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Games
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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Toons
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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Toons
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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Champs RTA PS2 Aussie Champions: Return to Arms. PS2 Review

Good, clean, large scale violence

Publisher: Ubisoft

Fri, 17 June 2005

Sammy by: Hillelman

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Yes, my friends...we are the champions. Snowblind Studios (developers of this game) love their hack ‘em up action, that’s for sure. If, like the Snowblind folks, you dig games along the lines of Diablo and Gauntlet then you should feel right at home with Champions: Return to Arms.

Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance was, I believe, where Snowblind started making these types of games and they haven’t looked back since. I’d say that if you’ve played their previous games, especially the last one called Champions of Norrath, then you wouldn’t have much need to play this one, as they are all very similar in look, feel and execution.

This type of gameplay is pretty repetitive, so if you’ve already gone through all of this before, you could quickly grow tired of it. Especially as the last game (from everything I’ve seen and read at least) was almost identical to this one.

However, I have not played Dark Alliance or Champions of Norrath (meaning I haven’t done this stuff to death already), so Return to Arms was still a relatively fresh game experience for me. If you are in the same boat as me in that regard, and you’re after some fun fantasy action fare, this latest one from Snowblind is (presumably) the most polished game they’ve done yet and a great place to jump on board.

I suppose I should go into some detail about the gameplay. Honestly, there just isn’t all that much to say about it that you couldn’t figure out for yourself, if you have been a gamer for more than a week. But I’ll do it just the same, because that is my job after all.

Champions: Return to Arms PS2 screen1
Tony the Tiger looks to take care of Toucan Sam once and for all
From the outset you choose which type of "Lord of the Rings" or "Dungeons & Dragons" character you want to play as. They all have certain strengths and specialties; barbarian’s are better with the close up fighting, wizards are good with spells (yeah, no shit) and so forth. I chose the "Dark Elf Shadow Knight" (they all have these longwinded names incidentally) just because I reckon he looks the coolest.

Shortly into the game, you can decide whether to be good or evil, but it doesn’t actually make a whole lot of difference to the gameplay either way.

There’s some kind of story going on, as you meet various characters throughout the game that all talk in the wanky way these types usually use and you pay no attention as they explain your missions to you. Then you just kill heaps and heaps of strange and truly wonderful looking enemies; by doing so you’ll get to upgrade your skills and experience every so often. You also get increasingly better weapons, armour, potions and that kind of thing, either by buying it or taking it from fallen enemies or the abundant treasure chests conveniently left lying all over the place.

It is all quite monotonous but I still got right into it. You get a definite sense of satisfaction as your character slowly gets more and more powerful. As repetitive as the action might be, it is still a lot of fun and kind of takes me back to the more straightforward games I played in my youth. Full on constant action is often enjoyable, you don’t have to think so much, just react when necessary and have fun. If you have the means, the game can be played (online or with a multi-tap) in co-op mode with four people. The four player action would be a real blast, for a while at least, I’m sure. That is really just one more way this game reminds me of Gauntlet.


Visually, Return to Arms is a very appealing game. It really does a better job of looking like a modern version of Gauntlet than the actual modern versions of Gauntlet! The characters are well designed and the levels full of detail. Everything is really crisp and it doesn’t feel too cluttered (as it easily could with all the action that happens onscreen). It also boasts some very nice graphical effects, with the water in particular being rather pretty.

By today’s lofty standards, there is nothing about these graphics that will leave you in awe, but they are definitely very nicely presented. The only complaint from me about the game’s looks is that it can be quite easy to get lost in some of the levels, as they don’t always make it clear which way you should be heading. But that’s not such a major problem because you are encouraged to explore the levels and look for bonus items and stuff like that. You do have a map to help you find your bearings too.

Champions: Return to Arms PS2 screen2
Flame on!
I like the music in this one, it gets suitably grandiose and it really sets the mood, especially when you are about to engage in one of the game’s many great boss battles.

The voice work in the game is very competent too, I don’t know how those people managed to say some of these ridiculous lines without laughing, but they did it and they sound pretty much on the money. Actually, there does seem to be a bit of a tongue in cheek vibe to some of the dialogue and characters.

Champions: Return to Arms offers a good stretch of playing time and plenty of challenge for any gamer. You won’t knock this one over in a day, particularly not on the harder settings. If you have played the previous games, Dark Alliance and Champions of Norrath, you likely won’t have so much need for this one, since you’ve already done it all before. But if you love this style of game to death and want more of it, don't let me stop ya!

On the other hand, if you’re like me and have never played those other games, you could kick back with a few beers (if you are of age of course) and have a great time with this one. It isn’t an all time classic or anything, but Champions: Return to Arms provides a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding experience that is most recommended for fantasy and hack ‘n’ slash fans alike.


by: Hillelman

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More articles by Hillelman




Take a few buttons off this score if you've played the previous game/s extensively

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Toons
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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Toons
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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Toons
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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