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Old 10-12-2009, 06:20 PM   #1
Havoc2049
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Zero Dark Thirty (Havoc2049's Game Reviews)

Zero: Dark-Thirty

Gaming late into the night....

Contents

Handheld Chronicles:
Aliens: Thanatos Encounter (GBC)

ST Chronicles:
Coming Soon!!




Game Reviews by Havoc2049 (aka AtariX)
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Old 10-12-2009, 06:27 PM   #2
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Aliens: Thanatos Encounter
System: Gameboy Color (played and reviewed on a GBA)
Publisher: THQ and Fox Interactive
Developer: Crawfish Interactive
Size: 8 megabits (heh…just put this in here for the old school cart vibe magazine review)
Save: Password
Released: 2001



A group of Colonial Space Marines are returning home to earth from a training mission. Along the way they receive a distress signal from the large freighter, Thanatos. After failing to establish communications, they decide to dock and board the massive ship. Join the elite Marine squad on a mission to blast Xenomorphs in the first Aliens game for the Game Boy Color!

The above is strait from the box. Let me just start off by saying that I'm an Aliens junkie. I love the movies, books and games based on the Aliens franchise. I bought Aliens: Thanatos Encounter on the day Nintendo launched the GBA in North America. I snagged a GBA, Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, Iridion 3D and walked over to the GB/GBC section and grabbed a copy of Aliens: Thanatos Encounter. This was the first 8-bit Gameboy game that I ever owned and played all the way through, as I was a Lynx and NGPC fan back in the day before the launch of the GBA. So lock and load Marines, it's time for a bug hunt!

Gameplay
You are given a group of five Marines to control in a series of 15 missions, aboard the spacecraft Thanatos. You pick and control one Marine at a time and use him/her in a mission. Each Marine is rated in speed and strength and you must choose the right Marine for the type of mission at hand. The action takes place in a top-down perspective, ala Gauntlet or Team 17’s own Alien rip-off, the excellent Alien Breed. There are some RPGish type elements present in the gameplay. You have a health meter and must pick up med kits to replenish your health.
You also pick up weapons and ammo and other various objects in order to complete your mission.

The missions are varied, which keeps the game fresh. There is a large selection of cool weapons that you gain as the game progresses. It has everything from the Aliens universe that a fan would love. All the Marine weapons are there, like the pistol, shotgun, assault rifle, flame thrower, grenades, the motion tracker and the awesome Smart Gun. There are also several Alien types as well, face huggers, chest busters, drones, soldiers and at the end you fight the Alien Queen. Hell, there are even a few power loaders that you can jump in and fight Aliens with, like when Ripley took on the Alien Queen in the power loader at the end of Aliens.

Some of the Marines in your group are just plain useless and you end up only using two of them, the fastest and the strongest. This could have been remedied by having more RPG elements, ala having a tech or medical wizard in your squad and having to use that Marine to complete a certain type of mission.

The control is fairly solid. The strafing is done particularly well, given the limited two button layout of the GBC. The only problem is that sometimes Aliens come at you from an angle and it is kinda hard to get your Marine to move or shoot in a diagonal direction. The option and inventory screens are laid out fairly well and easy to use.

Graphics
There is nothing to complain about in this department as the graphics are top notch for a GBC game and very atmospheric. The background and sprite graphics are varied, crisp and clear. The graphics are strait out of an Alien movie. The Marines and Aliens look like they should and you feel like you are aboard a spaceship that just went through an Alien attack and all kinds of turmoil. Certain parts of the ship are even cocooned as you get closer to the Alien Queen. The scrolling is also done well as you move around, with very little clipping. The intro movie graphics are also solid and set the story up really well. The retina eye scan for entering the game save password is a cool touch.

SFX & Music
The sound effects are kinda sparse. You have footsteps, some weapon sounds, some explosions and a few other blips and bleeps. A trademark Alien scream here and there would have made all the difference. The music is solid. There are about four or five tense sci-fi type tunes that help you get into the game.

Final Words
Aliens: Thanatos Encounter is a good solid game. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys the Alien movies, books, comics and video games. The developers have their act together and created an entertaining and atmospheric game that is faithful to the Aliens universe.

Final Score: 88%
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Old 10-12-2009, 10:52 PM   #3
Joe Redifer
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Wow, an 8 megabit GameBoy game!

Anyway I am glad that there is at least one game that caters to the "space marine" genre that is so often ignored. I really think this game was on to something. I had space marines, it's colors were basically no more than brown and gray. Shit, it could pass for an Xbox 360 or PS3 game!

Anyway, I am surprised that your first review wasn't an Atari game... or were you trying to make sure people know that your thread isn't all about the Atari (ie: you never get a second chance to make a first impression, etc)?
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Old 10-13-2009, 02:55 AM   #4
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Hah...didnt even know there was an alien game on the gameboy.
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Old 10-13-2009, 10:47 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Redifer View Post
Wow, an 8 megabit GameBoy game!

Anyway I am glad that there is at least one game that caters to the "space marine" genre that is so often ignored. I really think this game was on to something. I had space marines, it's colors were basically no more than brown and gray. Shit, it could pass for an Xbox 360 or PS3 game!

Anyway, I am surprised that your first review wasn't an Atari game... or were you trying to make sure people know that your thread isn't all about the Atari (ie: you never get a second chance to make a first impression, etc)?
Well, I started up an Atari ST video game review blog on Windows Live called Zero Dark Thirty, so I figured I would just stick with that name here. Almost all the other ST review blogs are out of the UK and they mainly focus on European developed games by developers like Bitmap Brothers, Bullfrog, Codemasters, Psygnosis, etc. I love those developers, but I wanted to add an American perspective to the Atari ST review blog scene and review more games by American developers like Microprose, SSI, Origin, Infocom, etc. and add a little something different to the community.

As for reviews here, I'll mainly focus on retro reviews from all different platforms, with a focus mainly for games on Atari systems. To keep people interested, I'll try to relate it to gaming on some of the more popular platforms though, like the Sega Genesis, as the Atari ST, Amiga and Genesis are all part of the mighty Motorola 68000 family and share many of the same games. Like maybe review Another World on the ST and then the sequel, Heart of the Alien, on the Sega CD. Another example would be Dungeon Master on the ST and then Dungeon Master II: Skullkeep on the Sega CD. Who knows though, I'm making it up as I go. Just like how all the recent Alien vs Predator (X360/PS3/PC) trailers by Sega got me geeked to replay Aliens on the GBC and AVP on the Jaguar again, so that's why Aliens: Thanatos Encounter is my first review here.

I was going to start a review thread many years ago, back when you and Icarus started your awesome review threads. I even wrote up a Gunvalkyrie review, but never posted it. It's on my old XP machine. Maybe I'll plug that sucker in and transfer it to my current PC.
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Old 10-14-2009, 01:44 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AtariX
I'm making it up as I go.
That's usually the best way to do these things.

Please find your GunValkyrie review. That game gets so little attention. I personally feel that it was very underrated. I bought it along with my Xbox at the time and made me very happy that I did.
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Old 10-14-2009, 01:45 AM   #7
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Our schools had heaps of Atari ST's at the time. They were pretty fun. Also I need your Zero Dark 30 name explained to me because its jabbing at the back of my eye for some reason.
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Old 10-14-2009, 06:14 PM   #8
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Our schools had heaps of Atari ST's at the time. They were pretty fun. Also I need your Zero Dark 30 name explained to me because its jabbing at the back of my eye for some reason.
It's a little know slang term in reference to time, meaning really late at night or really early in the morning. Some people say it O-Dark Thirty, Zero-Dark Thirty and there is even the quite funny Zero-Two Early.
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Old 05-31-2010, 08:48 PM   #9
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This thread is still alive and revised!!!!

I have a review already done, but Youtube is taking foreeever to upload my gameplay video. Like I'm getting tired and need to go to sleep and it probably won't be done for a couple more hours kind of foreeeever!

In the meantime, enjoy this awesome demo from 2009, done on the incredibly awesome Atari 1040 STe computer, with its 4,096 colors, 4MB of RAM, stereo sound, built in MIDI support, advanced gamepad support and blitter math co-processor to speed things along awesomeness! The "e" stands for "enhanced", bitches, just like this thread!!

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Old 06-01-2010, 12:03 PM   #10
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All screen captures and game clips in this review were done by yours truely

Karateka
Atari ST

High atop a craggy cliff, guarded by an army of fierce warriors, stands the fortress of the evil Samurai Warlord, Akuma. Deep in the darkest dungeon of the fortress, Akuma gloats over his lovely captive, the Princess Mariko. Hope is not lost, as you are one trained in the ways of karate: a Karateka! Alone and unarmed, you must defeat the evil Akuma and rescue the beautiful Mariko. Put fear and self-concern behind you. Focus your will on your objective, accepting death as a possibility. This is the way of the Karateka!

Karateka, by the great Jordan Mechner, was first published in 1984 for the Apple II and Atari 800/XL/XE, by Broderbund Software. Over the next several years, Broderbund ported Karateka to the C64, NES, DOS, Atari ST and several other platforms. The Atari ST is the only 16-bit platform to receive a port of Karateka. Because of this, the Atari ST version of Karateka has the best graphics out of all the ports and arguably the best sound effects and music. Although an argument could be made in the sound and music department for the Commodore 64 version, with its excellent SID sound chip. Several years after Karateka was released, Mechner went on to develop the even more popular, Prince of Persia.

Karateka is a side scrolling beat-‘em-up, action-adventure game. What set Karateka apart from other early side scrolling beat-‘em-ups of the day, was its cinematic presentation and realistic graphics. I first played Karateka on my Commodore 64 and I was amazed how much emotion Mechner was able to convey to the gamer with his awesome use of cinematic cut scenes and stirring well placed movie-like music that faded in and out. This was the first game that I remember playing that had lifelike animation. Mechner gave us a glimpse of what realistic computer animation could be like in a game and would later be seen in games such as Prince of Persia and Another World (Out of This World).

While Karateka’s simplified, but tight gameplay mechanics and level design don’t hold up as well as Prince of Persia, it is still amusing and somewhat fun to play to this day. Karateka is a pretty strait forward beat-‘em-up, with a few environmental puzzles to solve along the way, several types of enemy warriors, Akuma’s fighting falcon and finally Akuma himself to defeat, who is quite a challenge. Even if you never played Karateka before, you could probably finish the game in two to three hours of continuous gaming. And like many games of the day, once you master the fighting and figure out what to do, Karateka can be beat from start to finish in 20 to 30 minutes.


The final battle with the evil Akuma, outside of the dungeon where the lovely Mariko is held captive

Karateka is a worthy game to seek out and play, as it's a classic from gaming’s past and to also see how far we have come. If you check it out on an emulator, stick with superior Atari ST version or the excellent Commodore 64, Apple II or Atari 800 XL/XE versions. Stay away from the gawd awful NES and Atari 7800 versions, with the NES version being especially craptastic. What a shame that so many great 80’s 8-bit computer games were given beyond horrible ports to the NES, which was a more than capable machine, with equal and sometimes even superior hardware specs to the 8-bit computers of the day.

And so this review ends, but beware: for the true Karateka there is always a next time…

Final Score: Then- 9/10, Now-7.5/10

For comparison:

The Commodore 64 version and the garish NES version. (Nintendo Seal of Quality included) heh.. ;-P
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Old 06-01-2010, 12:10 PM   #11
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Good Karateka review. I remember there's a Palm OS port of that game too. It honestly doesn't look any fun to me, but I can see why it was special back in the day.
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Old 06-01-2010, 05:53 PM   #12
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Very cool. Sorta reminds me of International Karate+.
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Old 06-09-2010, 02:16 AM   #13
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I used to play the C64 version all the time. It was really fun.

Good review.
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Old 02-19-2013, 10:14 PM   #14
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Damn you movie!!!

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Old 02-20-2013, 11:35 AM   #15
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Yeah well....Nintendo can suck it for naming their handheld the 'DS' as well....
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