Archive of Lost Games: Vol 5: The Tridisaster

By Danny “Barnaby” Butler

E-mail: Danny-Butler@utc.edu

Chattanooga (UTC/The Loop)-Welcome to this edition of the Archive! Today, we have three games to review, Hammerin’ Hero for the PSP, N+ for the DS and Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom for the PS3, and, for the first time in the history of the Archive, we have some great summer gaming suggestions from Senior Archivist James Webb and Archivist Josh Fogleman. Hang on folks, cause this might get a bit crazy!

Hammerin’ Hero for the PSP follows the adventure of a young carpenter names Gen who must protect his city from a greedy crime boss ruining the simple life the town folk have know for so long. This charming 2-D platformer captures the spirit of retro platformers such as Ninja Gaiden, requiring precise skill and timing to advance through some stages, with a game mechanic similar to the Genesis platformer Kid Chameleon, where players could change the title character’s costume to access new abilities and powers.

 

Get down with Hammerin' Hero, N+ and Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom!

Get down with Hammerin' Hero (Above; PSP), N+ (DS) and Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom (PS3)!

Gen can take a wide variety of roles, from the DJ job, which allows him to swing around a giant boom box and throw vinyl records at his foes, to the Sushi Chef job (Gen gains the ability to unleash a giant wasabi-powered energy attach) and the baseball-inspired Slugger class. This adds a great deal of depth to gameplay, and encourages the player to try out several jobs per level.

For parts 2 and 3, along with all of the other video blogs form AoLG, click here!

Certain levels are inhabited by depressed or helpless citizens, which Gen can assist depending on his current job. These side quests unlock extra collectibles and trophies, adding even more charm to this addictive title.
The game cost about $17 to $20 at most used game stores, which only adds to the many reasons of why every PSP owner should play or own this game. This is one gem in a more or less desolate and lacking PSP library.

Next up is N+ for the DS. N+ spawned from a web-based flash game that attained a massive online following. You play a ninja who must use his climbing and jumping skills to activate switches for doors in each room. Your score in based on how long it takes you to beat a certain stage, and how many extra orbs the player grabs on his way to the exit.
The game is simple to control, yet hard to master, and it offers an insane number of stages. If that were not enough, players can make their own stages, and can share them with friends and family. Throw in a price tag of about $10 to $15, and how could you resist?

Finally, we have Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom for the PS3. This is a Sony exclusive series that has already made a good name for itself on the PSP. While I must admit I have not played the PSP titles, I have enjoyed everything UL: DK has to offer.

UL: DK play like the Champions of Norrath series for the PS2, and allows for up to two players to team up and defend the kingdom of Dureth from the rule of the corrupt king. Players can choose between three classes (mage, rogue or warrior) as they hack and slash their way to victory and glory.

While the story is a bit forgettable, the gameplay is fun and fast-paced, enabling characters to massacre dozens of enemies with ease. Players can buy or find gear, such a gems for weapons or armor, which can add combat abilities and can quickly swing the tide of battle in your favor. If you are looking for fun title to jump into with a buddy for under $20, check out Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom for the PS3.

Take down giant dragons and wild beast in Monster Hunter Tri, releasing April 20th for the Wii.

Take down giant dragons and wild beast in Monster Hunter Tri, releasing April 20th for the Wii.

Great cheap games are always great finds, but what about some of the solid new releases we have coming out in the next couple of months? Archivist Josh Fogleman said he was excited about Monster Hunter Tri, releasing April 20 for the Wii. This title brings the smash portable hit to the Wii for the first time in the US, and will include underwater combat and a host of new monsters to challenge. “ I loved the demo,” Fogleman said, “and I can’t wait for the full release soon.”

Another great title is Just Cause 2 for the PS3 and Xbox 360. James Webb just started playing the title, and said that it is even more insane that the first Just Cause. “ Now you have a grappling hook attached to your arm,” He said. It can even be used as a weapon!

Other great summer titles include:

  • Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (PSP)
  • Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon (Wii)
  • Lost Planet 2 (Xb360, PS3)
  • Infinite Space (DS)
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey (DS)

So many games and so little time! I thank you for tuned into this edition of the Archive. Stay tuned for the next edition coming soon this summer.

Can’t get enough of the Archives? Check out these back issues! Vol. 1, 2, 3, 4

Images courtesy of IGN.com.

The Archive of Lost Games Vol. 4: Deadly Premonition (XB360)

By Danny “Barnaby” Butler

Chattanooga (UTC/The Loop)- Welcome one and all to another glorious edition of the Archive of Lost Games. This week, we are covering the Xbox 360 game, Deadly Premonition from Ignition Entertainment. I am your host and archive curator, Danny “Barnaby” Butler, and once again, I am joined by my esteemed colleague, senior archivist James Webb.

This week’s game is a bit a of a strange one. Fans of the blog will most likely know the name and reputation for Marvelous Studios, but for everyone else, Marvelous is know for localizing titles such as Muramasa; the Demon Blade, King of Fighters XII, Nostalgia and others.

Can you solve the mystery of the Raincoat Killer before it is too late?

Can you solve the mystery of the Raincoat Killer before it is too late?

One of the first things you will most likely notice is the low quality of the graphics. This was done out of necessity, since the game’s budget was quite small, but Deadlymakes up for poor quality visuals with stellar storytelling, unique characters and inspired gameplay. To sum up the game plot at a glance, you play as FBI agent Francis York Morgan tasked with solving a series of murders which have led you to the small town of Greenvale, near the Canadian border.

York, as he is called through most of the game, is kinda crazy, and he is often seen chatting with his long-time friend “Zach,” which may or may not be the player. He occasionally assigns Zach “homework” in the form of obscure movie trivia and regales him with tales about his past cases. These segments are quite enjoyable and great way of passing time in the game, which works at a near real time pace. While some might grow tired of the slow pacing, it gives the game an organic sense of realism which helps draw the player into the story.

Deadly Premonition for the Xbox 360

Deadly Premonition for the Xbox 360

The full world immersion doesn’t stop there. Driving is also done in real time, so if you have an appointment to make on the other side of town, you’re going to be driving for a good 10 minutes or so. On top of all of these features, the player must also change clothing frequently to avoid becoming a “stinky agent” (flies start buzzing around the character, and they can be quite distracting), shave their beard (Webb: “best beard mechanics ever!”) and eat periodically throughout the day. Forgetting to do this things can cause players to be too tired or hungry to complete missions.

The town of Greenvale is about 8 kilometers in diameter, and you feel every minute of that while trying the solve the mystery at hand. Nearly every car has a certain allotment of gas, and if York’s tank runs dry, it’s game over.

The plot of Deadly was supposedly inspired by Twin Peaks, a popular TV series which ran during the early ’90s. While it is not a requirement to have seen the series before paying Deadly Premonition, it definitely enhances the experience.

“Having seen all of Twin Peaks,” Webb said, “it gave me a bit insight into the plot, and the characters felt a bit familiar straight from the start.”

The town is also loaded with hidden references and easter eggs for those familiar with the series, Webb said.

Twin Peaks, a '90s crime drama, is considered the spiritual father to Deadly Premonition. The show was directed by David Lynch and featured the smoking hot Lara Flynn Boyle and the quirky Kyle MacLachlan.

Twin Peaks, a '90s crime drama, is considered the spiritual father to Deadly Premonition. The show was directed by David Lynch and featured the smoking hot Lara Flynn Boyle and the quirky Kyle MacLachlan.

Deadly‘s gameplay resembles older Silent Hillgames (they even have awkward camera angles from time to time that truely make you fear for your life) with portions of the game playing a bit more like the chases encountered in the Clock Towerseries. York is equipped with a special 9mm, and he can pick up or purchase ever other weapons ranging from katanas to machine guns.

If you are looking for a unique horror/mystery for you Xbox 360, look no further than Deadly Premonition. Sure, it is not the greatest looking game, but for $20 new, it contains a remarkable amount of content, a great story, unique gameplay and the coolest beard mechanics ever.

Tune in for the next Archive, were we will be reviewing Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection for the PS3. Until then, this is Barnaby signing off. Ciao!

Screenshots courtesy of GameSpot.com

Can’t get enough of the Archives? Check out these back issues! Vol. 1, Vol. 2

The Archive of Lost Games Vol. 3: Harvey Birdman (Wii)

By Danny “Barnaby” Butler

CHATTANOOGA (UTC/The Loop) –Welcome once again the to the infamous Archive of Lost Games! I am your host and archive curator Danny “Barnaby” Butler, and today we are talking about the Wii game Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law.

My guests this week are James Campbell, and returning for a historic third appearance, it’s James Webb.

Webb was the first to take a whack at this detective/court room adventure game inspired by the popular Adult Swim cartoon. Birdman, a semi-popular cartoon hero from the ‘80s has finally decided to settle down, deciding to trade his superhero exploits for arson and copyright lawsuits.

Birdgirl, the over-ambitious, unwanted sidekick of Birdman, often provides the player with key pieces of evidence throughout the investigation.

Birdgirl, the over-ambitious, unwanted sidekick of Birdman, often provides the player with key pieces of evidence throughout the investigation.

The acting talent in the game impressed Webb, who said he was a fan of the series.

“They assembled almost everyone from the original cast, except [Steven] Colbert,” he said as he pondered the answer to the game’s first puzzle.

“The game is very true to the series,” Webb said, “so fans of the show will definitely enjoy it.”

Newcomers might get a little lost he thinks, but the story lines are crafted to help draw in newcomers. Webb compared the game to a cheaper version of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney series for the Nintendo DS.

“Fans of that series should enjoy this,” he said, “but they will notice that some court room sequences are slightly more restrictive than they are in Phoenix Wright.”

Harvey Birdman, no longer a superhero, now works for the law firm Sieben & Sieben as a defense attorney.

Harvey Birdman, no longer a superhero, now works for the law firm Sieben & Sieben as a defense attorney.

Campbell, who had not played any of the Phoenix Wright series, though the game was humorous, fun and entertaining.

“I really liked it,” Campbell said right after trying his first case. “If I had a Wii, I would definitely want to pick this up.”

The game is priced at five dollars new, so it will fit in just about any budget. While reviewers’ did like how the game stuck to the show’s signature style and pace, most sites gave Harvey Birdman low reviews on account of its length (the game takes about 4 hours) and relatively shallow game play.

That’s all for this week’s edition. Tune in next week for Deadly Premonition on the Xbox 360, a game which explores the dark corners of the mind of a detective.

For previous archives, click here for Vol. 1 and here for Vol. 2.

All images courtesy of Gamespot.

Grill ripped from man’s teeth at Tenn. jail, officer demoted

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Lawyers in Nashville have worked out a settlement after a sheriff’s lieutenant ripped the grill off a man’s teeth at the county jail.

The incident in November started with McCoy’s arrest after failing to pay child support. A sheriff’s deputy told him to remove the gold grill attached to his teeth. But when McCoy, 31, told the deputy it was permanently attached, Lt. Tanya Mayhew stepped in. She put on a rubber glove, stuck her hand in his mouth and yanked out the gold jewelry grill cemented to his teeth.

For more information on racial profiling, click here.

This is the grill pulled from McCoy's mouth during his arrest in November.

This is the grill pulled from McCoy's mouth during his arrest in November.

McCoy was told to remove the jewelry from his teeth, but he said it was cemented to his teeth. But his attorney, David Raybin, says McCoy ended up spitting out blood and teeth after a sheriff’s lieutenant reached into his mouth and yanked out the grill.

For more information on curbing police brutality, click here.

Raybin says the enamel on McCoy’s front four teeth were ripped off and he was denied proper medical treatment afterward.

“He was spitting out blood and teeth into a trash can, and then told to get back in line,” said Raybin.

A $95,000 settlement is scheduled to go before Nashville’s Metropolitan Council on Tuesday evening.

Mayhew was later demoted and suspended for five days because of the incident. Metro is at a loss to explain why the lieutenant would try to remove the grill because there was no policy against having gold-plated teeth, even if they weren’t permanently attached. A new policy enacted since the incident forbids deputies from removing them.

Satisfaction Analysis by Ethnic Groups Winter 2009 in Nashville.

Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

TVA to study use of weapons plutonium at 2 plants

 

 

 

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Valley Authority has agreed to consider using fuel made from weapons-grade plutonium to power reactors at its Sequoyah Plant near Chattanooga and Browns Ferry Plant near Athens, Ala.

The National Nuclear Security Administration said in a statement that an interagency agreement has been signed with TVA to “evaluate the use of mixed oxide fuel made from U.S. surplus weapons.”

TVA spokesman Terry Johnson said the proposal is being considered as part of a national defense mission — helping the government dispose of surplus weapons materials — and as a possible low-cost nuclear fuel.

A spokesman for the Friends of the Earth environmental group, Tom Clements of Columbia, S.C., said the government is turning to TVA after a failed test program by another utility, Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke Energy.

Clements said it is essential that TVA not get any shortcuts in a full test schedule that would take about seven years.

Johnson said that there is no set timeline, but that TVA will take all safety precautions. He said the utility may ultimately decide not to use the fuel source.

Steve Nesbit, Duke Energy’s director of nuclear policy and support, said the utility got “lots of good operating data” from testing the plutonium. He said the program was stopped because of operational issues, not the fuel.

The National Security Administration statement said “converting the plutonium to spent fuel is an essential step in U.S. efforts” to dispose of the surplus weapons-grade plutonium taken from nuclear weapons.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

 

 

Bredesen: Either OK cable tax, or find alternative

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) —Tuesday, Gov. Phil Bredesen challenged lawmakers to approve his plan to eliminate a tax exemption on cable bills or else find another way to restore funding for higher education and save 200 state employees’ jobs.

The proposal to lift the tax break on the first $15 of a cable bill is part of the Democratic governor’s plan to raise about $49 million in new revenue a year. But Republicans were quick to announce they wouldn’t go along with it.

Tennessee Gov. Phill Bredesen

Gov. Phill Bredesen speaks during the annual State fo the State Address. Bredesen is working to eliminate a tax exemption concerning cable bills as part of a larger plan to raise almost $50 million in new revenue a year. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

Bredesen suggested in an interview with The Associated Press that opponents were too quick to oppose the measure.

“I say to someone who would say that, ‘Fine, what are you going to do to get $49 million?’” Bredesen said.

The governor said his proposal is an effort to make severe budget cuts less painful. He said he’s willing to be flexible.

“If somebody wants to put a little more pain here and a little less here, that’s fine with me,” he said. “But you’ve got to move beyond saying ‘I don’t like this,’ and into ‘I don’t like this, and here’s how we plan to fix it.”

Foresters, prosecutors, public defenders and probation and parole officers could lose their jobs if state leaders can’t come up with more revenue.

The state has been hit with what the governor has described as a “very reasonable lawsuit” from the satellite TV industry because it doesn’t get the kind of tax break that cable does. Bredesen estimates that the average cable bill would increase just over $1 per month if the tax measure goes into effect — or if the courts eventually intervene.

Also Tuesday, forestry officials warned that eliminating jobs could seriously hamper Tennessee’s ability to protect the forests that cover half the state.

“It takes people to do the job — you can’t do it with your cell phone,” Bill Williams, chairman of the Tennessee Forestry Commission, told the Senate Environment Committee.

Twenty-three of the jobs cuts would hit foresters who work with private landowners, said John Ross, the vice chairman of the Forestry Commission.

“I’m quite alarmed from a landowner standpoint,” Ross said. “These are the people in the field who give advice to landowners, who check on logging operations, who get reports for water quality violations.”

Meanwhile, the GOP-controlled Senate Environment Committee on Tuesday unanimously advanced a five-year renewal of a $5.4-million-per-year tax on beer and other bottled drinks that helps pay for litter cleanup.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

The Archive of Lost Games Vol. 1: The Dark Spire

By Danny Butler

CHATTANOOGA (UTC/The Loop) — Some of the greatest video games in existence sometimes end up falling through the cracks upon their release. Bad marketing, horrific box art or radical game play styles often doom these titles to a life of obscurity.

My mission is to find these titles and find out what made them fail. Most of these games can be found in bargain bins or in used games stores for $15 or less, and none of the titles ever eclipsed 10,000 units in sales. The first title I have found is a delightful game called The Dark Spire published by Atlus. Atlus, one of the kings of the obscure gaming market, consistently publishes extremely challenging and in-depth titles.

The Dark Spire does not disappoint on this front. Drawing heavily from titles such as Wizardry or Etrian Odyssey, The Dark Spire allows players to create their own team of adventurer to explore a massive, mysterious tower filled with thieves, witches and monsters.

The Dark Spire, published By Atlus

The Dark Spire, published By Atlus

The game, which sold around 30,000 units , has a high difficulty curve which turned some people away. Players pretty much have to save every couple of steps in order to secure their safety, but since the game is structured like on old school adventure game, much like you would see on the Atari 2600, this mechanic helps give the game its unique charm and challenge.

The adventure is very long and engaging with a ton of side-quest and a huge gamut of enemies. The game also comes with the soundtrack if you can find a new copy, which in most cases has dropped down to $10.

My special guest archivist this week is James Webb, a senior from Maryville, TN, who said he was very impressed by The Dark Spire.

“I thought the game was great,” he said. “The similarities between this and Wizardry really drew me in, plus the difficulty and length of the game play is sure to make The Dark Spire an instant hit with dungeon crawler fans.”

The game includes an option which allows for players to either play the game in two different styles: Modern and “retro.” Retro features almost no color and the environment is all in a “wire-frame” type design, while modern offers plays to explore the dungeon in “lush” 3-D graphics

Check out these great clips of gameplay footage

The Archive of Lost Games Vol. 2: Just Cause (XB360)

By Danny Butler

E-mail to: danny-butler@utc.edu

CHATTANOOGA (UTC/The Loop) –This week on the Archive of Lost Games, we highlight Just Cause developed by Avalanche Studios.

Just Cause followed CIA black ops agent Rico Rodrigeuz in his quest to free the island of San Esperito from the oppressive dictator Salvador Mendoza. Mendoza, who might have weapons of mass destruction, is no match for players, who are able to use boats, helicopters, and a cool stockpile of weapons to help free the people of San Esperito.

The game is an open world experience, much like the newer editions of the GTA series, allowing gamers to explore the coolest aspect of the game: the island.

He's on a (jet)boat!

He's on a (jet) boat! While the boat is a ripoff of the Batboat, the lush environment and water effects seen really make this title.

The game features some of the most stunning environments I’ve seen in a next gen title, which is surprising given the game’s reported small budget. In fact, that is mainly what saved the title in many of its reviews.

Out of the big three gaming review publications (IGN, Game Informer, and Metacritic), the game’s highest review was a 73% (Metacritic) with game play mechanics and glitches being at the top of the list of complaints.

While the title does suffer from some glitches (every once and a while your in-game PDA freezes up or you can sometime end up molesting the environment), most of them are pretty amusing given the plot of the game.

For the last edition of The Archives, click here!

Archivist James Webb, a senior from Marietta, Ga., said Rico reminded him of the 1,000,00 peso-man sketch from a Robot Chicken episode.

“He’s like the Mexican Terminator!” he yelled right before grabbing and throwing a helicopter out of the sky.

Our new Archivist for the week is Reed Brock, an avid gamer who works at a local used game retailer. While he still has not a had a chance to play the title, he did said that he wasn’t excited about the release, mainly due to the price, but he is considering playing it now that both a sequel has been announced and the price has dropped dramatically.

Most retailers sell the game used from somewhere between $6-$10 dollars, but the game carries a mature rating which means you have to be at least 17 years old to purchase it from most dealers.

Massachusetts poll hints at national political shift

By Danny Butler

WASHINGTON (UTC/AP) — Voter discontent with the direction of the government, economy and the health care overhaul helped send Republican Scott Brown to his Senate victory in Massachusetts, a poll says.

About 63 percent of Massachusetts voters in Tuesday’s election said the country is seriously off track, and Brown won two-thirds of those voters, according to the poll by The Washington Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University’s School of Public Health.

In contrast, Barack Obama had solid support from the more than 80 percent of Massachusetts voters in the presidential election who viewed the country as off-course in November 2008.

Nearly two-thirds of those who supported Brown over Democrat Martha Coakley said their vote was intended partly to show opposition to the Democratic agenda in Washington, including the health care overhaul. Rather than just blocking proposals, three-quarters said they wanted to see Brown work with Democrats to get GOP proposals into legislation in general; nearly half said that specifically about the health care legislation.

Among other poll findings:

  • Half of Massachusetts voters believe government should do more to solve problems; that’s down from 63 percent when Obama was elected. The large pool of voters who saw government as overreaching helped Brown claim victory.
  • Health care and the economy were cited as the most important issues. Among voters for Brown, those issues were closely followed by the economy, jobs and “the way Washington is working.”
  • About 43 percent of Massachusetts voters back the health care proposals supported by Obama and congressional Democrats, while 48 percent oppose them. The majority of those who opposed the measures backed Brown, saying the Democrats’ plan would make things worse for their families, the country and Massachusetts.

The findings cover voter sentiment in Massachusetts but offer a hint of broader political shifts nationwide that have put Democrats on the defensive

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press