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Melbourne Is DOOMed

Doom_2My fellow Melbournians, DOOMsday has descended upon our great city! Walking down Lonsdale Street on a gloomy Melbourne day (Ed: what’s new!), we were confronted by the huge (10-metre x 15-metre) DOOM artwork adorning the Melbourne Central wall.

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Being the largest hand-painted mural in the Southern Hemisphere and a throwback to the original DOOM art, Bethesda definitely know how to capture our attention!

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If you want to watch how this artwork came to be, check out the time-lapse video below. And then go and fight like hell!


source: Bethesda Softworks UK

 

Review: Shadow Of The Beast

Coming some 27 years after Shadow of the Beast first graced the Commodore Amiga, Heavy Spectrum’s Playstation 4 remake turns out to be a surprisingly enjoyable release that doesn’t rely solely on the nostalgia card to succeed.

The original Amiga Shadow of the Beast started life as a graphical tech demo to see what the system was capable of. Eventually this demo ended up being developed into a full game and released by publisher Psygnosis in 1989 to much fanfare. Beast’s detailed sprites, multi-layered parallax backgrounds and sublime soundtrack gave Amiga owners something to brag about to their 8-bit micro or Atari ST owning friends. The game would go on to spawn two sequels, and eventually be ported to a number of different systems creating quite a legacy in the process.

Shadow Of The Beast

When it was announced in 2013 that British-based newcomers Heavy Spectrum would be developing a remake for the Playstation 4, the initial reaction was mixed. A studio comprised of 7 members, Heavy Spectrum all identified as fans of the original Psygnosis release, and wanted to bring it into the current generation to ensure the game’s legacy would continue to live on. As someone who loved the art, but never particularly liked playing the original games, I went into this unsure how I’d find it. Would it prove to be a game capable of standing on it’s own, or another release that relied on nostalgia to drive the experience? I can say that Heavy Spectrum have done a good job of bringing Shadow of the Beast into the modern era, although it’s not without a few rough spots on the way.

Shadow Of The Beast

Shadow of the Beast  is a 2D action adventure with a heavy focus on combat and exploration, along with a handful of puzzles spread throughout the game’s world. Set on the world of Karamoon, it tells of Aarbron’s quest for revenge after being kidnapped as a baby by the tyrant Maletoth, then turned into the titular beast. On the surface the story doesn’t evolve much beyond “find things, fight them, get revenge”, instead the mystery behind the Beast’s story is left in the player’s hands by way of finding hidden Prophecy Orbs. These orbs are spread across the stages as a part of the game’s item hunt, and are crucial towards getting 100% completion on each level.

Shadow Of The Beast

Given the combat focus, Heavy Spectrum have given Aarbron a number of new tricks to go along with his upgraded appearance. In addition to his basic attack, he can stun or throw enemies, as well as block, dodge or parry incoming attacks. Once found, you can also equip your Beast with a number of Talisman that offer enhanced abilities, although sometimes with added drawbacks. Rounding out the toolset are a number of attacks that use the game’s Blood mechanic. Blood is a resource earned by killing enemies, and can then be spent for a variety of benefits, like healing or recharging Aarbron’s Wraith. Accumulate enough blood and it allows the usage of Rage Chains, which triggers a frenzy mode that give you quick-time prompts on either side of the screen to help quickly dispatch his foes.The higher the combo multiplier gets, the better your score, and with it ways to further upgrade the Beast’s abilities or unlock other special features.

Shadow Of The Beast

While the blood resource is central to the game mechanics, it feels like there’s a touch too much emphasis on the bloodletting side of things. While not as up close and visceral as say Mortal Kombat, there are times where Aarbron ends combat bathed in blood, or finding it splattered over the screen. And it’s this last part that feels the most jarring, as I encountered several situations where this splatter effect caused distraction, or worse, rendered me unable to see an incoming enemy leading to Aarbron getting hit (and resetting my multiplier). There’s some stunning environments to explore, however there were times where I felt the overt blood thirst was a little too out of place.

Shadow Of The Beast

The visuals have a familiar feel to them, from the opening on the Grass Plains of Karamoon, to the desert area outside the Hydrath’s Castle. During my playthrough, I spotted several nods to the original games, as well as denizens and environments inspired directly by Roger Dean’s box art. Adding to this is usage of parallax scrolling to help bring depth to the world, although there were times when it caused me some headaches. In some occasions where it ended in a mistimed jump, or other situations where moving to one side of the screen resulted in foreground objects obscuring big chunks of the playfield (and enemies!). With that said, the game moves incredibly smoothly and I never encountered a single moment of slowdown across the entire playthrough, even during some of the more hectic encounters!

Shadow Of The Beast

Those dedicated to blowing through a game as quickly as possible will find themselves hitting the end after a couple of hours on normal difficulty, although you’ll land the worst ending in the process. On top of the different difficulties, every area has leaderboards for speed running, time to complete with 100% collection rate, and high score. There’s also a number of secret encounters in the game that need to be unlocked by performing better in combat, and completing these is key to earning gold or platinum for the stage, and in turn unlock some of the better endings.

Shadow Of The Beast

As a bonus, Heavy Spectrum have included an emulated version of the Amiga Shadow of the Beast as an unlockable extra. Given the difficulty, they’ve kindly added an infinite lives cheat, but also a video runthrough for those who would rather watch someone else do the playing. Along with this, you’re also able to unlock David Whittaker’s soundtrack from the 1989 release to replace the modern in-game music. I have to admit that while the default music suits the game well, I found myself leaning more towards the original soundtrack the moment I could access it.

Shadow Of The Beast

So overall, despite finding the violence a little too much at times, and wanting to see more areas like the Hydrath’s castle with an emphasis on exploration and puzzle solving, I enjoyed my time with Shadow of the Beast. Heavy Spectrum have put together a solid package that has appeal for both fans of the original, and those new to the game. Considering it’s priced less than a movie ticket and popcorn, it’s well worth taking a look at.

Shadow of the Beast is available now on the Playstation Store for $22.95. Review copy provided by Sony Entertainment. Played to completion on Normal difficulty for the purpose of the review.

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blahjediAaron Clement
Tassie based retro gaming guy. Father of 3 and married to the very tolerant Kellie Clement. Coffee powered!

Follow Aaron Clement on Twitter and Instagram

 

 

 

The Mastertronic Archives

MastertronicArchives_TitleGrowing up in the 1980s, there was one publisher that dared to give us games at an affordable price – which meant us kids with limited funds could go out and grab some pretty good video games from Mastertronic for under (an Australian) tenner (or £1.99/£2.99 if you were in the UK)!

Mastertronic are still held very dear to many a retro gaming hearts, so when we heard about Player One Books’ Mastertronic Archives book on Kickstarter, we knew we had to jump on board to pledge our support. If the name Mastertronic triggers an ounce of nostalgia within you, then do yourself a favour and get onto this Kickstarter now!

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source: The Masteronic Archives by Player One Books on Kickstarter

 

Press Play On Tape: Hitting The Reset Button

PPOT_14_HDRAs the weather in the southern hemisphere gets cooler, the Press Play On Tape podcast heats things up with three hosts and one very special guest!

In this episode, we welcome Aaron Clement as our co-host and we sit down to have a chat with the C64-centric Reset magazine editor extraordinaire, Kevin Tilley (aka: Unkle K). We probe Unkle K about all things Reset – how the magazine came to be, its evolution, highlights, lowlights and any sneaky inside information on the upcoming issue.

For the publisher of choice, Unkle K chose Hewson Consultants, which had no shortage of classic video games! We hit the social media channels to read our your fave Hewson published games and we even have time for shoutouts, so you better listen in!

Oh yeh, Daz and Aaron even also get to speak to Paul Bridger the director and producer of the new documentary, The Amiga Works – Allister Brimble. Get the inside information on how he produced and self funded his first feature documentary.

Stay away from the reset button and press play on tape now!

PRESS PLAY ON TAPE podcasts are available on iTunes and Podbean

 

Ghostbusting At Zax Amusements

Zax_HDRIt is not every day we get an invitation to check out and play a newly released pinball game. We were lucky enough last year to experience Game Of Thrones before its official release, and it seems that we got lucky once again! This time, Zax Amusements were kind enough to open their doors and allow us to have a bump and tilt on Stern’s new pinball machine, Ghostbusters.

Before we could get to grips on the new Ghostbusters Pro pinball table, Zax’s Business Manager, Phil Boniwell gave us a grand tour of Zax Amusements – let’s just say that we were like kids in a candy store! There were 1980s and 1990s JAMMA boards carefully stacked on shelves, a myriad of gun peripherals, control panels, Neo Geo MVS carts and an amazing array of arcade machines from all eras! We honestly didn’t know where to look – it was a 360 degree visual onslaught of the amusement kind! You can take a peek at the photos further down below to see why we went all gaga.

Once we wiped our drool and returned to Zax’s business showroom, it was time to put Ghostbusters Pro through its paces. So what did we think? Having played the pinball machine a few times, our first impressions were very positive indeed. Like with any new product, it was the visual and aural beauty of the machine that captured our immediate attention. Based on the original Ghostbusters movie, the colours, set scenery and characters on the playfield were an instant trip down memory lane. Not to be outdone in the sensory game, the sound effects, Ernie Hudson’s speech guiding you through the game and Ray Parker Jr’s Ghostbusters soundtrack were literally music to our ears. Stern have really captured the feel of the original Ghostbusters movie to a T! We reckon Stern has created another winner!

Thank you to the team at Zax Amusements for their hospitality (Scott Kellett rocks!). You can read more about Zax Amusements over here.

Z marks the spot!
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Zak (Zax final boss) and yours truly!
Zax_Zak and Alex

Oh wow, OutRun 2 SP and Sega Racing Classic (aka: Daytona USA Mk II)!
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THIS is still our all-time fave arcade driving game!
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Kick it to Homer!
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Now this is a reasonable price for a twin seat Daytona USA!
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The great wall of PCBs!
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You need guns? Zax has you covered!
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Guitar riffin’
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Dayyyyyytona!
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You don’t control me!
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A view to a thrill!
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Silverball classics waiting for some TLC
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15K out! That is perfect vision!
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Time to flip some balls!
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Oh wow, what to play next?
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Our spidey sensors are tingling!
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Who you gonna call?
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I ain’t afraid of no ghost
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Ecto-1 in glorious colour!
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Let’s play Slimer!
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Busting ghosts has never been this much fun!
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Aim well and true!
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This machine is flippin’ magic!
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Ball Saved! Lucky break!
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Keep your eye on the target(s)!
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What has spooked Slimer?Zax_Ghostbusters12

Mmm, marshmallows!
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The outlanes can be brutal – be ready to bump!
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A row of beauties! It’s very hard to leave Zax Amusements!
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Top 5 Games Charts: May 1999

top5gamescharts_title_Jan99We roll the clock back 17 years to see what games were hot on the Playstation, N64 and the humble PC. As you peek at the games charts below, you’ll notice some very well known gaming franchises that are still going strong till this day. But what makes it great to look back at old charts like these is the more obscure and long forgotten games, like Rollcage for the Playstation, Virtual Pool 64 on the N64, and The Simpsons: Virtual Springfield on the PC.

What ever tickled your fancy back then, scour through the top 5 games from May 1999, you never know, you still may be playing some of these gems!

PSX_150x150 1) Metal Gear Solid (Konami)
2) Rollcage (Psygnosis)
3) A Bug’s Life (Sony)
4) FIFA 99 (EA)
5) Populous: The Beginning (EA)

 

N64_150x150 1) South Park (Acclaim)
2) Star Wars: Rogue Squadron (Nintendo)
3) The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time (Nintendo)
4) WCW/nWO: Revenge (THQ)
5) Virtual Pool 64 (Crave)

 

1) Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri (EA)
2) Sim City 3000 (EA)
3) South Park (Acclaim)
4) The Simpsons: Virtual Springfield (Fox)
5) Premier Manager 99 (Gremlin)