Game Review: “Motocross Madness”

Available for
Xbox 360
Publisher
Microsoft

While not exactly an all-time classic, the original “Motocross Madness” games for the PC had a solid fanbase and are generally well remembered for their incredible crashes and speedy action. It was a pleasant surprise, then, to hear Microsoft would be reviving the series, only this time as an avatar-driven Xbox Live arcade title.

Arcade is the keyword here, because from the over the top announcer, to the over the top races, this “Motocross Madness” feels like it belongs in an old arcade cabinet, complete with motorbike controller. However, once you get past the tutorial level, which does a nice job of showcasing the high speeds, “SSX” style tricks, and the glorious return of those highlight reel crashes, you’ll likely be surprised to find that “Motocross Madness” differs greatly from those old arcade racers in how open it is.

In a race, for instance, you’ll find a plethora of shortcuts littered throughout each course, creating contests that limit the amount of course barriers and invisible walls, and instead encourage exploration in order to find the best way to tackle a lap. It’s nothing new, but except for a couple of instances where you get lost easily, it’s well done. Where the open course mentality really shines, though, is in the free ride mode, where you are granted a sizable map to collect coins and skulls, which can be used to unlock new items, and more importantly, plenty of room to pull off amazing jumps and tricks.

These open levels consist of three sections and are absolutely huge. Every area is littered with multiple insane jumps, as well as unique areas you’ll run across like amusement parks or castles which provide even more opportunities for creative havoc. My biggest problem with the mode, however, is that unless you are really, really obsessed with finding big jumps and exploring the areas or unlocking everything, there just isn’t much incentive to invest serious time in it, and the novelty can wear off quickly. I would have even settled for scaled down environments if they could have been loaded with more objectives, kind of like the old “Tony Hawk” games.

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App of the Week: Slayin

Developer: Pixel Licker Games

Compatible with: iPhone (optimized for iPhone 5), iPod Touch, and iPad

Requires: iOS 4.3 or later

Price: $0.99

Available here

“Slayin” is an app that wears its retro gaming heart on its sleeve. You don’t have to look hard to spot its influences from games like “Castlevania,” “Ghosts and Goblins,” “Metal Slug,” “Mega Man,” and more, yet “Slayin” is also unique. It touts its gameplay as the first endless action RPG, in that you are constantly moving, constantly battling, and constantly trying to level up and improve yourself through statistical upgrades and better equipment.

Mix those notions of nostalgic ideology and brand new mobile gameplay together, and it’s like tasting peanut butter and chocolate together for the first time. Yes, “Slayin” is basically the Reeses of the app world, yet infinitely more filling.

“Slayin” tasks you with choosing between three character classes (the strong knight, the ability loaded wizard, and the dual sword wielding knave) and embarking on a timeless quest to slay a dragon, and all other minions and bosses along the way. While all the classes have their own unique abilities and progression systems, they are all bound to the very simple play style which has you constantly moving in a small area, and shifting your direction left and right as you work to destroy everything in your path.

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It may be simple, but it works so, so well. “Slayin” refers to itself as the first of its kind, and its uniquely relentless and dangerously addictive style certainly feels the part. Once you quickly adapt to the flow of “Slayin,” you’ll find yourself in that great zen like state a game can provide, where your actions seem to occur a fraction of a second before you even think them. You’ll need those extra quick reactions, as “Slayin” borrows its difficulty from many of those titles that influenced it, though I’m happy to report that the challenge is one based of skill over trial and error for the most part.

While more of an action game than an RPG, those role playing elements still shine in “Slayin,” especially when it comes to its upgrade system. As mentioned, each character type has their own upgrades and equipment available, which the game cleverly lets you purchase without much break in the action courtesy of an appearing shop keeper. Thankfully, the vast majority of your purchases are made with in-game currency, and the additional in-app purchases available are mostly novelty items that in no way are necessary for your completion, or enjoyment, of the game.

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Where “Slayin” really hits it out of the park, though, is in that retro style. Apply this concept to any other form, and it just wouldn’t have worked as well as it does here in a hybrid world of 8 and 16 bit video game design. There isn’t a visual or audio element that doesn’t harken back to that time, and yet “Slayin” also adds just enough of its own style to those elements to feel fresh. This is particularly evident in the music (done by one of the same guys who did “Retro City Rampage”) where a few notes will remind you of certain classic games, yet the score itself is more of a unique entrant into the field than a mere tribute.

There are games out there without a fraction of the addictive nature and charm of “Slayin” that are still great. “Slayin” is a title that focuses on the advantages of the mobile platform, and uses every single one of them to craft an experience that is a feast for the eyes, ears, mind, and hands. It’s a twitch based actioner with equal measures of looks and heart, as well as a surprising amount of depth.

If you ever want to see and experience the design pinnacle of a three button game, then you need “Slayin.” As I type this, I just want to jump back into it’s one more play world that inevitably stretches on for hours, so let me wrap this up quickly by crowning “Slayin” the unquestioned app of the week.

  

Game Review: “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14″

Available for
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Publisher
Electronic Arts

Since much doesn’t change in the world of golf (they still use clubs, for instance), it usually takes more than a roster update to justify a new “Tiger Woods” installment each year, making the series one of the perennially fresher entries into the annual sports game genre, as new ideas become an expectation for fans.

“Tiger Woods 12” is a great example of this, as the famed Masters tournament was finally added, and the luster it provided to the game made it arguably the greatest golf experience yet. In comparison, “Tiger Woods 13” added a mode that let you play as a freaky looking child version of Tiger Woods. Suffice to say, it was less successful in providing that same feeling of a complete experience, and golf fans were left with little reason to abandon the 2012 edition. Until now, that is.

Because now comes “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14,” and with it the most complete and engaging translation of the sport of golf to video games the world has seen. The biggest factor contributing to this is the heavy emphasis on golf legends in the game, exemplified with the Legends of the Majors mode. Similar to the historic moments mode in the “NBA2K” games, here you can play through some of the biggest events in golf history, ranging from the dawn of major tournament play in 1860, to the Jack Nicklaus dominance of the 70s, all the way to the Tiger Woods era, and everything in between.

Spanning over 140 years, there’s hardly a major moment that is left out, making the mode an interactive textbook history of golf. It’s also highly enjoyable to attempt to meet the win conditions of each scenario (there are two for each moment), and the variety of the challenges is creatively impressive. Bonus points are awarded for the period accurate clothing and looks, which includes graphical filter changes like sepia tone or Technicolor to make each period uniquely stand out.

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Black Ops II: Revolution

Get ready for more “Call of Duty” with the all-new “Revolution,” which includes four new multiplayer maps, a new Zombies Co-Op map, a brand new Zombies game mode and a bonus multiplayer weapon.

  

Bullz-Eye Interviews Dikembe Mutombo

According to Mayan prophecy, the world is set to expire on December 21, 2012. With only 4 1/2 weeks (and counting) to the end of the world, Old Spice has recruited arguably the best defender of all-time – NBA legend and global ambassador Dikembe Mutombo – to save the planet from its impending peril!

In a new digital campaign launched last week promoting its Champion scent, “Dikembe Mutombo’s 4 1/2 Weeks to Save the World” is a real-time, embeddable digital video game where Mutombo will embark on weekly globe-saving missions based on current news happening and events (featured in the narrative and gameplay) that could be considered signs that the Apocalypse is coming.

Bullz-Eye: Tell us about the game. According to the site you have 4 1/2 weeks to save the world before the end of the Mayan calendar, correct?

Dikembe Mutombo: I team up with Old Spice to promote the computer game and we have to save the world in 4 1/2 weeks. Also to promote Champion scent from Old Spice. It’s a wonderful game for everybody to play.

Bullz-Eye: The concept is you’re going to defeat your rivals and save the world. Is there any way you could save everyone on Earth except for my ex-wife?

DM: (Laughing) We have to save the entire world. We’re going to save the world because the Mayan calendar says it will end in four and a half weeks. And we’re going to do our best to stay alive.

BE: If you could just reject her head to like the 10th row, I’d really appreciate it. Just like you’re blocking Shaq.

DM: (Laughing) You’re funny man. It’s like blocking a shot and if I could, I’d send it all the way to the 10th row, no problem.

BE: Let’s talk about Georgetown. You played there with Alonzo Mourning and a lot of other great players. Why couldn’t you and Zo win a national title?

DM: Man, that is a major question that will haunt us for the rest of our lives. We had a chance and ultimately went to the NBA to become dominant centers and we had opportunities to win in college. The opportunity was there, and we just didn’t do it.

BE: This may not be a basketball question, but it’s become an internet meme, and we’ve got to ask you about “Who wants to sex Mutombo?” story.

DM: That story is not true. I don’t know who came up with that story. Nobody ever said who was there at the party with me, who was out with me. First of all, when I came to Georgetown, I didn’t know English. So why would my mind come across like that? Plus, playing for Coach Thompson, one of the most disciplined coaches in college, he was very strict and knew where we were every night. Somebody asked me about it once and I said it was a made-up story. When you’re awesome, beautiful, tall, whatever, people will try to make up stories about you.

BE: How did the finger wave come to be your signature move?

DM: It happened after my 3rd year, just before we beat the Seattle Supersonics in the 1994 NBA playoffs. I was having such a great year and blocking shots and I was moving up in the league. I used to block the shot and then I would shake my hand and no one said nothing. One day, I decided shaking the hand doesn’t really mean nothing, maybe the best way not to come into the House of Mutombo is to wave my finger, so it worked out very cool. But it ended up getting me a lot of technicals.

BE: How did the NBA come to ban that? Did Does David Stern call you personally?

DM: It came from the players. You would hear from someone like Phil Jackson or something, that maybe you better stop what you’re doing it’s costing a lot of money. It was good for me to do in the players face, but if I could face the fans and wave my finger away from the players face, it would be great. That’s why you see in the last 5 years you can see I started doing it away from the players face. So I don’t have to lose a couple of thousand dollars.

BE: Was there anybody you loved to do it to where it was worth losing a couple thousand bucks?

DM: There were a lot of players who did it to me. Yes, a few players who had a chance to dunk on me. Like Michael Jordan in the playoffs, he had a big dunk and waved his finger at me. But he got a technical foul.

BE: Who was your favorite NBA player to block?

DM: That’s a good question. To me, not just one particular player. But I think playing against Shawn Kemp… he was such a high jumping, athletic player.

BE: Skinny 200 pound Shawn Kemp? Or fat 300 pound Shawn Kemp?

DM: (Laughing) Come on man! I don’t know what new Shawn Kemp looks like now, because I haven’t seen him in a while, but old Shawn Kemp!

BE: How gratifying was it to be the first eight-seed to beat a one-seed when your Nuggets beat Kemp’s Sonics in 1994?

DM: One of my proudest successes of my career. But I’m happy to promote the Old Spice game now. I want everyone to go to the website and play the game to save the world. We only have four and a half weeks, so we better do it.

Play the game “Dikembe Mutombo’s 4 1/2 Weeks to Save the World” and buy Old Spice Champion Scent here.

Old Spice’s fans and casual video gamers will also play a major role in helping save the universe. All points earned and submitted over the duration of the 4 1/2-week game will power a wood carver engineered to draw additional rings on the Mayan Calendar.

  

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