Thursday, 11 July 2013

Car Booting 5 - Great Amwell

In this new addition to my Car Boot Sale travels, I encountered a field in Hertfordshire with a number of cool finds to add to my collection.

I first heard about this car boot sale from a friend who said this place was huge with a field of sellers like no other. Though this sale wasn't tiny, it wasn't the biggest one I've been to (that award goes to Dunton so far). It was a blistering hot day and with the concessions only being 50p, it is certainly a well worth going this summer.

Though I was a tad late to when the sale opened, I arrived in high spirits and the first game I spotted was Grand Theft Auto 2 for the Dreamcast. What made this stand out was in fact it was also sealed with original packaging. Though the case was a tad damaged, I thought this was a good find. Also right at the beginning of my search was a lady selling a Gameboy and a Gameboy Pocket. Now the Gameboy Pocket was something of an interest because I don't own one and I have been on the lookout. The thing about this one was that it had a chargeable battery pack attached and so the original back for the Pocket was nowhere to be seen. Plus, there was a bit of damage to the front of the handheld and even though the lady was asking for a fiver, I wasn't entirely happen with it.

Moving on and I spotted some games that I have yet to discover on my travels, some Amstrad games. These were in the cases and looked in really good condition. I also spotted a tape deck player on a stall next to his which has a MO receiver. I got this because my I am still trying to find a Spectrum tape deck but know a normal one will work just fine. All I need is the wire to connect the two and I'm good to go.

The find of the day had to go to a lot of games. In this batch were a total of 5 Dreamcast games, 6 Gamecube games and around 10 PS2 games. All together came to £10. You can't beat that. All the games were in good knick and there were some decent title here. See the list below.
A find that I wished I would of have had the guts to get was a pair of Mario and Luigi costumes. The guy was selling them for £10 each which seemed reasonable at the time, I just didn't have the money for it at the time so left without them.

Great Amwell is a good Car Boot Sale to go to and has some really nice sellers who deal at very fair prices. With this sale being in the Summer only, it's more likely to be on every week, of course, depending on the British weather. I am hoping though that I did go on an off day because I was expecting a bigger market to latch upon. Will be attending this sale again sometime very soon.  

What I got:

Grand Theft Auto 2 DC Sealed Bought for: £2 ebay average: £10 (unsealed)

5 Amstrad Games (3D Boxing, Survivor, Combat Lynx, Avenger, Strong Man) & Chu Chu Rocket DC Bought for £4 ebay average: £10

Tape Deck Bought for: £1 ebay average: Could not find price

5 DC games (Racing Simulation Monaco Grand Prix, Aerowings, Tokyo Highway Challenge, Soul Calibur, Sonic Adventure) , 6 Gamecube games (Enter The Matrix, Star Wars Rogue Leader Squadron 2, Timesplitters Future Perfect, Call Of Duty Finest Hour, Die Hard Vendetta & Soul Calibur 2) & 10 PS2 games (Intellivision The History Of Video Gaming Lives, Hitman 2, Headhunter Redemption, Virtual Cop Elite Edition, Ultimate Spiderman, Crazy Taxi, Stuntman, Canis Canem Edit, Metal Gear Solid 3 & Fantastic 4) Bought for: £10 ebay: £90

Animal Crossing & Professor Layton both DS Bought for: £6 ebay average: £25

Premier Manager Sega Megadrive & Gain Ground Sega Master System Bought for: £1 ebay average: £15

Bioshock Steel Book Xbox 360 Bought for: £4 ebay average: £10

Hyper Street Fighter 2 The Anniversary Edition PS2 Bought for: £2 ebay average: £5

Diablo 1 & 2 PC & Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga PS2 Bought for: £4 ebay average: £35 

*DC stands for Dreamcast

**Prices on ebay taken on the 11th of July 2013

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Dragon Quest Swords Quick Wii Review‏

Want to play a decent RPG that won't rule your life? Try this one for size.

The Dragon Quest series has been around for over 20 years but, even though it's the biggest RPG series in Japan, it has never really caught on over in the West with other series like Final Fantasy and Pok√©mon taking centre stage. But with Dragon Quest 9 on the DS getting some well-deserved praise, love for the series has seen a steady growth. With new gamers discovering the series, a host of introduction side games have been released to make us ignorant folk aware of Dragon Quest. The game I picked up is Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen & The Tower Of Mirrors for the Wii. Everything about this game is quick and simple and is a perfect start to anyone new to the Dragon Quest series like myself.

The premise first off is pretty straight forward, you just turned 16 and the Queen of the town has been possessed by an evil mask. She has in a result of this resurrected the evil force of the land Xiphos and it's your job to defeat him. A 16 year old kid to save the world, even though they have adult soldiers they send a kid to do the job... Oh well. The story is basic but that's ok because the game knows what it is so a lot of thought doesn't need to go in making an impressive story line. What sets this game apart is the short chapters, the guided levels and the quick combats mode.

There are only 8 chapters to complete which should only take you on average around 25 minutes to complete each one. This RPG, strangely is in the First Person. This makes the chapters very simple because you can only move forwards rather than having free roaming and the battles are not randomly generated like other RPGs but instead come along when you proceed forward in certain areas. The level progression is quick as well so there is little need for grinding. The main reason though as to why the game is quick is the battle screen. Instead of a turn based battle screen, all you need to do is attack and defend using the Wii remote. If you press A, you can lock on to an opponent and moving the Wii Remote from side to side acts as the attack. If you press B, you draw your shield to defend attacks and you have allies in the game which will give you status magic upgrades and health. The attacking segment is fairly easy to master as the Wii Remote is responsive most of the time and using your shied is very effective. Each level has a boss at the end and are challenging to a certain extent. The final boss on the other hand is the real McCoy and you need to be on your A game to beat him.

As with every other RPG, you need to interact with the towns folk for guidance in what you need to do to complete missions and given advice on what items to get and merge with. The item shop is by far the strangest place to visit as the item shop as the old lady you talk to keeps calling you lover?! Again, you're 16, what kind of paedo world where the kids rule over the adults is this? There are a few mini games in the town to enjoy as well as a prize draw with a tombola event to take part in where you can win prizes for your adventure.

All in all, this game shouldn't last you longer than 7 hours. I did a bit of grinding to afford the best armour available to make the final boss a little less intense. There are a few side quests at the end of the game to enjoy but those aren't too long as well. It's a well-rounded JRPG that shouldn't take much of your time.

It’s not going to win any awards anytime soon but it is certainly a quality title for what it is an introductory title to the series. So if you want to know what all the fuss is about regarding Dragon Quest or you want to take on a RPG that won't rule your life, then definitely pick this title up and try it out. Just make sure you take a few breaks between levels otherwise your arm will no doubt be feeling the strain.   

Friday, 5 July 2013

Resident Evil Chronicle Games Wii Review

Short, bullet-points on the first Resident Evil games don't do the originals justice.

With Resident Evil going from cult fame to mega stardom when Resident Evil 4 came out, along came a new generation of gamers. They all loved the game and Resident Evil 4 instantly became one of the best and highest selling games ever made. This was because of two reasons, the lesser reason of the two is the loyal fans of the series bought the game and the more important reason was that it was a breakthrough in the survival horror genre. The critics raved about it and the gaming community embraced it. Most of these people had no clue as to how the story developed to a sophisticated tale and how deep the last few games went to get to the point of R.E. 4 in the first place. So instead of re-releasing these games to make them have improved graphics and a similar gameplay format as Resident Evil 4, Capcom created two games that capture the essence of what made this horror survival series so memorable in the titles The Umbrella Chronicles and The Darkside Chronicles for the Wii. Even though it is nice to revisit the older games again, these titles for me took a lot out of what the first games gave and I would imagine that people playing them would think that the first games were pretty awful as a result.

Let me quickly explain before I go into each game. These games are not your typical Resident Evil games. Instead of assessing buildings/towns and completing puzzles like we are used to, these titles are cemented in the shoot 'em up genre. In the style of House Of The Dead before it, you can only shoot enemies and items on the screen before moving further into a level. It makes going through the games a lot quicker and so you will get the jest of what has happened in the past from the outbreak to when and why the T-Virus took over Racoon City. However, a lot has been taken out to make these games fit onto one disc in the attempt to make buyers of the games play through them in one quick swoop. This philosophy for me doesn't work and sadly, I wish this was my only problem with these games.

The Umbrella Chronicles Review

Let's start with the first game to get released out of the two, The Umbrella Chronicles. This was released in 2007 on the Wii, a relatively early title on the console and by today's standards, it hasn't aged well. This game takes you through the games where Umbrella, the company who created the T-Virus, was prominent. These were Resident Evil Zero, 1 & 3. You go through each of these games in 3 level sections where you would fight a boss from the respective game after each section. For instance, you have to face that Giant Scorpion at the end of the first section of Resident Evil Zero, such an awesome boss from the original game (a poor substitute on this one). You can collect a number of different guns and ammo along the way and for a bonus, you have unlimited amounts of ammo for your handgun. At the end of each section, you are given a grade of your performance depending on how many enemies you defeated, head shots and item pick-ups. 

There are a few things I like about this title. One is when you finish one of the games like Resident Evil Zero for instance, you will get a bonus section to complete as Albert Wesker, the main villain in the series as you find out exactly what his motives are. You cannot do this in any other game, so I give Capcom full marks to give the fans of the series a backstory for Wesker. Wesker is not the only person you can do this with. As a follow on when you complete Resident Evil 3's story, you can do an extra mission involving HUNK. We don't really know much about this character as he has only appeared briefly in the series. Another part I like is how after each section in a level, you can change which character you want to play with. For instance, if you choose Jill Vallentine when you are playing Resident Evil 1 on the first section, you can then choose Chris Redfield for the other sections if you wish. Since the original games (apart from Zero) didn't allow you to change character, even though this doesn't benefit the player during the game itself, I thought this was a nice touch. The best part however was the inclusion of a new sequence at the end that sees Jill Valentine & Chris Redfield fighting another outbreak of the T-Virus at another Umbrella base. Again, I love how Capcom gives you more story for this great series as you find out a bit more on Umbrellas reasons to create the T-Virus and what eventually happens between Wesker and Umbrella. It is interesting to play and watch this sequence but at the end of the day, is this game worth it? Not really.

The reason why I say it's not is because it feels like a half asked attempt to retell the past games. The graphics are worse than the Gamecube games, the speech and dialogue are rushed beyond belief and it hasn't got the same presence as the original games. This is coming from a fan of the original series and my expectations for this game were pretty high. But they fell short on making it a Resident Evil bundle game when they took away the atmosphere, the spooky surroundings and the lucrative puzzles. They did try to make it similar to the 'House Of The Dead' series by having it a light gun action game but it is not as enjoyable and it is quite a frustrating experience. The reason for this is because even though you can get many guns and ammo throughout the game, when you go select which level you want to play, you can only select one other gun apart from your pistol. Why can't you bring more than two guns?? It makes no sense because you can find other guns and ammo during the level. It just makes you need to use your infinite pistol more which is very very weak. There are countless of times when you are riddled with zombies and you need to take them out quickly. I found myself doing perfect head shots but they were still standing. My record I believe was 8 hits in the head. A normal zombie! I don't understand why they made the hit detection so much more difficult compared to other light gun games. It's a joke really how you can make all your guns improve as well apart from you handgun. Makes the challenge a bit more unbearable. You can throw grenades by shaking the Nunchuck which at times can be awkward, mainly because I used the Wii Zapper to play this. Though good for shooting, the Wii Zapper is not a friendly accessory. So you would have to shake the whole apparatus to get out of tight spots, not very attractive I must say.

But taking everything into account, the thing that really annoyed me about this game was the process on how to get to the end sequence of levels. As I stated before, at the end of each level, you get a ranking which depends on how many enemies you defeat, the amount of item pick-ups you obtain and how quickly you complete it. You don't need a decent ranking throughout as it's just for referencing your own personal record. That is, until the last level on Resident Evil 3's section where you MUST get a A ranking to unlock the next section of the game. Why? I don't know. Though it may technically be an epilogue if you will, the last section does feel part of the game and therefore you shouldn't have to work that hard to get there. When I mean hard, you need to make sure you beat the hardest boss in the game 'Nemesis' in no time at all. Plus grab nearly all the items in the level and kill a substantial amount of enemies along the way. It took me quite a while to get that A ranking because of all the other problems this game possesses. I was not too pleased.

Darkside Chronicles Review

Now for the sequel. The Darkside Chronicles was released a couple of years later in 2009 and is quite clearly thankful for those extra years from its predecessor. The graphics look a whole lot better, the story and the dialogue have improved, shooting zombies feels satisfying again, you can carry more than two guns and the whole adventure just seems grander. Capcom got some harsh truths after the first game and they tried there best when making the next title in this mini-series. In many areas they succeeded but there is still something lacking here.

So what makes this game better than the last? Well for starters, this game has a premise not like the previous one which just seemed like the randomly slapped segments from previous games on a disc. Here you start off as Leon S. Kennedy and Jack Krauser on a new mission in South America where they are trying to find an ex-drug lord called Javier Hidalgo because there are reports of him approaching Umbrella. They find out that a mutated form the the T-Virus has turned the community living locally to Javier into zombies. During this venture, Leon remembers his time at Racoon City when the virus first broke out and tells Krauser his tale. This is so much more appealing than just playing through the old games again just for the fact of getting new fans to notice then. It doesn't feel like the focus of the game and I think that's what sets it apart from the last one. Besides, this game only carries two entries of the Resident Evil series with it in Resident Evil 2 and Code Veronica X so there needed to be a bit more action elsewhere. Capcom delivered with some new enemies and great boss challenges (apart from one which I will get to) as well.

Another improvement deserving of some praise is the gun selection/variety and the way you can improve the gun settings. This time instead of two guns, you can have a selection of three. Still not that impressive but an improvement for sure. The thing that makes this part stand-out though is how you can improve your infinite handgun. I made sure the handgun got the royal treatment as I knew I would be using it more than any other gun. The Shotgun, Machine Gun and the Magnum all feel satisfying enough but there aren't enough bullets to make them consistent weapons choices. The Crossbow is just useless, don't bother using it.

The only point in this game that I really wanted to stop playing was during the 2nd boss in Resident Evil 2. It's not because the guy is extremely hard or anything but it's because the fight is built in sections and you need to make sure he is almost dead before the last part, when you are falling off the bridge. If he has a lot of health left at this point, your health will go down very quickly. The only way to do this though is to have you strong weapons ready to annihilate him and so you have to go through the whole level with just your handgun. This is extremely difficult because you have to go through Hunters and Lickers. Took me quite a while to do this part because I had to keep starting all the way from the beginning to save my ammo.

Apart from that part of the game, Resident Evil The Darkside Chronicles is a standard Light-Gun shooter and probably up there in terms of being the best one of the Wii with House Of The Dead 2 & 3 and Overkill. Is it a masterpiece? No it is not. It's good enough for what it is but it's no real Resident Evil game and still holds a few flaws. The grenade throwing action still remains a problem on the Wii Zapper and the game is a tad short. Maybe I am being too harsh on this game because Resident Evil 2 and Code Veronica are great games and there was a lot missing from these titles to make it a more memorable experience. Instead this brand of gaming doesn't light up my interest the same as a true survival horror does and I would think that these two games will be forgotten very quickly.

The Verdict: If after this review you do want to play these games, my advice would be to get The Darkside Chronicles. Only touch The Umbrella Chronicles if it’s only a couple of quid to your wallet. My overall suggestion to any fan of the Resident Evil series, old or new, is to get the original games. If you can, get them on the Gamcube so you can play Zero and the updated First game (avoid the Playstation version like the plague, it hasn't aged well). Resident Evil 2, 3 and Code: Veronica can be played on any platform but again, if you can, my suggestion would be the Gamcube. The controller just fits perfectly with the survival horror genre like no other. You won't be disappointed with the hours of thrills and puzzles in these 5 games.