PPR 33

After a long week of Christmas shopping and holiday hijinks, Press Pause Radio returns to you with our latest episode. This week Ser takes the hosting duties as we discuss Nintendo 3DS rumors and the somewhat lukewarm reception to OnLive. The crew will also discuss what they have been playing, such as Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Halo Reach and Pac-Man Championship Edition DX. Georgie then reviews a Ronald McDonald game made by Treasure. Wait....what? I'm being told this game actually exists; I suppose you'll have to listen to the show to find out for sure. Also a friend of the show Matt Jay of Sega Addicts wrote an article to only add to the confusion...

Our featured topic this episode is all about social interactions in video games. With Twitter and Facebook integration now on our consoles and leader boards becoming more and more common, is this too much exposure? When does being linked to fellow gamers and friends start to have a negative effect? We explore this and many more topics on this week's episode. Please rate or review us on iTunes and Zune, and who knows? You may win fifteen games and a book, just like our Zom-blowout contest winner Avocado-Goddess!

PPR Episode 33


Quarter Circle Forward: Raiden Fighters Aces

There's always that one single title that truly defines a gemers love for a particular type of game. When it came to RPGs, the one that hooked me was Final Fantasy Legend II for the original Game Boy, spurring an intense love for the genre. RPGs were my bread and butter which sustained me almost entirely on their own, until that fateful day in 1998. I made my way to the absolutely massive arcade in Les Galleries de la Capitale, located in downtown Quebec City and it was there that I discovered the game that would make me question my RPG loyalty, and entrance me with a whole new genre: The 'Shmup. And that game was Raiden Fighters.

Three generations have passed since then, each with the hopes that there'd eventually be a home release. Finally, after 10 years, hope: a lone trailer on Xbox Live in 2008 for Raiden Fighters Aces, a compilation containing Raiden Fighters, its 1997 sequel Raiden fighters 2: Operation Helldive, and the 1998 follow-up, Raiden Fighters Jet. Then... Nothing. No announcements, no advertisements, no mention of the game at all, outside of a Japanese release. In North America, the 'shmup used to be all but dead, and the prospects of new Japanese arcade 'shmup releases were bleak at the very best of times. Eventually, Raiden Fighters Aces became forgotten, and the months turned into years.


All of a sudden, whilst looking for a review of a completely different game at random one day with Raiden Fighters being the very last thing on my mind, I stumbled upon a review for Raiden Fighters Aces and balked. Loudly. There was nothing to indicate its release at all, and I was fast to secure the last copy at my local retailer. Not only is it worth more than its weight in gold, it was also a steal at just 20 bones. Considering it was a full-priced retail release for a Yen-cost-equivalent to a whopping $70.00 in Japan, we're really getting quite the bargain.


All three games are vertical-scrolling shoot 'em ups that fall somewhere between standard and bullet hell in terms of enemy fire and patterns. With each, you have the choice to select from a multitude of creatively designed aircraft, each with unique weapons and attributes such as speed and firepower. You'll find yourself up against your typical assortment of enemies such as tanks and planes with larger variants requiring more effort to destroy. Of course, at the end lies the main objective, a massive oversized boss machine that will fire all kinds of death at you while you try to take it down. In addition to the actual games main arcade mode, additional boss rush and expert modes are available, which keep the good times rolling.


To aid you in your endeavors, you can pick up L or M icons which give you your choice of missile or laser power ups to increase your default firepower. Certain planes will force you to choose between one or the other with more powerful or wider-shooting default guns while others will allow you to have both at once with less guns. Finding the one that's just right for you can be a challenge, but once you do, you'll be laying waste to your enemies in no time at all. But lasers and missiles are just one way to jack up the pain; you also have massive bomb attacks that can vary depending on your plane, and Slave Fighters, which will flank and assist you an varying ways. With Slave Fighters, you can only have two with you at a time, but if you continue to collect Slave Fighter tokens throughout the game, they will change formation and will eventually seek out and attack your foes at point blank range.


When it comes down to difficulty, Raiden Fighters Aces is pretty hard. You can scale down the difficulty, but of course, some of the challenges (read: achievements) can only be done on normal difficulty or higher. Adding to the difficulty is the lack of any sort of extend score. This means that when you start any of the three games here, it's win or bust: you'll be left only with three lives and however many credits you start out with (default 3). The scoring is pretty straight forward; with the medals you collect increasing in value as you consecutively collect more and more of them. In addition, you will obtain a bonus score in conjunction to how many you have collected in total. Then there's Raiden Fighters Jet with it's unique “medal collection” mechanic. There will be certain medals that sweep up and absorb smaller medals on the field; this “sweeper medal” will increase in size and value as it collects more smaller stray medals, allowing for a massive score if you can grow it enough. You can also gain secret scores in all of the games by meeting certain conditions. More often than not, a fairy will appear, distributing bombs and allowing for a 100,000-point bonus if it is actually collected. They are susceptible to your gunfire though, so watch where you shoot!

As far as presentation goes, it can be hit and miss, depending on your tastes. There's an overall heavy techno groove going on here, and while I'm all for it, many others might not share my enthusiasm. The sound effects are pretty slick, and the sprites and 2D elements here are really smooth and well-defined. The special effects like the lasers on the Raiden Mk.2, for example, are jaw-droppingly awesome, often looping and snaking all over the screen with satisfying destructive force. Everything is well animated as well, making it quite pleasing to look at compared to most 'shmups from their time. Finally, there's the text bits. Riddled with terrible English, this can be a plus or a minus, depending who you are. In my case, I'm the kind of person that loves this kind of thing, but again, many probably don't share that taste.



Bullet Heaven Episode S202 - Solar Striker

In this episode of Bullet Heaven, we take a look at Nintendo's only first party shmup, and the earliest shooter on the then-fledgling Game Boy handheld: 1989's Solar Striker! How does this early portable shooter stack up?

Starting with this episode, Bullet Heaven will be using a new rating format with a rating wheel and Picture-in-Picture! Also new to Bullet Heaven henceforth is brand new art at the end of every episode of the show!



Thank you all so very much!

After a successful contest & gracious words from our kind listeners, we were placed within the new & noteworthy section of iTunes today. This means a great deal to us & we want to thank all of you for taking the opportunity to review us, we do this because we feel that we have an opinion & we take the time to produce that opinion & when we've been given such positive notice, it just gives us a whole new drive to keep going to get better & better at delivering our best for the podcast & website.

Thank you guys again & please keep the reviews coming, you can find the show on iTunes or Zune as well as you can find it on the website at so again we can't extend our thanks enough. Join the forums & get a chance to reply or talk with us directly & stay tuned for more shows!

-Press Pause Radio


A Final Retrospective on the Blue Rodent

Chances are if you're a Sonic fan you got pretty excited about "Project Needlemouse" when it was first announced. Chances are you were even more excited to play Sonic the Hedgehog: Episode One after downloading it. There's also a good chance you enjoyed the game, regardless of the fact that it reeked like last weeks recycled newspaper being delivered in place of a fresh headline. Like myself and many others who were expecting the remake of what Sonic used to be, involving two dimensional innovations and brand new zones as the series progressed, you've either settled with the fact that you just paid fifteen dollars for the same game(s) you played in the 90's, or you didn't get the game at all.

We'll say it once and we'll say it again -- Sonic the Hedgehog: Episode One is a great game. It's not a glitched out piece of garbage or something that would make you drop your jaw in disgust. The game is awesome, but in all honesty it still didn't feel like the big deal Sega was so ecstatic to present us with. This was (as I said before) a completely rehashed blend of everything we've seen in Sonic throughout the years. Like many other fans out there we [at Press Pause Radio] were personally thrilled for the general release, but disappointed when we realized we had just played through something we already dominated decades ago, as opposed to this flashy new "rebirth" we heard so much about. The funniest thing is how those folks who were buying digital copies of the original Sonic in order to "protest" the new Sonic 4 project -- weren't really missing much after all.

Sonic still has a gambling problem...

Perhaps our slightly sour reactions of the game come from the fact that we're stuck with such a steep price tag for something so familiar. We loved the classic Sonic games, but we're still crying out for a new twist that doesn't involve strange concepts or unplayable control schemes. Take Sonic Colors on the DS for example, classic Sonic mixed with unfamiliar zone atmospheres and new abilities thanks to the wisps. So we see a few cheesy cut scenes here and there, but they can be skipped if you're not too fond of them. The game was an overall success, leaving most fans with a level of satisfaction they initially wanted from Sonic 4, also proving that Sonic Team is still quite creative. 

Anyone who's played Sonic 4: Episode One (including myself) is probably going to recommend that you try it, but still admit it's not exactly the golden Sonic revival we've been waiting for. Again, we're only one "episode" into this boat, so the folks at Sonic Team and Sega could really surprise and impress us for a show we couldn't afford to miss -- even if it costs us another fifteen bucks. In all honestly if future episodes contain loads of creative new ideas and concepts, it would probably make up for the mediocre reception of this entire redo. So here's to a decent start with hopes of great improvement, along with constant kudos to Sonic Team for trying their best to keep the spirit alive.

-Sean B.


Quarter Circle Forward Review: NBA Jam

This past fall, EA Sports announced they would be resurrecting the arcade classic NBA Jam for the Xbox 360, and with it my long lost love of basketball. When the original game was stealing my quarters as a youth I was a huge fan of the sport, often playing games of 21 at a nearby court. It has been almost fifteen years since I last knew current teams and rosters of the National Basketball Association, and now the remixed and repackaged NBA Jam is ready to make me a fan all over again.

With the utter failure of NBA Elite still fresh in the minds of many sports game enthusiasts, EA has been desperately trying to keep their fans at bay. This is the main reason why NBA Jam is now available as a full priced retail disc. The original plan was that a small portion of the Nintendo Wii version of Jam would be included as a bonus with the doomed Elite. When this was first announced, a large portion of consumers were pre-ordering the successor to the NBA Live series only to have a online NBA Jam for the Xbox Live Arcade service. Now that that is no longer a possibility, we now have a ported version of the game that was released on the Wii earlier this fall. While playing Jam, I still found myself wishing that it would have been a fifteen dollar downloadable game as opposed to a fifty dollar game. However I still feel that the money is well spent, so long as there is a built in multiplayer component in some shape or form.

 The new version of NBA Jam brings back all the components that made the original arcade game so amazing. Tim Kitzrow returns to add the classic lines and announcing that made the action so crazy and memorable. Backboard breaking dunks and gravity defying moves are bigger and better than they have ever been. The game even seems to be easier than the arcade versions of it’s past. Rubber-banding AI is not as noticeable, and it even seems as if shoving is more frequent and easier to use on defense. On the negative side, goal-tending seems to happen far too frequently and the player’s computer controlled partner is often not competent enough to finish an alley-oop attempt or play decent defense. The addition of online multiplayer does fix most of these problems, it is just unfortunate that the computer is not as smart as it should be in this type of sports game.

This full retail version also includes the various game modes that were available on the Wii version, which are all a part of Jam’s Remix tour. Remix features dozens of NBA Hall of Famers, who act as boss battles through various parts of the tour. However consumers should be advised that this purchase should be made only if the multiplayer is a strong selling point, or this can be a party game for get-togethers and multiple gaming nights. It simply is not enough for just a single player experience. As a downloadable game it would have been the perfect game, and certainly game of the year material. However for a full price tag, it’s purchase price can only be justified if it is played frequently online or against friends.

Personally I found myself feeling like a teenager again as legends such as Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were playing alongside current stars Lebron James and Kobe Bryant. I really never would have imagined that this type of excitement would ever return to a basketball game. EA Sports have successfully brought back the feel and playability of NBA Jam, which has rekindled the flaming basketball inside of my heart. Now if only we could get a remake of NFL Blitz; I’m sure after this anything is possible.




Bullet Heaven Episode S201 - Kolibri (Sega 32X)

It's the season 2 premier, anniversary episode of Bullet Heaven! In this episode of Bullet Heaven, I take a look at the obscure Kolibri for the Sega 32X. I have just five words for you: Humming Birds and Particle Beams. Make sure to stay tuned after the show for a special surprise! BULLET HEAVEN IS BACK!



Awesome announcement from our friends at Pokemon Podcast!

Our friends at Pokemon Podcast have started to get their merchandise in order, (we're still lagging & we apologize). You can find them on our friend's section & go listen to their podcast as well you can take the chance to visit the best independant site covering Pokemon on the web!

Finally! After months of talking about exclusive Pokémon Shirts, we finally have some made! You can jump over to our very basic store and pre-order one! All Pre-Orders will ship on December 16th. Right before the holidays. So you can get your shirt in time for Christmas (a good gift). Now these shirts are limited to 100... so in other words... once they are gone, they are gone. 

Here is the official description:

The first Official PKMN Podcast Shirt. This is limited to 100. The shirt was inspired by the swirl on Poliwhirl's/Poliwrath's belly. Now you too can have a swirl of awesomeness on your belly.

IMPORTANT: Right now we are taking PRE-ORDERS. Your shirt will ship on Thursday, December 16, 2010. We get full stock on that Wednesday. Be one of the first people to get one!

To take care of this shirt properly, please wash it inside out. Do not put it in the dryer, hang dry preferred. 

These shirts have nothing to do with Nintendo and/or the Pokémon Company. All the design work is custom artwork made by Steve Black Jr. © All Rights Reserved.

Thanks to @LLbrettJ for modeling it!