Saturday, 19 December 2015

WWF WrestleFest - Arcade

A golden age for some fans

At one point, before the current rage of WWF with "The Rock" and "Stone Cold Steve Austin" (which is likely showing my age right now but oh well) and after the likes of Giant Haystacks and Big Daddy, there was the pandemic of WWF wrestling featuring The Hulk (young version), Big Boss Man (RIP), Jake the Snake Roberts, Ultimate Warrior (RIP), Mr Perfect (RIP) and Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase, and my word that's a lot of dead people (most of them around the age of mid 40's too...).

Lots of fights, or one big brawl?

So, what do we have then? Well it's a fine mash up of fake acting and overtly fat men jumping around a roped-off arena and pretending to be hurt. Much like the video game then BWAHAHA... Ok I'll stop there. WWF WrestleFest takes the approach of giving up to 4 players a chance to "be" their favourite 90's wrestlers and duke it out mano-e-mano in the ring with the chance to pull off all the trademark moves of their 'heroes' in an attempt to be just like them.

It get chaotic, fast.

WWF WrestleFest does bring to the game a medley of 12 wrestlers and 2 main gameplay options. There's the 2 vs. 2 tag team game that players can progress through (or battle each other) and take on other tag teams until they reach the final against the Legion of Doom (a.k.a The Legion of Spiky Shoulder Pads they NEVER USE IN A MATCH) or they can go the 30minute long, Royal Rumble in which they start in the ring and battle each other until only one person is left standing by either counting other wrestlers out with pins and submissions, or throwing them out of the ring entirely.

It's the tag-team nobody asked for!

Controls in WWF WrestleFest are slightly unintuitive to say the least. You've the joystick, a punch button and a kick button. But these are contextual buttons and it all depends upon what the opponent is doing, or how they are poised that will end up with what you actually do. If the opponent is down, punching does attacks, while kicking attempts a pin. But stand near their head and you'll pick them up for more attacks, while also being able to run and launch yourself upon them. Tagging out requires being at the corner with your teammate and pressing punch, but hold a direction too long and you'll find yourself climbing the turnbuckle instead.

Slight variation, there's no rope-rebounding allowed

Despite this, WWF WrestleFest also makes things far more awkward than it needs to by using the idea of "grappling" and having it come across "randomly hitting buttons to struggle against an arbitrarily decided outcome". It seems grapples are decided mainly by the computer determining which outcome it actually wants and tough shit if you're not the one it chooses. On top of THAT, actually determining which moves you'll get as a result is almost as much of a lottery if only because once you've "won" a grapple, the next button press will perform a move, by that point you'll likely be hammering buttons still to try and win the grapple, so the move happens regardless of your attempts.

He looks as old there as he does now, was this game predicting the future?

Aside from the controls being dodgy, WWF WrestleFest has the lovely little time in showing us large sprites, fairly detailed graphics and even get to the point where we see SOME muscled and toned men and many fat men, so at least there's some accurate depictions of the actors, I mean, wrestlers. The audio within WWF WrestleFest has a slightly muffled commentary but it's clear enough to make out what's being said most of the time while the impacts and slams onto the canvas are suitable amplified just like in the shows to add gravitas to the dancing around these men are doing.

Even the Ref gets to dance to SaturdayNight Fever.

WWF WrestleFest, is more famous as being the arcade that few would play while many would realise what it was depicting, a genre of entertainment that had a high in the early 90s before becoming obscure and then returning many years later. But it does the job well of featuring the main names from the time, just a shame it's not very playable and about as much of an act as the 'real' thing is.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Kickle Cubele - Arcade

So glad for the translation, makes less sense now

It's an odd form for a puzzler, but Kickle Cubele (Or Cubcicle depending on your version) seems to have a healthy mix of block sliding puzzle, adventure, action and madness that doesn't translate too well. Especially if you can't understanding the game and what it's showing you. However that's not to say that just because we don't exactly get the plot, we can't play a game and keep at it until we're done.

Dream? Nightmare!
At its purest, Kickle Cubele is about a snow-bound character trying to collect items to red bags that house his land's sleeping population after a wizard froze everyone and set them asleep and oddly our protagonist was somehow immune. Using his ability to freeze enemies and kick them around (kicking cubes of ice... there's the title) to form bridges and kill enemies is how you're going to save the day. On top of that, he can also create blocks that will stop the ice cubes from sliding too far and then use those to re-direct the angle of the block in order to fill in other gaps around the level and continue making progress.

Questionable shapes there

Each level in Kickle Cubele has 3 bags that must be collected in order to win the level and progress onwards. Also in each level are an unlimited supply of enemies that will spawn and assault you across the level, up to a set number maximum of enemies on screen at once which can change from level to level. Later levels will have other traps and situations like springs and more enemies, hammers that will rebound blocks around the level. Enemies will steadily evolve over levels to be able to stop blocks, kick them back and even create their own, leading to further puzzles where you'll have to get the enemies to make the bridges for you or face being slammed in the face by a frozen brick.

And there's bosses too!

The difficulty in Kickle Cubele doesn't accelerate or hit a brick wall but is instead a rather gradual and steady increase as the levels progress. Ideas introduced become more critical as the game progresses and usually where a skill or system is essential in the level, the previous level will have been solely about that specific skill or system. Once you've passed the first set of worlds, you'll find the difficulty does begin to ramp up quite significantly. You should be able to get the first set of levels done on a credit or such but after that you may take several credits to get past a single level.

As the levels progress, the traps become more deadly. Exponentially so.

Eventually you'll (hopefully) get to a boss fight and have to use various skills and tricks you've learned in that particular set of levels to overcome and defeat the boss. They usually don't take much to defeat and have fairly predictable patterns of attack. Some might surprise you at first, but after that it's plain sailing and significantly less of a challenge than the previous set of levels would have you suppose the boss would be.

And the butt-faced star says time is up

It's a very charming game is Kickle Cubele, brightly coloured, light music (repetitive to the point of brain-killing) and is happy and cheerful enough to appeal to the younger audience in about as saccharine and diabetes-inducing delivery a game can get. It's not going to be a bank breaker either as you'll eventually stop and decide that enough is enough and move happily on to the next world. Worth a look but not really worth going out of your way to take a look at.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Outrun - Arcade (Yes, that one with the red car)

It's all about the car.

It's a simple idea, car racing through picturesque places and locations, wonderful sights, nice chilled theme tunes to listen to and if you find the right arcade, a big ol' impersonation of a sports car to sit inside and move around while you're trying to drive with a TV screen sat in front of you showing some pixelated tracks and cars. On top of that there's not much here really beyond this scope and aspect of the game.

Lots of choices, some levels harder than others.

Outrun, probably one of the more iconic arcade games of the mid-80s and awarded best arcade of the year by Golden Joystick Awards for 1986, beating out Bubble Bobble (Which I think should have won over this...) involves players driving a Ferrari Testerossa across the sprawling landscapes of Someplace while trying to hit the checkpoints that magically assign more time to the players and at each checkpoint, gives the player the option of going left or right, in search of new scenery and things to look at, as well as crash into.

I... saw this a lot...

That said, Outrun likely will hold a special place in a lot of people's hearts. The simple style of play in getting just to the next checkpoint (and if you run out of time, game over. No continues, no slowing down to try and inch over the finish line here) and racing back and forth through traffic while trying to avoid harder corners that will cause you to slide out and slam into various obstacles, which will cost you more time as you wait for the game to put your car back on track.

Use checkpoints to extend gameplay, or just quit.

The audio is likely the best part of the game, composed and sequenced wonderfully and adding to the overall feel and pace of the game in that while you're trying to gun the engine for all that you can, there's nothing really to compete against other than the arbitrary clock, it almost leaves you feeling that you can take your time playing this game. In truth you can't.

At least the scenery changes from route to route

The time limit for Outrun is tight, very tight against any and all errors if you want to be able to beat it. As such you'll get about 5 - 6 minutes of gameplay if your driving is perfect and a lot less if you crash, bump or generally take too long to get up to speed before switching the gearbox from low to high while driving. Outrun is rather unforgiving in that regard.

Scenic, but deadly trees.

As such, because it is so very unforgiving it becomes difficult to enjoy the game without having to dedicate a lot of time and energy into the situation in order to get much back from Outrun as it is. There's a fair amount to enjoy here and with multiple different endings depending upon the routes that you take and the journey there, there's a level of replay factor for people but getting access to that level in the first place is going to be more difficult for some than others and it becomes a sticking point for Outrun.