Monday, May 11, 2015

RETRO REVIEW SERIES: Hydlide for the NES


  
You know what's bad? Hydlide for the Nintendo Entertainment System is pretty bad. Yeah, it's an action/adventure/RPG that is a lot like The Legend of Zelda except that The Legend of Zelda is a far superior game, but to Hydlide's defense the game was created about 3 years prior to the original Zelda. That, of course, was back before they had the technology to polish a game and make it engrossing like they did with Legend of Zelda. Hydlide was originally a PC game that had been released in 1984 that was eventually ported over to the NES sometime in 1988, the problem is that in the 4 years between it's original release and it's life on the NES they didn't appear to do anything to make the game any better from a graphical standpoint. Since I've never played the PC version of the game in it's entirety I have to assume that it's an exact port and that the Nintendo version is the same as it's PC counterpart from start to finish. Which is mind blowing to me in many ways because the NES was capable of producing a much better looking game than this with additional enhancements in gameplay. At the time of it's NES release the console already had games out at the time that trump Hydlide in almost every category you could rank them at so taking a few months to enhance the game for the NES would've done it a whole lot of good.
    This game really doesn't have much going for it, either. The graphics are extremely poor, the control is kinda slow and chunky, and it's one of those games where you cant really tell if you're hitting the enemies or not. In combat when you attack nothing really happens except for a small health bar that appears at the top of the screen and depletes when an enemy is dying. This makes things really difficult when fighting monsters because you have no sense of spacing, you end up taking a lot of damage thanks to your sword not moving outward to hit your opponent. Also, if your enemy hits you first you have to back up before attacking again otherwise you'll continue to lose heath, which is extremely annoying and makes you want to punt an elderly woman in her jaw. Or better yet, it's so annoying it makes you want to unleash a poisonous snake into an
infant ward at a hospital.
    Another thing I kind of dislike about the game is that there is a lack of dungeons, or at least a lack of cool dungeons I should say. For an action/adventure/RPG game such as this I look forward to dungeon crawling and fighting awesome bosses, but sadly Hydlide doesn't offer a whole lot of cool dungeons or fun bosses with most of them being annoyingly fast skeletons or some kind of variation of other monsters already in the game. Most of Hydlide's dungeons are more like navigating houses from a top down view. Instead of going into a dungeon and adventuring to the final boss like in Zelda or a game like Dragon Warrior, the dungeons are not presented on their own screens, they share the outside view along with the grass and trees. The only time a dungeon becomes it's own screen is if there is a downstairs or an upstairs, which happens from time to time but isn't really fun or engaging and ends up being more of a death maze more than anything.

    The game as a whole wasn't really popular either. I personally knew one person who had it back in the “NES Age” and he didn't really play it much, in fact almost every review I've read basically ranks this game among the worst in the NES library. But was it really all that bad? I mean, yeah, it's bad.....but it isn't the worst game in the extensive annals of the NES. That will forever be reserved by Impossible Mission II. Impossible Mission II was a game so bad it was unlicensed by Nintendo and I happened to buy it for $7 during the prime of the NES. In a time when Nintendo games were $49.95 brand new you knew you were getting a real classic when you found one for under $10 still in it's factory seal. Could you sense the sarcasm? I've also played a few other games that suffered from worse game play mechanics, worse music, worse control, and other factors that would lead me to play this game before I even looked at them. So I guess all in all Hydlide is just bad and not completely terrible like some would lead you to believe.
    And with that said, Hydlide does have some charming aspects to it that actually make it quite fun at times. First of all, the music is pretty catchy. Sure, it's a simple looping theme that sounds a bit like the Indiana Jones theme and doesn't have a whole lot behind it, but it does kind of makes you hum along to the soundtrack while your playing. And second, the main character moves at a speed that makes it kind of easy to escape a potentially bad and/or hazardous situations. I actually like that in my video games. I know that isn't a glaring example as to why someone should purchase and play Hydlide, but at least it's something to separate this title from the sea of bullshit that is floating around out there. But that's about where the good graces of this game come to an end. I think one of the must frustrating aspects of this game is that it takes place within a small window on the screen thanks to an overlay that takes up a great deal of space. Was this really necessary? You're health, magic, and XP bar are located on the side of the screen on what looks to be a brick wall that also shows a small picture of your character alongside another bar that for some reason shows you if you're defending or attacking. To make matters even worse the brick wall that takes up almost half your screen manages to display the Hydlide logo at the top while showing the name of the game along the bottom. That's some serious bullshit because the player obviously knows what game they're playing and there was no need to spam the title on the screen twice. Well, instead of going off more about how disappointed I was with Hydlide I think I'll just wrap this puppy up and hit you with the final numbers......

Graphics/Visuals - 4/10
Sound/Music - 7/10
Control/Handling - 6/10
Fun/Enjoyment - 4/10

©B-Sly The Gamer Guy

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Step into the "Circle"..... A review of The Black Hood #3 by Dark Circle Comics


    Well, here we are again for a 3rd installment of The Black Hood by Archie/Dark Circle Comics! I'm not going to pull any punches here folks, this book fucking rocks and this third issue is the best issue in the series yet. In fact, issue #3 of The Black Hood is without a doubt the best comic book I've read in 2015. Hell, it may be the best comic I've read since the beginning of "X" from Dark Horse Comics a couple of years ago (written by the same guy too). Guys, this book was stellar from top to bottom and delivered a riveting story about a character who's flawed in so many ways and mastered the dramatic aspect of a weekly television drama mixed with a superhero story that isn't a superhero story, that is a superhero story.......that isn't. It's so complex. Make no bones about it, there are no capes or logo's here ladies and gentlemen, this is downright gritty as all hell and not for the faint of heart. You don't read this book to see Spider-Man or Batman protecting the city from the villain of the week where it all turns out okay in the end, you read this title because you want to see a drugged out vigilante tear shit up and and plant his flag as one of the true bad-ass characters in comics today. This is definitely the strongest of the two books currently being published by Dark Circle Comics as I felt The Fox #1 wasn't nearly as good a read though it's admittedly a different kind of a book than The Black Hood (review forthcoming). Even after The Crusaders, The Shield, and The Hangman see print I find it hard to believe that anything that Dark Circle could produce could touch this, as premature as that may be to type. That's how strongly I feel about this book.
    The issue picks up where the 2nd left off with our hero in police custody after being framed by an unknown entity. He finds himself out of jail and back on the job but really begins to put forth the effort to get to the bottom of who's going after him and why when he begins terrifying street thugs asking who their bosses are. He does this for a few pages and gets across that he isn't playing around and that he knows there is a job to do aside from wearing the badge. Even his on the job partner strikes up a conversation about how he is admiring what The Black Hood is accomplishing, not knowing the man he's talking to is that very character. The ending of the book was great when we saw two dudes digging up the original Black Hood's grave while the new Black Hood ruins their excavation in a scene that should be made into a poster or a framed wall-hanging. We also got to see some more interaction between Greg and his speech coach which will (in my opinion) lead to something romantic between the two, this issue dropped enough hints for me to believe so and it would make a fun little side story with all the other happenings going on. Also, I'm pretty sure The Black Hood killed somebody in this issue though we truly don't know the fate of the individual. I'm fairly certain he's dead though.
     Once again the story was superbly written by Duane Swierczynski with gritty art by Michael Gaydos, it's such a perfect blend that at only 3 issues in I couldn't see anyone else handling this book though it's inevitable that someday that'll have to be the case unless it gets cancelled early on (I'd protest). I'd love to see these two plant their flag on this book and stick around for a while though in a manor similar to Bendis/Bagley on Ultimate Spider-Man or Claremont/Byrne on X-Men back in the day. They're seriously that good at what they do on this book. Too often creative teams get switched around and it happens sometimes when it seems like they're just hitting their stride as a tandem on certain books, one can only pray that something like that won't happen here sans the traditional fill-in issues that seems to be the standard within the industry. I'll be eagerly looking forward to reading issue #4 when it hits as things appear to be moving forward now with only a couple issues left until a planned break for the team to get the second arc ready. Hopefully we find out who's behind everything soon and I certainly don't want to be on the opposite end of what The Black Hood has planned for those responsible for his framing and incarceration. This book is going to read so well in TPB form when Dark Circle releases it, it's reading exceptionally good in single issue format and definitely has a vibe that will translate perfectly into collected form for those of you waiting to read it that way. But trust me when I say that good things are ahead folks and good things are here, keep reading.....



Story & Plot - 9.5/10
Art & Illustration - 8.5/10
Inks & Colors - 8.5/10
Cast & Characters - 8.5/10
Overall Score - 9/10

     © B-Sly The Gamer Guy

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Graphic Novel Review Series: Superman: Earth One v2


 
Not too long ago I posted a positive review of Superman: Earth One volume 1 and recently I’ve found time to sit down and dive into the second volume of this series of graphic novels and once again I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun I had reading through it. The second volume was once again written by JMS and illustrated by Shane Davis which I was happy to see because I felt the creative team knocked it out of the park with the first volume and having them stick together was a natural fit. The art remained high quality with Shane’s pencils giving Superman a bit of a muddy and edgy look at times with splash pages that were extremely well done and gave the hero an iconic look. JMS’s writing was extremely good in this second offering and the story flowed nicely while tying together many small plot points without losing focus on what is happening throughout the novel. I don’t know why but this series is not getting the critical acclaim I feel it deserves and while it’s sales remain high and profitable for DC it appears as if the fans and reviewers aren’t totally on board with this re-imagining of Krypton’s last son. But to be honest I could give a rats ass what critics and fans think about this book because I’m truly digging it and it’s selling favorably so there has got to be people out there who enjoy it as much as I do, and I never let critics sway my opinion on a product. My only complaint about these Earth One books is that they seem to take forever to come out, but that’s probably because it’s a large commitment to actually sit down and write a graphic novel and not just have periodicals collected into a volume. That and the creative team has other obligations in the industry and can’t give up months on end just to write a single story since their working on lots of different stories for lots of different publishers. So I get it, I’m just impatient.
The story in the second volume see’s Clark Kent getting settled into his new apartment when he meets his neighbor, a sexy 20-something who seems to be a tad promiscuous in behavior, all while learning the ropes at the Daily Planet and finding success in his articles he’s written on Superman. But in between hurdles he’s finding in the workplace an juggling a possible relationship with his neighbor he’s forced to take on a power hungry being who needs to drain energy from anything and everything it can to survive. Mainly humans. This being learns that Metropolis is home to a being of supreme power (Superman) and it travels to the city in an attempt to find the man on steel and feed off of him for unlimited power. When he gets to Metropolis and finds Superman the two engage in an epic battle that results in a big of shocking and somewhat sad ending. You can’t help but to feel sorry for the enemy in this story because he can’t really control what's happening to him and is just doing what he needs to do to survive, albeit in a violent manner, but he’s still not fully responsible when you stop to think about it.
All in all this was a fantastic volume of Superman: Earth One with a lot of interesting elements to it and if you like Superman or the idea of Superman re-imagined for the modern comic book market than you’ll probably like this series of graphic novels quite a bit. Picture Ultimate Marvel but with DC characters and instead of the stories being presented in periodicals they’re offered graphic novel form. I’m digging them and I know many of my readers trust me and my judgment so consider this my stamp of approval. As for how this volume fared versus the first volume, I’d still probably give the nod to the first volume due to it’s originality and the liberties it took on Superman’s origin, but this s a very close collection and very much worth the read. So check it out guys, you’ll probably thank me when you’re finished.  

Story& Plot - 8.5/10
Art & Illustration - 8.5/10
Inks & Colors - 8.5/10
Cast & Characters - 8/10
Overall Score - 8.5/10

© B-Sly The Gamer Guy