Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My review of "Skull Monkeys"

Skullmonkeys cover

Intro: After playing The Neverhood all the way through, I thought my journey through the magical, clay crafted world of the Neverhood was finished. I got bored with Final Fantasy Tactics, so I've been a bit lost, also take note that this was well over a few months ago. Anyway, I was checking out the bargin bin at a Half priced bookstore, and I was shocked to see Skull Monkeys on sale...for three bucks. I mean, the cheapest one you can get through amazon is like 20 or more, but this was a rarity.

So Immediately I asked my oldest brother to pick this one up for me, and I would pay the money back. While the disk was missing the manual, and the disk was kind of scratched, it ran pretty well. So now I told you how I stumbled upon it, now let's dive back in...let me take you back into the wonderful world of Neverhood.

Klogg Monkey
It's teh evil Klogg Monkey, RUN.

Story: The game takes place after the original Neverhood. All I can say is, without spoiling the story of the first game, is that there was a happy ever after, and the evil antagonist Klogg was sent far away into space. Although if Klogg really did die out there, we wouldn't be talking about this game now would we? He just so happens to drift so far out into space, he lands on a mysterious planet, which is home to the skullmonkeys. Ordinary monkeys with oddly shaped skulls on there heads.

Anyway, Klogg happens to land on the leader of the skull monkeys, and he declares himself as the king of all Skull monkeys, Klogg monkey. All of the Skull monkeys submit to Klogg, and the first thing Klogg wants his slaves to built an evil engine...Evil Engine Number 9. So all of the Skull monkeys get to work, all except for one. Jerry O, who happens to be the smartest Skull monkey there ((Or at least I think so)) saw through Kloggs evil scheme. So Jerry O sends a flying machine to pick up the only man that would save the Skull Monkeys from doom...Klayman.

Skull swirly
Collecting stuff to look tough.

Gameplay: Skull Monkeys is very different from the previous game, which was a point and click adventure game. Skull Monkeys plays out more like Super Mario Brothers, or any other side scrolling platform game. Basicly you go from point a to point b, using only your wits, a few power ups, and any of the lives that you have. You don't have any health, though there are power ups that can protect you from harm. If you die, then a life will be taken away. Run out of all of your lives, then you can either give up and go back to the main menu, or keep going. If you keep going however, you loss all of the cool stuff you collected previously.

Now let's talk power ups. You can bounce on curtain Skull Monkyes, though some will require you to jump beyond them, or the use of a nifty power up. There are a crap load of power ups that you can use, and you will have to use them sparingly in order to survive this game. You can collect bullets to shoot people with, homing birds that work like homing missiles, call your friend Willy to collect any hard to reach power ups, use a universe enema that destroys all of the enemies on screen, and my personal favorite, the phart head, which calls forth a scout that'll take your place if you die.

There's also some nifty bonus rooms you can visit, granted if you collect all of the three swirls, which are in every level. There's even a super duper secret level that takes place in the 1970s. This is the toughiest level to get to, and the three bonus room tokens can be found by those who search closely. If you make it here, and survive it, then it'll be well worth it.

There are a few levels in each stage, and after you complete each stage, you'll be given a password to continue on where you left off, plus a nifty cutsceen every once in a while. True that you can't save your game on a memory card, just remember a password. Although I don't mind this, and personally you shouldn't worry about that too much, because I'm sure you have writting material at home...oh, I almost forgot. The game has bosses, and each boss is pretty unique in not only appearance, but attack pattern as well.

Oh, fancy lab.

Visuals: Seriously, do I need to explain this? If you've read my last review, then it pretty much says the same thing. The whole game is made with clay, everything, from the characters, to the sets. Although this time around, realistic objects were used, such as a can of beans, a live hamster, and even one of the bosses uses one of the heads of the many NH developers. There are cinimatics every two chapters beaten, and they're hilarious. Like when Klayman picks up the can of beans, and farts on a mean Skull Monkey that stalks him. Really there's not much to disscuss.

Music: Once again, Terry S Taylor provides an awesome soundtrack, and like last time, you should hear what I mean, rather than just listen to me. First, let's hear some of what we have now a days compared to skull monkeys.

Tales of Destiny battle theme

Halo theme

Now lets hear the Skull Monkeys theme

Wasn't that fun kiddies? I will also say this much about the Skull Monkeys soundtrack. Neverhoods soundtrack was more focused on slow melodies, while Skull Monkeys is more fast paced, since that it's a platform game. On other audio notes, the voice acting is top notch...nuff said, let's move on.

Don't let me miss
Don't miss, don't miss, DON'T MISS.

Flaws: Skull Monkey isn't without it's flaws, sad to say. For starters, the platforming is tough...I mean it, this is perhaps one of the most difficulty games you will ever play. I mean it's really challenging, and at times even unfair. You'll have to make jumps that seem imposable to make, and he he, good luck with trying to complete the game without any use of the power ups. I will admit, I wish the game's jumping puzzles would have been better placed.

There's also the bonus rooms, in which promise a chance to wind down, and collect some really cool stuff. Though later on in the game, there will be enemies in some of these rooms...what the hell is up with that? I would have been fine without any of the monsters, since that I look forward to a bonus room with free time to smell the roses.

Last little thing is the ending, which I won't spoil for you. Although I will say this much, and that there are two endings, and one of them can be yours by collecting the swirlies in the last level...the last level, which is the hardest level in the entire game. I'll also say that the original ending will not be worth it, so try to collect the swirlies at the last level if you want a decent ending...and good luck with this.

Doug sculpting
HA HA, Doug has an ear ring. XD

Conclusion: Despite it being as hard as Ikaruga, Skull Monkeys can be a delightful adventure, and there are even some original levels that I forgot to mention. It's worth it if you want to revisit an old time platform game.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My review of "The Neverhood"

Neverhood: Boxart

Intro: After playing Final Fantasy Tactics for a while, I thought it would be a good game to review, just for the heck of it...then something occured to me. Rather than giving another first impression, why not review a game I completed? One which was an awsome game, but not a whole lot of people remembered it. One which deserves to be mention whenever anything adventure game related is disscussed. This, my friends, is that game. I present to you, a little slice of heaven called, "The Neverhood" .

Basic premises: The Neverhood was a PC, point and click, adventure game, that was released back in 1996. The project was headed by Doug Tennapel, of Earthworm Jim fame, and some of the teammates were also apart of the Jim team. The developers studio, which is also Neverhood, made a game which involved solving puzzles, exploring a weird enviorment, and some top notch storytelling.
What made the game great wasn't really the puzzle solving, but everything, ranging from the sets, characters, and props, were all made out of clay...five tons of clay.

Neverhood: Pipehouse
Ahh the wonders of The Neverhood.

Gameplay and storyline: The storyline is sort of hard to explain, so let me just lump that part into the gameplay section. You play as Clayman, who if you haven't noticed already, is the weird looking fellow in the screen shots. He wakes up in a nursery, and starts to explore the place. You guide our hero through many wacky locations, and solve some puzzles, which range from being quite easy, to being mind numbingly difficult, or somewhere in between.

The locations in the game are all sculpted marvelously, and you can find a few funny things here and there. There's a place with a talking television, a place where you can make a tiny rat hole into a man sized arc way, and even run into the dreaded weasel. You can pick up items in the game, but there's no inventory, which is okay, because some of items you can use in the same room you got it from, plus it's simple to know which items go to which room.

Some locations will have tapes, along with television screens. You can insert the tape in one television screen, and that tape is linked to all of the television screens in the Neverhood, so you don't have to worry about going back and getting a tape to watch it all in one place. While you can watch them, you won't be able to see the whole message, so collecting all of the tapes is the main objective in the game. The tapes are used to tell a story about how you got in the Neverhood, who made it, and why the creator has been replace with the antagonist.

The sound and music: The music is what also made the game great. To describe it is just doing it injustice. Here's a few songs from other games...

The theme of Final Fantasy

A battle theme for Devil may Cry 3

Now prepare yourself, for klaymans theme

If that wasn't enough, here's one of my favorite themes in the game

I know, both themes sound rediculous, but that's the point. The music is suppost to be a obscure, simple, and a unique piece of art, and it matches the overal theme of the game. Go ahaid, listen to them, and compair it to what we got in todays world of gaming soundtracks. It stands out as being one of them most messed up, and yet catchy soundtracks out there...shame that the actuall soundtrack is rare to find today.

Neverhood: Boxing glove trap
Pow, right in the kisser.

Problems: My only real problems with this game is it's limited access, and difficult puzzles. Some of the puzzles are just down right confussing, and while you do have a hint system via the nusury bathroom, most of the time those won't help. Also, the game is so rare by todays standers, it may not even run on modern systems like Windows XP. If you happen to know a friend who owns the game, borrow it, and try to get it to work.

Neverhood: Mike working
Genious at work

Final thoughts: After there first game, The Neverhood wound up making an all clay, PSX exclusive sequal, that involved platforming, rather than puzzle solving. There was also a PSX, 3D fighting game, before Neverhood shut there doors down.

We've got a whole bunch of tools to use now a days, when it comes to gaming visual, but nothing now a days could compete against the wonders that this clay molded masterpiece holds. True it's difficult at times, but what game isn't? While it's rare to find, the spirit of The Neverhood lives on. Heck, there's a movie that's soon to be in production, curtisy of Doug Tennapel.
A lot of people are still mentioning this game today, and a handful would rather go back to there buster sword wielders, football players, and gun toting super heroes. It's sad, I love anime, shooters, and RPGs, but I also have an intrest for cartoons, western style visuals, and good old fashion comicbooks...but those people are a rarity now a days.

I thought this game was great, and I'll never let go of my copy. I don't incourage you to hunt for the game, especially when it's pretty expensive now a days. If you do manage to find it, play it, complete it, enjoy it, because we'll probably never get another game like it.

Monday, April 7, 2008

First impressions of Unlimited Saga

Unlimited Saga box

So I've been reading up on this game for quite a while, and despite the negative critisism it got, I decided to try it out for myself. After picking it up yesturday, I can safly say that I'm very, very glad I picked it up. Now for some of you that don't know what I'm talking about, Unlimited Saga came out a few years ago, and was met with heavy critisism, and a lot of returned copies. People thought it was bad, confusing, and tough, and quite frankly I think they were just jumping to conclusions after they read the magazines.

I won't talk about what people thought about the game, instead I'll talk about the gameflow, followed by my opinions on the game, also you may want to skip the first segment of this impression if you already played it. Basicly Unlimited Saga is an RPG, but it isn't of any typical caliber of easy, soap opera RPGs on the market today. Instead it follows in the SaGa caliber, which it's typical features are seven selectable characters, an open ended world, and extream difficulty.

Unlimited Saga continues that tradition of SaGa esque gaming...but does things a bit differently. When you start out, you select your starting character. Each of the seven characters have a seperate goal, different skill sets, and different stories. Although some of these characters do wind up meeting each other, not all of them will wind up together.

Anyways, your introduced to the character, what he or she is doing, and what there goal is. After that, your taken to the starting town, which you can't roam around freely in a 3D enviorment, but instead just select where you want to go, and confirm it, just like a menu. While you won't have any options right away, you can click on them anyway for fun. Most towns will have a carrier guild, which give side missons that involve deliveries, but this is only possable if you have a member of the guild there.

You also have an inn to go to, where you can shop, get information, view equipment, and see what adventures you can go on. There will also be places that not every town has, such as a blacksmith, which repare items or make new ones, or magic guilds...I really don't know what they do yet. Anyways, it's best if you get information first, that way you can see who can join your party, and belive me when I say it's good to have company. If they don't have a misson for you, then go to the adventures section of the inn, select what you want, and your on your way.

Onto the field. On the field, your character is represented by a metal miniature, which moves around a board one at a time. While not moving, you can see your characters stats, equipment, use skills, and even do a quick save and quit, though it get's deleted after you boot it up. The only time to save is when your at an inn. Anyways back to the field, your characters can move one at a time, and how this is done is simply holding either the left or right analog stick in the desired direction.

The directions you can take will be represented by little windows, question marks represent unexplored territory, while titled places are routes you already taken. Each one will also have a color on it, blue is safe, yellow is caution, and red is danger. Go into a yellow one, and monsters might notice you, though you can sometimes slip right past them, while red is unavoidable monster central. Also, you can't run away from a fight, but really, who does that now a days, besides out of bordom?

In some cases, you will have to fight, but don't worry, your not completly weak. Combat in Unlimited Saga is completly different, rather than selecting an option one at a time, you have the option to selecting up to five options of attacks, which range from a one man stand, to a fantastic three showdown, or a hive five attack pattern...those aren't actuall choices mind you.

Anyways, your character can select what weapon attack he can use, and after the five attacks are selected we get onto the battle. If your enemy doesn't start out first, then a reel appears, which is kind of like a roulet wheel you can find at a casino. If your character is just starting out, he will only have one attack variaty, which is green. But if he uses the attack repeatifly, he will sometimes have a new attack to show off, and it does more damage than the green tile attacks.

Although you can't select these new attacks, you can use them by doing the previous attack again, and try to score a different color pallet. You can also do team combos, and this is done by holding an attack. You can have up to five people that can combo it up...but there is a drawback. Sometimes your enemy will interupt your combo, and you just do a normal attack, followed by the enemies attack, at the same time. While it can suck to be interupted, sometimes you have to know when to take the risk.

Attacks take a little bit of health out of you, so it's best to try and balance attacks with different allies, rather than stocking up attacks on one guy...speaking of health, I'll cover the HP and LP system. Your character first soaks up HP when you get hit, as long as you have HP, you have a high chance of protection against LP. If you have no HP left, your enemies will have a better chance to reduce your LP. Once your allies are out of LP, he or she is out for the rest of the adventure...but if your protaganist is out of LP, it's game over.

There's no way to restore LP besides completing a misson, or if your run out of time on some timed quests. So it's best to restore HP, and this is done by either clicking on the left of right analog sticks on the field, or letting a character skip a turn while attacking. You run a risk of running into an enemy when resting, but sometimes they don't attack.

After a quest is complete, your taken to a screen which shows what skill your character can master. Basicly you have seven grids, and some of them will have empty slots in them. You must either replace a current skill you have, or put one in an empty slot. After selecting what characters get what new skill they learned, plus the boost in max HP, you will be prompt to save your game. I should also note that there is no XP gain in this game, so this is theo nly way the characters will ever get stronger.

So that's how some of the gameplay works. Do stuff in town --> Select an adventure or delivery --> explore + battling --> growth grid --> save game --> do stuff over until completed. While it did take me a long time to explain what you could do, heck I left a few things out, that should give you a basic idea on how the game is played.


Now for my opinions on the game. It can be really fun to give the smackdown on weaklings on the field, though when your fighting a boss, you'll require careful planning, plus a really good eye to spot those greater attacks. I wish you didn't have to use a little bit of your HP to use an attack, that way you could have a little chance at defeating the boss. Plus the reel system, while satisfying it may be, can be frustrating at time, especially when it comes boss time. So practice timing is a must.

The voice acting can be pretty horrible at times, especially with Armic's voice. Lastly, it can be frustrating to not run into a blacksmith that can't repair your favorite weapon type...or not being able to have a blacksmith in the first place. But the game is pretty fun, and it's tough but rewarding reel system get's my thumbs up. I'm not bothered with the whole board game feel, heck I love it. When I was a little kid, I always loved using my imagination, and tried to fill in the blanks of two or three frame rate animation.

While I can understand that some people don't like the board game feel, it shouldn't have been heavily critisized. That's just down right stupid to judge a game by not being able to move around a town, or that your character is a metal piece rather than a polygon man. I would rather just point and click on my towns, than try to cover each and every inch of a huge 3D city. Running around can be boring, and talking to NPCs with nothing intresting to say can be a bit of a letdown.

Unlimited Saga is a bit rough, but it isn't discardable like everybody else says. With that being said, I shall bid you farewell, and I will give you a full review this Sunday.

EDIT: Sorry, but I'm going to drop the actuall review for Unlimited Saga for a while. Mainly because this first impression page took almost forever to write.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


Hello fellow blogger peoples, and welcome to my little slice of heaven called Monstrous Sanctuary. Here, I post anything that's on my mind, since that I lack the power of a webcam, and thus can't do Vlogs yet. So who am I? Well, my first, real name is Garin, and I'm a video game enthusiast who loves comic books, manga, anime, drawing, watching dudes or girls draw, looking up anything related to video games, and lastly I like reading about game developement.

The goal of this blog is to update it with person opinions on the what was, and what is, on all things video games, and I'll also mention a few things as well, such as movies, comics, table top gaming, or whatnot. So if your into that kind of stuff, then please feel free to read my blog entries. This is also a personal website for me, so I could also post projects, or other things I could be working on, so take a peek.

One more thing, when it comes to reviews, I actually review it, instead of thrashing it. Now I know the kids today love online critics, such as The Spoony Experiment, Angry video game nerd, or That guy with the glasses (Heck, I love there work), but me personally I don't want to do that, and here's why.

#1: It doesn't matter what you create, or how you go around to doing it. Creating something, whether it's a video game, a comic book, or a fantasy novel, takes time and effort to make it plausable, and even the CRAPPIEST of projects had people taking the time out of there schedual to make something for your enjoyment. These people may also have families, or friends that there taking time away from, just for the sole purpose of making a level, chapter, whatever.
I personally don't want to bring down anybody that had faith in there projects, and tear it down just for fun, which is why I let Spoony do all of that...but me, I'd rather not go beserk on someones child of a project.

#2: I love my hobbies. I love to play video games, I love to read fantasy novels, and I love to talk about all things in the entertainment media. In truth, I'm actually very easy to please, and I like to analize projects for ideas to use in any of my projects. Consider this, when you play something, or read something, you could take an idea that's been done, and use it for your own project...though you may want to ask the author for that idea, it never hurts to ask.

#3: If anyone famous reads this, they could try to find me and kick my butt...hey, you never know.

So now you know the purpose of this blog, so if your onboard, then take a seat, grab a cup of coffee, and enjoy, as my pour my mind into this very blog.