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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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Spider-Man 2 PSP box Activision PSP Double Review

Spider-Man 2 & Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade

Publisher: Activision

Mon, 10 October 2005

Sammy by: Hillelman

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Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man 2 was, and still is, a fantastic movie. This PSP game is more or less based on the film and does a reasonable job of capturing the fun and excitement of taking control of the web-slinger. If it hadn't been such a short experience I would have called it one of the better launch games for the system. As it is, there's just not enough here to keep most gamers playing for more than a week (at most). Even so, it is plenty of fun while it lasts and certainly well worth a look for Spidey lovers.

Unlike the free roaming style of the last Spidey game on home consoles, this PSP game is more restrictively structured. You still do get to feel quite "Spidery" much of the time though, thanks to being able to stick to walls and ceilings, swing about all over the joint and shoot enemies with web fluid. If you are a Spider-man fan, like me, you will certainly enjoy the action. One cool bonus is that there are a bunch of classic Spidey villains included in the game, not just Doc Ock. The Vulture, Mysterio and Rhino are a few of the baddies included and battling them all, while mostly a bit too easy, is pretty cool.

The most impressive thing about this game would have to be the cut scenes between levels. They are extremely well rendered and quite stunning at times. That doesn't help make the game more fun of course, but it does help set the mood. The in-game graphics quality varies somewhat, from merely okay to very good, but all up the looks are pretty sweet. The sound is all nicely done also, with fitting music and many of the actors from the films doing the voice work. The controls are responsive and mostly work really well, after the first level or two when you get used to them. Or you can play the training sections and learn the controls that way. All good. The big downfall control wise is the way you can't move your character and rotate the "camera" at the same time. That can be frustrating every so often and is something that really should not have been in a finished game.

Spider-Man 2 PSP screenshot
I'll let you make your own joke about sticky white fluid here
The gameplay consists of about equal doses of indoor and outdoor levels. In the outdoor sections you're mostly required to swing from rooftop to rooftop whilst chasing some dastardly villain. For the indoor portions you engage in some fisticuffs with a bunch of nameless thugs whilst...chasing some dastardly villain.

So, yeah, this is a pretty straightforward game, but it is still fun and it actually has a bit of an old-school vibe to it that I found highly appealing. And there are a couple of moments that shake things up just a bit, such as the level where you have to disarm a series of bombs by timing button presses in a manner similar to all those rhythm games. These kinds of things are nothing mind blowing, but do add a touch of welcome variety to the proceedings.

Another nice little touch is how you can smash up most of the game's environments and can also pick up many objects and use them as weapons. Again this reminded me of some old-school beat-'em-ups like Double Dragon and Final Fight.

Being a big Spider-Man fan definitely helps make this game more likeable, as it captures the atmosphere of Spidey well and caters strongly to those familiar with the movies and comics. I really would love to recommend it more, as I had an excellent time playing it. But the fact is the game ends way too quickly and (though you can unlock some movies and artwork) there is very little incentive to play through it more than once. I'm not sure if you can rent PSP titles, but if you can that would be the best way to go with Spider-Man 2.

6.5 out of 11

Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade
Untold Legends PSP box



Speaking of old school (just call me the segue king) here's a basic hack 'n' slash job straight from the Diablo and Gauntlet mould. Untold Legends reminds me very much of Champions: Return to Arms too. You know the deal; pick a character, grab some weapons and armour, collect some gold and roam the land getting in adventures. What kind of adventures? Ones that require you to kill shit of course.

Thousands of creatures of all sorts of shape and size are placed in your path and don't go expecting to make any negotiations here, just hack away until they're all dead. Then you talk to another townsperson and get your next mission, at which point you go and kill everything all over again. Every so often you can level your character up and make them stronger, faster, better with magic and so forth. You use those skills to kill things a bit more quickly. There's really no variety at all and basically Untold Legends is fairly dull, but it isn't a complete dud.

For one thing, it looks nice. Games of this ilk tend to look fairly alike to me and this one is no exception, but what it does it does well. It all looks very crisp and the action is usually easy to see, even when there's a whole bunch of critters attacking at once. Some of the creatures in the game are really cool to look at too. I think Lord of the Rings fans would probably get a kick out of some of these buggers. On the downside for the presentation, the framerate is unsteady when there's a lot happening, so expect to see some shaking going on, and the music is a bit too cheesy.

Untold Legends PSP screenshot
It would be quicker to send out an army, they never seem to think of that.
Another thing Untold Legends has in its favour is that this kind of game is well suited to a portable format. You whip it out (the game/PSP that is) on a train trip, or while waiting for your pie to cook (yeah, I'm just making stuff up now) and play it in relatively short bursts. You are always improving your character's statistics little bits at a time, collecting better weapons and armour. In small doses it remains fairly entertaining. There's not a whole to think about, so if you get distracted by the world around you it shouldn't matter too much and you can just continue to mash the buttons. Played that way, it is actually reasonably good fun. Slicing up monsters can have a mildly cathartic quality to it too.

So, if you dig hack 'n' slash games, here's another one. This is the first and, thus far, only game of its type for PSP and I guess that means it wins by default. But it is also a fairly good one. I haven't tried out the multi-player side of the game, but I'd assume that, with up to 4 people playing together, that would be the best way to play it. So, if you have some like-minded mates, Untold Legends would probably be even better. As far as I am concerned this one is nothing special, but it does its thing well enough.


by: Hillelman

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Untold Legends isn't the most exciting PSP game around, but it is amusing in small doses and could last you ages. Hack 'n' slash fans will probably love it.

Overall:
12345678910116.5
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Which of the following game genres do you like the most?
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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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