What is better than a game that drenches you in bone crunching nostalgia vibes that instantly transport you back to your childhood? Five games that drench you from top to toe nostalgia right?! I recently picked up the July copy of Retro Gamer Magazine and checked out a new game called 198X by a Swedish dev team; Hi-Bit Studios. What immediately struck me about 198X was just how stunning the pixel art looked. There's a luscious blend of styles ranging from steam punk to a Blade Runner-esque, Ghost in the Shell type vibe sprinkled with some Outrun on top. I reached out to Tobias Bjarneby (writer and director) and he sent me an awesome insight in to 198X the game.
198X is an ecliectic mixture of the best gaming genre's from my childhood. We have The Beat 'Em Up, The Shoot 'Em up, The Racing Game, The Ninja Game and The RPG. Let us dive deeper in to the world of 198X.
Why do you think there remains so much nostalgia for arcade games?
"Arcades used to be these magical places. There you’d find the coolest and most impressive video games, with futuristic qualities far beyond what you could play at home. These towering machines were more than just games – they were portals to other worlds.
To me, this is the perfect setting for a 1980s coming-of-age story. Of course, 198X is hardly the first game to be heavily influenced by 80s arcade games – but what we’re doing is to put those games into context, capturing the atmosphere surrounding them.
We tell a story about discovering an arcade and finding new worlds in its games. 198X is a video game about falling in love with video games."
Where did the idea for 198X originate?
"Before all this I’d been working as a video game journalist and editor for 25 years, producing hundreds of magazines and several books. The core of our development team also founded Stockholm Museum of Video Games in 2016, so you could say that 198X is an extension of our previous work with preserving and celebrating video game history."
What challenges have you faced through making 5 distinct different games?
The big challenge was defining the essence of these games and their distinct era. Why do I love Out Run so dearly when I couldn’t care less about modern racing games? How come the opening stage in Final Fight, the first deadly slash in Strider and the initial boss encounter in R-Type had such a huge impact on me?
We found the answers not merely in graphics, sounds and core mechanincs, but in the context, presentation and gameplay variation. Visiting an arcade in the 80s was all about finding new experiences, swiftly moving from one world to another. Driving your Ferrari under the blue sky, then cleaning up the streets of Metro City, suddenly soaring over the rooftops of 2048 Moscow and further out in space to face Dobkeratops. This is what 198X is all about. We are not making just another beat ’em up or ninja game – we are using these games to tell a bigger story.
How big is each of these smaller games?
In part 1 of 198X, releasing now, there are 5 full-blown stages, one for each arcade game. In general these stages are bigger and more varied compared to any single stage in the 80s games we draw inspiration from.
So I would say that the game we are releasing now is the same size as any Final Fight or R-Type or Strider – the typical late 80s arcade game. But with more storytelling and less frustration!
How difficult has it been to create 198X's distinctive pixel art?
It’s been extremely time-consuming. Most modern neo-retro games use a much more zoomed-out camera with smaller sprites and more open level design. And while I understand and respect that choice, we really wanted to have spectacular visuals with huge sprites in our games. The late 80s were all about who could project the biggest sprites on the most detailed backdrops – while the catchiest chiptunes were playing – and we just love that!
How did the collaboration with Yuzo Koshiro come about?
"His music was performed by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra a few years back, and I know the producer of that concert. So when we were looking for composers for our arcade games, I just thought we should give it a shot. So we asked, and he said yes! I believe that Yuzo Koshiro really shaped the sound of this era, so it’s been a huge honor to have him on board."
Is it hard to manage backers' expectations on Kickstarter?
"Our amazing backers have been very supportive. When we told them we needed to split the game in two parts, to be able to deliver on the promise we made to them and to ourselves, they were very encouraging. They really understand what we want to achieve and how much it takes to get there.
We might be a pretty small studio in terms of people, but our ambitions are indeed huge! And we are so excited to finally be able to inivite all of you to 198X."
198X is available on Steam and PS4 now for $9.99. There are plans to bring 198X to Xbox One and Nintendo Switch later this year. The overall vibe from players so far is incredibly positive. I'm looking forward to streaming a play through on my YouTube channel. I'm confident 198X will deliver and here's to hoping that we see more from Hi-Bit in the future.
Blog by Gemma @ Juicy Game Reviews / TheGebs24
Shakedown: Hawaii is my latest game discovery! This is surprising considering the game has been in development for a few years. Shakedown: Hawaii is an upcoming open world action game that is geared around rebuilding your reputation as a CEO. Now that sounds like an ambitious foundation for a video game but before we tackle Shakedown Hawaii’s juicy bits it is important to pay homage to how this game looks.
If you grew up in the 80’s and 90’s then the 8bit and 16bit era should be well known when it comes to gaming. Shakedown: Hawaii looks stunning with brightly coloured sprites. The overall look seems to be a mashup of Sim City, Grand Theft Auto, Streets of Rage and Metal Slug! Shakedown: Hawaii oozes charm for sure. In fact the concept art below reminds me of Grand Theft Auto V. Now if that’s not impressive I don’t know what is!
Left 4 Dead made its mark in amongst gaming fans, casual players and critics alike. Left 4 Dead 2 released 10 years ago on the Xbox 360 and PC and since then the game held up pretty well. Left 4 Dead held its appeal and value… until now.
Last week Saber Interactive launched World War Z on to the PS4, Xbox One and PC. World War Z has been heavily compared to the Left 4 Dead series on the Xbox 360. I’ve been live streaming World War Z on the PS4 and I am hooked.
What is World War Z (Game)?
World War Z shares similarities to Left 4 Dead. The campaign cane be played both online and off-line. If you choose to fight the undead offline; you will be in a squad with 3 other AI characters and then online with actual humans (friends or randoms).
There are 5 initial difficulty settings (or rather skulls). Put simply the higher the skull count the higher the difficulty! I started off on two out of five (normal) difficulty. Playing through the campaign online is much easier than offline. I found the offline AI to be slow and clunky so I would highly recommend playing online. If you’re an unfortunate soul who has no friends then rest assure that there are plenty of other players to be randomly team up with.
There are currently four countries to meander through when it comes to slaying the zombies: USA (New York), Israel (Jerusalem) Russia (Moscow) and Japan (Tokyo). There are three levels to each city except for Tokyo which has two. Each country offers players the same in that there are literally hundreds of thousands of zombies to kill at anyone time. You can expect the undead to to rather quick though, same as they were in the World War Z movie. Saber Interactive obtained the movie license which is pretty neat! The frightening movie scenes in which the zombies climb up one another to penetrate walls is also in the game! You can expect tense moments, high adrenaline and an absolute load of laughs!
If campaign is not your thing then you may enjoy jumping in to multiplayer! World War Z serves up game modes such as Team Deathmatch, King of the Hill and more. Teams of four players are pit against each other but it does not end there. This is not a Call of Duty game! Expect waves of angry zombie hordes to flow through every multiplayer game! This adds a lot of tension and a lot of reward. Experience Points can be gained by killing zombies. In turn these can be spent to boost your weapons and your class levels. We’ll talk more about that later.
GTA V launched in September 2013 and has since earned Rockstar a mammoth six billion dollars in revenue. Arguably this is not from game sales but is attributed to the successful longevity of GTA V Online. Rockstar focused their creative energy towards dropping new heists, missions, flying cars and more and wow did the GTA V community love it. In fact there GTA Online is one of the biggest streamed video games on YouTube Gaming as I write this. That's impressive considering GTA V is almost six years old! We are not here to hash out the marvellous wonders of GTA Online. Oh no. It was GTA V's main campaign that reeled me in back in 2013 and if anything I've played the GTA V main story 95% more than I have ever been online? This makes me questions why Rockstar never gave the gaming community GTA V Story DLC? Why did they focus solely on GTA V Online? I don't have a definitive answer on this. I can speculate that Rockstar were so happy with the GTA V story that there was no need to expand it? Or perhaps Rockstar quickly realised the monetary value of online gaming gaming? Kotaku interviewed Rockstar's director of design who also could not give a definitive answer on why GTA V did not have any story dlc.
I recently completed GTA V in 2018 live on stream and purposely stayed away from GTA V Online. I wanted to go through GTA V one more time. Once again I donned the shoes of Franklin, Trevor and Michael amidst the crime ridden city of Los Santos. There was nothing that felt stale about getting behind the wheel again in Los Santos. I would go as far to say that I cannot think of another game released around the same time as GTA V that held up this well.
GTA V got a boost with a HD re-release which added more detailed textures, better lighting, vibrant colours and more. GTA V really does look great even in 2019 specifically on the current generation consoles. In fact Grand Theft Auto V looks pretty decent on the PS3 and Xbox 360.
Over the Grand Theft Auto history I cannot specifically say that any of them have bad graphics but even if they did I believe GTA V holds its strength in the gameplay over anything else.
We start the GTA V campaign with Franklin. Franklin oozes personality and adopts a sense of swagger that is familiar with that of Carl Johnson from GTA San Andreas. I'd argue that its that sense of familiarity between personality traits that reel you in from the start of GTA V. Not to mention that Grove Street is right around the corner from Franklin's house. Now that is some serious gaming charm.
Please note: This review will contain dramatic and experimental prose, irony and cynicism for comedic effect and the entertainment for you, the reader.
It’s a cold winters day and probably an awful day at work -the one that pays, yet ultimately destroys spirit and humanity- when I check my mobile phone for to see if I have any messages regarding the death of or dying family member; the only time I ever get a message. To my astonishment I had received an email, though not my typical email of a refund from organization I’ve never dealt with, or the gold mining company in Beliveau that need £1000 transferred to their account, so they can set up their business and pay you back in millions; an offer no idiot can refuse. This email was from the publisher Digirati and the opportunity to request a review code for Pipe Push Paradise. Pipe Push Paradise is a 2D puzzle involving, you’ve guessed it pipes.
You have arrived on an island your uncle lives. Your uncle being the islands plumber has been out of action for the pass few days and the island needs running water. It’s up to you, a silent protagonist to fix the islands plumbing problem.
It was about a week later when I received the code. When I got in I rushed to my switch and typed the code in. ‘This Product is not available’, but it is available, I can see it on the store, it’s right there. I email the contact at Digirati explaining the situation and… Nothing.
Very few games capture the essence of being on vacation somewhere exotic quite like Pipe Push Paradise. It’s bright or tropical colour pallets mixed with this simplistic childish character design that seems to be popular in warming climates just sets that tone. If the visuals do not do that for you, the relaxing guitar melodies will. It’s freeform style of play only heightens this relaxing nature, the guitar playing is free, and taking its time, and just going nowhere in a hurry, it says “Hey relax, you’re on holiday, just chill out”.
After a further two weeks, with no contact out of nowhere I received another email. “Sorry for the delay, it has been crazy here, please find new code below”. I had not been forgotten. The anxiety, the worry of feeling that the developer may think I’ve done a fast one had subsided. Once again, I rushed home to enter the code.
In theory, Pipe Push Paradise is simple. You have one section that has water coming out, and using the surrounding spare pipes you must put them together so the water flows into the exit pipe (or is it entry pipe as the water flows in?). However, the talented developer Corey Martin takes this concept and develops it extremely well.
Resident Evil 2 was released 1998 on the the incredibly successful PlayStation. In fact the Resident Evil franchise has been fruitful on all consoles and arguably gamers have seen some interesting twists across all of the RE games. Now here in 2019 Capcom delivered an astounding remake of an already amazing Resident Evil 2 experience. Without dwelling on the original release of Resident Evil 2 I want to talk through my experiences of completing the Leon and Claire campaign in the frightening new rendition of Resident Evil 2. Both campaigns were completed on standard difficulty. I played through on a base PlayStation 4 model. I was surprised at how good the Resident Evil 2 Remake looked.
Don’t ask me why I chose to complete Resident Evil 2 with Leon first; I just did. My first play though took just just under eight hours to complete. Within the first hour I burst through the front door of Raccoon Police department and felt immediately engrossed.
The 2019 Raccoon Police Department had some stark differences compared to the original Resident Evil 2 release. Most noticeably were the stairs (left and right) leading straight up to the second floor. What I felt was a sense of where shall I go first? when entering Raccoon City Police Department for the first time. I liked this feeling as it added to my sense of bing lost. I went in to the Resident Evil 2 remake with high expectations of wanting to be scared. Did I feel scared? Yes I did. Within the first hour of playing the RE 2 remake I encountered multiple zombies and jump scares alike! I remember the age-old trick of shooting zombies that are half slumped against a wall. You never truly know if they are dead or not? For me; I felt the this was a key aspect of the Resident Evil 2 gameplay. That feeling of shooting the half slumped zombie and it actually killing it before it got you or that disappointment of wasting a bullet because the zombie cop is actually dead.
‘Remember: In paradise they’ve lost all of desires, pity, love- they are the blessed, with their imaginations surgically removed (the only reason why they are blessed)- angles, the slaves of God….’
We- Yevgeny Zamyatin (first published in 1924).
The story of Kromaia Omega (PS4) is ambiguous, upon awaking your father who tells you about four gods who must be defeated to break the circle. Everything else in the story and narrative design is left to speculation. Conversations with your father feel more like poetry, purposefully left to interpretation. Playing the game, you feel there is something more going on, from the biblical use of language, the tribal totems and architecture; you don’t play through the levels but you transcend through the spiritual landscapes. My brief knowledge on religious text, I couldn’t help but think of the Fallen Angels perverting humanity.
Aesthetically, the game is gorgeous. Clearly inspired by wonderful ‘Rez’, using simple geometric shapes, ancient iconography and a neon colour pallet. However, Kromaia Omega drops the digital, opting for an organic look with each level having its own colour scheme and identity. Though it’s when you are battling enemies and racking up a combo your screen becomes a spectacle, with colours, shapes and light filling your screen; it’s very close to simulating the visuals of being on some strong narcotic. At times you need just get lost in the spectacle of it all, only to be snapped out of your meditation by your significant other saying “So?”, naturally you respond “Yes” and then get shouted at because ‘Yes’ doesn’t answer if you want Chinese or Pizza takeaway.
Furthermore, the sound design and music compliment the visuals. The electronic soundtrack is more nuanced than you may think, with elements of Krautrock, glitch, rock and ambient drives the atmosphere of the game. It’s the change from delicate music to energetic that establishes if you are cruising or blasting through the level.
The sound design really bursts you with energy and sometimes makes your hairs stand up on edge. The emulation of sound in zero-gravity makes the explosions sound meaty that erupts from your television the higher the combo. At times its all overwhelming yet is part of the reason you just zone out due to it synchronizing with the visuals.
Call of Duty Black Ops 4 was hailed a success by gamers and critics alike. What with a revitalising and stable Battle Royale mode that took the majority of us by surprise; Black Ops 4 seemed to take the Call of Duty multiplayer vibe back to its roots: simple and effective at its core gameplay mechanics.
At the time of release there were no micro transactions. Reviewers like myself happily sang Black Ops 4 joyful praises whilst tucking in to a few rounds of Kill Confirmed. Little did we know that Micro Transactions were conveniently due to appear early Nov in the form of CoD points. What else should we come to expect of Video Game publishers like Activision who so famously tainted the shit out of Destiny 2 with content pay walls, micros transactions and more. Thanks Activision. Perhaps one day Bungie will once again rise to its former glory of the Halo days? Now here we are in to 2019 and the Black Market of Black Ops 4 is well in to fruition. In fact the mere term of Black Market is shady in itself. We know that the Black market resembles the tier system of the Fortnite Battle Pass. The more you play the more you unlock. In Black Ops 4 you can, you’ve guessed it, pay to unlock tiers in order to look super cool in front of you friends with your florescent new gun skins. Now there’s a Reddit user who calculated that it would cost approximately $200 in order to unlock all of the tiers OR you’d need to pump in over 200 hours of grind. Now we know that there are gamers out there who would pay and that is okay. But on top of paying for a full price game AND then paying approx 4 times the game value to unlock al tiers seems preposterous to me. Now let’s talk about the red dot:
Over the last two days conversation had been circling about the red dot reticle that had appeared in Black Ops 4. It’s unbelievable at how much scandal a red dot can cause within the gaming world. The reason for this uproar is that this red dot reticle costs $1. That’s right gamers! You have to pay to access the dot. On top of the red dot and your CoD points Activision also installed another pay wall call the Black Ops pass. Currently any owner of the Black Ops Pass will have access to 2 additional multiplayer maps and a new battle Royale character. So now we’ve paid full price for the game, we’ve spent money on CoD Points and we’ve paid over $40 for the Black Ops Pass?
In 2019 I have to ask myself if the gaming industry cares about its fans at all? Luckily there are pockets of the community where these types of scams and pay walls do not exist. Even Fortnite is a free to play experience.
Posted by Gemma @ Juicy Game Reviews / TheGebs24
It's been a rough start for Bethesda's Fallout 76. What with a current Metacritic user score of 2.5 it seems fair to say that Todd Howard blatantly lied about the new technologies going in to Fallout 76. Fallout 76 as it stands today is a total mess. The lack of any qualitative quests, shallow NPC dialogue, poor graphics (even on an Xbox One X and high end PC's), stuttering frame rate (as low as 9 fps according to Digital Foundry) and feeling like a skeletal RPG, at best; Fallout 76 leaves a lot to be desired.
Since launch Bethesda updated Fallout 76 to include some improvements. These include C.A.M.P Crafting Improvements, overall stability fixes and more. Even after these arguably mild improvements Fallout 76 feels like a broken mess across all platforms which have led to many gamers questioning whether Fallout 76 will ever redeem its status within a decent Fallout library. More importantly will fans ever trust Bethesda Game Studios again?
Now rest easy wasteland wanderers; Bethesda issued this statement claiming Fallout 76 will be getting a mammoth update very soon. The new Fallout 76 update will include "new Vaults opening, a new PvP mode, Player Vending and much more".
The question now is what will that look like? We've heard Bethesda Game Studios make their promise of greatness prior to the release of Fallout 76 and sadly they did not deliver? As if they did not learn anything from No Man's Sky's Hello Games! So now we wait. We wait to see if new features like Player Vending will be flexible enough to allow gamers to set their own prices? Here's to hoping that the Fallout series will once again become great.
Posted by Gemma @ Juicy Game Reviews / TheGebs24
The world is a circuit. Everything is connected, if it’s by handheld devices, home appliances and the cloud space. Whether you think it or not, we are all being accessed, evaluated and being led down a path by a marketing machine; if you like this, comment, share… Slowly we are losing our free will and we don’t even know it. People fear the machines taking over but they are unaware it’s happening right now, we are monetised. The game is question is Dex, developed and published (published physically by Bad Land Publishing) by Czech company Dreadlocks Ltd. Dex is an Action RPG, 2D side-scrolling platformer focusing on non-linear gameplay, exploration and conversing with NPC’s.
Set in the future, you play as Dex. A young girl who has been targeted by The Complex, an oppressive security organisation controlled by corporations. Hacker; Raycater, informs you The Complex are coming for you. Upon speaking with Raycaster he tells you that you are the Fragment of Kether whom is a supreme Artificial Intelligence developed by ‘The Complex’. You join the resistance in stopping The Complex oppression other Harbour Prime, the games location. But there maybe more to yourself than you originally thought…
Dex also features many side quests that really build Harbour Prime as a living location. Like many RPG’s, it’s these small contained stories that end up being more impactful than the main quest. Stories such as a young male drugged up working as a sex worker against his will, reuniting two long lost lovers or dealing with a stalker of a famous singer; it’s in these side quests that Dex’s narrative and world building really shines.
As a cyber-punk title, Dex art direction is heavily inspired by the pop culture reference within that genre such as Blade Runner, Akira and Ghost in the Shell. Light pollution merged with the grit of a contaminated cityscapes drench your screen like a layer of dirt. The team did a nice touch of each area having its own economic class, the further you leave the main city the more gentrification and depravity you come across.
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We're well in to the Playstation 4 and Xbox One and more recently the Nintendo Switch eras of gaming. Graphics had never looked so smooth and gameplay had never flowed so fluently. Let's not forget the triumphant last Generation of gaming with the Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii; all of which I have a lot of time for.
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