Friday, 18 May 2012

Flashback Friday - Chakan: The Forever Man

It's Flashback Friday again, and this week I'm looking back on a Sega MegaDrive (Genesis)game called "Chakan - The Forever Man". 

Chakan is pretty bad ass monster hunter who could give Dante and Van Helsing a pretty good run for their money. He travels from Dimension to dimension defeating Spider Queens and Dragonfly Gods. He is also invincible (thus the "Forever" man), wears a cool hat and duel wields swords. Despite having infinite lives, this game was fiendishly difficult, balancing platforming elements with button bashing combat. I'm not sure I ever got to the end...

One thing I always remember about Chakan, was it's eerie and very well composed soundtrack.

Here's a video for the old fans:

Friday, 11 May 2012

Flashback Friday - Alex the Kidd

Flashback Friday is a new regular feature inspired by my good lady wife, Freya.

Every Friday, I will be looking back at a game from the days of old and inviting comment from you, my readers. You might have a fond memory of the game, you may have never heard of it or it may have been the game that drove you to the edge of despair! 

Our first game "Alex the Kidd in Miracle World" was a favorite of mine and one of the first games that I ever played. It was available on the Sega Master System, but I had a special edition of the console which meant that this game came built in! True innovation for those days and as a result, Alex Kidd was a game that I always came back to. That and the fact that there was no save functionality, so it had to be conquered in a single sitting!

The video below shows the first 10 minutes of the game but you may wish to view with the sound muted. 

So, does that jog any memories? If not, did you have a favorite Master System game like it?

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Xbox Ambassadors - How it works

Greetings readers! This is a quick post to explain a bit about the Xbox Live Ambassador program. I applied to become a member of the Ambassador team well over a year ago and I recently received word that my application had been accepted and that I was invited to join the initiative.

I was of course surprised and delighted, and accepted the invitation instantly. In the section below, I'll explain a little bit about what Xbox Ambassadors do, and how you can get involved.

What's it all about?
Being an Xbox Ambassador is primarily about helping other Xbox users and passing on the bits of knowledge that you have gained since being a LIVE member.

Users will often have issues when using Xbox LIVE, Xbox Kinect, Software or even technical aspects like sound and vision. These sorts of problem can severely inhibit a players enjoyment of the games that they are playing or even the LIVE service that they have spent their hard earned cash on. These issues will some times be easy to resolve (reboot and try again), but more often than not, problems can be quite complex and for newer users, these can be a bit daunting. 

It's an Ambassadors job to gather all the information on an issue and work with the user to resolve it through a series of solutions. 

How do users get in contact with Ambassadors?

Users can get in contact with an Ambassador through:
For those that are unfamiliar with Xbox Ambassador Chat, this is a live chat that takes place through MSN messenger, connecting you directly to one of the Ambassadors that are 'on duty' at the time. Ambassador Chat is the preferred option for users as it is often the quickest way to get an issue resolved.

What if you don't know the answers?

Being an Ambassador does not mean that you are expected to know everything about the world's greatest console. However, the veteran members of the team work really hard to pull together FAQs and lessons learned, which all of the Ambassadors can access. There is also a weekly bulletin highlighting common issues that have arisen and problem trends.

I've found all of this invaluable as a new member and it's great to have a community to fall back on when you are stumped.
What are the rewards for Ambassadors?

Apart from the warm fuzzy feeling that comes from helping fellow Xbox lovers, Ambassadors can earn several rewards for their dedication to the program. These include MSP (Microsoft money!), exclusive avatar items, access to the private Ambassador forums on and a stats tracker on the official Ambassador Leaderboards.

Want to join?

If you love Xbox and enjoy helping others, why not apply to join the Ambassador program? You can apply here, and when the next round of recruitment takes place, you should get an email to say how you got on.

Best of luck and if you have any questions about being an Ambassador, please don't hesitate to ask!

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Skyrim - Dawnguard

Bethesda has officially revealed the name of the first piece of DLC for Skyrim. An image posted on  Bethesda's blog, states that the new DLC will be titled "Dawnguard" and will launch on Xbox 360 this summer.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Skyrim - Dawnguard (Credit Bethesda)
Bethesda also announced, the Skyrim DLC will be an Xbox 360 exclusive for at least 30 days. 

No other information has been revealed on upcoming expansion but with E3 just a few weeks away, you can be sure that Dawnguard will make an appearance. Rude not to, right?

In other news, Skyrim's Kinect integration is now live (see the video below). If you haven't had a chance to try it yet, it's well worth a look. There's nothing quite like shouting random Dovahkiin words at the tv when under attack. My neighbours must hate it! FUS RO DAH!!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Game of Thrones - looking forward

Game of Thrones is an upcoming Action RPG for the Xbox 360. The game will be based around the bestselling book series 'A Song of Ice and Fire' (though many of you will know it better by the title of the first book in the series, Game of Thrones), written by George R.R Martin.

Not much is known about the plot so far, except that it is set before the events of the first book and that the player will get to experience events from the perspectives of two very different characters. However, with George R.R Martin working closely with the developers, one thing that we can be certain of is that the plot will be lovingly crafted, filled with all the treachery, betrayal and back-stabbery that make his stories so great.

I am a huge fan of the books and recently went to a talk given by Martin, as well as a book signing. Though there was no mention of this game, George did treat us to a short chapter from his next book. Suffice to say, minus the spoilers, it sounds as brilliant as the rest!

Game of Thrones for Xbox now has a release date set for 1st June 2012 and is available for pre-order from

Here's a short trailer to wet your appetites!

Monday, 16 April 2012

The Witcher 2 - launch controversy

As you all know The Witcher 2 is not due for UK release until tomorrow, however a lucky few (myself included) happened upon some rogue stock on sale in Tesco over the weekend. It seems that Tesco inadvertently began to sell the titles on Friday, a whopping 4 days before the official release. Developers quickly got in touch and demanded that the supermarket pull the remaining stock from the shelves until the actual release on 17th April. 

Whether this mistake was genuine error, or a more sinister ploy to make a few bucks at the expense of more established game retailers, we will likely never know. I for the most part was completely unaware, shambling into my local Tesco on a quest for Cat food, Butter and AA Batteries, I came across The Witcher 2 in the entertainment aisle. 

Without a second thought I dropped one of the many copies on sale into my basket and set off towards the quest marker at the checkout. I encountered no enemies on route and no traps, not so much as a puddle of spilled Ribena. Plain sailing.

After tweeting about my recent purchase, I received a few messages of confusion from friends and followers. For the most part these read something like "Howd u gt that?? N0t out till tues...!". After doing a bit of googling, I stumbled upon this article on EuroGamer, which explained the mix up.
Some of the environments are stunning

In all my gaming history, I've not really experienced this before but the sensation was probably akin to time-travel...or being sent a review copy of a game. Without hesitation, I decided to get stuck in, and here's what I found:

The Game

Following a short, obligatory tutorial designed to introduce you to the combat mechanics and some of the basic functions, you are thrown into a large battle between two ruling powers in the fictional land of Temeria. Your character (Geralt, the Witcher) is a super-human who specialises in slaying monsters. However, on this occasion, you have been summoned by the King to assist in a clash against his enemies. 

So far this looks like an excellent example of a modern RPG. The story is well crafted with characters that have a depth and complexity that makes them really come to life. The graphics are excellent considering that this is a game that has been ported from a PC and adapted to fit the aging hardware of the Xbox. 

In general, the game feels a lot more focused than some open-world RPGs like Skyrim for example (Not that freedom in Skyrim is a bad thing!) but you don't get the feeling of being herded in one direction. I spent the best part of the day exploring, getting pretty stuck into the initial quest, only to find that I was still in the prologue and hadn't even started the first chapter! So, needless to say, there is plenty to do in the world of Temeria.

Mean looking chappy, eh?
Above all though, The Witcher feels very much like an adult's RPG. The mature themes are in your face, but in no way overdone. The language is rife, the violence bloody and the nudity full-frontal, but where others try and fail, the Witcher manages to pull this all off without it feeling trite. 

The Xbox version also comes with some additional DLC and some lovely booklets, manuals and a map. Manuals. Remember those?! If you are a fan of RPGs, Game of Thrones or fantasy in general, I think you'll dig it.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Skyrim DLC?

A few hours ago Bethesda posted this image via their official Twitter account. The caption simply read "Tomorrow".

But what does it all mean? As you can imagine, Twitter and the rest of the gaming community have gone berserk since this release and all kinds of speculation is underway. Some say it could be news on upcoming titles like Dishonored and Fallout 4. Others believe it gives a clue on Skyrim's first installment of DLC.

I personally believe the latter, but like everyone else, I presume we will have to wait until tomorrow to find out.

Update: Despite the distinctly Nord-esque looking fellow in the teaser image, this was actually a shot of upcoming Bethesda title, Dishonored. View the debut trailer here:

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