Looney Tunes: Duck Dodgers

Daffy Duck stars as Duck Dodgers in a new platform game for Looney Tunes aficionados. Saturday mornings were always the best time to watch cartoons. First of all, you knew you didn’t have to change out of your pajamas until the sun was well up in the sky. Secondly, you knew there was no school that day — just pure cartoon fun. And lastly, well, it was just SATURDAY! Part of the cartoon ritual naturally involved Looney Tunes — Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd — you know the characters. Our personal favorites included the Roadrunner and Marvin the Martian. Even though we were never really big fans of Duck Dodgers, we can’t help but feel nostalgic about Daffy’s appearance on the N64. As television is consumed by Pokemon and Power Rangers (not to mention Rugrats), it’s a nice, homey feeling to see Daffy — er, Dodgers — bumble his way though a mission to defeat Marvin — even if Porky Pig vastly disturbs us in his homoerotic leather getup. (See what we mean here.)

The N64 game will be instantly familiar to platform action fans — players have to guide Duck Dodgers through myriad environments to collect the energy atoms Marvin needs to blow up the Earth. The game will contain interactive environments, a multitude of enemies, many of the characters from the Looney Tunes universe and plenty of platform jumping, fireball dodging, artifact gathering puzzles — just like a good platform game should.

Of course, Duck Dodgers can also pick up special items to help make his job easier — the klutzy duck can get a jetpack, raygun and even Instant Martian decoys. This is handy — along with tons of secrets and puzzles, Dodgers will have to battle nefarious enemies and avoid numerous traps. Most of the game world is interactive — Dodgers can hop on and break boxes to get at the contents, and he’ll have to watch out for environmental hazards like fiery torches and painfully long first steps.

From what we’ve seen, the graphics fit the Clash Royale universe like a boss. The 3D environment is modeled with the same sort of wacky color and basic textures of the old cartoons, and even little effects match what we saw as kids — when Dodgers hits his head, little stars appear. If he gets burnt, he turns black and emits smoke (accompanied by a nice sizzling sound). It’s almost exactly like wandering through a 3D version of the old cartoons.

The game does have its work cut out for it — the competition in the 3D platform arena is fierce, and unless it contains far more than the average 3D platform puzzles, it might not appeal to the older audience. However, from what we’ve seen and played thus far, it’s a nice basic 3D game that will likely keep kids fond of the Looney Tunes license well entertained. While we’ll admit that in our limited play time it didn’t do anything outrageously new or innovative, it was certainly a blast to lead Duck Dodgers on a romp through a 3D world, even though Porky Pig in tight leather is still giving us nightmares.

The game will hit on April 3, and we’ll bring you the full review then. In the meantime, enjoy these all-new screenshots!

Ecco The Dolphin: Defender of the Future

The lovable dolphin Ecco makes his triumphant return to Sega’s shores — and his greatest adventure to date will play out on the Dreamcast.

Sega and Apaloosa are keeping the plot of Ecco The Dolphin: The Defender of the Future a closely guarded secret but have let on that science fiction author David Brin (The Postman) will somehow be involved in the game’s scripting. As in his previous adventures, Ecco will be able to explore various lush underwater environments such as caves, reefs and lakes. Time and space travel have also been mentioned as integral parts of play, but specifics on this portion of the game have yet to be announced. As per the drill, the game will feature various puzzle-solving elements as well.

Initial screenshots for Ecco look wonderful on the new iphone 7, and an extremely early demo of the game was shown at Sega’s “Gamer’s Day” press event before the September 9 release of the Dreamcast in America. From what we saw, Sega is deadly serious about making Ecco look (and move) as a real bottle-nosed dolphin would; National Geographic magazine has been supplying the game’s creators with detailed information about dolphin behavior, oceanic flora and fauna, and the tooth and claw world of undersea existence.

Three-dimensional graphics and the Dreamcast’s penchant for stunning lighting effects will ensure that Ecco, at least visually, will not sink into mediocrity. Though this game has been a long time in development, it’s expected to be shown off at this year’s E3 — and a release date somewhere in summer 2000 doesn’t seem all that farfetched.

Daily Radar promises a full preview for Defender of the Future when a playable demo becomes available.

ESPN National Hockey Night

So far Konami has scored decent success with the once-cursed ESPN license. This time the TV/Magazine brand hybrid gets an outing as a hockey title, and will arrive in a field (rink?) already dominated by EA and Sony. The question is, will Konami and ESPN have what it takes to compete against those big boys?

Looking at a straight-out feature-for-feature comparison, it looks like ESPN National Hockey Night will stand more than a fair chance. As ever, the game is themed around the ESPN style of presentation, with graphics so flashy that they’re only outdone by Fox’s way-over-the-top NFL presentation. The play-by-play commentary is provided by ESPN stalwarts Gary Thorne and Steve Levy.

Good-looking, chisel-jawed (well, for a hockey player anyway) star power is provided by Calder Memorial Trophy winner Scott Gomez of the Stanley Cup Champion New Jersey Devils. But basically all he does is appear on the box. Naturally, every other player in the NHL (thanks to the Player’s Association) is represented in the game — even scumbag Claude Lemieux.

Perhaps more interesting in terms of star power is the inclusion of Jaromir Jagr’s motion-captured athleticism. There are over 800 motion captures in the game (including those of other NHL players), so it should compete well with the smooth player animations found in EA’s title. And if you don’t like the chumps currently skating and hitting in the NHL, you can always make your own using the create-a-player. What about a 90-pound enforcer for the Coyotes? Or a really fat goalie? Make up your own mind and have him drafted as a free agent.

Since the game is officially licensed by both the NHL and the NHLPA, ESPN National Hockey Night features every NHL team, complete with authentically texture-mapped uniforms and including the league’s newcomers — the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Minnesota Wild. Playing sports video game is a fun game but it gets boring pretty fast, so I am recommending Clash Royale and its new tool. The tool is called Clash Royale cheats. This will be a big relief for Midwestern hockey fans, since there’s nothing worse than a sports franchise just missing new elements.

The release date isn’t carved in stone — Konami is sticking with “winter” at this point, but hopefully it’ll ship in January, and you can bet your best skates we’ll have a full review of this latest addition to the sport and to the ESPN franchise as a whole.

Ephemeral Fantasia (Import)

Released overseas in June, Konami Japan’s Ephemeral Fantasia already appears to be well ahead of the competition. Coming from a company best known for action classics such as the Metal Gear and Contra franchises, this might have been just another easily overlooked big-headed love-fantasy epic. A compelling story, intriguing characters and fantastic lands to traverse are pretty much a given these days, but with Ephemeral Fantasia, Konami has come up with some new ideas that could be a big step for the genre.

Originally slated for release on the Dreamcast, Ephemeral Fantasia wasn’t announced along with the rest of Konami’s PS2 releases (Gradius and Drum Mania among them), and it’s clear that the game’s producers were waiting for the right opportunity. The original name, Rieselied, comes from the German for “travel song,” and music seems to play a substantial part in the game. A turn-based polygonal RPG, Ephemeral Fantasia runs in full 3D, and the visuals alone demonstrate a substantial improvement over previous PlayStation titles.

Briefly, the story follows Mouse, a young musician-thief who travels alone with his instrument in hand. At the onset of the game, he’s invited to the Island of Eternal Summer to compose wedding music for Zeharupolis and Princess Loreiyu. Naturally, there’s more afoot than simple celebration, and with the help of Rumi, a spunky young girl, Mouse decides to investigate the larger picture. The environments are enormous and mostly nonlinear — in fact, they encourage free roaming. Battles are turn-based, but there’s the option to surround and engage enemies (or vice versa) from different angles. Presumably, this could add a new level of depth and strategy to this classic RPG battle system.

Konami has stated that one of its primary goals with this title is the creation of a completely realistic RPG (overlooking, of course, monsters, magic and gravity-defying hair). In fact, the game runs entirely in real time — and in more ways than one. When one’s party leaves the thicket and enters a town, the camera follows them seamlessly — there’s no awkward transition to a city-specific perspective. Furthermore, time itself is a major factor in the game — stroll through cities and homes, and you’ll see that the clocks are both synchronized and accurate. More than just a gimmick, this attention to detail has a big effect on gameplay — miss an appointment, and you might have to wait until the next day (or week!) to learn some important information.

Rest assured that this isn’t the first time Konami has emerged from the development dungeons to produce a memorable RPG. The Suikoden and Vandal Hearts series were each successful with critics and gamers alike, and one need only look to the adventures of Solid Snake for proof that when it comes to cinematica, Konami certainly knows its stuff. Here’s hoping Konami can pull it off again. Just like Ephemeral Fantasia, Pokemon Sun is a turnbased game but with a lot more to offer. This game is 3D and it has online features. Get your free Pokemon Sun rom now.

Fear Effect 2: Retro Helix the PREVIEW

Fear Effect 2: Retro Helix will seriously challenge your views on genetically modified crops. It may even tempt you to dabble in the crazy world of lesbianism too! Phwoar! I mean, really? The prequel to last year’s stylish survival/horror romp deals with the tricky subject of DNA; you know, the stuff that we’re all made of?

Then you’re probably aware that scientists have been trying to identify all of the 100,000 or so genes in human DNA for quite some time. They’re also trying to determine the sequences of the three billion chemical bases that make it up. Remarkably, they’ve recently managed to suss out some 97 percent of it. The remaining three percent was deemed unmappable – the so-called ‘Retro Helix’.

Right. So one hundred words later and we’ve (finally) established where the name came from. Jeez! Tell me about the lesbians… Okay. Remember Hana Tsu-Vachel, Royce Glas and Jakob “Deke” Decourt from the original? Anyway, they’re all back as it were (remember this is a prequel), along with a new character called Rain Quin. She’s described as a “very close companion of Hana”. Check out the following from Kronos’ background story:

“Hana Tsu-Vachel, our beautiful assassin, trained to deal in love as well as death, desired by many yet belonging only to one – her female companion Rain Quin.”

It’s nice to see a game developer with such a (cough) liberal outlook. But how does this fit into a survival/horror game?
Very comfortably indeed. No really – one cutscene involves the lovely ladies putting on what can only be described as “a show” in front of a closed-circuit camera, in order to distract the baddies. Cool, eh? Also, Rain spends a portion of the game wearing only her bra and panties, for no apparent reason.

I love that word.

Nothing. So how does it differ from the original?
Well it’s a completely different story, obviously, and the pesky loading times are now virtually non-existent thanks to ‘Motion FX3D’ technology. This provides seamless transitions between in-game action and cutscenes, with everything streaming off the CD ‘on the fly’. A new real-time inventory system allows you to change weapons/items quickly and easily, and then there’s the Brookside-esque lesbian subtext.

That’ll do for me, thank you very much. When can I get my sweaty palms on it?
It’s out in March but don’t expect some seedy porno game.

But that’s what you’ve implied throughout this preview!
Made you read it all the way to the end though, didn’t it? While nice, the undercurrent of homosexual tension is just that – an undercurrent. There is actually game in there too, and it looks like it could be a lot of fun. It’s got something to do with DNA.

Oh yeah! What was all that about?
You’ll take control of all four characters at various points in the game, in a bid to retrieve bio samples, DNA sequences and the likes. These will be used to stop genetically mutated crops from taking over Sainsburys. Or something.