30 March 2010

Gorf - Colecovision

Nostalgia can play tricks on you. Some movies aren't as good as you remember. Some of your high school buddies, the ones you thought were hilarious back in the day, are actually jerks.
And vintage video games rarely stand the test of time. Some of the games mentioned on this blog are the exceptions to the rule, but for the most part only the die-hard golden age nerds are playing Stellar Track on an Atari 2600 right now.
Gorf – the Black Sabbath of classic video games - kicks that convention in the teeth.
I come to this after today's purchase of a working Colecovision (for only $40!) completed my collection. There are some obscure systems and handhelds I'd like to add, but I'm going to lay low for awhile. While I revel in the collection I have assembled, I'll be playing Gorf.
I have absolutely no memories of playing this game as a child. I don't know how I missed it – perhaps the heavy metal sound of the arcade machine saying "My name is Gorf!" turned me off. Or maybe it was the name. Gorf? Really?
How sad for me.
I just played it for the first time and (at $7) it's some of the best video game cash I have ever spent. Gorf is four games in one, and they're all basically clones of other space games. The first stage is a Space Invaders clone that is cooler than space Invaders. The second stage is a Galaga clone that is not nearly as good as Galaga but still plenty of fun. The third stage sucks (think a weak Tempest) and the last stage, in which you attack the mother ship, is short and deceptively simple. Hit the reactor or else.
I spent the past two years casually looking for a Colecovision in good working order. They are notorious for breaking easily and most of the ones I found were very pricey. Today's purchase – from the good people at Time Capsule Comics – is the perfect classic purchase. So many times I've secured a classic console and games only to be happy to have them but sorry that they suck (Atari 7800).
Not this time.
By Victor Paul Alvarez

Metal Arms: A Glitch in the System – Multiplatform

We're getting more rain today than anyone can ever remember. Playgrounds are flooded up to the tops of swings. Our staff photographer almost stripped down to his underwear since he was soaked through from a morning of covering the storm. The sound of rain hitting a tin roof next door is my soundtrack.
What a great day to be playing a game.
I'm not playing a game right now, of course, I'm writing and editing news stories and trying to come up with a few editorials. But the rain is distracting me. I want to be home playing games.
More specifically, I want to be on a comfortable couch – or splayed flat on my stomach on a shag carpet in front of the TV – in shorts and a T-Shirt with adequate snacks and beverages at my disposal for some binge gaming. I'm talking about an all-day, all-night marathon with a one-player game that rewards exploration, ingenuity and a twitchy trigger at the same time.
In this case, I'm talking about an often overlooked gem called Metal Arms: A Glitch in the System.
I played the hell out of this game on my original Xbox back when I lived in Philadelphia. At the time I was suffering from Playstation envy. It was not easy to be an Xbox guy back in the day. After Halo and a few other exclusives we were usually treated to late ports of games my PS2 friends had been playing for months. The fact that these Xbox ports were usually superior to their PS2 counterparts (Hello GTA) was of little comfort while I played through "Assault on the Control Room" for the umpteenth time.
Metal Arms may have been multi-platform, but it felt like an Xbox exclusive to me. (Maybe that's because no one else I knew was playing it.) It was a blast to play. The shooting was excellent, the story was fun, the writing was funny and the blend of action and platforming was perfect. To be sure, the game was all about cool weapons – such as one that let you shoot saw blades at your enemies, literally picking them apart limb by limb. It also featured vehicles and multiplayer.
You could make the argument that any good game is even better on a rainy day. I think Metal Arms stands out because it's such a fun world to get lost in and that, unlike RPGs or sims, you don't have to think too hard to enjoy it.
By Victor Paul Alvarez