Emulation, Me, and the Raspberry Pi 3

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B Featured

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B Featured

Emulation is one of those things that became an obsession from the minute I learned of it. This all began one day in high school when a friend asked to borrow a PS1 game of mine. When it came time to return it, he told me about playing it on his PC. My immediate reaction was something along the lines of “What do you mean?” Instead of explaining himself fully, he cryptically only gave the name of the emulator. Thus began an obsession.

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Contra Review

Contra Featured

Contra Box Art

Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami
Platform: Arcade, Console – NES, PC – Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, DOS, MSX2, ZX Spectrum

Contra is one of those games folks can’t help but talk about. Comments circle around its high difficulty as well as the infamous Konami code which grants players thirty much-needed lives. The thing is, I never even touched the original Contra before. The closest I came to understanding its hectic 2D action was through playing the spiritual successor Hard Corps: Uprising

Thanks to a shiny new Raspberry Pi 3 in my possession (and watching the “This is the Run” video series on Giant Bomb), I decided it was finally time to take on Contra. Don’t worry, the NES cart is also in my possession. Unlike most players, this meant I was already armed with knowledge of how to defeat bosses and what challenges lie in wait. None of this made the experience a cake walk.

Contra Featured

When people say Contra is hard they mean it. The earlier stages aren’t quite so bad, but once you reach the middle there are bullets flying every which way as enemies constantly run onscreen. The challenge is compounded by one hit kills and a piddly default gun (which resets all power ups upon death). Securing a better weapon such as the spread gun is awesome – but often short-lived.

Contra is also super weird thematically. Despite being named with relation to the Iran-Contra affair, it bears little resemblance to real life events past the introductory level. Very quickly players move beyond the jungle setting with army-looking dudes to huge monsters, alien space ships, and more. None of this detracts from it being a white knuckle, badass experience. Anyone up for the challenge should definitely try their hand at Contra.

Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas

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Checking Out Steam Releases in January 2017



2016 was an interesting year for Steam. According to Sergey Galyonkin of Steam Spy, 38% of games available on Steam were released in 2016. That means 4,779 titles hit the popular digital marketplace in a single year. The news shocked many, though just makes sense given the increasingly thin barrier that Steam Greenlight presents to getting onto the storefront.

My belief is that 2017 will be another record-breaking year for Steam – albeit not to the same ridiculous level that 2016 was. Of course, if Valve does something like remove the Greenlight requirement entirely then I’ll easily be proven completely wrong. In any case, I wanted to know more but didn’t want to wait on Steam Spy to provide information. This led me to creating my own method of collecting Steam release data that I intend to keep up with throughout the year.

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Marcus’s 2016 Game of the Year Picks

The House in Fata Morgana Featured

Marcus Only

It’s no secret that 2016 was quite the year for many of us. While there was a lot of negativity in the air, it also proved to be an immensely positive – and busy – time for myself. Between finally graduating college and getting more seriously into working at an office, there was both more and less time for gaming than ever before.

In compared to previous years, my urge to play almost anything AAA disappeared. Heavy hitters such as DOOM completely passed me by, though they’re still on my radar. Indie darlings such as Stardew Valley and Inside were also missed simply due to not playing much beyond my stable of review titles for Hardcore Gamer. Still, I did play some things! Here’s a look at my favorites in no particular order.

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The Time Warp of Dr. Brain Review

The Time Warp of Dr. Brain Featured

The Time Warp of Dr. Brain Boxart

Developer: Sierra On-Line
Publisher: Sierra On-Line
Platform: PC – Windows 3.0, Mac

Once upon a time I played games purchased from the Scholastic Book Club. One of these was The Lost Mind of Dr. Brain. At the time I believed it to be the only one of its type out there, only to later learn “Dr. Brain” was an entire series. Unfortunately, it looks like by the time The Time Warp of Dr. Brain came around that the developers had all but run out of good ideas for puzzling minigames.

There are ten minigames this time around and little else. You’ll find absolutely no story wrapping any of it together. Each puzzle comes with three difficulty options and an unknown (to me, anyway) amount of levels per game. The big issue is that some games are given too much instructions while others receive no instructions at all. Oh, and the fact that it’s just not any fun to play the vast majority of them.

The Time Warp of Dr. Brain Featured

A few of the included puzzles are simply rehashes of existing mental games people play. It’s in these modes based on well-known logic exercises that are at all enjoyable. The rest, such as one which simply requires players to swim without running out of air, aren’t even worth the edutainment moniker. This is disappointing because both The Lost Mind of Dr. Brain and Castle of Dr. Brain were fairly interesting to fuss with.

The graphics and audio are just fine and certainly appropriate for the mid 90s gaming scene. Outside of one or two stand out minigames, however, the game is a total flop. Even Dr. Brain himself acts like he doesn’t care one bit about the player and their success/failures. Anyone looking for a good edutainment title should steer clear.

Score: 1

1 out of 5 alpacas

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Who Killed Sam Rupert: Virtual Murder 1 Review

Who Killed Sam Rupert Virtual Murder 1 Featured

Who Killed Sam Rupert Virtual Murder 1 Boxart

Developer: Creative Multimedia Corporation
Publisher: Creative Multimedia Corporation
Platform: PC – Macintosh, Windows 3.0

It’s pretty obvious that people love a good murder mystery. Why else would we have copious literature, TV shows, and an unfortunate obsession with real life unsolved crimes? That’s why it makes total sense when the earliest FMV-enabled PC games focused on murder scenarios. Who Killed Sam Rupert – Virtual Murder 1 was just the start of an entire four game series by Creative Multimedia Corporation.

As you might guess, Who Killed Sam Rupert – Virtual Murder 1 focuses on the murder of a Mr. Rupert. This restaurant owner was well-liked by some and, unfortunately enough, detested by multiple people close to him. It’s up to you to determine who exactly killed the man and why. The game throws a tremendous amount of red herrings at you. However, it’s laid on so thick that most should pick up on avoiding the “obvious” path.

Who Killed Sam Rupert Virtual Murder 1 Featured

In some ways, the game is an early 90’s version of Her Story. However, instead of just getting the FMV stories of eight key suspects, you’re also free to dig through police-collected records as needed. That includes terse interviews with restaurant patrons on the night of the murder, lab details, and more. Many found this utterly dull (according to reviews of the era) but it was enjoyable enough to me.

The key failing point for all this searching to unearth clues is that Who Killed Sam Rupert – Virtual Murder 1 is timed. There are only six in-game hours to learn about the case and successfully peg a murderer. Because of the arbitrary restriction, you’ll need to play through multiple times. Despite very clearly showing its age with postage stamp sized videos and relatively simple murder/motive, Who Killed Sam Rupert – Virtual Murder 1 is a neat way to spend an hour or two.

Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas

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Hooters Road Trip Review

Hooters Road Trip Featured

Hooters Road Trip Box Art

Developer: Hoplite Research
Publisher: Ubisoft
Platform: PlayStation, PC

The PlayStation was the start of something amazing for console gamers. This system brought about fan-favorite franchises which continue to this day such Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and many others. Of course, tons of shovelware came alongside the classics. Enter Hooters Road Trip.

Hooters Road Trip is supposedly about traveling between various Hooters restaurants across the United States for no good reason. This manifests as an OutRun-style racing game. As such, the different courses link together, meaning that each race brings with it different state-themed backdrops. It’s rather blurry, though, and the draw distance on the PS1 version leaves much to be desired.

Hooters Road Trip Featured

The racing itself is miserable. Until you unlock the final vehicles (or cheat your way to them), the controls are outrageously slippery. Instead of racing you’ll be careening across the road like a pinball. Suffice it to say this doesn’t work well with aiming for first place. You can’t even do the full road trip right off the bat! Instead, players must run partial trips five times beforehand because the developers wanted to artificially extend their awful gameplay or something.

It’s not all bad. Apparently, Hooters Road Trip launched at $9.99 making it bargain bin trash from the get go. The only enjoyment comes from watching the FMV sequences with Hooters waitresses who all seem to slyly be making fun of the camera person/player. Here’s hoping Hooters never lends their brand to a game again.

Score: 11 out of 5 alpacas

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Ray Gigant Review

Ray Gigant - Header

Ray Gigant Boxart

Developer: Experience Inc.
Publisher: acttil
Platform: PlayStation Vita

Having recently played Stranger of Sword City, I was ecstatic about Ray Gigant. Finally, Experience would be trying something new! A battle system that’s quick but encourages varied fighting and skill trees to differentiate characters and roles. In many ways, it’s intriguing for the very fact that it breaks out of the standard Wizardry mold. Every change could have lead to an amazing RPG, but unfortunately Ray Gigant feels like a collection of sophomore mistakes.

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HunieCam Studio Review

huniecam studio featured

huniecam studio cover

Developer: HuniePot
Publisher: HuniePot
Platform: PC – Steam

I adored HuniePop. I didn’t know much about HunieCam Studio before its release aside from the fact that it was a simulation type game featuring the girls from HuniePop (along with some new ladies). Oh, and that everyone hated the art style and heart eyes. In any case, I was excited for this sexy new title from HuniePot.

Before I delve into how HunieCam Studio plays, I should mention that there is no mature content present in the game whatsoever, despite the age gate on Steam and ban from Twitch. Aside from some slightly raunchy loading screens and outfits that you can have your girls wear, there are no erotic scenes or dialogue. It’s a bit disappointing, considering I loved the adult content that HuniePop featured, but the absence of such material doesn’t hinder HunieCam Studio.

huniecam studio 1

Anyway, on to the meat and bones of HunieCam Studio. Basically, you’re thrown into the role as manager of a “cam girl” operation and need to earn as many fans as possible within 21 days. In order to do so, you must properly manage your ladies by getting them to work, building their fashion and talent, keeping them happy, and so forth. At the same time, you must invest in upgrades to your business (such as being able to hire more girls or increasing the amount of fans you get from photo shoots) and ads in order to maximize your fan base.

HunieCam Studio almost feels like a clicker/idle game, but it only has the very basics of one. It leans more towards management simulation with a strict time limit, as you’re constantly having to keep things in mind such as where all your ladies need to be or what upgrade you need to purchase next. Due to the nature of HunieCam Studio‘s gameplay, I found myself completely absorbed during the 21 days (which takes me around two hours playing nonstop each time).

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Unfortunately, HunieCam Studio can grow stale very quickly. It’s the same content and strategies for every playthrough (aside from deviating from the usual for specific Steam achievements such as earning a bronze trophy without using accessories). There is the incentive of ultimately getting the diamond trophy and earning wardrobe tokens, which allow you to get new outfits and hairstyles for any character, but that’s pretty much it.

Regardless, HunieCam Studio is a fun little title from HuniePot that gets your money’s worth, considering the low price. Just don’t go in expecting another HuniePop.

Pink Score: 3
3 out of 5 alpacas

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Stranger of Sword City Review


Stranger of Sword City Boxart

Developer: Experience Inc.
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: PlayStation Vita

You awake among the rubble of a plane crash, seemingly the sole survivor, and find yourself lost within unfamiliar ruins. As you make your way out, you learn that you were transported to an unknown location known as Escario, the Sword City – a city beset by monsters. Facing a deadly wyvern, you are saved by a strange young woman. She, too, has been warped to this land, and takes you to meet others that have experienced the same thing. So begins your journey in Stranger of Sword City. Read more »