Episode One: The Frag Mentality: Gaming Accessories!

Here’s the first episode of my video venture into games… Gaming accessories is the subject… let’s see what I have to say!


Xbox 360 Review: Dodonpachi Resurrection Deluxe Edition

Dodonpatchi Resurrection is the fifth title in the DonPachi series originally created by Cave a Japanese video games developer. Cave have a bit of a thing for side scrolling shooters as they have extensive experience in the arcade games industry back when amusement centres where hubs of activity for gamers around the world. The studio consists of mostly Toaplan employees who were successful with their ventures, producing games like Batsugun and Truxton. Cave now also produce similar games for ISO platforms which have often over-shadowed efforts from other Japanese studios, they are a damn reliable bet when it comes to scoring with this shrinking niche as they’ve also had success with their more newer titles Progear and Nin2-Jump.

This installment comes with several modes along with the arcade original for you to enjoy in the Play menu section. It also includes Score Attack mode which makes use of the Xbox 360’s Xbox Live feature so you can compete with the world, Training mode for the rookie flyers and even an option to reel over your Replay Data. There’s also the added benefit of additional content in the Downloadable Content menu section which gives the game a lot more relevance to be picked up today. This is what a lot of the ports extra features stem from along with an intertwined arcade design and feel which overall creates a well rounded experience.

Dodonpatchi Resurrection is a rather lively side scrolling shooter game with tons of sounds, animations and action stuffed in. The story revolves round the past wars that the human race had got themselves into with the A.I in the DonPachi universe. Something surfaces and is creating a war in the past as the humans won the war in the future, this thing is a virus. This virus is a left over bit of the program which the humans destroyed and has infected human technology in the future to send huge amounts of materials and resources back to certain points to create these gigantic robotic space dolls that you end up fighting. The aim of the game is to cut right through the onslaught of enemy waves while you crank up the points till you get to the end of level boss which will be one of five dolls that were originally created to serve mankind. There’s for modes within the Arcade mode and there’s the Score Attack mode to try and master, both with have you upping your game often as Dodonpatchi one of the easier side scrollers to get into thanks to its fluid layout and structure.

When you’ve chosen a mode to play you’ll select a ship and power and/or even bring in a friend for more military strength! There’s three to choose from; Type A is a light faster fighter, Type B is your mid-range ship and Type C is your heavy option, all have changeable Shot Styles which have unique abilities and strengths associated with them. These options can help you set up strategies to overcome the harder waves of the game you might have trouble with, also enemy ships and units do attack differently and in different patterns on every level to try throw you off balance. The game plays very well this way, very smooth but also lively enough to keep you focused and enjoying the bit trip. You also have the Hyper Counter System and the Counter Lazer attacks to utilize along the way once you’ve filled you Hyper Meter. Basically the Counter system takes care of the spray and pray the A.I. can sometimes throw at you, it’s normally the smaller units on the ground and is very effective against them. Your Lazer attack is much stronger though and can stop the bigger harder hitters from firing at you and you can change between these two firing modes anyway to distinguish patterns that work against ones that don’t. The controls are incredibly simple and there’s the Training mode anyway just incase your not feeling your usual kickass self.  Obviously Dodonpatchi is really fun and stratifying to just play this way, it gives you enough of that itch to scratch without screwing up its original rhythm. This is a great strength for a game to have and it also has these accessible learning curves to do with the A.I. patterns and new attack options, this opens up other variations of play for gamers when they start to improve which is actually admirable for such an old port.

All of these details and structure change in each of the arcade mode creating different obstacles to overcome; plotting you way through or all out destruction. The game also has a built in Invisible Multiplier and rises in level once you’ve brought all of the basics together to get those higher combo chains. This is when the competition will heat up and is a really good way of nailing some amazing scores to challenge other gamers with around the world, it also can be very rewarding when you whiz right through a stage you’ve already excelled in and have created strategies for. Dodonpatchi has hours of play assembled around this and all it takes is a bit of time invested with its old and the new features… and then heaps of practice! That’s the thing about side scrollers, someone always has a better score that you. It’s quite a hard feeling or urge to describe if you haven’t felt challenged by someone online; to put all of your skills together to get that amazing run through can just feel so simply rewarding.

When you begin to play if you’re new to this niche you’ll probably find Dodonpatchi confusing or disorientating to play as there’s a barrages of bullets and lazers heading for you and of course the enemy units on and off the ground to watch out for. Don’t worry! We’ve all been there and the way to play these games anyway is to keep your eyes focused mainly to the middle of the screen and gauge the gaps in the bullets, ships and lazers to get your ship through them. You can only take so many hits as well until you pop your little space ship and use a life up to respawn with full equipment but no Hyper Attack bar, you’ll pick these little rules and tricks up in your first few attempts but be prepared to stick some effort in to really squeeze all combos and points you possibly can. Dodonpatchi is a really competitive game too due to the nature of it, it’s fast paced, unpredictable and fun which all together can get you hooked for a good few hours in one sitting – if you can stomach it that is. That’s the deal with arcade games, they just suck you in and then… BANG! An hour has just vanished before your eyes! But because they’re so simple and ultimately fun from any angle it can get most gamers itching to stick a high score up, Dodonpatchi is no different and has Xbox Live Leaderboard functionality for extra arcade excitement.  

After you completed a full run and have stopped the rewiring of time, you’ll get some small story boards to look over. They aren’t anything incredible just some tail ends of storylines to do with alternate or parallel outcomes. In the Xbox 360 version you also get a soundtrack CD which is great to stick on while you play, you can get some very calming and nostalgic vibes coming through all 23 tracks. There’s also different versions of Arrange A, B, Black Label and version 1.51 available for download which adds more paths and modes to voyage through. Dodonpatchi is limited when it comes to any bigger features, the downloads themselves are different versions of the modes you already have and it ultimately doesn’t bring anything super new and exciting to you for your MSP. This is really the only disappointment in Dodonpatchi, it’s really hard to expect so much from a port that’s had success and changing it too much could have be fatal. The fifth installment offer players a great experience with added features that tie in with Xbox Live, it also offers alternative modes amongst its original modes which is a great comparison to play with it just doesn’t offer anything more, nor does it lie about what it is.

If you like a challenge, Dodonpatchi has it. It’s one of the better organized side scrollers, offering better customization options than most other titles which gives the gameplay a good stir whenever you need it. It’s many mode ensures hours and hours of play and the Leaderboard functionality give the player something to aim for while firing lazers like its no body’s business. The pace is fast enough and it’s hard enough to get the pros sweating too, additional items and attacks also have you learning and executing patterns and tactics with ease. Overall it’s one for your arcade collection (If you have one) and will keep any side scrolling urges under control, no problem.

On Second Thoughts…: Seeking revenge with an animal that can kill harder, better and faster than me does sound like it could fill my Sunday nicely.

On Second Thoughts… Seeking revenge with an animal that can kill harder, better and faster than me does sound like it could fill my Sunday nicely.

Looking for a duo to help release some of the week’s stresses and strains? Look no further, the boys are back in town.

Dead to Rights: Retribution does lay a typical story of revenge, damp allays and guys slamming fists on tables on a bit too thick but it also coughs up some great violent combat – all in the name of the law.  You are Jack, the beefy protagonist with a massive build and an occasional amusing lack of sense .  Jack is an unstoppable train of punishment, hell bent on revenging his father’s death when he gets moidered right in front of him.

DTR is a third person action game where you set out to conquer this corrupt city by pummelling your way through it, however you aren’t completely alone on this mission as you’re paired with a furry ally called Shadow. The control scheme for the duo is fairly standard which makes the Jack and Shadow crime fighting team pretty fluid; the d-pad is used to give Shadow orders and cycle through Jacks weapons which means you can keep the two bouncing off each other as well. There’s also a neat little duck and cover system which lets Jacks huge bulk become nimble enough to use some of his meaty finishers while the dog steadily rips his way through way more men than you.

Shadow really does seem to have some gripes of his own to play out, maybe that scar is deeper than we all thought and he is really the lead character. He’s the type of dog you wish you had when you where being bullied way back when, a little furry friend to keep you warm, make you smile and kill anyone who says bad words about you. He is definitely more on the feral side of dog life sporting that mean looking scar down his face, and to my surprise in the first ten minutes of the game beat me to the very first achievement – Scrotality (I’ll let you guess).  He gets stuck right in at the beginning while you’re still learning the controls.

On the other side of the coin Jack is pretty hardcore too often sporting an assortment of bruises, gashes and grainy stubble, suited in some dark leather padded armour. He can take quite a beating where Shadow can’t and in return offers one serious ass kicking back to the enemy; give it some time and you’ll start to really like the meat head.  Jack can also trigger slow mo time if he gets into trouble, it isn’t the best slow mo feature I’ve seen but it does the job and you can trigger it manually. Jacks prompted finishers are definitely the best bit about him, they‘re seriously spine tingling, brutal to watch and consisting of every bone being broken in many creative ways. However, the weapon system is boring, the weapons themselves are dull and limited which lets the game down a lot, while Jack, for some unknown reason, can’t throw a grenade past his own feet which is frustrating.

When you’re controlling Shadow you can sneak round like a ninja, stealthily (or not) taking out the rather idiotic and edgy A.I. which often just cheats anyway. Shadow can lure them out like the true master of Splinter Cell he really is and bolt out of cover to take them down but is quite vulnerable to multiple attacks – they are best left to Jack to deal with.

The boss fights aren’t hard, it’s just a pain to dodge and dodge so much when you’re used to smashing faces in at your own pace. It made me hate them for being so untardy but the game does have these little streaks of flavour floating around amongst the chaos that crop up in parts of the plot and in the cut-scenes. The environment is incredibly dull, a lot of it being ruined buildings or restaurants ready to be torn up in stand offs. There are no views or anything designed well enough to gorge your eyes on apart from the huge amount of gore that comes with most of the attacks. This lack of interesting space to proceed through made the pace of the game drop but Shadow usually picked the tempo back up and I didn’t stay in a pointless A.I fight for too long as he picked off A.I. that were even quite a distance away.

Dead to Rights: Retribution does seem to lose sight or grasp of its developing action and plot and blurs the experience into a repetitive mess by the end. It seems to have been partly neglected and it shows when you end up getting bored of smashing those empty A.I. drones. The game did grant me hours of fun but when I got to the end I saw why maybe other people gave this one a pass the first time round. You can see where it goes wrong by looking at the box and the fact it swings widely west in appearance and in its delivery doesn’t help. On the other hand when I sat back and sifted through some of the other shelved games in my mind, Dead to Rights: Retribution doesn’t come out too badly amongst the many forgotten titles out today, because it doesn’t really lie about what it is and it offers you a workable duo with a bit of character to create carnage with.


It’s the weakest title out of the whole series, so it’s one of those games to pick up cheap for an evening or two especially if you dig it up amongst the dead when you’re out shopping.

On Second Thoughts… You better read this!

Fancy a little hand finding those great games you’ve missed? Need someone to steer you away from the past stinkers? Well why didn’t you say?!

Check out my new mini writing feature “On Second Thoughts…” which will take a look at some of those gaming beauties you left behind.

It WILL go live every week or so, unless I’m stopped from delivering my messages of good will gaming by the forces of EVIL.

Oh! and suggestions are always welcome.

Hope you enjoy it a smidge.


Review: Xbox 360: Operation Flashpoint Red River

Codermasters reignites the Flashpoint series with its new first person shooter OF: Red River implementing a daring “off the hook” attitude this time around. This creates a clear image of fighting middle eastern terrorism as a whole comjoined with the comedic values associated with the likes of Battlefield 2 & 3 and improvements on previous game play puts Red River in reasonable stead to be a refreshing experience of simulated war.

Red Rivers introduction is rather blunt, Bin Laden and 9/11 get a mention in the fast paced edgy and slightly humours intro video which does slide awfully close to some already hard to approach issues but does just miss some really awkward moments using this type of harsh storytelling manner. It also, surprisingly, has a lot of bad language – trying to deliver a more gritty design to the dialogue which projects a very heavy US glory march theme through the entire game.

Prepare to enter Tajikistan, a big rocky dusty bowl of terrorist trouble. You and your team have been sent in to deal with these trouble makers and basically have to make your way through the worst of the worst which have been forced to retreat here after previous operations by American troops. Safe to say they aren’t too easy to shake hands with, the A-I does have a crazy-streak to it when it’s attacking you as the A-I can quite annoying but justifiably pop you one in the head, which is a relief to see as the A-I is a bit crumby in OF Dragon Rising. The games tutorial section which takes place at the base camp where you initially start your campaign is clear and easy to grasp, along with its mission markers, optional objectives and basic squad commands. Soon enough you’re shoved into the action when the base camp takes a royal pummelling and you and Bravo team have to bundle into the back of a transport Humvee to retaliate.

From here the game gets going and the action gets good though you may find it still takes a little longer to be able to fully manipulate the controls to rain hell on these terrorist guys which in itself is a good learning curve for harder missions and situations that lay ahead for you and your men. The physics are more on the genuine side with some weight to guns and apparel and also to your character; these can be improved upon in the games new upgrading section for the four different classes later when you have acquired a medal or two. The running has slower feel and bounce to it and some pad rumble kicks in when you’ve given it legs for too long, some tweaks and touches like this pop up during Red Rivers gameplay adding a little depth and enjoyment here and there when getting around.. However when you’re on foot or in transport the dialogue can be too full on in these in-between moments, which makes humping your ass over long distances or taking a ride to the next objective a bit too hardy.

Amongst all this the combat does stand out to be something different and gets you strategizing as much as you’re pumping away at the trigger as you have access to overhead maps, command options and some brilliant weapons (thought they are limited in number) during combat, this creates great moments when things go right and come together leaving you often panic stricken. The fact you bleed out and can become injured means you won’t just be running forward to rage fire at the A-I, you’ll normally duck and dive and patch your wounds and then get some supressing fire on the target as a couple of wrong moves and your friends get to watch you bleed out in the middle of the battlefield.

Co-op campaign is available if you have Xbox Live and can bring heaps of better engagements as you’re not constantly commanding Bravo team and you can chat freely but you can still shout things at your team mates just for the fun of it using the D-pad full of commands. You can also just work on the one class you’ve chosen safe in the knowledge another friend has another class covered and is unlocking perks, the classes go up in levels and unlock certain weapons and apparel as you go along creating a rewarding building element into Red River as you continue through it. The length of the levels and the element of Co-op play can lead the way to some great game-play in Red River and will have you interested for hours just making your way through the chaos, upgrading and picking your friends up off the ground and gloating just before you get downed too. The maps are boundless and enables you to flank your enemy, gain a height advantage or just generally create options for strategizing with what you have. The level design also blends these expanses with villages you need to seize and the mud looking huts around them are perfect for the enemy but not so perfect for you. The design of villages and these situations especially makes the action a bit harder, it gets you rapidly checking through your options and gets you on high alert because of just that. This mix creates can some hairy moments when you come toe to toe with a terrorist unexpectedly, that on edge feeling is rare to find so readily in simulation games.

Another distinguishing and gratifying part of Red River is the fact you don’t always have a clear shot, you have to take into account there’s the hills and mounds, dust being kicked up and even poor lighting to contend with, so make sure you double check who you letting rounds off at especially on the harder difficulty when your stripped of all the advantages you would normally rely on to tell apart your men from the enemy’s. RR is still as hard as its predecessor to completed but with you mates at your side becomes more of a beckoning, so light hearted gamers beware this isn’t your cup of tea by a longshot.

There are ten large levels to get through in the campaign and if you fancy something different while you make your way through it you can try the Fireteam Engagement missions. These are bonus missions to set up online or off and have four different types of objective; Rolling Thunder, Combat Sweep, Last Stand and CSAR. Also downloadable content for RR shows up here so you can set up many of these shorter games with ease, you also have multipliers in these missions as there’s points to be hand for things like headshots and destroying vehicles which with Xbox Live you and your friends or A-I team can try scramble up those Leaderboards. You can check your overall progress in the Player Progress menu and fix any Core Skill points you’ve acquired. Here you can upgrade your skills and general fitness to make you into a more versatile and deadly soldier and at the right of the screen you can check how many medals you’ve acquired in campaign and Fireteam missions.

Operation Flashpoint Red River is a definite improvement on the series in many ways and offers a more accessible game but keeps a lot of what was original from the past title. The blend between the action and the strategy is so well made and placed sometimes its creates something that engages you as much as you engage it and also builds on this to offer some more unique and interesting points to the game for example when you call in air strikes, these moments gets those hands sweaty as one wrong move and you’ve hit the wrong side. All of these things come together to create an atmosphere and image of how wars like this could take place and as harsh as the dialogue is it’s probably close to marine speak and overall is a more genuine portrayal of war.


Score: 7.5


Developer Codemasters
Publisher Codemasters