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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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Batman Begins Xbox boxshot Batman Begins. Xbox Review

What the hell is he? He's Batman.

Publisher: EA

Tue, 19 July 2005

Sammy by: Hillelman

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I’m probably going to be a bit biased with this one. I love the Batman Begins movie and, as this game does such a fine job of capturing the look and atmosphere of the film, I was able to quite easily overlook its various shortcomings and have an excellent time with it. That’s not to say it is an otherwise poor game, all I mean is that if you don’t care so much for the Bat, you may not find this one quite as great as I did.

Let’s get the negative stuff out the way first. The biggest problems with Batman Begins are that it is too easy, too short, too linear and too derivative (and this is me using the word 'too' too many times in one sentence).

Actually, most of those criticisms are pretty strongly linked to each other; the game is too easy and short exactly because it is too linear and derivative. Your hand is always held in this game, as it tells you exactly what you should be doing at all times and there is always a very clearly defined route through each level. So you never have to ‘figure out’ what needs to be done and what needs to be done isn’t usually particularly challenging in the first place. Most of the gameplay strongly resembles that of other popular games, so most players have likely already built up some skill from doing most of this stuff before.

There’s little room for experimentation in the highly linear design of Batman Begin’s levels. The simplicity of the basic gameplay mechanics certainly lessens the sense of freedom. It also takes away the variety that would have been allowed by having more than one way to get from one section to the next.

Batman Begins Xbox screenshot A
The Dark Knight busts out the Batusi!
Rightio then,I believe that's about it for the detractions. If those things put you off the game, well...fair enough. But I reckon Batman Begins is still one you should try out first. Particularly if you are a Batman fan, I don’t think any of that stuff will bother you a great deal. I mean, sure, the game could have been a classic if they’d improved some of those aspects, but it really is still pretty darn cool as it is.

The game follows the plot of the Batman Begins film extremely closely, even using actual footage from the movie between levels. The in game graphics are very easy on the eye too, it all looks absolutely fantastic. The characters are modelled after the flick’s actors and really do resemble them well, especially when you see the faces up close. The backgrounds are equally detailed and there’s some excellent use of lighting and other effects to help bring it all to life.

The quality of the audio is just as impressive as the visuals, with a beautiful and effective soundtrack, top notch sound effects and very high quality voice acting (also supplied by all of the actual actors from the movie, aside from Gary Oldman). When you bring all of these factors together it creates a truly marvellous sense of atmosphere.

What type of game is it though, you may well ask. Well, basically it is a mixture of several styles. There’s Splinter Cell style stealth, a healthy dose of combat, plenty of cool platform style jumping sections, some very basic puzzle solving and a couple of Batmobile driving levels (which look and feel a lot like Burnout 3, another EA published title).

Some of these elements work slightly better than others, but as a whole the different styles all come together nicely and they all seem perfectly fitting. Many of the famous Bat-gadgets are included too, such as an optic cable for scoping out the other side of a door, smoke grenades, the very cool grappling hook, the trusty Batarang (of course) and much more.

Many of Batman Begins levels feel like giant set pieces, so there’s kind of an artificial feel to some of the action, but it is enjoyable nonetheless. For instance, you’ll often have to find a way to sneak up on your well armed foes and figure out a good way to scare the crap out of them, by blowing up something nearby, or whatever.

Batman Begins Xbox screenshot B
The moon hits his eye, like a big pizza pie
There is always only the one way to make these things happen and you are usually told exactly how to do it, so there isn’t the sense of satisfaction you might feel from solving one of the more difficult puzzles in a game like Zelda. You get to interrogate enemies as well, which is a nice touch and fitting for the character, but this soon becomes equally predictable.

Even so, despite always knowing precisely what needs to be done, it remains plenty of fun to do it. The main reason for that (apart from how well presented and cool it all looks) is the fact that you get to do it as Batman!

A sweet bonus is that you can unlock extras, like more movie footage and interviews with the Batman Begins cast. This is nothing too amazing, but nevertheless a welcome way to extend the lifespan of the game that little bit more.

As I said at the beginning, if you don’t have much interest in Batman, this game will be less likely to keep you as entertained as it did me. You might find those problems I mentioned earlier more prominent and troublesome than I did. Regardless, Batman Begins is a very stylish game and certainly ideal for those who loved the movie and want to extend that experience.

There have been many Batman games over the years, but few of them were worth playing (the same goes for movie to game adaptations actually). With its superb production values and accuracy in representing the source material, this one joins that proud few and maybe even tops them all. Batman Begins hardly offers revolutionary gameplay and it probably won’t take all that long for most gamers to play through, but if you dig the Bat you should thoroughly enjoy that time. You might even come back to it and play through the game again, I know I will. Cheers, pointy ears!

Versions of this game are also available on the Sony PlayStation 2, Nintendo Gamecube and Game Boy Advance

by: Hillelman

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More articles by Hillelman

Those less obsessed with the character should take a button or two off this score, but I honestly had an absolute blast with Batman Begins

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Which of the following game genres do you like the most?
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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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