30 September 2015

News: Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs

Team Saber Rider have bought the license to make a 16-bit gun-and-gun based on the 1987 TV series Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs. They are aiming for a release on PC, Mac, Linux, 3DS, Wii U, SNES, PC Engine and Dreamcast. Yeah. What a odd and wonderful list, right? The PC Engine version is particularly interesting to me but it is because of the Dreamcast release I am covering this bit of news on VGL. They are running a kickstarter campaign right now. It is nearly funded with four days left to go, so I see no reason as to why this would not make it.

I take for granted that most of my readers fondly remember Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs, so I think I speak for all of us when I say "Hurray!".

29 September 2015

Review: Redux: Dark Matters (Dreamcast)

I was not the only one who initially felt that Redux: Dark Matters was a scandalous failure. The complaints started flowing in over at Hucast’s HQ. This resulted in everyone getting a second disc with a fixed version of Redux: Dark Matters free of charge. Well, we had to pay the shipping, but other than that it was free. Did this new version change my mind on Redux? Read on and find out!

Redux 1.1 fixes the visual problems completely. It is crystal sharp with great colors and the same smooth 60 FPS gameplay as DUX 1.5. The textures are all revamped and the sounds are tweaked. Gone is the pod launch attack, and that is a good thing. If you recently read my review on DUX 1.5 you will know that I found that particular attack somewhat pointless since there already is a proper charge shot in the game. Cleaner control scheme, cooler graphics, better sound, even further tweaked balance and a lot more bling. All the way from small pickups down to parallax backgrounds things have been improved and this makes me really enjoy the game.

Should gamers who own DUX 1.5 get Redux: Dark Matters? Well, let me say this. Redux: Dark Matters is the definite version, but it is not a completely new game. I would rather look at these games as three iterations of the same core game. They are all worth a couple of bucks for the collector I would say, but for an average gamer that just wants to play the best version of DUX out there Redux: Dark Matters is the only logical option. It is the most polished version of them all and it is in many ways like the original DUX on crack. Just make sure to buy the 1.1 version if you are going for a used copy. Really, really make sure.

28 September 2015

Article: How Hucast tricked us all

In may 2012, Hucast emerged on Kickstarter. It was the creators behind DUX, that asked for $25,000 to make a sequal - Redux: Dark Matters. It was going to be a totally new shoot ’em up that would be extra sweetened the more streatch goals was reached. In the end Hucast got over $50,000 and although they originally said one particular stretch goal was 60k, they contacted all backers and said that the two player mode (and yet another new level) would enter the game. Excited over the great result Hucast went to work and the fans began their patient waiting.

The first release date, february of 2013, came and went. The updates were few and far between, but the complaints were even fewer. Let them take the time they need, most of us said. The game was delayed multiple times. But then, a snowy january afternoon when I was sitting at home a package fell through my door and down on my floor. The game had arrived. I eagerly opened it up and was greated with a wonderfully designed case filled with extra goodies. You know, some cards, a sticker, stuff like that.

I immediately put the Redux disc in my Dreamcast and on the television screen appeared... a pixelated logo seemingly out of focus. ”Wow” I thought, ”what a curious choice for a logo!”. What followed next could almost be described as a small shock. Redux: Dark Matters was not a ”new shoot ’em up” at all. It was an exact copy of DUX, but with slightly higher resolution, some new textures and deeper backgrounds. That had been shoehorned onto a Dreamcast disc with no thought on how the end result would be.

The result was blurry. In fact, the result was so blurry I could not look at the game for longer than ten minutes before getting a headache. Those who wear glasses can imagine playing without them to understand how Redux: Dark Matters looked.

What happened? How could Hucast go from ”a totally new shoot ’em up with extra levels and a two player mode” to ”DUX again, with no extra levels and no two player mode” at the same time as keeping their backers money without losing sleep? I do not know. It happened none the less.

Redux: Dark Matters is only marginally different from its predecessor and with blurry visuals. Hucast made a mediocre shoot ’em up worse, announced it as a completely new title, collected over $50,000 and laughed all the way to the bank.

I would like to explain here that it is important to read my upcoming, full, review of Redux: Dark Matters because Hucast listened to their fans and tried to make things better. Read that one before judging Hucast.

27 September 2015

Review: DUX 1.5 (Dreamcast)

When I said I would take some time to sink my teeth into DUX 1.5 and Redux: Dark Matters I did not think I would take this long to do it. Of course I have not been playing just these two games since my last entry but let us pretend that is the case, for poops and giggles. So, this is my first review of two - focusing on DUX 1.5 and briefly covering Redux: Dark Matters because of reasons soon unveiled to you.

(DUX 1.5 is a slightly updated version of DUX, just as the name would suggest. Since I have not played the original I am not going to compare the two, but rather share some thoughts on DUX 1.5 as a game completely of its own. What I do know is different is the balance and the soundtrack.)

DUX 1.5 is a horizontal shoot ’em up developed by Hucast and released on Dreamcast in 2013, meaning it is one of those games that got released long after the system was discontinued. It plays as one would expect although a bit slow and it is definitely on the easy side. This is something I do not necessarily write off as negative as the shoot ’em up genre has plenty of sadistically difficult games as it is. I managed to 1CC it the same day I first fired it up and it quite frankly did not need anything more than patience.

The visuals are extremely pretty. Not technically impressive, but the color scheme... Oh, god, the color scheme. It is right up my alley with lots of pastelle colors and bright white objects. It runs buttery smooth and sounds pretty nice as well. The soundtrack is not something I will remember, but it is fitting to the levels and it feels taken care of. The controls are not complicated, but there are quite some things to remember. We have our standard shot (one button for regular shots and one for auto), a charge shot, bullet soaking and pod launch. The ship has a pod in front of it, sort of like in R-Type, which can protect the ship from most kinds of enemy fire. This pod can be used as is, launched forward to cause destruction and also soak up bullets on screen to clear a path or get the player out of a pinch. It all works, but I feel since we have an extremely powerful charge shot there is really no point in having the launching pod as well. It seems like two attacks that does pretty much the same. I ended up ignoring the pod launch during my time with the game.

All in all I want to recommend DUX 1.5 to everyone that likes a more slow paced shooter with pretty visuals (without being a cute ’em up) and that has a lot of patience, because the only real challenge in reaching the end is paying attention through long, slow scrolling levels.

Immediately after beating DUX 1.5 I popped in the Redux: Dark Matters disc and was expecting nothing less than an amazing successor/remake of the formula. Perfected gameplay and impressive visuals together in perfect harmony and so on and so forth. What I got was garbage. The resolution was very strange and the result of a rushed decision was a game that looked so blurry it made me feel nauseous.