black holes suck up anything in the area and then explode causing additional damage)

The music in the game is astounding too, it's very atmospheric and really suits the locations you are at.
It reminds me of Sharon Apple's songs from the anime Macross Plus if you've seen it.

Darius Gaiden is a very fun and enjoyable game that is really easy to play again and again
and Thanks again Jamie for showing me a really cool game!

Sunday, 7 November 2010


Ever heard of a game called Qix? (pronounced Kicks)
Not many have, admittedly I hadn't heard of it till about a year back
when I played it, I recognised it instantly though. Like Bubble Bobble, it's a gaming formula that has had many spinoffs and clones, because it's so addictive.
Basically you're a small character (usually a square) who draws straight lines across the screen to claim area, sounds easy right? But there's a line darting back and forth bouncing off the edges like your DVD logo when on standby, if it touches an incomplete line that's trailing behind you or if it touches you yourself, you die.
As you can probably imagine it gets hard. Especially when you've claimed most of the area and it's easier for 'Qix to get you since he/she/it doesn't have to travel so far anymore.
Throw in 2, 3, 4 little spaceship things that travel around the perimeter of the space you've claimed that ALSO kill you when they touch you, and you've got a hard but addictive game.

The game later had a few sequels Qix II - Tournament, Super Qix and Twin Qix.
My favourites of all the sequels was Volfied (also known as Ultimate Qix)

Volfied was a kickass sequel that made everything I loved about Qix even better,
it added, huge boss characters instead of Qix, and each boss owned little minions that you also had to trap
It was a much harder game but so satisfying when you finally beat that boss you been stuck on for ages.
It also feature block that you could capture and gain bonuses from, for instance you could stop time, or shoot lasers when you travel both of them are very useful
This will most likely happen to you alot
Wrapping things up, Qix and Volfied (or whatever version you are playing)
Is great for a quick play, it can get very frustrating but also very addictive
It may not be for everyone but in my eyes, Qix is very enjoyable

Bubble Bobble + Others

Now, I'm sure everyone reading this has either played or at least heard about Bubble Bobble, if not here's the basic story:
Two boys called Bub and Bob, turned into bubble blowing dinosaurs to save their girlfriends who had been kidnapped, they went through 100 stages, encasing enemies in the bubbles they blew and then popping them to kill the enemy inside.
Bubble Bobble was ported to many different platforms but the game play remained the same, on each level there was a certain number of enemies to kill, when killed they would turn into fruit which you could then collect for points, you could also collect a set of letter which spelled 'EXTEND' which would give you an additional life IIRC...

Player has '-X--N-' of EXTEND
Because Bubble Bobble was such a classic, there were plenty or remakes, clones, spinoffs and other games with the same idea behind it, a few successfuls ones are Rodland, Snow Brothers and Tumblepop

My personal favourite game similar to Bubble Bobble would have to be Don Doko Don,
like Bubble Bobble it's a 2 player game in which you go through 100 levels (50 normal 50 secret)
to rescue a princess, the only differences are, the Graphics and the way you dispatch the enemies
What you would do is, instead of blowing bubbles and popping them, you'd hit them with a hammer, walk up to them, pick them up and then throw them against the wall.
When they died, like in Bubble Bobble they'd turn into fruit which you'd collect for points, there were also various other powerups you could collect.
The music in the game is fantastic, chirpy, upbeat and, in general, real nice to listen to.
I have great memories of playing this game so
Thank you Jamie for introducing this to me :D

Overall, Bubble Bobble and all of the other spin offs it has had are still very playable today, showing just how solid the gameplay is.

Hidden Gems - Rocket: Robot on Wheels

I'm going to review games that not many people have played, 
'Hidden Gems' 'Unsung Heroes' whatever you want to call them.
I'm going to start off this series with a game I hadn't even heard of until a week ago!

Rocket: Robot on Wheels is an N64 game published by Ubisoft in 1999, it follows the story of a robot called Rocket, around an amusement park called Whoopie World.
The story goes: The day before the grand opening of the new amusement park 'Whoopie World', 
The creator of the park, Dr.Gavin, leaves Rocket (a robot created by him) and the two mascots
(Whoopie, a large purple walrus and his sidekick Jojo, a Raccoon) to look after the park while he's gone.
The problem is, Jojo is sick of being just a sidekick to Whoopie and so he steals the tokens and tickets to the park and hides himself within the park, shutting down most of the areas, or worlds in the park.
It's Rocket's job to collect Tickets (which unlock new worlds) and Tokens (which buy new powerups) and defeat Jojo before Dr.Gavin returns.

This criminally ignored game has it all, a great soundtrack, brilliant control, very clever puzzles and lots of collectables (if you find that stuff fun)
There is A LOT to do in the huge game! Staring things off, you have 7 massive worlds in the game that are all located within a large Hub-World, you don't even realise how big the worlds truly are at first, it's only after you complete certain tasks that unlock a door to go to an even BIGGER place than the location you were at before that you stop and say 'Woah, I've got alot of work to do!' There are even sub worlds!
In each of those seven worlds there 12 Tickets (similar to Stars in Mario 64),
200 Tokens and about 7 machine parts to collect
The machine parts, once all have been collected will unlock yet another section to the world which usually leads you to a Ticket.
Within each world there is a vehicle that you can plug yourself into and drive about the world. (7 in total)
These include, A dolphin-bot, A hot-dog car and a Paint-spitting cannon.
Each of these is as fun as the next, though it's pretty hard to controll the Hot-dog car IMO.

A subworld in the first world

Like games that make you feel smart? Same here, The second world in Rocket involves painting things
they give no instruction what-so-ever so you have to use a bit of common sense, I'm not going to spoil anything for those of you who plan to play this game but there's a bit involving pools of paint and a guard, that was probably one of my favourite parts of the game.

I could go on about this game for ages as it's such a wonderful game, the graphics aren't as good as, say Banjo-Kazooie (another game I shall be reviewing soon) but that doesn't mean that it doesn't have as much charm!
The only bad things I have to say about this game are related to the camera and the level in the sky... (god I hated that one..)
The camera can be VERY frustrating so someone who isn't used to it,
it catches in corridors (just like in Mario) but the annoying thing is, if you press Left on the C-Pad twice it will keep switching between places and I find it very irritating.
Other than those, there is nothing, in my opinion, that take the fun out of this game at all.
Rocket: Robot on Wheels did not get the attention it deserved and it's such a shame.

I totally reccommend this game to ANYONE (Y)