Tag Archives: Scouse Gamer 88

WWF Attitude (Nintendo 64, PlayStation 1, Dreamcast & Game Boy Colour)

Developer(s) – Acclaim Studios Salt Lake City

Publisher(s) – Acclaim Sports

PEGI – 12

Released following the success on WWF War Zone, and being the last WWE game overseen by Acclaim Sorts ending a 10-year association with the company, WWF Attitude was released to further commercial and critical acclaim, expanding on the ideas perpetuated by War Zone to ridiculous levels. I mentioned in my review of War Zone that I had a strong sense of nostalgia for that game and that it still holds up to this day; but as this game was a decisive improvement on War Zone in every way, and that I was at an age to appreciate it fully, this title hold even more nostalgic value to me, and holds up even better than War Zone. 

Graphics – 8.5/10

One of the most notable improvements in the game is in the technical aspect of the graphics, as the textures are infinitely more detailed than in War Zone and that this was done for a far bigger roster of WWE wrestlers; each wrestler’s own entrance sequence is also extended greatly, giving the game a far greater sense of variety than in the former. It also excels above War Zone in terms of conceptual design, as there are more types of arena to choose from relative to different WWE Pay Per View events; they, along with wrestlers, can even be customized in terms of the colour of the ropes, ring and even the designs of the metal frames either side of the titan tron. 

Gameplay – 8/10

The biggest improvement this game has on its predecessor, however, is in terms of gameplay. The game modes that were present in War Zone return, including an all-new career mode, which is structured far better, as well the additions of there now being a First Blood match and an I Quit Match option. As I said before, the main roster is also expanded largely compared to the limited amount of comparatively limited characters there were in War zone, but there are also a whole host of unlockable characters to obtain such as Chyna and Shawn Michaels.

Controls – 9/10

As the game most likely made on the same engine, the same control scheme applies as what it does in War Zone. In the cage matches, I still had the same trouble trying to climb out of cages, so the only disappointment I had with the controls scheme is that they didn’t address that issue. However, if born with, it doesn’t remain too much of a problem. On the other hand, however, the individual movesets and commands for which had been somewhat refined for Attitude and in that respect were yet another decisive improvement over War Zone. 

Lifespan – 8/10

Of course, that there are far more characters and far more game modes added to this game, it can inevitably be made to far a far longer amount of the time than its predecessor. The sheer amount of customization, gameplay options made available at the time made this one of the most, if not the most, expansive WWE experiences at the time, and consequently, it still holds up as a game that both fans of WWE and non-fans alike can spend hours upon hours investing in. 

Storyline – N/A (10/10)

The case with this game remains the same as what it was with War Zone. Wrestling fans will inevitably be enthralled in this game faster and to a greater extent than those who don’t follow, or never have followed wrestling, but overall, familiarity with the WWE universe; is not needed to enjoy it.. The commentary, however, is this time provided not by Vince McMahon and Jim Ross, but by Jerry Lawler and Shane McMahon, who unanimously make for a more comedic duo than the former. 

Originality – 7/10

At this juncture, where the WWE video game franchise was concerned, there had alway been limitations with games prior to this; most notably in the character rosters, as only a few characters were even chosen for each game compared to what they had on their rosters at the time. But this game did exceptionally well to blow every other WWE game out of the water at the time by expanding on the entire concept until it was splitting at the seams with ideas. It stands out among every other WWE game because it gave WWE fans at the time everything bigger than before, better than before and all at once. There would be better WWE games released after this, but this game was instrumental in setting many standards that every other WWE game would adhere to from thereon. 

Happii

Overall WWF Attitude is one of my favourite fifth generation wrestling games of all time, as well as it being one of my favourite Nintendo 64 games of all time. It gave wrestling fans everything they wanted, and added a few welcome additions in the process, and still remains a load of fun to play to this day. 

Score

50.5/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Q&A With Primordial Game Studios

Whist scouting for even more exciting looking games on crowdfunding platforms, I came across yet another ambitious and promising title boasting a lot of very potentially groundbreaking gameplay features. The Silent Tombs, currently under development at Dundee-based Primordial Game Studios and recently posted on Kickstarter, is a procedurally generated, puzzle-based exploration game planned for release on Steam in December 2021, whereby players must explore tombs and uncover deep-rooted secrets of ancient British civilizations such as the Celtic, Gaelic, and the Anglo Saxons. The gameplay makes use of a decibel meter, which incorporates a strong element of psychological horror, similar to the likes of Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, but in a much more open-ended environment.

Wanting to know even more about this project, I reached out to the game’s principal designer Vaughan Holloway to ask some further questions in regards to the project, and about what gamers can expect to indulge in whilst playing this wonderfully innovative title. Here’s what Vaughan Holloway of Primordial Game Studios had to say about The Silent Tombs:

What were the influences behind the game?

The original idea actually came from the tabletop game ‘Escape: Curse of the Temple!’; I used to play it with friends when I was working at Junkfish; while brainstorming betas, I put together a culling system that allowed for a real-time progen system that kept 95% of the game culled at any time. I put those two things together with my love of history, and the original build of ‘Silent Tombs’ was born!

What has the developmental process been like?

It’s been about 8 months since I met Konstantinos at a networking event in Dundee, and since then we’ve gathered a really great team of people around this central theme. We all have full-time jobs, so we’ve been working on ‘the Silent Tombs’ in our evenings and weekends, mostly. I did the design and programming and constructed the build, while Konstantinos built and imported artwork and Alasdair provided the music.

How close are we to seeing the final product?

We’re hoping to have a soft release for our Kickstarter patrons in Nov 2021, and the game will be officially released in Dec 2021.

What has been the most exciting aspect of development?

The first time I was able to test the game using Konstantinos’ artwork in the game was amazing; we were able to build the game and test it with the HDR Pipeline. The Volumetric Lighting and new materials just completely blew me away.

What has been the most challenging aspect of development?

Before we did the Kickstarter, we were preparing a video and pitch deck for the Global Games Pitch in Nov 2020; before that, we mostly working in our spare time and suddenly having a set deadline, especially for a Livestream pitch was the most challenging and nerve-wracking part of the development, so far.

Have there been any Gameplay elements planned for inclusion that have been scrapped or reworked?

Originally, we were planning on having ghosts and skeletons coming after the player if they make too much noise, but the animation / AI elements of creating enemies would have been too much. Like a lot of games like Slenderman / Phasmophobia, it’s not the enemy that’s scary but the anticipation of running into the enemy anywhere… so, instead I wanted to have the feel of the tomb itself bearing down on the player. We’re planning on using scripts called Proximity Shaders to change the level around the player. We haven’t ruled out the possibility of physical or otherworldly enemies in the game yet in some form, but I want the threat to be more subtle.

How well has the game been received so far?

It’s been slow going trying to get the game out to the community at large, but of the people that have looked at the game on our website, socials, or Kickstarter, it’s been a mostly positive response! I think people are excited to see more, and we’re looking forward to buckling down to developing the game again.

You and the team clearly have a deep-rooted passion for ancient British history. Where did all that originate from?

Personally, my grandfather was a teacher, and we visited a lot of ancient sites in my childhood; I’d visited Sutton Hoo at least three times before I was 15. As I’ve grown up I’ve tried to get out and visit places myself, especially after my grandfather passed away. I’ve been lucky to find work in Scotland, there is so much to see! I don’t think people, especially people outside of the British Isles realize how deep and amazing British history is, and I’m hoping this game not only inspires them to have a look but also gives them some information on sites that can get them started!

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?

PC, to begin with; we will be launching on Steam and GoG.com in Dec 2021.

Have any elements of the previous titles game that your or the rest of the development team been incorporated into The Silent Tombs?

For me, there haven’t been any direct elements to inspire ‘The Silent Tombs’; I drew a lot of design inspiration from ‘Escape: Curse of the Temple!’, which I played a lot during my time at Junkfish. While working on Monstrum 2, I did a lot of work using procedural generation and I tended to experiment with building progen prototypes. It was these two elements, plus my passion for British history combined to make the first early build.

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?

Absolutely! First, it sounds kind of rough, but ideas are cheap. If you want to build something people want to play, build a lot of -one-day prototypes’ (really simple gameplay concepts that only take an afternoon or evening to flesh out) and get lots of different people to test them. Don’t get discouraged; you learn more from negative feedback than positive feedback.

Where on the Internet can people find you? 

We have a website at www.primordialgamestudios.com, and our Twitter / Insta handles are GamePrimordial; our Kickstarter is currently running under ‘The Silent Tombs’, go check it out!

You can also check out The Silent Tombs on Kickstarter via the link below if you’d like to support the project:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/vfholloway/the-silent-tombs/?ref=kicktraqKickstarter Page

but for now, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Vaughan for sharing as much about The Silent Tombs as he could, and to wish him and the rest of the development team the best of luck with the Kickstarter campaign and the release of the game. The Silent Tombs is one of the most unique upcoming games I’ve come across in a long time, and I for one can’t wait to sink my teeth into this title upon release. I hope you guys have enjoyed learning more about this, as indeed I did.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

Toy Story (PC, Super Nintendo, Game Boy & Mega Drive)

Developer(s) – Traveller’s Tales, Psygnosis & Tiertex Design Studios

Publisher(s) – Disney Interactive, Sega, Nintendo Australia, Capcom & Black Pearl Software

Producer(s) – Craig Annis & Steve Riding

Designer(s) – John burton & Andy Ingram

ELSPA – All Ages

Released to coincide with the hit Disney film of the same name, Toy Story was developed for several different systems and was released to critical and commercial success despite having been at the back end of the fourth generation with the transition into the fifth generation looming round the corner. To me, this game is another one of the more impressive licensed titles released before they were further popularized during the seventh generation and still holds up as one of the most varied 2D side scrollers of the era. 

Graphics – 8/10

The graphical style is extremely similar to that of Donkey Kong Country, implementing 2.5 graphical sprites provided to Traveller’s Tales by Disney themselves (albeit Traveller’s Tales has their own sprites on standby in the event of time constraints), portraying all the central characters in the film, as well as several minor ones, and featuring a massively varied range of level designs; some of which add to locations found in the original movie. The game’s soundtrack also features a collection of pretty catchy soundtracks that sound like they would’ve fit flawlessly if they were again included in the film as well. As far as fourth-generation games go, this is one of the best-looking titles of that era in my opinion; the visuals are both colorfully vibrant and wonderfully dark wherever needed, and the character sprites are wonderfully animated in addition. 

Gameplay – 8/10

For what is primarily a 2D side scroller, the gameplay is surprisingly varied for a game from this era. Not only does it feature side-scrolling sequences, but it also features light puzzle elements, car driving sequences, and even a first-person sequence very similar to Doom. But to experience all of these different styles of play, I would recommend playing the Mega Drive/Genesis version; as this version was dubbed the lead version by Disney, it is the only port to feature all 18 levels created for it; the Super NES version is missing the first RC sequence towards the end and the PC version only has 10 of the original 18 levels. The game also features situations that are unique to the franchise and that don’t appear in the actual film, such as Woody navigating his way through the interior of the claw machine, whereas in the film, he and Buzz simply slip in among the toy aliens instantly. The designers of this game made something very unique to the original film, and it really shows in every respect. 

Controls – 10/10

Regardless of having cramped in a huge amount of different play styles, I was amazed to find that there were no problems with the controls after replaying it. I had to go over it again, as although I’d spent a great deal of time playing this when I was a kid, I realized that I’d forgotten just how good a game this was going into it again with a much more subjective viewpoint. The only minor issue I have with the controls is that during the first-person sequence inside the claw machine, turning can be a bit wooden, but that’s just semantics, as it’s only for one level. It may have posed more of a problem if there were more sequences like it, but besides which, there are no other issues with the controls at all. 

Lifespan – 6/10

To complete the game will take about the average lifespan for a game of this kind, which is around an hour. I found myself not being able to give the game too much flack in this respect because it was after all perpetuating the source material of an 80-minute film; in fact, if the player explores enough, they can potentially make the game last slightly longer than the film. My initial thought was that if the game could incorporate so many different play styles that the developers may have been able to make it last a lot longer than what it does, but there are too many different factors to consider for me to criticize it too much in this respect, such as the time frame they would have needed to work to in order to get it out at the same period as the film. Regardless, for a game of its generation, it lasts a fair amount of time. 

Storyline – 7/10

The game is simply a retelling of the events of the film; two anthropomorphic action figures, the cowboy Woody and space ranger Buzz Lightyear, become separated from their owner Andy and must find a way back before the family are due to move house. The game does well enough to portray these events in it’s own way without much of the classic dialogue of the film and the soundtrack does particularly well to add to the game’s atmosphere further aiding in the portrayal of the story; especially in unique sequences not present in the original film.

Originality – 7/10

Especially as 2D side-scrolling was the most prevalent genre within the industry at the game, this game does extremely well to stand out among a vast majority of others with the sheer amount of different play styles it incorporates throughout. It was rare for a game of this genre within the fourth generation to offer so much variety in gameplay and especially for a licensed game, which back then was much more of a niche interested among gamers than what it is now, is particularly impressive indeed. 

Happii

Overall, Toy Story, to me, frankly remains one of the better 2D side scrollers of the fourth generation of gaming; certainly among the best of early Disney games. It offers players an unprecedented amount of variety for the time that it lasts and portrays the film in a very satisfying way, not only using the license but celebrating it in an appropriate manner. 

Score

46/60

7.5/10 (Good)

WWF War Zone (Nintendo 64, PlayStation 1 & Game Boy)

Developer(s) – Iguana West & Porbe Entertainment

Publisher(s) – Acclaim Sports

Producer(s) – Mike Archer

Designer(s) Tim Huntsman, Clark Westerman, Richard Raegan, Troy Leavitt, Jeff Robinson & James Daly

PEGI – 12 

Released in 1998 shortly after the beginning of the WWF Attitude era, WWF War Zone was the first 3D WWF game released after the transition from the fourth to fifth generations of gaming. It received critical acclaim upon release, having appealed to wrestling fans and non-wrestling fans alike. Although the game, according to many games of the younger generation, in particular, hasn’t aged well, I beg to differ; in my opinion, it still holds up as one of the better wrestling titles of the fifth generation and remains a pleasure to play through. 

Graphics – 7.5/10

Having been developed with various different techniques for all three ports, in respect of the graphics (as well as every other respect), the Nintendo 64 version is the best in terms of technical design in my opinion. In terms of conceptual design, the game is limited to only one kind of stage, which would be rectified in later WWF/WWE games, but poses a small issue in terms of visual diversity. However, all that being said, I remember being 9 years old at the time and being overwhelmed by the quality of the graphics and being able to see 3D ring entrances from each of the wrestlers. As I alluded to before, although many gamers may not think that this game has aged well over the years, the fact of the matter is that this level of visual quality was considered cutting edge at the time, and to me, still holds up relatively well today; bar facial textures. 

Gameplay – 7/10

The game has several different modes to choose from, which again relates to the fact that I would recommend the Nintendo 64 version over the PlayStation version, as the Nintendo 64 version also includes an additional Royal Rumble mode. The main mode being the career mode, whereby players can either play as a custom-made character, or classic wrestler of their choice, to compete for the WWF title. Among the roster are Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker, Kane, Mankind, The Rock, and Triple H. Surprisingly, Bret Hart and The British Bulldog were also included in the game despite the fact that at the time of the game’s release, their contracts with the WWF were terminated following the infamous Montreal Screwjob of 1997. There are a plethora of different fighters to choose from, including a few unlockable ones, which makes each career playthrough a different challenge every time. 

Controls – 9/10

For the most part, the controls are perfectly fine. The different moves for each character, as well as the finishing moves. are easy enough to learn how to do, and movement is fluid despite the fact the 3D gaming was in a somewhat preliminary stage at the time of release. The only issue I had with the control scheme was how climbing out of the steel cage works; it can be quite confusing at first and the solution isn’t as straightforward as what it perhaps should’ve been made to be. Besides which, the control scheme presents no further issues. 

Lifespan – 7/10

Completing the career mode with one character can take there about an hour and a half, depending on how well the player performs, but after that, there are, of course, additional gameplay modes that provide hours of entertainment for players. For an early 3D wrestling game, there is a great amount of variety that prolongs the game’s lifespan greatly. Previous WWE games had a decent amount of longevity to them owing to a lot of the same reasons, but in this game, it’s even more prevalent. 

Storyline –  N/A (10/10)

Of course, wrestling fans will take to this game much more effectively than those who never either followed wrestling at the or still may not follow wrestling, familiarity with the WWE will be irrelevant to the gamer’s enjoyment of the game. The commentary provided by both Vince McMahon and Jim Ross. by today’s standards, is laughingly bad and clearly done with heavily edited sound clips, but to me and a lot of other gamers, that will provide an additional comedic value to the game. 

Originality – 7/10

Offering a 3D wrestling game with a new perspective and style of play made it stand out from any other wrestling game before; it’s a by-product of the era in which this game was developed, and as such, it offered a very new experience for players to indulge in at the time. Although the idea of which would be expanded on immediately with the sequel WWF Attitude, as well as countless or wrestling to come after, but this game served as more than an adequate starting point for what would come next.

Happii

In summary, WWF War Zone snot only served as an appropriate basis for the standard of 3D wrestling games but is still an enjoyable experience that very much holds up to this day for me. It’s an entertaining title with classic wrestlers and hours of fun to be had. 

Score

47.5/60

7.5/10 (Good)

Q&A With Joseph Thamir

After once again scouting crowdfunding platforms for new upcoming titles looking for backing, I came across a promising RPG game in development set for release later on this year entitled Guardians of Lumen. Created by Canadian programmer Joseph Thamir, Guardians of Lumen is a turn-based RPG allowing player control of multiple characters, each with their own unique attributes and abilities, as they journey across the expansive world of Lumen, completing story-driven quests as well as a vast amount of planned side quests, minigames, puzzles to solve and endless monster hunting quests, with the game currently boasting a minimum of 20 to 30 hours of gameplay. Curious to know about this immensely ambitious project, I reached out to Joseph to put forward to him a series of questions about how this game came to be and what it will come to be upon its full release later on in 2021. Here’s what Joseph Thamir had to tell me about Guardians of Lumen:

 

What were the influences behind your game? 

Originally, Games like Shadow of the colossus, monster hunter, and Xenoblade Chronicles 2, with their massive worlds and massive monsters influenced the game a lot, and while I can still say that for the exploration, material gathering, and the like, with the change in genre, the combat takes inspiration from games like the classic Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger and the like.

What has the developmental process been like?   

In a word, Steady. Like I said on the IndieGoGo page, I started work on this game in May 2019, but before that, I had spent hours planning out everything from costs of development to what side jobs and contracts I’ll need to do and manage to keep me going. I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t have been able to get to this point without that planning.

How close are we to seeing the finished product? 

If all goes according to plan, the Demo will release on Jan 11, 2021, and the full game on June 15, 2021. Of course, there are always complications that can come up so I like giving myself a week of breathing room, just in case. 

What has been the most exciting aspect of development?   

The most exciting aspect? I have to say, it’s setting things up at the start of development and, months later, finally seeing it all fall into place. There’s an odd rush I get when I want to do something and I have everything in place that all I have to do is pull it all together.

What has been the most challenging aspect of development?   

The hardest part of development (and this’ll sound kinda obvious) has to be problem-solving. I’m working alone with lots of different hats I need to wear. Whenever a problem comes up, I can’t just ask for help. Research, trial, and error have become common uses of my time.  

You mention on your IndieGoGo page that Guardians of Lumen was previously an action RPG. Are there any other ideas for the game that have since been scrapped or reworked into the current project?

The original structure of the story has been completely scrapped. At first, I was going to have this little personality test when you first fire-up the game and the game would match you up with the main character that fit your personality the best. The story was only going to show you events through that character’s POV and whole chunks of the story would be locked behind 2nd or even third playthroughs. 

I decided against the idea mainly because of the games Octopath Traveler and Bravely Default. Octopath has 8 stories each tied to a different character while Bravely Default only has one, arguably simpler story. While I like Octopath’s story(ies) better, the friendship that builds between Bravely’s characters is just so much more fulfilling to see play out.

In the end, I felt that I NEEDED something like that to really push the story.

How well has the game been received so far?   

From what I’ve gathered, everyone seems to be interested. I can’t say anyone is dying to play the game but I think I’ve done a good job at the very least getting people to read it over and think about it.

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?  

PC at first. Getting the game finished and out there is a top priority and PC is the easiest for me to develop at the moment. After that, it would be amazing to see my game on Switch and PS5.

If you were given the opportunity to work for any developer on any game series, which one would it be, and why?   

Can I just name the entire JRPG market? Ha, if that’s a no, then I’d love to work on the Fire Emblem team. I’ve always loved the giant, fantasy world and the amazing combat and with their most recent game, I feel like they know how to effortlessly tie the two together.

Have ideas from previous games you’ve developed found their way into this project? 

The rework to a turn-based RPG takes chunks from an unreleased game I made a few months ago. The game was just a test to challenge me to see if I could make an FF-Tactics style game in a day (Humblebrag: I could 😀 ) but the system was simple enough that I could copy it over. Besides that, I can’t say I have much that I could move into this project. I’ve done a lot of contract work over the last few years but it’s been mostly helping artists with mobile games or character controls for FP Shooters.

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?  

If you are like me, just coming out of college and you want to start something like this, everyone will tell you not to. “It’s not stable” or “maybe you should work somewhere first to build up the experience”. They’re valid and you’d probably have better luck following that advice if you want to make money quickly. BUT, if you really want to do it, to make something you’ll be proud about, plan it through, take that extra work on the side, then go ahead and do it.

Where on the Internet can people find you?  

You can check me out on youtube at:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC88Po54InRp516Sm5kMUBIw

Or check out my website

https://www.josephthamir.com/  (Though I gotta warn you that it may be a tad outdated :3 )

Do you have anything else to add?  

I’d love to hear what you think (even if it’s just from the IndieGoGo page, the Demo, or my response to these questions.) I love hearing where I can improve and where I can hold my head up with pride.

As always, I’d like to thank Joseph for taking the time out to talk to me about this wonderful and promising RPG. If you like the look of Guardians of Lumen and think you’d like to play it too, you can support the project on Joseph’s IndieGogo page via the below link:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/guardians-of-lumen–2#/

I’d also like to take the opportunity to wish Joseph the best of luck with Guardians of Lumen and I hope you guys enjoyed learning more about this game as much as I did.

 

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

Robot Wars: Arenas of Destruction (PC & PlayStation 2)

Developer(s) – Climax Development

Publisher(s) – Gamezlab & Vivendi Universal

Producer – Barry Simpson

Designer – Mark Davies

ELSPA – 11+

 

Released in the 4th quarter of 2001 shortly following the fourth season of the program, Robot Wars: Arenas of destruction was to a tirade of criticism with reviewers citing issues with the controls as well as the difficulty, with critics thinking the game was too easy. In my opinion, however, possibly due in some part to the fact that I was a huge fan of the show growing up, I spent a lot of time playing this game when I was a kid, since I found it to be a very enjoyable experience, and the truth is told, I think it still holds up to this day. There are elements to this game that have largely gone unappreciated that make this a far better game than what most people seem to think.

 

Graphics – 8/10

The game is based on the hit UK series Robot Wars, popularised from the late 90s to the early 2000s. As such, it features some of the best robots to have ever competed in the program, such as Razor, Hypnodisc, Cassius, and Firestorm II, as well including the infamous House robots like Sgt Bash, Shunt, Matilda, Dead Metal, and Sir Killalot. But perhaps more impressive than this is the game’s level design; as well as having the traditional Robot Wars arena included, there are several other areas around the world where tournaments are held that are designed very differently, and more elaborately in some cases, than the original Robot Wars arena. It’s. Quite impressive to me that the developers were able to pull this off despite the clear lack of source material that becomes apparent if you ever watch the show.

 

Gameplay – 8/10

The objective of the game is to build a robot using a preset amount of money and to enter the robot into Robot Wars tournaments in order to compete and earn more money to build and better robots out of tougher materials and customizing it with better weapons. The amount of variety in gameplay is extremely impressive for a licensed game, which back then was much more of a niche interest than what it is now with the standard for licensed having increased dramatically following the release of Batman: Arkham Asylum. But even before then, there were more than a few diamonds in the rough beforehand, such as the Disney games developed by Capcom, the Mickey Mouse Illusion series, the earlier Lego games, and in my opinion, this too. 

 

Controls – 8/10

As I alluded to before, one of the most common criticisms of this game was aimed at the control scheme; that movement is not as fluent as what it perhaps should’ve been. However, although it can be a bit of an unnecessary hindrance, the movement of a robot largely depends on what type of wheels it’s fitted with; which over time, becomes less and less of an issue as the player gets a feel for what axis are best to fit their robot with, and what type of tyre to use to give it better overall control. It poses somewhat of an issue because it can be annoying as the player just starts out, but to me, it is at least bearable to play until better wheels can be purchased. It’s not. It’s not the perfect control scheme, but one that does gradually get rectified. 

 

Lifespan – 6/10

To complete the entire circuit of tournaments in the game can take up to a few hours, dependent of course on the quality of the robot the player can create, as well as much damage the robot sustains (players also have to spend money repairing their robot as it takes damage). But regardless of that, there is a fair bit of replay value to be had; especially since not only can players make different types of robots using different frames for a completely different playthrough each time, but can also compete as the classic robots, as well as the house robots. 

 

Storyline – N/A (10/10)

The game will most definitely work better for people who watched the program and have come to like it, but this by no means doesn’t make the game any less enjoyable; another criticism I’ve read of this game is that it didn’t include the then-presenter of the program Craig Charles, with only commentator Jonathan Pierce featuring in the game, but to me, that’s far too much of a finite excuse to criticize the game. 

 

Originality – 7/10

There had been games like this made before, and games made like it since, but not as many as there have been a majority of other genres. It’s certainly a fairly unique concept, which to me, does warrant the further development that it did end up getting, with the follow-up to this game, Robot Wars: Extreme Destruction, generally considered to be better. But to me, this game would’ve served as more than an adequate jumping on point despite the amount of flack it got at the time and still does extremely well to stand out among other games of its kind. 

 

Happii

In summation, Robot Wars: Arenas of Destruction not only uses the license extremely well, but it adds to it greatly whilst appropriately celebrating it at the same time. I grew up with the show, with my dad even once taking me to a live show in Sheffield one time, but regardless of whether you may have been a fan of the show or not, this game is certainly worth playing through and totally undeserving of the negative response it received upon release. 

Score

47/60

7.5/10 (Good)

Q&A With Scumhead

For my first Q&A of 2021, I reached out to Arizona-based developer and comic writer Scumhead regarding his newly posted and successfully backed Kickstarter projected entitled Vomitoreum. Vomitroeum is a Metroidvania-style first-person shooter, similar to Metroid Prime, but is heavily influenced by artists such as Zdzisław Beksiński and Dariusz Zawadzki, as well as what has been the mainstay of Scumhead’s developmental portfolio, eldritch horror; the subject has been a staple in a mast majority of Scumhead’s work such as his comic Blackseed and previously developed games like Orogenesis and the two games in the Shrine series. Wanting to find out more about this fascinatingly surreal-looking title, I asked Scumhead a few questions about his upcoming game and what players can expect to see of the finished article. Here’s what Scumhead had to say about Vomitoreum:

What were the influences behind your game? 

Well, of course, there’s Metroid. Metroid Prime to be specific, as there is a huge lack of first-person Metroidvania games that take advantage of 3D space. Dark Souls would be another one since It’s my favorite game- taking inspirations less from the difficulty and more from the interconnectedness of the world and atmosphere. For artistic inspiration, the main artist I’m pulling from is Zdzisław Beksiński and Dariusz Zawadzki. Other than that, my inspirations come from all over the place. 

What has the developmental process been like? 

Challenging. We’re breaking GZdoom and doing things it’s not really meant to be doing, and somehow it’s functional. The art side of things has been an absolute blast, but it’s been a challenge to get this to flow in the engine. 

How close are we to seeing the finished product? 

The Demo is roughly 1/8th of the final game, unpolished of course. It took about 3 months of work to get everything to where we are now, but it’ll go faster once we build out the project’s skeleton. Just getting mechanics to work and feel good so I can get back to workin’ on the good stuff is top priority right now. 

What has been the most exciting aspect of development? 

For me, it’s been the visual presentation. Adapting Beksinski and Zawadzki’s artwork into a playable format has been a great challenge, as well as using their styles as a starting point to create my own work. However, the most exciting part was realizing that a dream project like this was actually possible in the engine. 

What has been the most challenging aspect of development? 

Game feel. The visuals are all there, it’s just the gameplay that has been a big challenge. It’s still a work in progress, but making the game feel good to play has been tough. 

How rewarding has it been already seeing this game develop into what it is now? 

Very rewarding, it’s been a dream project for me since I was a young teenager. Finally being able to create it has been wonderful. How well has the game been received so far? Mostly positive, the most valuable stuff is the bug reports. I have a feeling the final game will be much more positively received because all of the elements will be in place for a complete experience. 

Have there been any early ideas considered for inclusion that have since been scrapped or reworked in? 

I generally lay out the entirety of my games before jumping fully into them, so other than a few sprites and models, not much has been cut. Mostly they were just improved from their base ideas. 

You posted on Twitter recently that pitfalls in the game are now designed to send players back to their original position to relieve frustration, and rightly so in my opinion. But how challenging are you looking to make this game for players? 

I have a really hard time with balance. It’s why playtesting will be so important. I find myself making encounters too easy and platforming sections too hard. Fixed the platforming part but making encounters a challenge without being terribly frustrating is going to be a big learning experience for me. 

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to? 

Windows, Linux, and hopefully Mac. 

If you had the chance to work with any mainstream developer of your choice, who would it be, and why? 

I’m not sure I’d take the chance. I think the best thing about this project is that it’s a bunch of indie types coming together to make a really disgusting game. I worry that a mainstream studio would get in the way of that.

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?

Make stuff. You can try and improve by yourself for eternity, but it’s honestly better to just learn as you go along. People can see the improvements you make from title to title, and you will have a big catalog of stuff people can play and that you can look back on. Getting started is the hard part, but if you love game development it won’t matter how good or bad your projects are. 

Where on the Internet can people find you? 

Mainly on Twitter. 

https://twitter.com/Scumhead1 

They can also find me on youtube.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXsWVi9TFb5BQ0SDdquGjZw 

They can explore my game catalog here: 

https://www.goresoft.com/ 

Do you have anything else to add? 

This project would be nowhere without the help of my team, please show them some love. Here’s their twitter @’s 

Programmer: Mengo @Mengo329 

Art and Animation Help: Batandy @Batandy_ 

Music: Immorpher @immorpher64 & Primeval @PRIMEVAL

 

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Scumhead for taking the time out to talk to me regarding this ambitious-looking title. Vomitroeum, under its wonderfully disturbing exterior, looks like it will have a lot to offer gamers upon release and I’m very much looking forward to what the final build of the game has to offer. You can also check out Scumhead’s Patreon page here if you’d like to become a patron of his:

https://www.patreon.com/scumhead

You can also find the link to Vomitoreum’s Kickstarter page below if you’d like to support the project:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/scumhead/vomitoreum

The link below is for scumhead’s itch.io page, which has a playable demo of the game in its current build:

https://scumhead.itch.io/vomitoreum

 

In the meantime, I’d like to congratulate Scumhead on the successful funding of his Kickstarter campaign and to wish him the best of luck with Vomitoreum upon release.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

Untitled Goose Game (PC, Switch, PlayStation 4 & Xbox One)

Developer(s) – House House

Publisher(s) – Panic

Designer(s) – Stuart Gillespie-Cook, Nico Disseldorp, Michael McMaster & Jacob Strasser

PEGI – 3

 

Released by Melbourne-based developer House House back in 2019 on PC after much anticipation from gamers, and later ported to several home consoles, Untitled Goose Game is an adventure stealth game whereby player take control of a goose that must travel around a village and relentlessly annoy as many of the villagers as possible in as many ways as possible. It was very well received by critics and gamers alike and maintains a perfect 10/10 score on Steam. Whilst I found flaws with the game whilst playing, I found it overall to be a delightfully challenging, yet uproariously funny experience at the same time. 

 

Graphics – 7/10

Set in an idyllic British village, the game makes use of cel-shaded visual design and a vibrant color palette perpetuated by lush, green landscapes and traditional village scenery and buildings such as gardens, pubs, and markets. The game’s soundtrack also flawlessly adds to the game’s atmosphere, constantly changing depending on what situation the player finds themself in; be that when they’re simply walking around, when they’re about to sneak up on someone or when forced to run away from villagers. It’s always a pleasure to experience a game like this, whilst may not look as visually original as others, still present variety in a number of different, and even more subtle kinds of ways. 

 

Gameplay – 7/10

The player takes control of a mischievous goose roaming around a peaceful village. The player must undertake specific tasks given to them via a to-do list, all with the sole purpose of causing as much chaos around the village as possible. For example, the first sequence of the game has the player having to torment an unsuspecting groundskeeper by stealing the keys to his garden gate, putting his rake in a nearby pool, and stealing various other items in his garden in order to create a picnic nearby. Although the visuals aren’t particularly unique by today’s standards, the gameplay concept definitely is. The idea came from a very unlikely source; it came about when one of the staff at House House emailed the creative team a stock photograph of a goose, which led to a series of brainstorming sessions. For a seemingly finite concept that came virtually out of nowhere, it’s quite impressive to me how the development team was able to make as much of it as they did and create a game like this.

 

Controls – 10/10

Because there are an unprecedented amount of commands to have to use in this game, getting used to controls and style of movement may take some time initially; but once mastered, it presents no problems, which is always impressive to think about when it comes to a new idea involving a new style of gameplay. I’ve come across a few indie games over the years, which have failed to impress in terms of controls, such as Octodad: Dadliest Catch and Aaru’s Awakening, but thankfully there are no issues with this game’s control scheme. 

 

Lifespan – 4/10

The most disappointing aspect of this game is the short time it can be made to last for. To complete the game 100% takes about 5 hours, and I think there was definitely room for expansion in this respect. Though I said I was impressed with the development team’s ability to come up with the overall concept with having little to no ideas to go on initially, there are certainly a great number of ways in which the initial concept could have been built on for more objectives and side quests; and I for one would’ve been willing to wait a little bit longer to play it if it meant it could’ve been made to last longer. 

 

Storyline – 6/10

The game’s premise, as I described early, is also the game’s story; but what stops it from making the story nonexistent is a variety of different things. The soundtrack adds to the game’s atmosphere as I pointed out before, but the goose’s journey is filled with hectic moments as well as drama and comedy; playing this game made me burst out laughing on several occasions. But there is also a nice little reveal at the end, which really epitomizes what this game set out to do and makes it feel like everything comes full circle in its own way.

 

Originality – 8/10

As I said, although the visual style and the conceptual design of the game aren’t particularly unique, what does make this game promptly stand out from the crowd is the concept of the gameplay itself. I love it when I come across a video game that seems basic at first glance, but ostensibly offers gamers an experience unlike any other without it being overly complicated and having a somewhat simplistic feel to it at the same time. There’s a simultaneous feel of tranquility and urgency to be had whilst playing this game and it makes for a very enjoyable experience.

 

Happii

Overall, Untitled Goose Game is a very good title for the short time that it lasts and it is certainly worth one playthrough at a minimum. It’s a simplistically designed game visually, yet has its own unique charm to it that separates it even from some of the most ambitiously designed indie titles of the eighth generation of gaming. 

Score

42/60

7/10 (Fair)

Cat Quest (PC, PlayStation 4 & Nintendo Switch)

Developer(s) – The Genlebros

Publisher(s) – PQube

PEGI – 3

Released in 2017 by Singapore-based development studio The Gentle bros, Cat Quest is an open-world RPG heavy on combat, spellcasting, stat upgrading, and quirky feline characters throughout. For me, having watched the trailers for this game and playing briefly at video games expos, this seemed a perfect fit for me, as I am both a lover of cats and a lover of RPGs, and this game certainly delivers on both aspects. 

Graphics – 8.5/10

The game takes place in the vast land of Felingard, where its inhabitants are anthropomorphic cats that quite harmoniously coexist; albeit there seems to be a small level of political intrigue between each faction of cats residing there. The seemingly hand-drawn world of Felingard is vibrantly designed, with lush green landscape, forests, and outstretched sea, along with dangerous caves and dungeons thrown in for good measure. The game’s enemy designs are also particularly variable, ranging from dragons to stone golems and even including monsters modeled after cats, such as the infamous Cathulu mini-boss. The game’s soundtrack, primarily composed in the chord of C, is also very upbeat and carefree, although it can take some dark twists; especially during the end of the story. 

Gameplay – 8.5/10

Cat Quest is a traditional real-time RPG with combat elements reminiscent of Dark Souls, whereby dodging enemy attacks is made just as paramount as attacking with either melee weapons or spells. Players must level up the player character In order to effectively progress through the game. Areas are separated by recommended levels for players to be in order to undertake; however, more avant-garde players can choose to try and progress through more difficult areas at lower levels; the game is very much open-ended in that respect. But regardless, there are a lot of side quests to undertake throughout, including additional bosses, hidden armor and weapons to find, and spell upgrades to implement. More areas of the game also become available when skills like swimming and flying are learned; in my opinion, once the flying ability is learned, that’s when the game truly begins. 

Controls – 10/10

The game’s control scheme is to put it in the simplest way, easy to learn and hard to master. Skill is required to be able to effectively play this game, especially if players decide to try their luck in more advanced areas at an early level. The player interface is also very well thought out, enabling players to simultaneously attack, cast spells, and avoid enemy attacks. Everything flows naturally once players have the basic premise down, but more importantly, there are no faults with the controls, which for a game that challenges players in this manner, is needed. 

Lifespan – 7/10

To complete Cat Quest to 100% can take about 15 hours depending on how many times the player gets their character killed, which for unseasoned players may be more than the average. It’s a relatively decent amount of time for a game to last, but nothing compared to most RPGs, which whilst wasn’t a significant disappointment, made me think that there definitely room for expansion in the end. Gentle bros would expand on it with the release of the sequel Cat Quest II (along with expanding the concept in every other aspect), but for me, it needed to  last a good few hours longer for it to be able to stand with the very best of RPGs like Final Fantasy and Mass Effect

Storyline – 7/10

The game’s premise is simple enough; the player character must save Felingard from the evil cat sorcerer Drakoth. But as the player progresses through the game, they will find out that there is a lot more to it than what they will have first realized. A level of doubt and moral ambiguity is later thrown in at a specific time within the game that will make the player question whether or not what they’re doing is right and that Drakoth may even be sympathized with. Especially for a game that has cat-related puns everywhere in the dialogue, what comes to light will cause quite some shock. 

Originality – 7/10

Although it may not be one of the longer-lasting RPGs ever made, everything about this game, from the conceptual design, the combat system, and the story, make it an extremely memorable experience indeed. Of course, there have been anthropomorphic cats in video games before, but never has it been quite on this scale. This concept would again be expanded upon in the sequel to include dogs as well, but for cat lovers everywhere, this one comes highly recommended from me. 

Happii

To summarize, Cat Quest is an addictive, quirky, and challenging game to play, as well as a whole of fun. It has grueling combat, a host of secrets to discover, and a story that will surprisingly have you on the edge of your seat. I can’t recommend it enough.

Score

49/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Jet Set Radio (Dreamcast, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation Vita, Android & iOS)

Developer(s) – Smilebit & Blitworks

Publisher(s) – Sega

Director – Masayoshi Kikuchi

Producer – Kawagoe Takayuki

PEGI – 12

Originally developed as a Dreamcast exclusive back in 2000, Jet Set Radio is a skating game and was the first game in history to make use of cel-shaded visuals, which have since been popularized by developers all over the mainstream being used within the likes of the Legend of Zelda series and being the staple visual style of franchises like Borderlands and No More Heroes. Though I was able to appreciate the origins of this now iconic graphical style, I was, however, a lot more disappointed with how this game plays out than what I was expecting having seen just how highly regarded it is. For how much innovation there was in terms of visuals, it’s quite flawed in terms of its style of play; especially compared to other games of its kind.  

Graphics – 8/10

In terms of visual style, this game was groundbreaking at the time and would go on to influence the visual style of countless other games to come, such as XIII, Sly Cooper & the Thievius Raccoonus, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The character design is also very diverse with inspiration from street culture and hip hop music; it’s like if the movie The Warriors was set in the early 2000s. There are flaws with the technical aspects of the cel-shaded visuals, but this was to have been expected from the first game to use them

Gameplay – 6/10

The gameplay, however, is not very satisfactory in my opinion. The story mode involves progressing through a series of courses whereby the player must rewrite graffiti spots to mark the gang’s territory; the scenario is completed when all the graffiti points have been marked. It’s really as simple as that; there is a scoring system for completing stunts (the logistics of which I will cover later on in this review), but the scoring system is only about as significant as the scoring system found in any old-school adventure game like the original Super Mario Bros or even Sonic Adventure to draw a closer comparison, as both that game and Jet Set Radio were released on the Dreamcast originally. There are additional characters to unlock, which give the game a little bit of additional incentive to play, but to me at least, it wasn’t enough to hold my attention for the full lifespan of the game. 

Controls – 6/10

The true dealbreaker for me where this game is concerned, however, was the control scheme. Games with similar mechanics have frustrated me throughout the years, such as Sunset Overdrive, but this game takes that disappointment to a whole new level. I’ve read reviews whereby people have said the controls weren’t enough to hamper their experience of the game to too great an extent, but to me, the controls make this game almost unplayable at times. The layout of each scenario seemed paramount for me to be able to draw any pleasure from playing this game; they can range from simplistic to overly complicated with each level, and if you’re enough of a stickler where the controls are concerned, it can become a very serious issue. 

Lifespan – 6/10

For those who are able to get past this game’s many flaws, it can be made to last there around 18 hours in total, which for a game of it’s kind, isn’t too bad a lifespan. But to my way of thinking, I don’t understand how a vast majority of games, especially newcomers, will be able to bear with it for any more than one hour. Short of what I’ve already described, there’s not a great deal more to do in this game and more content and objectives could’ve been added to hold the gamer’s attention better. 

Storyline – 5/10

Although in terms of conceptual style I compared this game to the movie The Warriors, the plot is considerably more simple than that. It centers around a street gang named the GGs, who battle for street territory and credibility against various other gang members of the same ilk, all the while trying to avoid the police, who go to increasingly unnecessary lengths to apprehend them; all whilst under the commentary of a quirky DJ named Professor K. And when I say the police to ridiculous measures, I mean it; throughout the first level, they try to shoot the player with guns and use tear gas against them. But later on, they then make use of attack dogs as well as missile-mounted helicopters, all to try and catch a few kids on skates. I realize the developers did this as either comic relief or the purposes of gameplay mechanics (I’m not so dense as to not realize that), but it just doesn’t lend a great deal of integrity to the plot. 

Originality – 7/10

Although this game disappointed me overall, the fact of the matter is that its visual style has gone on to become one of the most popularly utilized throughout the industry since the turn of the century. Many games have come and gone that have not only made use of cel-shading but have built on the idea of it exponentially, making for some of the most visually stunning games of all time. But this game provided the original template by which all cel-shaded games have followed since. That being said, there have been more influential skating games to have come and gone, such as those in the Tony Hawk series, and it’s in that respect whereby this game failed to show as much innovation as it should’ve done. 

Niiutral

Overall, Jet Set Radio, whilst having gone on to influence a plethora of games since it’s release, was not the great game that I was expecting it to be; the controls are sketchy at best and the gameplay left a lot to be desired in my personal opinion. 

Score

38/60

6/10 (Average)