Top Gear

Wielding the bare essentials with finesse, Top Gear pushes your needle to the limit.

Game Name: Top Gear (1992)
Developer: Gremlin Graphics (Guantlet, Hero Quest, Jungle Strike)
Platform: Super Nintendo (reviewed on SNES emulation)
Categories: Heart Throttling, Adrenaline Pumping Racing. Blinding Speed, Epilepsy Warning, Consistent Framerate, Always Split Screen, 2 Players, 4 Cars, Fuel Tracking, Manual/Automatic Transmission, Excellent Tunes, Level Passcodes, Slight Control Lag, Variable Difficulty, AI Loser Assist, No Damage, Nitro Boosts, Photo Finishes, “Realism”

May Appeal To: bots, artificial constructs, video game endurance champions, people with naturally moist eyes, and those with minimal thumb latency.
May Repulse: the tired, lethargic, and any who haven’t cast off the human need to blink.

Comparable To: Super Mario Kart but with less personality or replayability; this game has a fantastic sense of speed like in F-Zero but the tracks feel narrow and more difficult to navigate; Stunt Race FX had worse framerate and was incredibly difficult to control. Cruis’n USA’s topography and locales come to mind despite the tone being completely different. Continue reading

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)


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

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)

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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