Category Archives: Reviews

Haunted Castle (Castlevania)

                             “What is a man?! A miserable pile of quarters! But enough talk; start spending them!”

From the moment I put my hand on the controller and made Simon Belmont walk from place to place in Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest, I was hooked; and I would be with almost every other game in the series that came before and after it. I’ve played and completed just about every Castlevania in the series, but one of the games that I’ve always failed to conquer was the 1988 arcade adaption of the series, Haunted Castle.

                       The first stage in this game will tear you to bits, but its honestly the hardest stage in the game.

I’ve never seen an actual arcade cabinet of this game in my travels, so I’ve never had a chance to play with the real thing. The only way to play this game was via MAME or by tracking down an import only PS2 copy of the game that’s not easy to find either. Just recently though, the game was made available for PS4 owners as it was released digitally as a “Arcade Archives” digital release. Despite knowing that this game really doesn’t live up to the standards of the Castlevania series; I decided to grab it. That was a mistake.

      Simon was going to show his new wife that his whip is for more then just vampires, but Dracula ruins his fun.

As soon as you start the game, your greeted to a quick scene of Simon and his brand new wife walking out of a church they just got married at. Apparently, Dracula missed his opportunity to object to Simon’s wife marrying into the lousy Belmont family, so he’s just going to kidnap Simon’s wife instead. Simon realizes that he didn’t sign a a prenuptial agreement and if his wife hangs with Drac too much, she’ll probably divorce him. Thus losing the Vampire Killer whip to her; so off he goes to the local haunted castle to get her back.

When the actual game begins, you’re seemingly introduced to everything that makes Castlevania so great: Kick ass music, Gothic looking backgrounds and a bad ass vampire hunter armed with a whip. Unfortunately, Simon moves like a lumbering oaf and he takes more damage then Sypha does in Castlevania 3 when hit…and you will get hit a lot because almost every section of the level is out to kill Simon. If the monsters don’t get you, the falling statues, crosses and cemetery fire will. This makes staying alive for a decent amount of time almost impossible without going through the level with utmost caution. Thankfully, the Arcade Archives version of this game allow a single save state that allowed me to adapt to all the dangers very quickly and really helps you learn the quarks about what can kill you in this game.

                     Haunted Castle does feature a map shown between levels if you can make it past the first level.

The game immediately falls apart after the first stage and becomes astonishingly easier to deal with. Enemies still have some cheap tricks they can use to damage you, but its overused so much that you quickly learn to overcome the attack patterns. The developers seemingly ran out of ideas for surprises and designs for the rest of the game and instead present you with the most generic levels you’ll see in the entire game series.  The bosses featured in the game are huge, but complete push overs and can be defeated easier then some of the regular minions in the levels. This game really must have been rushed out for release! Even Dracula is a cinch to to defeat. Maybe Simon’s wife wore on him?

                                             The Dracula battle is as easy and generic as they come.

Konami tried to mix things up with this version of the game, by giving Simon access to a Mace and a Sword, but it really doesn’t add much to the game play. Simon’s sub weapons are available as well, such as the ax and the cross; but they still lack the uniqueness and impact that their console brothers have. I don’t know why Konami decided to ditch the Castlevania name for this title; maybe because they knew it didn’t have any right to be called that. Haunted Castle’s faults outweighs any reason to try it even with the Castlevania legacy behind it. Skip this one.

                                                          *Insert generic Bloody Tears reference here.*

 

Review Rewind: Sonic Heroes

Hello lovely gamers and readers alike, Emmie here! I had an article all planned for you all this week, but I got sick out of no where, and there was a casualty with the artwork I made for said article (AKA spilled water all over my papers). But fear not! Before I worked for Gamer Logic, I had my own articles that I wrote in my free time that didn’t really get so see the world, so I’m bringing it back from the dead for you guys to check out! I’m hoping to be better by next Wednesday for you guys so I can release some new material, but until then, here’s a blast from the past; my review of Sonic Heroes from 2013. Enjoy!

At the end of the year 2003, Sega released a brand new Sonic the Hedgehog game for GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC. Japan got the first taste of this newly released game on December 30, 2003 while America was given the game on January 5th, 2004. Europe then received the game a month and a day later, and while everyone was excited to play Sonic Heroes, little did the world know how much a mess this new game would be.

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I remember it being sort of a rainy day outside when my little brother and I went to GameStop to pick up the new Sonic game, and while at the time I didn’t think anything of the weather, I now think the world was trying to tell me something. I would always look at the manual and case of any new game I bought, so I recall looking at the back of the Sonic Heroes case and thinking how awesome this game was going to be. “They brought back old characters from Sonic Adventure and the Chaotix team?! You can play as 3 at a time?! New levels & new music?! I can’t wait to get home! Maybe this game will have a Chao Garden!!” (Needless to say, I was very disappointed when I discovered that there was no Chao Garden.) I don’t remember much of when I played Sonic Heroes as a kid though. In fact, all I remember is getting really angry (which is strange, since I’m not an angry gamer). So recently, almost 10 years after Sonic Heroes came out, I was talking with my significant other about how much they and other players hated Sonic Heroes. I didn’t understand why, and it bugged me that I couldn’t say if I hated Sonic Heroes or loved it. Not knowing bothered me so much that I picked it up for this weeks review.

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There are 4 different teams to play as, meaning that there are 4 different story lines to play through. Each team consists of 3 characters, each having their own special trait. One character will have a flying trait that allows them to fly to high places and shoot down flying enemies. Another character will have the running trait, so when they’re selected, your team moves much quicker. (WARNING: When going through loops and different parts of levels with the speed trait, be careful! The game can be very glitchy at times, and will send you right through the stage if you’re going too fast or if you move your joystick the wrong way.) The final trait is the power trait that allows the 3rd team mate to smash through obstacles along the way. The power trait is very over-powered (no pun intended), since the character with this trait can kill enemies much faster and easier than the flying and speed character.

I decided to start with the Sonic team, since it’s first in line. The story line takes place a few months after the Sonic Adventure 2: Battle plot, where we find Sonic running through a canyon of some sort. His best friends, Tails and Knuckles, fly down next to him in Tails’ plane to give him urgent news: Robotnick, their worst enemy, has returned! Robotnick sent Sonic and his friends a letter explaining that he has finally created the ultimate weapon, and that in 3 days, he will take over the world and he invited Sonic and his friends to try and stop him. After reading the letter, Sonic gets excited and goes “Sounds like an invitation!” Wait, hold on, pause. I don’t know about you guys, but if I had a device that I was completely sure could destroy the world, I wouldn’t invite the one guy who has foiled ALL of my past attempts at ruling the world to try and stop me, since odds are that HE’S GOING TO STOP ME.
CAM01051CAM01053While you can switch between characters at any second, you can only be one character at a time. Each different character also has their over team fighting stance. For example, when you play as the speed trait character, your other two team mates will follow directly behind you. If you’re the power trait character, each teammate will stand on either side of you, and when you’re the flying trait character your teammates hold onto you from below you. These different stances can make it easier for you to get rings throughout the game.CAM01065CAM01054In Sonic Heroes, there were a lot of moments where fighting enemy robots could get very overwhelming, especially since the game can sometimes flood the screen with them. The solution to this problem was to level up your characters to fill up your team blast bar. “How do I level up my character to raise my team blast bar?” When you kill bad guys (or occasionally when you go through a checkpoint), colored orbs will be dropped for your characters. These orbs raise your characters level, making them more powerful while raising your team blast bar. Each character has a special colored orb: Speed has a blue orb, flying has a yellow, and power has a red colored orb. Once your team blast bar is full, you can press the Z button to use a special move the destroys all enemies near you. Note: Some of the levels in Sonic Heroes are very long (10-15 minutes depending on how fast you go), so I suggest that if you want to just get through the level as fast as possible, don’t kill enemies unless you absolutely have to. (There will be plenty of areas that won’t let you through without killing some robots blocking your path.) You’ll still get plenty of orbs along the way to use the team blast move, so don’t worry about that. If you’re going for a good grade on the level, good luck to you. There’s a time bonus at the end of the level that helps a lot, but if you’re sticking around killing robots for points, it’s going to slow you down by quite a bit.CAM01074Now I do have some little, nit-picky things to complain about with this game. For starters, the controls are extremely slippery in this game. There are lots of moments in the game where it wants you to come to a sudden stop, but since you can’t just stop on a dime, you end up slamming into a wall and sliding around until your characters decide to finally stop.  Also, unlike other Sonic games, enemies need to be hit multiple times before dying. They have a health bar, and can take up to 3-4 hits to finally destroy.This can prove to be rather obnoxious. My final complaint is the fact that the voice acting is just flat out awful. I know a lot of people complained that Sonic Team got new voice actors for Sonic, Tails, and others, but that’s not where my problem stands. It’s not that I’m not used to the new voices, it’s the fact that the new voices are wheezy, nasally and sound like they’re 4th graders having to read out loud in English class. Knuckles sounds like he’s screaming the word “Shit!” when he punches enemies, and when Tails flies he shouts “WHEE”, making him sound like he’s going to lose his voice from yelling. It stresses me out.

Overall, this isn’t a bad game, but it’s definitely not a game I would want to voluntarily play again. While the game play itself isn’t the greatest, the soundtrack is one of my favorite soundtracks from any Sonic game. I can now understand why I would get so angry over this game, especially after all the countless times we’ve fallen through stages due to a glitch, or have gotten killed due to cheap hits that the enemies got off on us. The story line is nothing special, and is in fact extremely predictable. (Hmm, I wonder if the guy who get’s defeated in every Sonic game got defeated this time! Probably.) Sonic Heroes is available for less than $10 on Amazon for GameCube, but unless you’re a Sonic fan who hasn’t played this, I wouldn’t buy it if I were you. Try it out at a buddies, or watch game play of it. Don’t put yourself through the amount of frustration this game creates.”

Thanks for reading!

– Emmie

 

Contra Original Video Soundtrack – Bleeps On Wax

Mondo released the soundtrack on 12 inch vinyl for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Arcade classic Contra just a few weeks ago with an exclusive San Diego Comic Con variant and a player one blue & player two red color split available on their online store over at www.mondotees.com. Not having the opportunity to attend SDCC or wanting to drop big bucks for the cool looking variant, I decided to pick up the regular edition. For whatever reason, this release took some time to get to me; but it arrived none the less and I’m quite impressed with the overall package. The record jacket contains some fantastic artwork from Eric Powell that completely captures the essence of Contra, something Mondo occasionally misses with their home-grown artwork for their VGM soundtrack releases.  The same can be said for the record cover artwork itself as its equally top notch. The color split of the actual record is decent, but doesn’t quite stack up to the SDDC version that Mondo was offering.

Let’s start backwards and talk about Side B of the record which features the arcade version of the soundtrack. If you’re like me, chances are you experienced Contra first on the NES and in the arcade second. In most cases the common response to your first arcade experience with the game is “Man, the NES version plays better.” Along with “Man, this music just doesn’t have the same feel as the NES version.” For me, these statements follow through with this record as well. I do appreciate the fact that the music from the arcade version is included and the audio recording is engineered wonderfully; but it’s just not my thing with its somewhat plodded instrumentations.

Side A of the record itself contains all the excellent music you remember from the game and features tracks straight from the superior Famicom version of the game with all the extra tracks that the Japanese release had on it. James Plotkin, the audio engineer on the project did an excellent job of mastering the music to vinyl and captured the crispness of Konami’s punchy drums and melodic synths that everyone starts humming as soon as you mention the name “Contra” to them. Its great hearing the intricacies of the music separate from the game itself.

Playing this record not only takes me back to playing this classic side scrolling shooter, but reminds me of all the times I took my little boom box and strategically placed it next to my TV so I could record music from my NES. Music from Contra was featured predominantly on those old video game mix tapes I made as a kid and now it’s nice to have an official copy of the soundtrack without hearing the occasional sound of my little brother banging toys around or my mom suddenly calling from upstairs to let me know that lunch was ready.

If the Contra music has touched any one of your 30 lives, I highly suggest you pick this up.

Video Game Summit 2017 – Villa Park, IL

The Video Game Summit is a retro video game convention that I’ve been trying to attend for the last several years, but for whatever reason I always happen to have something big going on that weekend and I’m forced to miss it. This year, I almost missed it again; but thanks to my wife reminding me about it I was finally able to attend the Video Game Summit 2017. I checked with a few friends to see if they were interested in going and as luck would have it, fellow Gamer Logic admin Emmie was wanting to check it out as well; so off we went.

The VGS took place this year at the Odeum Sports & Expo Center in Villa Park, IL and admission at the door was $10.00. For those of you who attend video game conventions like the Midwest Gaming Classic, the small size of the event may surprise you at first; but the event still packs a lot punch. Housed in the Odeum Upper Convention Hall, one can walk through the entire convention in minutes; but doing so would make you miss what over 40 vendors had to offer. If you’ve been in the hobby long enough, you know you must look at a vendor table at least 5 times to really see everything. Just exploring the vendor tables alone; Emmie and I spent about two hours searching for things and we both ended up with an excellent number of pickups. Many of the vendors were very friendly and the first thing you heard most of them say was that they were flexible with their prices. Bundle deals were being made left and right and there was plenty of variety to found at the seller tables.

The Summit attendees were also very friendly and I had several pleasant conversations with them at random moments during the event. That’s something I don’t think you can really experience with many of the larger gaming conventions these days. Perhaps that’s due to people just wanting to get to point A to point B and get out of there, but that wasn’t the case at VGS.

“Hey guys, Emmie here to interrupt this program to give a lil’ bit of my side of what happened at the summit! At one point, Mike & myself came across a table with TONS of Amiibo cards for Animal Crossing and Yo-kai Watch medals (both of which I collect!) While looking, I said hello to the vendor, and he ended up being Paul Zimmerman; one of the Berserk world champs! He was extremely kind, and even gave me a deal on the cards and medals! I even looped back around to his table after browsing the other tables and spent the rest of my cash there, not just because of what he had to sell, but because he was so nice to me as well! He helped me sift through his card decks to look for a specific neighbor to add to my collection as well! I definitely look forward to going back next year, and I hope Mike & I will be able to help out at the event, instead of just being attendees! Alright, back to you Boss! Emmie OUT!”

I’ll be attending the VGS again next year! Even though the event is small, I walked out of it with a pretty positive experience. Perhaps Gamer Logic will even have a presence there next year. We shall see.

Check out the official VGS Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/VideoGameSummit/

Radia Senki – Famicom

I love RPGs and I love my NES. I always wished there was RPG that played like a Zelda game, have multiple characters that I could give orders too, and have Ninja Gaiden like cut-scenes. My wish came true in the form of Radia Senki:Reimmeihen or Chronicles of the Radia War made by Tecmo.


The characters you’ll meet are Darus, a mage that will shoot projectiles and accompanies you through the whole game. Baru, the leader of a band of thieves and uses a boomerang. Haman, is pretty much the Tank and can take out obstacles that block the road and is loyal to the princess. Saria, another mage but uses stronger magic. Leorina, who was imprisoned in her town of Guandia. And last is Medea, Darus’s sister and another mage, she’s the final 5th member of your party.


The story isn’t too much to go on, It’s as basic as you must find the mysterious princess and stop the Big Bad Evil from taking over the world. You play as an amnesiac person who you name, who journeys out to find answers. A person named Darus, a mage, finds and befriends you after your plane crashed. The two venture out and find Princess Lefis. She reveals that her stepbrother Gadiss is looking for the keys to the sacred Radia Tower. Meanwhile Nova, a lackey of Gadiss, as begun destroying forests in search of the princess. Along your journey you’ll run into Baru, Haman, and Saria. The leader of Zenobia, Duke Necrude, was the one ordered to kidnap Lefis. After rescuing Lefis, the heroes find out that Gadiss has finished his airship, the Fitzcarraido. The party finds Lefis but Nova appears tells the party that Saria she’s his daughter and a spy. He suggests that the Hero is the key to opening the Tower, but the Hero won’t help them. To open the Tower, eight magical items are needed, some which the party already have. They collect the rest but Nova and Saria steal them and open the Tower. Nova explains that opening the Tower is only half of it, the real Radia is revealed when both the Tower of the Moon and Gate of the Sun are opened. Nova nearly kills the party but Saria steps in and stops him and send the party to Elfas, where you began your journey. The heroes make their way to the Gate and defeat Gadiss and open Radia Tower. Lefis gets kidnapped again by someone claiming to be the Master of Dreams. The heroes confront him and it’s revealed that he created the world they live on called, Lemuria. After that, The heroes make their way to the Nightmare Monster and destroy it. The Hero saves the day and remembers that he’s from the real world and this is only a dream. Lefis begs him to stay but teleported out.


The gameplay is like a combination of Zelda and Final Fantasy. You have a party maximum of five and characters will join and leave your party, similar to Final Fantasy 4. Though the game seems open ended, it’s very linear. There aren’t any “random” encounters but enemy encounters are on predetermined locations. The battle system is one of my favorites, at the start of each battle, you can tell everyone to fight and they’ll act on their own accord, you can tell them to regroup to move to a single spot, or you can Trick the enemy, which is like running from a fight, but it’s funny because everyone will look like they dropped dead. When engaged in battle, you attack with the B Button and the A Button brings up the Menu. You can tell an single character to Rush, making them fight an enemy of your choice, Move, which is like the Regroup command, Defend, where they’ll avoid combat, and Fight, self explanatory. You don’t get money after each fight but you get “Prizes” which can be Meat, Bones, or Tusks. Meat is a weak healing item, Bones which can make enemies run, and Tusks that can poison an enemy, all of these can be sold. There many towns where you can buy weapons and armor. Each character has four slots to hang onto weapons and armor like Final Fantasy 1. You’ll want to check every pot and bookshelf in every town to find items as well, more importantly for Scrolls which can teach a character a spell, provided they have a charge ready, yup just like FF1 again, Spells have charges. The game doesn’t really tell you what the spells do, some can heal, some do massive damage to enemies. The only way to find out is to look at a guide. Save points are plentiful as any bed you get into will recover your health and magic charges.

This is one of my top favorite RPGs for the Famicom, next to Final Fantasy III (I really need to do a write up on that). One complaint is being on the NES/Famicom, depending on how many characters are on screen, the game can lag.

-Marcus

Unholy Night Unboxing and Review

Unholy Night brings back memories of renting a video game solely based on how cool the box cover looked and then being disappointed with it 15 minutes after popping it in. The game showed some promise when it was being developed, but ultimately falls short with its finished product. Find out why in this video review: