Friday, April 24, 2015

Xeodrifter (2014) - Nintendo 3DS

I've had my eye on Xeodrifter ever since I first heard of its release months ago, but I was on the fence about picking it up. I love "Metroid-vania" games, so I figured it would be right up my alley, but I have a bad habit of buying eShop games on my 3DS and leaving them un-played (an issue I'm currently trying to rectify).

8-bit glory.
Recently there was an eShop sale for Renegade Kid titles, however, and at about $5 I decided to take the plunge, put everything else aside, and finally play Xeodrifter.

Xeodrifter, as I've already mentioned, is an action platforming title that takes a great deal of inspiration from the NES classic Metroid. It boasts a pseudo 8-bit aesthetic, retro music, and non-linear gameplay, which all comes together in a wonderful nostalgia-fueled package.

The game, following its old school roots, is light on story, but follows an interstellar drifter who is exploring a cluster of planets when the warp core on his ship is damaged. You can only travel to the four planets in this tiny corner of the cosmos, but must find a way to repair your warp core to carry on your mission of discovery.

Bring it on, Boss Man!
You can travel to any of the four planets when you begin the game, but you will quickly realize that you require certain power-ups to access many of the areas in these alien landscapes. You can acquire these abilities by facing off with giant alien bosses located on one of the four mysterious worlds.

The drifter is equipped with a simple gun and the ability to jump when you begin playing, but as you battle your way and explore the four planets you'll find many power-ups that will give you more health and allow you to upgrade your weapon to take on the alien creatures you'll encounter.

The game is short, but sweet. I finished it in around three hours on my first playthrough. The pacing is great and keeps you enticed to play, but you can easily put the game down whenever you please. One problem I have with "Metroid-vania" titles is that I often lose my place. I legitimately keep a book where I record my steps as I play games in this subgenre so I know where I'm going between gaming sessions. In Xeodrifter, more than likely due to its simplistic nature, I never had an issue remembering what I was up to and having to backtrack significantly to figure it out.

My finished game file.
The controls are tight, the colours and retro-themed art style pop beautifully, and the music - although
at times a little repetitive - all come together to make for a really fun, accessible indie title. The only issue some people might have would be the length, as the game is a little on the short side. For a guy like myself, I enjoyed the short play time, but I can see where a title that's three hours long could be a problem for some. There is some inherent replay value to search out all of the health and gun upgrades, but I would say that I found most of them on my first playthrough, so that might not really flesh out the game enough for those looking for more bang for their buck.

All in all I can recommend Xeodrifter to anyone that likes a fun, retro-style indie game that doesn't break the bank and also won't take weeks to finish. You can pick it up on the Nintendo 3DS eShop as well as Steam for around $10.99 at full price, as well as a Special Edition on Steam for $16.99, which includes a download of the soundtrack and a development diary for the game. Xeodrifter is also slotted to be released on Xbox One, PS4, and Playstation Vita later this spring.

Hope you enjoyed,

No, thank you!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Top 5 Favourite Video Game Consoles

I'd just like to begin by saying that this list is inspired by both the Cartridge Bros. and Lo Burton. The Cartridge Bros. recently posted a video from their new weekly series Not So Deep Thoughts and the topic was their personal top three favourite consoles. Being the professional lister that I am it instantly piqued my interest. Not long after watching their video I saw that Lo Burton of And Then She Games fame responded with her personal top five favourite consoles. After reading her blog post I just knew I had to make my own list!

Yes this is a list of five, which might make you wonder why am I not posting it on Five-O-Rama? The reason is that it's a personal list, so I felt it more-so belonged here on Retro-Def. If I was, say, making a list of the Top 5 Best Consoles of All Time, regardless of my personal opinions, then that would definitely makes its way to Five-O-Rama.

Also, why a top five? I tried to just pick my top three, but I kept feeling like I was leaving something important out by not mentioning the other two consoles on this list. Also I like lists of five. And Lo broke the rules first!


Sony Playstation 2

The big beast it all its glory.

I bought my PS2 the summer I graduated from high school and I instantly fell in love with it. I'm a big cinephile and the fact that it came with a DVD player built in was a huge selling point, but also I had a deep love for its predecessor, which I'll mention in a moment. It was an easy sell.

The PS2 continued to foster my love for game series like Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid, and also introduced me to different types of games that I had never played before, like Dance Dance Revolution. Yes, I played DDR... and I was damned good at it.

It also lead to my first foray into online console gaming. I'd done some modem matches in PC games up to this point, but the simplicity of the PS2's network adapter and hopping online while sitting on my couch was something I really fell in love with. I became obsessed with the SOCOM: US Navy SEALs series and a few of my friends and I would stay up until the wee hours of the morning eating pizza, drinking beers, and playing with our clan in SOCOM; all thanks to my beloved PS2, which remains hooked up in my house to this day.

Also I watched The Matrix on that thing like a kajillion times when I finally got it on DVD.

Nintendo 64

Look at that controller!

I had a really difficult time placing this console in the hierarchy of this list, but in the end it still lands in my top five so that's saying something!

The N64 makes the list because of all kinds of amazing solo games, like Super Mario 64, Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, StarFox 64, and - my favourite Legend of Zelda title - Ocarina of Time.

Most importantly, however, it is because of the incredible multiplayer experiences I had with this system. I, like so many others, played countless hours of Mario Kart 64, GoldenEye 007, and Perfect Dark. I can't tell you how often I can recall staring bleary-eyed as the sun started pouring through an open window and not even realizing that my friends and I had been up legitimately all night battling each other in these incredible games.

Nintendo Entertainment System

The one that started it all.

Another system that I had a hard time placing!

The NES had to make the list, however, simply because it is the system that started it all for me in this hobby of video gaming. It houses in its library some of my favourite games of all time, like Super Mario Bros. 3, Mega Man 3, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I didn't really understand what an entertainment system gaming console was when I first received my NES as a Christmas present 25 years ago, but I quickly became attached to the concept and it has endured as one of my favourite pastimes all these years later.

What's even more interesting (for me) is that in the last few years I've actually been getting back into my NES. If I had written this list in the not-so-distant past I'm not sure where it would have placed, honestly. I had great memories of it, but rarely, if ever, hooked it up to play it. I started picking up some NES carts for games I'd missed on the console at flea markets - games like The Legend of Zelda, The Adventures of Link, and Hogan's Alley - and in a way it's almost like I'm falling in love with my NES all over again.

Sony Playstation

The only "revenge console" on the market.

Up until the PSX (yes I still use that acronym) gaming for me was something I occasionally did on my own free time, but I'm not sure I considered the hobby something incredibly personal. I mostly loved playing games with friends. There were some games that were released on the SNES and N64 that started me down that path, but the Playstation was where I really started to take this whole gaming thing to heart.

I first decided I needed to have a PSX when I began reading about a then upcoming game from Konami by the name of Metal Gear Solid. The graphics, the ideas behind the gameplay, the correlations with film; all of these bullet points, plus my fascination with its NES predecessor, had me dying to play the game. As a huge Final Fantasy fan, you would think it would have been Final Fantasy 7 that brought me over to Sony's "new kid on the block" console, but that just wasn't the case.

I got a PSX for MGS, but there were so many other titles that kept me clocking time in with it for many years to come. Titles like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Final Fantasy 9, Suikoden, Resident Evil, Parasite Eve, Final Fantasy Tactics... the list just goes on and on.

I feel like I developed my taste for games with the PSX. Before that I had played a few RPGs, and I knew that I loved Final Fantasy 3, but I wouldn't say that I was an "RPG fan". Like I just mentioned, I was interested in FF7, but I was just as happy to watch my buddy play it on his PSX. It wasn't until I had my own Playstation and started wading into the ever-growing torrent of RPG titles finding their way to North American shores that I became the RPG-hound that I am today.

Super Nintendo Entertainment System

Finally, the games could top-load!

The SNES is significant to my gaming history for so many reasons. Before it if a game wasn't a side-scrolling action title, I didn't care if it existed.

Even writing that I realize that most of my favourite games on the SNES were the likes of Super Mario World, TMNT IV: Turtles in Time, the Mega Man X series, and the Donkey Kong Country series. That said, however, the SNES is where I began to cut my teeth on games of a different ilk.

If the PSX is where I cemented my love for RPGs, the SNES is where the love affair all began. I played ground-breaking titles on it like Final Fantasy 2, Chrono Trigger, Super Mario RPG, and ultimately Final Fantasy 3.

I still find my SNES to be my most accessible system. It plays all of my old, favourite games flawlessly. Just plug them in and off I go. In a moment I can be whisked away to so many worlds that I loved visiting in my childhood, whether it be Dinosaur Island with Mario, time-hopping with the Turtles, or bearing the cold winds of Narshe with Terra and Locke.

I've tried to express my love for FF3 before, and I think I've failed to truly get that across, but that game alone would probably make the SNES my favourite console of all time.

And, for the record, I love those pastel purple buttons!

Hope you enjoyed,