Platforms: PS2, Xbox (2001)
Gamerankings.com Score: 85.9% (Xbox) 79.8% (PS2)
Genres: Action, Shooter, Third Person
I am a big fan of Remedy and their mission to deliver strongth character driven narratives. Max Payne was their first console port, and only their second game ever, and began the 2000’s fad of bullet time shooters. Fed to you between levels through comic book style cut scenes, the story of Max Payne is a “Hard Boiled” style cop noire drama following the titular character as he runs and guns through hundreds of mobsters and dirty cops as he tries to unravel the mystery of who is responsible for the untimely death of his wife and daughter. There is some pretty dark imagery and some tough emotional segments to play though, so be warned. The shooting handles well, but there are a few platforming sections that can be a bit frustrating. The PS2 port suffers from lower res textures, frame rate and load time issues, so stick with the Xbox version.
Platforms: PS2, Xbox, GC (2003)
Gamerankings.com Score: ~92%
Genres: Action, Adventure, Platformer
Since it’s release, Sands of Time’s platforming action has served as inspiration to many AAA titles. A reboot of the original Jordan Mechner classic, it took the 2d side scroller into the third dimension while still holding true to it’s athletic puzzle roots and adding in some combat to boot. Also just like the original, the controls are tight and the animation is fluid, making the game a joy to run through. This game serves as the beginning of the Sands saga, and I feel the only one worth your time. It was released on all every available system at the time and you can’t go wrong with any version, but as usual, PS2 is cheapest, followed by Xbox and GameCube last. And one last bit of advice, skip the movie adaption of this as well.
Developer/Publisher: HAL Laboratories/Nintendo
Platforms: SNES (1995)
Gamerankings.com Score: 77%
Genres: Golf, Arcade
Here is another look at an import game that won’t break the bank, and it just so happens to be another Kirby spinoff. Kirby Bowl is the Japanese equivalent of Kirby’s Dream Course. It’s a miniature golf game utilizing Kirby as the ball, and you must knock him into familiar enemies around the course before the target hole appears. This is all handled on an isometric grid, are you have the usual Kirby style power-ups to help you. There are 8 courses with 8 holes a piece, and a 2 player mode is available. The colors and music are both typical of all Kirby games, bright and upbeat. But the nice thing about this game is most of it is in English already. Getting a US copy will currently run you around $25+, but you can get the came game, in an exotic looking SFC cassette shipped from Japan, for $5. All your friends will think you’re so more mature and well traveled than them.
Developer/Publisher: Hal Laboratories/Nintendo
Platforms: Game boy (1993)
Gamerankings.com Score: 70%
Kirby’s Pinball Land is a game that I’ve loved since it came out. My cousins had got this game when it first came out, and later that year, I got it for my birthday. It’s similar to Revenge of the Gator or Pokemon Pinball, where you have a play field that has three areas one on top of another (not scrolling), plus bonus stages. Kirby himself serves as the ball and you’ll find many familiar faces as scattered around the board as you knock him around for the high score. The graphics and music are both very typical of previous Kirby’s on the Game Boy, meaning they are awesome. If you are patient, you can grab a copy on Ebay for $5 or less, but they reason I picked this game today is for those collectors interested in trying out some import games. Game Boy games are great for those collector’s who don’t have any knowledge when it come to the Japanese language. A lot of the games are simple in execution, don’t rely on menu systems, and don’t employ much of a story. Even better is you can still get these shipped from Japan and still pay less than their American counterpart. Kirby’s Pinball Land is a great example of this, and stay tuned for more in the future..
Developer/Publisher: Vigil Games/THQ
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360 (2012)
Gamerankings.com Score: ~84%
Gamestop: $4.99 Ebay
Genres: Action, Adventure
Then it comes to gameplay, some developers, for better or worse, try to create something new and groundbreaking. Some developers look at other games and try to Frankenstein the best bits into something to call there own. Darksiders II is the latter in this situation. Taking the combat from God of War (like so many others), the dungeon designs from Legend of Zelda (like so many others), and the platforming from Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (like so many others), Darksiders II may not be the sum of it’s parts, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an enjoyable experience in it’s own right. THe story is a conitnuation of the first game, but this time you play as Death, as he tries to save humanity and vindicate your brother, War, who’s being accused of dooming humanity in the first place. As you can imagine, there are many different weapons to suite you preferred style, and many BIG baddies to dismember. I think the graphics look really good and the whole presentation is enjoyable, along with the voice acting. If you can handle to over the top violence
Over the past week, the elite discount was stacking with the 4/$10 deal making each game $1.50. These are the games I grabbed online. Usually I would never do this because I can’t stand games that aren’t CIB in my collection, but hey, they’re stupid cheap. Out of 20 games, I got 5 CIB, 2 CB, and 13 C. Overall, I think that’s pretty good since I usually expect about 80% to be disc/cart only. As a bonus, I also got 7 free bubble mailers and 2 big boxes for shipping, which is kind of weird since I only made 1 order.
Developer/Publisher: Team Ninja/Microsoft
Platforms: Xbox (2001)
Gamerankings.com Score: 86.2%
Genres: Fighting, 3D
My fighting game of choice has always been the Virtua Fighter series, but that was more because I was never good at Street Fighter 2 and when VF 2 came out in 1994, I thought that cabinet was the coolest thing in the arcade. While VF has always been know for it’s technical fighting style, DoA of course is know for it’s cheesecake and unrealistic juggling physics. And while that is still true for this Xbox exclusive, there is still a very enjoyable game underneath all the hood. The game looks better than ever, and the animation is so smooth. Another signature I like about the DoA series is the destructible and multi-tiered arenas, which are used to great effect here. While some of the later games stepped up the difficulty, you can still reach the end of each character’s story mode with mostly button mashing, which is nice for novice players. This lets you unlock CG movies and alternate costumes for all the fighters. But you’ll still be no match for someone who knows what they’re doing.