Old School Vs. New School

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Panel de Tetris Pokemon Challenge

Without a doubt, if you are a Nintendo fan, you have played some variation of "Panel De Pon". Most will probably be familiar with it's english name, "Tetris Attack". Originated in Japan in 1996, Panel De Pon is a puzzle game like Tetris, but that's where the similarities end. The goal is to match up sets of matching tiles that rise from the bottom of the screen. It sounds simple, but has caused plenty of flying controllers in its day. The real meat of the game was setting up chains and combos, which would increase your score, and in the case of a two player game, dump tons of "garbage" tiles into his playfield.

In Japan, the game's theme involved flowers and faries (yes, that's where the "Lip's Stick" item from Super Smash Bros. Melee came from) which wasn't so much a problem in Japan, but when NOA decided to bring the game over, a change was needed to appeal to both boys and girls.
And so, Yoshi and characters from the recent Yoshi's Island game replaced the fairies. And in order to generate even more name recognition, Nintendo licenced the "Tetris" name and slapped it on the title screen.

The port was a success and Tetris Attack became very popular among puzzle fanatics and considered one of Nintendo's best puzzle games. Later on, after Pokemon exploded into the scene, Nintendo re-released Panel De Pon again, this time on the N64 and the Gameboy Color.
Interestingly enough, while the GB version of the game (Pokemon Puzzle Challenge) was handled by the same staff (Intelligent Systems) that created Panel De Pon and followed the recent Pokemon Gold and Silver releases, the N64 version (Pokemon Puzzle League) was made by the newly formed NST (Nintendo Software Technologies) here in the States and followed the themes set by the cartoon series. The N64 version was only released in the US, making it the only Pokemon game to not appear in Japan.

Most recently, Nintendo repackaged some of their older puzzle games for the Gamecube, which included Dr. Mario, Yoshi's Cookie, and, unsurprisingly, Panel De Pon. However, this collection is only available in Japan, and despite some large interest, there are no plans to port the game to US systems. However, if it was, you can be sure Panel De Pon would once again be replaced with Yoshi or perhaps even Pikachu.

If you own a variation of "Tetris Attack" be sure to give it a good play through during the holidays. No matter what the theme, one thing doesn't change... it's a damn good game.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Alien Hominid

Are you longing for the good ol days of 2-D shooters? Do you still drop a token into the Metal Slug machine at the local Dairy Queen or fire up the old NES for a quick romp through Contra? If you've been avoiding the current generation like the plague, a reason for your to submit to the new era has arrived, in the form of a homicial yellow alien, brought to your by newcomer developer The Behemoth. This is Alien Hominid.
For those of you who don't know, Alien Hominid began as a "prototype" FLASH based game on Newgrounds.com a few years ago, and through a series of fortunate events, ended up being developed into a console game for the Gamecube and the PS2 (this review is based upon the Gamecube version, though both versions are the same aside from load time). The little alien (you can name it whatever you wish) is cruising over earth when suddenly the FBI catches it on their radar and promptly shoots him down, and confiscates the little dude's craft. Now the alien must find his spaceship and return home!
As soon as you start the game and start blowing away wave after wave of enemies, you'll quickly relive fond memories of Metal Slug and Contra. It's a 2-D shooter, alright, but it does everything so WELL, you might just enjoy it more than most 3-D titles. The little alien certainly isn't helpless, as you'll find lots of power ups to shoot everything from lazers to pure acid. There's lots of gore and blood, but it's done in such a cartoony and overblown manner, it's actually funny. You can even adjust the gore rating in the options menu to make your enemies splurt out flowers and candy instead. Yes, the humor is certainly evident in this title. There are plenty of places in the game where you will burst out laughing, from when the alien hijacks a car and hangs his head out the window like a little dog, to a part of the Soviet Union level where the alien befriends none other than the abominal snowman and it starts a short "Rampage" sequence.
There are lots of levels to blast through, and you'll even have a few space stages after your alien manages to find his UFO again (the alien manages to find his spaceship, only to lose it again several times during the game). Huge hulking robots usually end each stage, and you'll have to figure out each one's pattern if you even have a chance of progressing.
Most will be able to blast through the game in a few hours, though it is longer than most 2-D shooters. There are also four difficulty settings to play with, and even after you've done all that, there are plenty of mini-games to play, from a Challenge mode, to a whole new PDA game with 200 challenging platforming style levels (you can design your own levels, to boot), and there is even the Atari-ish "Missle Mastar", where you guide Russian missiles to blow up the United States (and see a quick scene of a Russian dancing and the word "PWNED" flashing on the screen).
This game is a blast to play, and well worth the already budget price of $30. If you have ANY sort of old school blood inside you, be sure to pick up Alien Hominid TODAY!
(Available on Gamecube and PS2. Supports up to 2 players in the main mode, 4 in the PDA game. http://www.alienhominid.com)

Friday, December 03, 2004

Restoring Retro Games

It's all happened to us before... we'll find a cool game, but pass on it because the label is all torn up. Well, weep no more! Watch how I transform this thrashed N64 cart into... THE SWAN!... er, no. Oh, just check out my post on Digital Press and see for yourself.