As you may have seen from a yesterday’s post, I picked up a GameBoy Pocket with a copy of GameBoy Gallery and Adventure Island. Well I’ve been playing it a lot yesterday and today, and I’ll have to say I’m pretty impressed with it!
Oh yeah! I was a very lucky boy today and received my copy of Hyrule Historia almost a week before I was expecting to receive it! Not only that, but I didn’t even pay for Amazon’s overnight shipping, I went with their free five day delivery, yet I still receive the book a day before actual retail release!
A book for the fans. OK OK it’s not the £40 leather bound version, but it will still be a piece of history!
Open the book and you see the ancient mural seen in Skyward Sword.
There are plenty of pictures and artwork from the Skyward Sword game. This itself almost takes up a third of the book!
The many faces of Link. Remember kiddies, there are more than one Link.
The famous “Official Zelda Time Line” Page on the right.
Shigeru’s Early art for the NES/Famicom Legend of Zelda.
Amazing colour sketches of the NES game’s concept art. I’ve never seen these before!
The art for Zelda in “Link to the Past” that shows the unused Futuristic Zelda.
The Story behind Ocarina of Time.
The Story behind Link to the past.
Details about the DS games and “New Hyrule”. I never got the beat Phatom Hourglass, and I didn’t get myself a copy of Spirit Tracks; maybe I should get myself a copy to learn more about “New Hyrule”.
The many-many different versions of Midna seen in Twilight Princess.
An article about Eiji Aonuma (The game’s producer) near the end of the book.
The Zelda Manga at the back of the book, remember kids, to read Manga, you read right to left!
The impression I got from the book is simply this, “This is the Zelda Fan’s book!”. It’s comprehensive, (despite most of the book is based on the latest game, Skyward Sword.), BIG! It has more than 270 pages with each page a little bigger than an A4 sheet of paper, and each sheet is glossy and thick, the quality of the book itself is very high and the hard cover itself feels like it can take a beating. Not only does this book show art work, it’s a descent history book that explains it’s confusing continuity very well, not only with it’s explained time line chart, but in the written articles for each game too. It’s nice to see artwork from characters scenes, and levels that were not used in the games. The unused “Future Zelda” from Link to the Past was very interesting, the many faces of Midna from Twilight Princess, and all the characters seen from the DS games that I have yet to play stir my curiosity for the franchise even more than before. Even if maybe you’re not a Zelda fan, or maybe you haven’t played a Zelda game before, this book is still worth getting just to see the artwork and the amount of work that went into the Zelda franchise. It’s a definite purchase and read for any gamer!
Sometimes there’s some good that comes out of freeware. Something original, something brilliant, something challenging and more importantly, something that makes you wonder why you haven’t purchased the damn game!
That game ladies and gentlemen, is a game called Tower of Heaven! (Tengoku no Tou)
As you can see in these screen shot, they possess that green tone a certain portable game system I really liked used to have 😉 That’s one of the many reasons why I like the game. But there’s more than just aesthetic style to this wonder of freeware entertainment. The games’ story is simple, there’s a little green man going to attempt to climb the tower of heaven. The voice of god doesn’t like this, but he set up challenges for our little green friend. These are done by 5 laws, these laws you collect in the game actually make the game harder, but make you think about how else to solve each room in the Tower of Heaven and ascend to the top.
Law 1, Thou shalt not touch golden blocks.
Law 2, Thou shalt not touch blocks or walls from the side.
Law 3, Thou shalt not walk left.
Law 4, Thou shalt not touch living things.
Law 5, Thou shalt no longer check the laws.
These crazy rules makes the later levels of Tower of Heaven a real pain, but the beauty to Tower of Heaven’s game play is that it tries not to be a “I Wanna be the Guy” or “I Wanna be the Booshy” with over the top difficulty. These are puzzles and platforming that are achievable and incredibly rewarding.
Pretty much the platforming does look a bit like IWBTG, but I can say that I’ve beaten this game many times, and it is possible to beat! It’s not made to be impossible, it’s made to challenge you! You just have to figure out how to reach the next door with the laws given to you.
The music is damn good too! Composed by the artist, Flashy Goodness, the music has an upbeat 8 Bit style that somehow works very well with this game. In fact Flashy Goodness has worked on a few other freeware titles too such as Super Smash Land and Grid Defender 2. Flashy’s music has been used in games that require actual money to purchase them, such as the iOS game, Bean’s Quest, and in the upcoming KickStarter funded PC and Mac game, Sealark: An Oceanic Adventure.
The game itself is short, but it’s incredibly rewarding when you beat the game, and it has an ending that I would say even beats the endings in most “Triple A titles”. There’s just something chilling and scary about the god in the game, and there’s an element of upward struggle, but this game is like the digital equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest. Once you beat the game, you let out a big sigh, and you feel good about beating the game, a good job on the challenge front.
In my opinion, this game needs more recognition. Even though it’s a cult game in some hardcore eyes. But it really is worthy of everyone to play it at least once just to know what the big fuss is about. There are a few ways you can play the game, you can head over to the coder’s website, askiisoft.com , where you can download the Windows executable; or if you’re a Mac or Linux user, you can head over to Newsgrounds and play the flash version of the game.
One game I loved on the GameBoy as a kid was a motocross racing game called Motocross Maniacs, developed by Konami and published by Ultra. I originally had this game on a pirated cart that my Grandparents got for me on holiday to Lanzarotti. It came with four games on one cartridge, with a label on it that says “Game Carpridge”! The four games were Doctor Mario, Klax, Battle City and Motocross Maniacs. When I was younger I had played Excite Bike as it was in a collection of video games at my local Youth Club, the same place where I got to play an NES and Super Mario Bros for the first time, and I wasn’t good at Excite Bike at all. But what’s interesting with the Motocross Maniacs was that it was a clone of Excite bike, but made it more exciting as you would pull off insane tricks and go through loop the loops with turbo nitros. I sold the four in one cart to a pawn shop when I was a Teen, as I wanted to get a copy of Wetrix on the N64, what a crazy decision that was! Later on I bought a copy on eBay and relived an awesome unloved GameBoy Classic!
You could treat this game as a plagiarisation of Excite Bike, it feels very much like the game, to a certain extent it even copies game play mechanics in the Commodore 64 game, Kik-Start. The game is side scrolling, and you accelerate to the right, and you press left and right on the D-pad to lean back and forth. Oh yes! Even Trials have taken this concept, but where this game is at least a little to Excite Bike, Kik-Start and Trials is as I said above, there’s Nitro! Now OK there’s a Turbo boost in Excite Bike, but the nitro in this game is different. Rather than a constant thrust, it’s a sudden burst of speed, and you’ll use this on ramps (almost) all the time, and unlike Excite Bike, the Nitros are limited in Motocross Maniacs.
Unlike Excite Bike, but more like Trials and Kik-Start, the game doesn’t have lanes, rather it’s a strictly side view on a single lane. There are three game play modes, Solo, Vs Computer and Vs 2-Player. Solo is simply a single player affair whereby you need to finish 2 laps of a track within a qualifying time, Vs Computer is a race between you a computer controlled racer, in order to win each track you need to beat the computer. And Vs 2-Player is simply the two player mode where you would use a link cable between you and a buddy and race each other.
As I said above, what makes this different to Excite Bike are the crazy loops and platforms you have to go through and over. If you want to get through those loops you’ll need nitro, but again you’ll need to keep an eye on your nitro counter on the bottom right of the screen in case you start to run out, but most loops will have power ups to extend your nitro and time, so they’re still worth doing. Later on in the game, you’ll have much more complicated loops and platforms, many of these have been used in Trails, most of these you might have to use your nitro two or three times to get around. So you’ll really have to economise on those nitros in later levels.
What makes this game different to the other games are power ups. There are six power ups that you can collect in this game, each power up is simply a letter. N For Nitro, pick this up to earn an extra nitro boost, S for Speed, this will allow you to push up your gears to get extra speed, but if you fall over you’ll lose it. R for Radius Tires, this allows you to handle ramps better, and again if you lose it if you crash. T for Time, earn extra time in the game, I forgot to mention that not only do you have a qualifying time, but there’s a timer where if it hits zero it’s game over, grabbing “T”‘s will increase the time you have in the level. J for Jet, this allows you to use nitros to keep yourself air born, but you’ll still have to keep an eye on the nitros that you are using up. And finally there’s a power up with no letter as it’s invisible, but there are 3 “Mini Maniacs” that you can collect in each stage, and they’re achieved by performing flips off certain ramps with good timing.
The music in the game might sound a little off for a stunt racing game, but it’s really catchy. It’s hard to describe how good the music is without actually playing it, so here’s a Youtube video!
The game itself is a bit of an unloved classic in my book, for a GameBoy game it’s one of the better early GameBoy games that should be in everyone’s collection. If you enjoyed Excite Bike, Kik-Start and/or Trials, this is a game you should hunt for and play it. It’s well worth finding a copy!