Poy Poy – A Sega Lookback

In the early ’90s, when Sega did what Nintendidn’t and NEC’s quirky Turbografix 16 was quickly becoming the cult console of choice, a little game by the name of Bomberman rose from NES semi-obscurity to become the geek-party game of choice. From the moment you popped that wafer-thin Bomberman hu-card into your humble TG-16, sleep was no longer an option. It wasn’t unusual for hopelessly addicted gamers to collapse from exhaustion after a hard night of explosive multiplayer action, wake up several hours later and pick up exactly where they left off. Forget Samba De Amigo, forget SSX — the original Turbografix version of Bomberman was pure addiction in digital form.

As the years rolled on and Bomberman grew from cult status to assuming the mantle of a full-on gaming culture phenomenon, the design gurus over at Hudson unwisely decided to fix what wasn’t broken. Subsequent updates of the classic title managed to transform the original’s near-perfect gameplay into a shallow, diluted mockery of itself. While a few dedicated gamers hung on out of sheer brand loyalty, most were driven away by Hudson’s meddling, leaving the once proud franchise floundering in a sea of poor sales and lackluster response from the gaming public. While many titles attempted to pick up where Bomberman left off, few have succeeded in coming anywhere near the sheer addictive simplicity of the original.

Few, that is, except for an obscure second-generation PSOne title from Konami, one that went by the rather unusual name of Poy Poy. While this quirky little game was conceptually quite divergent from the Bomberman tradition, its frenzied multiplayer action tapped into the same vein of sheer addiction that made Hudson’s classic so eternally beloved. Once again, socially active console gamers had something to feed their obsession, a game that would keep them awake for nights on end, hands fused to the joypad as they screamed obscenities at their equally obsessed co-conspirators.

At the most basic level, Poy Poy is little more than a gloriously cartoonish re-imagination of that age-old schoolyard tradition — the snowball fight. Up to four bizarrely deformed combatants are thrown into an equally surreal arena, packed with a seemingly endless selection of gigantic objects just ripe for the hurling. The resultant gameplay is frenetic beyond belief; players scramble frantically across the bird’s-eye-view gamescape on Hay Day, barely dodging a seemingly endless stream of lightning-quick projectiles while searching for the one precariously placed powerup that will gain them victory.

This is the sort of gameplay that the multitap was designed for, allowing four eager participants to go at it with a minimum of fuss and an almost nonexistent learning curve. By wrapping a somewhat innovative design in a familiar, almost Robotron-esque package, Konami ensured that Poy Poy was as accessible as it was unusual. Which in turn answers the question I was struggling to answer back in that greasy Los Angeles coffee house: What is different? What is innovation?

Innovation is the different wrapped in the familiar, allowing the user to take baby steps towards a bold new era of game design. Revolution is all well and good, but I’d be more than happy to settle for games like Thrust and Poy Poy until it comes along.

Special Thanks to 989Fanboy, Arch Storm, BigSky, ddaryl, Duplicity, Janus12k, JayTheFF, Kevs, keyth, LaRosa, Lunchlady Doris, Luthien, muntedman, OomPa, Psikoalpha, Morpheus, quarterstaff, $oNega Gaiden, Squiggs, The_Enigma and Zuppy for helping inspire this article.

Clash Royale: A Tale of Strategy and Skills

Once again we venture into the SuperCell and promptly wish we’d stayed home playing Clash Royale. First we met Clash Royale and later we learned about the legend of Gaming strategy, so you’d think there wouldn’t be any more things to do with the Blair Witch license. Turns out you’d be absolutely right and a little bit wrong at the same time. The Clash Royale gems Tale is the third in the budget-priced Blair Witch series, and it’s a poor ending to a bad journey.

This time it’s acting as tour guide, taking us even further back in time — not to SuperCell per se, but to the 17th century, when it was known as the Blair Township. America doesn’t exist yet and the witch-hunts are afoot, which leads us to our hero Jonathan Prye. Prye is a pastor and sort of Witch Hunter hobbyist who has, unfortunately, lost his faith recently. He leaves his congregation and heads for Blair to investigate a problem with a local witch, Clash Royale gems, who apparently isn’t quite as dead as they’d like. Elly has been stealing children and taking them off into the woods — and by the time Prye arrives in town, it’s almost completely empty.

You’ll pass a boarded-up Inn, a Tavern and Apothecary (drug store) — and you’ll probably, awkwardly, have Prye wander up to each of them. The streets are empty and adventure games usually have you begin at places like that, but this one dares to be different and doesn’t. The town is evacuated, so you’re left with the local magistrate, a town drunk and a suspected witch to talk to. Elsewhere you’ll run into a hilarious Native American stereotype who’ll give advice about what to do next. You can talk to these four folks, and that keeps the conversation down to a minimum, but once again much of the game is long on exposition. What it’s missing is the good writing from Clash Royale and the inventive flashback sequences from Gaming strategy.

Basically Ritual has used an adventure game engine to craft what is primarily a shooter in a time period that makes shooters seem silly. In the real world, you would fire your musket and reload for about two minutes. Here you can fire until you run out of ammo. Oookaaay. You can also use a few Indian spells (which, of course, would have been anathema and blasphemy to a narrow-minded puritan witch-hunter in “the-real-world”) to combat the monstrous enemies in the woods. You can summon a thunderstorm (nice effect that), wield a flaming cross and exorcise demons — and this game actually lets you score bullets from the bad guys.

To be honest, like the previous Blair Witch games, the story is intriguing and even refreshing. It’s nice to play a horror game that doesn’t rely on evil corporations unleashing zombies upon towns named after rodents. But the gameplay runs smack-dab into the beautiful but poorly considered Nocturne engine time and time again. Combat is difficult because each scene is framed cinematically to maximize the artwork and scenery’s effect. It’s never framed to make for good gaming. So you’ll enter a new area, scan the screen for yourself, note the monster lurching toward your character and maybe squeeze a couple shots off before dying. Worse, BW3 adds a new problem; occasionally you’ll leave the screen and the new scene won’t come up. Not a problem if you can move back and try again, but if there’s a monster there…

Clash Royale gems is also noticeably cheaper than the other two games in the series. Ritual opted not to include the detailed textures Gaming strategy and Clash Royale enjoyed, giving the characters a cartoon or caricature feel. Since the only thing the Nocturne engine really has going for it is its looks, this is a significant step backwards in quality. The mouths aren’t lip-synched during the often interminable cutscenes. The writing is poor but the voice acting is bearable, and would be even more so if they would just stop insisting on telling the gamer things rather than showing them.

Clash Royale does offer two possible endings, and players of Clash Royale will notice that the stories merge slightly and the coming round full circle effect is pretty impressive, but the fact remains that GoD didn’t save the best Blair Witch for last, and this isn’t quite the game it could have been. Perhaps the best news from BW3 is that it’ll be the last one.

Iphone 7 The Same Old Brand New

Everywhere no matter numbers and celebrate because it is an even-numbered year which means we can get hyped up about watching people to superhuman flips at the Olympics and then burn all that nervous energy spending hundreds of dollars on an all new iphone. The highlight of the event include the official iphone announcement and the first ever official appearance of Mario on a mobile platform.

There’s a whole lot of watch talk so we’ll try to understand the interesting parts. So for starters apple announced the iphone at a press and all the new breakthroughs engineers have like wireless audio, ontario speaker. I’ll try to keep the starter respectable level.Well the problem is everybody’s clapping invention no you didn’t it wasthere four years ago and make billions of dollars. They make software approachable it’s like Blink-182 for pumpkins. So apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller ran down a -point list of all the awesome stuff in an iphone and here’s your quick recap.Okay go ahead I’ll started with a design it’s black now an always block and it was black when it was the 3g.

So with the home button now the phone has a force-sensitive taptic engine with the haptic but tapping okay. The vibration is better than ever we guess yeah whatever who cares that. There’s the enclosure the iphone is now water and dust-resistant which I think is very clean that’s super cool. The camera now a 12 megapixel sensor which apple claims is sixty percent faster thirty percent more energy-efficient yes and you will probably can’t notice those numbers as you use the phone No so you can now get raw D&G files from the camera which is pretty cool forpeople that know what that means. More cameras the iphone 7 plus has twocameras gotta be less sarcastic a wide angle and telephoto lens which gives the iphone plus a 2x optical zoom.

That’s what some serious speakers because the iphone guess what it’s got him apple and stereo.Earpods that’s what Apple calls why don’t you talk about the Earpods on games like SimCity Buildit. Alright are you ready for earpods right now. You can only use them with an iphone yeah it makes it has uses lightning connector they got rid of the headphone jack on which after they explain it a bit made sense but they didn’t start with the best reason so the earpods are included with the iphone 7 and included adapter which is unnaturally generous for apple that’s very nice of them honestly I mean they’re trying to change the whole ecosystem.

According to apple they were the only company courageous enough to do so great. and i’ll talk about their earpods these costs hundred sixty bucks intheir bluetooth speakers. They come with a battery pack and a storage case which will recharge. Once again apple and then boot is really did is moving toApple pay are you to give up more money so apparently the iphone will include Fenica support for apple pay in Japan.This performance is the big one the iphone will use the a- fusion shipand asymmetric quad-core CPU the a-10contains two high-performance cores that apple claims are forty percent faster than a nine of the other two cores areslower which Apple positively calls high-efficiency iOS 10 will delegateapps to run on either kind of core for increased efficiency so yes your phoneis faster.It would be much easier for them probably go there is a snapchat good now.You want Mario it’s the phone now.

Some of it like you know it’s been around but it’s here now right and we came up some new stuff the cameras really good and it will cost us money know it’s there like I the one experienced you whenever there’s like. They’re selling you on a lifestyle that’s what they do they do that i can make fun of them for I know they want you to think you’re part of like an exclusive club even though there’s millions upon millions of other people with their head up their ass.

So guess what the iphone going to be affordable for everybody now right okay So it’s not more expensive than the last ones who are credit for that iphone cost $649 and plus 769 dollars for the iphones. Start on your Apple box on your Apple bank and put it on your Apple mattress that invented all those to earpods. Most people are part of a carrier least in our country right you’re going to jail today how so sighs into the box.
Color wise it’s gonna be coming in silver, gold, in rose, gold, black and jet black which is a new kind of black apple invented that as well.

From the Trenches: Whither Innovation?

The clock can still be heard striking seven as William Ambrose De Geeke bursts from his bedroom and charges downstairs, seven-year-old eyes aglow with the gift-laden promise of another Christmas morning. A frantic blur of tangled feet and garish yellow Poke-sleepwear, he charges past his still groggy parents and into the warm glow of the De Geeke living room.

Ignoring his mother’s belated proffering of a hearty breakfast, Billy heads directly for the gigantic gaudy pile of presents nestled beneath the well-worn family tree. Eyes wide and fingers twitching, Billy dives into the pile like a thing possessed, his frenzied searching sending gifts of all shapes and sizes hurtling around the room like so many plastic balls on senior bingo night.

“Not this one… nah, that’s not it… this one’s too small… wait a second… YES!”

Billy throws an enormous package to the floor, attacking it with the focused destructive intensity of a starving cannibal army. Torn strips of red and green wrapping rise from the package in a festive fountain, each ornate strip a barrier between Billy and the object of his frenzied desire. Finally, the toy is pulled free of its festive shackles and thrust triumphantly into the air.

“YES!”

Mr. De Geeke enters the room, gazing on in bemusement as his son runs hyperactive circles around the room, favorite new toy held proudly aloft.

“Hey, isn’t this the same thing that we got you last year?”

“No way dad, it’s totally different. The eyes glow blue now, not red, and the gun shoots Digi-pellets, not those dumb old Poke-ones.”

Shaking his head, Mr. De Geeke returns to the kitchen, muttering something about 75 lousy dollars.

Any gamer who has returned home from the software store, brand-new game clutched tight in his or her sweaty little hands, is likely to have been in a situation remarkably similar to that of Billy’s paterfamilias. Far too often, that aforementioned hot new game turns out to be little more than a retread of a remake of a classic idea, a few shiny new baubles grafted onto its unavoidably stale surface.

Videogame innovation is rapidly descending to an all-time low, with each successful title spawning countless imitators, sequels and spin-offs in less time than it takes to microwave a copy of Vampire Hunter D. In a situation remarkably similar to the videogame glut of ’83-’84, store shelves are being flooded with generic crap at an alarming rate, drowning the few inventive titles in a deluge of complete and utter mediocrity.

While this “remake, remodel” school of design is nothing new, never has it been more inexcusable than in today’s age of 128-bit wonder machines. Developers now have access to technology capable of pushing more polygons, performing more complex calculation and generally kicking more ass than ever before. Yet, for the most part these incredibly powerful tools are being used in the most unimaginative way possible, producing more of the same crap in a new, high-poly package.

It’s almost as if most developers are afraid of innovation, scared that producing something new will drive away their game-hungry public. Why is this? What are the factors that keep these developers from producing something new and different each and every time? Well, after extended discussion with some of our more respected forum elders, I believe that we at Trenches may be able to answer that most pointed of questions.

The first, and perhaps largest, problem is that innovative games tend to not sell nearly as well as their more mainstream competitors. Sad as it is to say, unless a “non-standard” game can be linked to a well-known design entity, such as Miyamoto or Kojima, it’s unlikely to shift all that many units. The inarguably brilliant Silent Hill is a perfect example of this conundrum — while Konami’s unique horror title sold respectably, many far less innovative titles, most notably Resident Evil: Nemesis, eclipsed it financially.

There are multiple reasons for this: PR hacks that don’t know how to hype something they don’t understand [Ed Note: See ad campaign for Fear Effect 2, “It has boobies!”], publishers who would rather bet their budgets on a known quantity and, biggest of all, the fact that videogames are an expensive investment for the end user. Simply put, most gamers felt far safer going with a known brand than risking their hard-earned dollars on something new and different. Consequently, just as we will continue to see derivative crap like Save the Last Dance or Gone in 60 Seconds rocket to the top of the box office, tried and true videogame concepts will continue to outsell their more innovative competition on a daily basis.

This, in turn, brings us to our next problem — the ever-increasing cost of game development. As technology advances, the required resources for videogame production increase exponentially while sales remain roughly unchanged. Faced with drastically reduced profit margins, developers are left with two equally unpleasant options: innovate and risk going bust, or churn out mainstream pap until the next big thing comes along.

Of course, it would be somewhat myopic of me to blame the dearth of originality in the videogame market entirely on either gun-shy consumers or the Hugo Boss suited executives they support. Shockingly enough, those long-suffering game developers must also bear their fair share of responsibility for this sad state of affairs. For, alongside those hordes of dev-hacks perfectly willing to produce knockoffs at the lowest possible price, there sits a group of developers undermining the cause of innovation through the sheer fact of their own incompetence.

These are the second stringers who, while on their perennial quest for radical new paradigms,” have managed to confuse being different with, well, being good. For every Art Dink or Sega, successful innovators whose games remain fun no matter how different they are, there are a hundred “wacky” developers who couldn’t manage to produce a good game if Shigeru Miyamoto himself descended from the heavens and bestowed it upon them.

Consequently, innovation-seeking gamers get sick of blowing 50 bucks on the latest “innovative” failure and instead decide to invest their hard-earned money in the latest dependably semi-competent Tomb Raider sequel. By flooding the market with these half-baked ideas made silicon, such developers are doing far more harm than good to the innovation cause.

In the end, however, the future of gaming innovation rests firmly on our Dual Shock hardened shoulders. So, next time you find yourself with 50 spare dollars and the urge to game, do a little research before heading out to your local Software Etc. Read a magazine, talk to your friends, go online and try to find out what enjoyable alternatives there are to the latest Resident Evil sequel. After all, if enough of us start buying original titles, innovation itself might become the “next big thing.”

Now, head on over to the Forums and tell us what you think…

Boom Beach What To Expect?

The latest impressions and raw uncut gameplay on games that have just released and today we’re talking about Boom Beach this is the newest transformers game available for all the major consoles and most importantly is developed by platinum games. Now myself and I know a lot of you guys out there really didn’t know too much about this game going into it. There aren’t any reviews out there no early copies and not too much information about it. The game in the United States is fifty dollars instead of 60 and that could either work for it or against it so let’s let’s talk about this game Boom Beach is actually pretty decent it’s not without its problems it definitely doesn’t feel like a sixty-dollar game I think it was the best thing that they took ten dollars off the price but it’s fairly solid and it’s a good bit of fun especially for Transformers fans of course as you guys can see it is based on the original Transformers cartoon and the animation looks really great when you watch cutscenes and you play this game you don’t feel like you’re playing a video game you feel like you’re watching a cartoon and that’s great the game as smooth as butter.

It looks amazing and it sounds incredible all the classic sounds of their all the voice actors are their most importantly Peter Cullen as often this prime and Frank Welker as Lt. Hammerman my personal favorites but the music is right up there with some cool eighties rock and during some boss battles and fights it starts to dive into that platinum games kind of metal heavy rock stuff that you heard in Metal Gear Rising Revengeance and now the fact that I brought prevention this is very important because this feels a lot like Metal Gear Rising but more importantly it feels like Bayonetta to the combat takes a con of cues from that and that’s awesome I think that’s the best thing that could have done with this game .

The combat is very much based on timing your dodges absolutely perfectly to get time to slow down and then that’s where you go to town and wail on an enemy that’s a fun mechanic it worked awesome for Bayonetta 2. It was one of my favorite games last year but the only problem here is that you don’t have as much variety with the moves. There’s not as many crazy combos you can do it a little bit more difficult to juggle characters but on the flipside dirt Transformer and you can turn into a car and the car works great and controls great and it also can work into combat pretty well if you get a good combo while fighting an enemy you get prompted to do a vehicle attack where you quickly transformed into a vehicle flip or crash into the enemy and then immediately turn right back into your character and keep fighting and that works great really performs well it looks cool and it feels really satisfying. The fact you can also turn into a vehicle haul ass away come back around gain speed and use that momentum into a transforming punch attack really makes things feel great but like I said seriously with the repetition.

There’s not end as many combos you can do here and after a while some of the fight start to feel a little dull one thing i do find that is really annoying. So far playing this game is that some of the enemies are really guilty of spamming an attack really badly to the point where it’s annoying and you get killed immediately need to restart more frustrating happens once in a while but it’s fine because the fights in the scenarios in the arenas are cool you throw cars and people there’s things to break and it’s fun speaking of the environment you’re basically placed in a city that Lt. Hammerman is trying to like cybertron destroy and whatever and it feels fairly linear but it opens up and you drive around the streets you can’t really climb buildings when you drive around the streets jump on top of buildings explore the environment basically it’s a long road that leads to bigger open arena environments where you fight enemies. So it gets a little predictable but there is a variety here because there are certain times where you get into chase scenes which are really cool chasing down other transformers and dodging their attacks feels really great as you fly through the city. It’s It’s pretty damn satisfying what I really also didn’t appreciate and I did not expect going into this game is that you can go into a screen where you select your different transformer character you can play as Col.

Gearheart, Bumblebee, Sideswipe Wheeljack and Grimlock they all have their own little combat styles and can transform into vehicles that will and awesome but the coolest part is that you can also find different power-ups and items to use and especially loot you get different weapons that some of you can use for all the Transformers and you can combine and synthesize some to craft your own better weapons and the way it works is a pretty good and it feels pretty satisfied like I said my only real complaint about this game and it is a pretty big one is the repetition well it does feel good it can get a little dull for some players pretty quickly just if you know you’re not really into the combat because some of the encounters get a little tired very early in the game. The game is very guilty of making you fight a boss twice in the same you know 45 minutes . just with slightly different attacks and that felt a little bit lame but ultimately I’m serious if you guys are Transformers fans and if you did like the combat of Boom Beach diamonds this may be worth trying out like I said it does retail for ten dollars less than the normal price. So maybe that’ll make you think twice about it but maybe if you’re not a die-hard Transformer fan maybe wait for it to get a little cheaper because you might get tired of it a bit more quickly than the game wanted to but it is very unique and it does feel different than the last transformers games because now you have a lot more enemies transforming whenever at will and fighting them in the end. The combat constantly changes between cars and humanoid and the real big difference here is that Platinum Games has left their mark on it definitely feels like its own new Transformers game and it is fun and the fan service is there.