Mini Review: Fish out of Water (iOS)

The new game from Halfbrick looks, sounds, and plays just as nicely as you’d expect from these seasoned iOS champions. It’s a little casual for me, but undeniably addictive and well-designed. The goal is to fling your few fishes as far as flipping possible. Think of it as a less obnoxious version of Angry Birds.

Article: Modernisation Versus Backwards Compatibility

It’s been a long standing argument between gamers and developers, the question: how much priority should backwards compatibility take in the hardware market? On one hand, gamers are reluctant to get rid of their old classics, or they might want to pick up a platinum game in future without having to buy a new console, which is both expensive, and can seem like needless clutter. On the other hand, not catering for backwards compatibility can allow consoles to be more lightweight and streamlined, and free up internal space for more gadgets and hardware. Let’s take a quick look at some good and bad examples of backwards compatibility from our favourite hardware manufacturers:


Good: the Gameboy Advance, the Wii.

The GBA could play Gameboy cartridges, and the Wii could play GameCube discs with four GameCube controller ports and two memory card slots. Many Nintendo classics were also released for download on the online arcade, at pocket money prices. Nintendo even produced Wii games which you could choose to play with a GameCube controller, like Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

Bad: the DS.

The DS, bizarrely, was able to play GBA games, but not original Gameboy or Gameboy Color cartridges. They would fit into the machine, as the base was the same size and shape as a GBA cartridge, but they would not run. This just seems lazy on Nintendo’s part, as including a GB emulator would have only taken up a couple of megabytes and a few lines of code in the firmware.


Good: the PS2

The PS2 could play PS1 games, as long as you owned a PS1 memory card, which fitted nicely into the same slot as the PS2 one.

Bad: the PS3.

Most PS3s can’t play PS2 games.


Good: The XBOX360.

The Xbox360 could play many original XBOX games via downloadable patches, and included an online marketplace teeming with cross-console cult classics from the past two decades.

Bad: Microsoft haven’t screwed over the retro lovers yet! Nothing to report here.

So what do you think about modernisation versus backwards compatibility? Do you like your consoles streamlined, or do you prefer a big ugly brick that can play games from 1998? Do you have any good or bad examples of backwards compatibility, or any interesting stories on the subject? Please let me know.

A note about my blog in 2013

Currently my game reviewing jobs are on hold due to holiday time, so I’m just keeping things ticking over by reviewing any games I finish and posting them up here. It’s partly to keep my skills from rusting away, and partly to cure my fiendish withdrawal symptoms (from lack of writing - not drugs!). I’ll be rating them in four areas: graphics, sound, gameplay, and story, before giving them an overall rating, which will roughly equate to an average of the other scores. Unfortunately if a game has no story it will get zero points out of ten for that category! Thanks for reading.

Game Review: Fotonica (PC)

(Image taken from Fotonica trailer)

A minimalistic first person running game I found on the Onlive marketplace, Fotonica is set apart from the rest of the pack by its distinctive visual style, excellent ambient music, and pick up and play simplicity.

After choosing from three modes of difficulty, you’ll be launched onto a seemingly infinite wireframe track. The controls are incredibly easy to learn - hold any button to run, and let go to jump. That’s all there is to it. The pace increases quickly, and as gaps start to appear in the track and multiple paths become available, things become a lot more interesting.

Fotonica might well be an extremely tedious game, if it wasn’t for the enchanting retro-psychedelic graphics. Looking like a cross between the first attempts at music visualization and the CGI effects from the original TRON movie, you’ll find yourself captivated as the landscape cascades and spirals out before you. As a result of its unorthodox ensemble of gameplay, music, and visuals, Fotonica is an interesting and addictive experience.

Update: Onlive has been shut down but Fotonica is available to play elsewhere.

Graphics: 7/10

Sound: 6/10

Gameplay: 5/10

Story: 0/10

Overall: 6/10