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Topics - Hoffy

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 7
1
Entertainment / A little something I wrote up about fan games.
« on: August 26, 2011, 05:43:46 am »
http://www.zeldainformer.com/2011/08/the-world-of-zelda-fan-games-are-they-worth-your-time.html

I now write for ZeldaInformer, and I wrote up this little article not long ago, just discussing the culture of fan games a little bit. Just thought you guys would be interested, I mention a few classics from the olden days of ZFGC and a few other gems I've stumbled across too! Let me know what you think :)

2
Entertainment / My new project.
« on: April 05, 2011, 01:48:50 pm »
http://world1-1.tumblr.com/

I'm not sure if anyone here is actually stupid enough to use tumblr, but well, this would be my new writing project, central to games. It's actually an assignment (where we were told to use tumblr) for my Networked Media Production class I'm taking this semester, but I've gotten really into it and I'm sort of planning on continuing to post on it after the assignment is due, if I can gather a decent reader-base (and hopefully attract some good contacts in games journalism, but I'll need to pick up my game to achieve that).

So uhh, yeah. Follow it, read it, show your friends, comment on it, provide some feedback here if you like? Any attention is good attention.

Cheers guise!

3
Entertainment / Just bought a NES on eBay...
« on: January 24, 2011, 12:52:18 pm »
Hey yeah, it's actually a really fun machine. Something about buying the console second-hand for $90 and playing games how they were meant to be played, instead of downloading a ROM for free in less than a second, or downloading it from the Virtual Console, or whatever it is, as if anyone still uses that thing anyway. I guess the real reason I made this topic was because I needed to express myself in regards to Super Mario Bros. 3, a game I had never played before really.

Now I've been playing the original Super Mario Bros. too, where I can get to World 8 in a couple minutes (taking short-cuts of course)... though, I can't finish it. I've been playing that game for years.

But Super Mario Bros. 3 is different! It's so much better and so much more advanced! And pretty impressive for a NES game, obviously R&D had learnt their way around the NES hardware by that point. Point is, it's so fantastic, and large, and long, and satisfying (o_o) but, there's no save function? Not even a goofy password system like other games of the era. I have to somehow get through all 8 worlds in one sitting, even though, I assume the game has to be a couple of hours long, give or take some contingency time considering I love to kill my Mario's because I'm an unforgiving !@#$% or something.

Heavens, God, tell me how the gamers of the '80s put up with this crap!

I could just leave my NES on for days. It's not like the machine even lets out so much as a hum or a whir. It's not like it would annoy anyone... I'd feel bad for the little guy, though.

Anyone have any experiences with completing this game on NES? Or, anyone wanna call me a weak '90s-bred gamer hell-bent on having everything easy and completable?

4
Entertainment / Share Ye Music Tastes!
« on: January 08, 2011, 08:15:02 am »
I was thinking it would be pretty fun if we could all share some of our favourite musics with one another. Mostly, you know, music that we haven't really heard before. Share some unique stuff, that you think is different or just generally unheard of. Give it a go, it will be fun.

I'll start! Obviously. And yeah, I've done this in alphabetical order, and my list is a bit long. Deal widdit.

If you have a last.fm, be sure to befriend each other!
http://www.last.fm/user/Hoffy17

Song - Artist - Album

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxJRnegO1cI" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxJRnegO1cI</a>
You Me - Adebisi Shank - This Is The Album Of A Band Called Adebisi Shank
Adebisi Shank are sort of known for mixing electric sound with math rock. Essentially they just rock out really hard and it sounds truly epic. This song has one of the best build-ups I've heard.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUG2F3zq6VM" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUG2F3zq6VM</a>
Sting Operation - Anamanaguchi - Power Supply
Simply, Anamanaguchi are a chiptunes band and one of their instruments is a hacked NES. 'Nuff said.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEZ-m61dBKY" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEZ-m61dBKY</a>
Just A Boy - Angus & Julia Stone - A Book Like This
Australian siblings, Angus & Julia are a little bit folky, and a little bit indie. Very solemn, very sad, beautiful music.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Euj9f3gdyM" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Euj9f3gdyM</a>
The Suburbs - Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
We should all be very much familiar with Arcade Fire, but perhaps you haven't got around to their new album released in 2010, The Suburbs. The album's opening track of the same name is something to be celebrated, encompassing the album as a whole - Arcade Fire's third studio-produced album manages to hold up as well as the last couple did. Bravo.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpqm-05R2Jk" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpqm-05R2Jk</a>
Since I Left You - The Avalanches - Since I Left You
The Avalanches are a weird mix of dance, electronica and "plunderphonics". They're Australian, and this video clip exemplifies that. It's a really brilliant clip, and just a nice song.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpGp-22t0lU" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpGp-22t0lU</a>
Atlas - Battles - Mirrored
You should really listen to this song. It's math rock, it's experimental - but that doesn't even begin to explain this kind of sound. Have a good listen to this magical stuff. I'm fairly sure this song was featured on the PS3 game LittleBigPlanet, so you might know it.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcikcvmPlkU" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcikcvmPlkU</a>
Catamaran - Bear Vs. Shark - Terrorhawk
A post-hardcore rock band, with a little bit of punk.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YYlwzJXNtI" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YYlwzJXNtI</a>
The Sea Is Rising - Bliss N Eso - Flying Colours
And now for something completely different. BNE are an Australian hip-hop band. They very much represent the unique genre that is Aussie hip-hop, and while their songs are usually about having a good time, a lot of their songs also carry political messages.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wKFpByU7DA" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wKFpByU7DA</a>
Warp 1.9 - The Bloody Beetroots - Romborama
The Bloody Beetroots have quickly risen to become one of the leading names in electronic dance. An Italian duo, I always liked this song for it's use of shouting in a dance context.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldBhDmvWFXE" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldBhDmvWFXE</a>
Vitriol - Bluejuice - Problems
It's hard to explain Bluejuice. They sort of fit into Aussie "abstract" hip-hop, though no one can say. It's "too straight for funk, too groovy for indie rock and too sweaty for pop". And Vitriol is just a very fun track.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfAS6nwYc9g" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfAS6nwYc9g</a>
Skinny Love - Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
Justin Vernon just makes beautiful music. There's really not much else to say. I chose this video of a live performance of Skinny Love, because this performance actually made me cry a little.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5aZh261KZWI" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5aZh261KZWI</a>
Lua - Bright Eyes - I'm Wide Awake It's Morning
You can't really introduce a person to Conor Oberst with just one song, but this will have to do. He's not the best singer in the world, everyone agrees on that, but he's still one of the most amazing singer-songwriters around.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3aiPuDjkyxk" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3aiPuDjkyxk</a>
The Car Song - The Cat Empire - Two Shoes
More Australian music, Cat Empire are described as "a fusion of jazz, funk and rock with heavy latin / salsa influences (not to mention reggae, ska and dub)." Just really wild, all-round fun music.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abJYXY3mPjs" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abJYXY3mPjs</a>
Welcome Home - Coheed And Cambria - Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume 1: From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness
For all the progressive rock nuts out their, this song will surely tickle your fancy. Welcome Home is an epic piece of music, and Coheed deliver it with power, strength and emotion. Look out for that two-minute solo, it'll getcha.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5__Ogi4Tek" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5__Ogi4Tek</a>
Around The World / Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger - Daft Punk - Alive 2007
Everyone already knows and loves Daft Punk, but I really love Daft Punk. This is probably one of their most genius mixes, which they performed on their last major tour. Feel this music. It makes me happy to be able to hear at all.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jduFDgIr598" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jduFDgIr598</a>
A Lack Of Color - Death Cab For Cutie - Transatlanticism
Some emo !@#$%, Death Cab are actually good with what they do. And this is certainly their nicest song. Have a go if you're feeling a bit heartbroken.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32X-ieCav-M" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32X-ieCav-M</a>
Building Steam With A Grain Of Salt - DJ Shadow - Endtroducing...
It's easy to get taken by DJ Shadow. A trip-hop artist, this track in particular features thorough exploitation of instrumentation and ambience, in a weird, dystopian, hip-hop setting. You gotta hear it to believe it.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUFT_7iQ24I" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUFT_7iQ24I</a>
I Want You So Hard (Boy's Bad News) - Eagles of Death Metal - Death By Sexy
Fall in love with American garage rock, with the Eagles of Death Metal. They do rock out pretty hard, these guys, with or without their !@#$% out. Have a good go of this track, if you don't know it already.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvYb5XNVESg" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvYb5XNVESg</a>
Mouths Like Sidewinder Missiles - The Fall Of Troy - Doppelganger
Fall Of Troy remains to be my favourite band of all time, though, they're not very popular, and they've since broken up. Combining post-hardcore with progressive and experimental math rock, their sound is unlike anything. Have a good listen to this track, it's not my favourite, but it exemplifies a lot of what they do.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sszAVSx4Wwo" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sszAVSx4Wwo</a>
Dog Days Are Over - Florence + The Machine - Lungs
Though it's a little bit girly, UK artist Florence Welch is one of my favourite musicians, and her band is one of my absolute favourites. Dog Days pretty much shows off everything you need to know about Florence - her quirky indie pop style, her amazing voice and brilliant use of percussion, her hipster fascinations... marry me, Florence Welch!

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARu_XbUg8bo" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARu_XbUg8bo</a>
Cassius - Foals - Antidotes
You're most likely well-acquainted with Foals, and their top track, Cassius. A kind of dance-punk and indie rock band, it's easy to get this song stuck in your head all day. "Cassius it's over, you're second best..."

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thPtke544bE" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thPtke544bE</a>
Burn Bridges - The Grates - Teeth Lost, Hearts Won
Probably the most bizarre, most obscure song on this list, The Grates are very much Australian. They create a strong mix of rock and indie, especially in their wild song, Burn Bridges.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSFT2OKcdk0" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSFT2OKcdk0</a>
Nosebleed Section - Hilltop Hoods - The Calling
Hilltop's about as Aussie as they come. The true heart of Aussie Hip-Hop, Nosebleed is probably the first song I ever truly loved, getting me into music altogether. It might not capture you, but I still cherish it to this day.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThKNt-GY1ww" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThKNt-GY1ww</a>
Genesis - Justice - †
If there's anyone who can make club house music better than Daft Punk, it would have to be Justice. I love Justice. You might already be familiar with the French duo, their track Waters of Nazareth features on DJ Hero 2, and you'd surely have heard the song D.A.N.C.E. somewhere ("Do the D-A-N-C-E, one two three four fight!"). This track, "Genesis" was featured on a trailer for Assassin's parkour, and it was also featured in the first DJ Hero game - to promote the game, actually. Get around it.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YtfH8tEdSc" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YtfH8tEdSc</a>
Montreal - Kaki King - Dreaming Of Revenge
Mostly instrumental, Ms. King prides herself on her unique indie sound. Have a listen to the beautiful bassline in Montreal, and watch out for the dual drum kits!

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wieOAsCavjI" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wieOAsCavjI</a>
King of the Rodeo - Kings of Leon - Aha Shake Heartbreak
Before Kings of Leon were burning themselves during sexual intercourse, they were a little more on the "alternative", "indie" side of the music industry, and they weren't as widely known as they are now. Essentially, they sold out. But their old sound can still be found in such fun tracks as King of the Rodeo. Have a listen.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cdSiAgz1XU" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cdSiAgz1XU</a>
Inertiatic ESP - The Mars Volta - De-Loused In The Comatorium
You might be familiar with The Mars Volta. A lot of their songs are incredibly difficult to listen to... kind of exhausting actually. Their psychedelic progressive rock is also chock-full of cultural influences and some wild imagery. That's why I like it. Their lyrics make no sense, and are heavily LSD-inspired. This song isn't such a hard listen, I could've given you something much heavier.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIEOZCcaXzE" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIEOZCcaXzE</a>
Kids - MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
Okay, so you've probably heard this song twenty-seven-thousand times. But the truth is, their psychedelic sound, mixed in with their electronica and indie pop-like nature, really allows MGMT to stand out among the bunch. I always liked this song because it represents the loss of childhood, the denial of adulthood, and the lost limbo in-between. There's just no other sound like it.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSKrrMb9bnE" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSKrrMb9bnE</a>
Blood - The Middle East - Recordings Of The Middle East
An Australian indie/folk group, the recordings of the The Middle East are nothing short of beautiful. The calming and gentle song "Blood" tells a wonderful story of death, loss and heartbreak, accompanied by the hypnotic and somewhat joyful cries of the band members. Lovely.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxL9Hod_qCY" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxL9Hod_qCY</a>
Little Secrets - Passion Pit - Manners
There's no reason this song shouldn't put you in a good mood. Hell, it always does for me. While it will always remain a mystery how a grown adult man can get his voice that high, it surely adds to Passion Pit's fun, electronic indie-pop endeavours. It's a "feel good" kind of sound.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3AoiVMQqX4" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3AoiVMQqX4</a>
New Noise - Refused - The Shape Of Punk To Come
Yes, Refused are well and truly dead, but their sound lives on. Truly ahead of their time, Refused defined the post-hardcore genre in the '90s with their, well, "new noise". Listen for the history lesson, if not for the great punk sound.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHTSxw6zN1E" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHTSxw6zN1E</a>
Australia - The Shins - Wincing The Night Away
Another feel-good song, The Shins are one of the more popular indie bands out there. They have a similar sound to Modest Mouse, in case you don't know. This song in particular is one of their most wonderful... it has nothing to do with Australia, it was just simply written here.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-mxBDuRaZ8" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-mxBDuRaZ8</a>
Lazy Eye - Silversun Pickups - Carnavas
An alternative rock/"showgaze" band, Silversun are kind of an odd mix between Modest Mouse and The Smashing Pumpkins... and probably one of the ugliest-looking bands out there. I always liked this song Lazy Eye, because, well, I have a lazy eye. And it's just generally a good song.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cX6HfP4p9A" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cX6HfP4p9A</a>
I Want To Hear What You Got To Say - The Subways - Young For Eternity
A British garage rock band, The Subways are just a bunch of indie kids with feelings. Their track "I Want To Hear What You Got To Say" is one of their best.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07pLGIgyfjw" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07pLGIgyfjw</a>
Stinkfist - Tool - Ænima
We all know Tool. They're fairly big, like, everywhere, pretty much. Their style of progressive/alternative metal has been celebrated for years. In case you haven't heard their sound though, there's no better track to introduce yourself than Stinkfist. Enjoy the video clip, it's pretty cool.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3CSzXzELjo" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3CSzXzELjo</a>
Pwntendo - Venetian Snares - Cavalcade Of Glee And Dadaist Happy Hardcore Pom Poms
This'll be a little harder to take in. I mean, it will hurt your ears at first. Don't be fooled by the film clip, this isn't some weird tribute to the NES and other 8-bit games. This is really heavy IDM/breakcore/electronica music, and it sounds brilliant. There's a lot of noise going on, and a really great rhythm too. Give it a try, if you're up for it.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pib8eYDSFEI" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pib8eYDSFEI</a>
Crystalised - The xx - xx
Welcome to The xx. They're sound is something really special, unique, dark, sexual, delectable and melancholic. The use of "vocal duets, low-end frequencies and emotive 80s guitar sounds" sets a really beautiful mood never before seen. There's a reason a lot of people are going on about The xx, and it's because their sound is really something else.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAZEcg8NLtM" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAZEcg8NLtM</a>
Drove Through Ghosts To Get Here - 65daysofstatic - One Time For All Time
An instrumental/post-math rock/electronic band, 65daysofstatic are almost a mix between DJ Shadow and Venetian Snares, with a little bit of Adebisi Shank in there too. This music will definitely make you feel things.

5
Graphics / Oracle of Hours - overworld, dungeon maps.
« on: January 07, 2011, 08:53:14 am »
I guess a lot of people have seen this before. Apparently VGMaps had done a hoax for the April Fools Day of 2008, where they had tiled and released a bunch of maps for the "supposed" third Oracle game, which they titled Oracle of Hours.

http://vgmaps.com/NewsArchives/April2008/index.htm#LegendOfZeldaOracleOfHours

Pretty interesting, even all of the dungeons are detailed. It's not hard to tell that it's all fake, but it's a lot of effort nonetheless. I'm not a huge fan of the overworld, but you gotta give these guys kudos for effort.

6
Entertainment / A Hoffy Review: Super Mario 64
« on: December 24, 2009, 07:26:13 am »
A Hoffy Review:
Super Mario 64




Developer: Nintendo EAD
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date:
Nintendo 64: USA: September 26, 1996, AUST: March 1, 1997
Virtual Console: USA: November 19, 2006, AUST: December 7, 2006
Genre: Platform
Rating: E (ESRB), G (OFLC)
Platform: Nintendo 64, Virtual Console
Players: 1


Hoffy reviewed the Nintendo 64 version of Super Mario 64.

Call me old fashioned, or just plain old, but there's something about the games of the past that just seem to tickle a certain something in this "aged" gamer. If you were introduced to gaming at a young age, you will, like me, have a game that shines vibrantly in your memory. There was something about taking control of the characters on the screen that enticed the young imagination, and conjured excitement with the thought of exploring a real, living, breathing, 3-D world as if you were really there. As such, I was lucky to play Super Mario 64 at the age that I did. Given, there are more primitive games out there which I could have played and in turn received similar feelings of adventure, but none are quite so magical as Super Mario 64. Something about going to your brother's friend's house at the age of six and seeing a semi-familiar plumber dressed in red explore an uninhabited castle, and approach the ominous final frontier of an evil demon turtle, only to be halted by an endless flight of stairs... I'm possibly getting ahead of myself here. I was recently lucky enough to find the time to play and finish this masterpiece for, I think, the fifth time. Join me on my trip down nostalgia lane, will you?


Oh what have they done to you, Bowser?!

Gameplay: 10.0
The key thing to understand about playing Super Mario 64 in 2009 is that - though it holds up extremely well - everything the game did in the '90s has been tried, tested, examined and refined by future developers. One need only look to Nintendo's 2007 Wii release Super Mario Galaxy, and it's clear that the gameplay mechanics of the N64 game have been much improved on. Hell, even Rare's 1998 Banjo-Kazooie perfected a lot of the things Mario 64 did, not to mention every other notable third-person adventure that has been released since the plumber's debut into 3-D. And while it's important to remember that it was Mario 64 that lay the foundation for all console platformers and third-person action/adventure games to come, it's perhaps more important to appreciate exactly where Mario 64 came from, how well the project requirements were realised, and how well the game stands up today. Friggin' brilliantly.

"Super Mario 64 is a game that meets the player's expectations, and does what they expect it to do, while surprising the player all the same, and rewarding them on their intuitiveness and ingenuity."

Super Mario 64 was released as a launch game for the Nintendo 64, and has since been ported - to be downloaded - to the Wii's Virtual Console for 1,000 Wii Points. The game was also remade as a launch game for the Nintendo DS in 2004, complete with extra content. Shigeru Miyamoto, the game's director and all-round game-designing legend, had this vision of translating the Mushroom Kingdom into 3-D, and as such, it can be concluded that in many ways Super Mario 64 was sort of the developer's playground; a test stage for Nintendo, as they worked through the challenge of designing their first third-person 3-D adventure game.


Pictured: The coolest thing ever: The Metal Cap.

Luckily, Miyamoto-san is a smart man, and his outstanding directing and vigilant attention to the player's experience was enough to grant the game with exceptional control. Control; that's where Super Mario 64 excels. Not just in the presence of all kinds of jumps - standard jumps, double jumps, triple jumps, side flips, back flips, wall jumps, long jumps; to name them all - not just in the vast array of melee attacks, swimming styles (though somewhat clumsy by today's standards) and other basic actions, but in the clear-cut design of making a game that meets the player's expectations, and does what they expect it to do, while surprising the player all the same, and rewarding them on their intuitiveness and ingenuity. If Mario turns around a sharp corner, the camera should bloody-well follow him. Sure, there are C-buttons there to control the camera, but why leave that to the gamer? Genius, Miyamoto-san, genius! Mario 64 is about including a wealth of enemies, each with their own methods of attack, behaviours and weak-points, that show up regularly to keep the game fresh. It's about perfecting Mario's physics, while still leaving in some room for intentional discrepancy - Mario slips and slides around at the conclusion of a sprint, but only a little bit, as he's always done. Players learn to become Mario, learn to handle his jumps, learn about his world, learn to take down foes, learn to traverse tricky platforms, learn to fly and swim under conditions (partly due to the somewhat-clumsy implementation) and learn to expect the unexpected in the Mushroom Kingdom. "Oh, a cannon, I bet if I just jumped in and aimed...", "Maybe if I could grab and hold onto that mesh on the ceiling, I could get past the quicksand...", "Well I need to walk on the sea floor, so I'll just put on this metal cap and make myself heavy...", "I'll just stomp on this flower enemy, oh wait, now I'm whirling through the air! Maybe I could use that to..." The game does what you expect it to do, while still bringing the surprises. Super Mario 64 isn't the perfect game, but it affirms everything a perfect game should be.

"These worlds are so fantastic, and Nintendo knows it."

Aside from exquisite control, Super Mario 64 also boasts amazing level design... and it's a good thing too. This is a 3-D platform game after all, so true to the genre, the game forces players to jump from platform to platform in 3-D, which was an entirely new thing in 1996. Luckily, the game eases the player into the art of 3-D platforming, as the first world features a vast open battlefield with a tall mountain to climb, then slowly moves onto some other worlds featuring tall towers and narrow walkways over vast chasms, only to wrap up the game on what is perhaps one of the most delicately-and-dangerously-designed worlds in all platform games, Rainbow Ride. These worlds are so fantastic, and Nintendo knows it - they even give you the opportunity to view the entire world, flying from up above, as you don the Wing Cap, one of three power-ups in the game.


Exploding pyramids?! This game has everything!

Back to platforming though, there's a lot of it, as Nintendo revolutionises the platform genre into a non-linear fashion, where the player accesses a growing selection of worlds from a central hub world, and then selects a wealth of missions within that world. Overall, there are 15 enormous stages to explore, each different in theme, and across them, 120 stars to collect. And they're not all easy either, so expect a decently lengthy playthrough with an enormous variation in content.

It's a perfect ten in this category, hands down.

"It's a testament to Nintendo's attention to the player's experience."

Graphics: 8.5
It takes a number of years for developers to learn their way around the hardware for these consoles, and to get the most out of the development kit. As such, Super Mario 64's graphics, when compared to say, Conker's Bad Fur Day, Perfect Dark, Rayman 2 and Majora's Mask... well, there's no comparison. Super Mario 64 was an N64 launch game, and as such the textures are particularly bland and low-resolution, the real-time shadows are simple, particle effects are plain, draw distances are poor (Tick Tock Clock) and some models (particularly Bowser's) are just retarded. But, working within their understanding of the new system, it's clear the graphic artists excelled in their ability to bring a particular taste and feel to each world. The heat is felt in Shifting Sands Land with vast, sandy landscapes and whirling whirlwinds, Dire Dire Docks is brought to life with its deep oceanic pools featuring various marine life moving about, and other worlds like Bob-omb Battlefield, Whomp's Fortress and Tall, Tall Mountain feel like they're the classic levels of Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World, rendered in glorious 3-D. Though these worlds possess distinct technical limitations, there's no doubt that they also possess their own distinct flavour, even today, and for that, the graphics of Super Mario 64 hold their own.


The Penguin, a significant character... for some reason.

Sound: 9.0
Sound was another obvious step-up from the Super Nintendo when the Nintendo 64 was released. As a launch game, Super Mario 64 showcased the "new sound" of gaming with an array of catchy MIDI tracks that played on each world. Some songs aren't quite as memorable as others, at least compared to older Mario games, though there's no doubt that they, like the visuals, brings each world to life. This is namely accredited to composer Koji Kondo's idea of introducing layers to the background music as the player moves throughout the game. Diving down to the sunken ship in Jolly Roger's Bay will introduce a set of orchestral strings (in MIDI of course) to emphasise the wonder and marvel of the exploration and discovery. The sound changes dynamically like this across the entire game; a testament to Nintendo's attention to the player's experience. Sounds effects are also decent, and it'd all be well and good if Nintendo hadn't repeated the same background music on multiple worlds. Otherwise, the tunes are still unforgettably superb and still hold up fantastically even in 2009.

"It's a marvel that Super Mario 64 still plays fantastically in 2009."

Story: 5.0
Recognisable hero Mario Mario turns up at Castle Toadstool one day, after receiving a letter from Princess Peach detailing that she has baked a cake for him. Not even concerned as to whether or not the cake is a lie, Mario rocks up at the castle only to be informed by a ghostly Toad that all of the castle's inhabitants have been locked up in the walls by Bowser's minions, and it's Mario duty to travel into the worlds in the walls via paintings and collect the power stars to bring back control of the castle from King Bowser. Like all Mario games, this plot is more than basic, provides little depth and character development, and progresses sluggishly, if at all. Still, Mario 64's plot is basic enough to instruct the kiddies on what they should be doing, and for the story's ability to aid the gameplay in that sense, it earns a nice, round five. Oh and by the way, and sorry for spoilers, but the cake totally isn't a lie.


oshi---

Overall: 9.7
Amazing control, brilliant level design, tonnes of missions, great platforming puzzles, great tunes, themed worlds, Metal Cap.
Swimming and flying are clumsy, camera sometimes very dodgey.
It's a marvel that Super Mario 64 was developed and released at the time that it was. For a developer working on their first real 3-D game on one of the first real 3-D home consoles in history, it's a marvel that Super Mario 64 still plays fantastically in 2009. But even more significant than this milestone, is that it is truly amazing that Super Mario 64 can touch the imagination of a child, inspiring them to value the art of exploration. This reviewer certainly forgives this game for infiltrating his mind and influencing his dreams in weird and wonderful ways, because there's no doubt that Mario 64 is one of the greatest adventure games ever released. It'll be impossible to forget fighting against that strong wind as I went to challenge Bowser for the last time, it'll be impossible to forget spending hours and hours on Tick Tock Clock trying to collect one hundred coins, and it will be impossible to forget climbing the hill to approach Castle Toadstool for the first time to open those grand doors - a memory I think will never leave any of us. An incredible game. Here we go, indeed, it'sa you, Mario.

7
Updates / A Hoffy Report.
« on: April 13, 2009, 01:42:18 am »

April 13, 2009
irc.kbfail.net #zfgc

1. News-Desk!
2. Guess The Game!


News-Desk!

Explodemon! The New Animal-Collecting Craze?!

-- No, not quite. Though, as a lover of these kinds of games, it's not hard to appreciate what Curve Games Studios is pulling out. Explodemon is a 2.5D action-platformer which is to be brought to WiiWare, Playstation Network and PC, hopefully sometime this year. The developers have described Explodemon as a love letter to anyone who cherished the Japanese action-sidescrollers characteristic of the Super Nintendo era, noting the game as a mixture between Half-Life 2, Mega Man, Super Metroid, Street Fighter II, and Halo. Players will be able to detonate the character, solve physics-based puzzles, and rofl at the typos in the dialogue, which have been placed there deliberately. This be one to keep an eye on!

Final Fantasy - Guaranteed More Fantasies To Come!

-- Get back in that old RPG mood, FFXIII is on the horizon... keeping in mind it's coming to 360 and PS3. The demo is all set to hit the Japanese online market sometime this week, but for the rest of the world, we'll just have to wait. The demo plays through roughly the first hour of the game, where the players sink their teeth into some spastically-designed futuristic world, with a returning real-time battle system and a story so ridiculous you'd need thirteen play-throughs to understand it properly. Players take control of multiple characters, including a hot brunette dubbed Lightning, who is required to bring down the city of Cocoon, against her own will, for some reason. Rest assured, !@#$%'s gonna get crazy.

Trains Make a Choo-Choo Noise!

-- I'm fully aware that we're a Zelda forum, which makes me feel somewhat lazy not to have posted a news article detailing the new Zelda game in some way. Rest assured, I am actually good at this news thing. I'm not bad at what I do! Anyhow, those with memories spans shorter than their fish-sticks surely won't remember the new Zelda game announced for Nintendo DS at GDC '09. Well, there's a new Zelda, dubbed "Spirit Tracks", where you drive trains. There's not much else to derive from the trailer, except that you can command those phantoms from the last game that were so pissed off at you for going into their temple. Other features include some kind of retarded gun that fires tornadoes, or something, I don't know.

Oh, and don't forget...
-- Wii has a storage solution, FINALLY. Feel free to connect your white boxes to the interbutts and get that update-thingie. It lets you run shizzle from your SD-pizzle.
-- Assassin's parkour 2 is made official, there's a trailer somewhere. Whoop-dee-doo.
-- Picked up a DSi yet? 'Course you haven't. Well, they're out if you want one.
-- March is gone and done, and April hasn't given much yet. For those still in the March spirit (?), you can express yourselves wildly in the Wii's "mature" MadWorld, the DS' Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, the multiplatform Resident Evil 5... oh, and Pokemon Platinum, if you're that sort of person.


Guess The Game!



Don't try too hard (Hint: It's in the filename).



Got a suggestion for this article? Wanna help out somehow? Do you think the title is too exclusive? I kinda do... If any of the above questions catch your fancy, post a post and get helpin'. We need you, baby!

8
Entertainment / For all the things the 360 does right...
« on: April 03, 2009, 08:39:45 am »
... the Wii does some stuff better.

Case in point: backwards compatibility. Anyone who says "all the Xbox originals you could possibly want to play on the 360 have patches available" is a damn liar. Now I didn't own an Xbox, mainly because there was nothing good on it, but my friend was so kind as to let me borrow Beyond Good & Evil, one of the most highly-acclaimed games of the generation past. I was looking forward to playing it, so much so that I decided to sign up to Xbox LIVE finally (Hoffy17, add me if you will, etc) and get the necessary patches and what not. With my idiot brain in tact, it took me an hour or so to figure out that there wasn't a goddamn patch for it. One of the best games ever (apparently), and there's no support to play it on a current-generation console, when there damn well should be.

Forgive me saying so, but it's nice to be able to turn on my Wii and just play my large selection of GameCube games, without having to pull out the purple little lunch box to do so. Every game is playable, for some reason, I don't really know why, or care. I sound ignorant in saying that, sure, but point is, the games are playable. They just are. Granted it would be nice not to have to change controllers on the Wii all the friggin' time, but... Nintendo do as Nintendo do. 

Actually, after my experience with the 360, I find there are several things the Wii does better. I was confused today to find the 360 needed a wireless adapter to connect to my router, where the Wii doesn't. Luckily I had a semi-broken Ethernet cable lying around... which is annoying because I'd rather not go out and buy a $27,000 wireless adapter. Micro$oft just wants my money? Indeed.

I'm not trying to take a shot at the anti-Nintendo fanboys here, I'm just saying this backwards compatibility issue bothered me quite a lot. Actually, there are a lot of things I like about the 360. I started to play around with LIVE, and I think it's great. The integration of the online components are seamless, which is the way it should be. Bit worried about my download limits, though, but you get that.

... My rant!

9
Updates / A Hoffy Article: Indie Games You Should Damn-Well Play.
« on: March 16, 2009, 08:20:16 am »
   You know there are some good independent games out there. Furthermore, you know you haven't played them, and you know you don't exactly care too much. I'm here to tell you that as a gamer, you should care. I, myself, have recently become somewhat tired with the current generation of consoles, finding the "blockbuster" attitude to be superficial, and boring. I miss the days where games didn't have to make sense - they just had to have some kind of ridiculous idea. You know, building a story around a gameplay idea, not vice versa.
   It's a really nice, fuzzy feeling to know that other developers from around the intarwebs agree with this attitude, and have taken the initiative to devise, plan and create their own piece-o'-crap games. In my honest opinion, you should see these games. You should play these games. You should learn from these games. They're just that good - I'd play them over Gears of War or Grand Theft Auto IV any day.



Spelunky



http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=4017.0

   Have you heard of Spelunky? If you haven't, that's most probably a compliment to your obsession with nonsensical, little games. If you have, you're my kind of guy. For independent game developers, Spelunky would have been the Game of the Year for 2008, the latest version being released on December 21st. Spelunky is, as the name implies, an adventure game involving the exploration of a deep, dark cave. The game is - in every sense of the word - random, as developer Derek has used Game Maker to create a world that generates random rooms, enemy positions, and item placements every time you play. Most gamers only dream of a feature like this - and Spelunky does it right. This game still requires tactics, and serves up a great deal of challenge. It's ridiculously hard, and just as addictive... my friend is still trying to win, after over a month of playing nearly non-stop. Spelunky, we love you.



Jump On Mushrooms: The Game



http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=4724.0

   What the hell is Jump On Mushrooms? Sounds (and looks) like a fan game, doesn't it? Well, it would be, if it were anything at all like any Mario game ever made. Actually, that's not true, it's a lot like a lot of Mario games, just... backwards. Yes, this is Super Mario Bros. backwards, if you can even deem that at all possible in your head. You have to start at the end of the level, and run (backwards) through the world, un-collecting coins you would have collected, and un-killing enemies you would have killed. What makes this game even more of a trip is that if you somehow stomp on an enemy twice, you create a time paradox - and you have to start again. Yes, this is Mario on mushrooms. Get into it, all the cools kids are doing it.



Legend of Princess



http://www.konjak.org/

   Chances are, you've actually heard of Legend of Princess, on our own forums. If you haven't, what the hell dude, you're missing out. Legend of Princess is exactly what it looks like it is - an arcade version of The Legend of Zelda. It's all action, not much else, actually. You run through the Dirt Temple, stomping Octoroks, Keese and Tektites with one of your many weapons (including your bow, boomerang, Roc's Feather and even a Cucco), and you take on two mini-bosses, as well as a boss. It's not a complete game, but it is decently long, challenging and entertaining. It's what Zelda would be if it had a little Metal Slug mixed into it. It's also really friggin' pretty, and sounds great.



Eversion



http://zarat.us/tra/offline-games/eversion.html

   Eversion is a pretty, colourful, childish platformer, a lot like Kirby, where you run through the world, collecting gems, increasing your score, stomping enemies, and completing puzzles based on platforming. At least, that's what I'd like to say. No really, I would love to say that. Eversion is quite possibly one of the scariest games I've come to face in my years as a gamer. I won't spoil the surprise, but you may want to come prepared before you play this game. You'll literally feel like you've woken up from a nightmare. If Jump On Mushrooms was an acid trip, this is a trip to Hell and back. Whatever you do, make sure you come prepared to solve some ridiculous puzzles. Oh yes, and don't play this game with the lights out. It's friggin' creepy. Cute platformer with a dark secret? Not wrong.



Iji



http://www.remar.se/daniel/iji.php

   Iji. Remember Iji? You should remember Iji. She was in one of ZFGC's own character competitions. Now, Iji has her own "Metroidvania"-type platformer, focusing largely on action, story and puzzle-solving. What Iji has that a lot of these other games don't is a load of content. Not only are the stages of decent size, but the game also features alternate paths based on your actions and how you go about the game. And I'm not just talking new areas - you will get different cutscenes, that actually progress the story in different ways. Metal Gear fans rejoice, and play Iji.



   And there's plenty more games out there, as well. I didn't even begin to look at Aquaria, anything by Blendo Games (including Gravity Bone), or some others of Daniel Remar's games, not to mention Ahriman's Prophecy and Crazy Cross. See, there's a lot out there if you just look!

10
Entertainment / Resident Evil 5.
« on: March 03, 2009, 06:40:38 am »
So for me, it comes out in 10 days. March, Friday the 13th. Considering how much I loved Resident Evil 4, this is a very big thing for me. RE4 pretty much ranks my second-favourite game of all time, due to excellent gameplay and AI, great graphics, cinematic story and the rest.

I can't exactly say I'm a diehard Resident Evil fan, because honestly I really haven't played ANY of the previous Resident Evil games (just read plot summaries etc). And from what I understand RE5 may focus largely on past plot points and whatnot that I haven't seen before, so this could be interesting. But I didn't really play RE4 for the story, rather the gameplay. Hopefully RE5's story will be just as good, and also scarier. I've been looking forward to RE5 since 2005, so, yeah :P.

Is anyone else getting it/looking forward to it?

11
Entertainment / A Hoffy Review: Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts.
« on: January 25, 2009, 12:29:28 pm »
A Hoffy Review:
Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts




Developer: Rare Ltd.
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Release Date: USA: November 12, 2008, AUST: November 20, 2008
Genre: Platformer, Vehicle Construction
Rating: E10+ (ESRB), G (OFLC)
Platform: Xbox 360
Players: 1 (Local), 2-8 (Online)


And so we find ourselves strapped back into the world of the bear and the bird. It's been eight long years since the dynamic duo's last console outing, a little too long by some fanboy's accounts. Of course, when the game was revealed in 2006 it couldn't help but get fans excited - even if the title wasn't to be compatible with any Nintendo console, there was still that yearning to explore themed worlds, round up the Notes and earn the Jiggies. Of course, it wasn't until 2008 when Rare revealed the main gameplay mechanic, and fans became slightly turned off. Vehicles. Vehicles? In Banjo? Well, whatever. Might be good. Could suck, I guess. Such was the reaction by gamers and critics alike. It was a bold move by Rare - getting Banjo behind the wheel was something many fans would never have expected they'd have to do; but hey, anything to "broaden the demographic", right? Well, maybe. Let's investigate.


Welcome home, buddy.

Gameplay: 7.5
The interesting thing about Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts is that even though it appears like a relatively childish game, the skill you need to surpass majority of the challenges is overwhelmingly high, at least by the standard of a child gamer. Unless the child is some kind of engineering mastermind (at least for their age), they may have a lot of trouble getting by in Nuts & Bolts. Obviously, the fundamental game mechanic, and the salient point for this game is the vehicle design. Before you shrug off the game for being totally different to the other Banjo games, you should at least understand that this system is complex, robust, refined, plentiful and fun - albeit different.

"By the end of the game, properly and thoroughly designing one vehicle can take over half an hour."

Becoming the garage mechanic in Banjo's world involves taking into account several aspects of vehicle design. You can't just whack a couple of wheels here and there, add a propeller and place the engine wherever you damn well please. A little bit like Super Mario Galaxy, you need to take gravity into account with your vehicular platforming. Weight distribution in the car is incredibly important - otherwise, when you take your vehicles out into the big wide world, you'll find they'll be incredibly cumbersome to maneuver. This means, depending on what you're building, you need to find a balance between the number of fuel tanks and engines you're using, and where they are in relation to the body parts, the wheels, and of course, Banjo. Once you've actually got all the essentials on your vehicle, you need to protect all of it by adding body parts, and if you will, grenade launchers, flamethrowers, ammo, and so fourth. From there, you can add accessories like stereos, wings and windscreens, to other essentials like fuel replenishers and invisibility cloaks. And then you have the option to paint it, or take it for a test spin, and see for yourself if it goes and looks like you want. It's a system that becomes much more complicated as the game progresses and more parts are unlocked. By the end of the game, properly and thoroughly designing one vehicle can take over half an hour.


Drugs are bad, mmmkay.

For some, this system will be incredibly monotonous, laborious, frustrating and boring. The fact of the matter is, there are over one hundred challenges in the game, and very few of them actually provide you with a pre-made vehicle to drive. A lot of these challenges will require you to step back into Mumbo's Motors and design a new vehicle, or at least modify an older one. Rare have taken a few leaps to promise that these close-minded and annoyed gamers will never have to make a vehicle ever, with the inclusion of Humba Wumba's own pre-made vehicles, which can be bought and used freely. Though, many of these vehicles don't perform up to the standard that will make some of the later, harder challenges any easier, and they also take away the whole point of the game, which is to express one's own imagination and creativity in vehicle design. Basically, everyone's going to need to make a vehicle at some point. And if you don't want to, this game isn't for you.

"Kids may be overwhelmed by the amount of work they need to do to make a good vehicle."

I myself was actually very skeptical about the vehicle designing mechanic at first, but after really getting in there and setting out to make some really great, handy vehicles, I ended up having a lot of fun. With the amount of parts you can collect, you are really limited to your imagination in what you can create. I had an absolute ball, designing race cars, fuel-jet rocket ships and shuttles, helicopters, carrier jets, bi-planes, motorbikes, hovercrafts, trucks, taxis, battle tanks, and even some off-the-wall stuff that really can't be categorised as a rational vehicle. It is a lot of fun when you put time and effort into it, and it's incredibly rewarding to see your masterpiece perform better than expected, thanks to careful planning and design. Sharing your blueprints with friends over Xbox Live is also a welcomed, yet necessary feature.


Vrrrm vrrrm.

Rest assured, none of this stuff is Banjo at heart - but the space-stuff in Mario Galaxy wasn't Mario, and the sailing and wind control in Wind Waker wasn't Zelda. Again, this is new, and this is fun. Few games have managed to pull off such a system so well, and certainly if you liked this sort of stuff in F-Zero then you'll love it here. At the same time, it's certainly not for everyone, and especially kids may be overwhelmed by the amount of work they need to do to make a good vehicle. And honestly, I can't see many kids doing this right. I certainly would have sucked at it if I was five-years-old.

"There's not nearly enough platforming here to satisfy the purists."

Beyond the vehicle design, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts is no different to Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie. You've still got massive themed worlds to explore, of which there are seven including the hub world and the final stage (which is relatively smaller). And in these worlds, you're still expected to search out the Jiggies, the Notes, and the Jinjos. There are some changes, though. Collecting Jiggies is not the same in the themed worlds as it was in the past games. You can't just find the Jiggy, figure out how you're going to get it, and then unleash some platforming wit to do so. Rather than finding the Jiggy, you locate the cute, little character who has the Jiggy, in which they will initiate some kind of mini-game that will earn you the jigsaw piece, and then some. This system would be fine if it weren't for the extreme repetitiveness that came with the tasks - generally all challenges will involve racing, escorting, importing, exporting, ramming, defending, attacking, or a mixture. There isn't a great deal of variety to be had, despite some small twists that keep things slightly fresh. Over time though, players will definitely get bored and frustrated with the abundance and ever-increasing difficulty of these challenges, before they can round up all 131 Jiggies. It's hard to stay attentive when the game refuses to offer something new.


One little bear and bird balancing, step by step on a piece of string, thought it was such a wonderful stunt...

Something that may toss up some veterans is the lack of traditional platforming... every single challenge in every single world requires you to use a vehicle. The exception to this is the Note-collecting, which usually forces you to take a step out of your car for a couple seconds. There are also around fifty crates of vehicle parts that can be collected in the hub world, most of which require some balancing on tight-ropes, some climbing, and some good ol' fashioned jumping to obtain. Though, at the same time, there's not nearly enough platforming here to satisfy the purists, and for that, you're going to have to get to know your vehicles. Whether that's a disappointment really depends on what you were expecting.

"Rare can still uphold the tradition of crafting some excellent eye-candy."

There are plenty of challenges to keep you coming back, plenty of things to collect, and a difficulty level that's unrivaled to anything Mario can spit out. The controls are also very tight, though this will depend on how well you've designed your vehicles. The length of the game will vary on how dedicated you are to collect everything... there are 131 Jiggies, but you only need 75 to finish. With those numbers, the quest can range between 20 and 50 hours. Adding to this, the many little extra things there are to do around Showdown Town including Jinjo Bingo and a 2D arcade game designed by Klungo himself... there's definitely lots to keep everyone satisfied.


Bad bears, bad bears, whatcha gonna do...

Graphics: 9.0
It may be true, Kazooie said so herself. "All of the real talent at Rare left ages ago." But even with that, the new guys can still uphold the tradition of crafting some excellent eye-candy. Nutty Acres looks lush, Showdown Town is bustling with useless NPCs and Disney-styled architecture, and Banjoland brings classic worlds like Clanker's Cavern and Freezeezy Peak back to life in glorious high-definition pixels. Characters animate fluidly, the particle effects (especially explosions) are wonderful, the real-time lighting is nice and the water effects are second to none. The art style is also nothing to scoff at, as Rare deliver something true to the old Banjo games, as well as some new twists. Keeping true to the building aspect of the game, themed worlds are set inside "game globes", so all aspects of the level have been built, rather than looking natural. This means steel grating with a layer of green paint instead of grass, and television screens depicting the sky, in stead of... well, the sky. This is likely also a means to keep players from flying away in their new hot-air balloon and running into that oh-so-dreaded invisible barrier. It's a cool, new spin on the old, boring method, and there are certainly a lot of other graphical tidbits to inspect along the way. The all-too-often framerate drop brings the score down, though.

"This game relies on the old-school sound to work it's magic."

Sound: 9.5
The music in the older games were terrific, bringing an orchestration-type feel to the N64's MIDI capabilities. This time around, Rare have actually used an orchestra - wouldn't you believe. The strings, percussion and brass really add a new dimension to the background music in the Banjo universe, as many theme songs are sure to evoke a little bit of movement in your hips as you sit on the couch designing your new race car. Also expect a few songs to send some shivers down your spine, as you do battle with Gruntilda and explore the wonderfully weird Terrarium of Terror. Hearing the old tunes of Treasure Trove Cove, Mad Monster Mansion and Hailfire Peaks is sure to make old-time fans fall in love with Banjo-Kazooie all over again, as the classic tunes reel in those feelings of nostalgia. Though, a lot of the new themes are nowhere near as melodious, and are mostly forgettable... rest assured, this game relies on the old-school sound to work it's magic. Sound effects in the world are also very responsive, and the animal voices never get too annoying like in the old games, which is indeed a plus. The lack of voice acting is also very much appreciated... no, really.


Not your daddy's Banjo-Kazooie.

Story: 4.5
It's been eight years since the Bear and the Bird went out into the world and ultimately saved the day. Now reduced to obesity, the pair haven't really been doing a whole lot, and instead have been immersing themselves in Xbox games, fatty foods and... well, mostly just lounging around. Their lethargy is broken at the sight of Grunty's disembodied skull, and a quarrel ensues. Thankfully, L.O.G., the lord of all video games (yes, even the ones that don't sell, like Ghoulies) turns up, and on his arrival, returns the bear and bird to their original state, and devises the game that will ultimately determine who owns Spiral Mountain - Grunty versus Banjo and Kazooie. Using vehicles, the familiar couple will need to collect Jiggies, and Grunty will need to try to stop them. It's a battle to the very end!

"Everyone would have been happier with something more akin to Banjo-Threeie."

Not only is this plot overly simple, which is by no means a bad thing, but it doesn't evolve until the very end of the game - and even then, there's not a lot of driving force (no pun intended) for the player to actually push through the adventure to see what happens next.  If there was anything about the old formula that should have stayed the same, it would have to be the fairy tale-esque narrative. Admittedly, the addition of vehicles into the mix has to revolutionise the plot somehow, but not so much that it just becomes boring. It reminds me of Super Mario Sunshine, in some sense. On the other hand, the characters in the game are as funny and as expressive as ever, with quality, satirical dialogue and excellent character choices. Oddly enough, it was this attribute alone that really made Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts feel like a Banjo game. Though, compared to its predecessors where there were new characters to meet in every world, players will only find the same old roster of about eight or so characters to go back to, all of whom do become less interesting over time. There's no talking camel, no over-joyed monkey, no angry vacuum cleaner... just the mole, the shaman and the polar bear. More variety would have been nice. Trophy Thomas is also really annoying.


That wasn't flying! That was falling with style!

Overall: 8.0
Orchestrations rock, graphics are amazing, vehicle design is deep and rewarding, characters are humorous, worlds are large and well designed, it's Banjo-Kazooie.
Vehicle design can become tedious, few characters, framerate issues, uninteresting narrative, too different from predecessors, Trophy Thomas.
After the slightly "meh" efforts that were Ghoulies, Perfect Dark Zero and Kameo, Nuts & Bolts is a step in the right direction for everyone's favourite British developer. Don't expect Rare to ever get the same mojo back, because it is true, many of the original employees have long since left the company to pursue other interests. With that though, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts is a solid, robust platformer experience. Obviously, everyone would have been happier with something more akin to Banjo-Threeie, but this works too. The vehicle design is well done, even if it is difficult for children to manage and sometimes tedious, and the classic Rare humor is all over the shop - it's hard to miss and easy to fall in love with. Yes, there are a few issues here and there that Rare are surely aware (too much Grunty rhyming for me), and rest assured the company will learn from their mistakes as they climb that ladder once again to gaming perfection. For now however, this is as good as it's going to get, and if you're a fan of the bear-and-bird duo, you should at least give it a rent. Itsssssss almossssssssst asssssss good asssss Masssster Chef.

12
Updates / A Hoffy Review: Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts.
« on: January 25, 2009, 12:24:17 pm »
A Hoffy Review:
Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts




Developer: Rare Ltd.
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Release Date: USA: November 12, 2008, AUST: November 20, 2008
Genre: Platformer, Vehicle Construction
Rating: E10+ (ESRB), G (OFLC)
Platform: Xbox 360
Players: 1 (Local), 2-8 (Online)


And so we find ourselves strapped back into the world of the bear and the bird. It's been eight long years since the dynamic duo's last console outing, a little too long by some fanboy's accounts. Of course, when the game was revealed in 2006 it couldn't help but get fans excited - even if the title wasn't to be compatible with any Nintendo console, there was still that yearning to explore themed worlds, round up the Notes and earn the Jiggies. Of course, it wasn't until 2008 when Rare revealed the main gameplay mechanic, and fans became slightly turned off. Vehicles. Vehicles? In Banjo? Well, whatever. Might be good. Could suck, I guess. Such was the reaction by gamers and critics alike. It was a bold move by Rare - getting Banjo behind the wheel was something many fans would never have expected they'd have to do; but hey, anything to "broaden the demographic", right? Well, maybe. Let's investigate.


Welcome home, buddy.

Gameplay: 7.5
The interesting thing about Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts is that even though it appears like a relatively childish game, the skill you need to surpass majority of the challenges is overwhelmingly high, at least by the standard of a child gamer. Unless the child is some kind of engineering mastermind (at least for their age), they may have a lot of trouble getting by in Nuts & Bolts. Obviously, the fundamental game mechanic, and the salient point for this game is the vehicle design. Before you shrug off the game for being totally different to the other Banjo games, you should at least understand that this system is complex, robust, refined, plentiful and fun - albeit different.

"By the end of the game, properly and thoroughly designing one vehicle can take over half an hour."

Becoming the garage mechanic in Banjo's world involves taking into account several aspects of vehicle design. You can't just whack a couple of wheels here and there, add a propeller and place the engine wherever you damn well please. A little bit like Super Mario Galaxy, you need to take gravity into account with your vehicular platforming. Weight distribution in the car is incredibly important - otherwise, when you take your vehicles out into the big wide world, you'll find they'll be incredibly cumbersome to maneuver. This means, depending on what you're building, you need to find a balance between the number of fuel tanks and engines you're using, and where they are in relation to the body parts, the wheels, and of course, Banjo. Once you've actually got all the essentials on your vehicle, you need to protect all of it by adding body parts, and if you will, grenade launchers, flamethrowers, ammo, and so fourth. From there, you can add accessories like stereos, wings and windscreens, to other essentials like fuel replenishers and invisibility cloaks. And then you have the option to paint it, or take it for a test spin, and see for yourself if it goes and looks like you want. It's a system that becomes much more complicated as the game progresses and more parts are unlocked. By the end of the game, properly and thoroughly designing one vehicle can take over half an hour.


Drugs are bad, mmmkay.

For some, this system will be incredibly monotonous, laborious, frustrating and boring. The fact of the matter is, there are over one hundred challenges in the game, and very few of them actually provide you with a pre-made vehicle to drive. A lot of these challenges will require you to step back into Mumbo's Motors and design a new vehicle, or at least modify an older one. Rare have taken a few leaps to promise that these close-minded and annoyed gamers will never have to make a vehicle ever, with the inclusion of Humba Wumba's own pre-made vehicles, which can be bought and used freely. Though, many of these vehicles don't perform up to the standard that will make some of the later, harder challenges any easier, and they also take away the whole point of the game, which is to express one's own imagination and creativity in vehicle design. Basically, everyone's going to need to make a vehicle at some point. And if you don't want to, this game isn't for you.

"Kids may be overwhelmed by the amount of work they need to do to make a good vehicle."

I myself was actually very skeptical about the vehicle designing mechanic at first, but after really getting in there and setting out to make some really great, handy vehicles, I ended up having a lot of fun. With the amount of parts you can collect, you are really limited to your imagination in what you can create. I had an absolute ball, designing race cars, fuel-jet rocket ships and shuttles, helicopters, carrier jets, bi-planes, motorbikes, hovercrafts, trucks, taxis, battle tanks, and even some off-the-wall stuff that really can't be categorised as a rational vehicle. It is a lot of fun when you put time and effort into it, and it's incredibly rewarding to see your masterpiece perform better than expected, thanks to careful planning and design. Sharing your blueprints with friends over Xbox Live is also a welcomed, yet necessary feature.


Vrrrm vrrrm.

Rest assured, none of this stuff is Banjo at heart - but the space-stuff in Mario Galaxy wasn't Mario, and the sailing and wind control in Wind Waker wasn't Zelda. Again, this is new, and this is fun. Few games have managed to pull off such a system so well, and certainly if you liked this sort of stuff in F-Zero then you'll love it here. At the same time, it's certainly not for everyone, and especially kids may be overwhelmed by the amount of work they need to do to make a good vehicle. And honestly, I can't see many kids doing this right. I certainly would have sucked at it if I was five-years-old.

"There's not nearly enough platforming here to satisfy the purists."

Beyond the vehicle design, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts is no different to Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie. You've still got massive themed worlds to explore, of which there are seven including the hub world and the final stage (which is relatively smaller). And in these worlds, you're still expected to search out the Jiggies, the Notes, and the Jinjos. There are some changes, though. Collecting Jiggies is not the same in the themed worlds as it was in the past games. You can't just find the Jiggy, figure out how you're going to get it, and then unleash some platforming wit to do so. Rather than finding the Jiggy, you locate the cute, little character who has the Jiggy, in which they will initiate some kind of mini-game that will earn you the jigsaw piece, and then some. This system would be fine if it weren't for the extreme repetitiveness that came with the tasks - generally all challenges will involve racing, escorting, importing, exporting, ramming, defending, attacking, or a mixture. There isn't a great deal of variety to be had, despite some small twists that keep things slightly fresh. Over time though, players will definitely get bored and frustrated with the abundance and ever-increasing difficulty of these challenges, before they can round up all 131 Jiggies. It's hard to stay attentive when the game refuses to offer something new.


One little bear and bird balancing, step by step on a piece of string, thought it was such a wonderful stunt...

Something that may toss up some veterans is the lack of traditional platforming... every single challenge in every single world requires you to use a vehicle. The exception to this is the Note-collecting, which usually forces you to take a step out of your car for a couple seconds. There are also around fifty crates of vehicle parts that can be collected in the hub world, most of which require some balancing on tight-ropes, some climbing, and some good ol' fashioned jumping to obtain. Though, at the same time, there's not nearly enough platforming here to satisfy the purists, and for that, you're going to have to get to know your vehicles. Whether that's a disappointment really depends on what you were expecting.

"Rare can still uphold the tradition of crafting some excellent eye-candy."

There are plenty of challenges to keep you coming back, plenty of things to collect, and a difficulty level that's unrivaled to anything Mario can spit out. The controls are also very tight, though this will depend on how well you've designed your vehicles. The length of the game will vary on how dedicated you are to collect everything... there are 131 Jiggies, but you only need 75 to finish. With those numbers, the quest can range between 20 and 50 hours. Adding to this, the many little extra things there are to do around Showdown Town including Jinjo Bingo and a 2D arcade game designed by Klungo himself... there's definitely lots to keep everyone satisfied.


Bad bears, bad bears, whatcha gonna do...

Graphics: 9.0
It may be true, Kazooie said so herself. "All of the real talent at Rare left ages ago." But even with that, the new guys can still uphold the tradition of crafting some excellent eye-candy. Nutty Acres looks lush, Showdown Town is bustling with useless NPCs and Disney-styled architecture, and Banjoland brings classic worlds like Clanker's Cavern and Freezeezy Peak back to life in glorious high-definition pixels. Characters animate fluidly, the particle effects (especially explosions) are wonderful, the real-time lighting is nice and the water effects are second to none. The art style is also nothing to scoff at, as Rare deliver something true to the old Banjo games, as well as some new twists. Keeping true to the building aspect of the game, themed worlds are set inside "game globes", so all aspects of the level have been built, rather than looking natural. This means steel grating with a layer of green paint instead of grass, and television screens depicting the sky, in stead of... well, the sky. This is likely also a means to keep players from flying away in their new hot-air balloon and running into that oh-so-dreaded invisible barrier. It's a cool, new spin on the old, boring method, and there are certainly a lot of other graphical tidbits to inspect along the way. The all-too-often framerate drop brings the score down, though.

"This game relies on the old-school sound to work it's magic."

Sound: 9.5
The music in the older games were terrific, bringing an orchestration-type feel to the N64's MIDI capabilities. This time around, Rare have actually used an orchestra - wouldn't you believe. The strings, percussion and brass really add a new dimension to the background music in the Banjo universe, as many theme songs are sure to evoke a little bit of movement in your hips as you sit on the couch designing your new race car. Also expect a few songs to send some shivers down your spine, as you do battle with Gruntilda and explore the wonderfully weird Terrarium of Terror. Hearing the old tunes of Treasure Trove Cove, Mad Monster Mansion and Hailfire Peaks is sure to make old-time fans fall in love with Banjo-Kazooie all over again, as the classic tunes reel in those feelings of nostalgia. Though, a lot of the new themes are nowhere near as melodious, and are mostly forgettable... rest assured, this game relies on the old-school sound to work it's magic. Sound effects in the world are also very responsive, and the animal voices never get too annoying like in the old games, which is indeed a plus. The lack of voice acting is also very much appreciated... no, really.


Not your daddy's Banjo-Kazooie.

Story: 4.5
It's been eight years since the Bear and the Bird went out into the world and ultimately saved the day. Now reduced to obesity, the pair haven't really been doing a whole lot, and instead have been immersing themselves in Xbox games, fatty foods and... well, mostly just lounging around. Their lethargy is broken at the sight of Grunty's disembodied skull, and a quarrel ensues. Thankfully, L.O.G., the lord of all video games (yes, even the ones that don't sell, like Ghoulies) turns up, and on his arrival, returns the bear and bird to their original state, and devises the game that will ultimately determine who owns Spiral Mountain - Grunty versus Banjo and Kazooie. Using vehicles, the familiar couple will need to collect Jiggies, and Grunty will need to try to stop them. It's a battle to the very end!

"Everyone would have been happier with something more akin to Banjo-Threeie."

Not only is this plot overly simple, which is by no means a bad thing, but it doesn't evolve until the very end of the game - and even then, there's not a lot of driving force (no pun intended) for the player to actually push through the adventure to see what happens next.  If there was anything about the old formula that should have stayed the same, it would have to be the fairy tale-esque narrative. Admittedly, the addition of vehicles into the mix has to revolutionise the plot somehow, but not so much that it just becomes boring. It reminds me of Super Mario Sunshine, in some sense. On the other hand, the characters in the game are as funny and as expressive as ever, with quality, satirical dialogue and excellent character choices. Oddly enough, it was this attribute alone that really made Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts feel like a Banjo game. Though, compared to its predecessors where there were new characters to meet in every world, players will only find the same old roster of about eight or so characters to go back to, all of whom do become less interesting over time. There's no talking camel, no over-joyed monkey, no angry vacuum cleaner... just the mole, the shaman and the polar bear. More variety would have been nice. Trophy Thomas is also really annoying.


That wasn't flying! That was falling with style!

Overall: 8.0
Orchestrations rock, graphics are amazing, vehicle design is deep and rewarding, characters are humorous, worlds are large and well designed, it's Banjo-Kazooie.
Vehicle design can become tedious, few characters, framerate issues, uninteresting narrative, too different from predecessors, Trophy Thomas.
After the slightly "meh" efforts that were Ghoulies, Perfect Dark Zero and Kameo, Nuts & Bolts is a step in the right direction for everyone's favourite British developer. Don't expect Rare to ever get the same mojo back, because it is true, many of the original employees have long since left the company to pursue other interests. With that though, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts is a solid, robust platformer experience. Obviously, everyone would have been happier with something more akin to Banjo-Threeie, but this works too. The vehicle design is well done, even if it is difficult for children to manage and sometimes tedious, and the classic Rare humor is all over the shop - it's hard to miss and easy to fall in love with. Yes, there are a few issues here and there that Rare are surely aware (too much Grunty rhyming for me), and rest assured the company will learn from their mistakes as they climb that ladder once again to gaming perfection. For now however, this is as good as it's going to get, and if you're a fan of the bear-and-bird duo, you should at least give it a rent. Itsssssss almossssssssst asssssss good asssss Masssster Chef.

13
Entertainment / Pan's Labyrinth.
« on: January 23, 2009, 11:58:12 am »
Basically, I saw this movie, and I wish I had been the one responsible for creating it.

I've been wanting to see it for quite a while, but other movies and general availability meant I had to keep putting it off, even though the film was released in 2006. Now that I have seen it, I really do believe to be one of the most wonderful films I've seen. Guillermo del Toro is a genius, the way he has pieced it together... I agree with him in that too many films and books today focus on explaining magic, and unnatural occurences. Pan's Labyrinth just takes the simplistic fairy tale approach. If a creature has a characteristic, or a look, it's simply is the way it is. The monster design in the film (even if the film was restricted to only two interesting monsters) is some of the best I've seen anywhere.

It took me a while to realise it, but there really isn't anything like Pan's Labyrinth in any game, book, or film. Mature fairy tales have been done before, but not in the way this has. Ofelia is still the sweet little girl that plays along and does what she has to do, but there's a level of complexity added to the mix when you see that the her stepfather is threatening her childhood innocence and imagination. There's just so many levels to this film, it's beautiful.

Highly recommended.

14
Updates / From The Outside!!: GoldenEye 2D.
« on: August 31, 2008, 06:58:50 am »
    Welcome to "From The Outside!!", ZFGC's look into the independent fan games from outside our own little world. This editorial feature serves many purposes - besides taking a stab at our own fan game developers' talents, it also gives everyone a look into game development talent from all reaches of the intarwebs. This feature will give game developers a chance to appreciate other works, as well as learn a thing or two.



From The Outside!!:
GoldenEye 2D




Developer: Bisse, Grindie, Din
Publisher: Perfect Run
Release Date: September 18, 2007
Genre: Action
Language: Game Maker 7
Players: 1


    Ahh, GoldenEye. What fond memories you deliver. The game many would consider to be the original console first-person shooter would have to be Rare's little gem. Even though the game was licensed under the James Bond movie franchise, there's no doubt the developers went out of their way to provide for one hell of game in 1997. Multiplayer, crisp 3D worlds, a range of weapons, levels and objectives - the game had it all. So, just what is it doing in 2D, and what the hell is with this black-and-white graphical style?


Can you say kawaii?

    Originally designed for a competition back in 2007, GoldenEye 2D is a remake - or a demake - of the classic Nintendo 64 shooter. The game plays as a side-scrolling action game, where the player takes control of a cute, little James Bond and shoots cute, little bullets from a cute, little gun. Hold up, though - this isn't the complete GoldenEye 2D. While the guys over at Perfect Run were successfully able to bring over many of the features from the original game (including the classic death animations, and opening movie clips) this isn't the complete version of GoldenEye. The small download only features the famous level Dam, where the player is required to disable the alarms, bungie jump, and so forth. But as players wander the area, they'll certainly recognise many of the distinguishing features - the enemy watchtowers, that annoying truck, and of course the many numbers of enemies.

"Are you a Klobb or a 00 Agent?"

    Even though the game isn't complete per se, there are several new features to entice the old fans. Aside from the new ability to jump, players will also have to deal with a new system in which a gun is rewarded when the player reaches a certain number of points from killing a bunch of dudes. All the old guns are there, too... from the PP7 to the Golden Gun. There's also a high score system in which a title is handed to you depending on how well you went during your run. Are you a Klobb or a 00 Agent? The extreme number of enemies also makes the game kind of difficult, so unless you're naturally gifted with these sorts of games you might have bit of trouble completing this demake.


Oh yes, there are some added boss fights too.

    But perhaps the most appealing feature of GoldenEye 2D is the style the developers have taken on. The character sprites have big heads, the game is reduced to gray tones, the noises are very "beepie" and "boopie" in nature - it's not hard to tell the developers were working on this game with the original Game Boy in mind. Hell, you may as well be playing Pokemon... with guns. It's a nice, effective turn on things - you really just want to grab the game and stick it on a cute, little cartridge so it can be enjoyed in a more suitable fashion. Ahh, if only!


Pewpewpew.






15
Updates / Review: The Legend of Zelda: Darkness Uprising.
« on: August 30, 2008, 01:34:45 am »
Review:
The Legend of Zelda: Darkness Uprising









Developer: imfletcher of Zsanctuary Productions
Release Date: July 9, 2004
Genre: Action/Adventure
Language: Game Maker
Players: 1


    The fan game many ZFGC'ers would refer to as the "original Zelda fan game" would have to be, not TheRealMethuselah's Ocarina of Time 2D, but none other than imfletcher's very own The Legend of Zelda: Darkness Uprising. The game was originally released in the July of 2004 when Zelda Fan Game Central was still powered by InvisionFree. One would assume that the amount of money the administrators were paying to keep the forum up (in case you're not on the same wavelength, that's zilch) also reflected the amount of quality Zelda fan games that were popping up in the old Completed Projects board... that was, until imfletcher came along with Darkness Uprising. Not only was this Zelda fan game the first to feature multiple areas, enemies, bosses and puzzles, it was also the first to feature a unique gameplay element not even seen in the main Legend of Zelda franchise - the ability to summon creatures for a variety of uses. Four years later, does Darkness Uprising even have a chance of comparing to the independent projects currently on show? Or does it fall behind into the darkness? Read on and find out.

"The package takes on a very Link's Awakening-type theme."

Story: 6.0
    The story opens with Link and Zelda in a small row boat out in the far reaches of the Great Sea. When a storm approaches, the princess insists that the two find shelter on a nearby island, which appears to be deserted. Upon arriving on the island, Zelda decides to wait by the row boat while Link wanders off to look for shelter. Our green-clad hero doesn't get far before he encounters a ghostly figure by the name of Rauru, who claims a horrific sea serpent by the name of Yarivan appeared from the ocean and destroyed the island, reducing the island's population to ghosts. Rauru tells Link that he must travel to alternate dimensions which can be accessed on the island and collect the four ancient relics to gain access to the Tri-Point Tower, where Yarivan is said to be held. Link agrees to help and returns to Zelda, where he discovers she's been possessed, taking on a vampire-like form. After a short monologue, Zelda teleports to the Tri-Point Tower, before Link goes to work once again.


Boss fights! Oh my!

    Even though the story is fairly basic for the most part, imfletcher doesn't overwhelm the audience by pushing the Zelda formula beyond it's limits to include themes of romance and death, and in this case, it's a good thing. The events that unfold through the plot are very Zelda-esque in nature, and overall the package takes on a very Link's Awakening-type theme, which is very much appreciated particularly for fans of the older games in the series. There are also more and more tidbits revealed as the story progresses and the dungeons are beaten, such as what exactly the Darkness Uprising is. At the same time the story can seem a little too basic, and this simplicity often leads to a lack of motivation when it comes to completion.

"It's hard."

Gameplay: 7.0
    The Legend of Zelda: Darkness Uprising plays a little differently to your average Legend of Zelda title, and in a way it is difficult to tell whether this is because the developer imfletcher was aiming for innovation or he felt the inclusion of many classic Zelda elements would slow down the development time. The fan game was developed by imflecther and imfletcher only, within the timespan of six months. In this sense, it could be considered a small project, but even with this factor in mind, it's not difficult to see that Darkness Uprising can still hold it's own through excellent design. With that said, there are still some flaws.


I don't care what they were like in A Link to the Past, that crab will kill you.

    Darkness Uprising is unlike any other Zelda title in that Link cannot swing a sword, hold up a shield or fire an arrow from a bow. As a matter of fact, he cannot use any of the items of which he was granted in any other Zelda title. What our hero can do is master the art of summoning in order to call on creatures with a variety of uses. These include an Octorok which fires a rock in each of the four compass directions, a Wizzrobe for healing, and a Tektite for powering portals and machinery, to name a few. Naturally, it's up to the brilliant minds of the players to use and abuse these summons in order to solve the mind-boggling puzzles. And that's exactly what they are - mind-boggling. Seriously, these puzzles are outrageously difficult. Often there isn't a clear indication as to what you are required to do and you'll find you're reduced to trial and error when you notice something even slightly suspicious. At any rate, the four dungeons are really quite short if you know what to do... but sometimes you'll be spending upwards of 20 minutes on the same puzzle. It really is a cruel process, which can be enjoyable for some and downright annoying for others. It's hard.

"If you learn from your mistakes and play the game right, you could complete this fan game within an hour."

    It could be said that imfletcher has taken a step back as far as health is concerned. Essentially the player has too bars; one for magic and one for health. The one for magic works as it did in the other Zelda titles, in that it will decrease when you use a spell. The difference here is that practically everything Link can do is classified as a spell, which means you'll have to pay extra attention to this meter. The health bar on the other hand provides less opportunity for tactical play as it provides for inconvenience. The bar will decrease whenever Link is in contact with something painful, as you'd expect, the only downfall here is that there is no recoil when Link is hurt, which means oftentimes it's difficult to tell you've been hurt at all. This, and the meter decreases quite quickly when you're contacting a nasty fellow, and there are few instances when you can actually regain heath easily. Whether this is an inconvenience or not really depends on whether you grew up with this sort of gameplay system in the '80s. Either way, Darkness Uprising is not easy.


Thanks, ghost lady.

    In terms of scale, Darkness Uprising would otherwise be considered a relatively short game if it weren't for the amount of time involved in completing a puzzle. Death in Darkness Uprising also brings on great inconvenience, as the player is forced to pick up from their last save point - and there are only four save points across the entire game. Whenever a dungeon is completed you're given the opportunity to save, which means if you die in the boss fight at the end of the dungeon you're going to have to do everything again. This could be considered a poor design choice, but at the same time it just adds to the difficulty. It's not as if Darkness Uprising is impossible to complete, and really these kinds of problematic gameplay elements add to the satisfaction involved when the game is actually over. If you learn from your mistakes and play the game right, you could complete this fan game within an hour. Of course, you might not complete it at all.

"This is the first decent Zelda fan game to be completed at ZFGC."

Graphics: 6.5
    imfletcher's The Legend of Zelda: Darkness Uprising doesn't strive to present an impressive 2D art style of any kind, though the use of customised A Link to the Past sprites gives the game a unique flair all the same. The mapping doesn't hold true to the A Link to the Past style, as the worlds aren't quite as detailed as the worlds of the SNES classic, but the maps present few faults in their design and in this sense the maps hold their own through refined uniqueness. But even with these distinctive sprites and maps the game falls short in it's ability to impress. The grand bosses and other character sprites look fairly basic, and animation, especially in the case of the bosses, is really simple. But, the game does look great - it's colourful, everything is in proportion, and it's easy on the eyes.


Link and Zelda are... LOST.

Sound: 6.0
    There isn't really a lot of variety in the MIDIs chosen for Darkness Uprising. Every outside area plays the Great Bay Coast theme from Majora's Mask, which is certainly a good choice in terms of atmosphere, but there aren't any other MIDIs for the outside worlds. On the other hand, the dungeon and boss music haven't played in any Zelda game to date, and these choices certainly bring the uniqueness to the table. The menu music is also very pleasant, as the Credits song from Ocarina of Time plays. Sound effects are implemented quite well, with the regular Zelda noises and jingles playing at the appropriate moments. There were certainly no weak points in Darkness Uprising's soundtrack, there just could have been more originality.

Overall: 6.9
Summons are cool and implemented well, controls okay, song choices, challenging, actually finished.
Difficult, enemy AI fairly basic, collision issues, sort of cheap, looks and sounds sort of plain.
    None of these scores matter, really. Even if they can be considered quite low scores for such a game, that doesn't mean you should hold back form playing this game. Nobody should. This is the original Zelda fan game, the first decent Zelda fan game to be completed at ZFGC. Every game developer here should immerse themselves with Darkness Uprising, they should appreciate it, and most importantly of all, they should learn from it. Zelda fan games don't need to be overly ambitious to be enjoyable. Simplicity and passion is often the key, and Darkness Uprising is a true example of those attributes.

16
Other Discussion / Have you ever had a feeling like...
« on: August 28, 2008, 08:02:08 am »
It's like... really hard to explain.

Sometimes I'm looking at a person I've known for ages and ages but never really that well, and as I'm looking at their face, I kind of see that person for the first time. It's like, I'm looking a their face and it looks completely different to me, completely new. And then this feeling sort of sweeps over me regarding that person's life, and what kind of person they are, how they interact with other people... it's like a flashback, but I'm not actually remembering anything... I'm seeing them in the present?

I have this feeling all the time. It's really difficult to explain and I don't know if I have succeeded. My friend has these feelings too, so I assume it happens to a fair few people, like deja vu. I'm just curious as to why it's such an accepted thing, and no one has ever really talked about it before.

17
Entertainment / Metal Gear Solid 4 should release on 360.
« on: August 23, 2008, 05:29:52 am »
Simply so I can play it.

I finished Metal Gear Solid 3 yesterday, and my god, what a great game. This is coming from the guy who thought Metal Gear Solid 2 was !@#$% on a stick, and who thought he'd never understand the series. Well, I completed MGS3 and I loved everything about it. The ending was excellent, sad, epic, awesome. And now I need to play MGS4 to know what happens next.

So, 360 release PLEASE.

Until then, I have Twin Snakes to hunt down. Oh, and what's Portable Ops like?

18
Graphics / Original Pokemon Generations.
« on: August 19, 2008, 07:39:35 am »
I was looking over a few forums, and I found some sheets of original Pokemon people had created and posted, and I think a lot of them actually looked really quite cool. I'd just like to post a few of the ones that impressed me...

http://art3.server06.sheezyart.com/image/120/1204603.png
http://img80.imageshack.us/img80/3937/150fakemonbyneoriceisgoio8.png
http://i7.tinypic.com/210g58o.png

It makes me want to create Pokemon of my own :P.

Also this:
http://images.google.com.au/images?gbv=2&hl=en&q=site%3Awww.worth1000.com+pokemon&btnG=Search+Images

19
Updates / August 17, 2008 - ZFGC Weekly
« on: August 17, 2008, 09:11:56 am »

Volume 2, Issue 1 - August 17, 2008
irc.windfyre.net #zfgc
This week's banner courtesy of LuisaRafidi and icon courtesy of mit


Hello members, and welcome to another issue of ZFGC Weekly! Here's what's in this week's issue:

1. Community Announcements (Ctrl+F CA0104)
2. Best of the Forum (Ctrl+F BF0104)
3. Weekly Awards (Ctrl+F WA0104)
4. The Big Question (Ctrl+F BQ0104)
5. Featured Project: ZFGC-API and an interview with its creator, Infini (Ctrl+F FP0104)

Community Announcements (CA0104)
-- The Nintendo Community Fangame Convention is being held once again! The chance to check out demos from Nintendo fan game developers the interbutts over is on the way! Details, including how to register, can be found in this general direction: http://www.zfgc.com/forum/index.php?topic=30428.0

-- Serious about your spam? Who isn't? The spam board is back on ZFGC for another round of brain-cell-corrupting fun, but this time, there's a catch. What's the catch, Hoffy? Find out here: http://www.zfgc.com/forum/index.php?topic=30350.0

-- ZFGC's games and resources database is filling up slowly but surely! Need to find a sprite sheet? A MIDI? Maybe you just wanna sit down and chill out with a game of Super Smash Bros. NES? You can check out these features and more by hovering over the "Games" and "Recourses" tabs above.

The Best of the Forum (BF0103)
Here are some of the best quotes of the past week or the most relevant topics of the moment:

Talking Tourneys
http://www.zfgc.com/forum/index.php?topic=30381.0
I didn't enjoy it, because of !@#$% rules.

To Lol Or Not To Lol?
http://www.zfgc.com/forum/index.php?topic=30502.0
Rule number 1 of humor: If you have to explain the joke, it isn't funny.

The Final Debate
http://www.zfgc.com/forum/index.php?topic=30466.0
FFIX was not my favorite game of all time. It's my favorite Final Fantasy game (this side of Tactics, at least), and definitely had some excellent, memorable moments. A few scenes always stand out as exemplary, while others fly by in mediocrity. As far as JRPGs, though, it really doesn't get much better.

Manu-what?
http://www.zfgc.com/forum/index.php?topic=30310.0
Good luck with that, "guy who didn't read the manual".

matuer diskushon u gaise
http://www.zfgc.com/forum/index.php?topic=30387.0
If you feel that you're ready, then why wait?  If you're committed to the person you're with (which i am...), then there shouldn't be anything stopping you really.

Not So Cyber Anymore
http://www.zfgc.com/forum/index.php?topic=30516.0
Awesome, sounds like fun.

nb4 Mammy being Jealous.

Got a topic you think should be featured? PM Hoffy or Dantz!

Weekly Awards (WA0104)
MIDI of the Week
legofreak's "To Zanarkand" from Final Fantasy X:
http://www.zfgc.com/forum/index.php?topic=30474.0
http://for-shiz.com/legofreak/To%20Zanarkand.mid

Orchestration of the Week
D-Pad's The Legend of Zelda MP3 Orchestrations:
http://www.zfgc.com/forum/index.php?topic=30508.0
Download

Cuteness of the Week
FalconPaunch's Yoshi's Story in a Nutshell:
http://www.zfgc.com/forum/index.php?topic=30509.0
http://www.yoroshii.org/Yoshi2.swf

The Big Question (BQ0104)
In this section, we'll ask a relevant or interesting question to the community each week, which everyone can discuss, comment on, and generally go gaga over.

This week's question: Why do people tend to cancel Zelda fan games?

Join the discussion at http://www.zfgc.com/forum/index.php?topic=30530.0

Got an idea for a Big Question? PM Dantz or Hoffy!

Featured Project (FP0104)
This week Dantz hacked into the metaverse with Infini to explore the infinite possibilities of his new pet project, ZFGC-API.

The only API most of us are familiar with is DirectX. Can you fill us in on what exactly an API is?
API simply stands for Application Programming Interface, which referes to a high-level command set that provides an interface to a OS, library or service. In this case its an interface to a library of code that allows the developer access to ZFGC's database.

Does ZFGC-API function on the same basic principles as other APIs?
Yes, it provides a simple high-level interface for the code library, just like all other API's do.

For the concerned programmer, how easy is it to implement an API in your game?
I've written a number of different wrappers for the most commonly used languages and RAD tools, so getting it into your language should be no problem. Actually setting it up within your language or tool is incredibly simple, for a bare-bones application it only takes 4 function calls to setup everything ready for you to access the database.

Okay, now we get a bit more specific. How does ZFGC-API work (feel free to be detailed!), and is it compatible with any method of game-making? Will some methods be more ZFGC-API
friendly than others?

Well basically when you start your game a connection to a proxy script hosted on zfgc's server is setup, this script is responsible for validating access, providing security, and so forth. Although in reality you will probably will never realise this, as its all handled transparently by simple API calls.

Once this connection is setup your game can send and request information to be inserted into and extracted from ZFGC's database, again this is handled transparently by numerous API functions. There is currently a wide variety of different API functions you can access to do different things to the database, everything from getting a members post count to sending a personal message. Check out the function description topic for a full list.

As for compatibility with different forms of game making; If you can access a DLL, you can use its functionality. The DLL has been designed to be as flexible as possible and as easy to import into any form of language or RAD tool.

How would achievements work? Is there a high degree of flexibility for the developer?
The API contains the bare-bones of accessing the database (giving rupees, storing metadata, etc) in an easy, flexible manner, how the developer chooses to use it is up to him. There is nothing to limit the developers imagination.

Is it possible for things to work in reverse? For example, a member attaining certain status on the forum, or posting a secret combination of words, or attaining a certain post count unlocking secret things within the game.
As said in the previous answer, the API contains all the bare-bones functionality neccessary to do things like get profile information on a member, so enabling things based on post-count is exceptionally easy, you just get the members profile, check the trigger, and unlock the secret if its set.

Getting crazier...would it be possible, say, in a team-based game, for multiple players to all have to fulfill the same requirements together in order to gain benefits?
Again, yes. The API contains the functionality neccessary to do that, how it is done is up to the developer.

Yubel recently suggested a ZFGC Leaderboard. With ZFGC-API, could we see this becoming a reality?
Yup, thats pretty easy to do. Hell theres even a simple to use highscore system already implemented in the ZFGC-API.

Will there be prizes for members who attain achievements through ZFGC-API? Say, bonus rupees, special titles, or even secret forums?
At the moment achievements on the forums are limited to rupees, highscores, and so forth. The main bonuses are designed to be client-side. However these are all things we are thinking of, its a matter of balancing the security, you don't want a malicious game randomly changing your user title do you :P.

Could a player be penalized for negative action in a game? Say if the game offers moral choices. If a player makes an obviously very evil choice, or perhaps kills another player without cause in an online game, could that player be penalized through ZFGC-API? It'd be awesome to see someone's title changed to "The Merciless!"
Again, yes. You can take rupees, change profile fields and so on with only a few simple function calls.

Would it be possible for multiple games to trigger one achievement? Let's take a series, for example. Perhaps the player could get a benefit after completing all of the games rather than one?
This is actually somewhere where one of my favorite features comes in handy. Per-User, Per-Game metadata. It allows you to store arbitary pieces of data on a users profile, specific to the game. You can use this to store anything from save files, achievements, to general statistics. In this case you could easily use it to store flags like 'Game1Completed', 'Game2Completed' and so forth, all a game in the series would have to do is check for these when you complete it, and if all are set then it can give the bonus prize!

Are there any chances of ZFGC-API becoming open source in the future?
No. Due to security reasons inherent in giving access to a confidential database this is highly unlikely.

Is it strictly program-side, or does it rely on OS-specific functions?
I'm not quite sure what you mean by this question. If you mean does all the work happen on zfgc's server and none on the client, then no, the work load is split. Non-security conscious work is done on the client, security conscious work is done on the server.

Any rough idea when we can expect a final release?
There is a release out now if you wish to use it, check out the ZFGC-API downloads topic. If you want to use it for your game just send me a message with a link to your game in the game database and I'll approve it.

There will be no 'final release', just constant releases adding new features.

Is there anything the community can do to help out with this awesome project?
Start using it :P.

Know a project you think should be featured? PM Dantz or Hoffy!

Authors of this week's issue: Dantz, Hoffy

20
Updates / [ZFGC Weekly] The Big Question - August 17, 2008
« on: August 17, 2008, 08:53:34 am »
Why do people tend to cancel Zelda fan games?

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