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GamelogoBy Australian Ninja

Remnants & Relics. Buttonhole *Special* Feature

Welcome dear reader to Remnants & Relics, the first in an ongoing series of features looking back at various aspects of yesterday's video games. This series is one that I'd hoped to kick off many months ago, but I just haven't had the time to do it justice, until now. So consider this your opportunity to put on your best pair or rose-tinted glasses, open up a luke-warm can of clichés and prepare to hop aboard the way-back-machine.... It came from beyond two dimensions! -A Look Back at Isometric Gaming-

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ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

ACMI Day Tripper

Welcome Buttonhole readers to another feature that is so choc-full of goodness that I've divided it into several sections. The top half is about the Indy video games showcased at ACMI. The bottom half is about the Pixar exhibit. It's ridiculously long and all terribly interesting to read, so you may as well read it in two halves, or just the parts that interest you. After reading about the ACMI exhibits on their website and getting more than a little excited, I decided to make the perilous trek to inner Melbourne. With time on my side and money stuffed in my pocket I ventured forth to the train station. Once on board I passed the time by staring out the window, reading a volume of Dark Horse's Concrete and snacking on tasty fruit. Arriving at Flinders St, I wandered around until inevitably finding my way out of the rat-maze like station.

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ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

Classic Comic-book Review. Kraven's Last Hunt

"Here lies Spider-Man - Slain by the Hunter" So reads the grave of one of histories greatest superheros. "But he's not dead, is he? What happened to everyone's favourite web-slinger? Spidey seems to be alive and well now, what with his three movie deal and a string of monthly Marvel comic-book titles to his name, so why was he buried six feet under? The year is 1987. The company is Marvel. The character is Sergei Kravinov also known as 'Kraven the Hunter.' Back in the 60's Stan and Steve (Lee and Ditko, respectively) churned out a heap of cool villains for the title "Amazing Spider-Man." Doctor Octopus, The Cham

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Samurai Warriors: Xtreme Legends PS2 Box PlayStation 2 "Hack 'n' Slash" Double Review:

Samurai Warriors: Xtreme Legends and Blood Will Tell

Publisher: THQ Australia

Thu, 14 April 2005

Sammy by: Hillelman

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Any game that has “Xtreme” (or any variation of the word extreme) in its title is going to face an uphill battle winning me over. Because it is a proven historical fact that, 9 times out of 10, “Xtreme/Extreme” equals either (or both) “tries way too hard to be cool” or “all style and no substance”. Samurai Warriors Xtreme Legends fought hard to dispel my pre-conceptions. In fact, the game put up such an admirable amount of effort that I ended up rather liking it. But, in the war to completely capture my affection, it ultimately couldn’t quite manage to emerge fully victorious.

One problem I had with this game is that (apparently) it is actually more or less an expansion pack for the first PS2 Samurai Legends game and as such is priced a bit lower than the average console release. There’s nothing at all wrong with that, especially since this title can be played as a full separate game in its own right. But, since I don’t own and have never played the previous Samurai Warriors, I’m probably missing out on a big part of what Xtreme Legends has to offer. That also means I am unable to tell you just how well it all works when you combine the two games.

Samurai Warriors: Xtreme Legends PS2 screenshot 1
This samurai is, like, totally extreme dude!
The game is set in feudal Japan. Basically what you do in this game is choose one of four characters, watch the ensuing cut-scenes (which look pretty cool but didn’t make all that much sense to me) and then run around hacking up dozens upon dozens of enemies. There is some degree of strategy required, as you are given certain instructions you must attempt to follow and goals you have to meet. But essentially Samurai Warriors Xtreme Legends is just an old-school style beat-‘em-up. It is quite fun for a while, mainly thanks to the truly massive number of enemies that attack you all at once. You also have some pretty stylish moves at your disposal and the ability to get on a horse and ride around taking people out was a nice touch. But pretty soon I found it all started to feel much too repetitive.

Technically the game is pretty sound. The graphics are quite good, there’s nothing really outstanding going on, but the game features some interesting character designs and settings. The engine does a nice job of handling the insane number of on-screen enemies for the most part, though the frame rate does suffer from time to time. The sound is, again competent yet not thrilling. Except maybe for the voice acting, which is truly horrible at times and personally I found that quite amusing. It reminded me of the old Monkey TV show.

I wouldn’t really recommend a purchase of this game, unless you find the setting extremely appealing. It is just too monotonous to be fun for any extended period of time. However Samurai Warrior: Xtreme Legends would make a great rental, as it is a fun action game in small doses. Of course, if you own the first PS2 Samurai Warriors, then you will probably get a whole lot more out of Xtreme Legends.

Slightly above average, yet thoroughly unspectactular. I rate this game 6.5 out of 11 buttons

Blood Will Tell PS2 Box


This is some trippy shit. Just the fact that Hyakkimaru (bless you), the samurai dude that the player controls, has a cannon built into his knee was enough to attract my attention. Samurais with knee cannons; you just don’t see enough of that. He also has swords built into his arms, so you really don’t want to piss him off.

The storyline for Blood Will Tell is based on Tezuka Osamu’s (the creator of Astro Boy) Dororo. Here’s a blurb taken from Sega Europe’s website:

Like the original Manga the game follows the adventures of Hyakkimaru, a tortured samurai on a quest to uncover his past and regain his humanity. As a newborn baby he was robbed of every limb, organ and even his flesh, his humanity replaced with a myriad of ways to deal out death. At every step of the way Hyakkimaru's friend Dororo will be there to help, guide and fight alongside him.

Dororo is, according to this Tezuka Osamu website, meant to be a boy. But in the game the character seems very much like a girl. This little girly boy just adds even more strangeness to the already strange proceedings. Anyway, you can issue commands to Dororo, such as asking him fight the enemies or search for hidden things. There are also a few occasions in the game where you take control of Dororo, which mostly involve puzzle solving. These sections are nothing to write home about, but they do a reasonable job of breaking things up a bit.

The majority of the game is pure hack and slash action. You take on all manner of evil monsters (or "fiends", as they are known in the game) in an attempt to retrieve Hyakkimaru’s 48 missing body parts. Each time you get a body part your skills will be upgraded in some way. As a result, the further you progress the more varied your attacks become and the more fun the combat tends to get.

Blood Will Tell PS2 Screenshot 2
Beware the fury of the knee cannon!
Unfortunately it still ends up getting very repetitive. On top of that problem, the camera tends to be a pain in the arse, except for during the many boss battles where it actually works very well.

Despite its repetitive nature, Blood Will Tell manages to remain quite engaging, as it does everything with a great deal of style. The various combo attacks are fun to perform and go a long way to stopping the game from becoming just plain boring. There are many different swords to find as well, which also add some slight variation to your attacks.

The graphics, while far from the best that the PS2 is capable of, are okay. Especially impressive are the Fiends who are some of the most uniquely designed and eye catching characters I’ve seen in game for quite some time. The game’s rendered cutscenes are quite stunning as well. The sound quality is of a similar standard, with some decent voice acting and fitting, yet quite forgettable music.

There are just so many other games like this around that it takes something special for one to stand out. At the end of the day Blood Will Tell fails to really do that and is not what could be called a great game. But it is still worth playing for the storyline, the great creature designs and the over the top craziness of it all. I’d say you would be best off renting this bad boy. Unless you’re a big fan of Tezuka Osamu, in which case it would probably be worth buying.

by: Hillelman

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More articles by Hillelman

Blood Will Tell is no classic, but it has its moments and is worth a look

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ToonlogoBy Borgieman

Manifest '07 Report

Ninja's note: Once again, it's time for another Buttonhole report on the Melbourne Anime Festival, otherwise known as Manifest 2007. If you missed Ichibod's feature on a previous Manifest, check it out here. This Manifest coverage comes to you courtesy of forum regular and newest Buttonhole contributor Borgieman, a cool guy who knows his Anime and has been known to play a video game or two. So read on true believers! A Day at Manifest 2007

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ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

Only Yesterday. Anime Review

The problem with having favourite films is that every time I watch another Studio Ghibli film it becomes my new favourite. It kind of renders the word 'favourite' meaningless when every Studio Ghibli film takes my breath away. Still, I can't complain about being thoroughly entertained by this whimsical and insightful film, "Only Yesterday". This gem was directed by Isao Takahata, well known for his anime film Grave of the Fireflies. Although Only Yesterday is a light hearted film that ambles along at a leisurely pace, it still manages to explore themes such as love, work, family relationship struggles, following your dreams and country versus city living. In the film, the main character Taeko decides to take a working vacation in the country, getting away from her office bound job and unexpectedly starts t

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ToonlogoBy Jason

Speed Grapher V1. Anime Review

Well, "I don't like it" was my initial feeling when viewing this Anime for the first time. Subsequent viewings haven't changed my views a great deal. Nothing really stands out as being absolute shit but it seems that this series tries too hard. It's almost like they were more interested in creating something 'edgy' and confronting but sadly forgot to include an even remotely palatable story. The hero of this particular piece is a bloke called Tatsumi Saiga. Tatsumi is a photographer and a veteran war journalist for whom taking photos has become somewhat of a fetish. Although he seems to have become jaded - nothing is worth wasting his film on - that is, at least until he stumbles across an exclusive club for the mega rich

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