Contra

Contra

Vertical tanks, levitating rocks, and football players on a waterfall? Contra – confirmed.

Game Name: Contra (1988)
Developer: Konami (Gyrus, Gradius, Castlevania)
Platform: Arcade, NES, MSX2  (reviewed on NES emulation)
Categories: NES Classic, Run ‘n Gun, Side Scrolling, Some 3D Levels, Bullet Hell, Environmental Traps, Platforming, Power-Ups, Mega Bosses, Predator/Rambo Inspired, Geiger Aliens, Cyber Baddies, Slappin’ Tunes, Colorful Artstyle, Speedrun Worthy, Multiplayer, Shamlessly Shallow, Konami Code, Addictive, Easier Than its Reputation….
and the Notorious Spreadgun!

May Appeal To: headbangers, power trippers, jungle commandos, button mashers, and bandana-ed Stallone/Schwarzenegger heavy weapon dudes.
May Repulse: thoughtful, cautious, and slow-responding people who lack a friend to pick up the second controller.

Comparable To: a more forgiving and mobile Rush’n Attack, better art direction and music than Super Contra, more straightforward and action-packed than Contra Force, more stable than Ikari Warriors, less frustrating and better hit detection than TMNT, easier than Ninja Gaiden or Empire Strikes back, and Contra is the grandpappy of Metal Slug. Continue reading

Lambrecht Shakedown, 3039

  • Draconis Combine vs 12th Star Guard Mercs (Lyran employ)
  • Company vs Company, balanced by BV2
  • Mode of Play: Human vs Human, Human vs “AI”, Human vs Self
  • Special Rules: Chaos Campaign – Succession Wars
    (free download at store.catalystgamelabs.com)

Lambrecht Shakedown, 3039
Scenario Details
Planet Name – Lambrecht
Jump Point Distance – 7 days
Moons – None (asteroid ring)
Surface Gravity – 1.03
Atmo Pressure – Standard (Tainted)
Equatorial Temperature – 33*C
Surface Water – 82%
Highest Native Life – Reptiles
Capital – Middle Park
Population – 1,589,000,000

Lambrecht was seen as an ideal colonization target. It possessed a biosphere compatible with Terran life, water, and extensive metal ores both in the planet’s surface and in the remains of a moon lazily orbiting the sphere. Unknown to the colonists, however, was the relationship Lambrecht had to its sun. The massive G6 star’s gravity frequently surged over the world in “tides” causing earthquakes that prevented the local inhabitants from building large settlements and quickly destroyed any building over a few stories tall. These earthquakes are generally at the lower end of the scale but still disrupt daily life.

Being outside the buffer zone of the Free Rasalhuage Republic (designed to keep the Draconis Combine and Lyran Alliance from each other’s throats), Lambrecht is hotly contested and it exchanges conquerors every two decades. Its strategic value is questionable though this heavily populated planet would remain a proving ground for continued acts of aggression.

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Fallout 4

Fallout 4

Alright Fallout 4, you beast. Let’s review this.

Game Name: Fallout 4 (2015)
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios (Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim, Fallout 3)
Platform: PC, PS4, XBone (reviewed on PC)
Categories: Clunky 1st/3rd Person Shooter, One Player, Junk Hoarder, Nukes, Drugs, BFGs, Robots, Mutants, Zombies, Alternate Timeline Apocalypse, Base Building, Settlement Networking, Weapons/Armor/Provisions Crafting, Lockpicking, Password Hacking, Faction Missions and Alignment, Multiple Endings, Gorgeous Open World, Labyrinths and Locales, Primarily Combat, Targetable Body Parts, Hyper Violence, Repetitive Gameplay, Long Load Times, Buggy Missions and Visuals, Bad Pathfinding, 1950s Tunes, Extensive Voice Acting, Atmospheric Experience, Highly Moddable, Survival Mode, Customizable Power Armor!, Weak RPG Elements: Dialogue, Mission Resolution Options, Plot Branching, Unimportant Personal Stats, and Infrequent Ability Growth.

May Appeal To: Fallout newcomers, tinkerers, collectors, looters, explorers, crazed crafters, retro-future fanatics, trigger happy gore lunatics, and the twitchy FPS crowd.
May Repulse: long time followers of the Fallout series, pretty much. The guns/drugs use, glitches, body horror, PC graphics reqs, and a lack of multiplayer may chase off others.

Comparable To: the gun totin’ shootfest that is Borderlands 2, but with anti-radiation meds substituting the need for Adderall. Fallout 4 has less “RPG qualities” than all of its predecessors but is the prettiest to date. The map is smaller and more dense than New Vegas, easier to navigate than 3, and is less clever and humorous than 1 or 2 (which are completely different genres at this point). The default dialogue tree and “choices” are very much Mass Effect. Skyrim had interesting characters and quests vs checklists though it had less believable rules regarding competing factions as this applied to gameplay. TES: Oblivion had more tasks at the expense of being more repetitive while Morrowind allowed for some truly unique character builds and retained storylines that the average player never even discovered due to the world’s depth. Fallout 4’s crafting and networked base systems for attracting NPCs and generating scrap/revenue is a Bethesda first though it has some mild correlations with Terraria and Starbound the longer you think about it.

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Mechwarrior (SNES)

Mechwarrior (SNES)

It’s not a giant Galactus tiara so a grognard has assuredly written a sternly worded treatise about this image’s canonicity. The pilot better be wearing an 80s thong bikini bottom or else!

Game Name: Mechwarrior (SNES version, 1993)
Developer: Beam Software
Platform: SNES (reviewed on a SNES emulator)
Categories: Remake of the 1989 release – Not a Port, Battletech Inspired, FPS Mech Sim, Merc Contracts, Objective Variety, 50+ Missions, Performance Rewards, Revenge Plot, Heavy Customization, Punishing Difficulty, Auditory Mess, Flashy Sprites/Effects, 3D Battles on a Flat Map, Open Arenas, Clunky Controls, RPG-Style Intermissions, Quirky Characters, Immersive World, Surprisingly Cyberpunk for this Universe

May Appeal To: Battletech diehards, Shadowrun junkies, just plain ol’ SNES owners
May Repulse: PC owners and people with discretionary gaming options

Comparable To: the hideous bot design and coloring found in Rise Of The Robots, the seedy bar sequences with mysterious characters like in various Shadowrun incarnations, “Tank! Tank! Tank!” without special abilities and you’re the sole target. But I found the largest similarities with the classic action of Battlezone – if you could blow off enemy limbs. This has less mission complexity than Mechwarrior 2, less everything than Mechwarrior 3, and more personality than Mechwarrior 4.

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Mechwarrior 3050

Mechwarrior 3050

I half expect to see some scrawny farm kid run by with an anthropomorphic frog in his backpack.

Game Name: Mechwarrior 3050 (1994)
Developer: Tiburon Entertainment (Soviet Strike, Nuclear Strike, Madden NFL)
Platform: Sega Genesis, SNES (reviewed on a SNES emulator)
Categories: Stompy Mech Combat, One Man Army, 3/4 Isometric Perspective, Customized Loadouts, Nuanced Attack Patterns, Precision Bullet Counting, Bullet Hell, Hard as Hell, Hella Satisfying, Niche Gaming, Finicky Controls, Few Missions, Exceptional Animations/Graphics, Repeat Play Experimentation, Weird “Multiplayer”, Laudable Cheats, and Level Completion Codes

May Appeal To: Battletech grognards, practical mecha fans, battlebot audiences, spec ops military commandos, ammo conservationists, holistic enjoyment gamers
May Repulse: Battletech grognards, Gundam-style mecha fans, conventional military theorists, run-and-gunners, spray-and-prayers, nitpickers

Comparable To: …. Jungle Strike. This game is positively a mech-ridden, slow paced Jungle Strike but with varied loadouts and a hefty boost to the enemy count. The “authentic” ground-pounding feel of Armored Core is alive and well but with more numerous enemies. I wouldn’t go as far as to say this is Dynasty Warriors: Gundam swarms of enemies and projectiles but there is a definable bullet hell element to the game at its pinnacle, up there with the entry levels to a classic alternative take on WWII like the 1945 arcade title. Strangely enough, I frequently remembered the ammunition conservation like the true “survival” games in the Resident Evil series. Finally, the lop-sided power in taking down so many tanks, helicopters, hovercraft, turrets, and a sprinkling of mechs is iconic to the Mechwarrior series, primarily MW3/MW4 and Mech Assault . Mechwarrior 3050 was the second game with “Mechwarrior” in the title but made huge improvements to the aesthetics, mechanics, pacing, and fun of the original.

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