Game Store Road Trip

Earlier this week Hart704 and I made a day of going down to the Columbus, OH area and checking out a handful of video game stores. My original idea for this trip came from realizing a guy who I follow on YouTube (L1games) who has his own game store was located in the Columbus area and then it branched out from there using Google Maps to find other places to visit. Here’s what I picked up:

Level 1 Games
Level 1 Games was a nice, clean store with a selection of games for most systems going back to the Atari 2600. The selection offered was pretty good, but unfortunately I only found two games I was looking for. An interesting note is that there were a few Famicom carts for sale, but none of them were games on my wish list. [RATING: 4 out of 5]

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Counter-Strike (XB) – This was the first shooter (along with Team Fortress Classic) that I really played online in a big way and it introduced me to the more realistic type of shooter that is very common with the Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, and Killzone franchises today. I played it on PC back in the early 2000s, but this version is just as fun and reminds me of those years I was really into this game.

Prince of Persia: Warrior Within (XB) – This game comes highly recommended by Hart704 as being the best in the modern Prince of Persia series so I figured I would pick this one up since the price was right.


Play N Trade
I have heard of this chain of game stores before so I wanted to see what one was like. First impression when walking in the door was a very Gamestop-esque appearance, but other than that it was much better than Gamestop. Play N Trade was nice and clean, well-lit, and had games for most systems going back to the Atari 2600. Overall the selection was more robust than Level 1 Games. [RATING: 4 out of 5]

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Unreal Championship (XB) – A port of Unreal Tournament 2003 (which I enjoyed on PC), Unreal Championship is a great game and it’s nice to have it.

Serious Sam (XB) – I never played the Serious Sam games when they were on PC except for the first game’s demo so these (I already have SSII) will be fun old school styIe shooters to play someday.


Video Game & Music Exchange
We actually went to two of these stores and both of them were pretty crappy, not Stickman’s in Shelby and Ashland crappy, but somewhat close. Both were poorly lit and fairly dirty, but the selection of games was pretty decent. There were a bin or two at both places that had game carts just kinda thrown in them with no easy way to look through them so I didn’t even bother. I did find one game worth getting at the second of the two stores. [RATING: 2 out of 5]

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Saturn Controller knock-off – I tried this out thinking it could be better than I usually expect from controller knock-offs, but it is trash just like usual. I’ll try to open it up and see if I can at least use the d-pad’s pad for my real Saturn controllers, but I doubt that’ll work out.

Far Cry Instincts (XB) – Many Xbox games were found on this trip as you can tell and this last one is another shooter on the system that I wanted to try. My list of wanted Xbox games is dwindling fast and is now down to only eight left.


Super Game Team
Very nice little quaint store. Very clean, well-lit, and very nice condition on most games. This is literally the only game store I’ve been to in the United States that actually prices games based on condition and completion which blew my mind! Game selection was a little lacking mostly because of the small size of the place, but it was pretty packed with games nonetheless. The only way this store could be better is to give this man a bigger store! [RATING: 4 out of 5]

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Sega Genesis 6-button controller – I have an undying love for the Sega Saturn controller as I find it is the best digital controller of all time and this is its predecessor and it’s practically just as awesome!

Heiankyo Alien (GB) – A quirky little game where you are defending against an alien invasion by digging holes and then burying them alive!

Streets of Rage 2 (GEN) – One of the greatest beat-’em-ups ever made as many people know. Deceptively deep list of moves topped off by the usual fantastic soundtrack by Yuzo Koshiro.

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Pick 5… Favorite PlayStation 2 Games

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God Hand
One of the most crazy and fun action/beat-’em-ups ever. Lots of awesome moves to unlock and use and a ton of humorous moments. If you like your action super challenging and satisfying look no further. God Hand gives the term hardcore new meaning!

Yakuza 2
A super involving game in a very convincing living world modeled after real Japanese locations with characters you really get attached to. Want to stop by the arcade and try your hand at winning a prize from the UFO Catcher? Go ahead. Afterwards, have some fun at the batting cages and then maybe you’ll want to get something to eat at a local cafe or have a few rounds at a bar. All of this is possible and more and that’s not even the main game! Yakuza 2: bust some heads then flirt with some ladies at the hostess club.

Guitar Hero
I enjoy myself some rhythm/music games and at the time of the original Guitar Hero’s release it was a breath of fresh air and a ton of fun! I played the crap out of GH and as stale as this particular type of music game has gotten since then I can’t deny that at the time it was one of the most fun gaming experiences to be had!

God of War II
Without a doubt one of the best action games ever and easily the best looking game on the PlayStation 2, God of War II took everything great about the first game and upped the ante tenfold. Epic action and breathtaking vistas is what God of War II is all about!

Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil
A masterful platformer that does a lot with the few controls it gives you, Klonoa 2 is a fun game with charming characters that is an underrated classic that deserves a play.

FUN FACTS
– No fighting games appear on the list. Not something I planned I assure you!
– All games on the list are PlayStation 2 exclusives.

Timeshifting Across the Universe

– Graphics & Audio
The graphics in Timeshift are excellent for the year it was released. The rain effects are extremely good as are the character models, environments, weapons, etc. The only real disappointment with the technical aspects of the visuals are the ground textures especially if it is supposed to be a natural turf like grass. Artistically the graphics are the usual bland nondescript environments that don’t stand out with their dull color palette of a bunch of greys, browns, and silvers. The audio is comprised of good sounding weapon effects and explosions. Voice acting is delivered in a flat, average way. It’s not bad, but not terrible or memorable either. The music is also decent, but doesn’t stand out in any way.

– Controls
The controls work well and about as you would expect for an first-person shooter. The main difference here is, of course, the time manipulation from whence the title of the game comes. You can slow down, stop, or reverse time with the push of the L1 button. Usually it is defaulted to slow down time, but if you want to select a specific one regardless of what the default currently is you have to hold L1 and press Square, Triangle, or Circle for slow down, stop, or reverse, respectively. You will definitely make a lot of use of your time manipulation powers in battles as well as for solving some fairly interesting puzzles which breaks up the potential monotony of the otherwise great shooting action.

– Story & Characters
Unfortunately the story and characters of Timeshift are just as nondescript and forgettable as the environments and you will quickly not care about any of it.

– Weapons
The weapons are all pretty fun to use and you will likely enjoy them all for different reasons. The first three weapons you use early on are standard stuff such as the KM-33 (pistol), KM 2103 Karbine (assault rifle), and ShatterGun (shotgun). All three are effective, but unassuming. Shortly after that you’ll come across the long range weapons: Echo Rifle (sniper rifle) and ThunderBolt (scoped crossbow). My favorite of these was definitely the ThunderBolt and I used it to snipe for the rest of the game after I acquired it as it was extremely effective even at medium range. The last four weapons are used off and on depending on the situation usually: E.M.F. Cannon, Bloodhound (rocket launcher), Hell-Fire, and SurgeGun. The E.M.F. Cannon was a fun to use weapon best for medium range that fires “projectiles of magnesium” which usually gibbed the enemies you shot with it. The Bloodhound was really only used for taking down helicopters in a few spots in the game and the SurgeGun was only really useful for the final boss battle. My favorite weapon was the Hell-Fire because was super effective at killing quick with it’s incendiary bullets and even also had a flamethrower as a secondary attack.

In the end Timeshift is a solid FPS that has it where it counts most: the shooting. It is a fun game that would stand out a lot more if we didn’t live in an age where the FPS genre is super saturated with great games, but as it is we do and because of that a lot of people have overlooked this game. If you love FPSs then you’ll likely enjoy this one too, but in this competitive genre it doesn’t standout enough which is unfortunate.

RATING: 4 out of 5 / 7.5 out of 10

REVIEW SPACE

Thumbs up, soldier!

Lots of new pickups since my last blog! All of the Saturn pickups are just Japanese version replacements for my recently sold U.S. Saturn collection since I wanted to consolidate my Saturn collection down to just the Japanese stuff.

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Jet Set Radio Future (XB) – It’s pretty hard to find JSRF by itself so I settled for the double pack that also includes Sega GT 2002. I put it in briefly to test it out and JSRF seems like it’ll hold up great once I finally get around to playing it.

Star Soldier (PS2) – I love Hudson’s Soldier series of shoot-’em-ups and this one in particular is a remake of the original Famicom/NES game of the same name so I will probably like it.

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X-Men: Children of the Atom (SAT) – This game was the first of many Marvel styIe fighting games and was excellent for its time, but has aged poorly. The Saturn version is the only good home port as the PlayStation version had a ton more animation cut and was just an atrocious port overall.

Dynamite Deka (SAT) – Known in the west as Die Hard Arcade, Dynamite Deka is a decent 3D beat-’em-up and a game with one of the earliest examples of quick time events.

NiGHTS into dreams… (SAT) – This is one of the very few games by Sonic Team that I actually really enjoy. NiGHTS is still a great game that still feels pretty fresh and unique which is certainly saying something for a game that was originally released 14 years ago!

Fighters Megamix (SAT) – Probably the best 3D fighter on the Saturn, Fighters Megamix is an interesting mashing together of Virtua Fighter and Fighting Vipers not only of each games’ rosters appearing, but also of each games’ respective fighting engines which you can switch between in the options menu. Lots of unlockable characters as well, such as the Daytona car from Daytona USA and even Pepsi Man (only in the Japanese version)!

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Marvel Super Heroes (SAT) – The second of the Marvel styIe fighting games and a huge improvement over X-Men: CotA. Marvel Super Heroes still holds up well today and has an interesting use for the Infinity Gems where activating any one of them can give you temporary power-ups like life regeneration, increased damage dealt, increased speed, and more.

NBA Jam: Tournament Edition (SAT) – A well-known arcade basketball game that is still a fun time and the Saturn version is an excellent port of the arcade version.

Virtua Cop & Virtua Cop 2 (SAT) – Two of the best light gun games from the early-to-mid 1990s before Namco’s Time Crisis arrived on the scene. Highly recommended if you have a Saturn since they are extremely cheap to get, but definitely play with an actual light gun because the controller never works as well.

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Fatal Fury Special (SNES) – I recently got myself a used 27″ CRT TV and was playing the Neo Geo version of this game on it for testing purposes and found out that not only does FFS still hold up well today, but I also put the SNES version in and found out it is a really great port of the original, better than I remember in fact!

Twinbee: Rainbow Bell Adventure (SFC) – Twinbee is a great series of cute shoot-’em-ups normally, but this spinoff is a neat platforming action game!

Jaki Crush (SFC) – The Crush series of video pinball games are pretty well-known and are my favorites in the genre. Jaki Crush in the one of the three that isn’t well-known and was the only one of the three not released on the PC Engine/Turbografx-16 and also not released outside of Japan. A shame because it still provides a great game of pinball.

Hoshi no Kirby 3 (SFC) – Also known as Kirby’s Dream Land 3, this is a great Kirby game that a lot of people probably missed out on because of its extremely late release on the Super Nintendo in 1997, right in the middle of the PS1 era.

Area 88 (SFC) – Known as U.N. Squadron in the west, Area 88 was based on an anime/manga of the same name. Probably Capcom’s best shoot-’em-up, but that’s not saying much for Capcom even though this game is actually good unlike most of their shmups.

Pokemon Pinball (GBC) – A decent 8-bit portable video pinball game, but nothing stellar.

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Alien Crush & Devil Crash (PCE) – These are the two of the Crush video pinball series that everyone knows about that I alluded to earlier. Both are still excellent pinball fun and are totally worth getting. They can be played on the Wii via the Virtual Console and are highly recommended! If you can’t get enough after that double dose of awesome pinball there’s even a direct follow-up to Alien Crush on WiiWare called Alien Crush Returns. [Devil Crash is known as Devil’s Crush outside Japan.]

Super Star Soldier & Soldier Blade (PCE) – Remember Star Soldier for the PS2 from earlier in this blog? Well, these two are the first and third entries of the series on the PC Engine/Turbografx-16 respectively. You may remember two blogs ago I picked up Final Soldier, the second of the three Soldier games on the PC Engine. All three can also be had on the Virtual Console.

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