|December 30, 2009... New Year, New
Hey, I'm writing for money
again! I'll be reviewing homebrew software for 1UP's
Retronauts blog, starting with Toyshop Trouble, an exceptional
2600 release by AtariAge. You can check out the debut of
this weekly feature, tentatively titled A Taste of Homebrew,
by clicking on this
Oh yeah, there's also a new
update. This one's special, because the navigation bar
has been updated in all the pages for a more uniform and
convenient browsing experience. As for the games, I've
added reviews of Robowarrior (the closest thing the 1980s had
to Bomberman: Act Zero, and that includes the mediocrity), the
colorful feline antics of Rockin' Kats, and Rollerball, one of
my all-time favorite pinball simulations. Feel free to
give that a look as well while you're here.
Guess that's it.
Enjoy the new year, folks!
|December 20, 2009... You've Got
So hey, I got impatient and decided to
roll out the new design of The Gameroom Blitz a week
early. How do you likum?
Quiet, Desi! Annnyway, this
is how the site will look from this moment forward. It's
very modular, making it a cinch for me to maintain and
expand. I'm especially excited about the sidebar, which
makes navigation easier for the reader and updates a whole lot
less painful for myself. The sidebar is
contained inside its own page, then
transparently integrated into the rest of the site
through clever use of the iframe attribute. In layman's
terms, it means that when I add a new feature to the site,
I'll have to update just one page to reflect the change,
rather than a hundred. It probably goes without saying
that I'll be adding a similar sidebar to Awesome NES in the
very near future.
Speaking of the future, here's what I've
got planned for the site in 2009!
WII AND XBOX 360 REVIEWS: These
systems have been out for over two years now, yet coverage of
both consoles has been woefully thin on this site. It's
about time that changed.
FOLLY OF DIOGENES: Armed only with
a lantern, Greek cynic Diogenes searched in vain for an honest
person. Thousands of years later, this cynic will embark
on a similarly futile quest... to find an Xbox Community Game
that doesn't suck ass.
SHOOTER'S MISERY: The makers of
Fighter's Misery (that'd be me and John Roche, if he feels
like it) set their sights on the cheesiest shoot 'em ups
in the galaxy. The bi-curious bodybuilders of Cho Aniki
are only the tip of the asteroid!
ASSAULT OF THE INVADERS PART 3:
This decade has almost come to an end, so it's time to wrap up
this article to a close with reviews of Space Invaders Get
Even and other titles from the groundbreaking
series released in the 21st century.
Stay tuned, folks! 2009 is going
to be a big, big year for the Blitz!
2008... Hindsight (plus, Aegis Wing
folks, I'm going to be doing some major maintenence on the
site, startiiiiiing... right now. Don't be surprised if
some of your favorite pages vanish only to reappear with the
new design days later.
During the Christmas break, I've evenly split
my free time between playing video games and retooling
the web site. I spent at least a couple of nights
porting the archives to the new format, and all those old
posts left me with mixed feelings. Most of the video
game commentary, particularly in the later years, seems
remarkably insightful and entertaining. However, those
gems are buried under a lot of rough... posts about peculiar
outside interests, crappy comics, and insufferable whining
about my personal life that makes me wish I had a time
machine just so I could smack my twenty-something
self upside the head. It's no wonder The Gameroom
Blitz has had such a hard time finding a reader base...
if I were anybody but me, I wouldn't want to read
that shit either. Hopefully next year I'll save the
drama for my LiveJournal page and serve up more of the gaming
coverage that makes this site shine.
Speaking of gaming news... although it's extremely limited
in scope, I'm loving the Friendship is Free promotion on Xbox
Live that lets you play online games without the
need for a Gold account. I played through all five
stages of Aegis Wing with my good friend FreakServo, and
enjoyed the experience far more than when I played the game by
myself when it was released last year. It's not just
because I had a friend along for the ride, either... this
seemingly dull shooter steadily improves as you progress,
evolving from a Community Games-quality effort to a
legitimately fun and exciting shoot 'em up. It's common
practice in video games to save the best stuff for last, but
if the Aegis Wing designers had made all the stages as
exciting as the final one, it wouldn't have taken nearly as
long for me to come back to it after its initial release.
All right, I need to get back to work on the site
redesign. I'll leave you guys with another Awesome NES update.
This time, we're taking a spin with Roadblasters, taking out
terrorists in Rescue: The Embassy Mission, and taking on the
world's least threatening gangs in the cult classic River City
2008... You Take My Self-Control (plus, PSP
Another day, another controller hack. This
time the victim is a MadCatz Arcade Stick I had taken apart
and left in the closet for nearly a year. After doing a
little research online and discovering that it had a single
ground (most Xbox 360 controllers have several), I immediately
took it out of cold storage and went to work on an adapter for
my customized Saturn controller. Hours of soldering and
testing later, this was the end result:
Like my previous controller adapters for
the 3DO, Nintendo 64, and GameCube, it ain't pretty, but you
can't argue with the results. It's raised my scores in
Xbox Live Arcade games, but more importantly, it's made
them a lot more fun to play. I was on the fence about
how to rate Pac-Man Champ in the past, but with this adapter I
can confidently give the game high marks.
Sadly, the adapter's not compatible with
everything... there weren't enough buttons on the Saturn
controller to include support for the Guide and Back buttons
on the Xbox, so that means Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
is out of the question. I could probably use AND logic
gates to trigger those two orphaned keys with a combination of
buttons, but that will have to wait until I've got the money
to blow on spare parts. As for the analog thumbsticks,
I'd like to connect Atari paddles to them, but that's a tall
order. I'm sure it's possible, but not feasible until I
learn more about how they work.
Now onto more general gaming news.
You remember the Mercenaries 2 DLC that was promised in
late October? You know, the patch that
included two presidential candidates as playable
characters? Well, Pandemic has finally gotten
around to releasing it... over a month after the campaign
ended and Sarah Palin settled for being the shame of her home
state rather than the entire country. Great timing,
guys! On the plus side, the DLC adds new missions to the
game and won't cost you a penny. On top of that... you
have to admit that hijacking tanks and leveling entire
buildings as our next president is an exciting prospect.
I just hope they found a suitable voice actor for Obama,
rather than phoning it in and having him parrot
back all of Phil LaMarr's obnoxious lines.
Also, things aren't looking so hot for
the PSP at this late point in its lifespan. In a recent
interview, Sony Computer Entertainment of Europe president
David Reeves has claimed that his company isn't planning to
release a successor to the PSP. He also reluctantly
admits that third parties aren't on board with the struggling
handheld, preferring to support everything short of the N-Gage
instead. Are these early signs of the PSP's impending
Wired's Chris Kohler is adamant
that the potent portable will rise again, but given the
increasing popularity of the iPhone and its super fantastic
ability to play mobile phone games that don't completely suck,
I've got a gloomier vision of the PSP's future. Apple's
already referring to the iPhone as a gaming platform, and
there's been speculation from analysts that the versatile
handset will compete directly against the DS in the future...
and ultimately come out on top. Even if the analysts are
wrong about the outcome, it's likely that the PSP will be the
first casualty of this battle.
Before I go, and before I forget,
there's a fresh update to Awesome
NES that you might want
to check out. There's a refreshingly diverse selection
of titles in this installment, including a fine port of the
exceptional Atari Games coin-op Rampart. It's part
Tetris, part tower defense, and 100%
2008... Off to See the
I had no idea what I was going to post about in
this update, until I stumbled upon a couple Wizard of Wor
remakes designed by fans of the venerable Midway arcade
game. They're both faithful adaptations of the original,
but each have new play mechanics and distinct visual styles
that make them unique. Which of these unofficial sequels
has what it takes to be considered the true follow-up to Bob
Ogden's classic? Read on and find out...
And that's not even half the
This is Wizard of Wor Remake by
Iteration Games. Hey, the title's not catchy, but it's
definitely accurate. You're still hunting down bouncing
wolves and six-legged warthogs inside a labyrinthine dungeon,
with a friend helping to stave off death (or, if you're
the sadistic type, offering another target to blast).
However, the mazes are a lot less cramped this time, with four
times the real estate of the dungeons in the arcade
game. There's also a new ability called folding space,
which lets you race to the end of corridors in the blink
of an eye.
Wizard of Wor Remake isn't much to
look at, recycling much of its artwork from the
thirty year old arcade game, but the raw presentation has a
certain retro appeal to it, vaguely reminescent of LCD
handhelds from the late 1970s. When the Worluk makes its
appearance, the dungeon's segmented walls flash wildly and
techno music blares from the speakers, building the
intensity to a teeth-gritting, nail-chewing climax. It's
that excitement that lets the game rise above its
shortcomings, including irritating sound effects and levels
that are too sprawling for their own good.
Judging from this screenshot, you'd
think that Return to Wor would be the better of the two
games. However, the isometric viewpoint that makes
the graphics shine also hobbles the gameplay. That's the
curse of the three-quarters perspective, unfortunately... it
gives 2D games a remarkable amount of detail and visual depth,
but also makes them frustratingly difficult to
play. Just finding your Worrior in the sprawling
dungeons is a challenge, let alone staying alive with a
dozen hungry monsters at your heels.
Return to Wor also commits the capital
offense of becoming MORE difficult after you've lost a
life. Fallen soldiers rise from the dead and pursue you
along with the Burwors, Garwors, and Thorwors, except they're
more resistant to damage than the garden variety
monsters. You'll have to blast these reanimated corpses
four times to send them back to their graves. The
relentless zombies coupled with the awkward view of the
action means that you'll be lucky to finish the first stage...
and even luckier if you manage to enjoy it!
By now, it's already pretty obvious
which game I prefer, but you can download them both by
clicking on the pictures in this post. Oh yeah, be sure
to get a Joy To
Key utility to go along
with them, since neither game has built in joystick
Just one more thing... there's a
new Awesome NES update, including reviews of everything
from R.C. Pro-Am to Rad Racer. As usual, it's fun for
the whole family... or at least those members of the
family obsessed with old video games. De
2008... Captain, We Need More
Might as well sneak in one more update to the
site before the month ends. I've updated the Video Power
page... there's a new banner, more pictures, and even a "Where
Are They Now?" segment about the former Johnny Arcade, Stivi
Paskoski. It brings a whole new meaning to the term "too
much information," doesn't it?
2008... Respect My
Still pluggin' away at the new site design,
folks. All of the system pages and most of the features
have been adapted to the new layout, with the exception of
crusty old pages that date back to the 1990s... you
know, the tributes to long-cancelled television
shows and the like. Honestly, I'm thinking
about dropping them from the site entirely. Sitcom Hell
in particular was a lot more relevant back in 1996, when the
Olsen Twins were still midget orangutangs and not the
wafer-thin harlots they've since become.
Anyway, I've been playing more of the
Community Games on Xbox Live, and I've got to tell you, very
few of them have made the positive impression that Weapon of
Choice had. I did really enjoy Biology Battle, a sleek
omnidirectional shooter in the vein of Geometry Wars, but
everything else has been varying degrees of
disappointing. Colosseum is a monotonous beat 'em up in
spite of its sharp cel-shaded artwork, and Alien Ambush is as
shameless a clone of Megamania as you can get... the only
thing the designers forgot to rip off was the fun. Other
games suffer from high concepts that don't work well in
practice, like the shooter that's an awkward hybrid of
Missile Command and Starcraft. Two great tastes that
taste great together? I don't think so.
I still have high hopes for Community
Games... this is the first time since the Yaroze project that
a console manufacturer has openly embraced homebrew game
development. Yet at the same time, I wish were there was
some quality control to filter out duds like Rift.
All right, enough of that. There's
a new Awesome NES update, but it's slim pickins this week.
I've reviewed all the games starting with Q, but since only
two of them exist...
2008... Your Friendly Neighborhood
Forget the avatars! The most exciting thing
about the New Xbox Experience dashboard is the inclusion of
Community Games. These titles were created by hobbyist
programmers with the XNA design utility, but at least one of
these new releases looks like it could rival Xbox Live Arcade
content produced by more seasoned developers. And
that game is...
Attack of the Terrifying Terrestrial
Testes! Uh, no... make that Weapon of Choice. This
release by Mommy's Best Games is a hybrid of Contra and Smash
TV, with the side-scrolling run 'n gun action of the former
and the omnidirectional firing of the latter. Weapon of
Choice has a few of its own tricks up its sleeve, too...
you've got a backpack which can cling to walls and
hanging vines, and there are downed soldiers in each
stage who can be added to your team of mercenaries.
Well, if you can hold onto them, anyway!
I haven't played much of this game yet,
but the demo was promising (and short!) enough to convince me
to buy the full version at a rather thrifty five
dollars. I look at it this way... even if it turns out
to be a disappointment, I've spent more on
2008... Smoke 'Em If You Got
Wow, they've got a DS game for
EVERYTHING these days! I don't think this will help as
much as the patch, or the gum, or the torture room from that
old episode of Tales from the Darkside, but if you want
to quit smoking the 21st century way, you'll want to wrap your
filthy tobacco-stained hands around a copy of this.
Oh yeah, it's probably worth mentioning
that D2K, the unofficial sequel to Donkey Kong, is now
playable on Misfit MAME. It's got four new stages, and
they're all extremely faithful to the rounds in the original
game. In other words, they're as fiendishly difficult as
anything Shigeru Miyamoto could devise. I'm not going to
give you the link to the ROM, buuuuut if you want to see the
game in action, I'd be happy to point you in the right
2008... Welcome to the 21st
Another day, another long overdue update.
As penance, I've added two pages to Awesome NES rather than
the usual one. Also, just so you know that the last two
weeks haven't been a complete waste, I'm hard at work on a new
design for the site. The Gameroom Blitz has been through
a lot of changes over the past decade, but this is likely to
be the last. Although nothing's set in stone, it's
likely that the site will be put into retirement after a
couple of years. The enthusiasm I once had for
gaming just isn't there anymore, as you may have noticed from
the lack of coverage for game systems more recent than the DS
Annnyway, this is how the site looks
now, and this is how it will look at the start of the new
year. It's a simpler, more skinnable design than the
ones I've used in the past, owing a great deal to the layouts
of web sites like GameSpite and Insert Credit. The new
design will also give The Gameroom Blitz more
consistency. In the past, each page was so wildly
different that it felt like The Blitz was stitched together
from seven or eight web sites, like an online
Frankenstein. Now, the only thing that will change about
the design of each page is the banner at the top of the
page. All the content on the site, from features to reviews, will be unified under the new design, with the
likely exception of Awesome NES.
I may also dabble with cutting-edge
Internet features like CSS and RSS ("Hey, CSS has been
around since 1996!" "Quiet, you!"). There's a lot
I don't understand about cascading style sheets, but one thing
I do know is that it makes spreading sidebars
across multiple pages a whole lot cleaner than it is with
tables. RSS has promise as well, but I know precious
little about its benefits and absolutely nothing about how to
add it to the site's framework. It's something I'll
have to research over the Christmas holiday... The Gameroom
Blitz has been stuck in 2002 for six years now and it's about
time I bring it up to spec.
Just wanted to remind you all to vote tomorrow
(for Obama), because it's your responsibility as an
American (to vote for Obama) and you'll happy that you did
(vote for Obama).
Aside from the election (vote Obama), I
don't have too much to report at the moment. I upgraded
my Xbox 360 to the new dashboard over the weekend. This
sneak peek has cost me three weeks of access to Xbox Live, and
I can't even bide my time by creating custom avatars.
However, from what little I've seen, it does appear to be an
improved experience, or at least a faster one. I'm also
happy with the recently played tab in Xbox Live Arcade, which
has been expanded from a single game to a more handy
six. There's also an option to store DVD-based games on
the hard drive, but I haven't had the chance to try
it. I'll have to clear out the cobwebs (and practically
everything else) on this dinky 20G drive before I can give it
Also, I managed to fix one of these
little beauties (that picture is courtesy of Earl Green's
LogBook web site, by the way). Sadly, I had to sacrifice
a Pac-Man tabletop to get it running, but hey, everyone knows
that Ms. Pac-Man's more fun than her drab husband!
Besides, this system goes for a mint on eBay... and in my
current financial state, I'll probably need every penny.
Man, 2008 totally sucked...
2008... Cruelty to
Klo-NO-a is more like it. This is the proposed redesign
for Namco's kid-friendly hero, and although it's not
completely terrible, it looks like they stuffed an entirely
different character into Klonoa's clothes. It looks like
something an amateur furry artist would whip up after playing
too much Kingdom Hearts. If you're not fond of
the dopey new design, please let Namco know by
clicking on Klonoa 2.0. He'll use his awkwardly
positioned forefinger to point you to a survey, where you can
register your disgust with the makers of the
|October 2, 2008... First Thoughts on the
Holy nuts! There's some
great footage of the recently announced DSi (yeeeeeOW!) on
Kotaku. Man, if they had shown all those fantastic games
at the last Electronic Entertainment Expo, people would have
been singing Nintendo's praises rather than cursing its name
for the last three months. The RPG fans alone have
plenty to get excited about, with Kingdom Hearts, Chrono
Trigger, Shining Force, Mario and Luigi, and several flavors
of Final Fantasy all scheduled for release in the near
"But what about the hardware?,"
you ask (assuming that you're even here to ask that
question). Well, the DSi represents a pretty big change
from the previous two units in a number of ways. First,
the bad news... the rumors that the Game Boy Advance cartridge
slot would be kicked to the curb turned out to be right on the
money. It's gone for good, just as Game Boy Color
support was dropped from later models of the Game Boy
Advance. If you have an older flash cartridge or one of
those cart-based peripherals, you'd better hold onto your
current DS, because the new unit won't take them.
Now for the improvements, and
there are a lot of them! The DSi includes not one, but
two cameras. The first is set on the system's hinge,
allowing you to interact with specially designed games.
The second, set in the back of the top screen, has a much
sharper resolution and lets you take snapshots of your
friends. Then there's the greatly expanded BIOS...
previous systems gave you rudimentary features like a clock
and Pictochat, but the new DS offers PDA-like
functionality, with an MP3 player and web
browser. It's probably safe to assume that the DSi has
extra RAM built in to accommodate these two features, since
the previous two handhelds required a cartridge to surf the
The DSi also has an SD card slot,
which leads us to its most surprising new feature...
Internet commerce. You'll be able to download games and
other content from Nintendo's servers, which opens
up intriguing possibilities for gamers as well as
ample opportunities for Nintendo to shake its loyal user base
for every last dime. The downloadable content ranges in
price from free (gee, my favorite!) to 200, 500, and even 800
points. The thought of a download service for the DS
doesn't sound all that enticing... after all, if Wii Ware
games are scaled down from their retail counterparts, how
much more simplified would a DS
download be? However, it does open
the door a tiny crack for Game Boy Advance titles, which
would otherwise be inaccessible on the DSi.
So that's what you can expect
from the latest Nintendo DS. It's dropped
the backward compatibility, but gained a lot of nifty gadgets
and gimmicks that expand the scope of the system.
It's starting to move into convergence territory, an approach
that didn't work so well for the PSP but may actually pay
dividends for Nintendo. If it doesn't, they can always
do what they did with the Game Boy Micro and pretend it never