Retro Gaming- Injustice: Gods Among Us: (2013)

Injustice Gods Among Us

There have been many DC games that fans have enjoyed for decades involving their favorite superheroes and villains.   Injustice: Gods Among Us was published by Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment and developed by NetherRealm Studios  is no exception because it presents an interesting story that  immediately grabs the attention of its audience.  The story in this game starts of with the discovery that the city of Metropolis has been destroyed by who we first believed was the Joker.  While the Joker was involved with it we find out that along with destroying Metropolis that Superman had contributed to the demise of his wife Lois Lane and his kid.  Driven by overwhelming grief Superman is driven to insanity by his actions and then eliminates the Joker.  The setting for the events in this game occurs in an alternate timeline where Superman is pretty much a dictator who seeks to create a one man government to rule the earth.

Many people would argue that this version of Superman was very dangerous because despite his actions he still believed that in his own mind he was still a hero.  As one progresses throughout the game they learn more about the details concerning the Jokers role involving Superman’s actions and how the world was completely different from the original timeline.  There were also some surprising developments in the alternate timeline including the alliances Superman had formed with the likes of Lex Luthor and Doomsday.  It was also a bit shocking to see people like Nightwing work under Superman considering the fact that he was once  Batman’s apprentice who also happens to be one of the main target of Superman and his forces. In chapter three, Aquaman was disgusted by the treaty he was expected to follow under Superman’s rule and by the time you reach the fifth part of the game you discover the details concerning the Man in Steel’s action in regards to the altered timeline.

In chapter five we discover that Superman’s mind was altered when he destroyed Lois and believed that he was battling Doomsday after being drugged by the Joker.  Afterward, Superman had destroyed Green Arrow for telling him the truth about what had happened.  In chapter six we discover that Superman’s counterpart had labeled Batman as the culprit for the horrible events that occurred regarding Metropolis and wants to have him executed mainly because he was seen as the leader of the Insurgency and was a threat to his regime.  In this game Superman is clearly insane and some of his closes allies such as Lex Luthor risked his life to try and stop his rule while people like  Superman eliminates Shazam for questioning his rule.  Other interesting developments in the story included unlikely temporary alliances between enemies such as Cyborg/DeathStroke and Wonder Woman/Ares because they all realized the extent of how truly dangerous Superman’s agenda was involving the establishment of a new world order.

Superman along with the rest of his forces is ultimately stopped by his good counterpart and the Insurgency.  Injustice: Gods Among Us had everything you could ask for in a fighting game  including awesome graphics, gameplay, and cutscenes  that felt like an actual movie.   As many of us know Injustice had utilized the Unreal Engine 3 the same system used for popular titles such as Gears of War and Batman Arkham City which were both great games.   This multi-platform game had won numerous awards for “Best Fighting Game” in 2013 and was given strong reviews by multiple publications including IGN, Game Informer and GameTrailers.  As of right now many people are waiting for a sequel for Injustice: Gods Among Us which is set to be released sometime in 2017.  While we anticipate the release of Injustice 2 the question that many people will have  is whether or not it can top original.

Retro Gaming- Star Wars the Old Republic: (2011)

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There have been many cool games in the MMORPG genre for over the past fifteen years specially in the 00’s decade.  Various titles such as World of Warcraft, Phantasy Star, StarCraft II, and Lords of the Rings Online are the type of games that we normally think about in regards to popular MMORPG’s.  It was throughout the 00’s decade along with the early 10’s when online gaming started to become more popular especially for PC users because of the amount of social interaction that usually occurred. While there have been many great MMORPG’s that were popular in the 00’s we have also started off the 10’s decade some very exciting titles.  Star Wars the Old Republic was an MMORPG that was developed by BioWare  and published by Electronic Arts almost five years ago in late 2011.

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As many of us know the Old Republic is the second Star Wars game to be released in the MMORPG genre following its  prequel Star Wars Galaxies in late 2003.  The Old Republic is a very exciting yet challenging game that has a lot to offer in the areas of gameplay, graphics and storytelling. When the Old Republic was first released many people were blown away by the artwork & visual design the Hero engine had produced.  Considering the fact that Star Wars the Old Republic was the first MMORPG that Bioware had produced  many people were thoroughly impressed by various aspects included in this game. First, players had the option of choosing their alignment between the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire.  Second, players had freedom of choice throughout the game leading to interesting developments such as branching storylines which would affect the overall direction the character would take.

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Making decisions early in the game had a significant impact on various aspects throughout  the story such as character type.  An example, would be the idea that there were various species types such as Mirilan, Miraluka, Rattataki and Chiss.  However, certain species types were only playable depending on what one’s alignment whether it be with the Galactic Republic or the Sith Empire.  This game had also included a variety of classes for each faction which was affected by the player’s actions along with his alignment resulting from branching storylines.  Along with having various classes to choose from players are also assigned specific ships depending on their rank ranging from Bounty Hunters to Jedi Knights.

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Since its release Star Wars the Old Republic has released five different expansion packs including Rise of the Hutt Cartel, Galactic Starfighter, Galactic Strongholds, Shadow of Revan and Knights of the Fallen Empire between the years of 2013 and 2015.  As of right now many people are anticipating the release of the “Knights of Eternal Throne” pack sometime later in 2016 while playing through more recent releases such as  “Knights of the Fallen Empire.”    Along with great gameplay SWOR included some challenging boss battles with the likes of Subject Alpha, Battledroid R4-GL, The Primal Destroyer, and the Nightmare Pligrim.  However, the world  boss that was arguably the toughest was Gargath from planet Hoth.  Gargath was hard to defeat for many people because his melee & earthquake attacks took a lot of damage from players.  Also, Gargath has a very high level of endurance and which would require an entire army to destroy him.

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Almost everything about SWOR  was great from visual design to the storytelling aspects of this game. Sometimes its hard to believe that budget for Star Wars the Old Republic was over $200 million because the quality of the game made many people think it was at least twice more than it actually was.  After its initial release G4 gave this Star Wars game a perfect five star rating while IGN scored it nine out of ten.  There have been many adventurous Star Wars games in the past but Old Republic is quite possibly one of the best MMORPG titles to be released so far.

Retro Gaming- Sonic 3D Blast: (1996)

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The Sonic the Hedgehog is probably one of the most iconic names in the realm of platform gaming.  Since its inception in the early 90’s Sonic the Hedgehog has found ways to make platform gaming more innovate with its fast paced gameplay, fantastic level designs, and memorable soundtracks.  Most of these qualities were seen in many of the 2D Sonic games and as time progressed Sega wanted to take everything that was exciting about the older Sega Genesis titles and convert them into 3D.  Sega came as close as they possible could with realistic design when they released Sonic 3D Blast in 1996.  Some people know that prior to the release of Sonic 3D Blast another title known as Sonic Xtreme was suppose to make its debut in late 1996.  However, Sonic Xtreme was cancelled due to developmental issue and we got 3D Blast instead.

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Similar to the previous 2D Sonic games this game retains specific features that made the older titles popular.  Sonic 3D Blast includes access to special stages where the player has the chance to collect chaos emeralds.  Also, the plot for Sonic 3D Blast is not to different from anything in Sonic I & II.  In the those two games Dr. Robotnik wanted to capture creatures along with using his robot army for the purpose of  collecting the seven chaos emeralds.  In this game Robotnik wanted to collect birds from an alternate dimension known as “flickies” for the purpose of gathering chaos emeralds.  In this game the player controls Sonic the Hedgehog who is responsible for collecting the birds and bringing them to a giant ring  towards the end of each stage for completion.

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Some people would argue that 3D blast was difficult because not only did each stage contain three acts but sometimes it was hard to complete a level.  If you to damage from a foe you lost the flickies that were gathered and had to recollect them.  Some people would suggest that it was cool that Sega decided to do something different for Sonic 3D Blast in terms of gameplay.  This title diverted from the 2D side scrolling format that most people are familiar with in favor of pseudo 3D gameplay.  When Sonic 3D Blast made its debut it was released for Sega Genesis, Sega Saturn, and eventually Microsoft Windows.  Years after its release many people have debated on which version of 3D Blast was the best.  GameSpot favored the Sega Saturn version more than the Genesis and while IGN did the opposite.

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Even though, Sonic 3D Blast is not as popular as many other games in the series it was unique because the gameplay along with graphics reflected how the gaming industry was changing.  During the mid-90’s video game companies started placing more emphasis on 3D gaming.  Sega took old elements of what made the 2D  Sonic titles popular and mixed them with basic 3D gameplay to create something special.  Opinions about this game might very but it was definitely something that was very creative for its time.

Retro Gaming- Phantasy Star Nova: (2014)

As many of us know Phantasy Star Nova is one of the latest titles that was published by Sega and developed by Tri-Ace over two years ago for the PlayStation Vita.  Phantasy Star Nova diverted from the Multiplayer Online Role Playing format used in some of its previous games.  The Phantasy Star Online titles placed heavy emphasis on MMORPG where multiple players can interact and battle online.  Fortunately, Phantasy Star Nova also includes multiplayer gameplay but in a slightly different format.  The PlayStation Vita allows people to utilize ad-hoc Wifi to play under the same game.  Another cool thing about Phantasy Star Nova includes fact that there are twelve new characters added including the main protagonist Lutina, Seil, Phildia, Izuna, Sharon and many more.

Similar to the Phantasy Star Online series the game includes different races and class types.  The race types in this game consists of Humans, Newmans, and CAST’s while the classes are made up of Hunter, Ranger, Force and Buster.  Each class in this game is considered to be unique because they have their respective characteristics which allows them to stand out. This game also features an in-depth customization option and fantastic level designs that would players busy for many hours.  Along with those additions Phantasy Star Nova includes a newly added feature that allows players to capture creatures known as gigantes which can be used in battles in future battles.

There is also a vast amount of options in regards to weapons that characters can utilize from melee to mechanical.  Some of the options included for weapon choice involves Double Sabers, Swords, Knuckles, etc. Despite, how fun Phantasy Star Nova  is there was only a Japanese version of this game that was released in Asian markets.  Over time people many people wondered whether or not this game will ever be released in English for countries such as America.  Even though, this game is not as popular as Phantasy Star Online I & II it still has a lot of potential.  Phantasy Star Nova looked like it would have a made decent game for a home based console such as the PlayStation 3 and maybe the PS4.  Seeing that Phantasy Star Nova is one of the most recent  games in the series time can only tell on how long it will be before Sega decides to release another title.

Classic Gaming- The Legend of Dragoon: (1999)

There have been many classic RPG games for the original PlayStation console that most of us enjoyed back in the late 90’s and early 00’s.  The Legend of Dragoon which was developed by Sony Interactive Entertainment was one of the few games that some people would consider a hidden gem when it comes to RPG classics.  While some people may not think much about it the Legend of Dragoon was a promising title when it first made its debut for the PS1 in 1999.  The game is centered around a person named Dart Feld who is the main character who has the responsibility of rescuing a girl by the name of Shana the adopted daughter of the mayor in the fictional city known as Seles.

After Dart sets out on his journey he meets various allies who eventually assists him throughout the game.  Each character in this game is unique because they are all recognized by different dragon spirits as the story progresses.  As one advances throughout the game they are some interesting development that takes place including the encounter with Kongol who starts off as one of Dart’s rivals before joining his group throughout the journey.  As you advance throughout the story the main character Dart is also joined by a variety of characters including Lavitz, Meru, Albert, Rose and Ravits who assists him in battling some of the toughest opponents the game as to offer.  When it comes down to in game bosses everyone has different opinions on who is most difficult. In this case the boss battles would have to be divided into two categories of mandatory and optional.

When it comes down to mandatory bosses many people would argue that Lenus and Doel are the toughest bosses in game.  When in comes down to optional boss battles many would argue that without a doubt Faust is the toughest boss in the entire game.  When it comes down to battling Faust one has to be very careful and develop a basic strategy on how to defeat him since his attacks can deal critical amount damage to your characters.  A majority of Faust attacks are weather based and includes elements such as wind, ice, thunder along with meteor attacks from space which is insane.  When battling Faust it is very important to utilize effective strategies for defeating him.  Usually, battling foes such as Faust required a series of trial and error along with strategic planning since their most of their attacks heavily diminished your HP.

The difficulty with bosses varied among many people and some would say that the optional boss battles was more difficult than the mandatory fights against the likes of Zieg Feld and the Divine Dragon from the second and third disks.  The Legend of Dragoon is one of the many classic PlayStation titles that probably deserves a sequel or a possible remake. After its release it was given a five star rating by GamePro and a fairly average score by IGN.  Usually, when any game received a good scores from a publication such as GamePro and IGN you were almost certain there was going to be a sequel for that particular title.  Only time will tell whether or not the series will receive a reboot or a sequel in the near future.

 

 

Retro Gaming- Phantasy Star Online 2: (2012)

There have been many great Sega titles that have been developed for over the past two decades.  The Phantasy Star series is arguably one of the best that Sega as produced along with the Sonic the Hedgehog series. Both the Phantasy Star and Sonic series in some ways revolutionized their respective genres with innovative graphics and gameplay as time progressed.  Both the Phantasy and Sonic series also made great transitions from 2D to 3D gaming from the early 90’s towards the end of the decade.  When Phantasy Star Online was originally released for Sega Dreamcast in 2000 the changes made from its 2D predecessors were very surprising to many people who were fans of the series.  The diversion from the traditional turn based RPG into the Massive Multiplayer Online RPG was astounding.

Even though the genre was slightly different from its 2D predecessors it was a unique change that spiced up the Phantasy series which was appealing to many when PS Online 1 was released in 2000.  Since the release of Phantasy Star Online the creators wanted to develop a sequel that improved the quality of the game itself while keeping some of the same elements that this game had.  Over a decade later, Sega had released Phantasy Star Online 2 in Japan during the year 2012.  While Sega had retained the MMORPG aspect of the original Phantasy Star Online title PS Online 2 was also a third person shooter game rather than hack and slash.   Similar to the original Phantasy Star Online 2 includes awesome 3D worlds & landscapes that players can navigate through as they progress in the game.

One of the key features of this game that stands out is the customization feature since it determines the main attributes that a  particular character possesses.  An example, would be race customization in which the player as the option of choosing one out of three. The first race includes Humans who are well rounded and learning new skills and executing them as means for survival.  The second race includes Newmans who are good at handling photon energy.  The third race includes CAST’s a group of androids that posses brute strength and high levels of durability.  Despite, how cool this game is Phantasy Star Online 2 was only released in Japan.  So if fans of the Phantasy series wanted to play PS Online 2 they would need to have it imported from Japan.

Speaking of Japan, as many of us know earlier this year in January 2016 Phantasy Star Online 2 came out with its own anime series.  Options among viewers may vary but many people believe that Phantasy Star having its own anime series was years in the making.  As of right now there have only been twelve episodes released in Japanese.  The anime is currently licensed by Sentai Filmworks and looks promising in terms of continuation regarding a possible season two.  Overall, the Phantasy Series has come a very long since its debut in 1987.  Looking at where the Phantasy series is over twenty years later after its debut would be considered astounding and makes gamers around the world realize why  it was one of the best that Sega had to offer.

Classic Gaming- Phantasy Star Online: (2000)

There have been many RPG classics that haven been released over the past couple of decades that many people enjoyed.  But when you ask most people which RPG classics come to mind the Phantasy Star series along with Final Fantasy are generally on top of the list. The Phantasy Star series have produced some memorable titles during the 90’s but one of their more popular games includes Phantasy Star Online which was released for the Sega Dreamcast in late 2000.  Phantasy Star Online was a great title not only because it was an Role Playing Game but it was also a Massive Multiplayer game that many people could enjoy online.  This game was released around a time period when the internet was starting to become popular.  With Sega Dreamcast being one of the first consoles where one can participate in online gaming the debut of Phantasy Star Online was viewed as an instant attraction to fans of the RPG genre.

As many of us know Phantasy Star was mainly produced by Yuji Naka who was  one of the creators for the Sonic the Hedgehog series.  Similar to the Sonic the Hedgehog series the Phantasy Star series has proven that it has a lot of potential.  The overall design and gameplay for Phantasy Star Online was great and provided players with many hours of fun.  This game takes elements of fantasy, fiction, and adventure and combines each of them in order to make an exciting title that people can mainly enjoy online.  One of the unique aspects of this game includes the fact that the creators decided to divert from the turn based RPG format.  The turn based format was common in most of the Phantasy Star games in the past but changing that feature in someways revitalized the series and got more people interested into Phantasy Star online because it was new.

The hack and slash MMORPG format for Phantasy Star Online was very exciting and was also a feature that Final Fantasy had not utilized until 2002 when FFXI was released.  Phantasy Star Online provides players with various customization options for the character you play as from classes to race preference.  The offline content features interest boss battles along with various side quests that will provide players with numerous hours of gameplay.  One of the reasons why many people enjoy this game is because it found a smooth balance between having exciting online gameplay and offline content.  Sometimes when popular games place most of its emphasis towards the online features of a title the game feels somewhat imbalanced.  Also, the replay value of the title varies on the quality of the game’s offline content.  If another version of a game is released and no one is playing the older version then the offline content would be one of the key aspects that determine its replay value.

Shortly, after is release Phantasy Star Online received positive reviews from gaming publications such as IGN and Eurogamer which ranked this title in the nine point bracket out  of ten. GameSpot didn’t score the title has high but gave it an eight out of ten which is still very good.  Phantasy Star Online is regarded by many as one of the most popular MMORPG games of the  2000’s decade.  When we think about some of the best games ever released for the Sega Dreamcast it would be safe to say that Phantasy Star Online would be ranked among the top ten.

Classic Gaming- Spyro Year of the Dragon: (2000)

When the original Spyro the Dragon game was released in 1998 many people fans and critics alike were impressed by various features included in this title.  The original Spyro game included a basic plot amazing levels and nice 3D gameplay. Shortly, after the release of the original Spyro game many people were eager for a sequel to this title. During the fall of 2000, Spyro: Year of the Dragon was released for the Sony PlayStation.  The second installment of the Spyro series featured various improvements from the original title including more playable characters.  Along with playing as Spyro people get to utilize other characters including Sparx, Sheila, Sergeant Byrd, Bentley, and Cheetah who provides you with assistance dealing with in-game mechanics.

The plot for Spyro: Year of the Dragon is also a bit more complex than the original because the main antagonist of this game devised to carry out her motives.  The main antagonist of the original Spyro game captured other dragons because he was insulted.  In Year of the Dragon Spyro and his friends must stop the Sorceress and her army in order to retrieve stolen dragon eggs.  Year of the Dragon provides players with brand new settings in the form of realms such as Evening Lake, Midday Gardens, Midnight Mountain, and Sunrise Spring. Along with the addition of new characters and realms Year of the Dragon featured  improved gameplay, graphics along with mini-games which made this title more enjoyable than the original.  Looking back at the time frame Year of the Dragon was released some people might scratch their heads and wonder why it was not ported for the PlayStation 2.

After all, the PlayStation 2 did make its debut late in the year 2000.  Despite, not being released for the PlayStation 2 people were still able to play it on that console since it was conveniently backwards compatible with the PS1.   Shortly after its release GameSpot scored the game in eight out of ten while IGN gave it a nine.   Since this title made its debut in 2000 it has sold over 2 million units worldwide and continues to be recognized one of the best platform games released for the original Sony PlayStation.

Classic Gaming- Spyro the Dragon: (1998)

There were many great games that were released for the original PlayStation during the mid to late 90’s. It was also a time period where the genre of platform gaming started evolving from 2D side scrolling action into 3D landscapes and adventures. While there were many games that were very popular in the 90’s Spyro the Dragon was definitely one of the best PlayStation had to offer.  Spyro the Dragon was developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Computer in 1998.  The idea and concept for this game was original because the setting for this title occurs in a fictional realm known as the Artisan Realm which is one of the five in the Dragon Kingdom.

The game starts with a live broadcast in the Artisan Realm were a dragon is interviewed.  However, the dragon insults the main antagonist Gnasty Gnorc who lives in a seperate realm by himself.  Gnorc gets offended and uses a magic spell and captures most of the dragons in the realm with the exception of Spyro.  In this game the player is charged with the task of rescuing the other dragons and restoring the realm back to normal.  The idea that Gnorc lives in a sixth realm by himself would indicate that he was a threat not only to the Artisan Realm but also the Peace Keepers, Magic Crafters, Beast Makers, and the Dream Weaver realm as well.

Just like platform titles the plot is very basic and does not involve a devious plot from a villain who is focused on world domination.  Some people may argue that Gnorc motives revolved mainly around revenge when in reality he felt resented. Either way, the developers was able to create an adventurous title that featured excellent gameplay and a basic plot that allows players to easily understand the game itself. Shortly after its initial release GameSpot scored Spyro the Dragon in the eight point bracket out of ten.  Also, IGN scored the game in the nine point bracket due to many factors including its creativity and innovative gameplay.  As good as this title was the series would improve during the release of the second installment entitled “Spyro Year of the Dragon”  in the year 2000.

Gaming Consoles- TurboGrafx-16: (1987)

There were many classic game consoles that were popular during the 80’s and the 90’s including Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, PlayStation, and the Neo Geo.  Such game systems are generally known by most people as some of the best consoles to be released in international markets worldwide prior to the 2000’s.  However, when most of us think about game systems there are usually some consoles that we often forget about.  An example of such as console would included the PC Engine also known as the TurboGrafx-16 developed by NEC Home Electronics and released in Japan during 1987.  The graphics of the Turbografx-16 were great for its time and could definitely challenge the likes of the Nintendo Entertainment System  in terms of gameplay.

The TurboGrafx-16 was unique because it was a cross between 8-bit gameplay and 16-bit color design which arguably in some ways make the games for this console appealing.  Despite, being a game system with potential to rival the NES the TurboGrafx-16 was released a year before the Sega Master System made its debut in fall of 1988.   While the graphics for the TurboGrafx-16 games resembled a refined version of many NES titles the Sega Master System provided innovative 16-bit graphics and gameplay with popular titles such as the Phantasy Star series.  As many of us know the TurboGrafx-16 did not perform as well in terms of sales especially in countries such as the United States.  One of the problems was the fact that the TurboGrafx-16 was released a few years to late.   Ever since the Nintendo Entertainment System was released in the summer of 1983  8-bit gaming was very popular in arcades worldwide.  The early to mid 80’s was the time period where people  had become well acquainted with 8-bit games such as the Mario, Megaman, and Zelda series.

The NES had a three plus year advantage in sales over the TurboGrafx-16 following its release along with the fact that the gaming industry was evolving.   As we progressed into the late 80’s and early 90’s 16-bit gaming became popular and the TurboGrafx-16 found itself competing with the likes of Sega Genesis and the NES.  Even though the TurboGrafx-16 had impressive graphics for its time the original price for the console was $199.  The TurboGrafx-16 was had the same price the NES had during its initial release a few years earlier.  Almost a year after the TurboGrafx-16 was released the Sega Genesis was priced for approximately $189.  Some people would probably argue that if the TurboGrafx-16 was released between 1983-1984 it could have sold much more internationally.  Despite, not selling as much as the NES the TurboGrafx-16 managed to sell at least 10 million units worldwide which was great considering the amount of competition that both Nintendo and Sega provided in the late 80’s and early 90’s.