Tag Archives: arcade

Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge – Ultratron

gd-ultratron-ps3-early-impressions

I’m trying to think of what the first “bullet hell” shooter was that I ever played or, at least, the first time I came to know the term. It might be U.N. Squadron. Or maybe 1943: The Battle of Midway. It was definitely something back on the SNES, because I remember cementing my dislike for the genre early in my gaming history. Though I’m sure some could argue that those titles don’t necessary meet the definition of a “bullet hell” shooter. Regardless, clearly from my examples there, it is a genre I don’t play often, and I could blame it on a strong lack of eye-hand coordination–which is also why I don’t play many fast-paced first-person shooters–but the truth is that I simply do not find this style of gameplay all that interesting.

Anyways, this post is about Ultratron, another “bullet hell”-esque shooter from Puppy Games, the same company that put out Titan Attacks!, which I previously played and uninstalled from my PlayStation 3. For lack of a better description, Ultratron is a twin-stick arena shooter inspired by classic arcade titles, updated and improved for the 21st century. The story is uninteresting and thus: the last human in the universe has been slain by evil killer robots. As the only remaining humanoid battle droid left, you’ll be fighting through over 40 arcade levels to take on the four giant boss robots of the apocalypse to…I don’t know. Get revenge? Make them go away and feel bad about their decisions? Grow as a metallic entity? Spoiler: I’ll never find out, as I only got slightly past Bellum, the second boss.

Ultratron‘s main goal is to obliterate wave after wave of incoming robot hordes. As you progress further, these tiny robots become tougher, rocking shields, explosive firepower, and other ways that they can damage you. However, as you destroy them, they burst into gold coins that you and your little pet droid can pick up, and there’s a shop-like screen at the end of each wave that lets you purchase new shields and smartbombs, along with special abilities and power-ups to increase your firing capability. They get tougher, you get stronger, rinse and repeat until your wiring no longer works. Also, there are a few challenge levels between waves, tasking you to dodge all enemies or, shockingly, shoot all enemies, with the money you earn at the end being determined by your performance.

Aside from this, there’s not much else seemingly to do in Ultratron. Which is a shame because it looks super slick. The game, without a doubt, takes its old-school style and runs for the hills with it; there are flashy gun effects, glossy animations, and a confined, stylized arena motif that truly makes you feel trapped and on your own to survive. That said, this ultra bright aesthetic often made it difficult for me to discern what was happening in the arena, with fruit trails blending into one another and swarms of teeny-tiny robots getting lost in the action. Also, text pops up in the bottom left of the screen, which is already condensed to begin with, in the middle of a dogfight, making it next to impossible to read while fighting off an enemy or dodging bullets.

Lastly, every time I typed the name Ultratron for this farewell post, all I can think of is the theme song to Ultraman. Enjoy.

Oh look, another reoccurring feature for Grinding Down. At least this one has both a purpose and an end goal–to rid myself of my digital collection of PlayStation Plus “freebies” as I look to discontinue the service soon. I got my PlayStation 3 back in January 2013 and have since been downloading just about every game offered up to me monthly thanks to the service’s subscription, but let’s be honest. Many of these games aren’t great, and the PlayStation 3 is long past its time in the limelight for stronger choices. So I’m gonna play ’em, uninstall ’em. Join me on this grand endeavor.

Advertisements

Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge – Titan Attacks!


It’s 2018, and I’ve never played Space Invaders, and I probably never will. That time has passed. Though clearly I’m aware of it and its influence on the gaming industry; I mean, you can’t walk down the Ocean City boardwalk and pass a T-shirt store without seeing those iconic pixelated aliens on some piece of unlicensed merchandise. Space Invaders was one of the earliest shooting games, releasing in arcades in 1978, with the goal being to defeat waves of aliens with a laser cannon and earn as many points as possible. It sounds simple to our ears today, but Tomohiro Nishikado, the game’s developer, had to design custom hardware and development tools to make the thing.

But I’m not here to actually talk about Space Invaders specifically, but rather a tribute from Puppy Games called Titan Attacks!, and yes, the game’s title ends in an exclamation mark, which will probably drive my editing eyes nuts, but that’s life. In this arcade shoot-em-up, you play as the last surviving tank commander on Earth and must single-handedly turn back an invading evil alien army called the Titans. If you can drive them back across the solar system, you might be able to defeat them on their homeworld, saving yours from total annihilation.

Titan Attacks! retains the same easy-to-learn and score-based gameplay of classic arcade shoot-em-ups, but does bring in some new features and strategies, along with stylish neo-retro visuals and a pulse-bursting, head-bobbin’ soundtrack that is ultimately the thing I came away from liking the most. Earning bounty money allows to you upgrade your tank-ship-thing with extra cannons, better shields, and special single-use powerups. While zipping left and right on the ground and firing up into lines of incoming aliens, you’ll also need to destroy falling wrecks, dodge hurtling asteroids, and capture escaping aliens. It starts out slow enough that you can keep track of everything, but the chaos ramps up the further you progress. Thankfully, you can take a hit or two and keep moving, though you’ll lose your multiplier bonus. No biggie.

I played Titan Attacks! for an hour or two, but didn’t get too far down the planetary path–there’s something like 100 levels/waves–before both taking too much damage and losing interest. That’s fine. I had fun for a bit, but this style of game is never going to hook me (as you’ll see in an upcoming post on Ultratron, also published by Puppy Games). Chasing high scores through repetition does not get me salivating one bit. Now, maybe if I could dress my tank up in different outfits and craft powerful weapons from various materials and check off quests one by one in some sort of log book, I might more interested in seeing this to the end, but alas, nope. Not for me.

Oh look, another reoccurring feature for Grinding Down. At least this one has both a purpose and an end goal–to rid myself of my digital collection of PlayStation Plus “freebies” as I look to discontinue the service soon. I got my PlayStation 3 back in January 2013 and have since been downloading just about every game offered up to me monthly thanks to the service’s subscription, but let’s be honest. Many of these games aren’t great, and the PlayStation 3 is long past its time in the limelight for stronger choices. So I’m gonna play ’em, uninstall ’em. Join me on this grand endeavor.

2017 Game Review Haiku, #70 – Cat Poke

It’s raining outside
Have some fun, poke cats in butt
Got them all, got poked

I can’t believe I’m still doing this. I can’t believe I’ll ever stop. These game summaries in chunks of five, seven, and five syllable lines paint pictures in the mind better than any half a dozen descriptive paragraphs I could ever write. Trust me, I’ve tried. Brevity is the place to be. At this point, I’ve done over 200 of these things and have no plans of slowing down. So get ready for another year of haikus. Doumo arigatou gozaimasu.

2017 Game Review Haiku, #27 – The Shadow Realms Arcade

2017-gd-games-completed-the-shadow-realms-arcade

Here, a dark arcade
Open back door, see hidden
Puzzles too obtuse

I can’t believe I’m still doing this. I can’t believe I’ll ever stop. These game summaries in chunks of five, seven, and five syllable lines paint pictures in the mind better than any half a dozen descriptive paragraphs I could ever write. Trust me, I’ve tried. Brevity is the place to be. At this point, I’ve done over 200 of these things and have no plans of slowing down. So get ready for another year of haikus. Doumo arigatou gozaimasu.

2016 Game Review Haiku, #56 – Umbri

2016-gd-games-completed-umbri-capture-01

King of illusions
Cleanse the infected tiles
Must move fast, flip skills

Here we go again. Another year of me attempting to produce quality Japanese poetry about the videogames I complete in three syllable-based phases of 5, 7, and 5. I hope you never tire of this because, as far as I can see into the murky darkness–and leap year–that is 2016, I’ll never tire of it either. Perhaps this’ll be the year I finally cross the one hundred mark. Buckle up–it’s sure to be a bumpy ride. Yoi ryokō o.

Recruiting all companions in Fallout: New Vegas only took three playthroughs

Man, I have to imagine that if you’re not a fan of Fallout 3 or Fallout: New Vegas and that you’re still following my blog day in, day out, you must be sick of me blathering about these games by now. I know I am. No, not really. Never ever evah. They are great for musing. There’s way too much to this franchise to explore–both good and bad–and considering I still have at least two more playthroughs left (for a sickening lump sum of five playthroughs) before Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim takes over…well, expect more Fallout-based posts. Sorry, haters. Congrats, lovers.

But yeah, check this baby out:


The Whole Gang’s Here (25G): Recruited all companions.

Got it last night. Only took three playthroughs, and I’ll explain why, as it’s actually a simple Achievement to get, but requires the Courier to do things in a certain order or to grow a cold shoulder. There are eight companions to recruit during one’s time in the Mojave Wasteland, and they are are: Arcade Gannon, Craig Boone, ED-E, Lily Bowen, Raul Alfonso Tejada, Rex, Rose of Sharon Cassidy, and Veronica Santangelo.

During my first playthrough, I collected all of them, but I only managed to pick up Veronica after a certain incident, the kind of happening that’s unforgivable, the kind that involved me wiping out everything she ever knew. Once she was “recruited” she quickly realized who I was and what I had done, and that was it. She left, never to join my forces again. I’m guessing the game didn’t consider that one to two minutes she was on Team Jareth enough for this Achievement. Oh well.

During my second playthrough, the same thing happened without me realizing. I murdered all her BoS friends before recruiting her and didn’t even bother attempting to track her down. Besides, my second playthrough character was Samantha, a fiery redhead, and there wasn’t room for competition.

Now, my third and most recent Courier, that creepy Kapture, he went after Veronica as soon as he could. Well, right after getting Boone and ED-E, of course, but long before the main quest got in the way. And then he still murdered all of her friends. Only this time, we kept our distance. Sent her off to Lucky 38, never spoke to her again. Harsh, right? Nah. Saved her a lot of pain and trouble, I suspect. After that, it was just a matter of time and getting a high enough Speech skill for Arcade, after which…ping. Achievement unlocked!

This Achievement is notorious for being buggy. Glad to know that during playthrough #4 or #5, I won’t have to worry about getting everyone and keeping all neat and happy. Also, no more Lily. She freaks me out. It’s mainly always going to be ED-E and either Boone or Rose.

So yeah, three playthroughs and nearly a year later. Closing in all finishing up all the Achievements for Fallout: New Vegas, but I know a few more come out tomorrow with the next DLC, Gun Runners’ Arsenal. Mmm…guns.

30 Days of Gaming, #24 – Favorite classic game

I hate coining anything as classic. Such a term is relative, and considering how wide the gaming generation gap is nowadays, many might not even know what game you’re talking about–or only know it, having never played it and more or less missed the chance to. You might think everyone and their mother’s mother has played Pac-Man and that it is irrefutably a “classic,” but that actually might not be the case.

First, some light history: Pac-Man, developed by Namco and licensed for distribution in the United States by Midway, was first released in Japan on May 22, 1980. It made it over to the United States a few months later in October. Three years later, on a warm, summer Sunday afternoon, I would be born. I can’t even begin to fathom when I actually played Pac-Man for the very first time, but this image of me at a friend’s roller-skating birthday party comes to mind; I was never a good roller-skater, and so when the other kids went zipping around the rink, doing the “Funky Chicken” or whatever the DJ was blasting, I was wandering around on my own, often finding my way to the arcade room. This was more like a shadowy closet with two to three arcade machines up and running, one of which was definitely Pac-Man. The other two? Who knows. Probably a space shooter and maybe the Claw Machine.

But I don’t have as many fond memories of playing Pac-Man in dark, seedy arcades as I do enjoying it online via Flash remakes or when Google had it as part of their logo image for a day. Sure, it’s a little bizarre to be excited over playing a thirty-year-old game on the latest and greatest technology, but it’s not that bad when you consider how great of a game it is. You are Pac-Man, a little yellow fellow, and you are trying to do two things: eat as many pac-dots as you can and not get eaten by ghosts floating around the map. Sounds simple, but the gameplay works, and can be quite addicting, especially when you only have one or two pac-dots left to devour and an army of ghosts to slip past; there is no tension like the tension of seeing three ghosts begin to surround Pac-Man, and the relief upon eating a power pellet is orgasmically god-like.

It’s an easy game to pick up and play for a bit, and to step away from when you gotta doing something else. Pac-Man himself became quite iconic in the 1980s, and the game is easily recognizable by its colors and minimalist design. It seems to be considered the first game to feature both power-ups and cutscenes; kudos to them. It’s an age-old game that I still enjoy playing today, no matter where I end up playing it: on my computer, on my cell phone, on my Nintendo 3DS. The gameplay remains golden, and I’m glad I was–and still am–a bad roller-skater, getting to actually experience the game as it was meant to be played: in a dark room, engulfed in stark, colorful light, sweaty hands making stupid mistakes, drowning in a wash of never-ending beeps and boops, immersed, caring for the little yellow dot, trying to keep him alive as long as possible.

BONUS QUESTION TIME: Can you name the four ghost enemies in Pac-Man? (Reward: 1,000 XP.)