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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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AND 1 Streetball PS2 Cover AND1 Streetball. PS2 Review

Aussie Ninja spins the spinner and calls the shots

Publisher: Ubisoft

Sat, 7 July 2007

Aussie_N6 by: Australian Ninja

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Sports games (I'll admit) are not my preferred choice when gaming. There are a few exceptions of course. The occasional motor sport game or perhaps some NBA Jam or on occasion a bit of wrestling perhaps. Certainly nothing too serious that involves paying attention to meaningless things like referees, points or rules. More at home in the fields of Hyrule than I am on the basketball court, firing up AND1 Basketball would hopefully result in some mindless slam dunking to while away the afternoon. But that was not the case…

Now, I don't know what this AND1 business is about - and frankly I don't care enough to look it up on the net - but from the games intro it appears to be street basketball made into an actual sport. I assume it plays on an American pay-TV channel or some such thing, as the game is filled with real life players from this niche sport (streetball), where the players have hip-hop style nicknames.
The players, or should I say 'playas' are full of attitude and the gimmick of the game appears to be fancy showboat moves that require dancing around like a monkey on Prozac. So in a nutshell it's a licensed basketball game based on the real life AND 1 Streetball sport, with flashy moves and ghetto attitude.

AND 1 Streetball PS2_Screen1
Forward passes to center, center passes to forward, holds it, holds it, HOLDS IT!
The first playing AND1 I thought I'd get some of those original NBA Jam visceral thrills. The kind of excitement generated by spinning impossibly high into the air in a kamikaze dunk that smashes the backboard. You know, crazy shit that nobody could really pull off in real life without a trip to the local hospital ER. Anyway, none of this kind of fun was to be had with AND1.

While the physical skills of the real life players and their videogame counterparts are most impressive, the actual gameplay and controls are not. The convoluted control scheme and button combinations required to put together the skillz that pay the billz are more of a chore than fun to perform.

In the game, you have your standard career, quick game modes etc. Then you have the create-a-character which is limited and a bit crap. None the less, creating my very own obese African American homeboy with his giant size 'peanut-butter-wig-with-jelly-sideburns' (© Ninja) Afro haircut was my personal highlight in my time with the game. There are some genuinely cool moves (like the self alley-oop) but most of the time when attempting them you mess up and lose the ball to the opposing team.

The showboat moves that make up the core of the game are just pointless and needlessly frustrating to perform. The game is true to it license, but if anything it's at the expense of scarifying simplicity in the gameplay department. The ideas in the game are great, I like it on one level as a concept, but in execution it falls down as being boring and frustrating to play. It's all about image, not playability.

AND 1 Streetball PS2_Screen2
There was no defense against the armpit odour power move
Basically you can try and play the game like any other basketball game, and you may just win here and there. The showboat moves - activated by the likes of pressing the right analogue in a direction, while holding another button, then waggling your left analogue stick like a madman and avoiding the opposing team - without these the game would play more sensibly.

But then it would not be true to the spirit of the AND1 sport or whatever it is. The inclusion of the gimmicky moves is a solid idea, I just feel it needed refinement to simplify the controls that way the game would flow smoothly in-game like any good sports game needs to. At the end of the day, even such a great company as Ubisoft turns out a stinker now and then.

To sum up, the career mode has some interesting challenges, and the overall theme of the game is implemented nicely. The things I most enjoyed in the game were the cool animated intro, create-a-character and the music. The soundtrack is quite reasonable, with the typical Hip-Hop / R&B kind of tunes that keep the game vibe flowing between menus, gameplay, options and load screens. I just found the core gameplay mechanics too frustrating and distracting. Give me the same game with simpler controls and I'd still be playing it. As it is, I couldn't wait to move onto reviewing another game; that's never a good thing, (when you have to struggle to pay attention).

There's nothing wrong with it that you can notice - it just wasn't fun for me to play. While I have a bias in not following any sports, I do have a soft spot for Basketball games and no matter your console of choice, there's never going to be a lack of basketball games, so do you really need this one? For the niche audience that may actually know what AND1 represents - or even what the sport of streetball is - you have a game that is faithful to the license and is very playable. It's just that so many other games have already done what this game does, but better. (E.g. Barkley: Shut Up and Jam, NBA Jam, NBA Live etc)

by: Australian Ninja

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More articles by Australian Ninja

If you want to play an average basketball game, then look no further

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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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