Monday, October 22, 2012

MAME Reviews: Dark Seal

MAME Review
  Since it is October I thought I would review a "scary" game that I found on my mamecade.  Although, once I got into the game it wasn't that scary, but I already played it so I'll go ahead and review it!

Dark Seal
  Dark Seal also known in the US as Gate of Doom, is an action hack n' slash arcade game released by AV Japan in Japan and Data East in the US.  The game has a 2D isometric view and consists of 1 or 2 players hacking and slashing their way through a series of dungeons and other terrain until they reach that level's boss.  Sadly the game tends to drag after the the first few levels and never really picks up steam due to repetition and bland enemies.

Initial Start
  When the game boots up you are greeted with an introduction to the plot, which to sum up is, "when the people of the world become evil, then demons take over, and then four heroes of light will appear to right the world again."  Which to me is just the usual song and dance for an old school fantasy game, since this was released in 1990 I don't fault any plot like this.  Once you throw in your coin you are greeted with more plot dialogue on something of a dark knight stealing a princess, so I am not sure if we are killing two birds with one stone or some type of sub plot is going on, but after this you are then taken to the character select screen

  You have your selection of the four heroes of light, the Knight, the Wizard, The Bard, and...the Ninja, which seems really out of place to me in a medieval European fantasy setting, but whatever, lets go with it.  Each character has a different weapon, and special skill, the Knight has a better weapon that does more damage, the Wizard has powerful magic, the Bard is immune to poison, and the Ninja, like a ninja.  You can see most of these advantages play out as you play through the game, and it does add a small strategic element to the game, but not much.

  The controls consist of an 8-way directional joystick and two action buttons.  One button is for attack and the other is for magic.  Your attacks vary from character to character, with the Ninja and Wizard having projectile weapons (that do not go the length of the screen) and the Knight and Bard having melee weapons that reach just about as far as the projectiles, so there really isn't much difference in attack.  Since all the enemies come out of the wood work to run into you, you are usually frantically trying to fend them off
  The magic works with filling up the magic bar, by attacking enemies, after this you have a book displayed on the upper right or left of the screen switching through icons, once you press the magic button you will use whatever magic the icon on the book is currently showing.  I find this to be a lackluster way of using spells  as when you are in a pinch you do not have proper choice of spells, you either have to hope it is a good spell, or wait for that one to come on the screen.

Level Design
  The level design for the dungeons and other terrain start out well, with varying enemies and traps, but after a few levels it just becomes very repetitious and dull.  I got extremely tired with having the same types of enemies barraging me from every direction that after awhile I just picked the Ninja and ran through every stage.  That is the main problem, there is nothing you have to do to advance to the next area except get to the end and none of the enemies really stop you from doing this.  I realize this is the case in most beat em ups and hack n slash games, but at least most of those A) have a mechanic that stops your progression until all enemies are defeated on the current screen, and B) it is actually entertaining to beat up enemies!

  The game in the graphics department is not too bad.  Nothing mind blowing but it isn't bad to look at it either.  Death animations for normal enemies is nothing more than a pretty explosion, but the bosses and mid bosses do have a neat death animation for each, so that is something...I guess.

  Dark Seal or Gate of Doom, is not an awful game, but it does become awful after a few levels.  All in all it is your standard arcade beat 'em up with a medieval European theme to it...and a Ninja.  If you happen to chance upon it, in whatever fashion you are playing games, give it a go, but don't feel like you are missing out on anything if you haven't tried it.  Until next time, thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Media Closet Install

Basic Idea
  So I have my man cave looking pretty good, what with the arcade and all, and I knew that I wanted to have a flat screen mounted on one of the walls downstairs.  There was one wall that I had in mind as it was adjacent to a small closet.  My end goal for the whole project was to have a clean looking flat screen mounted, with all my current consoles hooked up, as well as my media server.  I like the idea of having a TV mounted to the wall with nothing showing around it, but all this great entertainment coming from it.
Initial Setup
  So here is the initial setup of the TV.  As you can see I have a drop ceiling in the basement, and also the power and coaxial cable are on the bottom of the wall.  I also have my PS3 HDMI and USB cables, Wii Component cables, and audio cables all coming down from the ceiling.  It looks pretty bad.  The game console cables run up to the ceiling and then over (to the left) into the closet, or what I am now calling the media closet.

Moving Cables
  First, I need to move all my media cables behind the wall.  Now this is more difficult than normal since this is an outside wall, and it has insulation within it.  I had to buy a fish tape to get this completed.  I used some wire coat hangers that I unbent, and then duct taped together. This works pretty good if you just need to guide the cable and you have nothing in your way; but if you have a wall with insulation then you are gonna need something like a fish tape to get the job done.
  Here I have all the cables behind the wall except my PS3 camera.  I use USB extension cables to deal with the length of cable I need.  I also extended the Wii component cables with AV connectors and more AV cables.  All the AV cables are the same thing, so I used the Red, White, Yellow cables of a composite set connected to the Blue, Red, Green cables of the component...this just got really confusing didn't it? 
Now all the cables are behind the wall.  You can see at the top I cut a hole above the drop down ceiling to start running the cables behind the wall.
  After I moved the ceiling tile back in place I then needed to move the power plug behind the TV.  First, I shut off the breaker to the plug and then went about daisy chaining the electrical cables and sending them 5 feet up the wall.  I cut a hole at the TV mount and re installed the power outlet.  It really didn't take too much time, all I needed was about 5 feet of electrical cable, and an electric box.  I also bought a face plate to cover the bottom hole that was left where the electrical outlet used to be.

  Here is a final shot of the setup without the TV looks like my wall is throwing up cables...kinda badass actually.

TV mounted

Motion Controls
  Now I have the TV mounted but my motion controlled games are not able to be played in the current setup.  The issue is two fold.  First, the Wii needs a light source for the motion controller to work.  Since the length I needed to go was too long for the standard Wii sensor bar that comes with the console, I had to buy a wireless one.  I found one on eBay for pretty cheap, around $5.
 Second, the PS3 camera has a big issue with staying still.  I can currently set it on top of the TV, but I cannot get it to stay in the position I want since the cable coming out the back end really dictates which was it will face.  Whether Sony did this on purpose to sell more clips, I have no idea, but as you know I am very cheap frugal.  So I looked around online for a cheap Sony PS3 clip, and found one for $1 on amazon with FREE SHIPPING.  I kid you not, I quickly ordered without looking at the length of time it would take to get here.  Afterwards, I found out it was going to take around 5 weeks because it came from China.
Yeah...The P-S3 camera clip.  Now this is a problem because I do not own a P-S3, but I thought I would give it a try anyway...and it worked!
Now, with the camera clip I am done with the TV setup.  Here is the finished product looking nice and slick on my purple wall...I am looking into painting that sometime in the future.


On the left you can see the media closet door.  This is where I have the PS3 and Wii stored, and I am planning on moving the Media Server down there and streaming all my media through out the house via the home network.

Here is a shot of the inside of the media closet.  I have the Wii up top, and the PS3 with some blu rays and loose games on the mid shelf, my move equipment is on the bottom.  I really like having all this in a easy to access area, but also having the overall game area being clean.  It helps too for motion controlled games to have a lot of space to work with so you don't accidentally smack something with your arm...Having said that I am signing off to go play some Kung-Fu Live!  Until next time.