Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bustin' Makes Me Feel Good....

Ah Ghostbusters.  One of my all time favorite 80's flicks.  I loved the sequel and I loved the Saturday Morning Cartoon too!  I used to watch it while chowing down on my Ghostbusters Cereal!  Marshmallow Ghosts with crunchy O's!  YUM!

But I digress, for I am not here to talk about the tasty part of any nutritious breakfast!  Though the hologram boxes were insanely cool.  Oh yeah, and the commercial for the cereal was pretty awesome too!  Aw hell, go ahead and enjoy this commercial for Ghostbusters Cereal and then we'll get on with the Sanctum of Slime review! 

Okay, now that I've got my ADD under control, we can get down to the business at hand.  Ghostbusters:  Sanctum of Slime for the XBOX Live Arcade was very much anticipated by GB fans, especially after the awesome 2009 Atari release.  So how does this one stack up?'s interesting, but it does have it's problems.  It's a twin stick shooter, which is kinda bizarre when you think about it.  You play one of four rookies that the Ghostbusters have hired on to help them with the influx of paranormal events happening around New York.  You zzap ghosts with your proton pack and must coordinate the color of the ghost to the correct proton setting to destroy them.  Interesting concept, only there's only three colors and the ghosts all conveniently color code themselves, so there's not much in the way of strategy.  If you don't have three other friends to play with either on-line or locally, then the other three Ghostbusters will be controlled by AI.

The story unfolds through a series of comic book panels, that loosley tie the events of GB: SOS to the events of Ghostbusters II.  Janos, the creepy museum curator from part II, has started following a the last surviving crazy cultist of an ancient demi-god/demon guy and all hell starts breaking loose in town.  It's up to the  Rookies to put an end to this.  An interesting touch is that one of the Rook's is Janos' nephew.....thought that was kinda cool. 

If you're looking for a stellar arcade experience, you are NOT going to find it here.  The controls are a bit wonky and the the whole things gets to be a bit on the repetetive side.  I can't really speak much to the multiplayer aspects of it, because I don't play much in the way of online multiplayer, and usually play locally by's lonely to be the Wizard sometimes.  The levels remind me a bit of the building set ups for The Sims....with a very modular design.  There are some neat driving levels as well witht the revamped Ecto-1, but those too become quite repetetive. 

Now, having said all that....I like this game.  As I said, it is fairly repetetive, but it's an arcade title.  That's really what arcade games are...repetitious levels with increasing difficulty...aren't they?  So I suppose that faulting it for that is almost an invalid point.  True it doesn't have a driving narrative, but does it really need one?  I say nay.  Sometimes it's fun to just go in and bust some a spiritual sense of course.  Now this brings me to my final point on GB: SOS, which also applies to a good many other games, XBLA, PSN or even mass released on disc:  There's nothing wrong with B-Games.  Not every thing has to be an epic franchise.  Even when it's a game BASED off of an epic franchise, I see nothing wrong in creating a B-Game out of it.  I think of it the same as I think of B-movies.  They're fun romps that you can just check your brain at the door and have some fun with them.  Back in the day, when I did a fair amount of gaming on my Commodore 64, about 90% of my collection was B-Games.  Back then there weren't giant franchise juggernaughts like Halo.  First person shooters were relegated to games like Police Cadet for the Commodore 64.

The screen was static and only your crosshairs moved.  This was first person shooting back when I was a kid...but again I digress.......point being of this long winded rant that has somehow gone from Ghostbusters to obscure police shooters for an old 8bit computer system is just this:  Games don't always have to be big, giant mega epics to be fun.  Games don't always have to be really good to be fun.  Sometimes ya just gotta grab your favorite adult beverage (or a coke if you are under 21) and have fun with it.

Is Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime worth the $10 (800 MS Point) price tag?  Well, that is entirely up to you.  Personally, I'm happy with my purchase.  If it sounds like fun to you, download the trial game, grab your proton pack and get bustin'!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

One Minute Weird Tales

Weird Tales Magazine's website features a neat take of flash fiction.  Their One Minute Weird Tales are sixty second videos clips....simply words accompanied by music and maybe a few sound effects.  I find them to be quite entertaining.

  Here's the latest which was posted January 16th of this year.
  It's entitled: 

I quite like these and if you do too, then head over to Weird Tales to check out some more!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Halls of the Things

I can remember sitting at my family's Commodore 64 for hours on end, playing every game I could get my hands on, back in the day. Back then we didn't have IGN, there was no G4 and no trailers for games like we have now. Sure there was the occasional TV add for a game....but for the most part you had to rely almost completely on the game's box art and blurb on the back, or a small blurb about the game from a mail order section in the back of a computing magazine (such as Compute's Gazzette or ZZAP!). I can remember perusing through these mail order sections in magazines and making lists of games I wanted to play, based simply off of the game's title, the short blurb and a fuzzy black and white scan of the box art.

One such game that had captured my imagination was Halls of the Things.  Being a monster movie freak, I was totally intrigued by the description for the game:  Seven Magical Rings are hidden amongst the seven floors of a tower, where an escape key lies.  Of course all the levels are crawling with the evil blood-thirsty Things!  Mwaaa-huaaa-huaaa!

The praise for this game was immense in 1983 when the game launched on the Spectrum ZX system.  In 1984 it was ported to the Commodore 64 and Amstrad CPC.  It was hailed as a new breed of game.  A graphical adventure of epic proportions, perfect for those gamers who stay up till 4am giving it just one more go.  Here are some of the adverts that appeared in UK magazines from '83/'84:

I wanted to play this game in the worst way when I was kid.  My imagination ran wild!  What could these Things be?  What were they after?  What Master did they serve?  Well, I never got to play that game as a kid.  Only recently have I had the chance to sit down and play this on a Commodore 64 emulator.  So was the 20 some-odd year wait worth it?  Meh. 

It's not a bad game by any means, but it's really hard to rate a game that is 28 years old!  It plays well and it is fun, but it's really hard to imagine that Halls of the Things really set the gaming world on fire back in '83.  Would I recommend it to retro game hounds?  Absolutely!  I've been having fun with it. 

It got a great review from Zzapp! Magazine in the UK....which I will add here for your enjoyment.  So if you've got a few hours to kill and you're in the mood for some retro dungeon crawlin' and monster slaying then check out Halls of the Things!

The Slime Beast

The Slime Beast. How can a guy like me pass on a title like that? The title alone conjures up images of Slime.....and Beasts!

A Monster from Earth or From Beyond The Stars? Okay, count me in! Hell's yeah!

The Slime Beast is a novel written by Guy N. Smith, who is perhaps most famous for his Crabs series of novels. I haven't read any of Guy's other stories yet, but you can be sure that I'm going to check them out ASAP!

The story revolves around three archaeologists: Professor Lowson, his niece Liz and the Prof's strapping young assistant Gavin. They have traveled to The Wash, on England's east coast in search of King John's Lost Treasure. They are not met with the warmest of welcomes, especially from the local wildfowler, but start their expedition into The Wash anyway. Instead of finding treasure they end up digging up some strange, burnt metal that the Prof can't identify. Digging a little further they discover what they think to be a body....until they notice it's covered in scales and oozing slime. What's worse is that it's BREATHING! Que 50's sci-fi music. Unfortunately the tide is coming in and they don't have adequate time to examine the creature. They decide that they will check out the slumbering beast in full the next day. Already there is tension between the Prof and Gavin.....see Lowson wants all the credit, fame and fortune that goes with the find, where as Gavin thinks they should call the museum they work for immediately.

Anywhoo...they return to the blockhouse that they are camping in. Well, wouldn't ya know it....Ol' Mr. Slime Beast rises up from his muddy lair and starts to go on a rampage! Locals are killed in graphic and gory ways. Apparently the Slime Beast has a taste for human entrails. As the carnage continues on, Gavin and Liz start a physical relationship, which deepens into an emotional relationship as the Beast's attacks worsen. The Beast invades the town, killing a dog and taking fire from about 12 men. When they realize that their bullets have no effect on it, they call in the army.

The Military arrives and sets up in town, complete with a tank. The townsfolk relax now that the army is there to protect them and the entire town takes more of a carnival type of attitude to the whole thing. Townies and soldiers hanging out, drinkin' beer. Soldiers gettin' it on with local girls.....yer general small town shenanigans. Those all end pretty abruptly when the copulating couple in question are torn up by The Slime Beast. The army boys unload on the creature, to no seems nothing can stop this rampaging horror!

I won't ruin the rest of the story for ya......should you wanna read it, it's quite readily available in paperback format & e-book format from, or you can order direct from the author's website. It's a short novel, only 144 pages, but quite worth it, I think.

The Slime Beast is the literary equivalent to the low budget monster flicks of the 60's and 70's. It's blend of gore soaked violence and softcore sex give it that fantastic B-Movie vibe. The logic that these characters share is a bit on the wonky side....... personally if I was in danger of being disembowelled by a foul smelling slime creature, I'd get the hell out of dodge and let someone far more qualified deal with it......but then if they (the characters) did that, we wouldn't have this awesome slice of 70's pulp fiction.

This is the first novel I've read by Guy Smith, but if The Slime Beast is anything to go by I think I may have found another favorite author.

Stay Slimey!