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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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Killer 7 GC/PS2 logo Killer 7. Gamecube/PS2 Review.

I don't know why I love you, but I do.

Publisher: Capcom/THQ Australia

Tue, 16 August 2005

Sammy by: Hillelman

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What the f*#k is this? When I began playing Killer 7 that is exactly what I asked myself. As a matter of fact, I’m still not sure of the answer (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). This game messed with my head and confused the hell out of me. At times, it frustrated me greatly. On a few occasions, it even reduced me to some sort of raving lunatic, as I sat screaming abuse at my TV.

However, it also captivated me. The well worn phrase "not for everyone" has never been truer than it is here (in fact, I’d expect there wouldn’t be a single review of this game that doesn’t feature some variation of those exact words). Still, I believe there is something truly special about this one. It took me a while to get there, but I wound up becoming a massive Killer 7 fan.

Back when I wrote about this game in one of my E3 articles, I said I hoped it would be (forgive me here, as I allow myself to be one of those wankers who quotes themselves) "the good kind of weird, like Panzer Dragoon and not the bad kind of weird, like Michael Jackson." As it turns out, Killer 7 might actually be weirder than Jacko playing Panzer Dragoon, while sitting in his tree, stark naked.

Killer 7 GC/PS2 screenshot 1
Zed's dead, baby. Zed's dead.
Killer 7 reaches a whole new level of weird of its own. But, indeed, that kind of weird is a good kind. I welcome the originality of the game’s story, characters and presentation as a breath of fresh air. I’d also have to say that it is all executed with supreme panache. Killer 7 just oozes style, more expertly than most any game I can think of. But does it also have substance? some ways, yes, it definitely does, although it is not quite so impressive in that regard.

The game’s setting is a (very) alternate version of planet Earth. The player takes the roll of wheelchair bound (but still heavily armed) Harman Smith and the seven personalities that live inside his head, each of whom have their own unique abilities and killing skills.

As for the rest of the game’s plot, this article would amount to a small novel if I went into detail about it all. So I’ll leave it for you to piece the rest together. Suffice it to say, I couldn’t quite grasp all of it, but I enjoyed attempting to. I think that’s the basic intent though, for the player to interpret things however they may. I highly recommend checking out the official Killer 7 website for more info. By doing so, you can see for yourself that all those responsible for this game must be nuttier than fruitcakes.

The actual gameplay of Killer 7 is equally difficult to describe. It has elements of survival horror, particularly in the basic structure of the levels and the absurdly obtuse (though, in this instance, mostly not all that difficult) puzzles you have to solve. Then there’s the massive amount of combat involved, which feels sort of (but not exactly) like a First Person Shooter. Killer 7 is also 'on rails'; you hold the walk/run button down and your character travels along a set path. The environments aren’t free roaming, but in practice that really doesn’t feel as restrictive as it sounds.

At times Killer 7 even reminded me somewhat of a light gun game; like Virtua Cop, or House of the Dead. know what? If I keep trying to explain the gameplay of this thing, or attach it to any familiar genre, I suspect my head will explode. So, I’m throwing the towel in here and giving up on that idea. Just play the son of a bitch and call it whatever kind of game you want.

The characters and presentation are the main things that enabled Killer 7 to rock my world. Throughout the majority of the game you can (and are often required to) switch back and forth between the different "Smith" personas. What a lovely bunch of coconuts they are too. I can’t recall any videogame with a more endearing collection of psychopaths than this Smith mob.

You’ve got Kaede Smith, the chick who, in an example of lateral thinking being taken to the extreme, overcomes numerous obstacles by spurting blood out of her wrists. Or the masked wrestler (and rather lazily named) Mask de Smith, who sometimes busts out his wrasslin’ moves, but usually makes do with his double grenade launchers. Then there’s the dual automatic packing blind kid, Con Smith, who has super speed. The rest of the Killer 7 team is just as bizarrely funky too. I never managed to decide which one I liked most. You can ‘upgrade’ them throughout the game too, making each of them stronger, faster and able to use more special moves.

Killer 7 GC/PS2 screenshot 2
Why do I have to be Mr. Pink?
Killer 7 uses cel-shaded graphics, but does so in a unique fashion. The visuals are stark, often not very detailed and sparingly coloured. The focus is more on shapes and contrasts of light and shadow.

The game also makes liberal use of ‘camera angles’, or fixed viewing perspectives, to heighten the atmosphere. While that is not uncommon in movies, it is fairly unusual for a videogame. Presumably that’s because, for most games, it would be impractical. Here they’ve managed to pull it off successfully and it helps to provide some strong moods to the environments.

I’ll sum up the graphics like this: hopefully you have seen the recent Sin City movie, with its unusual, eye catching and extremely cool visual style. I’d say that, in terms of looks, Killer 7 is the videogame equivalent of that film. They are both about equal when it comes to their level of ultra violent content too.

The sound quality is fantastic as well, with a diverse and eclectic mix of musical types, all of which fit the action superbly. The sounds effects are great too. What lets the sound down just a touch is that all 7 controllable characters have certain phrases they repeat if you score a direct hit to the glowing targets that are the enemy’s weak points. Hearing your character say "F*#k you" the first few times you blow an enemy away is funny, but after about 1000 times more, it becomes decidedly less so.

The pace of the game can drag during some sections and every so often I had trouble figuring out what to do and where to go. That was especially true right at the beginning, where I felt utterly baffled by it all. Eventually though, it clicks and you get much more comfortable with it. So, my advice is to stick with it. The maps give you a pretty good indication of what’s required most of the time, thanks to their use of various icons.

Killer 7 is a game that you don’t just play, you experience it. Sure, that sounds a bit pretentious, but this game really is pretentious. It still works though. On their own, each of this game’s elements probably wouldn’t hold up, but brought together, something special has been created. It requires a great deal of patience, but if you give it the chance Killer 7 can burrow into your head and park itself inside your brain. I believe that is a good thing. Whether you will feel the same way, I couldn’t say.

by: Hillelman

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More articles by Hillelman

A bizarre and twisted experience that I won't soon forget. At its best Killer 7 is more damn cool than mere words could explain.

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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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