GXP Gaming Blog

GXP Gaming Blog


OutRun Review (Sega Genesis / Mega Drive)

Posted: 31 May 2017 02:45 AM PDT

OutRun Review for Mega Drive and Sega Genesis

The arcade version of OutRun was created by the legendary Yu Suzuki and AM2 team at Sega who've been responsible for the likes of Shenmue, Virtua Fighter and Daytona USA. The game featured sprite-scaling technology seen in many other popular titles they developed such as Space Harrier, After Burner and Hang-on, and was playable in both upright and sit-down style cabinets. In fact it was one of these sit-down units that made me fall in love with the game. Physically being sat in a basic replica of the car that moved about as you drove was an amazing experience. It really helped this game stand out and I'd love to own a real arcade cabinet of it one day. For the time being though, I'll have to make do with the home conversions. Unlike most conventional racing games, you're competing against the clock rather than other cars. Along the way the road often splits in two, where you're given the choice of which direction to take, affecting the areas you drive through, how challenging the race is and what reward sequence plays at the end. This offers a lot of replay value as you're likely to want to experience each route and try to beat your best time... or your opponent's. With the limitations of the Mega Drive and Sega Genesis hardware, they're not able to achieve the sprite-scaling technology of the arcade, however I feel this version is a good compromise. The colour pallette looks a little darker, but the way the cars and roadside objects scale is fairly good, considering it had to be achieved using a completely new method of delivering different sized sprites, especially when compared to the Master System release which is understandably a lot more "choppy". In terms of music, these renditions are also fairly authentic, with an additional track provided called "Step on Beat" which is unique to this version. Personally I'm not a huge fan of this track and much prefer listening to either "Passing Breeze" or "Splash Wave" as these are so iconic to the series. Gameplay, of course, is the most important factor and OutRun on the Mega Drive does not disappoint. Each of the 15 possible environments are present from the arcade original and the experience feels very authentic. As mentioned previously, the direction you take as the road splits affects the challenge, with the left route typically being easier than the right. You're also able to amend the overall difficulty in the options menu if you wish to make things easier or harder, including a faster "Hyper Mode" which you can unlock by completing the game on "Pro" difficulty, or with a cheat by pressing "C" on the controller ten times on the main menu, before going into the options settings. The only real downside to OutRun for some is the limitations of the arcade gameplay experience. Other than doing each race, exploring the different routes and trying to beat your best time, there's not much else to do, so if you're looking to play something with more of a career mode, different courses and opponents to compete against, I'd recommend games like Super Monaco GP or Road Rash. As for OutRun on the Mega Drive and Sega Genesis, I feel it's a solid conversion of the original arcade game, ideal for quick pick-up-and-play and competing against friends for the best time to completion. If you're looking for a more faithful version, I'd recommend either Sega Ages Volume 1 for the Sega Saturn, which is almost identical, OutRun on the Nintendo 3DS or possibly playing the version within Yakuza 0 (Zero) on the PlayStation 4. Personally, I'd go with the Sega Saturn version if I had one.

GXP Gaming Blog

GXP Gaming Blog


Power Up Pins Review

Posted: 13 Apr 2017 10:01 AM PDT

Power Up Pins Review

Power Up Pins Banner Recently I received some amazing pins from a company called Power Up Pins who create their own uniquely design enamel and engraved pins around gaming, geek and popular culture. I don't often collect this sort of thing, but on a trip to Disney World in Florida a few years ago I got pretty hooked on their designs based on classic characters and rides. Since then I kind of caught the bug and as I was really impressed with these, I thought I'd do a review. Disclaimer: I'm not sure if I need to put one of these, but for transparency; I have not been paid, sponsored or endorsed by Power Up Pins to do this review. All thoughts and opinions here are my own and not influenced by the company and/or it's affiliates in any way. Power Up Pins Selection The first pins that really stood out to me were the pink and green kind of "his and hers" skulls with headsets and the various game controllers. So far they have focused on Nintendo, Xbox and PlayStation, but I have been told they will cover Sega in the future as I've been bugging them for a while to do these. As soon as they make those (hopefully Master System, Mega Drive, Sega Saturn and Dreamcast controllers, plus the Game Gear and possibly even a Dreamcast VMU), I will certainly be wanting to add those to my collection. The company is still fairly new, so they are adding new designs on a regular basis (it seems to be monthly at the moment), plus since getting my pins, they've added an awesome arcade cabinet that I really want. It's probably worth mentioning that they have also started doing patches, stickers and other jewellery based on their designs, plus different types of pins too, but as you can tell gaming is where I'm at with most things! If they cover super hero stuff in the future though, I may be tempted. More Power Up Pins Examples In terms of quality, I was really impressed! I have quite an eye for detail which puts me off buying a lot of POP! Vinyl Funko figures online as I hate it when paint spills over or seeing weird marks that should be there. With Power Up Pins, each one that was painted had no over-spill, no weird markings, chips or scratches. The engraved ones were also nicely polished with no defects or sharp edges. I really appreciated the level of quality with these. They came exactly how the appeared on the website. At time of writing, the pins sell for £6 each with free 1st class (signed for) shipping on orders over £15 for the UK, with additional options for Europe and Worldwide. I would feel more comfortable at a £5 each price point, but that's just a personal thing as ideally I like to own quite a few pins as a set rather than just owning a select few. The shipping offer certainly helps. More of my Power Up Pins If you're looking to get someone a gift that's a bit different, I think these pins are pretty cool for anyone into gaming, similar to the mini console keyrings, pads, etc. I think once they offer more variety in terms of Sega styles too, I'd like to incorporate them in my Patreon rewards for those who support my YouTube channel and website, or random giveaways (maybe in a retro "Sega vs Nintendo" themed event). I love the art style/design of these and I look forward to seeing what else they do in the future! If you're interested in seeing more of what Power Up Pins have to offer, check out their website at www.poweruppins.com or @PowerUpPins on twitter.

GXP Gaming Blog

GXP Gaming Blog


Golden Axe Review (Sega Genesis / Mega Drive)

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 03:42 AM PDT

Golden Axe Review for the Sega Genesis and Mega Drive

In 1989 Golden Axe was released in the arcades and was a great success. Makoto Uchida, who previously worked on Altered Beast, was said to have wanted to create a game that was inspired by Double Dragon and his love for the Conan films. With SEGA's mission to offer an "arcade at home" experience, it wasn't long before it was ported to the Sega Genesis and Mega Drive. As far as home conversions go, Golden Axe is incredibly faithful to the original with only a few minor differences. Obviously the graphics and sound take a bit of a hit, but the art style is very similar. The enemies no longer stay on screen when they die and the classic ending has changed, but overall the Mega Drive version is impressive with the addition of an extra stage after the original final boss and a duel mode for 2 players. When I was younger I grew up watching Ray Harryhausen movies such as Clash of the Titans and Jason and the Argonauts, which mixed with my Uncle introducing me to Warhammer and Dungeons and Dragons, made me want to experience these kinds of adventures myself. Golden Axe was the first game I remember which allowed me to do this and I absolutely fell in love with it. The ability to play it co-operatively with a friend significantly added to the enjoyment and over the years I've found myself coming back to this time and time again. You can choose to play as Ax Battler (the Barbarian), Tyris Flare (the Amazon), or Gilius Thunderhead (the Dwarf). Each of these are slightly different with Tyris being physically weaker but with more potent magic, Gillius who is physically stronger but lacks punch with his spells, and Ax Battler being somewhere in between. My choice was always Gilius the Dwarf. The basic premise of the game is to defeat Death Adder who has captured the King and his daughter while in possession of the Golden Axe. This adventure has you traversing on the back of a giant turtle, flying on the back of a giant eagle, going through villages and castles while fighting giants, skeletons and beasts which you can even ride to help take on your foes. One such rideable creature is called the "chicken leg", which is a bit strange, and is actually featured in the Altered Beast game. There's nothing better though than jumping onto a dragon and breathing fire on your enemies! At the end of each level and sometimes in between, you'll come across little gnome things with sacks which you can punch and kick to steal their magic and health potions. Each character has a different magic meter, which as you store more magic potions, increases the potency of your spells. These can be very fun to watch, especially when maxed out as you destroy everything on screen. As mentioned previously, the graphics and music for the Mega Drive and Genesis version is impressive for such an early title. In terms of controls, I've never had an issue with them, but I guess by today's standards the characters can feel a little bit slow and sluggish if you're not doing a lot of charge attacks. Of course, this game isn't perfect. The AI can be really dumb sometimes, walking off ledges and it can be frustrating when you're caught in the middle of them attacking from both sides. Fortunately the basic AI can be exploited to your advantage, so it's not all bad. Overall, with nostalgia aside I'd say this game has aged reasonably well. It's simple side-scrolling beat-em-up action is ideal for quick playthroughs with a friend, and as a single player experience it still holds up quite well due to its enjoyable fantasy setting. Sure, it's not quite up to the same standard as Streets of Rage 2, but it's certainly better than Altered Beast in my opinion.  

GXP Gaming Blog

GXP Gaming Blog


The Terminator Review (Sega Genesis / Mega Drive)

Posted: 21 Mar 2017 03:30 AM PDT

Terminator 1 Sega Review

The Terminator was released by Virgin Games on the Sega Mega Drive and Genesis in 1992. Licensed games have always been a bit of a gamble; they're often average at best, but there are some exceptions like Aladdin which is one of my favourites on the system. I still have the game cartridge that my cousin owned back in the early 90's, but is it any good? Let's take a look in this review... The game opens with a title sequence similar to the style of the iconic movie. Playing on a PAL Mega Drive, the music is great, but it can sound slightly too fast on a Sega Genesis. This is due to the European version running at 50Hz instead of 60. Thankfully, if you're choosing to play this on an emulator, there is an option to set it to PAL mode. You play the entire game from the perspective of Kyle Reese, starting out in the future armed with an unlimited supply of grenades to lob at your foes. While this feels very awkward to start with, and laborious as you make your way through the initial corridor full of Terminators, it's not long before you're able to find a gun and start making some real progress! While you can soak up a lot of damage, I still used to die a lot on the first level when I was younger by trying to clear everything out. The trick is just to ignore your health bar and keep pushing through. Occasionally enemies drop health pick-ups when your on your last legs, so don't worry, just endure the pain. As an introduction, the first level sets a good standard with plenty of action, great music and visuals which fit the style of the movie. Setting off the explosion and having to escape the base within the time limit, provides a real sense of tension, even if you're experienced with the maze-like layout. From there, you're taken back to the present, which... is now the past seeing as it was set in the 1980's. This is where the game gets a bit more linear and easier as you make your way to the Tech Noir nightclub. Thankfully, the action is still enjoyable, blasting enemies away, but it doesn't quite capture the same level of excitement of the first stage. Here you get to fight a Terminator boss at the end, but he goes down relatively quickly in three short bursts of fire. The third level has you escape the police station which comes with a few frustrations. Sure, you're fighting more of the same enemies, but it's their random placement that can get annoying. For example; on the stairs it can be very hard to take them out as you can't jump and shoot, so you're almost guaranteed to die. There's also a drop through the roof later on where you've got to be quick or that's another inevitable death. At the end, you fight the Terminator again, but the same method applies from the previous level. It's okay, but nothing special. The fourth stage is the final level. Yes, you heard me right; just 4 levels. This is arguably the biggest problem with the Terminator; it's far too short! Licensed games often have strict budgets and short timeframes for completion, but seeing as this came out 8 years after the original movie's theatrical release, I struggle to understand what the rush was all about, if that was the case. My guess is that it was to somehow coincide with the VHS release of Terminator 2: Judgement Day, as I assume they couldn't get the license for latest movie, but that's just my thoughts on it. There are no enemies here, it's just you versus the Terminator in a tricky level with plenty of dead-ends and ladders that are sometimes obscured by the background. This is possibly the most frustrating part of the entire game. For some reason you can't shoot the Terminator when he starts crawling on the ground, he randomly appears in places that don't make sense, and you can't really jump over him. The worst part about this is that while you can take a lot of shots to the face, you only have one life and no continues. So if you get trapped in a corner and he walks into you, that's it... you're dead... and you have to start from the very beginning again! One method I found to help avoid some of the frustration was to try and keep the Terminator on screen when he is behind you, as once he goes off-screen he can spawn randomly in front of you which makes things tough as you can't jump over him very easily, or at all. So, this keeps him behind you and avoids any nasty surprises. That is, apart from dead ends. So this will take you a few attempts. So overall the action is fun, the graphics are good, the music is great, but the game is really short. On your first experience it might take you a few hours to complete it, but once you know where to go and what you're doing it can take around 15-20 minutes. If the developers had more time, it would be great to know how this game would have turned out. After such a promising start, you can tell they were passionate about this project. I understand it may have been difficult to create an in-depth game of a movie with such a simple story, but possibly alternating between between Kyle and the Terminator as playable characters, or just more enemies, larger levels, and more objectives would have existed. It certainly feels like more time was spent on the first level than the others. For those interested, it is worth noting that the Terminator game on the Mega CD and Sega CD is different to this version, with more levels, shooting action and a really impressive soundtrack. I certainly hope to cover that in the future! As for the Terminator on the Sega Mega Drive and Genesis, would I recommend it? I'd say yes if you're a fan of the movie or if you like to play action games in short bursts. The quality of what exists is good and fun to play, there's just not much of it. Pick it up if you find it cheap. As long as you know what to expect, you shouldn't be too disappointed.

GXP Gaming Blog

GXP Gaming Blog


No Man’s Sky – Is It Misunderstood Art?

Posted: 24 Jan 2017 02:54 AM PST

No Mans Sky - Is it Art? Review

My first video for 2017 is finally here and it's quite different to my usual reviews and gaming memories. Don't worry though as I'll still be doing those, infact my next retro review should be for "The Mask" on the SNES if all goes well.This video looks at No Man's Sky and how I feel it was possibly a misunderstood experience due to it's misleading hype leading up to release, how it's less about gathering and crafting, and uses the video game medium more as a vehicle to express how it feels to be an outsider, disconnected from the world, alone.

Video Transcript

At a time when I neither owned a PlayStation 4 or would consider myself to be a PC gamer, No Man's Sky took me by surprise. I had no understanding of the relevance or importance of the photo tweeted once the project had gone gold, nor had I really got caught up in the hype and mystery, yet once it was released, I felt it... the overwhelming disappointment from millions of people around the world.The Internet was in uproar due to false promises and misleading information from Sean Murray leading up to the launch. The truth behind these actions is unknown, yet I wonder if it was an attempt to bring focus in a method similar to "clickbait" or misleading headlines in magazines and newspapers, in hope that the less sugar-coated subject matter will get the attention it deserves. In terms of sales it performed brilliantly, but in terms of connecting with people it seemed to fail miserably. The misdirection didn't work.Without the high expectations, the hype, and now that the dust has settled, I still wanted to try No Man's Sky for myself. Is it any good? As a game, no, not really, it can be very frustrating and repetitive, but as an experience it had a greater effect on me, something I hadn't really encountered in a video game before.You start off on an unknown planet after your ship has crashed, which you'll need to repair. No backstory is provided, you're just made aware of a few materials you'll need to get back up and running again. Why you're there doesn't matter, nor does how you got there, you just need to reach your destination; the centre of the Galaxy.The urge for me was to find a place to settle down, stay a while, familiarise myself with my surroundings and cautiously explore the landscape. I wanted to stockpile resources for the journey ahead but the game through design, limits you in a way that presses you to move on. Nowhere feels safe, nowhere feels like home, the world around you no matter how serene is killing you with its toxicity or temperature levels. Sometimes slowly, but it's only a matter of time. Your only respite is in your ship or at random bases scattered about the landscape... if you can reach them before your life support runs out.Out in space, whilst free from the hazards that exist on planets, you're still exposed to risk and danger from hostile ships that attack you. Large space stations offer safety whilst you craft, manage inventory space and trade goods, but they're not adequate for long term stays.In these space stations and occasionally in bases you come across on planets, aliens exist to interact with but they don't speak your language, no one does, apart from a few select NPCs to help you along with specific game mechanics, which I'll address later. You never stumble across a being of your own race. In this galaxy you are unique, but from these interactions it's clear you're nothing special. You are just an outsider, tolerated, served, awaiting the next.Unlike many games that try to make you feel like you are part of a world through character dialogue options, No Man's Sky does not. You're not able to form bonds, connections, relationships with anyone, other than to trade. After all you're just passing through, a traveller, what do they care?The feeling I get with this game is similar to a long journey driving on your own, covering a great distance to reach your destination. You stop off at places to buy food or refuel, meeting people along the way, but no deep friendships are formed. You're still alone, you don't belong there, no one really cares, you're just passing through.In other ways this game can be an expression of those going through life feeling like an outsider, like you don't understand people, you don't speak their language. Sometimes you can figure out a few common themes to get by and interact, understanding or unlocking key words and phrases, but you struggle to connect and build deep meaningful relationships. Surrounded by people you still feel alone.This is my experience of No Man's Sky; a forever lasting journey of self discovery from the perspective of someone disconnected from the world, existing within it and compatible only at a level just good enough to survive, "getting by" on a basic understanding of interaction, not to exchange thoughts, feelings, opinions or ideas. Someone lost, alone, confused by their surroundings and looking for answers, a way to understand their purpose.Theoretically there's others like you out there in the Universe, but the online aspect doesn't allow two players to meet and interact. The idea is teased, both through vague promises and the odd log entries from abandoned stations that talk of removing their suits and being subject to infection and death, possibly reflecting the idea that those who feel disconnected often wonder if there others are out there who feel the same and creating fear of "taking off your armour", exposing the real you to the harsh environment, causing anxiety of the possible negative consequences, how it may do more harm than good.This bleak emotional simulation may be too unsettling for some. Never in a game have I ever felt so utterly alone and so insignificant before. If this was intended I can understand why possibly the methods of previewing and drawing attention to the game leading up to release were so misleading. It would be hard to sell something like this. However, this is just my opinion. I believe No Man's Sky may have been a creative expression of how it feels to be like this, a confused lonely outsider existing in the universe, feeling so out of place in a world that belongs to "No Man"... or woman. After all, games can be art and art is in the eye of the beholder.At this point I would like to just highlight that I am aware of the most recent foundation update and how it provides base building, which is essentially a place to call home, but this feels like it was included to quickly please the masses after such a negative initial launch, just a mere distraction, a way to spend or waste resources. The fact that all associated alien NPCs for this part of the game speak your language, without having to find the relevant knowledge stones like everyone else you need to interact with can somewhat break the gameplay style I experienced. It doesn't have a huge impact on it though as it still feels a very lonely and shallow journey. It adds a level of convenience, a way to personalise a certain area on a planet somewhere, but it doesn't detract from the other points I raised in this video and my interpretation of the core experience.For those of you who have also played this game I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Did No Man's Sky affect you in the same way? Has this video opened your eyes to a potentially new perspective? Or did you feel the same way on your initial play through? I look forward to finding out.As for me that's all for this video, so please like and share if you enjoyed it and subscribe if you'd like to be notified of more from me in the future. Thanks for watching and I'll see you in the next video.

GXP Gaming Blog

GXP Gaming Blog


2017 Goals and Ambitions

Posted: 11 Jan 2017 04:05 AM PST

MyGamerXP 2017 Goals

MyGamerXP 2017 GoalsSo 2017 is finally here and with it comes reflection and a continued ambition to improve from experience and lessons learned in 2016.I'd just like to start off by saying that although a lot of bad things happened in 2016 (both on a global scale and personally), I still have a lot to be thankful for. My passion for video games and sharing my opinions/experiences online has introduced me to some wonderful people around the world who's love for gaming has helped me connect with and build numerous friendships.For me, 2016 helped build and solidify a network of supportive, kind and helpful individuals who help me with feedback, ideas, questions, and reaching my goals/ambitions of having the time to embrace my hobbies/interests more and enjoy being creative. I won't name them all here, but the likelihood is if you're reading this, you're one of them. Thank you.

My Goals for 2017

It saddens me how often I see goals from people to reach a certain number of followers, subscribers, or earning an amount of money in donations. While reaching milestones does feel amazing and I'm grateful when they happen, it shouldn't be the main objective in my opinion. Every day I seem to find people who claim they're "personalities", spamming links to their simply lazy unedited stream footage on YouTube, interspersed with ostentatious selfies and links to amazon wishlists or donation pages, seemingly only focused on acquiring more subscribers, more views, more likes, more follows, just... numbers.My personal goals for 2017 are: 
  1. To be more organised; so that I can capture footage and edit more regularly, meaning I get to finish more videos for you all this year (I have a lot that are "in progress", that I need to focus on and complete too).
  2. To take on one of my more ambitious projects; as fear of me not being "good enough" yet, not having the equipment I need, time and skills required is really holding me back. I need to embrace one and stick to it, no matter what. Make it the best I can now and try not to worry if I can't match my vision. The main thing is to try.
  3. To connect more with gamers around the world; this has been something I've really enjoyed and met some amazing people. I mainly focus on twitter, but this year I'm going to try and make more of an effort to post on instagram and other platforms/networks. I'm also thinking of doing twitch again once a week if I can. I've done two streams so far and will see how this goes moving forwards. My plan is to do it in a way I can save and use the footage for my videos/reviews as well. I'm sure I will attend PLAY Expo again too, but I may try to go to 1 or 2 more events this year if possible.
The tasks I've set myself are:
  • Create 2 videos a month
  • Use instagram on a daily basis
  • Send out 1 e-mail newsletter each month (sign up here)
  • Post a minimum of 2 times a month on my Patreon page to keep supporters updated on what I'm working on (I think I already do this, but just to make sure)
  • Twitch stream once a week (this is the only one I'm not 100% sure on yet)
There are other goals/tasks I have, such as; "be more ambitious", "upgrade equipment", "try being more relaxed/confident on camera", etc, but these are very dependant on other things, which is why they're not really present here. That said, I will try to be more "myself", more creative, push myself further and try to do my best.

Highlights from 2016

As a side note, I'd just like to list some of my highlights from 2016:
  • Getting MyGamerXP stickers made (thank you Kev and Jess!) that I was able to give out at PLAY Expo, to Patreon supporters and various friends on social media
  • Meeting loads of awesome people at PLAY Expo in Manchester
  • Reaching 1000 subscribers on YouTube (a massive achievement for me!)
  • Having 8 Patreon supporters (thank you all sooo much!!!)
  • Getting Michael Jackson's Moonwalker on the Mega Drive back in my collection
  • Receiving a Mega CD and 32x (wanted one of these for so long!)
  • Receiving my Sonic "build a bear" (thanks Aimee!), Lego Dimensions Back to the Future set (thanks Kim!), and numerous other wonderful gifts from my amazing friends
  • Finally getting my hands on a copy of Skies of Arcadia on the GameCube (another game I've wanted for years!), OutRun on the Mega Drive, and Alien Soldier (thanks Kev!)
  • Finding my old Sonic comics and games magazines from my childhood
  • Finding various old games (including boxed Zelda and Wario Land for Game Boy)
  • Receiving an official hoodie from Sega Europe
  • Buying my PS4
  • The announcement of Sonic Mania
Thank you to everyone who helped make my 2016 awesome; all of you who watched my videos, liked, shared, commented, subscribed, connected with me on twitter, and supported me in other ways too.Here's to 2017! Let's do this...