Review

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Reviews of software, hardware and everything in-between.
Matt Barton's picture

A Review of Broken Sword 3: The Sleeping Dragon

Broken Sword 3Broken Sword 3Revolution's third entry in its popular Broken Sword series, The Sleeping Dragon, released in 2003, is one of the best graphical adventure games I've played to date. The game manages to combine charismatic characters, dramatic action sequences, clever puzzles, and an intuitive interface--all into a lengthy and thoroughly engrossing game. Although I wasn't as impressed with the first Broken Sword game, I'm pleased to say that the third game is a must-have for fans of the graphic adventure.

Battle Royale: The RPG (Designed by Mat Tschirgi)

Now that I finally have a high-speed Internet connection, I can start slapping some of the little video games I designed while in college.

Battle Royale: RPG Screenshot: RPG Maker 2003 lets one create retro RPGs fairly easily; it's a shame the program is not released in the USA for the PC.Battle Royale: RPG Screenshot: RPG Maker 2003 lets one create retro RPGs fairly easily; it's a shame the program is not released in the USA for the PC.

The first, and arguably the best, was a group effort known as Battle Royale: The RPG, based on the controversial Japanese novel and live-action film. We developed the demo using a hacked version of RPG Maker 2003 , an excellent Japanese Windows program that lets one create a RPG in the mold of the Japanese SNES variety (Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy IV, etc) fairly easily.

Matt Barton's picture

Reflections on Black Mirror: Or What Makes Bad GAGs Bad

Unknown Identity's Black Mirror, published in the US by the Adventure Company in 2003, is one of those rare games that's just good enough to make you hate the fact that it's so unplayable. It's like one of those movies that's hopelessly boring and banal, but nevertheless, there's something about it that makes you realize it could've been a great movie (think Dungeons & Dragons). Black Mirror is the second game I've played by Unknown Identity, a Czech developer also responsible for the travesty Nibiru (it's no wonder why they want to keep their real identity a secret). These graphical adventure games have much in common: The stories are fascinating, the graphics are absolutely gorgeous, and the ambience is outstanding. However, they all suffer from wretched puzzles, unbelievably horrid voice acting, poorly translated dialogue, and an abundance of pixel hunting. What I intend to do here is review and analyze Black Mirror. I'm hoping some benevolent soul will translate it into Czech (along with Ron Gilbert's essay on bad games). Otherwise, we might very well see another Unknown Identity product on the shelf, and the GAG genre is hurting enough as it is.

Matt Barton's picture

Neverwinter Nights Platinum: Some Thoughts on CRPGs

Although I greatly enjoy playing adventure games and the occasional strategy game (Civilization IV being one of my favorites), the genre I always find myself returning to is the computer role-playing game. My fixation with the genre began at the tender age of 12 (or maybe 13), when I started playing the Bard's Tale series on the Commodore 64. If you remember, the first Bard's Tale is extremely difficult starting out. Fortunately, the cracked copy we had still had a saved game from whoever copied it, so I was able to play with high-level characters and thus get a better feel for what the game had to offer. However, it wasn't really until I got Pool of Radiance (the original SSI "gold box" game) that I really fell in love with the genre.

Doom RPG gives Cell Phones a Wizardryish Delight

So I've settled into Portland, OR quite nicely and one of the first things I do is get a hell of a deal on a Motorola RAZR V3 Cell Phone. After fiddling with the customs settings and downloading a custom ringtone (We're Not Gonna Take It by Twisted Sister, of course), I decided to download a cell phone game that isn't exactly new: Doom RPG.

To my utter shock, it turns out to work. I never thought crossing Doom with Wizardry would end up being a fun game, but Doom RPG succeeds for the most part.

Matt Barton's picture

Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest

Dead Man's Chest: Great film, mateys--go see it!Dead Man's Chest: Great film, mateys--go see it!Yesterday my wife and I hiked to the local multiplex to catch the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, Dead Man's Chest. Although I've always been a big fan of pirate movies, I didn't see the first one in the theater. It seemed like such an obvious bit of cheesy franchise exploitation (a movie based on a RIDE?) that I waited for it on DVD. As soon as I saw the film, I realized my mistake--Gore Verbinski came out with a highly entertaining and memorable film along the lines of The Princess Bride. Part two, Dead Man's Chest, follows the successful formula, and thus results in another great summer movie. I want to talk about a bit about the film here, and then relate it to videogames.

Retro Gaming Hacks is Worth a Look

I just finished reading Chris Kohler's new book Retro Gaming Hacks and I have to say I enjoyed it a good deal. Topics range from how to run a variety of emulators on your PC to how to do introductory level programming for the GBA. While a lot of the information is rather basic, I learned a few things about older consoles and PCs from the book.

The writing in here is noticeably better than in Kohler's other book, Power Up!, though part of this might be because large portions of the book are written by other contributors. Kohler's writing is more confident and has a nice playful tone that is not unlike the style of writing done for this very site.

Japan Arcades Part 2

I have had more time to play games in Japanese arcades and have run across a few more interesting titles.

Tetris Plus 2: This is a fun Japanese only spin-off of Tetris. In the Puzzle Mode, you get to control either a Professor or her Apprentice through Tetris levels with a bit of a twist: you have to make the Tetris board completely empty in the time limit. Your cartoon avatar runs arounds the blocks as you make lines and a spiked wall tries to crush you as the time limit goes down-- the higher your blocks are, the more your avatar wants to climb to the top to get killed! It is a fun take on Tetris.

Matt Barton's picture

A Review of "Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill"

Nancy Drew: Map: Small Town, Big Secrets...Nancy Drew: Map: Small Town, Big Secrets...Secrets Can Kill (SCK), originally released in 1998 by Dreamcatcher, is the first of Her Interactive's licensed Nancy Drew graphical adventure games, and it's a rich and rewarding experience. It's set in a small town in Florida, where the murder of a local high school student and plenty of suspects peaks Nancy's curiosity to the "boiling point." The game is chocked full of clues, codes, and Easter Eggs--and puzzles galore. In short, it's a great game for all ages and both sexes, and even educational to boot. It's a well designed GAG with lots going for it, so if you see it, grab it--you won't be disappointed.

Online Vidcast Coin Op TV Mostly Fun, But Needs Polish

As I sit in an Internet Cafe in Tokyo, I decided to take advantage of the high bandwidth and check out a bunch of episodes of the popular online vidcast, Coin Op TV!.

As you can guess from the title, it covers retro games.

For the most part, it is well produced. All the episodes involve reporting on the field using decent quality microphones and have camerawork that is fairly decent. Editing of the segments is a bit plain at times, which is ironically somewhat refreshing-- no avant garde editing techniques here!

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