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MonsoonBaby

MonsoonBaby
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Member since: 28.06.2009

  • Fashion copywriter, freelance writer and blogger from the UK.

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      16.05.2013 17:48
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      The best zombie game out there so far. Highly recommended!

      Ah, this game. Every so often a game comes along that gets me completely hooked. I'm pulled into it-hook, line and sinker. The Walking Dead by Telltale Games definitely did this to me.

      This point and click action game sees you take on the role of Lee, a convicted criminal who was on his way to being exported to prison at the time of the initial outbreak. After escaping a car crash caused by a walker, Lee starts to realise that his life has changed dramatically-gone is the prospect of donning prison robes and staring at bars-in it's place, Lee must fight to survive against the undead, whilst redeeming himself for his past mistakes as he progresses.

      On his travels, Lee bumps into Clementine, an eight year old girl who has been surviving by sheltering in her treehouse from the zombies below. Instantly struck by her and noticing her parents are absent, Lee quickly forms a friendship with the little girl, taking on the role of her guardian until she finds her parents in Savannah, who had been on vacation at the time of the outbreak.

      What makes this game work so well is the relationship between Lee and Clem. As the game progresses, you will notice how their relationship has evolved, to the point where we are rooting for both of them to make it through to safety together. Clementine is impossible to dislike-sweet, innocent, and seeing the good in everybody, her idolisation of her saviour, Lee, is easy to love. You actually want to do everything you can to save Clementine, perhaps one of the most loveable characters to come out of a video game for a long time.

      Clementine and Lee's relationship is part of a much wider, complex fight for survival, which the writers have managed to convey so successfully in the story. It's easy to become emotionally invested in the story, the characters you meet and join along the way, and the consequences for the actions you decided to take.

      The point and click aspect of the game is fantastic-it's great fun exploring each place and interacting with things to see Lee and the other characters reactions. The puzzles are never that complicated-often obstacles can be remedied rather quickly, but nevertheless, they're enjoyable-and satisfying-to complete. However, the choice aspect is probably one of the stongest parts. Throughout the story you will be confronted with decisions which will change the narrative depending on which option you have decided on. Many decisions are incredibly difficult to make, but with often only a split second to pick an option, this game relies heavily on your instinct. Many times you will be sitting there filled with guilt, regretting the option you decided to take, whilst other times you will be rejoicing at how successful the situation has turned out.

      Being a fan of the comics, I was pleased to notice that the game not only follows the bleak, sometimes darkly funny tone of the comics, but also the style of it too. Characters are designed to look like they've stepped straight out of the pages of Robert Kirkman's excellent series.

      At the end of each episode, statistics are revealed, showing percentages of players that took either decision each time. Most of the time, these statistics are rather divided, and it is interesting seeing how you compare to fellow players.

      Without giving away any spoilers, I was amazed at how powerful this game, and it's excellent story was. I am not ashamed to admit that I cried at the ending of episode 5, as I am sure many others did too! I left the game feeling a little devastated, and sat contemplating my choices for some time afterwards. This is what made this one of the most talked about games of 2012-it sticks with you long after.

      So congratulations The Walking Dead and Telltale Games for winning 2012's Game of the Year, it's well deserved. Now, please bring on Series 2!

      Originally featured on my blog: http://8-bitgirl.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/the-walking-dead-game-review.html

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        08.05.2013 16:06
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        One of the best zombie book series for years, this is a must.

        OK, I'll admit it. I'm a little obsessed with The Walking Dead. I first read the comic series almost four years ago, but recently I decided to start from the beginning again after playing through the Telltale Games point and click adventure 'The Walking Dead: The Game' twice, and avidly catching each episode of the series.

        Thankfully, volume 1, which covers the first six episodes in the series, is every bit as engrossing as I remembered it to be, with some excellent art by Tony Moore.

        'Days Gone Bye' introduces us to protagonist Officer Rick Grimes, a cop who is placed in a coma after being shot by a criminal during a shoot-out. Waking up in hospital one month later, he soon realises that something has happened during his this time. For some reason, the dead are walking the earth, and his wife and son are nowhere to be found.

        After Rick escapes the hospital, the comic then chronicles his search for his missing family, whilst uncovering just how much the world appears to have deteriorated.

        **Spoilers!**
        Within 30 pages, Rick has found his family, Lori and Carl, who had been escorted from their home by Shane, Rick's best friend and fellow cop. Taking solace with a bunch of fellow survivors, Rick soon blends in with his new crew, and adopts the position of leader.

        Writer Robert Kirkman successfully creates an engrossing character-driven story, that sees you connecting with each character, who are for the most part, only really established quite vaguely. However, you find yourself feeling the heartache of Andrea as she says goodbye to her sister, and we feel sorry for Allen as he accepts his miserable fate. You also get to equally dislike and love things about every single character. Rick is a fantastic character who you increasingly root for (I found I did, even when he gets a little too harsh to the others at times), and also, I've always thought Dale was easy to like.

        Whilst The Walking Dead is largely about living (and surviving) a zombie apocalypse, volume 1 and the subsequent volumes are more about how we as humans deal with such a situation, rather than the zombies. In fact, even in volume 1, we realise that it's not so much the zombies we should be fearing-but our fellow human beings. Living on the brink of death can change a person, often for the worst-as seen with Shane, a character who has you feeling sorry for him and hatred in equal measures.

        So I urge you to pick up 'Days Gone Bye', and read the volumes following this. Currently there are 18 volumes to work through, and each one is just as good a read as the last. Days Gone Bye successfully combines horror with humour, action, compassion and hatred....oh, and zombies. Lots and lots of zombies.

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        08.05.2013 15:54
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        Enjoyable, humorous and well illustrated, Vampire Knight Vol 1 is recommended.

        After Twilight made it's presence known, I wasn't really entirely sold on trying out a vampire series again...or at least for a while. The whole 'sparkling vampire' thing sort of tainted vampires for me.

        However, I stumbled across Vampire Knight whilst looking for some girly manga's to read (I had previously read Marmalade Boy and wanted more in the same vein). I received the first four volumes for my birthday, the first of which I had just finished. Luckily for me, there were no sparkly vampires in sight, and I actually really enjoyed it.

        Written by Matsuri Hino, Vampire Knight is set at Cross Academy, a school attended by two groups of students-the day class and the night class. At twilight when the students of the Day Class return to their dorm, they cross paths with the Night Class who are just about to start their session at school. However, the school is protecting the Day Class from a huge secret-the Night Class are comprised entirely of vampires!

        To stop the secret from leaking out and to keep the peace between the humans and vampires, guards are hired to work throughout the night. These guards are day students Yuki and Zero. Whilst Yuki believes that vampires and humans can co-exist (she was saved by one as a child), Zero has different ideas.

        Vampire Knight centres mainly on Yuki, who is consistently falling asleep in class due to her guard duties at night. Like many girl manga's, Vampire Knight has romance (fellow guard Zero and vampire Kaname being set up as the two battling for Yuki's affections), with plenty of light-hearted, humourous moments. Hino not only provides an easy to follow but rather gripping story, but also cute, accessible and well drawn artwork.

        Turning up constantly in manga readers top Shojo Manga lists, I am looking forward to reading the next volumes. Don't be put off by the vampire and high school setting, this was a great read.

        Originally posted here: http://pagesandpanels.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/vampire-knight-book-1.html

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      • Tomb Raider (Xbox 360) / Xbox 360 Game / 6 Readings / 6 Ratings
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        08.05.2013 15:49
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        This tired series has got a more than satisfying reboot here in Tomb Raider (2013).

        Lara Croft has been dominating our screens ever since the original game was released back in 1996. Ever since then, Lara has become something of a gaming icon, spawning not only a successful game series, but two films (starring Angelina Jolie as Lara), advertising deals (who can forget those Lucosade adverts?), merchandise, comics and more.

        As much as I love the Tomb Raider games, there was no denying that the series was close to becoming a little tired. Thankfully, the news of a reboot came along and fixed this.

        Released in March 2013, Crystal Dynamic's Tomb Raider takes us back to the beginning, showing us how Lara becomes the archaeologist adventurer we know and love, whilst also changing her history that we have grown to learn from the previous games.

        In Tomb Raider, we are introduced to a 21 year old Lara Croft, a University graduate who is on board a great ship called Endurance, for an archaeological expedition led by Captain Conrad Roth. When a sudden storm destroys the research vessel, a young and inexperienced Lara finds herself stranded on a mysterious and remote island hidden off the shores of Japan.

        On first glance the island appears to be deserted, but soon enough Lara not only comes up against dangerous animals, but human enemies too. Shipwrecked, stranded and alone, Lara begins to re-discover her fellow crew mates, but the only way off of this island is by resolving the secrets within alone. Tomb Raider sees Lara not only battle the elements, animals and enemies, but uncover secret tombs, whilst all the while fighting to look for a way off of the island and back to safety.

        Many people have compared the gameplay of Tomb Raider with the Uncharted series, which is a fair point-it does indeed have a lot in common in relation to the action sequences at least. However, do not let this put you off. This origin story is great blend of exploration and high-octane action, enough to keep you playing until the end. Both forms of gameplay-the exploration and action sequences, are definitely fun to play, especially when using Lara's bow and arrow. As you level up, all the weapons you have collected can be improved to create brand new attacks-the napalm arrows are by far one of the most enjoyable.

        How you play the game is entirely up to you. If you enjoy stealth play, there's plenty of opportunities for this.I never was a fan of stealth gameplay before Tomb Raider, but I ended up adopting it at every opportunity. The fact is, it really works in this game, particularly if you can pick off enemies at a great distance with the bow and arrow-it's rather satisfying. The other way of playing this is to make your presence known to the enemies whenever possible. This often warrants a much larger fight, with enemies throwing molitovs, and closing in on you to create a more personal, tougher fight.

        Through the course of the game, we see Lara turn from a scared, inexperienced but intelligent history buff into a much stronger, agile and battle-worn woman. This transition is an interesting one to experience. You will find yourself wincing every time Lara is beaten, attacked, sent hurtling down large cliffs,slamming into structures, to cheering as she learns the motions of becoming a full blown survivor.

        Emerging as a strong, confident, agile survivor, it has been a real pleasure getting to know this new Lara, and you will be yearning to see what lies in store in the future for her.

        Also worth mentioning is how fitting the soundtrack is-a blend of feudal Japanese style tracks, with a jungle flourish. Lara's new theme is constantly referred back to in most of the tracks, creating a true heroic score. Whilst the gameplay is satisfying, the game also boasts impressive visuals, which you can see via the textures on the scenery, and on Lara's increasingly battle-worn body and clothing.

        However, not every game is perfect. Tomb Raider unfortunately suffers from some slight repetitive moments of gameplay (still rather enjoyable though), but the biggest disappointment is the multiplayer mode. Really, the multiplayer feels rather unnecessary as this game has a strong enough single player mode on it's own. The multiplayer modes are in fact a little forgettable, offering us game types we have seen time and time again, such as a variant on Capture the Flag. Whilst this may be enjoyable for plenty, I personally just got a little bored of it, turning my attentions to Lara's main story instead. Another slightly disappointing aspect is that it feels like the game bows out lightly. I was expecting a full-on boss battle, but it never fully comes.

        Still, despite those criticisms, Tomb Raider is a brilliant game. Crystal Dynamics have successfully rebooted the series with an enthralling origin story that firmly places Lara back in the limelight after what feels like forever. Bring on the sequel.

        Originally posted here: http://8-bitgirl.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/review-great-game-day-tomb-raider.html

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        • Third Star (DVD) / DVD / 26 Readings / 26 Ratings
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          28.06.2012 21:23
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          A heartwarming, devastating but uplifting film, with a stellar performance from Cumberbatch.

          Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch seems to be doing quite well for himself as of late. Last year he starred in Oscar nominated Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, is currently gaining a whole new flock of fans now that Sherlock Series 2 has aired in America, and his just finished filming his role in the upcoming Star Trek sequel. It's fair to say that all of these examples are incredibly successful titles, so it's nice to find a relatively unknown Cumberbatch film to peruse.

          Third Star definitely falls under this category. Set in the beautiful countryside of Pembrokeshire, Wales, the film follows four old friends, James (Cumberbatch), Davy (Tom Burke), Miles (JJ Feild) and Bill (Adam Robertson) who have reunited to grant James' birthday wish-to go for a camping trip to his favourite remote spot in Pembrokeshire.

          Benedict Cumberbatch gives a heartfelt performance to James, a failed writer with cancer who wants one final chance to feel alive, whist Burke, Feild and Robertson all help to make this a believable friendship that is enjoyable to watch unfold.

          The plot may be simple, but this simplicity works in this incidence. The dialogue is excellent at times, and the moments of humour help to stop this from being a completely depressing tale of an incurable cancer patient. Third Star brings us moments of broken tents, bloke banter, reflection, a meeting with a bizarre beachcomber, a hilarious fight with a local Paganistic party, and much more.

          One of the best lines of dialogue comes when James, high on morphine, criticises his friends current lifestyles and future choices, most of which he does not agree with, and which he knows he'll never get the chance to experience with them. Bad words are thrown between the foursome, but like plenty of moments in Third Star, the seriousness is quickly followed by a bit of jokey banter; "It's like going for a walk with a sick, white Oprah," his friends retaliate.

          As the film progresses, we get to find out more about each of the friends lives. We learn to love them, and in turn we hate them, and with these revelations, we realise just how human these lads, on the cusp of turning 30, are. It also emerges that there are the most incompetent of campers, but overall, they've got a duty to see their dying friend have an amazing final holiday, and each in turn has to prove they are up to the challenge. We're also treated to some rather bizarre, but amusing, moments, such as the meeting with the beachcomber, and the rugged ferryman who is sporting a bright shade of blue eyeshadow.

          Third Star is beautifully shot by Hattie Dalton, her first feature length film after winning a Bafta for a short film previously. The peaceful Welsh landscape make a perfect backdrop to this film that so effortlessly combines comedy and typical bloke banter with the dark topic of death.

          The film tackles the tragic topic of dying young with plenty of heartwarming moments, humour and sadness. Without giving away any spoilers, the ending is incredibly sad, but yet it's also somewhat uplifting, and this balance is what Dalton should be commended for. This is definitely worth a watch.

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            12.02.2012 19:01
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            A worthy addition to the Resident Evil series, and perhaps one of the best too.

            The Resident Evil series has gone through a few changes throughout it's 15 year reign. Starting off as a straight-forward survival horror which combined puzzle elements, the series took a slight diversion upon the release of the excellent Resident Evil 4. The game successfully managed to refresh the series with more action, but still managed to retain most of the creepy horror that fans had been used to in the entries before this.

            However, this all changed with Resident Evil 5, which seemed to leave behind the aspect of the original titles which won fans in the first place-the survival horror element. More action and faster paced gameplay took its place, which worked exceptionally well in this worthy addition to the series, but many fans were left yearning for a title that returned the series to its roots. Yes, change is a good thing, especially in a series that has the potential to be seen as quite stale after all these years, but at the same time, there's nothing better than relishing in old memories.

            This is where Resident Evil Revelations comes in. Released in January 2012 for the Nintendo 3DS, Revelations marks the second title for Nintendo's latest handheld system. However, unlike Resident Evil Mercenaries 3D, Revelations is not just a longer version of the series bonus mercenaries' mode, it's a full blown story.

            Fitting in between the events of Resident Evil 4 and 5, Revelations sees series regular Jill Valentine and her new partner Parker investigating some mysterious goings on aboard a supposedly abandoned cruise liner, the Queen Zenobia. At the same time, her long-time friend and partner Chris Redfield is desperately trying to track Jill down, with the help from scantily-clad agent Jessica Sherowatt.

            Most of the action takes place aboard the Queen Zenobia, which is a perfect setting for the tension and horror that the game promises from the start. Like the mansion in Resident Evil 1, the Queen Zenobia has an abundance of twisting, dark and claustrophobic corridors. It's easy to become paranoid that something is lurking in the darkness, just waiting to take you by surprise. The paranoia is justified though, as there are plenty of these moments in Revelations, and you'll jump on several occasions throughout the story.

            Aesthetically, Revelations is definitely the best looking 3DS game to date. The characters look great, the cinematic cut scenes are incredibly impressive on such a small screen, and the environments have been well designed. There are plenty of details, such as a variety of lighting, rust and grime which all help to add to the uneasiness that is quickly felt when you cautiously guide Ms. Valentine and co through the winding corridors. Capcom have really done themselves proud in terms of the graphics, and it is hard to imagine that anything will best them on the 3DS for a while. We shall see though.

            Another area that Capcom have achieved in is the sound. The game uses the Nintendo 3DS' surround sound capabilities to the maximum. The orchestral sounding score really helps to heighten the action sequences of the game, but it is the sound effects that greatly emphasise the horror, and this is where the high level of detail is really picked up on. Everything sound has been accounted for, from the slithering, shambling footsteps of the enemies, wind howling menacingly or even, in trademark Resident Evil fashion, the 'lovely' sound of blood dripping. Playing Revelations with headphones in is where the real horror comes in, as the surround sound, and these atmospheric sound effects really immerse the player in the scares.

            Those completionists out there will relish in how much content is packed into Revelations cartridge. Players have the option to use their scanner to pick up any hidden items, discover secrets, and unlock new characters, costumes and weapons.

            In Revelations, Capcom has steered clear of the zombies from the older entries in favour of the Ooze, a Regenerator-type creature which has the ability to enter from any opening. This of course heightens the uneasiness, as players will have no idea where they will pop up next. Hallways that you have traversed and cleared of these infected beings may appear to be empty, but are they really? This is where Revelations really harks back to the older days of the Resident Evil series, as the fear of uncertainty is constantly harrowing you.

            Revelations quickly fits in with the horror aspects of the series. There's plenty of blood filling the environment, enemies are at times incredibly horrific (look out for Rachel, you'll end up dreading her appearing once again as the game progresses), innocent people die terrible deaths, and the settings, especially the Queen Zenobia, leave little room for an easy escape. Like the titles before it, Revelations thrives on the unexpected first encounters, and the realisation that a hard confrontation with an antagonist is always close by. The boss battles are also well thought out, and the story fits in well with the rest of the Resident Evil timeline.

            In terms of the controls, the game is much better to handle when using the Circle Pad Pro add-on which simply clips on to the 3DS. It may look rather bulky, but it's rather comfortable to use, and enhances the gameplay, which is a little fiddly at times when used normally. Capcom avoids the co-op play that Resident Evil 5 introduced, and instead includes an AI partner (Parker) who will help you to shoot down enemies when the situation is getting a little sticky. Thankfully, unlike Resident Evil 5's Sheva, Parker will not want to heal you constantly, and does not drain your resources. In fact, you are left to your own devices for the most part.

            As well as the main story, Revelations comes packaged with Raid mode, where players are able to work through a series of short missions to increase rank, unlock new weaponry and upgrades, new characters, and much more. In the absence of a mercenary's mode, the Raid mode fills the hole perfectly, and makes a break from some of the longer levels and tough boss battles.

            Another welcome addition is play coins, which can be unlocked by using the Nintendo 3DS' pedometer. Play coins can be exchanged for unlocks, so it works as a good incentive for keeping on the move.

            Resident Evil Revelations is a fantastic 3DS title, and also a worthy addition to the Resident Evil series. It pushes the boundaries of the 3DS console with fantastic graphics and high quality sound. It's also nice to see a return to the spirit of the original games, which Resident Evil 4, but 5 in particular stray away from somewhat. It's fantastic to see that the series works just as well in portable form, and fans should not be deterred by this. It's just as good, even better might I add, than the console versions. It is by far the best game available on the Nintendo 3DS so far, and survival horror fans will love that there are plenty of opportunities to get scared within.

            -Also featured on 8-Bit Girl http://8-bitgirl.blogspot.com/2012/02/resident-evil-revelations-review.html

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            • King Of Kong (DVD) / Documentary / 28 Readings / 27 Ratings
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              22.01.2012 00:02
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              May seem a little biased, but this is an engrossing, competitive look at gaming in America.

              Having previously seen Chasing Ghosts, a documentary about a group of gamers who have broken video game records, I finally got to check out The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters today. I thank my month's trial of Netflix on my Xbox 360 for that one. Anyway, on to the review.

              Seth Gordon's documentary The King of Kong follows Steve Wiebe, a family man who becomes addicted to the idea of breaking the world record for the arcade classic, Donkey Kong. Billy Mitchell has held the world record for over 20 years, and the film covers Steve's attempts to make it to number one. The idea of watching others play video games may seem boring for some, but The King of Kong manages to convey the competitive side of it, rather interestingly too.

              Not only does The King of Kong follow the exploits of Billy Mitchell and Steve Wiebe, arguably the two best Donkey Kong players in America, but it also focuses on the Twin Galaxies organisation and those associated with it. For those unaware, the film quickly establishes that Twin Galaxies is the organisation that serves as the official referee and scorekeeper in the gaming world.

              The film touches on how this seemingly innocent passion for gaming can quickly turn into an unhealthy obsession, which the two main competitors, Billy Mitchell and Steve Wiebe, both suffer from (Mitchell on a much larger scale than Wiebe).

              The film begins with the introduction of Steve Wiebe. Judging from brief facts about his past, Wiebe is a rather talented man who cannot handle his failure to succeed within his own personal ambitions. Finding himself unemployed suddenly, Wiebe is left with a great deal of free time, which he spent earning his Donkey Kong record from his garage.

              Mitchell, being the egotistical man that he is painted to be, of course isn't happy that he's been replaced as the Donkey Kong poster boy after more than two decades, so a bit of controversy ensues over Wiebe's home-set record, and Wiebe is then challenged to embark on a 3,000 mile journey to re-claim his title on a public machine.

              Whether the claims that Mitchell's part in this documentary has been heavily edited or not is not that important. What we do gather from watching The King of Kong, if you are inclined to believe this depiction (which, gathered from Chasing Ghosts, I am) is that Mitchell is not only a egotistical, overly competitive and snide man, but he's also a bit of a coward. It is rather frustrating seeing Mitchell refuse a live Donkey Kong showdown against Wiebe every time, until eventually, we end the film on the realisation that such a showdown will never materialise. Mitchell shows his cowardice by contradicting his claim that records can only be genuinely accepted "live" in a public setting by failing to show up to Funspot, and submitting a dodgy copy of his score set at home. After slating Wiebe for setting a record at home, then going ahead and doing this himself, it just seems a little hard to actually like this man.

              Perhaps just as odious as Mitchell is his right hand man, and phone-spy, the weedy Brian Kuh, who rather blatantly shows his dislike of Steve Wiebe and his record breaking ambition in a pathetic, "sore loser" fashion.

              Not only does the film show the frustrating but fascinating look at the competitive American wannabe gaming record breakers, but it also fraught with some moments of high-strung tension. The prime example of this would be the moment when Wiebe and Mitchell finally meet, after Mitchell finally makes an appearance at Funspot (and no, he doesn't play whilst he's there either). It's an awkward moment where Mitchell refuses to acknowledge that Wiebe is even there, but tries to distract him from his session. The scene is brief, ending with Mitchell sneaking away without uttering even a simple "hello" to his rival.

              The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters is an insightful and engrossing look into the competitive world of gaming. Seth Gordon has successfully portrayed Wiebe as a down-on-his luck family man who you cannot help but root for right until the ending. On the opposite end, Gordon has presented us with Mitchell, who, you guessed it, we can't help but dislike. It's a great battle between good and bad, which will hold the attention of even those who do not dabble in video gaming. In short, it's an underdog story, and a damn good one at that.

              -Also featured on 8-Bit Girl: http://8-bitgirl.blogspot.com/2012/01/review-king-of-kong.html
              Also on Ciao under "MonsoonBaby88"

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              • ilomilo (Xbox 360) / Xbox 360 Game / 27 Readings / 26 Ratings
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                13.01.2012 19:50
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                A heart warming, cute, excellent designed and fun puzzle game. This one is a must!

                Every once in a while a game comes along that leaves a smile on your face. For me, Pikmin holds aspects of this, but now an Xbox Arcade title has grabbed the first place for adorableness.

                ilomilo was released in November 2010 on the Xbox Live Arcade. Available as a downloadable title, ilomilo features a simple premise: reunite Ilo and Milo so that they can go for a picnic together. Being a puzzle game, reuniting these two companions is not going to be a particularly easy task. Obstacles will be in their way, strategies will have to be implemented, and both characters will need to work together (either by a single player pressing a button on the controller to switch character, or with another player) in order to reunite to complete the level. The game features 49 levels which steadily get much trickier as the game progresses.

                In order to meet up with one another, Ilo and Milo must walk across stretching, expanding dogs, ride an assortment of creatures, drop through trapdoors, bounce across gaps or create bridges to maneuver them. Ilo or Milo cannot jump away from obstacles, or to a higher level. Instead, the puzzle part comes in to how to steer a path through the obstructions. Players will have to put their thinking caps on to work out how to move cubes into the rightful place, avoid obstructing creatures, and free themselves from dead ends. The puzzles can be very frustrating at times, especially towards the final level, but they are achievable after a long bout of trial and error. It all depends on how great your level of persistence is though.

                Playing this with another person is definitely the most enjoyable way to experience ilomilo. Whilst players have to take it in turn to navigate their character through the level, the other player gets to mess around with some quirky little characters playing out of tune instruments. Whilst this is only a simple touch, like everything in this game, simplicity definitely wins.

                The heart-warming element of ilomilo comes in the game's design. The world appears to have been created out of patchwork material, and each character (including Ilo and Milo themselves) seems to be made out of the same substance. There is a child-like quality to the surroundings, and this is made more apparent in the smaller details, such as drawn on crayon faces on the trapdoors, and the look of the creatures. The backgrounds are just as vibrant, detailed and cute as the foreground, and the cheerful music further adds to this already cute, quirky, and happy game.

                The premise is incredibly simple here, but the message on offer carries enough emotion to create a thoughtful, evoking game. The simple tale of friendship is something that surely everyone can relate to. Both characters work together in order to complete the level, and this makes ilomilo an excellent two-player game.

                Those who own Raskulls, or A World of Keflings should be aware that purchasing ilomilo unlocks some additional content in both of these games. A World of Keflings additional content allows you to incorporate Ilo and Milo into the game (complete with their own house) whilst Raskulls allows players to race as these cute characters.

                There is plenty to love in ilomilo. The puzzles are thoughtfully constructed, the innocent, child-like setting adds to the heart-warming feeling, and the simple music, cute characters and adorable premise means that it is hard to not have a smile on your face whilst playing this. The presentation is where ilomilo appears to succeed the most though, as the levels and cute look are well thought out. The quirkiness may not appeal to everybody, but for those prepared to accept this, deep within an enjoyable game is found.

                -This review is also on 8-Bit Girl http://8-bitgirl.blogspot.com/2011/07/ilomilo-heart-warming-puzzle-game.html
                Also on Ciao under "MonsoonBaby88"

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                • More +
                  11.01.2012 22:58
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                  An excellent accompaniment to the fantastic game, Lost Odyssey. A must listen!

                  From the moment the main theme begins on the games menu screen, I knew I would fall in love with the Lost Odyssey soundtrack. Not only does the soundtrack carry a rich, cinematic feel, but it is somewhat moving-should I say inspiring at points. For me, the Lost Odyssey soundtrack is one of my favourite game soundtracks (although personally the Zelda soundtracks still hold the top spots). Composed by long-time musician Nobuo Uematsu, Lost Odyssey's soundtrack comprises of a whopping 55 tracks, and surprisingly, all but two are excellent.

                  Reviewing all 55 tracks will not only be an epic read for you all, but incredibly tiresome for myself, so join me as I discuss the highlights of this impressive soundtrack.

                  The soundtrack begins with "Prologue", the main theme of the game. The song is rather slow paced, but has a miltitaristic feel to it. This militaristic feel is continued in the games following song, "Battlefield", a rousing song that brought to mind rows upon rows of soldiers marching into battle. This theme runs all the way through the next two songs, until we suddenly reach a different feel.

                  "An Immortal Life", a melancholy track that serves as Kaim's theme. The track is reminiscent of "Prologue", but the pace has been slowed, and the militaristic feel has been replaced. This melancholy mood continues through the next track, "Wohl Highlands", which carries a more laidback feel than the long list of battle themes the album contains.

                  This slow pace does not last for long though, as the next track, "Battle Conditions" destroys the ambience the previous two tracks had created, in favour for a fast paced, frantic sounding battle track which makes it's debut in one of the games first bosses. For anyone who has listened to Uematsu's soundtracks before, this is much more faithful to his normal sound, and contains the usual arrangement of synths, guitars and drum beats. "Victory" is a track that would be heard constantly throughout the game, as this serves as the victory music for whenever a battle has been won. It's a rousing brass-led song that fades out towards the end into the games main theme. (My geek moment comes in sharing with you the fact that this one is my alarm tone, and rouses me out of bed every morning).

                  The next bunch of tracks comprises of a mixture of town/city themes. Each of these themes ranges from melancholic, relaxing to somewhat tense sounding, which helps to add a bit of variety to the proceedings. Each city theme really captures the essence of the city they represent too. For instance, "The Capital of Gohtza" sounds very sinister and cold, which reflects the cities ruler completely. Out of all the city themes, my favourite has got to be "The Capital of Numara", which is perhaps one of the most laidback tracks on the entire album.

                  In between the various city themes lies a few journey inspired tracks. "Neverending Journey" is an acoustic and panpiped led track that plays whenever the players next destination is being selected on the world map. The song starts with a definite folky, eastern sound, but the typical Uematsu guitars weave their way into the song by the end, thus changing the sound completely. For the most part it is an interesting song, where the instrumentals really shine above many other songs on the album. "The White Mother Ship" (a personal favourite), plays during the sea exploration sections. It has a real heroic feel, but also holds the laidback feel that many of the songs on the Lost Odyssey soundtrack hold. "Yosolo" is another track that plays during the boat driving game play. A particular favourite on the album, this track encapsulates the sense of adventure with a cheerful, pleasant on the ears sound. This one is placed between two other cheerful tracks, which help to break up the sinister vibe of those immediately surrounding them.

                  The album often dips back into this military theme that was hinted at from the beginning track, "Prologue." Every few songs a track is dropped in that fits with the war theme, such as "March of War", "The Mystery of the Death Machine" and "A Formidable Enemy Appears!." Whilst these are for the most part enjoyable, I prefer the more laidback tracks, or the songs that vary the album significantly. It is at this point that it is worth mentioning the more bizarre but fun sounding tracks on the album. The first of these being "Kelelon Forest", a goofy child-like track that has a Zelda-esque vibe to it. For those who have played the game and remember encountering the Kelelon's, I am sure you'll agree that the music fits perfectly with their characters. "A Tiny Memory", used frequently during the "A Thousand Years of Dreams" stories again adopts a child-like sound, and is a pleasant, smile-inducing track.

                  There are plenty of sinister tracks filling up the album that add to the overall doom and gloom feel of a world struggling through a war. "The Witches Mansion" is the creepiest track on the album, performed souly on what sounds like a honky tonk piano. The plodding pace and careful consideration of the tempo creates a tense and effective piece.

                  For the most part, the album is fantastic, but there are a few tracks that can be missed on occasions. The first of these being "What You Are" by Sheena Easton. The track may appeal to some, but I found it incredibly cheesy, and, if I am being honest, a little irritating. The same goes for "Kaette Kuru, Kitto", the song which kiddie characters Cooke and Mack sing at one point in the game. Again, this I just found a little too irritating for myself.

                  So, on the whole, Nobuo Uematsu has created an excellent soundtrack for Lost Odyssey. Whilst fans of his previous work may feel that it brings nothing new to his repertoire, it certainly works for this four disc game. The soundtrack is a perfect blend of battle, character, city/town and situation themes, meaning that it does not suffer from too much repetition. It's a solid score that I find myself enjoying over and over again.


                  -Also listed on 8-Bit Girl http://8-bitgirl.blogspot.com/2011/10/lost-odyssey-soundtrack-review.html

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                    08.01.2012 20:43
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                    Fans of the game will LOVE this book. Plenty of darkly beautiful illustrations inside!

                    American McGee's Alice: Madness Returns, released in 2011 had a creepy, macabre, but visually stunning design. However, I feel that you cannot actually appreciate the aesthetics until you've viewed the concept designs, official commissioned pieces and more in the Dark Horse published hardback artbook, The Art of Alice: Madness Returns.

                    Artist anecdotes, an introduction from American McGee himself, and plenty of art is scattered throughout the 184 pages of this delightful hardback book. Not only is there a lot of pages, but the paper is thick and glossy, the binding is great, and it looks great in an eye-catching hardback cover.

                    It seems pretty obvious to most, but unless you've never played Alice: Madness Returns, the book probably isn't worth picking up. Also, just as a warning, this artbook is rather gruesome for the most part. If there's not a splattering of gore, there are plenty of disturbing enough pieces of art which deems this unsuitable for the squeamish, and those who shy away from the stranger things in life.

                    The book begins with a lengthily introduction from the game's creator, American McGee, whose twisted fantasy vision is seen throughout not only this game, but Madness Return's predecessor, American McGee's Alice. This introduction sheds some light on the initial creation of this sequel title, and provides McGee with the opportunity to express his pride at helping to create such a visually driven video game. After this, the book is split up into different sections, which present the artwork for different aspects of the game, such as the preproduction, the designing of the Victorian London seen in the game, and Alice's dresses.

                    It's surprising to see how much art was created for the game-most of it in this book never actually made it into the game, but gave some examples of how different Alice: Madness Returns could have been if it was included. These include enemy designs which were either deemed too bizarre or gruesome, or because they simply did not fit in with the rest of the chosen characters.

                    Every single page welcomes a brand new surprise or wonderful image that I for one could not help but stare at for ages. The book brings illustrations such as a Jack the Ripper style character mixed with the creatures of HP Lovecraft novels, angler fish with human legs, steampunk and gothic creations, and much more. The book includes a two page spread of a painting of a mother giving birth to lots of children. It's a bloody, bizarre picture that even I, who has enjoyed the rest of the quirky art contained in this book, understood why it was deemed too gory for the game! (I often skip this picture rather quickly when flicking through the book).

                    There is so much packed into The Art of Alice: Madness Returns that it is impossible to read it, and look at all the pictures from cover to cover in one go. I found that it has taken me several read-through's to read every single comment on the art, as well as view and appreciate this high quality art before I could officially say that I've been through this art book completely.

                    What makes this book that much more interesting is the inclusion of comments from those who have worked on the game. Each and every illustration is explained by one of the team, and it really helps to explain what the creators were aiming to convey when Alice: Madness Returns was released to the general public.

                    The larger illustrations in the book are magnificent, and I found myself being drawn into looking at huge amount of detail in these images for ages before I was able to turn the page. These large paintings really depict a wonderfully twisted, gothic world that players wander through during playing Madness Returns. The final few pages present some of the game's official commissioned pieces which tied in with the advertising of the game. Fans should be quite familiar with these, but they look even better in a glossy paged hardback book.

                    Overall, The Art of Alice: Madness Returns is a gorgeous art book. Fans of the game will love this, especially as it comes packed with so many illustrations that did not make it into the final version of the game. There is plenty of gothic, dark, quirky and macabre pieces of art inside, most of which are still strangely beautiful. However, as you may have gathered, it's a dark book, and it does contain a substantial level of gore (blood mainly) in a large proportion of the drawings. Therefore, if you're a little squeamish, or darker, gothic art does not appeal to you, then you may not want to check it out. A lot of the pieces of art remind me of a cross between surrealist painters Salvador Dali and Mark Ryden (the latter is actually quoted as being a major influence during the art stage of the game), with splatterings of Tim Burton and American McGee, as well as a distinctly victorian, gothic, colourful feel. It's a fantastic artbook which I still enjoy looking through. I highly recommend it!


                    -Also listed on 8-Bit Girl http://8-bitgirl.blogspot.com/2012/01/art-of-alice-madness-returns-review.html

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                      03.01.2012 22:24
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                      A quirky, bizarre but beautiful looking fun point and click game. Recommended!

                      Point and click adventures have always been popular sellers on the Xbox 360 Arcade. Titles such as Sam & Max, Tales of Monkey Island and Wallace and Gromit have graced the console, and in 2009 a rather charming point and click by the name of Axel & Pixel joined them.

                      Created by 2K Play, the game follows a painter named Axel, and his faithful dog, Pixel. The duo live in a cosy cottage in a peaceful location, but their peace is soon disturbed by the appearance of an evil rat. This mysterious rodent transports them into a bizarre and somewhat creepy dream world. Axel and Pixel must now pursue the rat through 24 levels in order to escape back to their cottage.

                      For the most part, each chapter involves navigating Axel and Pixel from the left hand side of the screen to the right. As with all point and click games, there are plenty of obstacles which the player must find and solve before the duo are able to make it across safely. Some involve solving puzzles, whilst clicking other parts of the screen will start amusing animations (which sometimes, are not necessary to complete the chapter, but are enjoyable nonetheless). At times this may feel very challenging, but three clues on each level are available if you find yourself struggling too much. I have never been excellent at point and click games, as those types of puzzles were never my strong point, but in all honesty, I never felt the need to use a hint. Each puzzle should be completed without the aid of hints if you have a little persistence.

                      What appeals most about Axel & Pixel is it's art style. The scenery has a dream-like quality, but at also at times looks rather creepy, but not enough to put children off from playing this. A lot of humour and charm is included in the range of characters, which helps to add to Axel & Pixel's enjoyment factor.The great thing about Axel & Pixel is that it is a family-friendly game, but the developers have not completely made the location look childish, or the puzzles too simple. The soundtrack helps to convey the dream-like, eerie quality on display here, and the almost stop-motion animation of the characters not only adds a little comedy to the proceedings, but is rather memorable.

                      The game would have been in danger of becoming too samey if it simply incorporated a "get from a to b" element in each chapter. Thankfully though, Axel & Pixel thankfully avoids the repetition by including in breaks from the point and click game play. These range from Quicktime events, vehicle racing missions (such as steering a sail boat through a course) and a selection of logic-based puzzles, such as fitting pipes together in the correct order.

                      Collectable bones, paint tubes and photos are scattered throughout the game for those wishing to unlock the collectable achievements. Some of these are rather difficult to find at times, so either I suggest you use a guide online to hunt for these, or really scrutinise each section before moving on to the next part. Never fear though, as each level can be replayed from the main menu if you wish to pick up any that have been missed.

                      Overall, Axel & Pixel is a fantastic point-and-click adventure that is incredibly enjoyable and artistic. It is easy to get wrapped up in this dreamy world, but unfortunately, it is all rather short lived. Axel & Pixel can be completed within a few hours, and left me personally wanting another adventure. It has been almost two years since the release of this game, and sadly it appears a follow up is not appearing any time soon. Hopefully the developers will remember that this charming little point-and-click game has so much potential for a sequel, but if not, I would highly recommend checking the one and only Axel & Pixel out.

                      -Also featured on 8-Bit Girl http://8-bitgirl.blogspot.com/2011/07/axel-pixel-quirky-point-click-game.html

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                        02.01.2012 22:00
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                        An incredibly fun dancing game that also makes for a perfect party game.

                        Dance Central is the first "proper" dance game I have ever played. Whilst there have been plenty before it-think of the Dance Dance Revolution/Dancing Stage series for instance, but for me, this is the first time in which I've actually had to use my full body, rather than just the feet movements that the DDR series adopted with the dance mat.

                        It takes a bit of courage to play a title like this in front of others, but once you've got over the embarrassment of dancing energetically to fully chroregraphed routines, this can actually be turned into a fun, and addictive party title. However, dancing along solo and completing the challenges along the way packs plenty of fun also.

                        Created by Harmonix, the brains behind the Rockband series, Dance Central uses the Kinect to record the players complete body movements. Whilst the "Easy" difficulty may be rather forgiving in most dance moves, the later, more complex routines in the harder settings can provide a demanding, but still surprisingly fun, challenge. The player follows large on-screen "flash card" prompts, which range from simple side steps to much more complicated movements that require the use of both his or her legs and arms at the same time.

                        Dance Central's track list includes more than 30 songs, which range from a variety of different genres, and provide a funky blend of modern and old songs. For instance, players will find themselves grooving along to "Jungle Boogie" by Kool and the Gang, or hip-swinging to the rhythm of Lady Gaga's "Poker Face".

                        As you progress through Dance Central, you'll realise just how incredibly difficult this game can get. The hard difficulty holds some true challenges, which even I, who exercises pretty much daily, struggled with at times. Unfortunately it's a little too tricky to get a 4 or 5 star rating on some of the trickier songs on this difficulty, which tarnished my enjoyment, but only slight. It's the same with Rockband-I could only get so far before the difficulty started to get the better of me. However, some people may find this an absolute cakewalk. I guess it depends on your gaming expertise.

                        Thankfully though, Dance Central does have a "Break It Down" mode which helps those who are struggling master the moves one move at a time. Players also have the option to slow down the routine until they feel they have mastered the steps. An instructor talks you through each move as you try it out, which is also incredibly helpful. After working through a "Break It Down" version of your chosen song, it's time to try out the proper performance. Nine times out of ten I found that the tutorial mode was beneficial, and I was able to get a better score than I had on the previous try.

                        For those wanting to use Dance Central as a fitness tool, the game comes complete with a Workout Mode. In this mode, players will enter their weight, and then the game will record how many calories they have burned during their dance session. This mode is simply activated by ticking the "workout mode" box, which I always include during my sessions. It's surprising to see that you actually manage to burn a significant amount of calories during dancing. For instance, on my last playthrough, I burned 240 calories in just 35 minutes. Not bad for someone who has been known to have two left feet in the past. As well as actually giving you a workout, Dance Central will leave you covered in sweat by the end. Of course, the more effort you throw into the routines, the sweatier you will become, but some of the faster, more complex songs are incredibly demanding in this respect. You'll definitely appreciate that shower once your dancing session has been completed for the day.

                        Unlike my other recent dance game purchase, Just Dance 3, I actually feel that I can follow the routines on screen. There are not any particularly unfair moves, but there are definitely moves that require a considerable amount of practice. I found the routines incredibly fun, and quite easy to pick up on at times, especially after practising it in the "Break It Down" mode. Menu navigation, which is done entirely by waving your hand over your desired option, may seem a little tricky at first, but it soon becomes second nature.

                        The only aspects of the game which disappointed me slightly is that I wish there was more variety in the styles of music. Dance Central is filled with plenty of R&B, Hip-Hop and dance tracks, but it would of been nice if some rock, or even some more pop tracks were included in the mix. The cheesier tracks, like "Jungle Boogie", held some funky disco dance moves, which I found some of the funniest and most enjoyable routines in the game. It seems a shame that more of this wasn't included, as they'd definitely go down well if used as a party game.

                        The game caters for the party audience in it's "Dance Battle" mode, where two players take it in turns to make it through a song. Whilst their score is combined to create an overall star rating, there is also an element of competition added where players scores are shown separately at the end. I have had plenty of laughs trying out this mode with friends and family, so I highly recommend grabbing a dancing partner to try this out.

                        Overall, Dancing Central is an excellent Kinect title. It's great fun, it gets you fit, and makes for a perfect party game. There's some great songs on offer here, and even if you're not a fan of the music, the routines are a joy to complete. The game manages to combine video gaming with dancing superbly, and definitely deserves a positive mention.

                        -Also listed on 8-Bit Girl http://8-bitgirl.blogspot.com/2012/01/dance-central-review.html
                        Also on Ciao under "MonsoonBaby88"

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                        • Mario Paint (PC) / PC Game / 23 Readings / 22 Ratings
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                          01.01.2012 23:18
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                          A great collection of mini-games, and a definite SNES classic. Recommended!

                          Released in 1992 on the SNES, Mario Paint was the first Nintendo title to use the SNES mouse peripheral.

                          What makes Mario Paint so memorable is the wide variety of mini-games on offer. These include a colouring book style section where players can choose from a number of Mario themed pictures and colour them however they wish. Another features a stamp maker, where players can create their own pixel-by-pixel stamps to use during the drawing sections of Mario Paint.

                          Mario Paint also allowed players to create their own brief looping animations, which could be set to music. The mini-game that I recall playing the most is the fly-swatting game called Coffee Break. It is a fast-paced action game that sees the player taking the role of a gloved hand holding a flyswatter. Using the mouse, players must swat the flies on the screen with the flyswatter for three levels until they reach the boss. Beat the boss, and you go straight back to level one again, and can continually play this game in a loop until you've tired of it.

                          I have fond memories of creating songs on the Mario Paint Composer section of the game. I remember thinking I'd created some great little numbers, but being 5 years old at the time, it is highly unlikely that this was the case. Those wishing to recreate the masterpieces they mixed up back in 1992 may do so by downloading the Mario Paint Composer by UFun Games. Time and patience is needed if you actually want to make something even half decent though. You've been warned!

                          Not only were the mini-games full of click-able sections, the title screen was too. Click each letter in the "Mario Paint" logo, and you'll experience a brief animation that ranges from changing the title music, Yoshi sprinting past, Mario shrinking to his "before mushroom" form, and more. If you have quick enough reflexes, you can even click the falling star which whizzes past the screen. If you do this, a long and rather fun animation appears (I'm not going to spoil it for those who are intrigued enough to try it themselves). I remember the satisfaction of finally managing to do this!

                          Overall, Mario Paint is a great addition to the ever-expanding Mario series. Whilst there may not be much to it, the mini-games are light-hearted fun. Also, Mario Paint paved the way for future games of this nature, such as the WarioWare series.

                          -Also listed on 8-Bit Girl: http://8-bitgirl.blogspot.com/2011/11/retro-review-mario-paint.html

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                          30.12.2011 02:22
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                          Grotesquely beautiful and visually macabre, Alice: Madness Returns is excellent!

                          Eleven years ago, American McGee's Alice was released on the PC. The game featured a much creepier, sinister and nightmarish version of Lewis Carroll's Wonderland, with a distinct American McGee style. This year signalled the long-awaited sequel, Alice: Madness Returns.

                          Whilst the début game was great, it definitely suffered from a few flaws within the gameplay itself, but has Alice: Madness Returns managed to avoid this? Thankfully, on the whole, this is a worthy sequel that is much, much better than it's predecessor.

                          In Alice: Madness Returns, Alice, the games returning protagonist, has not managed to escape the demons and hallucinations that plagued her throughout the first game. This time around, Alice's own Wonderland creation inside of her mind has merged with her real Victorian London surroundings, thus creating an even darker and deeper caricature than we have seen before.

                          Soon after the games initial cut scene, it is clear to see that the game is a visual treat. Surroundings are packed with plenty of detail, and Alice's Wonderland gives off a surreal, twisted and damn right sinister vibe. Fans of the dark and macabre will love this. Not only does it show off American McGee's now recognised aesthetics, but it also, at least for me, presents itself as a darker version of Tim Burton. Think Tim Burton on acid perhaps. Players are thrust into a world full of gory creatures, great platforming moments, and some brilliant level design.

                          To fully understand the significance of Alice's mental struggles in this sequel, it is probably best to take a step back and mention the ending of American McGee's Alice. In Alice, this troubled dark child had apparently won her battle with her insanity. She has visited Wonderland and successfully fought the evil Red Queen. It appears that her insanity, which was provoked after a fire at her home killed her parents and sister, has been sedated. Or has it?

                          Race forward a few years and we find in Alice: Madness Returns that her recovery has not been a speedy one. Alice is still under psychiatric care, and her own memories of her families tragedy, combined with her visions of Wonderland, are in tatters. Whilst her psychiatrist pushes her to forget her troubled past, Alice has trouble doing just that, and soon enough, she finds herself once again duelling in her imagined world of Wonderland. However, Wonderland is not what it once was. The Wonderland she once remembered as a magical, wonderful place has been replaced by a ruined, terrifying and sinister world. Alice soon realises that Wonderland is in danger from the evil that lurks within. A product of her disturbed and fragile mind, Alice must save Wonderland in order to save herself, and vice versa. Rather than taking the quirky route of Lewis Carroll's classic novel, this Spicy Horse developed game has turned Wonderland into a world of nightmares, with plenty of psychological links.

                          Whilst the Wonderland segments of the game, which take up a vast proportion of the gameplay, are excellent, Alice's wanders through the grimy, soot-riddled streets of Victorian London is where the game thrives as well. Alice: Madness Returns manages to convey the seedier side of London, such as the brothels, as well as portraying a stark black and white, miserable, but somewhat darkly amusing depiction of London during the Industrial Revolution. Alice's London is full of filthy, craggy looking people, and is even less attractive than London depicted in Charles Dickens novels.

                          However, Wonderland itself is definitely Madness Returns' highlight. The game is divided up into chapters, which present a different theme in each one. For example, one area is set in the Mad Hatter's domain, a steampunk style factory where a clockwork style Mad Hatter resides alongside the a robotic March Hare and mechanical Dormouse. Another is an oriental style area, where Alice battles samurai wasps, and one of my personal favourites is the underwater level, where Alice uses her variety of weapons against drowned sailors, sharks and sinister fish. Alice: Madness Returns definitely thrives on it's visuals-from the excellent themed level design, to the Alice's matching clothing which changes from chapter to chapter.

                          Another great aspect of Madness Returns is the music. The score is full of creepy tinkling noises, and sounds atmospheric and creepy for the most parts. The tense thumping boss battle music also fits perfectly. Like American McGee's Alice though, occasionally some characters dialogue is drowned out by the overly loud music. I found this is particularly evident during the Cheshire Cat dialogue sections.

                          For the most part, the gameplay feels rather fluid, and is a vast improvement on the controls in the previous game. Alice initiates a graceful floating jump which floats her down to the next platform, which is fun to engage in. The combat is also much smoother this time around. Alice locks on to the chosen antagonist then selects one of her weapons-the Vorpal Blade, Hobbyhorse, Pepper Grinder or the Teapot to defeat them. Being a huge Zelda fan, a lot of the gameplay for myself reminded me of the Zelda series, from the lock-on combat, to one musical section in the underwater segment of the game. This section involved playing a tune by pressing the buttons on screen in the correct order. The way this was set out is clearly reminiscent of the Ocarina playing parts of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. As well as the combat and floaty sections, Alice can also shrink down to a minute size to enter keyholes, where memories or treasures can be found. Come across a floating pig snout (I did mention this game was bizarre, didn't I?) and shoot them full of pepper in order to unlock new pathways which Alice can manoeuvre. The gameplay is a little challenging at times which helps to make things that bit more interesting, but occasionally mini-bosses are repeated which become incredibly easy to beat after a while (the large black ooze dripping creations being one of them). There are a few moments of "fetch" style quests which can get a tiny bit repetitive, but on the whole, it's a lot of fun.

                          Alice: Madness Returns platforming sections are broken up by the occasional puzzle, and different gameplay ideas, such as a side-scrolling underwater shooting section, and the paper-craft style oriental side-scrolling platforming. Whilst these sections are only brief, they help to keep the game refreshing, and break up the repetitiveness which sometimes is felt in parts of the gameplay.

                          Although Alice: Madness Returns is a great game, it is not perfect. The game suffers from a few frame-rate issues at times (most notably during the London sections), and sometimes the textures do not seem to flow as fluidly as perhaps they should. Sometimes the platforming gameplay can get a little frustrating (it can be hard to judge a jump at times, due to a badly placed camera angle). Levels can get a little repetitive at times, but on the whole, Madness Returns is a fun game to endure. The game is certainly a visual treat which is full of macabre imagery, and thrives on creative ideas. It also largely improves on it's predecessor in style, graphics and gameplay.

                          Alice: Madness Returns can be completed in around 9 or 10 hours, but thankfully the game comes with a code to download the original Alice, a port of the original PC version. This version has not been updated for a HD audience, and the gameplay may seem a little dated and flawed at times, but this sinister, creepy and eye-catching style is present once more. Oh, and it includes a few bonus achievements/trophies, if you're into that kind of thing. Sadly this game did get a little overlooked upon it's June 2011 release, so I urge you to check it out now.



                          -Also featured on 8-Bit Girl: http://8-bitgirl.blogspot.com/2011/12/alice-madness-returns-review.html
                          Also listed on Ciao under "MonsoonBaby88"

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                          • Medievil (PS) / Archive Game / 40 Readings / 37 Ratings
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                            24.11.2011 00:30
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                            A fun, brilliantly styled and humorous game, MediEvil is definitely an older classic!

                            Originally released near Halloween in October 1998 (a rather fitting date for the games subject matter), MediEvil tells the tale of of a deceased knight (the noble Sir Dan) as he fights to rid the land of Gallowmere of the evil Zarok and his undead army.

                            Sir Dan is definitely a hero gamers can root for. He's the underdog-the knight who dreamed of being regarded as a hero by his peers. Unfortunately though, Sir Dan fell in the line of duty at the beginning of the battle against the evil wizard Zarok. Thankfully, MediEvil allows Sir Dan to have another chance at gaining this renown, after Sir Dan is resurrected to battle Zarok, who has returned once again. As a player, you can definitely feel the excitement as you inch Sir Dan ever-closer to being regarded as a true hero. As a consequence, the storyline is one of the strongest parts of the game.

                            To me, MediEvil is a cross between the gameplay of Ghosts 'N Goblins, and the gothic but fun aesthetics adopted in Tim Burton films, most notably The Nightmare Before Christmas. Being a huge fan of Tim Burton's work, I feel that this is why the game has stuck by me for so many years, and why I also have such fond memories of playing through it.

                            The game involves collecting and using a variety of weapons to hack through a hoard of creatures. Although hacking and slashing makes up a large amount of the game, MediEvil is punctuated with puzzle sections, each unique to the last. It makes for a nice change, and stops the game from becoming too repetitive and as a consequence, boring. There is also a chance to upgrade weapons by visiting gargoyles or opening treasure chests, and collecting items throughout the levels. Once a certain number of enemies are obliterated, a chalice can be gained which gives you access to the Hall of Heroes, a place where heroic ghosts give Sir Dan special weapons or items on each visit, which is a nice incentive to keep playing.

                            Unfortunately every game, even the supposed "perfect" ones suffer from a flaw or two, no matter how great or small it may be. In MediEvil, it is firstly, the camera positioning. This is a common problem in this genre, and in this game, the perspective has to be shifted regularly in order to get a better view of the surroundings. Secondly, some may find the idea of repeatedly hacking and slashing through levels may get a little tiresome for some, but if you're after a light-hearted, no-brainer hack and slash game, then look no further than MediEvil.

                            On face value, MediEvil lacks innovation, as it adopts the straight forward hack and slash platformer that we have seen many times before. However, the puzzles are a joy to complete, and the cartoon-gothic style is a pleasure to look at. MediEvil triumphs the most in it's goofy, humorous and engaging story and great, spooky looking visuals. The mix of unique levels and puzzles also add a substantial amount of diversity to the proceedings. The game is let down somewhat by the frustrating camera controls, but on the whole, this platformer is great fun.


                            *Also featured on 8-bitgirl.blogspot.com
                            Also on Ciao under "MonsoonBaby88"

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