Voltron: Defender of the Universe – Game Review (2011)

Thanks to our friends over at THQ for sending me a review copy of their newest release, Voltron: Defender of the Universe.

THQ has given fans of Voltron a twin stick shooter, in the vein of the classic arcade game, Jackal. You get to pick any of the five Lions at the beginning of the stage and with a sweet intro to the mission thanks to THQ using actual clips from the original Voltron animated series you are ready to bring a whole bunch of pain to the forces of King Zarkon.

Each of the Lions have different stats, some have better Melee abilities and Armor, swiftness and elemental attacks, etc. but each one really gives you the joy of controlling a couple hundred tons of awesomeness in Lion form.

They’ve done a great job in the feel in those controls during combat too. You’ve got your ranged attacks, your melee attack, special weapon attack, and my favorite…a pounce attack. You can use that particular attack to leap over and land in the middle of the foot soldiers of King Zarkon and do some nice area damage or better yet you can snatch an aerial enemy flying overhead and and smash them to the ground. You can stop in your destruction and aim where you will pounce too by the way. But your Lion can be knocked out of commission of course and then you will have to go on foot for 10 seconds, trying to survive long enough for your Lion to be recharged. Not as easy as it sounds, trust me.

The vehicles, like Doom Tanks and foot soldiers from the early episodes of the Voltron series are all here for you to go against and like I mentioned up top, the game has original animation in between levels, but it also has taken the original music from the series and revamped it a bit. It sounds really good and it is just my inner geek but I had a big smile on my face when Lance popped up on the side of the screen praising me when I racked up a number of chain hits on the enemy. I kind of felt like I should have saluted him or something.

When you reach the end of a ‘level’ it’s time to face one of King Zarkon’s suped up Robeasts, thanks to Witch Haggar’s evil spell. You’ll have to wear down the Robeast in Lion form, and I bet in Multiplayer this is incredibly awesome. Then when it is on the ropes you will form Voltron by way of context button presses during the original animated clip.

After forming the legendary Voltron you will get your chance to attack, picking from the four options of special weapons, you will have to press the button at the right moment to unleash devastation on the Robeast. The Robeast will get a chance to retaliate and you need to press the correct button to avoid it’s attack.

Voltron: Defender of the Universe is available right now on the PSN for $9.99 and X-Box Live Arcade for 800 points. It’s a fun title and if you want to join me in the game for some multiplayer, just send a friend request to Unicron2005 on Xbox Live. Speaking of Xbox Live, if you want to dress up your Avatar in some Voltron related goodness they are available in the marketplace!

Retro vs Remake: Elevator Action … Gooooing Up!

Today's Retro vs Remake Games: Elevator Action vs Elevator Action Deluxe

Hotel floors filled with doors and elevators; a common movie setting for comedic chase scenes. But a video game based on doors and elevators? It works better than you might think.

Elevator Action is a 1983 arcade game developed by Taito. You play as a spy named Agent 17, or Otto (no, not Evil Otto;), tasked with infiltrating an enemy complex and stealing confidential information. The complex though, happens to be full of doors, elevators and guards. Being a spy that prefers traveling light, you’re armed only with a small pistol and your wits. Using a traditional four-way joystick and two buttons (jump and shoot) you must navigate the vertical buildings collecting documents from red doors while avoiding the guards that come out of blue doors. Fortunately you can take out the guards using a variety of methods such as shooting, jump-kicking or elevator-crushing. Unfortunately, as you progress through each level, the guards become more agile and their returning shots faster and more frequent. Elevator Action may be a fun game, but it is not an easy one. As with many games of its time, your character is a one-hit wonder and will drop dead with so much as a scratch (or short fall) on his adorably covert sprite.

While there have been several sequels and ports of Elevator Action over the years, Elevator Action Deluxe is the first “true” remake of the arcade classic.

Once again, Otto (or his female counterpart) is tasked with retrieving secret documents from the red doors while avoiding guards. Only this time the buildings aren’t always vertical and they aren’t always hotels. You’ll be slinking through factories, mines and military bases avoiding everything from enemy agents (some of whom summon more agents if they spot you) to soldiers, robots and bombs. Along with the wider variety of stages, hazards and enemies you also get an expanded arsenal of attacks. You still start off with a basic spy pistol, but you can collect weapon upgrades like machine guns, rocket launchers and lasers. You also have a new melee attack so you can bop enemies on the head should they get too close. Or if you’re the stealthy type, you can hide behind a blue door and wait for an enemy to pass by before flinging the door right into his back. Otto also must be wearing Kevlar armor this time around as he can take three shots to the chest instead of one and can even recover lost hits via “heart” doors.

There’s also an expanded multiplayer mode where up to four players (local only) can take on the fifty campaign missions together or duke it out in competitive mode.

Finally, the music in Deluxe is mostly cliched & often silly sounding “Mission Impossible” or “Bond” style tracks that fit the game’s corny atmosphere quite well. The game also mixes in many of the arcade original’s sound effects with the “realistic” sounds making it a treat for nostalgic ears.

So, final verdict? While Elevator Action is fun in its own right, Deluxe just adds so much more gameplay while keeping (most) of the core elements in tact that I’d have to say I enjoyed playing Deluxe far more than I ever did the original.

What do you think? Are Deluxe’s gameplay additions too convoluted or unbalanced? Or is the arcade original too limited and unforgiving to be much fun after ten minutes?

warlords screenshot

New Character Trailer for the Reboot of Atari’s Warlords

I might not love the final result on every game attempt, but I do love that Atari keeps swinging for the fences with their reboots of their classic titles. This summer we are going to get a reboot on my favorite 4 player paddle powered title, Warlords. In this newly released trailer, we learn all about the characters that will populate this new incarnations for XBLA and PSN.

Official Description

Show no mercy and take no prisoners as you fight to the death for title of the almighty Warlord in Atari’s new game, Warlords based on the Atari classic. Defend your castle from mischievous minions and ferocious fireballs spun from the mouth of a maniacal dragon in this whimsical reinvention of the beloved classic. In the ultimate battle of speed, strategy and survival, command your troops with shrewdness and skill to capture control points, collect power-ups and destroy the other warring factions!

warlords screenshot

I am pretty sure my old Warlord skills will not be applicable to the new version…