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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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Fantastic Four PS2 box Fantastic Four. PlayStation 2 Review

There are four of them. That part is true

Publisher: Activision

Mon, 25 July 2005

Sammy by: Hillelman

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Have you seen the recent Fantastic Four (F4) movie? I have and, well... it could have been worse. Fact of the matter is though, it was not up with the better superhero comic to film adaptations, like Spidey, Xmen, Batman Begins and some others.

I can appreciate how they attempted to cover all of the origin stuff, develop the characters and firmly establish the "wackiness" of the dysfunctional family dynamic. Problem is, most it was just not terribly well executed, plausible, interesting, or convincing. And none of the film's version of the characters were, to me, particularly relatable or likeable.

At times, I couldn't tell whether the movie was being stupid on purpose, or if it was completely unaware of the fact that it was stupid (mind you, there is the very slim chance that this might be more my fault than the movie's).

I thought the Fantastic Four movie did have a few cool bits in it though, it wasn't all bad. I reckon it is a good one for families. The little kids can watch it without having nightmares and the parents can (maybe) enjoy the goofy charm, silly dialogue and a couple of fun action sequences. Also, guys like me can get something else out of it too; Jessica Alba.

Anyway, since the movie did really well (for some reason) at the box office, there will no doubt be a sequel. Maybe they'll improve things for that. Time will tell.

As most gamers would expect, there's a game to tie in with the movie. And, you know what? It could have been worse. (By the way, this might just be the most drawn out intro I have ever done for a game review.)

Fantastic Four PS2 screenshot 1
This dude, this dude, this dude is on fire. We don't need no water, let the motherf*#ka burn
The graphics and sounds of this Fantastic Four game remind me of the movie, in terms of their overall quality and effectiveness. Every so often, some things in it look and/or sound really good. Much of the time though, when compared with what has been done with similar fare, it is all seriously underwhelming. And, sometimes, the aesthetics are just flat-out poor.

It has its moments to look at and listen to but, unfortunately, the lesser stuff tends to stand out more and drag the overall presentation down significantly.

Speaking of which; if Jessica Alba actually looked like she does in this game's blocky, poorly textured rendition, I think she'd find herself being sent far fewer screenplays (and I would likely no longer lust after her so greatly).

The game tries to break up its repetitive nature by offering the player various attack combos and superpowers which can be upgraded throughout. This does help make the action feel more chaotic and rewarding. But many times, it is just as easy, or even easier, to just repeat attacks and mash the buttons. Many of the moves are superficial, rather than necessary. Still, being able to vary your attacks and try out various combos does help maintain some interest in the constant fighting action the game presents you with.

Perhaps the biggest detriment to F4 is the fact that the control mechanics are clunky and unresponsive. At times, getting your onscreen character to perform the commands you want can be frustrating. You might be doing exactly what is required, but things rarely register as automatically as they should.

To be fully enjoyable, an "action/ beat 'em up" game such as this relies heavily on having a near instant response to the button you press. Fantastic Four fails to deliver in that regard. What's more, the control scheme itself (at least for this PS2 version I played) is not at all intuitive. Memorizing the controls and getting them to feel somewhat natural (which often plays a huge part as to how easily and substantially you get sucked into a game's "world"), never felt right. In fact, it almost proved more difficult, for me, than progressing in the game itself.

There are a multitude of other problems with F4 as well. The enemy AI sucks, for the most part. The collision detection is dodgy. The "camera", while you do have a degree of control over it, never quite works as it should. When left to its own accord, which is often, the camera can be most harmful and aggravating with its ineptitude. I could go on, but I reckon that about does it for the main problems.

After all of that, funnily enough, I found the game to be fun. Not a heap of fun, mind you, but slightly fun. It is quite enjoyable to go running around levels, beating the hell out of a whole shitload of enemies and smashing up all the environmental objects. F4 has a very basic charm to it. Something of an 'old school' Final Fight-esque style, which can be quite appealing, in limited doses.

The highlight of F4 is the way all four characters from the movie/comic often team up and work together. You'll get used to using them together (switching between characters with the directional buttons) to overcome various situations. This can be really fun at times. On top of that, there's a co-op mode where you can have a mate join in and have some fun working through the game together.

Fantastic Four PS2 screenshot 2
I am often amazed by the beauty of her domes
Another cool thing, especially for big Fantastic Four fans, is how the game has included various adversaries from the comics to contend with. There are plenty of incidental details put into the game, seemingly just to cater to the true geeks (and I am all for that). The story of the game expands on the movie a great deal too. I didn't find it overly compelling, but it is not bad and I'm thankful they bothered to make the attempt.

If you have kids, they could work together with Fantastic Four's co-op mode and likely get right into it. You could even join them from time to time and have a bit of a laugh.

Truth be told, I have never much cared for the Fantastic Four comics and characters. I can understand some of the reasons many people dig 'em so much, but the Four are just not a favourite of mine. Therefore, it is possible I have given this game a harder time than I would for a property I was more into.

As an example; one of the main reasons I enjoyed the Batman Begins game so much was that I'm such a fan of the character and movie. Even with that bias, however, there is no doubt in my mind that the F4 game is not as good, in virtually any way you care to judge, as the Batman Begins game.

In the end, just like the movie, F4 boils down to being a game that is not outstandingly bad, but not all that good either. However, I would mildly recommend this game, faults and all, to people who have a great love for superhero themes, comics and especially (obviously) the Fantastic Four.

Otherwise, this game is not good enough to justify buying. There are just too many similar (and/or comic based) games that are much better. Fantastic Four would make a decent rental though. Short bursts of playing time are ideal for a game like this one.

Versions of this game are also available for Microsoft Xbox, Nintendo Gamecube, Game Boy Advance and PC CD Rom

by: Hillelman

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More articles by Hillelman

Fantastic Four is unremarkable in every way. But it can be fun, briefly, especially if you have someone else to play it with. Rabid fans ought to give it a shot

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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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