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Bargain Bin Laden

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Bargain Bin Laden #22: Psychonauts


Aug 12
// Aaron Linde
Psychonauts. Yeah, I know -- sort of like Beyond Good and Evil, one of those games that needs no introduction, that almost hourly enjoys some sort of running of the mouth by one journalist or another. I'm introducing it as su...
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Bargain Bin Laden #21: R-Type Final


Aug 04
// Earnest Cavalli
Søren Kierkegaard once wrote, "I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations - one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it - you will regret ...
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Bargain Bin Laden #20: Gunstar Super Heroes


Jul 30
// Aaron Linde
Today, BBL rolls up on the big two-oh. I was planning on some grand gesture to celebrate, like some sort of Destructoid team photo where we're all fighting each other while riding bears or something, but I hear that's illegal...
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Bargain Bin Laden #19: Otogi


Jul 22
// Aaron Linde
Things look pretty bleak for the next month or so, don't they? Ah, summertime -- when the gaming industry actually offers a pretty compelling excuse to get off your ass and get outside. There's not much between here a...
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Bargain Bin Laden #18: Maximo


Jul 08
// Aaron Linde
You guys smell that? Oh yes, it smells like violent death. That's right, kids, welcome the newest inductee into the "So Bloody Hard It's Awesome" club of BBL selections: Maximo: Ghosts to Glory!Now, bear in ...
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Bargain Bin Laden #17: Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga


Jul 01
// Aaron Linde
There's a particular point in this week's BBL that I'm going to say now, because I'll invariably get kicked in the face for saying so -- let's get the face-kickin' out of the way as quick as possible. ...
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Bargain Bin Laden #16: Zone of the Enders


Jun 24
// Aaron Linde
Long-time BBL readers know that I'm no stranger to giant robots. You might recall when I covered... huh, okay, no giant robots in the games I've covered, anyway. But I dated one in college, which was awkward, especial...
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Bargain Bin Laden #15: Crimson Skies


Jun 10
// Aaron Linde
Today we reach back to hallowed antiquity in a loosely related sort of way. Back in The Day I covered an oft-overlooked title for BBL called Sky Odyssey, and it's difficult to write up this week's feature, Crimson Skies: High...
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Bargain Bin Laden #14: Freedom Fighters


Jun 02
// 8BitBrian
Aaron Linde is busy hunting terrorists with Jack Bauer, so I'm taking over Bargain Bin Laden this week. This week's game, Freedom Fighters, is one that I've actually discussed with Mr. Linde at some length. This i...
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Bargain Bin Laden #13: Dragon Quest VIII


May 13
// Aaron Linde
This week's selection ain't exactly obscure, but it is one of the best RPGs ever made. If you haven't already played Dragon Quest VIII, it's likely that you've spoken with someone who has, or read one of t...

Super Bargain Bin Laden Gaiden Turbo EX: The Red Star

Apr 28 // Aaron Linde
The Red Star (PS2)Developed by: Acclaim (sans their hallmark suckery, mind)Released: April 24, 2007Bargain Binned on Arrival: Only $19.99 new, but you might have trouble finding it. Read on to find out why.The story behind Red Star, as I understand it, goes something like this: Acclaim developed a game based on the graphic novel of the same title by Archangel Studios, completing what was essentially a finished product in 2004. Around that time, Acclaim had finally gone belly-up and bankrupt, and Red Star went off the radar. XS Games bought the rights to publish the title and, with some help from Union Entertainment, made some minor tweaks and improvements and set The Red Star in line for release in late 2006. Ask anybody who was looking forward to this game and they'll tell you terrible tales of watching the release date push back again, and again, and again. For all the trouble of rescuing The Red Star from limbo, XS Games couldn't seem to hammer down a firm date. Then, to the surprise of just about everybody, the game suddenly -- and perhaps magically -- shipped to stores on April 24th, earlier this week.Some caveats, though. Since the PS2 has come to be regarded as more or less inert by retailers in the face of next-gen, there has been little to no push by the major brick-and-mortar shops to get this game sold. I've heard that many GameStops around the country received few, if any, copies of this game, provided they weren't pre-ordered in full ahead of time. Ask for Red Star by name and employees will stare at you blankly. This is a low-profile release with what looks to be extremely limited shipping numbers; your best bet to find a copy is either the we'll-sell-anything department stores and online merchants.  Keep at it. It's worth seeking out.The Red Star can be best described as an old-school mixtape of gameplay; there's some Final Fight, some Smash TV, some Ikaruga, and plenty of style to boot. Where many games have sought the kind of smooth blend of a variety of genres into one complete game, few have done it so well as The Red Star. At first glance, the game seems a relatively familiar beat-'em-up sort of game, with some pretty hip combination attacks, juggles, and air combos to shake things up. Building upon this foundation, The Red Star complicates the genre by infusing the ass-kickin' with a healthy dose of shmup, equipping your character with three different long-range weapons. If you're wondering how that works, I'll tell you: surprisingly well.Each of The Red Star's three characters -- Kyozo, Makita, and Maya -- all control very differently, have various strengths and weaknesses, and offer three unique ways to play the game. Regardless of which character you choose, The Red Star's combat flow remains largely the same. Combat is composed of two primary focuses: melee and long-range, adapted from beat-'em-ups and shmups, respectively. For the most part, you'll be using melee to handle the ground troops that come after you, reserving your firearms for crowd control and weakening enemies from a distance. There's also those great and terrible shmup-style bosses, but we'll get to those in a minute. The controls are simple enough: square is your basic attack which is linkable into combos, the cross button activates your shield, and circle fires whatever gun you currently have selected. Holding R1 while attacking activates special attacks unique to each of the game's characters, and linking these special attacks with basic strikes is the key to pulling off some really brutal combos. The huge variety of baddos in Red Star come in all shapes and sizes, some of whom are weak to melee attacks over shooting and vice versa, keep things from getting stale as you work your way through the game. One of the biggest draws of Red Star, however, are the bosses.Imagine a boss from Ikaruga, one of them huge mechanical beasties that sling a hojillion bullets at you from every angle. Similar tyrants bookend the levels in Red Star, and they're an absolute riot. As you near the target, the camera swoops up to assume a more comprehensive perspective, granting the player a more traditional top-down view on the boss battle. While you're gunning down weak points, you're also made to dodge complex and swift bullet patterns and, in the later levels, negotiate some melee targets while you're at it. It gets a bit messy, but it's a whole lot of fun, and it's the infusion of shmup elements into The Red Star that really makes it feel like a complete experience. Some of the later bosses are simply unforgettable.And like any worthy shmup or brawler, The Red Star offers co-operative play throughout the game, and working your way through with a buddy makes for a hell of a good time. One frustrating element to the combat in Red Star is wrapping up a combo just as a cadre of thugs have lined up to hand you your ass, which they do, just as soon as that attack animation wraps up. If you've got someone watching your back, it makes for a slightly more forgiving experience throughout the game. The help is definitely handy, especially in the later levels when the difficulty ramps up and The Red Star's biggest flaw rears its ugly head: no mid-stage checkpoints, and a level-by-level save system. While the game might feel a bit easy at first, you'll definitely feel the absence later on. Length is another issue. The Red Star can be knocked out in a matter of hours -- which is what you might expect from a game from either of the genres that influence it -- and when you finally lay the final boss to sticky pulp, you're left wanting a little more. Fortunately, having three completely different characters with which to tackle the campaign adds a great deal of replay value. Co-op goes a long way in extending the life of The Red Star, too. For a gamer like me, Red Star has just about everything I need. Solid gameplay, great co-op, and it doesn't look half bad, either (it even has progressive scan). It's not quite a shooter, not quite a beat-'em-up -- The Red Star has many faces, and you'll see 'em all in every level throughout the game. Can't beat that for twenty bucks.  
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Good evening and happy Friday, friends, and welcome to a special edition of Bargain Bin Laden. As those of you familiar with how we work it up here in Bargainville (located in northern Dealvania) are already aware, covering n...

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360 backwards compatibility update includes Panzer Dragoon, others


Apr 19
// Aaron Linde
Holy God, Microsoft just answered two of my biggest prayers. The latest upcoming backwards compatibility update for the Xbox 360 covers a round of half-decent titles, but also includes the A-List But Sadly Forgotten (And Thus...
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Bargain Bin Laden #12: Scurge: Hive


Apr 15
// Aaron Linde
This week's Bargain Bin Laden begins with a personal gripe: Nintendo and NST really crapped in my cereal with Metroid Prime: Hunters. Not because it was a bad game -- quite the contrary, actually -- but just because the o...
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Bargain Bin Laden 11: Contra: Shattered Soldier


Apr 08
// Aaron Linde
Happy Holy Zombie Day, pixies -- since all but ten to fifteen of you have meandered towards a computer and away from drunken relatives arguing over divinity and chocolate eggs and large sums of borrowed money, I figure I'...
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Bargain Bin Laden 10: Shenmue II


Apr 01
// Aaron Linde
Good god, it's been a long couple of weeks. If you haven't already read my bitching and complaining elsewhere, the story is this: three weeks before the end of my penultimate Winter quarter at Western Washington Unive...
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[Update: We've got plenty of great submissions thus far, but there's still time left, people -- you got 'til Friday.] Afternoon, underlings. Aaron Linde here -- and by here, I mean not at GDC. That's right! Wh...

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Bargain Bin Laden #9: God Hand


Feb 25
// Aaron Linde
So, God Hand. Let's get those big questions cleared away before we begin, shall we?First, those of you paying attention might note that while God Hand recently enjoyed a nigh-universal price cut, the new $19.99 new / $17....
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Bargain Bin Laden #8: Panzer Dragoon Orta


Feb 18
// Aaron Linde
Did you know that "Bargain Bin Laden" has been incorporated into several terrorism aggregate news feeds since its inception? It's true! Good to know that those looking for the latest updates on the US's #1 m...
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High Scores: our best garage sale gaming finds


Feb 16
// Aaron Linde
I had the most wonderful dream last night. Hey, where are you going? I swear it has nothing to do with me, a bottle of scotch, a swimming pool full of maple syrup and one Mr. Ron Workman. Well, not this dream, anyway.No, this...
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Bargain Bin Laden #7: Beyond Good and Evil


Feb 11
// Aaron Linde
You don't really need me to go on and on about Ubisoft's incredible Beyond Good and Evil, do you? The same people that busy themselves fellating Fumito Ueda over Shadow of the Colossus and ICO and waxing philosophical...
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Bargain Bin Laden #6: Gunvalkyrie


Feb 04
// Aaron Linde
I'd like to think that our usual audiences would be present and accounted for today, but let's face it: most of you are watching the game, drunk and awash in nacho cheese. I could phone this one in and nobody'd be...
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BK drops game prices to 99 cents; your arteries shudder as you approach


Feb 03
// Niero Gonzalez
Just when you thought the King's game collection couldn't get any cheaper than $4 ... the games become cheaper than their burgers. You can now get Pocketbike Racer, Sneak King, and the bumper car one that nobody like...
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Bargain Bin Laden #5: Donkey Kong Jungle Beat


Jan 28
// Aaron Linde
Sorry for the interruption in programming, kids. Due to forces beyond my control like physics and math and other kinds of science, BBL's gonna be a Sunday deal from here on out. We cool? Good. I hate it when we fight, bab...
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Bargain Bin Laden #4: Jet Set Radio Future/Sega GT 2002


Jan 09
// Aaron Linde
Before I'm drawn and quartered for the extreme tardiness of this week's BBL, let me assure you that it was not my wish to delay. Rather, the Great and Terrible Gods of Consumer Electronics deemed me unfit to carry on ...
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Bargain Bin Laden #3: Mobile Light Force 2


Dec 26
// Aaron Linde
Settle down, children, and let ol' BBL tell you a tale; a tale of mystery, intrigue, and ultimate suffering. It is a story of Japanese shooters and their horrible and inappropriately localized US counterparts, of witchcra...
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Bargain Bin Laden #2: Sky Odyssey


Dec 19
// Aaron Linde
Pilotwings has been painfully absent from our hearts and minds for more than ten years. The last we saw the series was Pilotwings 64, a launch title that was sadly overshadowed by the irrefutable success of Super Mario's asce...
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Bargain Bin Laden #1: Seek and Destroy


Dec 12
// Aaron Linde
You kids and your next-gen -- flirting with financial ruin, that's what you're doing. $300-$600 for a new console? Sixty bones for a game? Hogwash! Why sell off your kidneys, your firstborn, and your firstborn's kidneys for t...

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