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About
Former game developer turn freelance writer
after the economy killed small 3rd party devs.
Decided to use the downtime to explore new
venues for writing.

Currently playing:

Console:
Trials HD
No More Heroes
Killzone 2
Pixel Junk Eden
Splosion Man
Skate 2
Battlefield 1943

Handhelds
Paper Toss World Tour
Star Defense
GTA Chinatown Wars
Flight Control
Minigore


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Lucky Sevans
6:26 PM on 08.12.2009

Following up its PC release in 2008, RedLynx simple yet addictive motorcycle racing game has made its debut this week as part of Xbox Live’s summer releases. With its wide selection of levels, character and bike customization and level editor, Trials HD is the perfect cure for the current drought of summer releases.

For players who weren’t familiar with Trials on the PC, the game is a solid mix of flash based stunt games i.e. Stunt Dirt Bike and the timeless classic Excite Bike topped off with a solid physics engine. The game is divided into two different modes: Race Mode and Skill Games. Race Mode pits the player against 50-plus challenging levels that have been divided up into 5 different categories: Beginner, Easy, Medium, Hard and Extreme. Each category adds on a new set of challenges for the player to tackle thus building the difficulty up along the way. At the start of each new difficulty, the player is given a tutorial to help learn the new skills that will be needed to master the levels set in front of them. As imagined, as the difficulty increases wrecks and bailouts become more and more common, however the developers have put in place a rather forgiving checkpoint system to aid the player and keep them engaged without getting frustrated.

Each level has a specified par time that is tied to a medal ranking that ranges from bronze to gold. Players who simply wish to play through the game and experience all that Trials has to offer should have no problem jumping and using the provided checkpoint system to complete each set of levels. However for the more enthusiast players who wish to master and achieve gold on each level, they have a much harder task at hand. To master every level and achieve gold medal, players will need to have a balance of patience and precise timing. This is due to the fact that as the difficulty progresses, so do the physic-based challenges put in place within the level. Players will need to time their throttle and brake presses to manipulate world objects to complete the path to the end of the course. This can be frustrating at times, but the checkpoint system never allows it to become too painful.

Race Mode throws a little over 50 levels at the player to power through, however the fun doesn’t end once the races are over. Skill Games are unlocked throughout the progression of the game. These games allow players to jump in and out of 12 different game modes that challenge the player to complete such tasks as climb the hill the fastest and break as many bones in your body by hitting objects. These games are not only addictive, but also add a fun hot seat multiplayer mode to the game as well.
With over 50 Race Mode levels and a slew of others in the Skill Games there is no lack of content for the player to experience. Yet despite all the content that comes with the game, RedLynx saw fit to kick it up one more notch by adding an impressive level editor. With this editor players can create their own trials, test them out and then upload them for the rest of the community to experience.

Though it may seem like a steep price at 1200 points, I can assure you that it is money well spent. RedLynx didn’t just deliver a hi-res flash port. No, they have created a full gaming experience that will continue to deliver new content through the online community for some time. So if you find yourself looking for that next great game to play this summer, look no further than Xbox Live and pickup Trials HD. I assure you, you will not be disappointed.

A-







Lucky Sevans
5:14 PM on 08.02.2009

Cake, donuts and lots of action-packed platforming. XBLA’s first big summer blockbuster has arrived and its name is Splosion Man. Deep within a secret scientific facility a very peculiar experiment has gone haywire and it is up to the player to help this poor soul out. Players take control of an odd fellow known only as Splosion Man, a very volatile and unstable character who wants nothing more than his freedom and lots of cake. All that is standing in the way of his escape are 50 kick-in-the-teeth levels and the player’s patience.

The team at Twisted Pixel has returned after a short break from their previous XBLA success, The Maw, to deliver their take on a classic genre, the 2D platformer. Unlike its predecessors Splosion Man doesn’t give the player various costumes, powers or fancy weapons to help them. No, the team decided to strip away all of those features and boiled this experience down to two simple mechanics: move and splode. Need to kill an enemy? Splode him. Need to reach a platform? Splode to it. Need to escape that rising pool of water? You guessed it - SPLODE!

In the beginning, players may feel as if the game is too easy, almost as if they are cruising through the initial couple of levels, however this sense of mastery that players may feel is all a charade. About the time players reach the second chapter, they will start to notice that the game takes the training wheels off. Players begin to learn that each level requires pinpoint accuracy and timing leaving no room for error. This in turn makes the game feel less like a comical platformer and more like an intense rhythm game, where every button press must be executed at a precise moment, where one slip-up can cause a player to fail and restart at the last checkpoint. Navigating these levels requires a lot of patience and memorization. That being said, the developers have addressed the difficulty curve by implementing a very forgiving checkpoint system as well as giving the player unlimited continues. However don’t let the learning curve deter you from this game. Half of the appeal of Splosion Man is the challenges that it throws at you. In fact, the only real downside to the game is its multiplayer mode.

The multiplayer element of the game allows 2 to 4 players to traverse an entire new set of levels that take advantage of some co-op moves. On paper it sounds like a really fun idea, but when a game such as this requires such pinpoint accuracy, the fun factor is lost and it becomes more frustrating than anything else. Initially, when you jump in with your friends, you may find yourself having fun sploding around the levels, but once you realize that you need to work as a team to pull off “Dual Splods” and “Splode Tosses” to complete the levels, it starts to lose its appeal. Some of the timings are so hard to plan with a live partner that it can make you want to throw you controller out the window. Multiplayer inevitably feels like it was rushed and tacked on in the end which is a shame and an injustice to the game.

All in all, Splision Man delivers a grand single player experience that is not only challenging, but also amazingly hilarious. If you find yourself with an extra 10 bucks and nothing to do, jump on Xbox Live and pick this game up. I guarantee that you will be laughing your ass off while cursing the game at the same time.

A-








With physical print becoming a thing of the past, more and more publishing houses are turning to the internet to get their news out to their audience. However, in the case of gaming journalism I feel these publication houses have yet to find a standard formula that not only works, but also appeases their readers. With that being said what is it that we, the gaming public, would like to see? Is it more reviews and previews, is it more of an in-depth look into the games themselves, or do we want more interviews with the game makers? Along those lines, how do we want the material presented? Do we as the gaming public want shorter, more concise articles and reviews or do we prefer a writer who goes into a lot of depth and background? These are important questions that we as the gaming public should be asking ourselves. With physical print slowly dying out major changes to journalism are inevitable. When this time comes these publishing giants along with their writers will be looking to their readers to help shape the way such content is presented.








The first episode of Unlimited Continues... is going to be recorded tonight. For those who don’t know what that is, it is a new podcast that is hosted by me and some former friends/employees of mine from our old development studio. We will be covering your standard:
• What’s in your console?
• This week in releases.
• Important gaming news.
• Handheld game of the week.
• Stack of shame (games that are just sitting around that we haven’t played).
• Suggestions from the gaming community (post any topics that you would like to see covered)
• And more.
So if anyone has a topic that they would like to see covered or a game that they would like more insight on just let us know by posting here. The website will hopefully be up soon and I will post again once the show is finished in editing and I have posted it. Thanks in advance.
Sean








My current lineup is Killzone 2 on the PS3, Tomb Raider Underworld on the 360 and No More Heroes on the Wii. However having beaten those already and with a little to nothing being released this week I think I will finally find some time to play Persona 4. At least that is my hope, every time I try to sit-down and play through it I either get distracted by something nongame related or another game gets released. Aside from my major consoles I will be playing more KarmaStar on the iPhone as well as UniWar, which I will be tossing a review up for later this week. What’s in your console this week?








How do you bring the excitement of strategy and board games alike to a console that fits in the palm of your hand? That is a tough one, but Harvey Smith (Deus Ex franchise) believes he has it figured out. He has decided to present iPhone nation with KarmaStar. A strategy game that ditches the old board and die layout of its real life predecessors and instead presents the user with an experience catered specifically to the iPhone. What KarmaStar does is focus the overall experience around two choices:

• Boost a trait, which will allot one point to the trait selected by the player.
• Attack an opponent, which will allot the player two additional points to their overall score if they are successful in their attack.

By boosting traits players can improve their overall chance at winning a battle. Higher stats allow for more attack turns, which definitely helps, but will not always win the game. Players will need to balance their choices and not favor one over the other.

Tying into the two basic choices are wild cards and bonus points. These two features are the difference makers in every battle. Players can use wild cards to help gain advantages over their opponents, while bonus points will be reward to the player for completing certain strategic actions.

Each game lasts eight rounds with the winner being the player with the most points at the end of the eight rounds. With every action being handled by a simple screen tap and combat using a simple “roll” of 1-5 die the game progresses at a nice pace, with most games lasting no longer then 10 minutes. With the inclusion of Wi-Fi multiplayer and achievement tracking KarmaStar presents users with an enjoyable strategy game experience on a handheld.

Score: B