Saturday 29 June 2013

Two weeks in Animal Crossing

Every now and then we will have a round up of what is going on in the village of Retro101. It won't be that often so if you aren't a fan of the charming Nintendo game then it'll be easy to ignore. It'll also be done in pictures for the most part. So then, let's get you up to date with the events of the first few weeks.

The Summer Solstice arrived, but we had no friends around to share this standee with :(

We caught our first shark!

The captain revealed a little too much information.

The swindling 'art' dealer arrived.

The camp site was opened and there was much rejoicing.

Thanks to a friend we made a killing on Turnips.

We even got a badge to celebrate.

The camel turned up and promply annoyed Tom Nook.

And finally. The fortune teller told us our fortune lay around the 'standard top'

Monday 24 June 2013

Beneath a Steel Sky (PC Review)

A defining moment for both Revolution as a studio and the point and click genre, Beneath a Steel Sky (BASS) follows the story of Robert Foster who is abducted and finds himself inside a huge city of tower blocks overseen by a super computer. Alone apart from Joey- a personality on a circuit board who can be placed into any available robot shell. You must find out why you where kidnapped and try to escape the polluted metropolis and return home to the wasteland outside the city, known as 'The Gap', where you were brought up by a wild tribe.

Beneath a Steel Sky is remembered for many things, most people find a conversation early on in the game provides the high point, three simple sentences delivered so well that it is rumoured the production team lost weeks of work because of them (as they were too busy rolling on the floor with laughter). Those lines are simply-

Technician- Where did you get that robot?
Foster- I built him, you like it?
Technician- Its crap son!
(It sounds better in the game)

Needless to say, BASS is full of style and the unique humour of Revolution. The cityscape is a mixture of industrial smoke, rust and general grime realised through the use of various tones of brown, green and grey. Backgrounds are mainly static but do the job well. However, the colour palette and static backdrops can mean the title looks drab a little too often. Then again, you are in a soulless and heavily polluted industrial environment.

The main injection of life comes from the many brilliantly voiced characters you come across on your travels. As has become one of the studios strengths, the use of local dialects from around the British isles is used to full effect to turn people into comic caricatures. This clever use of dialect quickly turns every conversation into something special. It makes no difference if it's a brummy police officers or the hard faced, beaver skin coat wearing, factory boss, things are always made that little bit more over the top and hilarious by accents complimenting a nigh on perfect script.

This means that when you get stuck on puzzles the humour value of what would otherwise be a mundane conversation keeps frustration levels low and the will to progress strong. This is important, as BASS contains a number of illogical puzzles and finding small objects on the screen can prove near impossible (the putty on the floor anyone?)

Even though Beneath Steel Sky has a number of faults, and the control system is not as easy as later adventure titles it really doesn't matter. The excellent story, script and character design still allow the game to live up to the lofty status to which it is so often held.

Without question this is one of the best examples of point and click adventuring around. Any fan of the genre should have made their way through this Cyberpunk styled gem a long time ago. For those that haven’t tracking the title down has been made much easier now as it is available for free on Revolutions website.


Wednesday 19 June 2013

Coconut Dodge Revitalised Review (PS Vita)

Hot on the heels of Futurlab’s Velocity getting a Vita native version, comes the re-jigged Coconut Dodge. The company’s first mini, it's not as complex or intense as Velocity but that doesn’t mean that it should be over looked.

The game has been given clean graphical makeover with the beach background and crab now looking sharper than ever. As the game is played in pretty much the same area there wasn’t much more that needed doing. Everything is bright and vibrant and it certainly looks the part. 

At its heart, Coconut Dodge is a maze game. You have your little crab at the bottom of the screen and must move it left and right to avoid falling coconuts while grabbing diamonds, gold and other shiny objects. Finish the maze and you move onto the next, more devious one. You can change the speed you move at for later mazes but that's about it.

The mazes get faster and more complex as you go and you are soon caught in the motion of zooming left and right trying to pick up higher scoring jewels while avoiding falling objects. While this is going on beach balls bounce in from the sides. Bouncing these balls the required number of times makes them pop which gives bonus points or slowx down the maze.

Every now and then you will also be able to pick up a Viking helmet which allows you to break coconuts for a limited period. There are thirty mazes in total with them all needing to be completed in a single sitting to beat the game. To do this you have three lives, once these are lost it’s back to the beginning.

This can be a pain as once you have sampled the madness of the later levels the slow early stages are a real drag. Some kind of turbo button to speed up the mazes falling (perhaps for extra points), would have really been appreciated to add something to the initial stages. Some kind of combo scoring system would have also added to the risk reward nature of the game to encourage you try and get the most dangerous low scoring treasure.

There are also a few different things to play around with in ‘more modes’ section. Here you can try to master any maze you have previously beaten in an attempt to get a perfect score. There’s also a keepy-uppy game where you try to keep a beach ball bouncing as long as possible and a hard core mode which only gives you one life to see how long you can last. 

The final mode is labelled ‘impossible’, here everything is in shadow so it makes it very difficult to see what is coins and what is coconuts. You also only get one life and this provides the ultimate challenge for seasoned players.

Overall, Coconut Dodge is a good fun game but the sort of game you will likely play in short bursts. It hasn’t got great depth in terms of its scoring system but it’s a fun way to spend some time when you have a few minutes spare. It’s certainly worth its asking price and will likely become a fair few Vita player new obsession. It comes recommended for people looking for some bite sized fun to while away their time and remains a bright and breezy game that contains a lot of charm.


Monday 17 June 2013

Limbo Review (PS Vita)

Limbo first burst onto the console scene around three years ago in the Xbox Live Summer of arcade vent. It then took a while to make its way over to the PS3 and now we finally have a portable version to enjoy on the Vita. It’s been a long time coming but is Limbo still worth your attention?

For those who haven’t had the chance to experience Limbo yet what awaits is a platformer with a style unlike any other. The game follows the journey of a small boy as he makes his way through a dark and nightmarish world. The colour palette is almost exclusively monochrome and you are going to die gruesomely over and over again.

The visual style and tone is the main thing that sets Limbo apart from other platform games. The somewhat abstract approach helps to build a stunning atmosphere which envelops the player in dread and gives a constant warning of dangers to come. As you progress you will see different types of environment given the nightmare treatment. What starts out as a forest will soon give way to gloomy industrial areas and platforms buzzing with sparks and spinning saws.

The visuals look incredible on the Vita screen and the sprite size and landscape has been scaled well. The only thing which doesn’t quite work as well is the flickering darkness around the edges of the play area when the game focuses you through a vignette. On the smaller Vita screen this can often be off putting and distracting, whereas before it was a subtle mood building effect.

The gameplay itself is fairly simple. Your character can jump a small distance, move objects and climb. Most of the gameplay is about creating make-shift bridges and things to stand on in order to reach the next area. There are also quote a few areas that require quick and precise timing in order to progress. Sometimes you may need to get two boxes to drop at the right moment and use them before a saw cuts through them while at others you’ll be out rising water. Everything is used well and Limbo never over uses any of its ideas, always moving the player onto something new in terms of level design and threat.

One of the more unique obstacles to overcome is the brain bugs. Every now and then a bug will drop on our hero and cause him to walk continuously in the direction he is facing. The only way to turn him around is to move into one of the rare patches of sunlight that pierces the gloom. This creates a new kind of threat as you have to move objects and overcome traps at the pace the game sets rather than on your own terms. The sections work well and the gimmick never becomes over used.

Speaking of threats, this is a game that takes great pleasure in killing you. Bear traps adorn forest flaws and electricity always seems to be coming right at you. Giant spiders and shadowy humans are on hand to chase you and if that isn’t enough there is always the risk of simply drowning or falling into a pit. Though you will die, the frustration is eased by the near constant auto saving. This means that you will always reappear near to were you die without the need to cover ground you have already been over.

Limbo always has been a special game and that certainly hasn’t changed in the years since its release. The main issue facing the Vita version is that many gamers may well have experienced it already.  The lack of any new additions to draw people in may also be a problem. This aside, Limbo remains an essential title and its move to Vita has been realised well. If you haven’t played it yet then this is an essential purchase as it offers a unique experience not found anywhere else.

Overall 8/10

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Twelve Games The Vita Still Needs

The Vita has found homes for a ton of new indie games recently, which has seen it's popularity within certain parts of the gaming community reach almost legendary levels. Before this, it was home to some excellent ports which drew many fight fans to it. It's certainly come a long way, but to our mind there is still much to do. Below are twelve games we think would be a perfect fit for the Vita.

     Super Street Fighter IV AE

For us, this is the single most obvious game currently missing from the Vita’s library. Still played heavily across the various online networks, a portable version of Street Fighter IV would be an essential purchase for many. Add in the idea of cross play with the PS3 and it suddenly becomes a case of sheer madness that every Vita owner isn’t playing it right now.


Just imagine what Journey would look like on that screen. Imagine you were having a bad day at work or stuck on a train. Having Journey available would act as the perfect panacea for everyday problems. Could this game aid world peace? We won’t know unless someone gets it onto the Vita. Flower is currently in development so hopefully this may happen sometime in the not too distant future.

      Pixel Junk Shooter 1 and 2

 Pixel junk Shooter’s inertia based gameplay was a breath of fresh air when it first graced the PS3. The use of liquids to solve puzzles coupled with excellent level design and an amazing soundtrack sets it out as one of the best exclusives available on Sony’s system. If it had been developed now we suspect it may well have been cross buy but that is no reason not to get it onto the hand held system.  While we’re on the subject it would be great to see Pixel Junk Side Scroller on the Vita as well.

  King of the Fighters XIII

A favourite around Retro101, we would love to see the latest entry in the King of Fighters series make the move to portable. Street Fighter X Tekken and Marvel vs Capcom 3 show that multi character fighters can work on the system and this is better than both of those games. It may be a little passed the home system release but a spruced up version would certainly lend itself to hours of portable fighting.

   Xcom: Enemy Unknown

How can there be an iOS version of this being developed and not one for the Vita? The deep strategy and turn based gameplay is a perfect fit for portable play. While other games on this list may seem like pipe dreams we are astounded this isn’t already in development. We could see this as a system seller to certain gamers and if done well could show that AAA portable strategies titles have a future on the system.

     Super Meat Boy

This may be an unrealistic request but having Super Meat Boy available on the move could well turn out to be a system seller. The short sections of twitch gameplay perfectly fit a hand held system like the Vita. The only real problem would be the amount of handhelds flung across rooms and trains as you die on a level for the hundredth time.

      Dust: An Elysian Tail

To us, the Vita actually seems like Dust’s natural home. The gorgeous 2D graphics would come to life on the systems screen and its Metroidvania approach would fit perfectly with gamers on the go. It’s also one of the best digital games of the last year. We already have a version of Muramasa: The Demon Blade coming, but Dust is a different animal and deserves to be given the portable treatment. 

     Persona 4 Arena

With Persona 4 Golden available and acting to shift more Vitas than ever before it would be logical to assume that new fans and old would like to continue on the story. We already know the Vita can pull off amazing versions of flashy 2D fighting games so bringing the excellent Persona 4 Arena to it wouldn’t seem like a massive leap of faith to us.

   Mark of the Ninja

Speaking of massive leaps of faith, even though Mark of the Ninja seems to be staying put on the Xbox it would be an excellent game to have on the go. The level design and clear visual asthetic would create a great stealth experience on Vita. It would provide a type of game currently not available to Vita owners and above all is just an incredibly good game. If something could be worked out to get hold of it we would be first in line to buy.

   Geometry Wars

The only half decent portable version of Geometry wars is currently on the DS. The Vita could produce something visually and sonically special to equal the excellent Geometry Wars 2 on the Xbox. The clean visual style would seem even more vibrant on the screen and competition around the globe would likely go crazy as online scoreboards began to erupt with stupidly high scores. How can this not happen?

   Monkey Island / Broken Sword

If they can develop HD versions of both Monkey Island games for iOS there is no reason for them not to be on the Vita as well. Machiarium proved that point and click games can be done really well on the system so it would be great to see games like Broken Sword and Monkey Island make the leap. Who knows? It might even help kick start the genre again. 


Sega’s first foray into moving it’s Dreamcast games onto the Vita was a little shaky with Jet Set Radio looking great but not really fitting the strengths of the system. REZ on the other hand would be amazing. The visuals and sound would light up the Vita and it seems to the most obvious game from Sega’s recent move into HD versions of Dreamcast classics. If the boat has sailed on REZ then would happily settle for Child of Eden instead.

Monday 10 June 2013

Quell Memento Review (PS Vita)

The idea of Quell Memento is simply to move orbs around the screen to complete objectives, in as little moves as possible. It is a simple premise and one that works very well. It create a puzzle game that proves to be challenging, yet ultimately very relaxing at the same time.

The use of moves based scoring, rather than time allows gamers to take their time and plan their moves accordingly, which in turn means there isn’t any pressure to work as fast as possible against a time limit, or increasing speeds. It works as more of a brain and trainer as you use logic and planning to master each level.

To be honest, there is a chance you have played games that are very similar, but it is how Quell Memento mixes up the goals of each level that keeps things fresh. Some levels have you simply moving your orb to collect pearls, others have you switching blocks from one colour to another by moving past them. There are other levels that have more on common with games such as Prism: Light The Way. There is a lot of borrowed ideas here, but that doesn’t matter as the team at Fallen Tree Games have done a fine job in bringing all these elements into a single game and made them feel like a very well thought out cohesive package.

There are 144 levels in total split into different worlds containing 16 stages each. Each world is themed as mentioned above with the different goals and each level gets progressivly harder as you play. However the increasing complexity is offset by the fact you begin to understand the mechanics more and more as you play each stage. It really does give you logic a test in a way games like Sudoku and Slitherlink would. At first glance a level can look daunting, but a few minutes taking it in and it becomes clear as day.

Usually when a puzzle game adds in a pointless story for no other reason than to flesh the game out, we at Gamestyle will have a little moan about the pointlessness of it. However Quell Memento does have a story of sorts, but it is narrated in the background in a very subtle way and we suggest you take it in as it is a lovely narration about love and loss. It has no apparent baring on the game itself and you can either ignore it completely, or take it in and enjoy what it has to offer.

Aside from the main goals of each stage, there are also little hidden bonuses up for grabs, such as finding hidden jewels, or secret levels by breaking open specific blocks. Though these aren’t needed for completing each levels main objective, those who are completionists will love the opportunity at some extra game time.

If we were a little greedy we would ask for more content from a game that has entertained and tested us from the moment it was downloaded. This is one of the finest puzzlers on the Vita and we simply cannot recommend it enough.


This review first appeared on

Wednesday 5 June 2013

HD Adventures of Rotating Octopus Character Review (PS Vita)

Like Velocity, Rotating Octopus character has made the leap from being a Playstation Mini to a fully native Vita title. It’s a pretty straightforward conversion with very little changing apart from the look of the game. But for those that haven’t experience Dakko Dakko’s endearing character before there is much here to enjoy.

The game sets itself out as a number of single area arenas filled with different obstacles for the octopus to navigate. You start with three lives and must complete an entire worlds levels in one go in order to progress to the next. Losing all of your three lives will see you returned to the first level of the world to start again. 

Rotating Octopus Character is in perpetual motion as it spins around the level sticking to whichever surface it comes into contact with. You can change direction and head off in the other way, but the real skill comes from leaping from place to place and completing levels without the need to alter your direction.

The goal of each stage is to collect the hidden octopus’ spread around the area. Some of these are visible from the start while others will drop in as you progress. On latter levels players are required to bounce balls and balloons out the way and move sandcastles in order to reveal any that are hidden away. As well as finding the octopus’ lost friends you can also pick up raindrops and acquiring enough of these will give you an extra life.

It sounds fairly simple and in principle it is. However, this can be one tough cookie of a game to crack at times. Each new world introduces new enemies and hazards and things get hectic very quickly. The stationary barking dogs of the first world are easy enough to get by, but the snakes and mad fez hats found only a few worlds latter are incredibly tricky at times. Couple this with level design thought out to make things as awkward for you navigate as possible and a tight time limit and you suddenly find yourself amidst a series of real twitch gameplay levels. You'll need fast reactions and the ability to think up new strategies and approaches on the move in order to succeed.

The game is perfect for short bursts of play and each level will only take a few minutes to complete - that's as long as you don’t keep dying and having to restart. The limited amount of lives does add tension to proceedings but it can also lead to a fair amount of frustration as you find yourself stuck on one of the later levels of a world and continually have to go through eight or nine others just to reach it again. That said, many of the super tough levels tend to have an abundance of raindrops in them to keep you stocked up with lives. On these occasions it’s just a case persevering until you eventually prevail.

The upgraded visuals really help to bring out the artistic charm of the game and it helps add a more defined humour to the graphics and level design. The sound is also joyful and good fun, though the noise of rotating octopus moving around continually can become a touch on the annoying side when you find yourself continually crashing into things.

In terms of size there is a substantial amount of content on show. Aside from the plentiful main worlds there are also a host of challenge levels which unlock one by one. The urge to try and finish stages without changing direction or in a quicker time is also continual draw. 

Overall, this is another mini that is more than welcome on the Vita in a native form. Beneath the cute visuals is an excellent and tough piece of reaction based gaming and we can see many Vita owners drawn to it for far longer than they probably expect to be. It’s tough but fair and offers something a little different to what is currently on offer. We recommend you give it try and we’re sure we haven’t seen the last of the Rotating Octopus Character either.

Overall 8/10

Monday 3 June 2013

Broken Sword Review (Gameboy Advance)

Starting in a small café in Paris our unsuspecting hero George Stobbart becomes unwittingly involved in a plot that would lead him into unimaginable danger. The story starts when an assassin, dressed as clown, blows up the café with George sitting outside, a trifle annoyed George attempts to follow the attacker and ends up travelling half way around the world and back again as he becomes ever more entangled in the story of the Knights Templar and their Neo-Templar followers.

Starting out life as a point and click adventure it was clear changes would need to be made in order for the title to work on the Gameboy Advance. With such a small screen finding the sometimes-tiny objects would prove near impossible, with this in mind a new control interface was developed. Instead of moving a mouse cursor around the screen George now walks around and with any important objects becoming clearly highlighted as he walks. Furthermore, if this still is not enough by pressing the right shoulder button all things of interest can be highlighted and cycled through meaning you never miss anything.

Unbelievable, while the speech and dialogue have been removed from the game just about everything else remains. In fact apart from a couple of sections of dialogue, present in the original for comic effect, being removed everything else is here in all its glory. It truly is a remarkable achievement that this version of Broken Sword looks almost identical to the PSOne version, all the locations, characters and little touches of humour are all there, truly this is one of the most amazing achievements of the Gameboy Advance.

While the speech has been removed there are only a few sections that do not come across properly. Most noticeably in Ireland where the tone and accents of the inhabitants meant you always realised you where in a light hearted environment. Instead with just the text to keep you glued to the screen things do not always come across so well and a lot of the humour of the section is sadly lost. However, the rest of the game remains as magical as ever with the sheer quality of the script shining through at every turn. The clever writing means that French, American, Spanish and even Newcastle United fans all have their own distinguishable character and charm.

The game itself remains as brilliant as ever, with clever puzzles and an excellent plot drawing you in to the game with every step. Some puzzles are made easier due to the new interface but this is not necessarily a bad thing as a couple of the original puzzles suffered due to small areas of the screen being hard to find. The game manages to remain a classic piece of gaming history while simultaneously developing a new way to present itself.

Overall, Broken Sword is a gaming masterpiece, the very fact that it exists in this format is an unbelievable testament to the development team behind it. Absolutely essential for all adventure fans, the new interface makes the game seem fresher than ever and with the expert scripting and humorous characters it's hard to believe that the game is over half a decade old. More proof if needed that class ages very well.