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6:38 PM on 08.17.2009

sexy time with Vic Viper

Hello dtoid people!

Today's blog is about my feelings on Konami's Gradius Collection for PSP. Several weekends ago I went for a ltttle trip to visit my grandparents in Kitchener, Ontario. By the end of the weekend I had played through all 5 games in the collection and was feeling qute satisfied with my hardcoreness. For your enjoyment I have summarized my thoughts on each game in the collection!

1) Gradius: The first game in the series establises all the Gradius mainstays; the volcano's, the Easter Island heads, the giant spaceship boss battles, the fight through the enemy mothership, and the final battle against the defenseless evil commader. Although this is a very strong start for the series, the lack of variation in boss battles prevent the game from being quite as memorable as its sequels.

1) Gradius II: My favourite game in the series, the difficulty is perfect, the length is just right, and the boss battles are amazing (includng an epic fight against 7 bosses in row). Highly reccomended!

1) Gradius III: This was the first entry to include polygonal graphics, unfortuntely they look a little bit lacklustre compared to todays expectatons. This was the one game I almost couldn't finish. There is a sequence two thirds of the way through involvng ice blocks which is basically game-breaking (unless you cheat a little). Also, the ending of the game involves a scene were you must escape from the exploding mothership (spoilers!) which was so frustating it made me contemplate suicide (nearly).

1) Gradius IV: A very solid entry in the series, the graphics are fantastic and the boss battles are suitably badass. My only issue with the game is that it sticks so closely to the Gradius framework that for a fourth entry in a series it is somewhat unmemorable. This game also contains my favourite variation of the evil mastermind.

1) Gradius Gaiden: Although I was pretty burnt-out on Gradius by the time I played this little gem, its updated visuals and refined gameplay really wowed me. The first level features such a beautiful snow landscape that it makes the game my second favourite overall. There is also a huge amount of customization in terms of which ship and what weapons options you'd like to start with.

Anyways, the Gradius Collection is an awesome little compilation if you are into horizontal shmups (especially for the 12$ it cost me on ebay). The only criticism I had was that the later games suffer from a bit of slowdown, but in the case of Gradius III this actually makes some of the tough segments playable. I look forward to being abe to finally play Gradius V one day. Peace!   read

6:17 PM on 07.06.2009

Thoughts on Fatal Frame

Hello people of Dtoid!

Although this is my first post on destructoid I have lurked the website and listened to its podcasts for about a year or so. This blog is meant to appeal to anyone like me who enjoys hunting for rare or bargain retro games. I will chose at least one game per week which I have just finished (ideally) and mention where I found it, how much I paid, and what I thought of it. This week I will be writing about Fatal Frame for PS2.

For those of you who don't know, Fatal Frame is a survival horror game in which you control a young girl who uses an old camera to banish ghosts which plague an old mansion. The game has unfortunately become somewhat of a collectors item and fetches a fairly high price on ebay. I was supremely lucky and managed to find the game for the lowly price of 5$ at a local pawnshop! Some of you might know the nerve racking feeling of finding a rare game at a pawnshop for a low price and hoping that the cashier doesn't suddenly clue in on the games worth and jack up the price the second you try to purchase it.

I went into the game with fairly high expectations and I definitely wasn't disappointed. The camera mechanism works surprisingly well and rewards you for patience and skill. One downside is that anytime a ghost rushes towards you, you are pretty much forced to exit the first person view of the camera viewfinder, turn around, run away, and then attempt to re-target the ghost. This leads to many of the games scares as you unexpectedly find yourself face-to-face with an oncoming enemy. Aside from these random scares I wouldn't say that the game was terribly frightening overall. Unfortunately the games cut-scenes, which had the potential to be terrifying, were rarely unsettling. As far as survival horror goes I would consider the game scarier than the Resident Evil games but less scary than the Silent Hill series.

What I found most impressive about the game was how it managed to stay interesting for its entirety even though the game world was limited to a fairly small mansion. Surprisingly the backtracking through the mansion avoids being boring since the areas which you re-visit are constantly changing. The sound effects in the game successfully added to the eerie mood of the game, and kept you on your toes as you would frequently end up asking yourself things like, "did I really just hear someone knocking from inside of that cupboard"? According to the back of the box the game uses ARNIS audio technology which somehow mimics the effect of surround sound without a a 5.1 speaker setup. Cool? The music is also pretty top notch (although not as good as in the Silent Hill games) and can be listened to at anytime in the sound test mode that you unlock upon completion of the game. It should also be mentioned that the games plot is the most understandable of any survival horror game I have yet played. Anyways, this retrospective has ended up lengthier than I expected so I'm cutting it short! If you like survival horror games and you can somehow find a copy of Fatal Frame for under 60$, play it!

Next week is Mega Man Legends...!   read

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