Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Death Race – The First Video Game Controversy

It is still way too early to see the full list of games that will be featured at the upcoming Houston Arcade Expo set to take place October 8-9, but there are already several games of note listed to be there. One of them caused a huge public uproar when it was released back in 1976, becoming the first socially controversial video game and thus cementing its place in early arcade history. I'd seen pictures of this game before but this year I finally get to check it out in person - Death Race.


First, let me tell you about Death Race's father. In 1975, Exidy created the game “Destruction Derby”. In Destruction Derby you drive a car around the screen chasing drone cars and crashing into them to disable them.

Exidy licensed the game to the Chicago Coin Machine Company who had been a major player in the coin-op gaming industry since the 30's, but was running into financial troubles in the 70's.  Chicago Coin released the game as “Demolition Derby” and not only sold fewer games than expected but, according to Pete Kauffman, founder of Exidy Games, refused to pay Exidy the required royalties. As a result, Exidy pulled Destruction Derby and made some modifications so they could re-release it as a new game to compete with Demolition Derby (their own game!). They changed the drone cars to stick figures, animated them to show them running while they moved around, and changed the crashed drones into cross grave markers. Reportedly the working title of the new game was “Pedestrian”, but it was released in January 1976 under the name “Death Race”. (The following year Chicago Coin sold all its assets to Stern Electronics.)


The commonly accepted story is that Death Race was based on the cult-classic movie Death Race 2000 that was released the year before.

Check out the movie trailer below:

The only problem with that theory is that Death Race was basically just a reskinned version of Destruction Derby which was already around when the movie was released - so it probably isnt exactly true. However, based on the title, the modifications made to the gameplay, and the timing of its release, it seems likely that the game reboot was at least inspired by the movie.


In the game Death Race you (and another player if there is one) use a steering wheel, gas pedal, and gear shift to maneuver a car around a single screen trying to run over “gremlins” (pedestrians). Once you run over a gremlin they shriek and then turn into a grave marker which blocks your path if you run into it. So eventually the graves of all your hapless victims become significant obstacles to your navigation of the screen. You have up to 99 seconds to run over and kill as many gremlins as possible. The following ratings are then assigned to you depending on how many kills you get:

1-3:  Skeleton Chaser
4-10:  Bone Cracker
11-20:  Gremlin Hunter
21 or over:  Expert Driver

If you’re prepared to witness the unprecedented horror that is Death Race then steady yourself and check out the gameplay below: (Updated 11/28/2010 - Death Race was a no-show at the HAAG Arcade Expo, but I did finally get to play it at Funspot in New Hampshire since I first posted this so I replaced the original video I used here with my own):


According to Exidy, the pedestrians you pursued in the game were monsters (gremlins), not people, but that convenient distinction made little difference to the non-gaming public who were horrified at the gruesome brutality of the game.

Word of this horrific game started to spread. It was vilified in magazines such as the National Enquirer, Newsweek, and Midnight. As a result of all the negative press many arcade owners chose to simply avoid the game altogether and early sales suffered.

The National Safety Council called the game “sick and morbid”. The story then spread to television. News stations were receiving complaints from parents that were worried about the evil influence the game was having on their children. For Christ's sake man!  These are our kids we're talking about!   The increasing notoriety of the game actually began to have the opposite effect and Exidy sales increased.

Even some people at other gaming companies were offended - such as Atari's Nolan Bushnell:

"We were really unhappy with that game [Death Race]. We had an internal rule that we wouldn't allow violence against people. You could blow up a tank or you could blow up a flying saucer, but you couldn't blow up people. We felt that that was not good form, and we adhered to that all during my tenure."
- Nolan Bushnell

Coverage spilled over onto the Weekend, Today, and Tonight shows on NBC. The controversy eventually culminated in a piece on 60 Minutes that investigated the psychological impact of video games. Anti-Death Race demonstations were held and there were reportedly even cases where protestors pulled the machines out of the arcades and set them on fire (although I'm still looking for documentation of that).

Ultimately, the increased attention to Death Race not only helped Exidy sell more games, but also seemed to help arcade sales in general. In fact, some have attributed the controversy surrounding Death Race with sparking renewed interest in the fledgling arcade industry that had been struggling. Any publicity is good publicity!


In 1987, Death Race gave birth to a son by the same name - Death Race for the NES:

In 1997, Death Race for the NES was attending a gaming conference in Vice City when he accidentally impregnated a prostitute named Playstation. Their bastard son was named Grand Theft Auto. Look how much litte GTA looks like his daddy:

Their 3D cousin Carmegeddon was also born that same year. A lot of folks say he looks more like his movie grandpa Death Race 2000 than his game grandpa Death Race, but they all still sit at the same dinner table at Thanksgiving:

And the family tree just continues to grow. So what am I saying here?  Yes, I'm saying it. Grand Theft Auto IV = Death Race = Destruction Derby. So get over yourself RockStar!


Death Race has made cameo appearances in the movies Jaws 2 (1978) and Midnight Madness (1980).

The guys over at Rogue Synapse created a shareware version of the original Death Race that you can download and check out here:

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Classic Handheld Gaming

Earlier today I was playing Pinball Hall of Fame on the Sony PSP. While I was impressed with the game's graphics and physics, it got me thinking back to a simpler era of handheld gaming. Let's go back to the late 1970s when all you needed to make a compelling handheld game was a series of red blips on the screen. Of course, I'm referring to Mattel's Football, Basketball and Baseball games.

I got football as a Christmas present while my brother got basketball. I added baseball a little while after that. I'm guessing that virtually every boy between the ages of 8-12 in the late 70s owned at least one of these three games. I can promise you that the hours I put into football alone far eclipses all of the time I've ever put into the PSP.

A few years ago Mattel re-released these games. My wife bought me the football game as a Christmas gift, making it the only non-clothing gift I've ever received for Christmas twice.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

How Far Are You Prepared to Go?

One of the more intriguing game titles for me this year is Heavy Rain by Quantic Dream. The game released earlier this year to strong reviews, but it’s so different from anything I’ve played before that I hesitated buying it. I finally took a leap of faith and got it last week. It was worth every penny.

Heavy Rain is not a traditional game. It’s more of an interactive movie. You don’t have standard control of the main characters as much as you choose their actions. The story follows the case of the Origami Killer who has kidnapped his latest child victim, Shaun Mars. You have approximately four days to find Shaun before the child is drowned.

The story is told through four main characters:

Ethan Mars: father of the kidnapped boy Shaun. Ethan’s once perfect world has fallen apart and he will do anything to save his son.

Scott Shelby: private detective who has been hired by parents of past victims of the Origami Killer. He is conducting his own investigation to bring the killer to justice.

Norman Jayden: FBI serial killer profiler brought in to help the local police to track the killer. Armed with some high tech gadgetry, Norman must overcome his police partner who resents Norman’s presence and his own drug addition.

Madison Paige: Madison is a journalist with designs on writing a book on the killings. In the process she gets close to Ethan and joins the race against time to save Shaun.

A lot of the action takes place in quick time events like you see in God of War, but unlike that game, there is no restart. The story keeps going. Each of the main four characters can die which alters the way the rest of the game plays out.

The story starts slowly as you get to know Ethan and his family and learn the dynamics of the game. Stick with the story though. About an hour in you will be riveted and if you can stay up all night (I can’t) you might just play it straight through to the conclusion.

This game will really test you. Frequently you will be faced with hard choices. You will then find yourself doubting your decision as you move forward. I tried to play the game from the perspective of what would I do if faced with that choice. It’s tough.

What really blew me away is the all of the possible endings. After I finished my playthrough, I went online and read about the endings that other people had and it was stunning how different their experiences were. I have read that there are as many as 22 possible outcomes which provides the game replay value.

Kudos to Quantic Dream for providing the most unique gaming experience that I’ve had in a long time.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Real Excitebike

Fallguy40 has been talking a lot about Exctitebike recently in the wildly popular forum (membership is limited so join now!) and I just happened to stumble across these pics (via Kotaku) of a real-world pixelated bike from Excitebike that some guy built - so I figured it was worth a quick-hit post.  He posted a number of other pics showing off his project on the online magazine Vision02 that you can check out here. He also fabricated the helmet and gear of the little rider dude too.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Walburg Restaurant (and Arcade) in Walburg, Texas

I recently celebrated my birthday by hanging out in the hill country for a few days and going tubing on the Comal River. As a prelude to those activities we started things off with a side trip to a tiny town just north of Austin called Walburg to check out a place I recently discovered online that had just been screaming out to me for a visit - the Walburg Restaurant.

The Walburg Restaurant reportedly offered several things that are right up my alley - good German food, a wide variety of German beers, and an arcade on the property (what!?). And we were more or less in the area so I HAD to go check it out.

First, the beer - they list about 20 German beers on the beer menu on their website, but I'm pretty sure they had quite a few more choices than that - just don't ask me to name them because I had never heard of most of them and the only German I speak is Prost! (learned that one from Beerfest) and Jawohl, herr kommandant! and mach schnell! (got those off Hogan's Heroes. So many exclamation marks - do Germans really yell that much?). So anyway, good beer = check.

Next, the food. They have a menu, but we went on Friday night and they had the buffet rockin' so we went that route. It was a mixture of German and America food with stuff like schnitzel, bratwurst, and sauerbraten alongside fried catfish, shrimp, and brisket. Mrs. MP thought it was awesome, and although I was a little more tempered in my rating I still thought everything was very good except for the potato soup which I wasn't too crazy about. So German food = check.

And lastly, the tie-in to this blog (maybe this part shoulda been first), the Arcade. When is the last time you saw any arcade games in the wild? It's pretty rare man!

The arcade was in an old shack out by the biergarten and there were a couple dozen arcade games along with a foozball table and an air hockey table. I heard there were pins too but I didn't see any - hopefully I didn't miss an entire section somewhere!

Here is a quick rundown of the games I saw:

S.T.U.N. Runner (never seen this one before)
Marble Madness (in a Beat the Champ cabinet? but worked great!)
California Speed
Hydro Thunder
Crazy Taxi
Deer Hunting USA
World Class Bowling Deluxe
Sonic Championship (new one to me)
39-in-1 Multicade (2 of these)
Area 51 / Maximum Force (P2 gun didn’t work)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time (P1 joystick was shaky)
Williams Multicade (with Robotron, Defender, Stargate, Joust, Sinistar, Bubbles, Splat)
Trophy Hunting Bear and Moose
Crisis Zone
X-Men vs. Street Fighter
Dynamite Cop (I hate this game)
Daytona USA (2 of them connected to each other)
Terminator 2 Judgment Day (P2 Gun didn’t work, but P1 gun worked fine)
Nicktoons Racing (Monitor said "no-signal")
Off Road Challenge
Dolphin Blue (never heard of this odd 2003 shooter but I liked it!)
Rampage World Tour
Ms. Pac-Man (Turbo)
L.A. Machine Guns
Pole Position (Classic cockpit version - but not working! argggh!!)

I was hoping for a few more games and a few of them had some mechanical issues that needed a little attention, but overall I enjoyed it. Hey, the arcade gets major points just for existing at all! And the selection of games was okay - although I would have liked to see a few more of the older ones from the 80's, and a few more from a genre other than drivers and shooters. You could play a number of older titles - it's just that you would be playing them on a multicade instead of the real thing which is a little anticlimactic but still pretty cool. Mrs. MP played the hell outta Frogger on the Multicade.

The Arcade is only open on Fridays and Saturdays from 6:00 PM-Midnight, so if you want to play be sure to be out there in that timeframe. Otherwise you can still go in and look at them but they will all be powered down. Also, the Arcade crowd is mostly kids until it starts pushing 10:00 PM or so, but they are very small so they shove out of the way real easy (just kidding people!). They also have a biergarten and live music performed by the local group the Walburg Boys - but I was too busy in the arcade to go check them out so I can't say anything about them one way or the other.

So would I go back? Well, I don't know if I would make another special trip out of the way like that, but if I was already going to be in the Austin area then yeah, I would definitely go back. So check it out if you're in the area. The official address (if you are going by GPS) is in Georgetown, but if you're looking at a map they are in Walburg.

The Walburg Restaurant
3777 FM 972
Georgetown, Texas

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One

Well this is a real early heads-up on this game since it won't be out until Fall of 2011, but they just announced on the that Insomniac just unveiled a new Ratchet & Clank title for the PS3 at the Gamescom event currently going on in Cologne, Germany - and it looks like fun.

The game is entitled Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One and offers an online coop adventure for up to 4 players. You can play as either Ratchet, Clank, Qwark, or Dr. Nefarious.

I've been a fan of Ratchet & Clank since I played Going Commando for the PS2. I actually bought that game for my nephew a few years back for Christmas but he had already received it from someone else so I ended up playing it myself and surprise surprise I really liked it.

If you've never played a Ratchet & Clank game you really should give this popular franchise a try. This is the first time the series has offered coop play like this and if I can convince 2 or 3 of you to get it too I'm all over it. Check out the trailer.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Arcade Flyer Archive

Today's post is a "check out this site" post. I discovered the Arcade Flyer Archive a long time ago and actually their "About Us" section describes themselves better than I could so here it is:

"The Arcade Flyer Archive (TAFA) is a digital repository for advertisement flyers that are used by the coin-operated amusement industry to promote the sales of its games. Over time flyers represent much more than a marketing brochure. They capture a unique blend of the industry's history, graphic design trends and advertising campaigns. Most importantly, they bring out the nostalgia of countless people who have grown up with the culture of video games, pinball machines and arcade games. Unique cabinet designs, attractive artwork and real screen shots -- all of which represent the visual language of coin-operated games, make flyers sought after items for collectors and effective tools for restoring games to their original factory specifications."

They have high-resolution scans of flyers from all over the world - the Fronts, Backs, and Insides (if they have one - Mad Planets doesn't).
They also have zip files of Flyer Packs that you can download and unzip into the Flyers folder of your MAME fronted (MAMEUIFX if you downloaded it from my previous post). Then you can check out the flyers from all the games directly from the Flyers tab in MAME. The Flyer Packs are much smaller/lower resolution than the individual flyer scans they have posted but it lets you get more or less all of them at once so it's a very convenient place to start your digital flyer collection.
So if you like that sort of thing (like I do) go to their website here and check it out.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pac-Man Battle Royale

Next month Namco will be releasing the first new coin-op Pac-Man game in decades. It is a cocktail table style with the capability of 4-player simultaneous competitive play and looks pretty fun so hopefully I'll see one around somewhere. Here is what Namco had to say on their webpage about the game and its impact at the Amusement Expo in Las Vegas back in March.

"'Pac-Man Battle Royale' is a four player game where 'Pac-Men' battle it out by trying to devour each other with the last one standing winning each round. The simple, addicting, winner-take-all game play had show goers coming back to the booth all 3 days. The cabinet, specifically designed with the USA bar locations in mind, allows players to party while they play. Talking, laughing, and eating each other! The party atmosphere around Pac-Man Battle Royale was contagious as it spread all throughout Namco's booth. Show attendees were spotted wearing their Pac-Man Mardi Gras beads not only on the show floor but all over the Las Vegas strip after the shows closed at night."

Check out this video of the gameplay - looks like it would be fun with a couple of friends and a couple of beers. I'd play it!

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Monday, August 9, 2010

International Video Game Hall of Fame

Over the weekend a Dallas legend was inducted into the Hall of Fame. No, not that blubbering Emmit Smith (sorry, I was an Oilers fan back in the day) - I'm talking about Ben Gold the 43 year-old who was a founding member of the US National Video Game Team and set the high score records on Stargate, Millipede, and Q-Bert as a teenager almost 3 decades ago.

Ben and a slew of his industry-legend cohorts were inducted to the International Video Game Hall of Fame in Ottumwa, Iowa - famous (to arcade history buffs anyway) home to the Twin Galaxies Arcade. There is no actual "HALL" for this Hall of Fame yet, but plans are in the works so someday a road trip to Ottumwa will be in order for me. So for now there is a website and some celebratory events this last weekend to honor the inductees.

For an interesting take on the event check out the blog that Ben Gold wrote for the Dallas Observer. He posted 3 of them covering the multi-day event.

Here is the full list of Inductees:
Eric Akeson, Turbo Pac-Man Champion
Kevin Bachus, X-Box Design Team
Ralph Baer, Historic Industry Pioneer
Rob Barrett, Tutankham Champion
Otto Berkes, X-Box Design Team
Seamus Blackley, X-Box Design Team
Nolan Bushnell, Historic Industry Pioneer
Brian Cady, Tempest Champion
Paul Dean, Spy Hunter Champion
Ben Falls, Moon Patrol Champion
Dennis “Thresh” Fong, Legendary PC Gaming Champion
Ben Gold, Legendary Arcade Champion
Ike Hall, Past Donkey Kong World Champion
Ted Hase, X-Box Design Team
Ken House, Dig Dug Champion
Andrew Laidlaw, Galaga Champion
Chris Mansfield, Kicker Champion
John McAllister, Asteroids Deluxe Champion
Billy Mitchell, Legendary Arcade Champion
Shigeru Miyamoto, Creator of Donkey Kong
Masaya Nakamura, NAMCO Founder
Steve Ritchie, Legendary Game Designer
Perry Rodgers, Mario Brothers Champion
Todd Rogers, Legendary Arcade Champion
Scott Safran, Asteroids Champion
Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel, Legendary PC Gaming Champion
Steve Wiebe, Donkey Kong, Jr. Champion

Phil Younger, Berzerk Champion
Pac-Man - Classic Arcade Game

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter


About a month ago I posted that I was intrigued by the new XBOX 360-exlusive Limbo – well I completed it yesterday and was not disappointed. It cost $15 on the XBOX Live Arcade and was about 5 hours of gameplay which extrapolates out to the same you would pay for a new game that offers 20 hours or so of play so that seems about right.

Limbo is a 2D puzzle/platform game made by Playdead - a new independent developer in Denmark. The only introduction they provide to the game is the tag line - "Uncertain of his sister's fate, a boy enters Limbo." You play the boy and Limbo is hell-bent on killing you and generally confounding you with puzzles you must solve to continue searching for your sister.

The gameplay mechanic itself is pretty standard for an old-school platform game - move around with the joystick, hit one button to jump and another button to interact with objects. Simple. But the creative way they implement these controls is very impressive. And the controls were tight - you might miss a jump every so often but it would be because you weren't timing it right rather than sloppy controls. It was also a refreshing change from the multitude of FPS and 3rd person action titles out there.

The unique black and white film-noir silhouette visual style of the game is apparent from the video trailer below.

There is no dialogue, no text boxes, no real background music, just the sounds of the environment that you are in which are very impressive and add to the mysterious ambiance.

The puzzle components include many standard pieces like moving crates around to stand on, diverting water to cause objects to float, etc. but they also have some not-so-common devices like giant magnets, anti-gravity, and flipping the world so that you are playing upside down or sideways. Throw in some electrified surfaces, giant spiders, angry locals that want to kill you, a forest, a giant industrial complex with giant gears and conveyor belts and you pretty much have it. The same basic puzzle elements were used multiple times but in creative new ways each time. So even after you figured out how to solve one puzzle with a giant magnetized surface you had to use it in an entirely different fashion to solve the next one. They did a great job of not letting the puzzles get old. Also, the puzzles were difficult enough that they took you a while to figure out but not so difficult that it became a frustrating pain in the butt to keep trying (I hate those!). Then when you figured it out you said ah of course!

You die a lot in the game. After a few times you start to see the threats coming and can avoid them better, but watching the various interesting ways in which you are mutilated is part of the fun so I didn’t hesitate to leap into the void on several occasions.

Like most puzzle-based games there isn’t much replay value here. So it is a cheap quick hit game then put it away. I am not one of those guys that complains about a game being too short because I like short games too – but I liked this one so much I really could’ve easily enjoyed a few more hours’ worth without getting tired of it. Still, for the $15 cost it was OK. All things considered an excellent game and I will definitely check out Playdead’s next effort. I give it a 9.0.

I also found the following interview that GameReactor did with Mads Wibroe of Playdead if you care to check it out.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Friday, August 6, 2010

Pac-Man Illusion

I saw this on YouTube and thought it was kinda cool. Short video showing a Pac-Man illusion this guy Brusspup worked up in his house. He has a bunch of others too.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Tennis for Two - 1958

Yesterday after work I did something that I haven't done in years - played tennis. Not Virtua Tennis, but real tennis where you actually sweat and everything. Barbaric! But fun.

I've read a few books on the history of video games and there have been several that have laid claim to be the "first video game". The chronological order of these games are pretty well documented so it basically boils down to the actual definition of "video game" that you want to use. Well given my tennis match from yesterday I thought I would give a respectful nod to a game that was AMONG the first - Tennis for Two. (Apologies to Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device, OXO/Noughts and Crosses, NIM on the NIMROD, etc.)

In 1958, the Brookhaven National Laboratory was having its annual Visitor's Day and the staff was putting together various exhibits for the visiting public. Physicist William Higinbotham created an interactive display using an analog computer and an oscilloscope which simulated the side view of a tennis court and allowed 2 people to each use a controller with a knob and a button to hit a ball back and forth over the net at each other at varying angles - he titled the game Tennis for Two.

It took Higinbotham about three weeks to develop the plans for the game and then it was actually built by Robert Dvorak. When the people started touring it was such a hit that reportedly there were lines out the building to check it out. Check out the video below and if you like you can read more about it on the Brookhaven National Laboratory's webpage HERE.

And then 42 years later Virtua Tennis was released on the Dreamcast.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Retro Arcade Museum (Closed?)

I've never even heard of the Retro Arcade Museum until I saw a thread about it on the forums at KLOV but it looks like a cool place in Beacon, New York (ouch - VERY far from me) where the owner has set up a huge collection of arcade games, handhelds, consoles, etc. The unique thing about the arcade games is that almost all of them are pre-1980s so there are a lot VERY early games you've probably never even heard of with some electro-mechanical games too. I remember playing a few of those games from the 70's when I was a kid and I still think they are cool. Check out his website HERE.

But the news on the forum was that a "rogue landlord" was having him shut down based on an old law still on the books banning pinball game parlors (the law was overturned in nearby New York back in the 70's but not in Beacon). So he closed down his business and was being evicted. Now the mayor of the small town is apparently helping to get a law enacted that protects "vintage arcade museums" but the timeline of its passage is unknown and in the meantime the museum is closed and this guy is is losing money bigtime, so he may not be able to reopen at this point. Yesterday he posted on the forum that CNN got wind of this story and is going to run a piece on it this Saturday August 7 on the 1:00PM show (close to the end of the show around 1:50) then again on Sunday on the 3:00PM show. (I'm assuming those are Eastern times). There are so few of these types of places around I hate to hear of one closing even when it's about 1700 miles away from me. If I'm ever in the New York area and it is open again I would definitely like to check it out.

[Updated 8/8/2010] I missed the piece on CNN but found this clip of it on their website.

[Updated 9/3/2010] One last update to this story brought to my attention by Arcade Heroes:

It looks like the city of Beacon finally voted to enact a law that would allow vintage arcade games to operate in the town - although they are still debating the highly controversial question that is sweeping the nation - "how do we define a vintage arcade game?".  Regardless of the answer this highly efficient bureacracy arrives at it will be too late for Fred Bobrow and the Retro Arcade Museum which is officially closed for good due to financial problems brought about by the city's enforcement of this archaic law while they debated the finer points of whether Space Invaders was truly vintage.

"It's a moot point whether this law passes or not. I will be closing the arcade and all the assets will be liquidated," said Bobrow, whose business was forced to shut down due to an existing law prohibiting arcades in Beacon. "I'm now totally bankrupt and have been sideswiped by the city, who has changed their story several times and obscured the truth."

The full article can be found in yesterday's Poughkeepsie Journal at:

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Insane Console History Video 2.0

I just saw this video on that is kind of cool - the title says it all. It must have taken this guy a LONG time just to collect all the information and pics and sew it all together. The video shows over 450 consoles, computers, and dedicated game machines shown in chronological order with classic gaming music playing in the background. You might not sit through the whole thing straight through - it's over 23 minutes long - but I thought it was an interesting find.

The Insane Console History Video 2.0 from Elder-Geek on Vimeo.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Force Unleashed

I haven't posted in a couple of weeks, but I finished Star Wars: The Force Unleashed on the PS3 last night so I thought I would post my thoughts to get back in the posting swing of things. There were several technical bugs that distracted from the game but my love of the Star Wars universe made up for a lot of that. All-in-all not a great game but not bad either - I would give it a 7.4. Here are a few of my likes and gripes in a nutshell - might be a spoiler or two but c'mon you weren't gonna play this game anyway so...:

My dislikes:

  • Repetitive gameplay with no real incentive or need to learn the various attack upgrades that you acquire.
  • Too many repetitive quick-time events – used the same QTEs over and over like when you destroy those 2-legged walkers (which I discovered are called AT-STs - All Terrain Scout Transports).
  • Targeting system was often shaky - I spent a lot of extra time trying to face in exactly the proper spot to grip something while some nice gentlemen were spraying lasers into my back.
  • The screwy camera angles during the boss battles where it zoomed way out and made the already awkward targeting system even more challenging.
  • The plethora of load-screens. This game installed about 2.5 gigs on my PS3 so what’s with all the slow "now loading" screens?

My most meh moment:

  • I heard about this over-hyped scene that was supposed to bring the house down where you use the force to grip a star destroyer and bring it crashing down. I more enjoyed gripping the tie fighters that were screaming by and throwing them around. Besides, c'mon even Yoda struggled a LITTLE when he floated that X-Wing around the swamps on Dagobah and I'm supposed to believe this Sith apprentice is gonna tear a star destroyer out of the sky? Sorry but no = meh.

..and my likes:

  • You get to play as Darth Vader a little at the beginning. Evil shmevil - Vader is cool.
  • Fighting all the baddies you remember from the movies like stormtroopers, tie fighters, Imperial guards, even Darth and the Emporer. You can even stomp some Jawas if you like that sort of thing.
  • Killing baddies with the Force Lightning and gripping stormtroopers with the Force Grip and smashing them into buildings. It's the simple pleasures in life that keep me going.
  • And my number 1 "hey that's pretty cool" moment - when your android buddy Proxy, who is programmed to try and kill you, attacks you and says "I still have one enemy program in my data banks that I haven't tried yet" and then he hologram-morphs into Darth Maul and attacks you with his double-sided light-saber staff. Darth Maul was the one bright spot for me in the 3 embarrasingly lackluster Star Wars prequels.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter