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Destructopus

Games for the mobile community are notoriously difficult to get right. You can have a game that looks quite good, but is in fact a buggy nightmare and a disaster to play, or there are the games that are great to play, but look a bit like a reject from the days of the ZX Spectrum. Only a certain few games manage to get the balance between controls & graphics. Unfortunately Destructopus doesn’t quite fall into that category, but it’s a really good effort.

In Destructopus you play as a rampaging monster who has just received the wake up call from hell, namely an off-shore oil drill into the head – ouch! Clearly a bit aggrieved by this intrusion you stick your head up to find the planet in a bit of a state, namely down to those pesky humans. As an environmental activist you decide to take some direct action and destroy as many buildings, cities, power plants and factories as you can and if those humans try and stop you. Well, you have woken up hungry, so they probably deserve it.

The game takes place over four zones covering city, forest, desert and wasteland, with each zone containing five levels. You trample through each level destroying what you can using three basic attacks; swipe with your claw, chomp with your mouth or shoot a laser beam out of your eye. As the destructible environment is different you will need to use all three to get the most points. Some buildings are higher and require a mouth chomp, others are lower and need a swipe and some require a bit of both.

Of course the homo-sapiens aren’t about to let you destroy all they have built and will fight back in the form of soldiers shooting at you, as well as tanks, attack choppers and fighter jets. These also require a combination of the three attack moves to kill.

You control the monster using an onscreen set of buttons, a joystick in the left hand corner and the three attack buttons on the right hand side. Your monster can move forwards, shuffle backwards and duck. Duck is used to avoid certain enemy attacks and it’s at this point that the game moves from easy pastime to frustratingly annoying.

The controls themselves are a little bit flimsy, you will find yourself pressing the same button a few times because you didn’t press it in the right place, the aiming for the laser beam is tricky to get right and you’ll miss targets more than you will hit them.  At the start the amount of enemies on the screen is at a manageable level, however as you progress it becomes more and more difficult to actually avoid any attacks successfully due to the amount of rockets/bullets heading towards you at the same time.

The control scheme and the abundance of enemies on screen do let this game down. Early on you can see the fun the developers had creating it, sending a stack of storage tanks flying to squash three people as they run for their lives. The game also looks great, with smooth running graphics and a fair bit of detail. The sound of the game is ok, in the menu screens you’ll have a riff of guitar music playing however in game there’s no music at all, just the screams and squishes of the human racing fleeing.

Glitchsoft seem to be committed to this game and are in the progress of preparing other modes and updates for it, maybe in one of those they will update the control scheme to something a bit more manageable.

Destructopus is made by Glitchsoft Corporation and is currently free on the App Store.

7/10

Metroid Prime

Being asked to pick your favourite game of all time and review it is, in my opinion, like asking a parent to pick a favourite child and to announce it in front of all their other children, and then give a list of reasons as to why this child is better than the other. I’ve been gaming for about 20 years now and I’ve played many games, some beyond awesome, some not so awesome and some I would rather forget, so trying to whittle it down to one game was a tough job.

After much floor pacing, list making and consulting with auguries, the afterlife and other gamers I managed to settle on one game and annoyingly it was one of my original choices.

Metroid Prime may not be the most iconic of the much loved, but lesser known Nintendo franchise, for that accolade please see Super Metroid, but it is the game that the word “game-changing” was invented for. Released between November 2002 and April 2003, depending on where you are in the world, Metroid Prime was the rebirth of a franchise that some considered dead. It was also the first Metroid game in eight years, the previous instalment being the aforementioned Super Metroid. The game continues the adventures of everyone’s favourite Bounty Hunter as she travels through the galaxy kicking Space Pirate booty!

For those of you that have never played a Metroid game Samus Aran is our protagonist in the ongoing fight against the evil Space Pirate horde. At this point in the series she is a bit of a mystery, but what we do know is that she was born on a planet that came under Space Pirate attack, her parents were killed in the attack and she grew up vowing to avenge them. She briefly joined the Galactic Federation, however she soon dropped out for reasons unknown at this time and went freelance.

The plot finds Samus answering a distress call from a Space Pirate frigate, finding some rather unseemly experiments and bumping into her old pal Ridley. Ridley was last seen burning to death in some lava eight years ago although as the Metroid Prime Trilogy takes place before the events of Super Metroid Ridley hasn’t actually been burnt yet. The Metroid timeline is a confusing place to be. Second degree burns aside; he has been put back together and is now known as Meta Ridley. New and improved Meta Ridley then scarpers to a nearby planet with Samus in hot pursuit.

Samus lands on this new planet and after a bit of exploring discovers the planet is known as Tallon IV and that it was once a part of the vast Chozo civilisation. Our heroine then proceeds to search the planet and try and find out what it is the Space Pirates are up to. The game continues to use the same path as previous Metroid games – an “open” world that requires certain upgrades to allow you to fully explore. So while not exactly a groundbreaking plot it was the way in which this game was presented that really makes it stand out.

In the eight years since Super Metroid, gaming had moved on in leaps and bounds. The move away from 2D side-scrolling games prompted Nintendo and Retro Studios to try something new and different. Nintendo crafted the moniker “first person adventure” and promised fans that they would get something completely mind blowing.  They delivered.

From the first moment Samus’ ship lands on the abandoned frigate Orpheon, to the final battle with the Phazon corrupted Metroid, Metroid Prime is a visual feast. The textures, the colours, the scenery, it is beautiful to behold.  After so long out of the spotlight Nintendo had to show fans that it was committed to the Metroid franchise, and that the eight-year wait between games had been worth it. Retro Studios cancelled four other games in order to concentrate on Prime and the dedication shows.

When the move from 2D Samus to 3D Samus was announced the fans reaction was overwhelmingly negative. Fans just couldn’t imagine how their beloved heroine was going to move and many thought that Nintendo was taking too big a risk and that Retro Studios should be given a project with less history and preconceived ideas. The gamble truly paid off and the game was a massive critical success. It won numerous “Game of the Year” awards, was given some of the highest scores on any game during the Gamecube era and beyond, and still to this day it regularly crops in the Top Ten of many “Games of all Time” lists.

The Metroid franchise has always been popular with the sub group of gamers called Speed Runners. The current quickest completion time for Metroid Prime is 1 hour and 1 minute! The best 100% completion time is 1 hour and 24 seconds! If you’ve played any games of the series before you know that that is an amazing achievement

I could literally talk and write for hours about this game, trilogy and franchise as a whole. Ever since those crazy Super Metroid days I have been in love with this series and even when the series falters (see Metroid: Other M) they can still produce something amazing. Metroid Prime was the first part of the “Prime Trilogy”, followed by Metroid Prime 2: Echoes and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. Prime & Prime 2 were both on the Gamecube with Prime 3 being released on the Wii. In 2009 the whole trilogy was re-released with added wiimote capability on one disc for the Wii however I am aware that some regions have now discontinued this and it was never released in Japan. Personally I’m looking forward to the inevitable HD remake when the Wii U hits in a few years. The thought of Metroid in HD is beyond awesome!

So, if you haven’t played the series before or if you haven’t played it for a while I recommend you do so now. Dust off that Gamecube pad, hunt for that memory card, sit down and be prepared to remember why you love gaming.

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