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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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LEGO SW2 PS2 Cover Lego Star Wars 2. PS2 Review

And I see your Schwartz is as big as mine...

Publisher: Ubisoft

Fri, 23 March 2007

Aussie_N6 by: Australian Ninja

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Lego Star Wars 2 covers the original trilogy, emulating the entire three film story via humorous but accurate cut scenes and fun, varied gameplay.

This is a pretty long winded review, because I just really enjoyed this game, so skip to the end paragraphs for the short version, otherwise read on...

In LSW2 you wander around large levels, shooting lots of crap that drops money for you to collect and spend. You fight hordes of simple minded enemies, including every major race or character from all three films. Yes Jawa, Droids, Storm troopers, AT-ATs, Lord Vader - everything and everyone you will encounter and control at some point.

You basically switch between characters in your party on the fly, using everyone's unique abilities. Some objects can only be moved with force powers, some doors to areas require a bounty hunter type or a specific character such as the droids R2-D2 and C-3PO.

The game is full of almost non-stop blasting action, with the odd bit of platforming. Most of your time will be spent killing enemies and building objects, and opening doors to get to the next area. There is a ton of 'extras' in the game that make it worth playing through a second time. Each area basically has you flipping switches, building objects and interacting with things in hopes of moving into the next corridor or section of the level.

In this way, there is a minor puzzle element to the game as you scratch your head figuring out what to do in each section or 'room'.
Overall the game is quite easy, but it is still challenging enough to keep you on your toes.

LEGO SW2 Screen 1B
The forbidden love of Two men and a Wookie.
While most of the levels see you running around with your remarkably expressive merry little band of Lego heroes, some levels require you to use vehicles. This means you get to control AT-ATs [yes the two legged forest walkers]. Another level lets you ride in style on the hover bikes from the forest scene, was it planet Endor? Probably, I forget, but it was the cool scene where two characters steal the hover bikes from some storm troopers.

Best of all the vehicles are the flying ones that feature in their own stages, separate to the walking around vehicle levels. Just about anything that flies in an original Star Wars film you will get to pilot. My favourites were the Hoth level that has you using your grappling hook to tip over four legged walkers. Then blast them to hell, and the space combat and Death Star levels with Luke's X-Wing and Han's Millennium Falcon, you get to shoot down Tie Fighters, as well as those gigantic long white cruisers and of course twice make a Death Star go ka-blooey.

I've only played a handful of Star Wars games here and there, but I've seen enough over the years to tell you that the flight levels compare favourably to any of the best flight sim / space combat Star Wars games, especially those on PC, N64 and the Cube. But without any of the fiddly controls or hard bastard levels - leaving you only with pure fun, and feeling like a maniac pilot gunning down all ships foolish enough to oppose you.

Despite the simple cartoony graphics, LEGO SW2 looks visually impressive in many areas, spectacular even when it comes to the spaceship levels.
I've never had such a thrill blowing up the Death Star since the 1980s 'Star Wars Arcade' and its remake in the 1990s.

The core game of LEGO SW2 is great fun - my only gripes, which are few - is that on single player it just is that much harder than it should be. I still finished it easy, but many sections were clearly better off with two simultaneous players. Flipping several switches with two people is simple, on single player however the enemies mercilessly gun you down over and over again while you swear at that damn switch that won't stick. Clearly the game is easy and these areas were not intended to be so frustrating.

Anyhow, the thing I need to say is this - the game was designed for two players at the same time. This is where the games strength lies and how you will get the most enjoyment out of it. However, anyone who is considering the game for single player only - it is still totally worth playing - if you are a Star Wars fan - or just someone who loves fun easy action games that are big on charm and big on replay value.

Two players equals awesome, One Player equals fun and worthwhile but frustrating.
Heck, the whole game is worth playing once just to watch the great cut scenes alone. And that's saying something considering I already knew exactly what was going to happen in each scene - so well imprinted are the core scenes and sounds of Star Wars within the psyche of society at large.

LEGO SW2 Screen 2
These boots were made for walking, and that's just what they'll do.
Speaking of sounds - well I am now - the sound effects kick major ass. I'm talking light sabre swinging 'fwsshh, waaom, waaom, kssshh' and all that jazz. The blaster sounds are each unique for the different types of characters, and the explosions are chock full of bassy, explody goodness. The Tie fighters have that awesome high pitched screeching sound as they careen past you at insane speeds, the AT-AT's footsteps are chunky and the laser fire is the rapid 'choo choo choo' you know and love.
Did I mention that the Blue Lightsabre and Red Lightsabre's used by Ben, Luke and Anakin/Vader each make their proper sounds, how sweet is that?

This is all very normal considering Lucas Arts' track record when it comes to video-games, especially in the sound department - Star Wars games in particular usually have their authentic movie sounds which is great, and LEGO SW2 is no exception.
Little touches like Chewie growling and moaning when you do nothing are just magic, and despite the cartoony graphics the sounds really immerse you in the Star Wars world like nothing else can.

Frankly it's a world that is fun and strangely comfortable to be in. Most missions you have a pretty good idea what to do. Many times when I got stuck, I just thought 'what happened in the film, how did they get past this?' and by and large what I tried actually worked. How many games can you say that about?

When I fought the emperor at the end of the third film, I got the smackdown layed down on me big time. Then I remembered that Luke did not beat the emperor by himself, so using teamwork with the Vader / Luke tag-combo worked wonders for beating that crusty old man with the low low electricity bill.

All up LEGO SW2 is a heck of a lot of fun. Great action, enjoyable platforming, hilarious cut scenes [I would happily watch a whole film using this same animation], excellent replay value, lots of extra content to unlock and a great game to play with friends - even if they don't like Star Wars.
The animations are awesome, and the characters move around very fluidly.

The 'fun' factor is what makes this game so easy and enjoyable to get hooked on. The game has an almost old school feel to it, in that it is simple to play and not hampered by 101 Tutorials, missions briefings or other unnecessarily complicated jargon that gets in the way of playing.

Simplicity is a beautiful thing and I cannot emphasise enough how well designed Lego Star Wars 2 is. It reminds of say Ape Escape 3 and Viewtiful Joe with a fun factor so big and good game design that it takes on a personality and charm all its own, despite being based on existing films.
Hey, I got through a whole Star Wars thing without mentioning Mr Beardy Head, do I get a medal?


by: Australian Ninja

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Freakishly good fun, fantastic game design, best enjoyed with a friend.

Overall:
12345678910119.9
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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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