1972

Genre: Action
Developer: DotEmu
Publisher: SNK
Release Date: October 2nd 2014 (Steam Release)

Whenever these games arrive on Steam, I feel the need to buy them. The nostalgia alone is all it takes for me. I remember playing the Metal Slug series in the arcades as a kid, and I always loved the side scrolling shooter style that it embodied. Growing up, Contra, and Super C, were two of my favorite games and I loved playing them with friends and seeing how far we could get. The Metal Slug games are very reminiscent of those like Contra and Super C and remind me a lot of my childhood, so when Metal Slug X hit Steam I had to grab it.

What is Metal Slug X? Well its a revamp of Metal Slug 2, re-released in 1999 for the NEO GEO MVS. It fixed many of the games problems and increased difficulty. Metal Slug X also introduced several different elements  into gameplay, like remixed music, time of day changes to the stages, and increased enemy counts to name a few. This shoot em up side scroller is fun at any difficulty, but a real controller smasher if you’re trying to play through the mission mode with only 10 credits. A game that is as difficult as it is fun is hard to find, and Metal Slug X seems to hit that happy medium.

“METAL SLUG X”, a masterpiece in SNK’s emblematic 2D run & gun action shooting game series, still continues to fascinate millions of fans worldwide to this day for its intricate dot-pixel graphics, and simple and intuitive game controls. One of the most highly praised titles in the series among Metal Slug fans for its refined balance and game volume, heads out to the Steam gaming platform! – Metal Slug X

The game starts off like any other Metal Slug game, you’re dropped from the sky Contra style and set loose upon the infidels. First off the games background really reminds me a lot of the old Aladdin game for SEGA, which I thought was a bit weird, but I digress… I really like how every level is different and offers new obstacles and challenges to overcome, making this game a bit more difficult than others in the series. One of the other things that stood out to me were the beefed up graphics adding a lot of extra sprites on-screen making it easier for a computer to process the graphical movements the NEO GEO couldnt. This Steam version is great because it’s not bound to the original NEO GEO system limitations which were often too slow to keep up with Metal Slugs on-screen antics. Everything you want in a side scrolling shooter, and “easy” is certainly not a world you would use to describe this game. Metal Slug X doesn’t disappoint.

I love the pseudo Nazi references, also makes it a little easier to kill everyone… Only a little. This game is still one of the hardest platform shooters ever programmed. The arcade stand alone of this must have raked in a ton of money for the machines owners because all I can imagine myself doing is sinking more and more quarters into it until i beat the game. 6 Missions and stage select make for a good play though with friends. This version of Metal Slug incorporates a ton of great weapons, and power ups. The laser shooting camel, and all the other drivable weapons are insanely powerful, but watch out, you wont last long getting hit. But don’t let only 6 missions fool you. You can play arcade mode and mission mode, with 4 difficulty settings, 4 playable characters and the option of multiplayer makes this game an endless classic.

It’s hard to say anything bad about a game that is awesome on so many levels. The difficulty only makes it better for me and the re-play factor only weighs heavier with the addition of multiplayer. This games is hours of fun by yourself or with friends, and is a must have in any retro gamers Steam library. I mean, who wouldn’t love a game where one of the achievements is dying over 200 times?

Graphics: 8/10
Playability: 7/10
Story: 4/10
Challenge: 9/10
Replay Value: 7/10

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Special Edition Exclusive Metal Gear Solid Playstation 1 Demo Disc thanks to @RETR0JOE for the picture

Special Edition Exclusive Metal Gear Solid Playstation 1 Demo Disc thanks to @RETR0JOE for the picture

Demos seal the deal when it comes to whether or not I’m going to pull the trigger on a new video game, but these days; you’re hard pressed to find a playable demo before buying. I’ve been a victim of buying a game that looked great in the trailer, sounded great in the description, and even got some really good reviews, but once purchased and installed one of the biggest mistakes of my life. A good example of this would be Rogue Legacy which looked like a ton of fun, but realistically is nothing more than a beefed up mobile app.

Ever since playable discs have existed there has been the demo. In the late 90s this is how a great deal of PlayStation, Xbox and dare I say Dreamcast games were sold. The PC era was no exception. Many Blizzard games have playable demos that stop you at a certain point in-game prompting you to buy the complete version to continue. Now a days the mobile market has divided this into two separate pieces. Where you can usually download a free version of the game that is playable to a certain point, at which time there is always the option to buy a paid version with more unlockables and game play.

One of the downfalls of having a cartridge based console like the Nindendo 64 at the time was the inability to produce playable demos with the system. So this would force you into the lines at the video game, rental, and toy stores only to play that ONE game that some 45 year old manager choose which always seemed to be one of the latest sports titles of the time. All of the different stores that offered games to try or at least watch as some red-headed douche bag kid hogged the controller until you had to leave.

These game demos were everywhere at one point. I remember video games coming in cereal boxes, with your Happy Meal, local video stores, toy stores; the list is endless. Both PlayStation and Xbox magazines respectively gave out demo discs with their issues. Although now a way to supply the gamers with access to new games, these discs would later become what is known as a “Rolling Demo” rather than a playable version of the game. Containing only CGI clips of a game that is “Coming Soon,” teasing games that haven’t even seen a production team yet… Although sometimes these demos would actually contain playable content that wouldn’t later be featured in the complete version of the game. A good example of this would be the demo for Half Life, known as Half Life: Uplink.

Another benefit of the demo but mainly on the PC, is your ability to gauge whether or not your system can handle the current game in questions output. For this reason especially for the newer and more demanding video games that are coming out, no one wants to spend 20-50 dollars on a game that their PC wont play. Something to mention while I’m talking about the PC is current Indie developers that give Early Access. Early Access, which is essentially an evolving playable demo, giving the player Beta or even Alpha access to the freshest and newest games in development.

The 1st Playstation Demo Disc thanks to @RETR0JOE for the picture

The 1st Playstation Demo Disc thanks to @RETR0JOE for the picture

In my opinion, not offering a playable demo to the person buying the game prior to purchase, shows me as the consumer, the developers lack of confidence in their product. Personally I feel as if most developers know they would lose close to 50% of their sales if people were able to test the game first. Most companies understand that offering a playable version of their game will draw in not only that player, but the people around him or her. A great example of this would be Blizzard when it comes to the World of Warcraft series, you a given the chance to play up to a certain point and then have to continue to play, but are given discounts if you recruit your friends to play the game as well.

I remember during the 5th gen console era playing demo discs. Mainly a PlayStation, Xbox, and Sega Dreamcast marketing strategy, spreading out past the 5th gen and began fading when the newer systems like Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 came out. I remember my first demo disc, it came with the PlayStation 1 that I had gotten for Christmas that year. Only receiving 2 games with the system, this demo disc had close to 6 playable demos on it and made it seem like I got way more out of the gift. As for the games I liked on that demo disc, it made me want them, and the ability to play further with friends.

magicite


Genre: 
Action, Adventure, RPG, Indie
Developer: Smash Games
Publisher: Smash Games
Release Date: Jun 9, 2014

Getting this game gifted to me on Steam last week was the best thing that happened to me this month game wise, and those are some big shoes to fill and I’ll tell you why. Magicite is a piece of procedurally generated genius, packed with hours of fun and intuitive game play. If it wasn’t for DOTA 2 I would have jumped on this game months ago, but that was consuming all of my time along with my Steam wallet. I saw this game in the Steam Greenlight forums and investigated further and found a very generously funded Kickstarter.

I was attracted by Magicite and its pixel graphics immediately, hard for me to compare, leaving Magicite in a field of its own. Since my affair with Terraria, these 2-D platformer games always seem catch my eye. Much like Terraria but even more like Castelvania: Symphony of The Night, Magicite is addicting like that first bite of sriracha covered chicken. Rougelike, with a crafting system and the ability to build weaponry and utilize merchants in town to make armor or melt ore, this semi-sandbox game is brilliant.

“Explore, craft, and survive in this Multiplayer RPG Platformer with permanent death. Featuring many Roguelike elements, Magicite randomly generates each underground dungeon for you and your friends to delve deep into. Chop trees, mine ores, and hunt beasts in order to collect the resources and materials you need to survive in the harsh and unforgiving environment. With a ton of character traits, stats, companions, and classes, players will have a different experience each play through. Be prepared to die… A LOT.” – Magicite

Each world and town being randomly generated along with your characters starting stats keeps this game fresh. Before you begin each game, you decide what character you want to play. Depending on which hero you choose, you’re given select attributes that go along with that characters race. Another thing keeping Magicite fresh and new is the unlockable item system. The more you play, the more races, items and companions you unlock.  Each of the unlockable items have a boost attributed to them, so when equipped to your hero it stacks not only with with his stats, but the randomly generated ones as well.

For every item you craft and enemy you kill, you gain experience points and levels. When you level up, like most games your stats are buffed, and every 5 levels you are able to choose a magic ability. These abilities are divided into 3 different categories; Melee, Magic and Ranged. With 5 special abilities per category every 5 levels offers something new aiding in your quest. Certainly a complex game, you must keep track of your health, weapon durability, and much like real life you need to stay fed. In early game, you will find it hard when trying to attack enemies, so focusing on gathering materials before engaging in a fight is usually a good strategy. Enemies can be as easy as a pig or murderous as a toxic lava ball spitting dinosaur, and everywhere in between. But watch out for the scourge, they leave no one alive in their wake, and are only summoned after spending too much time in a stage.

Magicite is a fast paced game, and its good for hours of fun, or a few minutes trying to kill time before work. One of the best things about a rougelike is its ability to pull you in for hours and watch you fall violently from grace after building an epic hero. Even more fun is the multiplayer aspect of Magicite, easily its best feature so far. Playing with your friends and sharing finds is even more fun. My first play through was with one of my former DOTA 2 team mates, so it was a blast from the start, as he was able to give me a few pointers to ease me into the game. A money system is also present in Magicite and certainly serves a purpose. The gold is obtained from killing enemies, found in treasure chests, or when selling unneeded items in town. Town is where you will craft your gear and cook your food, but if you choose not to, you can save up enough for some gnarly sword that does serious damage.

When you die, and the game ends you are given a score. This also is a layout detailing your gameplay with everything from kills to potions brewed. I love games that do this, because after 45 minutes of gaming you find yourself looking to improve and get better for the next round. Their is no word that describes this game other than fun. With every character having his own back story, all the different biomes and unbelievable imagery; like I always say, it’s the little things make a game as truly awesome as it is.

Graphics: 8/10
Playability: 7/10
Story: 8/10
Challenge: 8/10
Replay Value: 9/10