Monday 13 October 2014

GamesYouLoved at Play Expo 2014 - day two

Day two update - 
Manchester - 12th October 2014

The second day of Play Expo brought more of that old-school goodness with a modern twist, more costumed shenanigans and Retro game competitions with both prizes and pride at stake.

Sunday morning at Play Expo went a lot more smoothly without car worries to hold us back. The Games You Loved team got through the doors as early as possible, quickly unveiled our stand and hit the arcades for some cheeky games before the doors opened

I greatly appreciated the chance to try Smash TV and Tatsujin – two games I’d only heard of and would never usually get the chance to play, let alone see them in an arcade cabinet where they belong. As a younger generation gamer myself, experiencing all the 80s arcade machines in all their glory was a real privilege. The only thing I’d seen like it was Funspot, the American arcade featured in the movie King of Kong so it was a bit like standing on hallowed ground.

Forgive me for being a bit biased towards shoot’em ups but I have an unhealthy love for the genre, so here we go. I was able to play a real Galaga machine for the first time ever! Seeing the solid foundation behind the games I love was very cool, Galaga has definitely aged well which is probably why the series continues to this day. The same awe from playing on a real machine hit me when I tried Sinistar as well, it’s amazing to see how an old arcade game can be as intense an experience as Sinistar is.

Hanging out beside my beloved Progear cab while waiting for a turn gave me a chance to take in the friendly atmosphere of Play Expo. Shared passion makes for easy conversation and after a couple of attempts at my mission from yesterday I finally cleared the game on a single credit, and people who’d seen my efforts were quick to approach afterwards, have a chat and ask for advice about the game.

Day 2 brought out my competitive streak, even if that meant losing to Chris from the GYL team at Kung Fu Master, something I’m sure he’ll remind me of forever!

Alongside all this was a massive walkabout with Chris and a few of the other GYL team and some cool chaps in the community. When it came to arcades from Star Wars to Outrun you could pretty much take your pick.

I spent some time challenging people at Street Fighter games on the SNES, you have to respect the amount of time and energy these guys ‘n’ gals put into learning their fighting games, some of these brawlers were seriously good. I entered 8bit Planet’s Smash Bros Melee tourney despite being a pretty average player myself. 

Just watching the physical act of pressing buttons quickly was impressive enough; the better players’ hands were just a blur of movement and the game was being played so fast that a non-initiate probably couldn’t tell what was going on. As for myself I had the rare pleasure of actually winning a couple of matches before being knocked out of the third round in some really close games. One of my opponents was so good at mind reading he could tell everything I was going to do before even I knew, impressive stuff all round.

Some more exploration led me to a new indie game for Xbox 360 and PC called Tiny Keep, which invited me to begin my ‘tiny escape’. It’s a roguelike dungeon crawler with a charmingly cartoonish visual style that doesn’t detract from the game’s dungeon setting. You progress through randomly generated floors, hacking your way through enemies or leading them into traps. Once I figured out how to control my character I found it very fun, the random element is intended to keep players coming back for a varied adventure while each level has its own distinctive theme and boss.  My escape was cut short however when I ignored warnings to leave an ominous skull totem alone, disturbed it and was mowed down by a sudden ambush of skeleton warriors. As a gamer it’s hard to avoid interacting with any given object, but I definitely learnt my lesson.

Finally I tried out a retro arcade classic born anew on the Occulus Rift: Tempest! This was my first time trying the Occulus Rift for any type of game, so allow me to state the obvious; that it’s pretty damn cool. I won’t overdo it though. Even with the frantic shooter action of Tempest and its constant explosion of trippy colours, I wasn’t freaking out or having problems with my eyes afterwards like some testers have claimed. Somehow even in this crazy cyberspace disco, being totally immersed and having full use of my peripheral vision just felt natural. After trying Tempest I do wonder how I’d be affected by an Occulus Rift game that makes use of visual realism.

By Ben Cataldo

Saturday 11 October 2014

GamesYouLoved at Play Expo 2014 - day one

Day one update - 
Manchester - 11th October 2014

Magic. Absolute bloody magic. Whether we’re talking atmosphere, cutting edge gaming or arcane retro technology, Play Expo has it all. The team at GamesYouLoved enjoyed today so much, we really had to give you an update tonight.

We had a great time even after a fairly disastrous beginning. After cramming in a quick breakfast with the Funstock team (full English, of course), we jammed a bunch of old school consoles and equipment into the car and headed off. Immediately upon reaching the venue however, our car window refused to close, the mechanism had broken! We hadn’t even set up yet, so picture those stress levels going through the roof. Suddenly we’re in hard mode; getting the stand put together while trying to get the AA on the phone!

Fortunately everything was fixed and good to go soon after the doors opened. What struck me about Play Expo was the amount of space given over to gaming itself, almost half the venue was dedicated to games already released for people to actually play rather than obsessing over new and upcoming releases. This idea of gaming in the present and of course, the past, instead of a fixation on future gaming really speaks to me, the expo certainly lives up to its title.
Loads of floorspace was filled with every game under the sun, many of which were multiplayer set ups, you felt like you could start a game with anyone. There were a couple of consoles I hadn’t even heard of before, I tried an FM Towns Marty for the first time, there goes my credibility eh?

There was still a strong presence from the new console generation though, the big three were out in force.

The real hype was radiating from the arcade section: an absolutely mindblowing collection of cabinets, shoot’em ups, racing games, all that good stuff set to free play so you could game as much as you want. Personally the chance to play some real shooters by CAVE on an actual arcade cab was just awesome. With all the score competitions going on there were opportunities for all that bedroom practice to be seen by fellow gamers who genuinely appreciate it too. I’ve got a score to settle with Typing of the Dead tomorrow, that’s for sure.

It was all about playing the games, but also the retro community that surrounds us all. Retro Joe, Tooty UK (Stuart), Rich King Retro, Cybersnake (Jason), Dave 'imagamegeek' to name but a few where there. The GamesYouLoved crew and these guys and others took time out to chat and do some mutual filming too. All in a days work for these massive retrogaming fans. Not only this but we hooked up with Sam (@MrSidC64) to chat about his Commodore book on the stand - where we fitted in a short interview of this and his new Amiga Kickstarter which begins Monday 13th October.

A little walk through the venue presented me with crazy cosplay karaoke competitions going on in one corner next to a casual Smash Bros tourney run by the Bristol boys who’d come up for the weekend. Alongside this Retro Collect had their many competitions on and kept the energy up all day - great job guys.

There were enough stands selling retro games, quality prints and other merchandise to make me believe my wallet had a mind of its own. There was even a bloke selling swords, but thankfully the cosplayers weren’t all armed to the teeth.

So the end of the day found me back on an arcade cab playing Progear, just dying to finish my credit (it was a good run!) while being asked repeatedly by security to finish up as it was closing time. Eventually I had to relent and abandon my plane to its fate. See you all tomorrow though yeah?

By Ben Cataldo


Wednesday 8 October 2014

JXD The Android Gaming Tablet


In this day and age we are all for collecting all the classic games and playing them on the original consoles with the original controllers.  That is the best way to play retro games, the nostalgia is there with the feel and the touch of the machines.

Pushing in a cartridge into the slot on the Sega Master System, pressing the power button on your Nintendo NES console or even pumping coins into an original arcade cab.  These are all the things we remember of gaming as kids and still love to do, but in the present day this is not always possible for everyone and we like to preserve our machines and games of old and keep them in good condition plus access a range of games at any one time.

But wait........our delivery from landed. So without delay we opened it up to see an Android tablet ..." But wait ........this had analogue joysticks and a D-pad!  We now had in our hands the JXD S7800b !

So this is an Android tablet built for retrogames....we are quite impressed!  The console holds well in your hands and is light too.weighing only 500g! Your thumbs lay ontop of the joysticks just right and still leaves your fingers to be hitting the L1 and R1 buttons curved into the corners of the console!  The tablet has all the buttons you'd expect from modern handhelds and they are all positioned correctly which will suit most games and gamers!

It has Android OS so this tablet is easy to navigate with the D-Pad or even the touch screen (yes touch screen!!) The Google Play store app is supported so you can download your Gmail or any other Android apps that take your fancy, even the retro games which are available are easy to access.  So this being just like your Android  phone (without calls) you can also surf the internet with pure ease using WIFI

No beating around the bush, this is a very fancy multi emulator in a branded tablet - but JXD have done this very well.  As we all know downloading ROMS can be annoying but the JXD makes this simple.  The console comes pre-loaded with a cloud app that puts your games into genres and categories for you.  All you have to do is simply choose your game and press download! Its that easy.  The 8GB of storage gives you tons of space for games and if you want more for movies or such there is a memory card slot too. The JXD is pre set to play Megadrive, SNES, Famicom, Gameboy, DS,GBA, MAME, PS1, N64, Arcade and  better still the DREAMCAST!!! 

Of course you can download more emu's for other consoles and formats (if you know how to do that sort of thing) and we are told the JXD also supports Speccy, Amiga, 32x and Atari Jaguar!!

One of the best features of the JXD is the screen it comes in at a massive 7" and is bright, responsive and colourful which makes the games llok great! If you wish to have more definition you can plug this badboy into your HDMI on your TV and go Large!!!  The speakers sit either side of the console giving you good stereo sound.  There is a 2.0 megapixel camera on the back and also one on the front if you want to take selfies, there is also an excellent Key Mapping feature if you download Android games that use touch screen controls, but you do have the option to use these on all games....we don't!

Battery life is good, we have been playing Crazy Taxi most of the day and with its 5000mah battery you can play for quite a while!   There is not much else to say about the JXD you just haver to play it for yourself to experience it.  This is a great retro meets modern gaming console with added emu's to get you started. There are even a few bundled games on there to get you going!

Like any emulation system -it plays emulated games, this means sadly that not all games play perfectly or have sound, but this you'll experience across a number of systems anyway. The majority of roms across a range of systems worked. Some didn't so we moved onto the next game - easy.

Watch the Official Trailer below or visit to snap up your console (don't forget to use the code GYL at checkout for 5% off!!!)

Saturday 4 October 2014

ET - is it really the worst game?

Worst Game Ever? 
ET The Extra Terrestrial - 1983

If reports are to be believed the worst game ever is ET for the Atari 2600 and it holds the unwanted accolade of potentially causing the collapse of the video game industry in the early eighties. 

Rumours rumbled around for years that thousands of copies of this game were buried in a New Mexico desert with many thinking that was just an urban myth until earlier this year when the site was found and the games excavated....but one of those games found its way to Sussex!!!! 

Your favourite GYL guest reviewers Hedger & Preece have decided to take one for the GYL team and set about the task of seeing just how bad this game really is.

A flick of the power switch takes us straight to the loading, title and intro screen (all cunningly disguised as the same screen with a rendition of the ET theme tune playing sweetly in the background or is that bleeping sweetly? 

In terms of the gameplay I think this game can be best summed up by the word 'toilet' (one that doesn't appear to flush). You have about 5 different screens that appear one after the other, in an unending cycle, as you (playing as the eponymous ET) are chased by an FBI agent, a scientist and Elliott. I think the idea is to collect parts of a spaceship whilst trying to avoid some holes in the ground (yes... I remember that bit in the movie too). I say 'I think', as what appeared to happen, at length, was I'd get picked up by one of these other characters and get taken to a screen that looked like a cross between the Acropolis and a small housing estate. 

Needless to say this game drew a semi-permanent, confused frown from within me as I tried to work out what the hell was going on. Even now, reflecting upon it with the clarity that a cup of tea and a Jaffa Cake bring, I still am at a loss. Still at least I can now say that I have experienced a part of gaming folklore – just quite possibly the worst part of it...

For me the rating for the game are : 

Sound 2 – Only the fact that the title screen had a tune that resembled the ET theme saved this from a 1 

Graphics 2 – ET's head movement is about the only impressive thing 

Playability 1 – You really won't want to play this a second time – even if you know what to do.
Overall 2 – But if I were you I'd score yourself a 1 for a) actually reading a review of the Worst Game Ever™ and b) reading it to the end! 

Reviewed by Dean Hedger and Jon Preece