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Ratchet & Clank... Don't call it Jak & Daxter! Tim 
Posted by: Tim at 2:10 PM EST on 9/9/2002
File Under: Games -> PlayStation 2 -> Quickview

You would think that the GameCube would be THE place to be for platfomer fans, but really, the PlayStation 2 just plain owns the genre with Klonoa 2, Jak & Daxter, Maximo, plus Sly Cooper and Ratchet & Clank on the way.

Now, Ratchet & Clank... The demo I played had one level available, and I've already played through it several times. Frankly, I'm really excited about this game. At first, it seems like yet another platformer starring a sassy duo and snazzy graphics. Thankfully, Ratchet & Clank separates itself from the likes of Banjo-Kazooie and Jak & Daxter with gameplay that emphasizes action, gunplay, and mission objectives rather than the typical treasure hunt.

You control the smart-assed Ratchet (some sort of mammilian creature that I can't identify) and his geeky robot sidekick. Ratchet weilds a massive wrench as his primary weapon, but you'll soon gain access to a whole arsenal of weaponry with the likes of the Blaster, Pyrocitor, Glove of Doom, the Devastator, and more. Some of the weapons are expecially creative. Take the Glove of Doom for example. You don't actually shoot your enemies with it, but instead, you unleash a herd of small robots that will swarm and attack your enemies for you. And since each playing area is riddled with enemies for you to unleash your wrath upon, all these weapons will come in handy.

Additionally, there's thousands upon thousands of Nuts and Bolts to pick up in each level, which act as the game's currency. Thankfully, there's no need to pick up each and every last Bolt, but it's always a good idea to have a big reserve of them, since they're so easy to find. You never know when one of the NPCs is going to charge you 1,000 Bolts for an item that you need in order to advance. Don't worry, though. You can amass 1,000 Bolts in a matter of a couple minutes.

In addition to your selection of weapons, Clank is also a bit of help on your journey. For example, you can find a helicopter upgrade for Clank, which will allow you to do long jumps, high jumps, and to hover in mid-air.

The graphics that I have seen have been downright excellent. It looks extremely reminicent of Jak & Daxter (the developers of the two games exchanged technology to create the games, so it's understandable) but since I'm a fan of that game's style, Ratchet & Clank is right up my alley. Additionally, the voices are very cartoony and add a lot of character to everyone in the game. The controls are a bit loose - it feels a bit like you're sliding around on ice - but this is an old build that I've been playing, so hopefully that'll be fixed up by the time the game is out in November.

Initial Vibe: Excellent. This kind of game is definitely up my alley, as I'm a huge platforming fan. As long as they can keep the gameplay fresh without becoming repetitive, Insomniac Games should have a hit on its hands.

DCP Underground Old School High Score Challenge! Tim 
Posted by: Tim at 12:19 AM EST on 9/9/2002
File Under: Games

Click here to participate in the DCP Underground Old School High Score Challenge #1: Tetris Attack!

Think you have the skills to take on the best old-school games?  Think you can rack up the highest scores, the fastest times, and the best ratings?  Now is the time to prove it.  I present to you, the first DCP Underground Old School High Score Challenge!  Or, DCPUOSHSC for (not so) short.

Overview: The purpose of the High Score Challenge is to relive gaming's glory days and compete with one another in some of the best games ever released for systems like the NES, SNES, Genesis, and more!

How it works: Everyone with a PC is capable of running emulators to play old console systems.  Through the use of emulators and necessary ROMs (which will be supplied here) we can all play the same game and try to achieve the highest scores.  Proof of scores achieved will be provided through the use of screenshots.

Instructions: Download the necessary ROM for the current challenge (supplied in this thread) and play to your heart's content, with the necessary emulator.  When you have achieved your highest score possible, take a screenshot, paste it into your favorite graphics editor, save it as a JPEG, and post it here with the board's attachment feature.  The best score/time/whatever wins! (Don't have a graphics editor?)

Note: You may replace your screenshot with a newer one at any time until the contest ends.

DCP Underground Old School High Score Challenge #1: Tetris Attack

Emulator Required: ZSNES or SNES9x
ROM Required: Tetris Attack (U).zip (attached)
Rules: Enter a 1-Player Endless game and start at any level and difficulty you desire.  Play for as long as you can, and post your highest score!
Contest Ends: Friday, September 13th, at 5:00 PM Central.

Good Luck!

Click here to participate in the DCP Underground Old School High Score Challenge #1: Tetris Attack!

Super Mario Sunshine... A great game with a stupid name. Tim 
Posted by: Tim at 7:24 PM EST on 9/8/2002
File Under: Games -> GameCube -> Quickview

Ah, Super Mario Sunshine. Why couldn't Nintendo of America give Mario's latest (and possibly greatest) adventure a decent title for the American market? Sorry, NOA, but a lot of American gamers don't go for the cutesy image. And what the hell was with the game's commercial*? I wanted to stab myself after I saw it... In the eyes. Repeatedly. They need to take a page out of Nintendo of Japan's book** and learn themselves some marketing.

Anyway, below the sickening marketing surface lies yet another absolutely wonderful Shigeru Miyamoto creation. Yes, the FMVs are horribly compressed. Yes, the voice acting is absolutely disgusting. Yes, the non-playable characters are terribly designed. Yes, the textures could use a little more detail. But you know what? None of this even matters, because this game is downright fun to play.

At first, I was extremely leery of the new addition of Mario's waterpack. I thought Mario was perfectly fun without anything of the sort, and I liked collecting the caps in Mario 64. Why did we need this new addition, which looks like it would be more annoying than fun? Well, after about 20 minutes with the game, I was a total convert. The waterpack is brilliantly integrated into the game and is just plain fun to mess around with, anyway. In fact, once you get used to the waterpack, you really miss it on the stages where it's stolen from you, and you have to go forth without a pack...

Ah, do those packless levels ever have some serious old-school platforming going on! They have that incredible "God damn, THIS IS HARD AS HELL! DIE, NINTENDO, DI... Oh, wait. I just beat the level. YES, FINALLY! THAT WAS FUN!" charm. They're so frustrating and take so many tries, but when you finally complete them, they're some of the most rewarding experiences in the game. The levels have that "Just one more try!" quality to them, and just as you're about to give up, you beat them. It's twitch game design at its finest.

Anyway, my only genuine complaint about the game is that I wish there wasn't so much tedious coin collecting necessary to get all 120 Shines. Granted, you don't have to get all the Shines to beat the game, but still. It'd be nice to be able to complete it without all the tedium of collecting 100 coins in every level, plus 240 Blue coins, and numerous "Collect all the Red coins before the time runs out" tasks. Oh well.

Oh, and one last thing... If you think the camera sucks, you're a fool. It's not like Mario 64 where you can just let the camera control itself. In Mario Sunshine, controlling the camera is just as much a part of the game as controlling Mario - you need to actively monitor it. This allows for an incredible level of control once you get the hang of it. In fact, I've taken to simply holding up on the analog stick and using the camera stick to control Mario's direction, much like you would do in a third-person shooter, like SOCOM on the PS2.

Initial Vibe: VERY positive. This game is not perfect, but I'll be damned if it isn't the most fun I've had playing games in a long time. Look past the sugar-coated exterior, and you'll find some of the most solid play-mechanics ever.

*431 KB, RealPlayer
**4.15 MB, MPEG

A bit of site maintenance Tim 
Posted by: Tim at 6:48 PM EST on 9/8/2002
File Under: Site News

If you take a look at the menu bar at the top of the page, you should notice that most of the links actually lead to useful pages now, instead of just the "Coming Soon" page. I finally felt a bit of motivation and set up the topic-based archive, so now if you're specifically looking for, say, DVD Reviews, you should have no trouble tracking them down.

Also, notice that the Computers category was replaced by Misc Tech. This is because I realized that I really don't have much to say about computers, so I figured they didn't deserve their own category. Instead, they'll be part of the Miscellaneous Technology category, along with stuff like Home Theatre and whatever else I might feel like adding later on.

As for the links and hosting pages, I still haven't gotten around to putting them together. Don't hold your breath, it might be a while before they're done.

Oh, and I'm also quite fond of my new desktop, so I felt like sharing it. It's a picture of the Eagle Head Nebula, though I flattened it a bit to fit typical monitor dimensions. Have fun:

Click for 1024x768 version.

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