Quality reviews of computer and video games, from Pong and Pac-Man to present.

12 / 29 / 2010

I was going to do Cortex Command next because it looked really neat. However, apparently it's still in "beta" (even though they're charging money for it) and they expect it to be for like three or four more years. I guess I could deal with that if it was playable, but for some reason it has trouble with graphics on my brand new Win 7 PC and has to default to "VGA mode", which means a 1/3 of the screen box with text that's so scrunched and in such a tiny font I can barely even read it. So yeah, if they come out with a final version eventually that doesn't rape my eyes, I'll play it then. Until then, no thanks.

For now please enjoy Revenge of the Titans (PC), which closes out the Humble Indie Bundle 2, as well as 2010!

12 / 26 / 2010


Welcome back from the Festivus feasts! Hmm ... pretty soon it'll be 2011 and we'll have a fresh new News page. But as for 2010 ... IT'S NOT OVER YET!!!!!!!

For now, we're pushing onward with all this indie PC stuff. Today, Machinarium , possibly the most adorable game ever, and Osmos , a "Zen games" puzzler.

12 / 22 / 2010



Wow, talk about your backlogs. So I just got an email from the Humble Bundle guys, and those of us that donated over seven bucks or so apparently now get access to the first Humble Bundle too, which is 6 more games I haven't played. Just prior to this TWEEST, I went on Steam for the first time ever, which maybe wasn't the best idea in the middle of their big holiday sale. I think I bought 12 games? Or so? Some were in bundles so IDK. Apparently this goes on with "daily deals" for like 2 more weeks, too, so there could be Moar. Oh well. There's worse problems - scurvy, lack of potable drinking water, being captured by Somali pirates, etc. I'll soldier through.

Of course I'm broke now so I can't buy you guys any presents. So I did the next best thing with 0.00, which is to go through the old reviews (in Articles/Reviews > Browse By Console) and mark all the freeware with a "FREE" tag, so you can find all the non-piratey free shit without combing dozens of reviews. This includes original creations released as freeware as well as commercial products that the rights-holders have released as freeware on a non-temporary basis. Of course the vast majority of this stuff is in the PC section but you get the odd ROM creation that doesn't use too many pirated assets to qualify, or that have been released into the wild with the blessing of their creators, like that prototype Another World/Out of this World port for the Gameboy Advance.

Fa ra ra ra ra, ra ra ra ra!


12 / 21 / 2010



A Tale Of Two Platformers ... one is 2D, an attempt at art, symbolic, impressionist, maybe a little full of itself ... the other is 3D, wholly conventional, based on a "Skinnerian rewards schedule", yet crafted and executed nearly perfectly. Braid (PC) and Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy (PS2). WHAT A TWEEST!

12 / 18 / 2010


Two times in my life now, Final Fantasy X has come to me when I wasn't really looking for it or even thinking about it. First as a surprise Xmas gift in 2002, now as part of a trade someone else proposed.

Man, I'm not one to accumulate "backlogs", but between jumping on holiday sales and trading old games on GameTZ, I've managed to accumulate a pretty hefty one. I picked up this year's Humble Bundle on impulse, mostly due to wanting to see what all the hoopla is over Braid and Machinarium, so I guess those will be next up ... maybe? There's options.

12 / 05 / 2010



Alright, let's switch it up to some lighter fare today. How about the two Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games for Gameboy Advance - TMNT and TMNT 2: Battle Nexus . They're not all bad, but it's no Golden Age of Konami.

12 / 03 / 2010



So last time out, we looked at Fable, a game that gives you an unexpected sucker-punch in the nads at the end that comes out of absolutely nowhere. Shadow Of The Colossus (PS2), conversely, builds you up through the narrative for a more polite and expected nad-punch in the end. That's not why it got the Meh though, the nut-punching was pretty well executed I thought.

11 / 29 / 2010


Just adding a couple of disappointing mid-90s titles today, Fable (PC) and Fade To Black (PS1).

11 / 26 / 2010



Introducing a new Gamecube section ... I bought it at a HIGH price!

Anyway I figured Black Friday was a great day to add Resident Evil 4 , what with all the Ganado-like behavior as people climb all over each other for glorified store clearance items.

11 / 21 / 2010


Finally got through the beast that is Final Fantasy XII (PS2) ... and then for some reason I felt like playing Magic Sword (Arcade) ... guess the final dungeon reminded me of it?

11 / 17 / 2010



Alright let's try and push Seizure-Inducing Arnold down the page a bit.

I stumbled across a couple of good Sonic fan-made games so I thought I'd do a bit of reportage - Sonic the Hedgehog Megamix , a complete revamp of Sonic 1 but in the form of a Sega CD ISO, and Sonic Robo Blast 2 , kind of a mad scientist 3D rendition of Sonic in the DOOM engine (that works surprisingly well.)

11 / 6 / 2010



Here in California, we'd all love for the Governator to be the Wild Barbarian King of our hearts forever. Unfortunately, he got termed out and they elected some old dood. So let's send him off in style with what is clearly his finest work, Total Recall for the NES.

11 / 5 / 2010


I think I've lamented here on a few occasions that cyberpunk is the perfect setting for gaming, and yet it was relatively rarely used, and even more rarely used well. Here's two of the better efforts for PC - Chaos Overlords , a turn-based strategy game from New World, and Neuromancer , an adventure/RPG based on the Gibson book.

10 / 26 / 2010



Guess it's time for the obligatory Halloween update ... Halloween for 2600 seemed an obvious choice ... Dr. Chaos is an obscure Goonies 2 knockoff for the NES with legitimately disturbing fat duck women chasing you ... and finally Halloween Harry has absolutely nothing to do with Halloween, which I guess is why they changed the name to Alien Carnage.

10 / 09 / 2010



Decided to do something different for this update so I'm taking a look at some old Laserdisc games ... well OK Dragon's Lair 3D (PC) isn't a Laserdisc game ... but Badlands and Cliff Hanger certainly are.

10 / 03 / 2010



Slow going on the gaming front right now, buds. Typical mid-term school busyness and all that. Got a review up of Yakuza for the PS2, though.

09 / 20 / 2010



Inscrible your glorious name here! Here we have a fighting game update that is a little ahead of schedule as it was originally supposed to also include Power Stone 2 for Dreamcast, but apparently my copy that has been sitting in storage untouched for like ten years has died of old age or something :(

So here's Guilty Gear X and Virtua Fighter 4 for PS2 and Capcom vs SNK 2 for Dreamcast

09 / 17 / 2010


Diving back into the PS2 bargain bin today with two games that have vastly different themes but share a major similarity. Stuntman is yet another driving game from the folks that brought you Driver and Demolition Derby, while Mad Maestro is a Japanese rhythm game that has you playing as an orchestra conductor. The similarity is that they are both great and original concepts, yet the execution in both cases comes off quite disappointingly.

09 / 12 / 2010


The dusty old MSX section gets a bit of new life today with the addition of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 . Also taking a look at this oddball (but interesting) ROM hack Sonic 2 XL which is not rated simply due to the fact that I'm not sure if the designers even intended for you to be able to play it.

09 / 06 / 2010


Everyone's favorite evil monolithic entity gets a couple of entries today with The Godfather and Medal of Honor: Frontline , both for PS2

08 / 29 / 2010


Adding the HOMM series to the pile with Heroes of Might & Magic , Heroes of Might & Magic II , and Heroes of Might & Magic III . All exceptional turn-based strategy games for the PC, if you've somehow not heard of them.

08 / 22 / 2010


Today, ESPN NFL 2K5 and ESPN NHL 2K5 for the PS2, also collectively known as the best $1.98 I've ever spent.

08 / 16 / 2010


OK Sega, it was fun but now I'm Over U.

Back to musty PC oldies for a bit with Torin's Passage , which (I think) was Al Lowe's last adventure game, and King's Bounty , the early (and more RPG-ish) precursor to the Heroes of Might and Magic series.

08 / 13 / 2010




The new Dreamcast put me in a nostalgic Sega mood so here's a big batch of it.

Arcade : Virtua Fighter , Golden Axe: Revenge of Death Adder , Shadow Dancer , Dynamite Dux
32X : Knuckles Chaotix , After Burner Complete
Master System : Alex Kidd in Miracle World , Virtua Fighter Animation

08 / 09 / 2010


Whew! After Suikoden III and the two Shenmues over the course of about the last two months, I'm ready for some brainless shooting action. How about Ikaruga and Border Down for Dreamcast, and this cute little demake/demo Goldeneye 2D for PC (not rated due to only having 1 level then apparently the designers fell into a Mystery Vortex)

08 / 06 / 2010



There'll be a Shenmue 3 someday ... there's too much interest in it for there not to be, in some form ... I'm just worried it'll be rushed garbage when it finally does appear, rather than something up to the standard of the first two games.

Anyway, let's put Ryo to bed for now with Shenmue 2 (Dreamcast) and After Burner II (Arcade).

08 / 01 / 2010


Let's take a quick break from Shenmue 2 for some hot zombie action. Did you know there's already two "de-makes" of Left 4 Dead floating around? Yep, Pixel Force: Left 4 Dead and Left 4k Dead . And that's a fact, Jack.

07 / 30 / 2010



What else would we debut a new Dreamcast section with but Shenmue ?

Also, I've been updating the woefully incomplete Shenmue Completist's Guide which I had pretty much abandoned eight years ago. Aside from a couple of capsule toy lists, however, it's now actually pretty close to complete and pretty useful.

As to what prompted the Dreamcast love? Amazon.com has a shit ton of brand new ones selling for $89. I haven't seen an explanation anywhere of where they came from, but I assume it's something like the batch that ThinkGeek had last year, that were found in a crate in the back of some warehouse that was being cleaned out or something. Anyway, I bought it expecting one of the later 9000 series print runs from 2006 or 2007, possibly a Japanese system, but I got a U.S. 3000 series manufactured in 2000! I don't know where the hell these things have been all these years but it looked perfectly preserved, was factory sealed, and is running like a champ. Anyway, just a tip-off for the other retro enthusiasts out there.

07 / 28 / 2010



Suck it down, Fantasy Zone! Let's shoot the hell out of fantastic lands with Space Harrier and then try not to die in a horrible accident with Hang On , Yu Suzuki's two earliest arcade hits and still two of Sega's better arcade titles.

07 / 24 / 2010



This is not a JO-king matter!

Mega Man day today ... turned out to be more like Meh-ga Man though.

Mega Man X4 and Mega Man 8 for Playstation, Mega Man 7 for SNES

07 / 21 / 2010



Taking a look at a couple of oddball ports of Dragon's Lair today. First, the Sega CD version, which is one of the most complete ports, but also one of the ugliest. Then, the Gameboy Color port ... no it's not any of that side-scrolling junk, it's an actual port of the actual game to 4 MB of GBC cartridge. In spite of the Meh face you'll be surprised how well that actually works out.

07 / 19 / 2010



Just a couple of depressing games today, man. You might as well not even read today's update.

Carmageddon and Postal Plus , both for PC.

07 / 16 / 2010


Slow on the updates lately due mostly to moving into a new place. But I was also grinding my way through about 70 hours of Suikoden III (PS2) too.

07 / 07 / 2010


Phantasmagoria (PC) cost about $4 million to make ... I'm guessing The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Atari 2600) didn't cost more than $4,000 or so ... yet they come out with the same rating. Hmm.

06 / 26 / 2010


Bushido Blade does NOT wipe his own ass. Neither does Bushido Blade 2  . Maybe because they're fighting off hordes of ninjers all day long?

Mystelious Challengers is also back in operation.

06 / 21 / 2010


The Wii Virtual Console index is back up, huzzah.

Today I was planning on uploading Bioforge and Bad Mojo Redux to do a sort of "gross and obscure PC games" update. Unfortunately, Bad Mojo is one of those obnoxious games that tries to force you to install some old-ass 1990s version of Quicktime to play it. Wasn't the Redux re-release made solely to fix stuff like this? Oh well. Hardcore Gaming 101 has a great write-up on it.

06 / 17 / 2010


Creep with me, as I crawl through some Oldwarez.

A hefty dose of Sneaking and Peeping this time with Keef the Thief , Nippon Safes Inc. , and Thief Gold for PC, as well as Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven for PS2.

06 / 09 / 2010



I was gonna wait to finish Keef The Thief and make that part of this update, but I haven't even started it yet, it'll be a week at least before I'm done writing that up probably. Figured I'd better upload what I have on hand since it's been over two weeks. And that would be obscure PC adventure games - Eric The Unready is one of the last true text adventures from a major studio and kind of a swan song for the genre (at least commercially), while Eternam is so bizarre I can't even summarize it.

05 / 25 / 2010



As you hit the road for Memorial Day weekend, don't forget your 2x4 with nails through it!

Badass Biker Attitude day with Full Throttle for PC, which is probably the world's only biker adventure game, and Road Rash , Road Rash 2 and Road Rash 3 for Genesis

05 / 19 / 2010



Today, two FPS games that are set in the far future, feature alien entities who possess and zombify humans, and yet couldn't be more different. But are both quite excellent in their own way. System Shock 2 (PC) adds a psychological horror tinge and a layer of sophistication and depth to the usual PC FPS formula, whereas Timesplitters 2 (PS2) is just a really well executed console FPS in the lineage of Goldeneye and Perfect Dark.

05 / 09 / 2010



Alright, so once there was a computer game publisher called Accolade. They were pretty big in their day and had some big hits, but by the 2000s had faded off into obscurity. During their prime they did as most big publishers did, however, which included devouring smaller publishers and releasing their games. One of their acquisitions was Horror Soft, a company which was even more interesting for acquiring the rights to use Elvira as their logo before they even released their first game - a horror/RPG called Personal Nightmare. While Elvira only had title screen duties on that one, she'd go on to be the centerpiece of the two follow-ups to that game: Elvira and Elvira 2 (there was a final game in this loose series called Waxworks, in which Elvira went back to simply showing her cleavage on the title screen.)

Much like the lady herself, the games are great-looking and lurid but can be a real ball buster at times.

05 / 05 / 2010



Today - Lufia and the Shit Ton of Atari 2600 Games

04 / 24 / 2010



Wasn't I going to play Grim Fandango back around the actual Dia De Los Muertes? Oh well, what's six months anymore.

Seems Groader is active again too, with a look at a couple of groundbreaking 1990s molestation sims for Amiga and PC.

04 / 17 / 2010



I always thought Jose Bobo from the NES port of Double Dragon 2 was the most hilarious of the Abobo family by far, but FabioBobo here from the arcade version definitely is in close contention.

Anyway, big hodgepodge of short reviews for today's update.

Arcade : Double Dragon 2 , Metamorphic Force , Puzzle De Bowling

PC : Can You Jump It?

NES : Kings Of The Beach

Sega 32x : Kolibri

SNES : No Escape

Genesis : Micro Machines Military

Atari 2600 : Z-Tack , Zoo Fun , Zaxxon , Yar's Revenge , Xevious , Xenophobe , Worm War I

04 / 10 / 2010


I have to give Ecstatica points for being the only game I know of that lets you beat monsters to death with a Bible, but other than that, it and Ecstatica 2 are pretty much just lurid garbage.

When I was a kid I was a total nut for Sierra adventures, and I still like 'em quite a bit, but I always avoided EcoQuest and EcoQuest 2 thinking they'd be tediously preachy and too kiddie. Was pleasantly surprised to the contrary.

04 / 08 / 2010


Today's theme: Obscure Konami arcade games with cowboy themes. And I give you Iron Horse and Wild West Cowboys of Moo Mesa

04 / 05 / 2010



Back to the PC oldies for today. Dune and Cruise For A Corpse are very pretty but end up being disappointing to play, whereas Dune 2 is a little uglier but a lot more fun.

03 / 31 / 2010



I wanted some light-duty action games while I do all this "academic" writing this week, so I decided to go for some Mega Man X for SNES ... I played these two about 5+ years ago and had a lot less patience for them then, but coming back to them now, I find that Mega Man X2 is better than I remember ... Mega Man X3 still kinda sucks though.

03 / 28 / 2010


Today, a study in polar opposites in mood and atmosphere. Dreamweb is dreary, brooding and ultimately pretty depressing, while RunMan: Race Around The World is all cheer and sunshine. Both for PC. RunMan is free, Dreamweb might as well be.

03 / 25 / 2010

Wooo Spring Break ... get out the red plastic cups and order the keg!

... Or not, since 3 out of the 4 classes that I'm in this semester pulled the Dick Move of doing "take home midterms" that were issued this week and are due right after the break ... effectively forcing us to work through the break.

I guess there's no point in going anywhere, but I'll at least have some time to kick back and catch up on games. To get started here's the Awesome piece of Freeware Varicella and the Decent piece of Freeware Moneyseize . The former is a really cool text adventure/strategy that puts you in the shoes of a Machiavellian schemer with only a few hours to seize power, and the latter is like a hard Mario clone with a Wario clone as the main character.

And then there's ... Drakkhen for SNES? How did that get in there?

03 / 21 / 2010


Alright, enough whinging ... let's get back to work!

Darklands for PC and Summon Night: Swordcraft Story 2 for GBA ... two off-beat RPGs that have some good things going for them but also have some issues

03 / 17 / 2010


The arcade and some of the PC reviews are temporarily hosed. I was writing those for Associated Content, and today they abruptly deleted my account out of the blue. I'm going to try to recover them from Google Cache/Wayback Machine and host them here locally. Don't really have time to do that right now tho as it's midterm period. Maybe over Spring Break. Anyway, a shit ton of reviews in those two sections are MIA for now.

Update 3/18 - The aforementioned reviews are still accessible. Apparently when they said "We're deleting your content and banning you", what they actually meant was "We're removing your access to the site and not paying you any more, but we're keeping your content up so we can still make money off of it." Don't ever get suckered into writing for these scumfucks.

I'm still porting the reviews here, in case they do actually CODE RED BALEET EVERYTHING at some point, and also just on general principle.

Final Update 3/19 - After swearing at their VP of Business and Legal Affairs (or somesuch) they re-opened the account. I'm leaving the original links up, since basically the two options here are Get Paid For That Work or Don't Get Paid For That Work - I can't force them to remove the articles, so they continue to make money off of them whether I do or not. I'm done writing for them though. And I'm backing up everything that's posted there just in case.

03 / 10 / 2010


Just a small update today with reviews of Viewtiful Joe 2 for PS2 and Duke Nukem 64 ... it looks like Groader is back in action after a long hiatus though, taking a look at the (deservedly) obscure Brad Stallion adventure game series

03 / 06 / 2010



You know, between the PS2 outselling the PS3, and every Gamestop (at least in the San Francisco area) seemingly consisting of about 70% used PS2 games and 30% everything else, I'm actually starting to feel a little Relevant here. I'm hip! I'm with it! Here's Clock Tower 3 and Rygar !

Also, speaking of quasi-relevance, here's some new Nintendo DS import action - Doki Doki Majo Shinpan 2 (unrated), which roughly translates to "Underage Witch Molesting 2." This will now become the most clicked-on link on this entire site by hundreds of hits.

02 / 28 / 2010



Today we're proud to debut the Playstation 2 section, putting us on the cutting edge of (early 2000s) technology.

The first additions to mark the occasion are Metal Gear Solid 2 and Metal Gear Solid 3 . Plus, a review of PC classic System Shock , which anticipated a number of games across various genres, but particularly Metal Gear Solid in a number of respects.

02 / 20 / 2010


Yep, moar PC oldies

Castle of Dr. Brain , Island of Dr. Brain and Tangled Tales

Oh, I almost forgot - I noticed the vast majority of the site's traffic is now coming from Google searches for specific game reviews, so I assume most of those who continue onward from that have no idea what all the faces are about. So I posted an Explanation of the Rating System here, which you'll also now see a perma-link to at the top of the Articles/Reviews section.

02 / 13 / 2010


Hmm ... to go out on Valentine's Day for overpriced food and a night of Hot Sax ... or to play PC oldies?

Battle Chess , Traffic Department 2129 and Codename: Iceman

02 / 10 / 2010


Just wanted to drop a quick update to mention this freeware game Eversion , which I've been having a good time with ... but it seems at least a bit inspired by Monster Party , so I figured it was about time to fire that one up and add it to the pile.

Never played/heard of it? Possibly the most randomly gory/disturbing/lulzy game on the NES.

02 / 06 / 2010



Did you know? New studies prove that Big Deez in your mouf is, indeed, bad for your health.

GTA: Vice City and GTA: San Andreas officially finish up the backlog from the site move. Whew! On to newer and shinier things.

02 / 04 / 2010



Today we take a look at two of the most interesting adventure games ever made - you can make a very strong case for Gabriel Knight being the best of the genre to date, and I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream comes out surprisingly strong and playable in spite of the design team's relative inexperience and author Harlan Ellison's curmudgeonly egocentrism.

01 / 28 / 2010

Moar GBA today, with the fairly disappointing Mario Pinball Land and Metal Slug Advance , but also the surprisingly excellent (and sadly obscure) Racing Gears Advance .

There's also Companions of Xanth for PC, an adventure based on the work of that horny old goat Piers Anthony.

01 / 25 / 2010


OK, now I'm working through stuff that I played during the site move, but only have scribbled notes to work from rather than a full review ready to go.

For today - Retro Game Challenge and Super Dodgeball Brawlers for DS, and DK: King of Swing for the ol' GBA

01 / 14 / 2010


Alright, time to upload a shit ton of reviews that got backed up over the two month break while the site was being moved ...

Playstation: Dragon Warrior VII , Guilty Gear , Jumping Flash , Parappa the Rapper

Nintendo DS: Chrono Trigger DS

Super NES: Super Star Wars , Final Fight 3

Gameboy Advance: Baseball Advance , Batman Begins

PC: Alien Breed: Obliteration


01 / 13 / 2010



Yay, site's moved and up and running!

You'll notice we have our own .com URL now (platoscavern.com), but you can also access the site at platoscavern2.talkspot.com. After Jan 31, the old URL (platoscavern.talkspot.com) *should* also automatically redirect here.

WUT'S BEEN DUN

* Ported over all content successfully. All reviews are accesible through the Browse By Console page, which is 100% up and working, though the other pages (Wii Virtual Console, Badass Platforming, etc.) haven't been rebuilt yet. You can still get at those through the old site until Jan 31, and by then I hope to have them rebuilt here. Hardly anyone was using them anyway, so shouldn't be of much concern atm really.

* Corrected a lot of spelling and grammar errors and jacked-up links. Not everything, but damn close to it.

* Added screenshots to a few reviews that were lacking for them.

* Added a lot of supplementary links to reviews. Sorry, didn't keep track of them all.

* Nintendo Handheld Archive has been eliminated and split into separate Gameboy, Gameboy Color, Gameboy Advance and Nintendo DS pages in the Browse By Console menu

WUT AIN'T DUN

* Most reviews don't have a left-hand side navigation bar. I have to figure out if there's a way to add that other than going through and manually adding one to each page. In the meantime, that's what Gord created the Back Button for!

* Site generally looks kinda ugly and clunky. I'll work on overall look and formatting over the next few weeks.

* As mentioned before, some review indexes (Wii VC, Xbox Live Arcade, etc.) haven't been rebuilt yet.

* In the Old News sections, images will display, but the links will cease to work after the 31st. I doubt I'll ever fix that. All Old News that's added from this point forward, however, will have working links. So it's just 2007-09 that won't. Oh well.

* The comments from the old site couldn't be carried over, as they use two completely different systems.

* The forum (Let's Not Listen) also has to be re-established here. I'll get around to that eventually.

* Amazon sidebar ads aren't displaying now for some reason. Yeah, I know, no one but me cares, but it's bugging me. This ain't a charity, you know?

That's it! Plenty of new reviews pending, there should be a steady stream of updates for the next few weeks at least.
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