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Saints Row XBOX 360 Review

Saints Row is a shameless Grand Theft Auto clone…luckily it’s shamelessly good too. While originality points should be taken away from Volition (Red Faction 1+2, Descent Freespace), they have definitely proven themselves as superior developers. The Red Factions were both very good and introduced the ability to completely change the environment and blow holes in nearly anything. Someone please copy this! As it is a must for nearly any FPS game. Anyway getting back to Saints Row…in many respects it is better than GTA and my brother and I constantly found ourselves saying, “Wow that’s way better than GTA…Sweet!” so if you like GTA this is for you. If you hated GTA’s controls and thought it was overrated (That’s me) then this game is for you. If you are a diehard GTA fan…then you may find Saints Row’s copycatting too much to stomach. Saints Row has better graphics, controls, about the same story, better lasting appeal and multiplayer modes, and only suffers from a much worse sound and radio selection. This game is big and I’m not going to be able to get into every aspect, but nearly everything that worked in GTA is in this game and everything that didn’t has been fixed or dropped.

Gameplay: 9/10
Pros: GTA take notice and for Grand Theft 4 please introduce a free aiming system like the one in Saints Row. How frustrating was the lock-on firing system in GTA? How many times did you beat a mission by luck or die because of awful controls? Too many, luckily Saints Row gives you full control of where to shoot with a free aim system on the right stick. It makes all the urban mayhem that much more fun. You also have to mention Saints Row’s excellent story progression where you have to earn respect in order to take on missions. How do you earn respect? Drug Trafficking, Insurance Fraud, Hostages, Stealing and Pawning merchandise, Being a hitman, Demolition Derbies, Escort missions, Snatching up Hoes, etc. (I’m sure I’m missing a few). Some of these modes are incredibly fun and as you progress up the story missions, the respect levels get harder as well.
Cons: Gameplay is a shameless copy of GTA and lacks some of the features that Rockstar developed over their 3 games: No Motorcycles, No Parachuting, Flying, etc. The story is also more focused on Gangs and City life so the city of Stillwater is not nearly as diverse as the world of San Andreas, which is a shame since the rural countryside and different cities really made Andreas shine.

Graphics: 8.5/10
Pros: The graphics really shame GTA and show that Rockstar will have no excuses for detail when the next-gen GTA is released- graffiti adorns the building which are a far cry from generic boxes and skyscrapers. There’s also no load time when you enter a building or store…just kick the door in and go! The carjacking animations are very fluid (and can be brutal- cap to the head anyone?). Oh and I forgot to mention that when you boot up the game and start up, you’ll design your criminal in a fully customizable create-a-character mode…really awesome idea and a very extensive feature.
Cons: Though the draw distance puts GTA to shame, there still is some fade-in with buildings. The game lacks the graphical prowess of many Xbox 360 games…though more detailed than GTA, it is less detailed than most of the other games I’ve played for the 360.

Sound/Music: 7/10
Pros: You can rip music to a customizable MP3 player in the menus. All the explosions and gunplay sounds great. Story voice work is very solid.
Cons: The soundtrack is just not up to snuff and offers no familiar artists. The radio commercials and talk DJs are just not as good or as funny as GTA.

Lasting Appeal: 9/10
Pros: 1-Player missions should take you 30-40 hours to complete and that doesn’t include all the other things that you are always welcome to do in a free-roaming game like this. Multiplayer! Though the co-op missions are weak, the versus modes are a lot of fun and these additional modes are a welcome commodity.
Cons: Better Co-op missions or the ability for a friend to jump in the world online/locally to help in the main campaign would have been incredible.

Average: 83.75%
Tilt: -1.75%

You have to take off points for the lack of originality. If you didn’t notice, GTA was mentioned quite a few times in the review. Saints Row is a total rip-off of Grand Theft Auto and although it focuses, hones, and improves on many aspects of Grand Theft, it has to lose points for originality.

Verdict: 82%


Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin DS Review

Castlevania is an epic video game franchise and each new iteration is a solid entry into the series (minus the 3D ones). Almost every Castlevania fan points to Symphony of the Night as the pinnacle of the series, though Aria of Sorrow or even Dawn of Sorrow both approached excellence. For me the two best Castlevania games were Symphony of the Night for Sega Saturn (yes I had that obscure system) aka Nocturne in the Moonlight and Circle of the Moon for GBA. Circle of the Moon is by no means the best GBA Castlevania, but it did surprise me, impress me, entice me…and ultimately sold me on the Gameboy Advance as a system. Well, I should probably add Portrait of Ruin to that list because although it doesn’t feel as new and great as the 2 Castlevania’s that really won me over to the series, it really offers way more as far as game length, characters, modes, etc. So to end the ranting and really get to the summary of the review: Castlevania Portrait of Ruin doesn’t surprise, offers some new features, and is another great addition to the Castlevania franchise. It is better than last year’s Dawn of Sorrow, and although a Co-op adventure mode is truly a huge missed opportunity, the new partner mechanics are pretty cool and the painting mechanic is freaking awesome.

Gameplay: 8.5/10
Pros: This is how games are meant to play…classic side scrolling action adventure. Controls are immediately familiar to castlevania fans though there are several new partner features such as calling them in, dual attacks, switching etc. that are fun to learn and work really well. Game is challenging and intense as always. The new portrait system will hopefully be used in future titles.
Cons: Touch features from Dawn of Sorrow were almost completely dropped…there’s no sealing of bosses or touch screen doors to unlock. I think the dual screen could be used for more than just a map. Finally, the dual character mechanic could have been utilized a lot more for puzzles and goddamn a co-op mode would’ve been sweet!

Graphics: 8.5/10
Pros: Good ole pixel art! As always, Castlevania sports excellent sprites, animations, and even some sweet 3D backgrounds. It’s built on the same engine as Dawn of Sorrow and the new iteration looks just as good if not better.
Cons: Some enemies have been rehashed from the previous games and I would have liked to see more 3D, sprite effects, etc.

Sound/Music: 8/10
Pros: All the old familiar sounds sound as good as ever. There is some good voice work even though it is minimal and the score is perfectly creepy and atmospheric.
Cons: The story is still told in text boxes, and the music isn’t as memorable as previous installments.

Lasting Appeal: 8.5/10
Pros: The game offers a lot when it comes to castle real estate and terrain to explore. The paintings are very large worlds and allow you to visit very different locales. As with any other Castlevania game, the decent story and great gameplay will keep you adventuring to the end. There are some other modes and characters, which offer some replay value, but ultimately the modes are a novelty, and you may not want to play through the adventure all over again.

Average: 83.75%
Tilt: +0.25%

Castlevania Portrait of Ruin is a must for anyone who has enjoyed any previous Castlevania game. It is one of the better sequels to come along in awhile and is a great platform action/adventure. If you’ve never been into Castlevania, I’m not sure this game changes it up enough to warrant a go, but if you’ve never heard or played one, this is an excellent place to start.

Verdict: 84%


Elite Beat Agents DS Review

Simply put...this game is fun....really fun...wicked fun even. Elite Beat Agents appears on the surface a simple little diversion where you just tap numbers in order. The fact is that it will consume your time and will play levels over and over again both because they are fun and because you lack the rythm and timing to beat the level and move onto the next one. Throw in an incredible multiplayer component both with only 1 cart or multiple cars and you've got one of the best DS titles ever made, because it is unique to the DS, has play mechanics that can't be recreated on any other system, has great pick-up and play gameplay, and is just incredibly fun and addictive. This game is an absolute must-buy for DS owners and is one of those rare titles that is a system pusher...i.e. you should buy a DS to play this game.

Gameplay: 10/10
Pros: Multiplayer is a riot and invokes as much smack talk as an intense game of Halo Team slayer. The main game's story is quirky, and funny. I can't remember the last time I actually laughed during a videogame, but Elite Beat Agents is hilarious and totally out there. There's nothing better than listening to a song, getting in the groove and totally acing a level. Then again just triumphing over a difficult level is pretty darn rewarding. Simple controls, yet incredibly hard gameplay to master.
Cons: Game is challenging on easy ("breezin") and really tough on regular ("cruisin"). It could be frustrating to some, but I have not gotten frustrated once having to play a song/level over and over again to beat it, because it's just plain fun to play.

Graphics: 10/10
Pros: Sweet comic book style graphics and storytelling...great artistic design and presentation. Elite Beat Agents polygon models are excellent and move very fluidly and comically.
Cons: Probably doesn't push the DS hardware to the limits, but the graphics complement the gameplay and differentiate themselves from other ten from me

Sound/Music: 9/10
Pros: Some excellent songs: Jamiroquai's "Nothing left for me to do, just Dance!" from Napoleon Dynamite is a favorite. There's also a great variety: everything from Madonna "Material Girl" to Avril Lavigne's "Sk8ter Boi." All the songs and music are good choices and fit the levels. The voicework for the beat agents and commander kahn is very welcomed and sounds great. The best music/sound I've experienced on the system.
Cons: There are some song duds. I mean I have to take a point off for Ashlee Simpson and "LaLa"

Lasting Appeal: 9/10
Pros: The Multiplayer levels all have their own competitive scenarios...from fighting aliens to kids playing 3on3 bball which makes the frentic multiplayer even more fun because it offers some new cartoon stories. There's also an excellent Co-op mode and the game is just so fun you will want to beat it on every difficulty level and then play it all over again to get higher scores and grades.
Cons: An online component would have been nice, but if the song lagged or something it wouldn't work so I guess they can save that for #2. The game is so great you can't help but wish there were more tracks and levels.

Average: 95.00%
Tilt: +2.50%

Yes, I'm giving this a higher score than Gears of War. The reason being that this game induces as much fun at half the cost and can be played by anyone. Literally any one who likes music can enjoy this game and after the short tutorial will be dancing with the rest of the elite beat agents. Beware Kiddies because Moms and Daddies will be stealing this game as frequently as they did back in the 80s with Tetris. This game has that mass appeal while still offering challenge to more experienced gamers. An absolute must buy! A game that you will look back fondly on and want to play YEARS from now. Hopefully a new staple of the Nintendo Library.

Verdict: 97.5%


Elite Beat Agents

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Yoshi's Island DS Review

Yoshi's Island doesn't mess with the original's formula and really just adds some new elements here and there. The new multiple baby element is really cool, but doesn't change the feel of the game at all. Basically, this game is for you if you liked the SNES original or Gameboy re-release. It's not going to surprise you in any way (if you've played the original) but it is a solid Nintendo platformer.

Gameplay: 9/10
Pros: Classic Platforming of old. Playing one of the SNES's best games is always fun. New babies with different powers is a really cool new feature even though some work better than others.
Cons: If you've played the original this really just feels like more of the same. It's great, but you've played it. The first boss is even the same (well 2 of them instead of 1). It could've used some more touch features.

Graphics: 8/10
Pros: Same cool morphing effects from the remake and original. Great art sense and pastel / cartoon feel.
Cons: A lot of the graphics and animations are just ripped from the original (GBA or SNES, isn't DS stronger?), but what really bothers me is that the title screen and level progression menu is exactly the same.

Sound/Music: 8/10
Pros: I love the Yoshi yelp and the baby crying really makes you feel anxious to get the baby back. Again, the sound and music will instantly feel familiar and is perfectly sufficient.
Cons: Nothing new, perfectly sufficient but lacking something...pizzaz perhaps?

Lasting Appeal: 7/10
Pros: If you missed out on owning a SNES or didn't buy the GBA remake then this is a must buy and you will absolutely love it, play it, beat it, and play it again. There are tons of levels and a lot of different worlds. The bosses especially stand out and were always excellent in this series, so you'll play through just to see and beat all of them.
Cons: I'm not sure how much you'll care about finding all the flowers and collecting everything. I for one will not play it again after I beat it, though I may try to score high enough on a level here and there to unlock the bonus levels.

Average: 80.00%
Tilt: +/- 0.00%

End Result is that Yoshi's Island DS is a solid Nintendo Platformer that will surely please anyone who played the original. It copies the original in so many ways and just doesn't offer enough to live up to the original, which after all is a classic and arguably one of the best platformers of the 16-bit era. We are in a different era where the bar has been raised and doing the more of the same isn't enough to warrant a must buy title.

Verdict: 80%

Yoshi's Island DS

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Update

Happy Holidays everyone! Obviously the holidays bring good cheer...and more importantly presents. In the next couple weeks here's what to expect from Gnade Games and Graduate Games:

Reviews Galore!

  • Saints Row (Xbox 360)
  • Lost Planet (Xbox 360)
  • Dirk Dashing (PC)
  • Castlevania Portrait of Ruin (DS)
  • Yoshi's Island (DS)
  • Elite Beat Agents (DS)
  • etc.

New Arcade Games:

  • CoEd Crazy
  • Puzzler Project

There could be some reviews I'm missing, and who knows what gifts I will get, but that's all I can think about for now.

Gibbage Indie PC GAME REVIEW!



The things I think about Gibbage:
1. That it is very Fun with a human friend to play
2. It has some serious control issues
3. The gameplay is a cool mix of platforming and deathmatch
4. Graphics and presentation are sleek, unique, and that Gibbage has an exceptional artistic direction...but the game graphics are too small
5. Best Indie Game Music Ever!
6. That Gibbage embodies what the Indie game industry should be about: well-made, different and distinctive games, that are a true value for the amount of fun that can be had.

Does this all amount to a fantastic score and a must-buy game? Read on to Find out!

Gameplay: 6/10
Pros: Old-school / Retro twitch gameplay. Very fast and hectic. Unique yet familiar deathmatch gameplay. Plenty of levels, weapons, and great blood etc. effects. There's nothing better than a flowery meadow getting soaked with blood and clone parts during a match.
Cons: Controls are very frustrating. Sticking to walls is very awkward...I would've liked to see a wall slide type mechanic al la Megaman X. Jumping as a whole is inaccurate. I was unable to consistently double jump, land jumps, etc. and found myself falling to my death (in levels where possible). The controls are made even worse by the fact that it affects playability and results in lost matches or unintended deaths. The controls also make even the lowest difficulty A.I. look like a jumping ace. This control issue is a real shame because ultimately it is the only major flaw of Gibbage. There was also the occasional collision problem in some levels, but I always managed to free myself so no big deal.

Graphics: 8/10
Pros: Amazing Art Style and presentation. Love the cartoony clones, zombies, etc. Bomb explosions are a testament to a simple yet so sweet animation/effect...I just love the way they look. Again as noted above, the playfield gets saturated with blood, body parts, etc. which is really cool. Getting a frag and seeing the cute little clone falling to pieces is very rewarding.
Cons: Art-style may not be for everyone, but screw them... Only real issue is the size of the graphics. They are too small. I think shrinking the screen/or enabling scrolling would have really helped the graphics and art style shine.

Sound/Music: 10/10
Pros: Best Theme music ever! The gibbage opening music is part James Bond Spy Movie, meets groove, meets game, meets AMAZING! It is just so damn good. Instantly catchy and memorable...and the music just starts your engine and keeps it churning round after round, level after level. The sounds are completely sufficient...don't shine like the music, but honestly how could they?
Cons: I dare you to try and find some in this category!

Lasting Appeal: 9/10
Pros: Plenty of levels, weapons, and unique platform-collecting items and deathmatch gameplay for anyone. I found the AI to be very challenging on the lowest level (maybe I just suck) but I think there is a lot of replay value in that. The way levels are unlocked keeps you saying, "just one more to try out this new level"
Cons: The control issue is a problem. Jumping just does not feel right and there are issues...and quirks that you have to work through. Online Multiplayer would have been REALLY Nice, but I understand how hard it would've been and Gibbage, believe it or not, was made by only one person. That being said, I think Gibbage's gameplay could easily support 4 player deathmatch locally and online. Maybe these are just hopes and dreams...or for gibbage 2. 4-player would also make the graphics small size more excusable. While you are at it, some customizable match settings would be nice... i.e. first to 10 frags, or 10 lives, no collecting crystals, starting weapons, etc. would be really sweet! Not really critiques, so much as suggestions for the next Gibbage.

Average: 82.50%
Tilt: +4.50%

Gibbage, to me, is a symbol of what Indie games should be about: Unique games that are a great value, not some new match 3 clone or some ridiculously frilly and soul-less casual game (sorry bedazzled, bejeweled, whatever). Gibbage is very much a gamer's game. You know a category I don't have...value. Gibbage is only 6 pounds or about $10 and offers a lot and would score a perfect 10 in such a Value category. Gibbage features: 27 levels and tons of power-ups and weapons...yes online multiplayer would be sweet...and 4-player would be great...and both together would be an absolute "fun-gasm" (regardless of the control issues) but the game is only $10 so how can you really penalize it for not offering the features of a $60 Xbox 360 game or even a $20-$30 other PC indie title... you can't. How can you not want to support a guy who makes a game like this by himself? and runs a pretty darn good Indie Game Blog at that? can't, so download the Gibbage Demo and try it out... if you don't absolutely hate the controls...and can learn to sort of work around them....then you should invest in Gibbage, because an investment in fun is always...well fun.

Verdict: 87%



Link to Us! New Link Buttons

Here's an early Christmas present! We Have great new buttons just perfect for blogs and websites just in time for the holidays!

Simply link to and the image is at:
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Simply link to and the image is at
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So....c'mon Link to us! We'd really appreciate it! Would it sway you if I threw in a Christmas cookie?

Metal Gear Solid 4 to XBOX 360?

This would be a mighty blunder by Sony since MGS4 is one of the primary reasons I want to get a PS3...

Check out this rumor from EGM and IGN:

With Microsoft's one-year-old console gaining a steady install base in North America and Europe, Konami executives have switched their positions on an outright Metal Gear Solid 4-PlayStation 3 exclusive, telling Hideo Kojima to bring the game to Xbox 360, says Electronic Gaming Monthly in its December issue. One year ago Konami's Hideo Kojima was quoted as saying that Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots was technically possible on Xbox 360. Now it's not only technically possible, it's perhaps financially feasible as well. EGM's rumor mill produced the short article and it's worth noting that no sources were supplied, no quotes were given, and no reasoning was provided behind the alleged move. It's pure rumor, one that Konami executives have refused to comment on or entertain in public since the game's announcement on PlayStation 3. When contacted today, Konami officials said "These are just rumors." Still, the notion that MGS4 could come to Xbox 360 makes a little more sense today than it did four months ago. Back then, we couldn't see the state of disarray that Sony was in. Now, with Sony's rough launch, limited unit numbers and high price tag, perhaps Konami executives are seeing how fiscally prudent an Xbox 360 version would be. That doesn't mean it is happening. It's still just a rumor; but one worth mulling over. The cons of such an argument are many. Sony and Konami are long-time partners. Metal Gear Solid 3 never came to Xbox, as MGS2 sold unimpressive numbers. But MGS4 is a technical showcase and a guaranteed system-mover for Sony. The series has been one of Sony's biggest weapons since MGS on PlayStation and even more so with MGS2 on PS2. Pundits and industry analysts say that Sony is working with Konami with both technical and financial means to keep the exclusive secure. But so what? Contracts have limits. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas came to Xbox, and GTA4 is coming day and date to Xbox 360 with the PS3 version. Other Japanese publishers are considering the weight of Xbox 360 and are shifting their own once-Sony exclusives to Xbox 360, too. (We'll have more on that later.) The most likely scenario, if this rumor has any legs to it, is that Konami has signed a contract with Sony restricting its port to another system for some time; as soon as the contract is up, MGS 4 will ship on Xbox 360. Will that be three, six or 12 months? If MGS4 is due for fall release on PS3 (no official date has been released), then count on a minimum of six months. In other words, if the rumor proves true, count on a 2008 release.

Viva Pinata XBOX 360 REVIEW

Do not be turned off by Viva Pinata's colorful and kidlike presentation. Though Kids will probably adore all the colorful critters and simple controls, adults will love the depth, challenge, and overall uniqueness of the game. Is this game a "must-buy" like Gears of War? Not quite, but if you are a gamer open-minded to non-shooters and are looking for something that plays different...this game is for you. Yes this is the beginning of the review, but this game is one of the best "family" games I have ever played. There is obvious kid appeal, but nothing is overly cutesy or annoying. Adults will of course not really care to watch the "romancing danced" of the pinatas, but the game is smart enough to know that and will only show you a new movie if you breed a new species. You can skip this if you wish and watch two worm pinatas dance over and over again if you choose. The beginning of the game is very well paced and you're constantly trying to absorb everything that is thrown at you. RARE is back after a mediocre Perfect Dark Zero! OK, I'm rambling and this review is quickly deteriorating in quality so I will impose some structure:

Gameplay: 8/10
Pros: There is a lot to do! and if you don't like the meaningless tasks of gardening, you can hire helpers to do it for you. The controls work well (thank god for the shortcut d-pad). It's not the most frantic gameplay, but this is a simulation game. The way you can do anything to your garden or quickly undo it and dynamically change it is just really satisfying and liberating. There are sooo many different pinatas with deep preferences and requirements.
Cons: There are times when there is too much going on or you get interupted from sodding the grass or cleaning up your lot. Then there are other times when you are waiting for something to do. Overall, it's a good pace, but you feel some of the busy times could be spread over the hectic times better. I found myself lacking direction after the initial tutorials dropped off. I kept working and eventually I got it, but a little more direction or objective list would help. There is no excuse for pinata, seed, etc information to have to be loaded. When I highlight an object and click info, a menu should pop up giving me basic stats. Some species are just too picky!

Graphics: 10/10
Pros: Gorgeous and vibrant garden and interesting creatures. There always so much going on...seeing a bustling garden is really a testament to the Xbox 360. The pinatas are animated really well and exude personality. The zany "human" characters all fall into the visual presentation well. The menu system and loading screens also stand out and embody the visual style of the game.
Cons: Yes the game is not as stunning or jaw-dropping as "Gears" but I can't think of anything to complain about or nitpick...maybe you can.

Sound/Music: 9/10
Pros: "human" characters voices are full of favorite is the sarcastic pet shop owner who is so un-thrilled with her job. The voiceovers are excellent. The pinata sounds are also tremendous and help clue you into the personality of the species. I love the pretztails and badgers (forget their pinata name).
Cons: There is some text to muddle through and I know that if Knights of the Old Republic can voice all that text, that Viva Pinata shouldn't have to resort to text when the voiceovers are so good. Also, I can't really remember what the music sounded like without rebooting up the that can't be's not bad...just doesn't stand out.

Lasting Appeal: 8/10
Pros: If you like it, you could conceivably play for a long forever. It's not one of those games where you kill the evil overlord and the game is over. The objective and gameplay is all open-ended. Be the best gardener you can be!
Cons: As you start accumulating all of the upgrades and your gardent may see everything you want to see (it will take you a big junk of time though). I think the online component could've been better. Some sort of competitive gardening would have been cool, though the post office (send and trade things) is a cool Xbox Live feature.

Average: 87.50%
Tilt: +0.50%

This game is unlike anything you've played for the Xbox 360. It has similarities to other Sim games, but really just stands out as a result of its gameplay, graphics, and distinctive presentation. RARE is really showing that they may be able to reclaim their crown as a preminent developer. I mean remember when they dominated with games like Banjo Kazooie, GoldenEye, Perfect Dark, Killer Instinct? Rare made how many games for the original xbox? 1....Conkers...a remake at that? I'm glad that Microsoft is finally getting their money's worth (Microsoft paid a total of $377 million for the company) out of them with titles like Viva Pinata, a truly distinctive and rare game that adds a whole new genre to a console that is littered with First Person Shooters. It is very Refreshing to see not only a family oriented almost "Nintendo" game on Xbox, but an exceptional one at that.

Verdict: 88%

Halo Zero...Best Free game on the Net

Halo Zero is a fan-made game that takes place before Halo 1. It is a 2D sidescrolling game with excellent graphics. I think the gameplay is a little shallow, especially for a game that bears the name "Halo." Obviously, the game is not sanctioned or related to Bungie in anyway...and that's one of the primary reasons that Doberman Software offers the game for free...they have to or face legal action I'm sure. I experienced some slowdown in gameplay on my computer, but that could just be my computer. It's definitely worth a look and a play. It's a very complete game and is 100% free. Graduate Games big commercial title that is in development right now will have a similar control scheme to Halo Zero (mouse, keyboard combo) but will borrow more heavily from Metroid when it comes to gameplay than Halo. After the Holidays and in the coming months, we should start revealing some pictures, art, story, and maybe even some screenshots. The game is very much still in development, and I don't expect it to be released any time fact I'm hoping to have it done in the next year or so....but more and more graphics are amassing and a lot of the space battles and ship travelling is already finished. Anyways, feel free to check out: to download and play a very decent and fully featured free fan-game.

Viva Pinata good!

This weekend I got my grubby hands on a copy of Viva Pinata and so far I am having a ton of fun with it. My initial Impressions are as follows:
Graphics are really impressive, but the presentation and art for all the menus and stuff is among the best I've seen. (The loading screen is this sweet leaf blowing animation). Gameplay is very unique and stuff is constantly going on, so there's always something to do. Kids will love it. Parents will love that they can put in Xbox Live safes to protect their children from commonplace Online immaturities. Right now my big complaint is that I don't have that much room to manipulate my garden, but I'm hoping that as I level up, the land will increase. Look for a full review this week.

The Gears of War Impact

MICROSOFT CORP. said on Wednesday it had sold 1 million copies of its game "Gears of War" in two weeks, making it the fastest-selling title for its Xbox 360 video game console. Microsoft has been counting on "Gears of War", which went on sale on Nov. 7, to steal some thunder from the recent launches of rival gaming machines from SONY CORP. and NINTENDO CO. LTD. Game sales also are important because Microsoft loses money on each Xbox 360 machine it sells, so it relies on game sales to make the business profitable. Microsoft said earlier this month that "Gears of War", which puts players in the role of a futuristic soldier battling invading aliens, had booked the biggest number of pre-orders of any of its games since 2004's "Halo 2," the second installment of the flagship franchise for the original Xbox. "Gears of War" is an all-new game and arrived just a year after the Xbox 360 hit the market. Its price tag is 20% higher than that of "Halo 2" when it was launched. Microsoft also said subscriptions to its Xbox Live online gaming service have increased because of "Gears of War." Paid registrations per day for the online gaming service have climbed 50% since the game's debut.

Mighty Impressive. At least the game is very good, and deserving.

Toribash PC Review

Toribash is sort of a game sort of a simulation...I'm not really sure what it is..but it is definitely unique, an acquired test, and quite entertaining...though not really a game. It is described to me in an email as a unique turn-based fighter. That is actually a very concise and fitting description. You take turns affecting the physics of your fighter (or fighters). This is done by simply clicking a body part. You press space and the simulation iterates until the battle is over. YOu are then left with a battle simulation and replay that you can save. Very Unique Graphics, great physics, quirky idea...and ultimately hard to review...

Gameplay: 5/10
Pros: Very unique. I don't think I've ever played a "turn-based fighter." And the physics engine is excellent. The replays online are amazing and I loved watching them.
Cons: The gameplay is click this click that...and I get really impatient before the round is over. The commitment involved to alter each muscle is too much. I really wanted to be able to click a body part and drag and rotate it where I wanted to. It's an acquired taste, but managing each muscle every move isn't really for everyone.

Graphics: 8/10
Pros: Again Unique (you'll see that come up a lot) and minimalistic. I think the style actually works really well for the game. The blood and movements can be quirky and hokey and the graphics complement that. Again, physics shine through and the ragdoll "dummy" characters animate incredibly well.
Cons: Graphics feel like placeholder graphics. Something a studio puts in to be functional and then after the gameplay is in there...they make it look sleeker. Looks like a tech demo. No background at all.

Sound/Music: 6/10
Pros: all the smack, whoosh, crunch, bash, etc. sounds found in the typical fighters make it into the game...very satisfying
Cons: Music is a very repetitive (if faint) drumming.

Lasting Appeal: 7/10
Pros: If you download the demo and like the game you can have a blast making your own fighting videos and playing people online multiplayer.
Cons: As stated earlier, I get bored clicking body parts mid-round and would prefer to watch the replays rather than make them. Not a plethora of options/features: single player, multiplayer...that's it.

Average: 65.00%
Tilt: =/- 0.00%

This game is like nothing you've ever played! and that's both good and bad. Download the demo...if you like it. If you try the demo and get bored of it...don't buy it. The purchase of this game depends entirely on your patience level and enjoyment of "turn-based fighting." I think this idea is great, but felt the control is clunky and it's hard to get your guy to punch and kick and do what you want....though other people have obviously figured it out (see replays). I just don't have the patience to do it. Yes, I managed to kick someone's head off, do a jump kick, punch, etc., but did about one move and then just tapped space repeatedly to end the match. I do see the potential in this game for some though and that's why I urge everyone to try the demo. It's not for me and may not be for you, but some will love it!

Verdict: 65%

Next Gen Wars and Market Shares

Good News: The online arcade is back up for now

The Vcade Score servers have been restored, so our online arcade is once again in operation. They are still in the process of moving, but for the time being stuff is working again. Once they finish the move the arcade will probably be down for a couple days as I recode the games to the new website. I am just happy that the online arcade is up and running again in perfect synchronization with the new website design. Huzzah!

Graduate Games Website Redesign

Over the Holidays, will be under construction. The new look is already decided upon, but will have to be applied to each individual page. The website should remain 100% functional (minus the Arcade...see previous post) but the look will not be consistent for the next couple days...or weeks. Hope people like the new look. Now is the time for suggestions. Happy Holidays.

Video Game Holiday Buyers Guide

Now to help all of those parents out there, I am offering my Video Game Buyers Guide. In many cases these games have already been reviewed by us here, but some have been played only in passing. I have tried to Categorize them and rank them in order. Clicking on a picture will allow you to purchase it for you loved one and will support us in buying a present or two as well. Enjoy:

XBOX 360:
1. Gears of War

2. Dead Rising

3. Rainbow 6: Vegas

4. Dead or Alive 4

5. Call of Duty 2 (3 is worse than 2)

*Have not yet played but looks interesting, unique, and has gotten good reviews*
Viva Pinata


Nintendo DS *many of these reviews are coming soon*
1. Elite Beat Agents

2. Yoshi's Island DS

3. Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin

1. Outpost Kaloki X
2. Marble Blast Ultra
3. Cloning Clyde


That's it for this holiday season... I don't have a Wii or PS3 yet, but if I did I would suggest getting Zelda and Resistance Fall of Man for each respectively. I don't really think either system has a great lineup of games out yet.

Happy Holidays!

Metal Gear Solid 4 Gameplay Trailer

I haven't seen any Halo 3 Gameplay, but I hope it will look as good as the Starry Night ad. Meanwhile, MGS4 gameplay lives up to the trailers and movies.

Halo is 2nd to Metal Gear in my Heart

As excited as I am for Halo 3, it is not my favorite game franchise. My favorite franchise is no other than the Metal Gear Solid series. First off, these two games are quite different, and although Halo 2's multiplayer was significantly better than MGS3's, I still prefer the visual presentation and tactical action of a Metal Gear game. Furthermore, the Metal Gear Game's stories though convuluted, entrall me every time. I didn't care for the Halo 2 campaign at all, and though Raiden was a poor choice in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, you had to at least appreciate the post-modern themes in the story. Kojima played with the reality between the player and Raiden, and the very reality of the game. Yes it was out there and not nearly as good of a story as Snake Eater... it was at least interesting and engaging. and can anyone really argue with the superb gameplay in any of the Metal Gear games? Simply sublime...with incredible depth and options. Will Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots be better than Halo 3? Only time will tell, but I assure you that I will buy a PS3 to play Metal Gear 4 and look forward to any changes or innovations in its fledgling online multiplayer. Right now, I'm going to give graphics to Metal Gear Solid 4 though...Metal Gear 2 on PS2 is still among the best looking Ps2 games (Metal Gear 3 Subsistence is probably the best) and it came out a long time ago. Just goes to show you what Kojima's team can do. The above trailer is not the most recent Metal Gear 4 Trailer, but it is impressive nonetheless. MGS4 and Halo 3 are why I love Video Games (sorry Nintendo fans, but most of the big N's franchises are stale to me).

My Apologies, but the online arcade is down

Wow- I really missed the memo on this one! the V-cade which hosted the online scoring boards for all of the online arcade games is moving...their servers are down...I'm not quite sure. I guess that they are changing things for when Vitalize 4 comes out or something. Of course, fixing the online arcade games is of the utmost importance to me. I will announce when the games are playable once more and hopefully I will not have to change the code on all my websites and games. Worse comes to worse I will host them myself, but that will definitely take me longer than waiting for the Vcade to get sorted out. I don't know, I really just want the games back up since this obviously affects the release of my 2 remaining arcade games. How do people feel about a downloadable worms clone? As always, there are plenty of ideas brewing in my head. Nonetheless, this is a major bummer as I just went to go check the leaderboards (and perhaps play a game or two on this Friday- but don't tell my boss)!

Fizzball PC Game Review

This game is much harder to review than Prof. Fizzwizzle. It maintains all of the stellar presentation aspects and has exceptional production qualities, but is even more focused towards younger and more casual gamers. Fizzball is a Break-out / Arkanoid clone with an element of Katarmi Damacy thrown in. Like Prof. Fizzwizzle there is an exceptional Kids mode and a multitude of levels, the problem lies in the stale rehashed gameplay. On the one hand, it's the most advanced breakout game I've ever played, but on the other hand, it's a breakout game. This game almost needs two different reviews: One for very casual gamers and kids under 10 and another for more avid and mature gamers. For the casual gamers, the young, or anybody who is not tired of another bat & ball game, Fizzball offers a fantastic game with excellent graphics, presentation, and a plethora of features and other bells and whistles. For the more avid gamer, this game warrants a demo download to check out the unique interface, power-ups, and graphics, but after a couple levels of the demo, most gamers won't think twice about playing this game again....simply because they've played dozens like it already. In my book, the best Arkanoid game of all time is still tired, dull, and just not enough to hold my interest.

Gameplay: 4/10
Pros: Tons of power-ups, levels, and features. The Katarmi Damacy aspect of growing the fizzball by swallowing up small objects and moving up towards larger ones is neat and novel.
Cons: The Grubby Games' artistic design and sleek interface cannot overcome a stale and overused bat and ball gameplay mechanic. This is a case of exceptional programmers just brainstorming a game from the outset that would not have compelling gameplay. Game is in the WAY TOO casual department.

Graphics: 9/10
Pros: Exceptional presentation, animations, and consistent feel and look from Prof. Fizzwizzle. All the graphics have real depth and give the game a cartoony 3D feel. Just looking at the title screen impresses.
Cons: Stages and Level graphics get repetitive.

Sound/Music: 8/10
Pros: Catchy and fun music returns from Professor Fizzwizzle
Cons: Animal sounds are blasé

Lasting Appeal: 2/10
Pros: There are a ton of levels to play and the game is fully featured
Cons: After playing the first 5-10 levels, the unique features of this breakout clone wear off.

Average: 57.50%
Tilt: -7.50%

I really wanted Fizzball to be better. It oozes quality, has a sleek presentation, and is very endearing. But underneath all the features, beautiful, colorful animations, and catchy music is a game I have played for years. I remember Atari Pong, owned the big lumbering 1989 gameboy, grew up on the NES, SNES, and Genesis and have played breakout games for over a decade. Grubby Games is an exceptional duo, but for me, this type of gameplay is the bottom of the barrel. So for Avid and Long-Time Gamers:

Verdict: 50%

On the upside, if you have a child under the age of 10 or if you are a casual gamer and have no idea what Arkanoid or an Atari is then you will probably love this game. It is very endearing and is one of the best Breakout games I have ever played. It is an excellent game for the more casual / younger market. Maybe that was Grubby Games intention all along, to focus on the casual gamer.

Verdict for kids/casual gamers: 75%

To Try Fizzball for yourself and support us and Grubby Games
Click Here
To really support us and Grubby Games,
Buy it Now

Halo 3 TV Teaser Trailer and Beta Registration

Go to to register for the Beta available this spring and check out the Halo 3 TV ad that was on last night during Monday Night Football. It's a pretty sweet teaser movie. Just can't wait till actual gameplay footage starts getting churned out.

Professor Fizzwizzle PC Review

Let me start off by saying that Grubby Games has some of the absolute best kid's games on the market. That's not to say the appeal of Professor Fizzwizzle is only for kids, just that it has an excellent pace, graphics, sounds for kids, not to mention the problem-solving puzzles that make up the levels of the game. I must admit to using the "Solve Puzzle" feature on quite a few occasions myself. This feature is brilliant because at the moment a level gets frustrating and you feel it is impossible, you can simply pause and click for the solution. This definitely decreases the frustration factor and keeps you playing into the later levels. Prof. Fizzwizzle also keeps things interesting by adding new puzzle elements at a good pace from level to level. This keeps things from getting repetitive. In fact, my only major complaint with Prof. Fizzwizzle is that the gameplay is not for gamers. To the game's defense, it was not designed to appeal to the hardcore 2D gamers of yesteryear, the graphics whores of today's consoles, or the FPS/RTS pc crowd. This is a casual game, and if you take it as such, it is hard to find fault.

Gameplay: 8/10
Pros: Puzzles can be very challenging and continually add new elements or twists on old elements to keep things fresh. A plethora of modes and types of puzzles.
Cons: Actual Gameplay is simplistic. You use the arrow keys to move the professor around and that's really it, besides the occasional power-up. Perfect for casual gamers, but not for me.

Graphics: 8/10
Pros: Graphics are clean, simple, and perfectly themed for the game. Animations are REALLY good.
Cons: Lack of WOW factor. More game objects animated as well as the Professor!

Sound/Music: 9.5/10
Pros: Music is perfect, catchy and subdued. The last thing you want is some crazy rock music while you are trying to solve a puzzle. Sound is unintrusive as well.
Cons: Sound/Music are not show stealers, but they are not meant to be, especially in a game like this.

Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Pros: Tons of different levels, modes, and sets of puzzles. If you get tired with the included puzzles there is a level editor and a ton of downloadable levels on Grubby Games' website.
Cons: What more could you ask for?

Average: 88.75
Tilt: +0.25

Grubby Games knows the casual market. Professor Fizzwizzle has won tons of critical acclaim, awards, etc. and I'm sure has sold tons of copies as well. It understands exactly the type of people that enjoy and buy these types of games and offers a huge repetoire of levels and features for them. Console gamers, PC gamers, and old school gamers alike could enjoy this game...will they shell out the cash to buy it...I doubt it....but the casual gamer will and will love that they did. Rarely have I seen a casual game that is 1: an Original Idea 2: not some sort of match 3 or bejeweled clone 4: more than a simple click here/there game...ahem...cake mania and diner dash and 5: actually worth $20. What does Professor Fizzwizzle really do best? It offers you a tremendous value at $20, because of the number of levels, downloadable levels, and ability to make your own levels. If you enjoy this game, you will not stop playing it due to a lack of features...that's for sure.

Verdict: 89%
If you are interested in Professor Fizzwizzle and would like to support us and Grubby Games you can:

Download the Free Demo
Buy It Now!

What to look out for in the Coming Weeks

This upcoming week should see reviews for 2 of Grubby Professor Fizzwizzle and Fizzball. I also have 2 new arcade games in the works, but I can't promise when they will be out. Definitely in the coming weeks, but not necessarily next week. Cheers-

Outpost Kaloki X Xbox LIVE Arcade Review

Let me start out by saying that I love this game. More power to Ninjabee(! They have 2 of my favorite Xbox Live Arcade games and they've only made 2 games for the 360 so far (as far as I know). I don't really know how to describe Outpost Kaloki X. It is part Real Time Strategy Game, part Action Game, and part Puzzler. It all winds together into a great package. Outpost Kaloki was originally available for PC and was heralded with critical acclaim. Only reason I didn't get it for PC was because I figured Xbox version for $10 was better than PC version for $20. Yes, as surprising as it may be, I dont' make the big bucks blogging and making Video Games- the 9-5 job is the one that provides me with food. Bottom line is that Outpost Kaloki is a very addicting and frantic Action/RTS game and an absolute must buy for Xbox 360 owners.

Gameplay: 9/10
Pros: Gameplay is way quicker and action packed than most RTS. You really have to build things in the right order, and be ready to increase power, alter settings, and build the next building just as you've earned the money to pay for it in order to beat the level and not run out of time. I can't imagine successfully managing my space station in ther later levels at the faster gameplay speeds. (After Level 6 I pretty much stuck with Speed 1). This all adds up to there constantly being something to do or attend to as you reach for your goal. The Controls are spot on and make it easy to navigate to all your expansions. The game is simple enough to pick up and play, but is a lot more complicated than you think.
Cons: This game can be pretty hard. I have been playing the game a lot and am not that far in the campaign, but have had to consistently replay levels in order to complete them (but I immediately clicked retry and got right back into it!). The instructions on how to play could have been more in depth to help you understand the necessary intricacies of gameplay. A tad too hard.

Graphics: 9/10
Pros: The graphics are fully 3d and the engine runs incredibly fast and smooth. What's even better is the variety of stations that each new level brings, from a crazy pink domed station to a giant oak tree! What's more important is that each facility/expansion is easily identifiable so you can quickly sell and upgrade or change attributes. I also love the cartoony feel of the menus and cast of characters and aliens.
Cons: Graphics definitely lack the wow factor since this game just focuses on resource management. No real battles or crazy effects to speak of, but you do have to love the hustle and bustle of a successful space station and all the dollar bill and money indicators.

Sound/Music: 8/10
Pros: The simple clicks and beeps of the menus work well. The cha-ching of money is always nice. The music is very catchy...and I have found myself grooving to it when my station is doing well and I'm in the zone. The music really stands out...but
Cons: The music really stands out...but it can be repetitive.

Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Pros: The main campaign scenarios feature over 20 levels, add to that several downloadable scenarios, different story lines, and modes and you have a hefty game with plenty of levels and fun to be had. I just glanced at the Ninjabee website and here is all the additional stuff to download if you succesfully beat or finish the initial 20+ scenarios (I've had the game for a few days and haven't passed level 10 yet though I'm close):
Fireworks LevelHelp direct Superstar Fishy McFisherson's fireworks extravaganza in this bonus scenario for Outpost Kaloki X.Love StoryChoose a sweetheart and win her heart in this romantic 5-part story for Outpost Kaloki X.Bounty HunterEarn fame and glory as a destroyer of nasty evil alien robots in this scenario for Outpost Kaloki X.Available in February:Challenge of the GodsPlease the greek gods of your choice without angering the others in this challenging extra scenario for Outpost Kaloki X.The SwarmDefend your station as long as you can against an increasing swarm of nasty evil alien robot attackers!
Cons: If you don't like the game you won't want to take advantage of these ways to extend it. It would've been cool to see some sort of multiplayer or online aspect.

Average: 90.00%
Tilt: +4.00%

I have to give a little extra to this title because last night everything just clicked and became uber fun. I finally advanced to a level with several options, tons of ships visiting my station, new upgrades, and not nearly enough time to get everything done. I failed the level twice, but then it all came together and money started pouring in as I frantically switched, repaired, and adjusted my expansions. With my continuing success came a joy and right before I finished the final objective, knowing my inevitable victory, I took a break from my feeble dancing attempts and yelled a resounding "Yes!" How many games can spur such a response? Not many games can do it for $10? Even Less. Outpost Kaloki is a gem that I have to wholeheartedly recommend.

Verdict: 94%