Video Games With Unique and Innovative Gameplay Mechanics

With the beautiful games being released this past few weeks, we can’t help but wonder if they will also capture us with their gameplay or detach us from the immersion that the game’s graphics or story gives us. Most of these upcoming games are overly hyped and we don’t want another, for a lack of better word, disappointment. No man wants to see a sky of unfulfilled promises – I know, not the best wordplay out there. Heads up! Minimal spoilers ahead. I did my best to keep all the spoilers to the least while keeping the integrity of the explanation about the video games with innovative – or unique – gameplay. Here are video games that got us hooked with their gameplay. These games are not rated on which is the best; this is an unsorted list. *wink* Enjoy!

Superhot

Unique Gameplay. Simplicity truly is beauty
Simplicity truly is beauty

Minimalist graphics? Check. Challenging levels? Check. Innovative and easy-to-learn gameplay? You guessed it – Check. Meet Piotr Iwanicki, the game designer of one of the best examples of indie-done-right video games. And, no, I will not try to pronounce his name. Superhot started out as an entry in a 7-Day First Person Shooter game jam back in August 2013. It was then greeted with a lot of praise from gamers and critics alike. Finally, released into a full-blown game back in 2016, thanks to crowd-funding and a lot of great publicity.

The gameplay can be explained in one sentence and the developers did just that stating that, “SUPERHOT is the first person shooter where time moves only when you move.” – You can’t explain it any simpler than that. Yes, time stops when you do; you can see the bullets mid-air, you can stop playing and go do something else, and you can smack people in the head then take their weapons, which you can also see fly up in the air as the enemy falls to the ground. This unique gameplay truly makes you feel like Rambo or Jack Bauer, a hero to save the day. Well, not in 24 hours or less, because you will be playing this game for dayz just to get through the challenges.

Papers, Please

It's fun, you have my word.
It’s fun, you have my word.

Have you experienced travelling to another country? Did you ever wonder how the immigration officers do their jobs? If the thought crossed your mind, I suggest grabbing a copy of Papers, Please, a game made by Lucas Pope. He was a developer from Naughty Dog, the studio behind the award-winning video game series, Uncharted. He made this game with a thought in his mind that video games are a form of art.

In Papers, Please, you get to play as an immigration officer and you’ll get to experience how to stand on the other side of the window in the immigration office. The graphics for the game is simple, but the gameplay is unique. It starts simple, some basic rules will be laid out for you to follow. And these rules will be the basis  whether an applicant can pass through or not. Then as each day in the game progresses, new rules or requirements will be presented: additional paperworks will need to be verified, new tools will be introduced in order to asses the immigrant, and other additional actions which is very similar to how immigration really works. After playing this, you might think twice before unleashing your rage in the immigration office.

Monument Valley

The title doesn't spell "Challenging", right? Wrong.
The title doesn’t spell “Challenging”, right? Wrong.

Puzzles, puzzles, puzzles. We all thought that video game puzzles will always be the same: you will encounter an obstacle, then you’ll be asked to find certain objects or pieces then place them in or on a specific place, you’ll be asked to draw a line going from a point around the obstacle and to a certain end point, et cetera. Then Monument Valley came into the picture and it came in with a bang. With multiple awards, citations, commendations, and praises, this video game sets a mark for the next generation of more challenging and innovative puzzle games.

I’m pretty sure you’ve seen or at least heard of impossible objects. Those objects that we perceive as physically impossible or, at least, bothering. Monument Valley used it as the main gameplay mechanic of the game. The players are asked to control a silent protagonist, a princess named Ida through  various levels of optical illusions. You might be thinking that it’s simple, you just need to get through the whole “illusion” of the stage. Nope. There will also be tiny objectives like, activators, bridges, pathwalks, etc. that you need to activate and manipulate in order to get through the stage. If you’re the type of gamer who likes some excruciating mental challenge, you might want to give this one a shot. Thank me later.

The Elegy for a Dead World

Oh, writing. The act of materializing the wonders of the human mind – the adventures, wishes, dreams, visions, and other abstract or philosophical constructs of the human mind. This is what Dejobaan Games, the developers of the Elegy for a Dead World, used as their main gameplay mechanic.

You are a traveler whose ship was broken and who is tasked to record the history of the planets around you. The gameplay is pretty simple, you get to choose from three planets where you want to write about first. Then, you can start with a certain premise of the world or you can go wild with your imagination with the free writing option. This video game is now being used as a tool for teaching English as a second language or ESL in various schools and universities around the world. This shows that video games can be more than just a ‘game’.

Valkyria Chronicles

You will cry. Trust me.
The 7th platoon of the Gallian Militia

This video game is one of the games I’ve played (and anime I’ve watched) that delivers great story with astonishing twists, relatable characters, and an immersive gameplay. Valkyria Chronicles is brought to you by the developers of Sonic. Yes, that’s right – Sega.

Like most RPG/JRPG, character development is embedded in the core gameplay of Valkyria Chronicles. But, what makes this game unique is its turn-based battle system called BLiTZ or Battle of Live Tactical Zones. I know, sounds awesome, right? Well, that’s because it is. This battle system is composed of three parts or modes. The Command Mode, the Action Mode, and the Target Mode.

The first one puts you in an overhead map of the battlefield. This is the time when you can learn of the enemies’ whereabouts and plan where to position your units and where to strike. Then, you can select a unit to control, which brings the player to Action Mode. While in the Action Mode, you can control your character like a normal third-person shooter. Movement costs Action Points which varies for each of your units on the field. Lastly, when you’re finished positioning your units, you can enter the Target Mode. In this mode, the player has control of the unit’s aim, but you can’t move. This allows for headshots and other awesome kills.

During the player’s turn, each action – whether the control of multiple units or the same unit consecutively – depletes his/her Command Points. There are also different classes of characters to experiment with. The environment also affects the flow of the combat. Snipers can take the higher grounds for a vantage point, tanks can knock down walls, and many more.

This game is truly worth the try. But, I suggest watching the anime first.

Other Video Games with Unique Gameplay

  • Patapon – because of using different notes and rhythms for attack, defend, run, etc.
  • Her Story – because of using video footages of a real person
  • Portal – Handheld Portal Device
  • Eternal Darkness – due to the Sanity meter
  • Shadow of Mordor – Nemesis System, enemies remember you and yes – creepy.
  • Katamari – cute anarchy

These are just some of the games that I’ve played that I think has an innovative gameplay. How about you? Have you played a video game with a very unique gameplay that got you immersed for hours? Tell us in the comments down below. We like to hear more games that exhibits innovation.

Someone Tried to Put Hyrule: Total War Through Greenlight

First and foremost, no, this game does not involve Nintendo, Sega, or Creative Assembly at all.  Hyrule: Total War is a fan-made, total-conversion mod for Medieval II: Total War based on The Legend of Zelda series.  A recent attempt to put the mod through Steam’s Greenlight program not only didn’t involve the owners of The Legend of Zelda or Total War, but it didn’t even involve the creator of the mod.  Someone going by the name WolfDampf posted the mod to Greenlight claiming to have the creator’s permission and that the mod would be available for free.  Firstly, mods are supposed to be posted to the Workshop while Greenlight is for games hoping to be released on the store page.  Second, the mod’s creator, known as UndyingNephalim, denied the claim that WolfDampf had permission from him to post the mod to Greenlight.  A DMCA takedown notice has already been filed against WolfDampf’s Greenlight entry and it has no chance of going through.

This isn’t the first time that someone has pulled a stunt like this on Greenlight.  A user called sundry foot tried the same with Cartoon Fighters, a game built off of the open-source fighting game engine MUGEN that compiles various fighters designed for the engine by various different users based on various different copyrighted characters, including characters from The Simpsons, Dragonball Z, and even The Legend of Zelda‘s Link.  It is debatable whether or not sundry foot had any involvement in developing any of the characters or the stages used in the game for MUGEN‘s engine, was not even responsible for compiling all of the content into a single game, and he certainly did not have legal rights to use any of the content for commercial release.  There have also been countless attempts to put Minecraft through Greenlight by numerous individuals with no affiliation to Mojang or Microsoft.

Valve provides no oversight of their own to their Greenlight program, making the only barrier for entry a $100 fee.  As a result, attempts of this nature by either scammers or those who simply don’t understand what Greenlight is actually for are shockingly commonplace.  Fortunately, several users have taken upon themselves to police Greenlight for these fiascoes and none of the attempts listed above gained any traction as a result.  However, there have been cases of copyright infringement slipping through Greenlight in the past.  One example is Spartans vs. Zombies Defense, which used the depiction of Leonidas from the film 300 and audio clips from the same movie without legal consent from the copyright holders.  Not only did it make it through Greenlight, it was even featured under the Popular New Releases section before Valve finally caught on and pulled the title off their service.

Many are concerned that this recent fiasco may lead Nintendo to send a cease-and-desist against the original mod.  Hyrule: Total War is already a famous fan-project and it’s likely that Nintendo has already heard about it without feeling the need to step in.  However, this incident may force Nintendo’s hand simply as a matter of protecting their intellectual property.  Some have suspected that this may have even been WolfDampf’s intention from the beginning as the project has drawn backlash from other Zelda fans in the past.  It would be a tragedy if seven years worth of dedication and passion were to all go to waste because of something that the creator had no part in or control over.

What are your thoughts on this recent Greenlight incident?  Does Valve need to take a more active role in what appears on Greenlight and has a chance of making it onto their store front?  On a lighter note, how awesome is the idea of a Legend of Zelda RTS?  Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

Sega Registers Dawn Of War 3 Domain, Will It Happen ?

Dawn Of War

Dawn Of War

A Reddit post, by xblood_raven, shows that Sega has registered a new domain name called Dawnofwar3.com. The last time we saw any Dawn of War game was back in 2009 which was Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War2 so a near Dawn of War3 is highly likely and this domain register gives us a bit of hope.

The URL registration is featured on WhoIs and confirms that Sega Of America is the Registrant Organization. Although if you try to access Dawnofwar3.com now, you will just get a search page since they still didn’t create anything for the website and I think it’s just a matter of reserving a place if they decide to announce it.

Domain registrations occur all the times and must be treated with more caution than hope and excitement since they don’t represent any actual confirmation of the game’s existence but we will be sure to update you if anything new regarding Dawn of War 3 pops up around the internet. Are you an amateur of this game? Tell us if this domain registration refreshed your love for the Dawn of War franchise.

What Does Tembo Mean for Game Freak?

Tembo

The newest game being developed by Pokemon developer Game Freak is certainly a strange one and not just because it stars an elephant in commando gear named Tembo.  What’s strange is that the game is being published by Sega and that it will be releasing on PC, Playstation 4, Xbox One, and NOT the Wii U.  Obviously, something is going on between Game Freak and Nintendo, but what it is exactly is anyone’s guess.  It’s possible that this is just a one-time fluke that will come and go without any long-term impact.  Conversely, this could be the beginning of the end for Game Freak’s long partnership with Nintendo.

Of course, that raises the obvious question of why Game Freak would potential break away from Nintendo when their current relationship has been so profitable for the last nineteen years.  One possibility is that Game Freak simply wants creative freedom with this title that they couldn’t obtain through Nintendo.  Perhaps Nintendo wasn’t too keen on the cartoon violence that the game presents or the fact that there is a curse word in the game’s official title.  Maybe the game is expected to be larger than the Wii U download service is able to support.  Maybe Nintendo insisted on rebranding the game with Pokemon characters and Game Freak is tired of working off of the same property so many times and is just looking for a change of pace.

The more extreme possibility is that Game Freak is tired of working with Nintendo altogether and this is their first step towards breaking away from them.  While milking the Pokemon franchise for years to come would be the wise choice from a financial standpoint, that kind of repetition is torturous for creative minds.  It’s only natural that the members of Game Freak would want to experiment in new ways and take chances that Nintendo would be against.  Now, Game Freak has worked on non-Pokemon games since the series has had its explosion in popularity, such as Drill Dozer and HarmoKnight, but none of them have caught on like the collectible monsters craze.  Admit it, how many of you had even heard of either of those titles before I brought them up?  Nintendo may have given up on Game Freak’s side-projects and the only way something like Tembo or any future titles outside of the Pokemon series will see the light of day is through collaborations with other publishers.  Game Freak may even decide that these passion projects are worth more to them than the fortune that the Pokemon series is making them.

If that is the route that they decide to take, it is certainly a risky one.  Time has shown that the Game Freak brand is not as financially successful as the Pokemon brand and focusing on these more experimental endeavors could be enough to sink the company.  That’s an extreme possibility, but it simply isn’t likely that Game Freak can make lightning strike twice.  Depending on who they build a new partnership with, their success could rely entirely on that as Game Freak’s reputation leads the publisher to overhype their first outing in ways that they can’t deliver on.  As nice as it would be to have optimism in Game Freak’s ability to stand on its own, there is plenty that could go wrong with a departure from Nintendo.  This is especially risky considering that they would no longer have the Pokemon series to fall back on at that point.

Before you think that there is any chance of Game Freak pulling the Pokemon license away from Nintendo, know that there is absolutely no chance of that happening.  Nintendo owns a majority share in Game Freak and The Pokemon Company and is already being pretty generous in allowing Game Freak to pursue this partnership deal with Sega in the first place.  However, Nintendo would never allow one of their most successful franchises to slip away just because Game Freak wants to break it off.  Nintendo let Rareware keep the rights to most of its franchises when it was sold to Microsoft, but they made sure that they still owned Donkey Kong and Star Fox in their entirety.  If Game Freak has any desire to part ways with Nintendo, then they would have to sacrifice the rights to Pokemon to them in order to make that happen.  Expecting Game Freak to have any chance of getting out of such departure with Pokemon intact is like thinking that Bungie had any chance of keeping Halo when they broke off from Microsoft.

As a side note, I’d like to mention that Game Freak’s decision to partner with Sega for this endeavor is unlikely to be any sort of jab at Nintendo.  Whatever rivalry the two companies had was buried years ago.  It’s more likely that Game Freak turned to Sega because the two actually have a history together.  Prior to the creation of Pokemon, Game Freak developed a game titled Pulseman for the Genesis/Mega Drive that was published by Sega.  That history is likely why Game Freak turned to Sega for Tembo.

There is a lot worth speculating on with the Tembo’s announcement, but only time will tell what will actually become of the relationship between Nintendo and Game Freak.  Maybe Game Freak will decide that it’s time to leave Pokemon and Nintendo behind.  Maybe their just exploring new possibilities and nothing will really change in the grand scheme of things outside of seeing odd concepts like Tembo pop up every now and then.  What are your thoughts on the possible future of Game Freak?  Are they better off playing it safe or taking a risk on what they love to do?  Leave a comment below and let us know.

How to Fix Alien: Isolation Crashes, Black Screen, Freezing and Other Problems

Alien

Alien: Isolation is one of my most anticipated games of the year and I am sure that I’m not the only one. True, classic horror makes this game a perfect choice for these cold months of late Fall, but not every player get the chance to fully experience the greatness of this title. There are many reports regarding Alien: Isolation crashes, black screen issues, as well as the game freezing, stuttering and so on. Although not everybody experiences these problems, there’s a big number of players affected to a greater or lower degree and we’re here to help.

We’ve looked into most problems the game has and we’re here to try help you fix Alien: Isolation crashes, freezes, black screen and all other problems you might be experiencing when playing or trying to play the game. It’s going to be a long read, but hopefully it will all worth it and you’ll be able to play problem free from now on.

If your game crashes, we should start by trying out the basic things first: verify the game’s integrity on Steam; make sure that you graphic card drivers are up to date and also update your sound card drivers (many gamers fixed their problems with this solution!); disable your antivirus program and/or Windows firewall; run the game as an administrator.

If these basic solutions to fix Alien: Isolation crashes and errors didn’t help, it’s time to get a bit more in depth. Here are my suggestions:

– Make sure that your monitor’s display rate is set to the default number (60Hz). Different settings might make the game crash or freeze and give you the “Out of Range” error.
– remove any USB peripherals you might be using, like extra gamepads or wireless headphones. On numerous occasions, it’s these things that had the game crashing.
– Run the game in Windowed Mode. After starting the game, hit Alt+Tab and get your game in windowed mode

Language changing solution

This is a possible solution recommended by Sega themselves, so it’s worth trying if the others haven’t fixed your problem. Here’s what to do:

– Launch Steam
– Go in your game library and right click Alien Isolation in your games list
– Select Properties – Language and change the language to any other language (it doesn’t really matter which)
– Shut down steam and reopen it, then verify the integrity of the game’s cache
– Go back to the language setting of Alien Isolation and change the language back to English
– Run the game and enjoy!

These are our recommended tips and tricks to fix Alien: Isolation crashes, freezes and black screen issues. If you have other possible solutions to these problems, let us know by commenting below.

Retro Corner: Comix Zone

Comix Zone

Oh yes indeed, gals and guys. This is many of our childhood dreams come true, right here. Buckle up.

In the mid-nineties, before MC Hammer went bankrupt and we realised just how crap Will Smith’s fluorescent Fresh Prince of Bel-Air outfits were, this was the ultimate fantasy: being sucked into our own comic book and becoming its hero. We’d battle monsters of our own creation, with weaponry we drew ourselves. General greatness would prevail.

And so it did. Meet Comix Zone.

This brawly action platformer hit the Mega Drive in 1995. It’s the toontastic tale of Sketch Turner, a cartoonist who finds himself in that very predicament. One stormy, impending-doom-y night, lightning strikes the page as he draws. In that instant, the comic’s villain, Mortus, is able to escape into the real world. Needless to say, this is all kinds of not good.

And so we take the role of Sketch, trapped in the panels of his comic and assailed by all manner of ghastly flesh-things. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

"Dear Diary, today I went to the sewer and kicked angry mutants in the face. It was a good day."
“Dear Diary, today I went to the sewer and kicked angry mutants in the face. It was a good day.”

Every inch of Comix Zone is true to its brilliant premise. Levels proceed through page panels, each attack and hit gives a Batman-esque Pow! or Sock! or other terrible effect, and the characters’ speech is in speech bubbles. It looks brilliant, with some of the best 2D art the console could muster, and the music is suitably jangly.

But nuts to presentation, what of the gameplay? It’s simplistic but a lot of fun, a combat-centric experience with some light puzzle solving and platforming to be done. There’s some nice variety in the stages and mutant opponents therein, and a clever inventory system that makes it easy to utilise the selection of bizarre gadgets and weapons you’ll pick up.

Comix Zone is a short experience, but certainly an enjoyable, challenging and inventive one. It was released at an unfortunate time, which really doomed its chances at sales-tastic success. Still, in the almost-decade that has passed since, it has cemented its reputation as a cult classic. Definitely one of the Mega Drive’s hidden gems.

Retro Corner: ChuChu Rocket!

ChuChu

If the Dreamcast is known for anything, it’s the unique library of weird-tastic weirdly weirdery. During its fleeting life, it brought us such delights as Jet Set Radio and the utterly demented Seaman.

Among these, the highlight was probably the oh-so-Japanese party game ChuChu Rocket! Hold on to your underpants, we’re taking a look now.

Like all good party games, this little slice of madness starts with a rather simple concept. It then injects a heaping helping of hyperactivity and chaos to proceedings, just the way we like it. In this case, you’re charged with placing arrow tiles on a game board to direct a band of space-mice (the titular ChuChus) into a rocket. They run automatically straight forward, and take right turns when encountering a wall, so your ‘aiming’ skills are crucial to success.

As do their sworn enemies, the cutesy/demonic-looking KapuKapus (space-cats). Essentially, then, your objective is to balance directing the mice to your own rocket while propelling furious cats of claw-y justice toward your opponents. The latter will sap their score, as a KapuKapu that reaches a rocket will eat one third of the collected mice inside.

ChuChu Rocket! is replete with game modes, sporting single player options and multi. The local play, both co-op and competitive, is the highlight, and where the bulk of the frantic action is to be found.

Doesn't look too crazy, you say? Wait until you play it.
Doesn’t look too crazy, you say? Wait until you play it.

Each player has their own coloured rocket in their corner of the screen. Mice will emerge onto the board from designated areas, and you have to coerce them your way. Control is simple enough, with each different direction corresponding to an arrow tile (depending on where you want the little guys to go, naturally. It is chaotic simply due to the amount of ChuChus on the screen at once, and the contradictory arrows being placed by four players at once.

It’s a game of one-upsmanship, which sees you vying for certain spots on the board. Special bonus mania modes, which ramp up the mice count and the game speed simultaneously, add to the madcap fun. It’s the kind of good-natured friendship destroying play you see in party classics such as Mario Kart and Mario Party. When you demolish a player’s score in the dying seconds by sending a volley of cats into their rocket, all hell will break loose. This is the kind of thing local co-op was made for.

Meanwhile, the lone player can enjoy a distinctly different experience. Here, puzzle mode awaits. This is a series of stages challenging you to rescue a set amount of the ChuChus with a strict time limit. There’s a vast array of variants on the theme, and it all makes for a uniquely brilliant package.

ChuChu Rocket! is also notable for being the first major console game with online support. It was as half-assed and ropey as you’d expect, but it was there. Huzzah!

Retro Corner: Gunstar Heroes

Gunstar

Ah, Treasure. You crazy guys, with your legendary reputation for bullet-flailing, toontastic madness. These guys brought us Gunstar Alien Soldier, the lost classic in which a creepy bird-freak in a spacesuit blows up everything ever with absurd weaponry.

In the same vein, we have today’s slice of retro crazy. Feast your eyes on Gunstar Heroes.

This 1993 Mega Drive run and gunner is a game of simple tastes. It likes hordes of marauding enemies, far too many darn explosions, and ridiculous bosses. Naturally, we’d expect nothing less. Let’s take a look.

Gunstar Heroes is the tale of the titular Gunstars: Red, Blue, Yellow and Green. They’re heroic do-gooders of some sort or another, a kind of camp cross between the Power Rangers and the A-Team. When the world (which is to say, a world) is threatened by nefarious forces trying to reawaken a catastrophic power, they’re on the case instantly.

The Japanese and Western releases of the game have dramatically diverging plot lines. For the sake of familiarity, here we’re concerned only with the much-less-demented Western version. The robotic menace Golden Silver was once incarcerated by Professor White, and the gems that powered it scattered. This belligerent bot wanted to suck the planet’s resources dry, which is the kind of behavior that can ruin your whole weekend. Years later, the Empire want to gather the gems and release Golden Silver from its planet on an orbiting moon.

Gunstar Heroes 2

The game’s four main opening levels can be completed in any order, and a gem awaits at the end of each. They are in possession of some fearsome/ridiculous/ridiculously fearsome bosses, of course, so this is quite a challenge right here.

You play as either Gunstar Red or Blue, who play slightly differently. Blue can fire in eight directions, but cannot move while firing. Red, conversely, is more manouverable but less versatile in that sense. It’s standard left-to-right carnage-ery, with the addition of Treasure’s typical customizable weapons. Here, you have two weapon slots, and four varieties of shot to mix and match: Flame, Force, Chaser and Lightning. These have all kinds of effects when paired together (a close-range but deadly flamethrower/blowtorchy thing, a weaker but rapid-firing machine gun and the like), and are a lot of fun to experiment with.

Gunstar Heroes is a cult classic for its perfectly honed genre gameplay, its challenge and its pure imagination. Black’s Dice Maze is perhaps the most brilliantly odd stage a shooter has ever seen. As for the bosses, all you need to know is that this is the home of legendary transforming death-bot Seven Force.

My favourite Mega Drive game by a country mile, and a contender for my most beloved of all time.

Whatever Happened To… The Unrivaled Crazitude of ‘Project Rub’?

Project Rub

Hard as it is to comprehend now, the DS’s touchscreen blew minds left, right and centre when it was announced. In the early 2000s, this was pretty well unheard of, and particularly so with regards to a games console. Generally, any screen-touching at that time would only result in that weird rainbow-coloured-warpiness effect.

It was new and unfamiliar territory. We tentatively began to paw at the DS’s display like a cat when a mouse appears on TV. Confused and intrigued and a little hungry. What we needed was a comfortable and entertaining introduction to this brave new world. A game that would deliver on all of Nintendo’s ‘intuitive’ prattle.

That title was Project Rub. Buckle up, ladies and gentlemen, there’s a heaping helping of madness right here.

As we know, regardless of the console, minigame compilations are nothing new. This peculiar effort from Sonic Team is another of them, but it has all the quirky charm it needs to be forgiven. It’s a love story at its heart, with you playing the role of an anonymous hero who falls in love with a passer-by. From those rather cliched beginnings, we embark on a lunatic tale indeed.

Just another day in the life.
Just another day in the life.

Said minigames see you massaging a man’s stomach to free a trapped goldfish, poking at rampaging bull-men to ‘pop’ them, and… pawing at your lady-love’s body in all kinds of bizarre fashions. Project Rub was deeply eccentric and oddly compelling, and its silhouette artstyle only added to its charm.

Its sequel, The Rub Rabbits!, expanded upon all of this. Here, your character has his own smitten admirer, and the love triangle makes for an entertaining narrative. But that’s not really why you’re here, as the games took a further turn for the crazy-ass. At one point, you’ll have to turn your DS upside down to navigate a crop of palm trees, which are being attacked by a giant marauding mecha-crab. That’s not a sentence you get to hear very often, which pretty well says it all.

The travesty, then, is that there has been none of this since 2005. The original was –ironically– the game that made me fall in love with the DS, and this fairly obscure series has a cult following. Will we ever see another?

Retro Corner: Altered Beast

Beast

Our poor anonymous centurion friend. He was perfectly content being dead, moldering away and not bothering anyone. Out of nowhere, Zeus appears, all beardiness and thunderbolts-to-the-face fury, to resurrect him. Why? The god has a quest for us: to descend into the underworld and rescue his kidnapped daughter from the villainous Neff.

Why one of his non-dead underlings wouldn’t have been a better choice for the task, I can’t imagine. I suppose you just can’t get the staff any more.

So, anywho, this is the rather succinct plot of Altered Beast, the legendar(ily crap)y arcade brawler from 1988. You could call it a classical Golden Axe or Streets of Rage, but it’s older than both so… you couldn’t at all really. Stop your filthy lies, filthy liar.

Still, the general idea is much the same. As the centurion, you will progress through a series of stages, each adorned with the columns and caverns and such you’d expect of its setting. You’ll walk from left to right, punch things in the face, and kick things in the face. This being the underworld, though, said ‘things’ take a rather more macabre approach. Zombies, demons and other winged horrors will oppose you.

Altered Beast 2

But fear not, because you’re more than equipped to deal with them. Our impetuous hero can collect magical orbs from destroying certain enemies, which power him up no end. In fact, they are the source of the game’s notoriously terrible POWER UP! soundbite. When our hero suddenly and instantaneously spouts biceps like Popeye does, you know the monsters down below are about to have a bad time.

Particularly so when he collects three of them, and unleashes beast mode. This is an animal transformation, unique to each stage, which bolsters your power and gives you a new attack or two to work with. A werewolf, a dragon and a big ol’ magical bear-thing are among them, and you can’t defeat the end boss of each stage without their services. Literally, the level will simply continue on if you’re in your regular muscular-dude-in-speedos form.

There’s nothing particularly remarkable about Altered Beast’s gameplay. It’s just another early scrolling brawler, the kind that the Mega Drive was crapping out on a daily basis back in the day. Nevertheless, there’s an unmistakable allure to the game. Perhaps it’s the hilariously, cringe-ily bad voice acting (WIZE FROM YOUR GWAVE!) that cements its timeless appeal. Perhaps it’s the delusions of grandeur: not since Columns has a video game had such a fancy classic aesthetic for no reason at all.

Whatever the case, though, the fact remains: It’s hard to say whether Altered Beast is remembered particularly fondly or not, but it is remembered. That’s enough, really.