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Crash Team Racing

Greetings gamers!

Up next we have Crash Team Racing! Developed by Naughty Dog, published by Sony Computer Entertainment, and distributed by Universal Interactive Studios, this game is a great game to play with friends. It was rated E for everyone by the ESRB so also good for the family.

Story Time! Earth is invaded by an alien called Nitros Oxide who challenges Earth’s fastest driver to race him. If Oxide wins, he’ll turn the inhabitants of Earth into slaves. If Oxide is defeated, he will leave Earth alone. The character you choose to play as has to collect the four boss keys to unlock Oxide’s ship and race him. To get the boss keys, you must defeat all of the levels in each stage. Once Oxide is defeated, you must go back through and collect the time relics so you can race Oxide a second time. This time, after he is defeated, he leaves Earth for good.

The graphics are pretty decent. The camera centers on you but you can’t spin the camera although there really isn’t a need. The camera shifts focus with your movements and you can look behind you by pressing a button. The game is a kart racing game (obviously). The audio is understandable and it has written dialogue for those that are hard of hearing. The taunts during races are pretty entertaining.

The game play challenges are timed based, speed based, and avoiding obstacles. (It’s a racing game after all). The controls are also super simple. You steer, that’s about it. Place a trap here and there.

In conclusion, this was a fun game to play with friends and alone. I recommend it more to play with friends though.

Please leave comments and suggestions!

Happy Gaming!

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Greetings! This blog entry is about the game Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (for those who don’t know, this is the second book in JK Rowling’s popular book series and therefore, the second chronological game for the HP game series)

This game is available to play on Game Boy Advanced and Color, Mac and Windows, Gamecube, XBox, PS1 and PS2. It is rated E for Everyone by the ESRB. It turns out the different platforms had different developers for this game. Argonaut developed for the Playstation 1 platform, Eurocom for xbox, GBA, GC, and PS2, Aspyr for Mac, Griptonite for GBC, and KnowWonder for PC. Electronic Arts (EA games) published all versions and Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment distributed all versions, so that makes it a little simpler.

Quick fun fact, this was the last game to be released for the GBC (gameboy color) and the last Harry Potter to be released for Playstation 1.

StoryLine Time- If you’ve read the book, it’s the same basic story line. Harry goes to Hogwarts and something awful is happening to some of the students due to the chamber of secrets being opened. Harry is the suspected heir of slytherin, the only person who could control the monster in the chamber. Harry’s friend Ginny is taken and Harry has to go into the chamber and defeat the real heir of slytherin to save her.

This is an old game from 2002 so I don’t have very high expectations on the graphics and neither should anyone else. Frankly, the graphics made the characters look like they had severely swollen faces. Draco looked awful not to mention when you play as Crabbe and Goyle. The game uses a camera centering viewpoint (where the camera always keeps you in center screen). This is an action-adventure game due to the physical challenges and the interactive story line. There was audio but at times became very annoying. Like when you are doing a challenge and Ron keeps repeating the same line at you (“Shoot it in the mouth Harry!”), or when you’re doing a task and the sound effects are just over pronounced and distracting (the dropping pipes or scraping trunk with the ghoul, or the dueling battles with the spells and charge ups).

Some of the challenges included time based courses like when you have to get to class before time runs out, find all of the objects (find the mandrakes), speedily pressing buttons in a pattern (learning a spell or mixing a potion), or even battle skill challenges (dueling or even mini enemies like slugs). There was also quidditch which is pretty fun but that’s a whole category by itself.

The controls were really simple. A thing I didn’t like was there wasn’t a button to jump. To jump, you had to walk into a hedge to climb or walk off the edge of a platform and Harry would automatically do it. I would prefer to do it myself. I did encounter a problem with game play where the only action I could do was walk around so I couldn’t move on, but I’m thinking that has more to do with my game being so old than any problems with the game play itself.

In conclusion, it was a fun game to play but I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend it to anyone. If you get a chance to play it, go for it, but it’s not a timeless classic that you can play over and over again.

Happing gaming!

Spyro: The Dragon

Greetings gamers!

This blog entries is about Spyro: The Dragon which was released September 10, 1998 for PlayStation1. It was developed by Insomniac Games, published by Sony Computer Entertainment, and distributed by Universal Interactive Studios. All three of these companies are some of my personal favorites in game development. It is rated E for Everyone by the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board).

Story Time! Gnasty Gnorc traps Spyro’s fellow dragons in crystal and steals all of the dragon’s treasure, because a dragon insulted him in a TV interview cutscene at the beginning of the game. Spyro escapes because of his short stature. But he has a big heart for such a little dragon and he travels the 6 worlds freeing dragons, collecting treasure, reclaiming stolen dragon eggs, and kicking ass.

The graphics are old school (it was released in the 90’s so it’s expected) but the graphics are pretty decent considering how old it is. The game is a free rotating camera meaning you can rotate the camera on an X and Y axis and you can zoom in and look around (limited but there). The game is classified as an action platform game characterized by different levels and jumping being a main feature of the game play. The audio is clear and distinct, although it doesn’t have subtitles for those who are hearing impaired. Spyro also has some sassy dialogue.

The main game play challenges includes not falling off ledges and defeating enemies. There’s a few flying challenges as well. It’s pretty straight forward and nothing more difficult than that.

The controls are very simple. You have jumping, charging, flame breath, camera controls, and movement controls. I don’t remember encountering any glitches.

All in all, a fun game to play for first time gamers and for experienced gamers to replay and enjoy the simplicity of an earlier game. I told my grandmother when I next see her, I’d teach her to play.

Happy gaming!

Game of Thrones: A TellTale Game

Greetings!

If you know anything about TellTale Games, they operate in a kind of choose your own adventure strategy. They are known to release episodes periodically throughout the year, and then lump them all together for a season pass disc. This game is based off of HBO’s Game of Thrones series, and true to the show’s content, is rated M.

The story line follows the Northern house of House Forrester, starting with the Red Wedding at the Twins. You play as multiple characters throughout the game but you start out as Gared Tuttle, a squire to Lord Gregor Forrester. I can’t imagine this would be much of a spoiler seeing as it’s the Red Wedding, but Lord Forrester dies and Gared flees to the North, where Roose Bolton is named Warden of the North. The Forrester’s have a blood feud with House Whitehill who are bannermen to House Bolton. The story is essentially you making decisions to save House Forrester from ruin against the Whitehill’s.

The graphics are very good. I very much enjoyed the detail put into the game. The edges were a little blurry and not as crisp as I would prefer, but still enjoyable. The game seems to employ to different methods of viewpoints. FMV or full motion video where scenes are recorded before hand allowing only speech prompts, and third person perspective in scenes where you can move around and interact with the environment. For the audio, I was pleased to hear the characters were voiced by the actors who played them (some video games don’t do this for various reasons). True to TellTale custom, you are given a dilemma and asked to pick a response in a set amount of time. Unfortunately, going into the game, I decided to play the characters on the basis of what I would do in that situation, which would sometimes be multiple prompts or none at all, which was frustrating.

The game play mainly consists of pressing a button to indicate a choice given to each scenario. Occasionally, you get to interact with objects and participate in weapons fighting but even that is pretty straight forward.

The controls were very simple as all you had to do was press a button to demonstrate a response and I didn’t encounter any glitches.

In conclusion, I enjoyed the game but only when I wanted something simple to play that I didn’t have to pay close attention to. It was frustrating that no matter which paths you take, you can’t seem to win. Otherwise, I’d only play it a few times, and then never play it again. The episodes are also pretty long and some parts aren’t very interactive, which got a little tedious.

Happy Gaming!

Alice: Madness Returns

Greetings all! My first blog entry will talk about the game Alice: Madness Returns.

This game is available to play for PC, PS3, and XBox 360. The console I used was XBox 360. It is the sequel to American McGee’s Alice, which unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to play. Take note, it is rated M by the ESRB (does anyone actually pay attention to that?). It is created by EA games, American McGee, and Spicy Horse.

Here’s the story. Alice is insane due to the trauma of losing her parents and sister in a house fire. Her psychiatrist, Dr. Bumby, is using hypnosis to make her forget her unpleasant memories. Alice has a psychotic break and enters Wonderland, where she finds it altered and twisted into something dark and dangerous. She travels through Wonderland collecting memories that she had forgotten, and through this you uncover the true events on the night of the house fire.

Now on to the graphics! This game is a third person (characterized by over the shoulder and slightly above viewpoint) psychological horror (a subgenre of horror that uses your characters fears against them) action game (a focus on physical challenges for the character). The visual graphics were very well done. I didn’t notice any repeating patterns in the background, no blurred areas, and no lack of color or styling. Each stage of the game had a different theme that seemed well thought out and immense detail seemed to be put into the characters, the enemies, and the environment. The audio elements were very good as well. The game has audio so you can hear the characters speak (as opposed to some games that just show text) and they animated moving mouths as well. They also included text at the bottom of the screen for those who have an easier time reading versus hearing, although I did notice a few instances where speech occurred but no text appeared. Fortunately, the dialogue at those times were unimportant.

So, gameplay. As the game progresses, you switch between reality and Wonderland pretty frequently. You do not have the ability to use weapons or skills in reality, but there really is no need for those things anyway. Reality in this game is mainly story filler and background information. As for the challenges, there are a few riddles and puzzles but they are not the dominant trials in this game. There are a few more slide challenges (character is sliding down a ramp, don’t fall off) and some musical challenges (hit the correct buttons when prompted). For the most part, the challenges focus on speed, brawl matches, and normal video game hand eye coordination techniques. There are a few tricky parts where you have to use your head, but nothing you readers can’t handle. 🙂

Controls. They controls are pretty simple. The only trouble I really had was switching rapidly between the tea pot and the pepper grinder in a boss fight but it still wasn’t very difficult. (Remember this is XBox 360. Other consoles might be easier or harder.) My hints for the game is to remember to shrink and look around on occasion, and dodge is your best friend over a hit attack. I encountered a minor bug where I was dodging a doll’s scissor attack but got trapped between three different enemies, while they all wailed on me, and the camera seemed to be stuck in the doll’s head so I couldn’t even see what I was doing. I did manage to get out without losing too much health and without restarting the console, so nothing too bad.

All in all, I recommend this game for people to play. I noticed underlying symbolism which I found very interesting. It has a great story line, great visuals and audio elements, the controls are pretty simple, and it incorporates more than just beating up enemies. It has a dark cartoonish theme to it which is actually quite entertaining.

Message me any comments, concerns, or recommendations you may have.

Now, dear readers, I must bid you adieu. Happy playing.