From Retro

News: Nintendo eShop UK releases 14/02/13 – Tank, Tank, Tank Free, Castlevania…

nintendo_eshop_wii4Not much new this week, but Wii U owners are in for some great ‘permanent’ discounts. With Tank, Tank, Tank now available for FREE! Also both Trine 2 and Chasing Aurora have been nicely reduced.

A few nice treats for 3DS owners too, with the classic NES title, Castlevania making its way to Virtual Console.

Full list below:

WiiU

  • Tank, Tank, Tank – Namco Bandai, Free 
  • Trine 2 – Frozenbyte, £9.99
  • Chasing Aurora – Broken Rules, £7.99

3DS

  • Castlevania NES – Konami, £4.49
  • Majong 3D: Warriors of the Emporer – Treva Entertainment, £17.99
  • Shifting World – Rising Star, £17.99
  • 2 Fast 4 Gnomz (DEMO) -  QubicGames, Free

 

Anything grab your eye this week? If you own a Wii U Tank, Tank, Tank is a no-brainer seeing as it’s free. Maybe returning to Castlevania one last time before Mirror of Fate launches at the end of the month? Let us know in the comments section below.

News: Sony No Longer Shipping Playstation 2 To Japan

playstation 2The beginning of the end…

It’s been a long time coming, but the time is now here, the Playstation 2 is getting ready to settle in the history of video games.

Sony has apparently stopped shipments of the humble Playstation 2 to Sony’s homeland, Japan. What this means is that when the existing stock of Playstation 2′s are sold, that’s it, no more.

The Playstation 2 has enjoyed a surprisingly long life, one that has spanned over a decade and over 150 million units sold.

First launching in Japan in the year 2000, it was an instant hit. When it later reached the Western shores it was just as big, no doubt helped by stellar title’s such as Grand Theft Auto III, Metal Gear Solid, Ratchet and Clank, Jack & Daxter and exclusives like Gran Turismo didn’t hurt it either.

With a library of well over 2000 games, it’d take you a lifetime to play everything on offer, in fact, that list of games is still growing with new releases being produced even now. Of course, the Playstation 2 isn’t dead just yet, it’s a class console that still demands the respect of collectors and is now the center piece of many a living room in developing countries where the Playstation 2 is a cheap and cheerful alternative to the still expensive Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Boasting the ability to play DVD’s, it’s easy to see why it’s still going strong, especially in those developing countries where value for money is a strong selling point.

I think we can still expect a few titles released for the aged console for a couple more years down the line, but it’s time to face the simple fact that it’s outdated and outclassed by newer machines, and if the reports that the Playstation 4 and the Xbox 360 successor are coming Christmas 2013, it’ll be two generations old and will struggle to get a look-in.

Do you still play a Playstation 2? What are your fondest memories of the beloved console? Let us know in the comments below. Remember to keep checking back with The Games Cabin for the latest gaming news and updates!

TGC Rewind Review: Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage!

spyroPuff the magic dragon? Pfft, please…

The original Spyro the Dragon trilogy from the Playstation 1 era finally made it’s way to the Playstation Store this week. To celebrate the arrival of Spyro and his buddies, we’re reviewing his classic adventures each day.

Yesterday we did our review of the first in the series, Spyro the Dragon, which you can read by clicking right here.

So as promised, today we’re brining you our Rewind Review for Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage!

Also, please note that we’re using the Spyro reviews to try out a new reviewing format, one that is easier to read, not filled with pretentious crap and is only aimed at giving you the best possible representation of the game.

Enjoy!

What Is It?

Well, depending on where you currently reside, it’s either Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! or Spyro 2: Gateway to Glimmer. Ripto’s Rage! for North America and Gateway to Glimmer for the UK and Europe.

For the sake of continuity, we’re just going to refer to the game as Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage!, mainly because it’s easier to type. What do you mean we’re lazy…

Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! is, as the name suggests, the second entry into the Spyro series of games.

Story

Where last time Spyro was tasked with saving the other dragons throughout the Dragon Worlds, this adventure takes place in the world of Avalar.

The evil villain that’s causing the mischief is Ripto, an evil sorcerer who rides around of a dinosaur, for no apparent reason other than he can. From the looks of the little wizard, I’d say he’s compensating for something. But that’s just me.
spyro 2 ripto's rage

Ripto has been going around the world of Avalar causing trouble for the inhabitants with his magic powers, creating a series of nasties that Spyro has to sort out.

I’m not getting into specifics on the story for the sole purpose that it’s actually not bad as far as video game plots go, and considering the game came out over a decade ago when plots and details were an afterthought, it’s not bad by any account.

Gameplay

Following on and improving on the gamplay present in Spyro the Dragon, Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! brings the familiar mechanics as well as adding some nifty new features.

Some of the new features present is the ability to buy new abilities. Want to climb that ladder? Swim underwater? Then you’re going to have to fork out a few of those gems you’ve been collecting, because Moneybags, your “dealer” in abilities doesn’t do freebies.

It might sound a bit stingy making you but the right to do actions, but it works very well and encourages you to hunt down every last gem, as well as go back and play through previous levels.

Ripto, much like Gnasty Gnorc, doesn’t like to get his hands dirty so you’ll be taking on his minions throughout the various levels around Avalar. It’s pretty much the same as in Spyro the Dragon in the sense that the enemies can be defeated either by giving them a head butt or dishing out some flames. There is of course the standard boss levels which require a bit more though than the minions, and just like the games of old, they get progressively more difficult as you go further into the game.

Even though it’s over a decade old, the simple combination of running around, smashing things and defeating enemies still holds strong, in fact, if you’ve played the Lego games of recent times, you’ll see where they drew their inspiration from with Spyro.

Graphics

Like I said in the review for Spyro the Dragon, the graphics aren’t amazing. Not by today’s standards anyway. You have to remember, this came out on the Playstation 1, a console that is now out-powered by the cheapest low-end smartphone available. So go into it with an open mind and you’ll appreciate it a whole lot more. spyro 2

That’s not to say it’s horrible, the graphics are bright and colourful, the characters are well animated and Spyro looks as great as ever.

One thing that has been noted by myself and others is that if you’re playing on your Playstation 3 on you HDTV, it’s going to show the imperfections much more than it does on the screens of the PS Vita and PSP. So, for a better looking game, I recommend it on the portables, especially the PS Vita.

Sound

Once again, the characters are voiced excellently and Spyro is voiced by the fantastic Tom Kenny, who you may recognise as the voice of Spongebob Squarepants. Not that I watch it…

The music is also top notch, with the soundtrack composed by Stewart Copeland, former band member of The Police. Copeland also did the music for Spyro the Dragon, which was brilliant, Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! is no different. The music is probably the best of that generation and accentuates the charm of the little purple dragon’s adventures.

Summary

Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! still plays strong today, despite being released two console generations ago. It’s simple and innocent fun that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but still provides hours of gameplay and fun. For me, fun is the most important thing in a game, the graphics can be dated, the music can be cheesy and the characters silly, but as long as it’s fun then it’s worth your time. Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! fits this quite nicely, it’s a classic that you should definitely put aside some time to re-live, or discover if you’ve never played it.

Scores

Presentation: The main menu is easy enough to use, saving and loading takes no toll on your brain. The pause menu is also fairly straight forward, nothing overly complicated.  8

Graphics: There’s a definite upgrade from Spyro the Dragon, but don’t expect the same quality as you see today. Still impressive considering its age. For a more visually pleasing experience play it on the PS Vita 8.5

Sound: Characters are voiced splendidly, the music is once again brilliantly mesmerising and the sound of flaming a sheep is surprisingly satisfying. 9

Gameplay: It’s more of the same really, but with some added features and abilities. The story is amusing and keeps you going, the collectibles are still there to keep you busy long after you’ve defeated the evil Ripto. Fun in it’s simplest and greatest form. Don’t hesitate to get it. 10

End Score: 8.9

TGC Rewind Review: Spyro the Dragon

spyro the dragon ps3 ps vitaA fiery blast from the past

This weeks Playstation Store update brought with it a ton of new content, including the original Spyro the Dragon trilogy that originally called the Playstation its home. Well now Spyro and his buddies are moving up in the world (forget the last generation games, they were awful) and have settled down on the latest Playstation devices. Spyro is now available to download and play on your Playstation 3, Playstation Vita and Playstation Portable.

So, in celebration of long overdue return of Spyro, we’re going to be reviewing each of the original games over the next couple of days, starting with the one that started it all, Spyro the Dragon.

The following review is following a new format designed to give a clear and concise overview of the game instead of all the mumbo jumbo that gets put out these days. Reviews are just too damn complicated and confusing, so the Spyro reviews will be the test run on our new, original format. Please feel free to provide feedback in the comments! Now, down to business…

What Is It?

Spyro the Dragon is the first entry into the long running Spyro series of video games. Originally developed by Insomniac games for the Playstation, then passed on to numerous other developers for later generation games.

Story

The story of Spyro the Dragon won’t win any awards, granted, but it’s there to provide a reason for you to be running around doing what you do. The basic premise, without giving too much away (because some people haven’t already played it, I know, shocker)  is that the evil villain – Gnasty Gnorc – has turned all the dragons into stone statues and it is your job to break them free of the evil curse. It’s as standard as you can get without naming the game ‘Spyro the Standard Platforming Dragon’.  You of course, play as the titular character Spyro, who is a dragon and the hero of the adventure. If that much wasn’t obvious by now, good luck with the rest of the review.

Gameplay

Spyro the Dragon consists of several different homeworlds which act as your sort of hub for reaching the actual levels. Each homeworld requires you to collect a certain amount of items, whether it’s eggs, gems or rescuing some stoned-up dragons from the different levels, then once you have reached the amount needed, you are able to travel to the next homeworld. It’s a good structure that gives you the freedom to play at your own pace, in a way it’s an early “open-world” game, though don’t expect the same amount of freedom as in Grand Theft Auto. Dragons will never drive cars.

Spyro

Instead of jacking motorists, you’ll get about by running, jumping and gliding your way across the various levels. It’s not all jumping and galloping around though, Gnasty Gnorc is just like every other villain – he’s got his own cronies. The cronies in question though aren’t all that difficult to overcome, with them either needing a well-timed headbutt charge, or a simple flame to the face, they’re done over pretty quickly. Some will challenge you more than others, either by being faster or having a projectile weapon, but neither will really pose that great a challenge to you.

The minions throughout the levels may be a doddle, but it’s the boss levels that will test your abilities as well as your patience. Once you gather enough collectibles to go to another homeworld, you are put against a boss. Now, this may seem strange in 2012, where “boss” levels have been replaced with a last level or mission which is just really, really hard, but back in the day if you wanted to earn your gamer cred, you had to have a few bosses under your belt. Spyro the Dragon provided a few bosses, each a little more difficult than the last, until of course you got to the main villain of the show, Gnasty Gnorc. It’s your standard stuff, well, standard for the 90′s, and the gameplay is still very much enjoyable more than a decade after it’s release.

Graphics

I won’t lie, graphically it’s ugly. Sort of.

If like me you played the game when it first came out, you’ll appreciate how back in the day these were top-notch graphics. However, if you’ve only ever played games in HD, this may be a bit of a shock to the system for you.

spyro the dragon 1

Characters are detailed enough to be able to distinguish from one another, and Spyro is actually pretty good to look at, it’s the surroundings that remind you it’s a game older than some Call of Duty players. Floors and walls tend to look a bit stretched and skewed, like an oil painting that has had a child rub their finger all over. What you must remember, and I will stress this every chance I get, is that this is over ten years old. To be fair though, it doesn’t look half bad when it’s played on the PS Vita, maybe because it’s more up close and personal, I don’t know, but I definitely find it a better play on the PS Vita.

Sound

Sound effects galore, characters have actual voices, and there’s some of the funkiest video game music you will ever hear. The music is definitely the highlight in the sound department, with the soundtrack being composed by Stewart Copeland, who some of you may know as the former drummer of English rock band The Police.

In addition to a funky soundtrack, the characters are voiced and not terribly so, in fact, for its time Spyro the Dragon had some top class voice acting. Seriously, the villain Gnasty Gnorc was voiced by non other than legendary English actor Michael Gough, most recognisable to you as Alfred Pennyworth in the Batman movies of the late 80′s and early 90′s. Impressed? Yeah, I thought so.

Summary

Spyro the Dragon might be old and dated now, but trust me when I say it’s still worth playing. The gameplay is sharp and easily stands up to modern games of the same genre, even giving a longer play time than most modern games. The graphics may be a bit naff, but if you can look past the fact that Spyro was born into a pre-HD world, you’ll love the adventure and I can guarantee you’ll be coming back for more. It’s a classic, pure and simple, and if you have any interest at all in gaming, you’ll be heading over to the Playstation Store to make the best purchase you’ll likely make for the rest of this year.

Scores

Presentation: The main menu is well organised and makes for easy loading up of a saved game, or starting a fresh one. Simple and elegant with some pretty music in the background. 8

Graphics: The visuals may not be up to scratch with today’s offerings, but they are serviceable and were considered groundbreaking in 3D game design. 8

Sound: Ahead of it’s time in terms of sound design, Spyro featured a soundtrack composed by an actual musician and voice acting that wasn’t half bad. 9

Gameplay: Hours of fun is to be had with Spyro, with plenty of fun and colorful levels to explore and root out the collectibles, some solid platforming and the easiest controls to grace a game, there’s no problems here. Just have fun. 10

End Score: 8.5