Posts Tagged ‘Sega’

So I’m sitting around playing Dead Space 2 last night and something hit me. No it wasn’t a thought, but a severe numbness in my right hand. For the past couple of years I’ve played it off as nothing, but recently it returned once again. It’s become quite a hindrance as of late happening a couple of times a week. Usually I would just press the pause button and shake it off and then continue playing a few minutes later, but I begin to think about if there is something wrong with me. Maybe it was time that I found out.

I know that I’m completely healthy, and that I have no lagging injuries. So I decided to go online and look it up. My first thought was Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I hear about it quite a bit lately, but I figured that this can’t be what I’m experiencing. As I started reading about it on Wikipedia I realized that it does mention “numbness of the thumb, index, long and radial half of the ring finger.” This is exactly what I was going through. Could I be in the early stages of CTS? Could it possibly be arthritis? I hope not. To me arthritis is something that old people go through. I’m not that old. I’m 38 for Pete’s sake! I’m not even close to experiencing my mid life crisis yet.

While this numbness in my hands has been an issue there is something else that concerns me. My interest. Lately, I’ve seen a sharp decline in my interest when playing a game. That’s not normal for me. Some nights when I hop online I just stare at the screen. Part of this has to do with either I have no idea what I want to play, or all of a sudden I’m just not interested. With that in mind I wondered whether there was a Cialis or Viagra type of pill for gamers who have a lack of gaming interest, or is the solution simply a six pack of Mountain Dew and a large bag of Doritos. Sadly, the junk food and beverage solution will only lead to obesity, and that’s clearly not in the cards for me.

So here I sit writing this article, and begin to contemplate whether it’s time to put the controller down for good. I’ve been gaming since I was a little kid growing up during the ’80s. The days of the going to the local video arcade, or just playing at home on the Atari 2600 where my imagination really took over especially when objects on screen looked like various geometric shapes. Those were the days when I was playing games that included Pac-Man, Galaga, Dig-Dug, Robotron 2084, Gauntlet, Space Invaders, Defender, and countless others. I was in love with the technology even though these edgy visuals of yesteryear are very low tech compared to today’s high definition standards.

Thirty years of gaming sure is a long time. Sometimes it still feels like only yesterday when my parents brought home that Atari 2600. Plenty of consoles have come and gone after that humble beginning. The NES, Master System, Genesis, Saturn, Playstation, Dreamcast, Playstation 2, Xbox, and currently the Xbox 360. Consoles that featured a plethora of games that still trigger plenty of happy memories. Getting the high score, warp zones, epic boss battles, saving the princess, saving the world, racing to the finish line, blast processing, cheat codes, flawless victories, fatalities, tales of souls and swords, warriors needing food badly, beating up prostitutes with baseball bats after they filled my needs and raised my health, that laughing dog, a plumber, a hedgehog, a Solid Snake, a Master Chief, achievement unlocked. All these moments and more were fun and exciting, but all good moments at some point and time must come to an end. Is that end coming soon?

With a new Xbox console set to arrive later this year I started to think if I still have one more console generation left in me. Back in 2005, I said that the Xbox 360 would probably be my last console. Eight years later I’ve revisited that statement I made. As I begin to approach the unavoidable age of 40 in 2014 I think to myself whether I still want to be playing new video games. Do I still have it left in me to take on new adventures? What about starting to play a new franchise or two? Can I still compete online? What about the numbness in my hands? Maybe I make that final decision and make 2013 the end of the road. Maybe I just play the games I have until my Xbox 360 says no more and shuts down forever. One thing is for certain. I don’t see myself playing games at 50. I just won’t be able to keep up with those young whipper snappers in Call of Duty: Whatever.

For now I’m going to enjoy what this year in gaming offers while hoping that the numbness in my hands don’t ruin it. By E3 this June, I’ll know if my gaming road continues for one last run, or ends in retirement.

Sega mascots…start your engines! Sonic and the gang are back again with more racing madness. However these new races are no longer restricted to land. These races now take to the seas and into the air raising a whole new challenge as well as bringing in a much needed change of atmosphere. This is no longer just racing. This is racing…transformed and it’s a blast as I make my way to the finish. I played the heck out of the original game as I drifted through the turns and used a few well placed weapons on the competition as I took the checkered flag. This new Sega racer now takes gaming to the next level and I can’t get enough of all the fun.

PROS:

Not Watered Down With Sonic
The original game was filled with so much Sonic in terms of characters and stages that had me wondering if Sega forgot it’s own history. I cringed anytime I had to use Big the Cat in the original racer and even in Sonic Adventure. Transformed now consolidates the meaningless members of the Sonic cast and brings in more Sega franchise characters including Gilius Thunderhead from Golden Axe, Vyse from Skies of Arcadia, and even Joe Musashi from Shinobi. Even the stages I raced on are not watered down with Sonic and focus more on the company’s rich history which is a huge plus in my book as I fly off the aircraft carrier in the Afterburner stage, or avoiding the dragons in Panzer Dragoon.

Smooth Transformations
When I heard about the idea of transforming vehicles the first thing that popped into my head was “Oh great! Here comes the cheap gimmick.” I thought that this idea of transforming vehicles would come off as rather cheap, but I was wrong. It actually works great. None of the transformations feel “forced.” In fact each transformation works rather smoothly as I moved into different phases of the race. They even have that transforming sound almost like the Transformers themselves. There was a moment in the game where I transformed from land to air and I head the sound and a moment of silence came into play as I was flying through the air and for some strange reason I started singing “You Got The Touch” from the Transformers movie. Sorry, I was just in the moment there, but it was pretty cool.

Fun Multiplayer
Like any cart racing game multiplayer is definitely needed. The multiplayer component of Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is absolutely brilliant. I had so much fun racing online with a wide variety of players as we traded paint, hit each other with weapons and all-star moves, and made our way to the finish line. I had a lobby going for hours with nobody leaving as we raced on all the tracks (the ones I had unlocked at the time that is) and had a blast. The competitive atmosphere was great. It didn’t matter how good anyone was. It was all about the spirited competition, and most of all, having fun. Great online family style community where players are not cussing in your face like some other games.

CONS:

I Miss The Original Announcer
If there’s one thing I really liked in the first game it was the announcer. Not only did he give some play-by-play commentary, but he also had some witty remarks during the race which made the game fun and exciting. Lines including “Hey guys, wake me up when you decide to start racing” gave the game a certain sense of charm and I liked it. This new announcer is not like that in any way. Sure he’ll let you know that a certain character has gone “All-Star,” but that’s about it and that’s rather disappointing.

Danica Patrick?
It’s no surprise to me that this game would have special guest characters. Banjo-Kazooie was in the first game along with the ability to race as my Xbox 360 avatar. Now I have NASCAR star Danica Patrick and Disney‘s Wreck-It Ralph. Now I can understand the inclusion of Ralph because it really ties in with the movie where he jumped into different video game worlds so this makes sense. However, Danica Patrick does not. I would have to compare her appearance in this game to the Star Wars characters (Darth Vader, Yoda, and the Secret Apprentice) in Soul Calibur IV. Sure she’s a race car driver, but she just feels a little out of place considering the company she’s in.

IN CONCLUSION

Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed is a fun sequel to the original game. There’s so much Sega history packed into one game that any fan of the company will love. It really fits in as an entertaining break from my other racing games where I use real life cars and trucks. Transformed also has plenty of replay value beyond the single player racing so that I never got bored or fall into that rut of doing the same repetitive stuff. I’m sure that there’s plenty of DLC on the horizon with new characters and stages to help keep things interesting as well. If your a fan of everything Sega then you owe it to yourself to get this game.

Developer: Sega
Platform: Xbox 360
Players: 1-10 (online multiplayer)
Price: $39.99

STATUS: Amada Corporation Is Destroyed
ACHIEVEMENTS EARNED: 26 out of 50 (425 Gamerscore)

For my original review on Binary Domain click HERE.

Mesmerizing, amazing, tons of action, suspense, plot twists, hella fun. These are just a few of the words that described my experience with Sega‘s Binary Domain. Obviously the most underrated game of the year. Most people out there have never played yet never even heard of this title. If your one of those few then I suggest you head to your local store and pick up this game, or at least just rent it.

Playing Binary Domain gave me that feeling of Blade Runner, Gears of War, Battlestar Galactica (the re-imagined version) and The Terminator and it was awesome. Hollow Children. Robots disguised as humans with no knowledge whatsoever that they’re robots. Very interesting. I was trying to see what was cooler: The Cylons from the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica or the Hollow Children. Hmm…ok I still have to give it to the Cylons. Now these robots didn’t go down easy. Shoot them in he head and maybe they can still come towards me for a couple of seconds, but shoot them in the legs and they’ll still crawling towards you just like the Terminator did in the original movie. Now that was cool.

At first I said to myself “Binary Domain really feels like a Gears of War clone.” Roadie run to a roll with a shotgun blast to the head. Check. Take cover. Check. Blind fire from cover. Check. Yell out various obscenities while reloading. Ok, that’s not there, but I really felt comfortable with the controls making things rather easy to jump right in and play. That’s something I liked. Other than that I was able to get past the cheesy dialog and various stereotypes to find a game filled with fun and entertainment.

ARE THE HOLLOW CHILDREN’S DAYS STILL NUMBERED?

While I really enjoyed the story and experience with Binary Domain I just don’t see another playthrough. The plot twists won’t feel the same the second time around, because I already know what happens. The multiplayer was pretty uneventful and empty as well. Besides Binary Domain’s gameplay is similar to Gears of War, so if I had to make a decision on what game I’d rather play multiplayer on Gears of War. So I decided to trade in Binary Domain so that someone else can enjoy a great story.

Developer: Sega
Platform: Xbox 360
Players: 1-8 (Online Multiplayer)
Price: $39.99

I’ve got plenty of games where I shoot endless human soldiers as well as undead zombies. Sega on the other hand had another idea. Robots. They did it with Vanquish a couple of years ago and it was brilliant. Besides, there’s not enough games these days where your shooting mechanical robots. Oil and shrapnel instead of blood. Tons of bullets and plenty of “bro” moments. Binary Domain has it all and it’s kick ass fun.

The futuristic style of Binary Domain takes me to the year 2080 where a new breed of robots have infiltrated human society. These robots, known as “Hollow Children,” look and act human. Add on to the fact that they have no clue that they’re actually freaking robots. Unfortunately this is considered illegal by the New Geneva Convention and the Japanese company Amada is responsible. The U.S. along with Britain and China send in a team of commandos to counter this new threat called the “Rust Crew.” Their mission is to stop Amada Corporation at all costs. Amada eventually does become aware of the situation and a war with the machines is underway

Now I know that I’m a little late on the release window for a review, but I had so many other games to complete at the time so I waited. Well let me tell you that this game was worth the wait and it’s not because it was on sale. Don’t get me wrong…I like a good sale. Binary Domain had me hooked from the opening moments with the storyline, some rather funny dialog from the characters, tough bosses, upgradeable characters, and all the exciting action packed third person shooter madness.

Binary Domain is more of an under the radar title that many gamers missed out on. Sadly this is what happens to any game that doesn’t have “Call of Duty” in the title. Pathetic! Anyways, let’s move on. If I had to describe Binary Domain in a nutshell then I would say that this game is a combination of the movies I Robot, Blade Runner, and The Terminator, along with Sega and Platinum Games’ sleeper hit Vanquish. Now that’s some good company. The game also plays out as a third person shooter reminiscent of the popular Gears of War series. So far so good.

Considering the fact that I was familiar with Gear of War control scheme I felt right at home with Binary Domain. I was shooting, blind firing,  roadie running, and diving into cover at ease. Switching weapons was easy as choosing a direction on the D-pad. It was comfortable and simple. The game also featured a dialog system allowing me to issue orders to my squad. It wasn’t mandatory, but what I liked about it was the fact that my responses led to the morale of the team. The more helpful I was and my teammates responded. The more negative I was they made me pay for it. I even went as far as telling the beautiful Chinese sniper chick “I love you.” Love on the battlefield. Isn’t it wonderful.

Fun storyline, excellent AI enemies, tough bosses, plenty of “bro” moments, familiar control scheme, and tons of flying shrapnel, Binary Domain has it all. It’s the type of game that will have you amped up with all the action and highly satisfied when you leave all those enemy robots in a huge pile of scrap metal. Add on to the fact that the game is a little cheaper than it’s original retail price made this game a must buy for me. Then again I do like Sega games and shooters in general.

Developer: Sega
Platform: Xbox 360
Players: 1-8 (Online Multiplayer)
Price: $39.99

With all the E3 hype behind us now, and my winners and losers picks done, I wanted to concentrate on the other games that caught my attention. Now I can’t call any of these games definite buys just yet, but they’re clearly on my radar which could be both a good or maybe even a bad sign. Good news is that I have plenty of time to keep an eye on these titles before making a commitment. Looks like another busy end of the year. My wallet is ready. Hopefully these games will be as well.


Dishonored: At first when I saw the trailer for this game before E3 it didn’t impress me that much. Then as the show went on, and I witnessed some gameplay videos, my mind had a quick change. Dishonored looks really good featuring stealth, plenty of abilities, and tons of action as you make kills to clear your name. By the way, the possession skill is awesome.

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Forza Horizon: Cars and partying in the desert. It’s Race Wars! Ok, this isn’t The Fast and the Furious, but Forza Horizon does remind me of a cross between Need For Speed and Test Drive Unlimited. Unlike the Forza Motorsport series, Horizon is more of an arcade style of control with more speed on the open road instead of on the track. I’m interested in this game, but I still need some further convincing.

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Injustice: Gods Among Us: DC superheroes back in another fighting game from the team behind Mortal Kombat. All of a sudden I had memories of Mortal Kombat vs. DC and I hated that game. Injustice looks great with plenty of over the top fighting action including flying thought buildings and even outer space. Everything was going great until thoughts of Mortal Kombat vs. DC kept creeping into my head. Plenty of time between now and 2013 to see how this plays out.

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Need For Speed: Most Wanted: It’s been awhile since I purchased a Need For Speed game, but Most Wanted could change that. Wait a minute, wasn’t there a Most Wanted game in 2005? Man, where’s the originality in the name Criterion? Here’s another random thought. For a Need For Speed game Criterion’s latest sure looks like something from the Burnout series. Maybe this should be called Burnout: Most Wanted. Either way I want to see more before returning to the series.

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Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed: The first game was a lot of fun for a mascot racer. Now there’s a sequel. At first I felt that this new entry from Sega was to “gimmicky” with the transforming vehicles for land, sea, and air. As of late my interest has changed to the positive and it has nothing to do with Danica Patrick being in the game. The unique Sega themes for each track look fantastic especially the Golden Axe stage. Can’t wait until the holidays for this one.

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South Park: The Stick of Truth: Trey Parker and Matt Stone showed off the game at the Microsoft Press Conference as well as shared a few laughs with the crowd. I had my suspicions well before E3, but after seeing the game in action my interest grew. This South Park RPG feels just like an episode of the popular show as I get to play as my own unique character and interact with the gang. I can even call Cartman a “Fatass” using my Kinect and he’ll respond to you. Sounds like fun.

When I was a kid. my parents bought the Atari 2600. A few years later they bought my brother a NES. This made some rough times for me because I had to go to his room just to play games like Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda. I needed a system of my own so I grew up on Sega. The Master System, Genesis, and even the ill fated 32X were a part of my early years. Now I get to relive a part of my childhood and adolescense everytime Sega releases their old school classics on Xbox Live Arcade. Long Live Sega!

The latest edition of the Sega Vintage Collection brings six classic games from both the arcade and home consoles. One of the games (Monster World IV) never made it to American shores until now. There’s Alex Kidd in Miracle World which is the first game I picked up when purchased the Master Sysytem. The hard as nails Revenge of Shinobi. The old school motorcycle racer Super Hang On. Finally, three classic games from the Monster World series minus Wonder Boy 3: The Dragon’s Trap. Yes, I’m not the only one in the community complaining about this one, because that game was awesome. Each of these games are emulated perfectly (Super Hang On is sadly showing it’s age), and with added achievements for that extra replay value which really suits the achievement whore in me.

Considering the fact that I’m pretty good at these games I jumped in a little to overconfidently early on only to get my ass handed to me. I realized that when you haven’t played a certain game for a long period of time (in this case many years) it takes a little time to get your bearings again. After an hour, I was just about back on track timing wise for all of these games except for Revenge of Shinobi which was still kicking my ass. All six games are still as much fun as I remembered them. However, if there was anything I wish Sega could omit it would have to be the “Paper, Rock, Scissors” boss battles in Alex Kidd, because they were just stupid and pointless.

Some people may hate it and rather have these games lay to rest, but I love the old school games. Sega’s Vintage Collections are both fun and nostalgic. Next week comes the Golden Axe and Streets of Rage games, but I’m not going to buy them due to the fact that I already have these games on Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection. In the end, I would recommend this collection for all the old-school retro fans who love Sega. I found plenty of entertainment here for a long time and so should you.

Publisher: Sega
Platform: Xbox Live Arcade
Players: 1
Price: 800 Microsoft Points ($10.00)

Let’s see. How many Sonic games do I have now on my Xbox 360? Sonic 1, Sonic 2, Sonic 3, Sonic and Knuckles, Sonic Spinball, Sonic 3D Blast, Sonic CD, Sonic Adventure, Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing, Sonic Generations, and Sonic 4: Episode 1 (I also have it on my iPad). Man that’s a lot of Sonic games. It’s safe to assume that I’m a big Sonic the Hedgehog fan. I’ve only been playing the games since Sonic 1’s original release on the Sega Genesis. The blue blur sure is fun to have around. Now Sonic is back with a whole new adventure and this time he’s not alone.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2, from Sega, brings back a familiar face (other than Sonic) to the 2D platformer. That’s right…it’s Tails. In a way, Episode 2 feels like I’m playing Sonic 2 all over again except without the cool Chemical Plant Zone (I still can’t get that tune out of my head. It’s catchy). Four brand new yet familiar zones to blast process my way through and it’s fun. Sega even brought back the special stages reminiscent of Sonic 2 which held both excitement (getting the Chaos Emerald) and frustration (when Tails hit those damn bombs causing me to lose rings and lose a chance at a Chaos Emerald) at the same time. The one thing I really got a kick out of is the team up moves where Sonic and Tails would do a mid air high five and then work together to get out of a tough situation that could possibly involve dying. Let’s also not forget the bonus Episode Metal content starring Metal Sonic (you must have Episode 1 for that to work).


After playing the game last night, as well as acquiring a few achievements, the big question I had was “Why are all the reviewers trashing this game?” Sure it’s not perfect in any way, but it is a big improvement over Episode 1. I felt like Sonic was a bit faster in this version, the graphics are well improved, and the Tails team up moves bring a fresh change of pace to the game as well. However, I will agree with some of the reviewers in terms of how the invincibility power-ups are in locations where there are not any enemies to take down. I also agree about the boss battle music that seems to be on an endless loop every few seconds which gets quite annoying. Where’s Amy’s hammer when you need it most? Speaking of boss battles, these were some tough fights that require a bit of trial and error to get through on the first time, but become much easier each time you play it.

Clearly Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2 is no Sonic Generations, but it is better than the Sonic the Hedgehog game released on the Xbox 360 in 2006. I’m still trying to forget that one. It’s a blast from the past, and it allows us to enjoy playing a Sonic game the way it was meant to be played…in 2D! What more can you ask for? Well, maybe Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 3 with Knuckles?

Publisher: Sega
Platform: Xbox Live Arcade
Players: 1 to 2 (Local or Xbox Live co-op)
Price: 1200 Microsoft Points ($15.00)