Avid Gamer #1

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Page 3 – Editorial We introduce ourselves and why we’ve started Avid Gamer magazine.

5-6 – Indie Pipeline Taking a look at the #indiedev community and showcasing one of Lasso Game’s latest projects: ‘Leventara: Tale of the Winds’.

8-12 – The Long Read: The Death of Survival Horror Josh Welch looks at the demise of the survival horror genre and considers its future.

13-15 – The Retro Review: Hero’s Quest @R_GamerDad reviews one of his childhood favourites and his experience re-living it with his children

16 – Ones to Watch Bart, the gamer behind the Classic Retro Gaming Youtube channel, showcases his work.

17-22 – Centrepiece: the best Star Wars games A run down on the top ten Star Wars game. A fairly uncontroversial topic that most readers will agree on.

24-25 – The Retro Review: Cannon Fodder Peter Kulak looks back on a classic SNES game.

27-28 – Record Breakers Guinness World Record holder Rodrigo Martin Santos allows us a look at his Tomb Raider collection (the largest in the world) and explains how his fascination began.

29-30 - Sports Information on how to enter our Rugby World Cup sweepstake and a target to beat on Gran Turismo 3.

31 - Puzzles Do you know in which games the easter eggs and quotes appear?

Welcome to the first edition of Avid Gamer magazine! Before we go in to what’s in this issue, as it’s the first edition, we want to explain briefly who we are and what we’re about. This magazine has been put together by Kieran and Jonny, the team that runs vexgames.co.uk. We’ve found that one of the most enjoyable parts of running Vex has been chatting to our customers about gaming, whether its suggesting new games to them and hearing their thoughts (and vice versa) or watching their channels on Youtube or Twitch. We wanted to expand those conversations because we’ve been amazed at the talent that goes unnoticed in the gaming community and that’s where the idea for this magazine started. Essentially, we want to create a space for people to discuss the games that they love and the showcase talent that hasn’t necessarily been noticed yet. For our first edition, we’ve covered some great games – from Levantera: Tale of the Winds (currently in its Kickstarter phase to reviews of some classic titles (Hero’s Quest and Cannon Fodder). We’re also discussing the future of survival horror gaming and which games are worthy of the title of the best Star Wars games. We’ve also got a great Youtube gamer to show you and the owner of the largest Tomb Raider collection in the world, Guinness World Record holder Rodrigo Santos has written for Avid Gamer to describe his collection and what got him started. Also take a look at our sports pages to see how you can enter our competitions. We’re currently planning our next few issues so if there’s any way you would like to contribute, from reviews to sharing your own projects, we’d love to hear from you. Thank you for reading and we hope you enjoy the magazine!

Indie pipeline Featured game

Levantera: Tale of The Winds by Lasso Games is not your typical 8-bit Metroidvania. Taking cues from the NES palette and audio limitations but expanding upon hardware restraints similar to Shovel Knight, it brings players the best of both worlds. With a Kickstarter campaign set to launch on August 22, Levantera: Tale of the Winds combines the classic gameplay of Nintendo's Metroid series with that of Sid Meier's Pirates! Gameplay mechanics are split between a side-scroller open platformer where the main world can be openly traversed in any way the player chooses. If exploring the land on foot isn't for you then you can

captain your own ship in search of treasure, new lands and the best trade routes.

As the survivor of a shipwreck, you must travel across the world by land and sea in search of your initial crew and uncover the secrets of magic within a world known only as Levantera. Anyone looking to learn more about Levantera: Tale of The Winds can check out the official dev blog, the Steam Greenlight page or the Kickstarter campaign. The final release will be coming in 2016 to Steam, PC, Mac, Linux, and other platforms pending funding goals. You can help the Leventara team meet their goals on Kickstarter by visiting their page:

kickstarter.com/projects/1376255402/levant era-tale-of-the-winds. You can design your own characters and even your own continents with all the inclusive levels in return for donations so check them out!

With the boom in First Person Shooters, the nonexhausting list of games such as Call of Duty, Far Cry and Battlefield have near monopolised the gaming industry to suit the mainstream modern gamer. Whilst progressing onto next-gen platforms, many genres have regressed, with survival horror being one of the biggest. Even before this, survival horror was already a niche genre, yet now seems to close to extinction. According to ‘The Essential Facts About The Gaming Industry 2015’, in 2014, from units sold, the

action genre took 28.2% of sales (shooters taking 21% and RPG’s with 6%). As horror was not listed, I assumed it to be a part of ‘Other Games’ taking a mere 1.1%. I could argue that as Americanisation permeates society, including the gaming industry, the prevalence of guns is now being projected into games created all over the world; the same goes for why my Microsoft Word wants me to change all s’s to z’s. But what do I know? To me (and hopefully others) gaming is about expression; the chance to

be able to experience circumstances that real life doesn’t permit, or protects us from. While there is nothing wrong with FPS games, the industry should know that some of us do not give a toss about repetitive warfare. We want vast explorative lands, narrow hallways, storms and fog. Atmosphere, tension. The survival horror genre has always been a big part of my life but over the years the term survival horror has evolved to mean something more along the lines of

monsters-and-guns Shoot! Shoot!

For a few years in the late 00’s, survival horror became a dried up, barren genre with certain gems such as Penumbra (2007) and Amnesia (2010 - made by the same company) appearing and quickly becoming warm welcomes, ironically. Soft groans from distant enemies, orchestrated music to only unnerve feeling my heart beating my ribcage after finally escaping a chase were nostalgic feelings I had long missed. Both of these games understood the rules of how to be a successful survival horror and both were horrifically exciting entries to add to my still small collection. And for the past few years Indie Developers and YouTubers are thankfully working in perfect sync promoting survival horror.

Youtubers such as Raed, Markiplier and Yamimash have all been casting light on new survival horror games and a fan base for the genre has now flourished, thus, games such as 5 Nights at Freddies are on to their fourth game with a movie on the way (claimed by Kotaku). SCP: Containment Breach and Slender also found light through Youtube that

captured the essence of pure survival horror. If the trend doesn’t die out and interest grows continuously, the new survival horror generation is on the horizon ready to get their adrenaline pumping and I couldn’t be happier for developers to move away from FPS. If an assumption that big could be made…

Sierra On-Line was a giant of adventure gaming in the 1980s and 90s largely on a culture of innovation. Sierra broke ground, among other things, by putting graphics on an adventure, making full use of sound cards, and producing the first MMO-style game. In Quest for Glory 1: So You Want to be a Hero, we have the first title in gaming history to combine RPG elements with Sierra's signature style. Originally titled Hero's Quest, 1989's Adventure Game of the Year includes a day/night cycle, the need to eat, and three classes as well as various ability stats that

determine how you perform. You play a recent graduate of the Famous Adventurer's Correspondence School for heroes. Your first job application is to Spielburg, a barony near your hometown. To complete your quest, you must find the baron's missing son and daughter, rid the valley of villanous brigands, and repel the ogress Baba Yaga to lift her curse from the valley. The setting is Germanic and you can expect to encounter several creatures of Northern European fable along the way, some friendly and some otherwise.

This game is a personal all time favourite. It is one I played as a youth alongside my father and sister. We each chose a separate class and played through all five games of the series. In fact, I have played this title so many dozens of times, I had grown numb to its charm. Knowing exactly what to do, I blazed through the game within a couple hours and had started to think that perhaps it wasn't all I remembered it to be. But I recently had the pleasure of sharing this game with my boys. Although I “drove” the parser, it was largely up to them to decide where to go and what to do. In this, I was able to recapture how this game plays when you see it through new eyes. Instead of rushing the game, we explored it. We tried any number of ideas before working out a solution. The game's many normal and abnormal ways to die, the script's punnery, and the

variety of engaging characters and scenes came alive to me once more. Yes, indeed, the game really is as good as I remembered. Technically speaking, the game looks and sounds incredible for the time. I always have a soft spot for those EGA graphics. And while I prefer the PC speaker of my childhood, the full Roland MT-32 soundtrack is rich and textured. The game is fairly short, no surprise since it fit on 4 3.5” floppy diskettes, but the multiple classes (with unique sections and different solutions) provide a level of replayability beyond its peers. The game's designers, Corey and Lori Ann Cole, are now making Hero U, the spiritual successor to the series. With that release currently expected in Spring 2016, now is a great time to play QfG 1 and all four sequels, whether for the first time or the thousandth.

The ClassicRetroGaming channel is managed by Bart and he’s written for Avid Gamer to tell you about his channel: “If you want to relive the glory days of video gaming, visit the Classic Retro Gaming channel on Youtube. This Youtube channel contains unedited gameplay footage of games you’ve possibly forgotten about in the best quality you can find! Most of the games are well known to us gamers, but not all of them. A few of the gems on there are Jazz Jackrabbit, Commander Keen, Paperboy, Duke Nukem, Lemmings, The Incredible Machine, Putt-Putt and even some complete Roller Coaster Tycoon playthroughs! I try to give the viewers a nostalgic experience and help them out with complete playthroughs if they get stuck. My love for the classic games started when I was really young, even when newer games came out I was still stuck in the 90’s. A few years ago I started noticing that some of these games were being forgotten completely. To do something about it I started out this Youtube channel where I can share my favourite games. I would like you to visit my channel and please let me know what you think.”

This game allowed you to use the force in ways you could only fantasise about in earlier games. If you can hold a Stormtrooper in the air with a force choke, throw your electrocuted lightsaber at him and then finish him off by launching him in front of an oncoming TIE fighter, that warrants a place in the top 10 itself. The fun of fighting hordes of Stormtroopers however didn’t extend to the boss battles. Pressing square when prompted to trigger a flurry of jumps and lightsaber swings may have looked cool, but you were reduced to a spectator rather than controlling the character yourself. Still, you could throw a TIE fighter at a crowd of Stormtroopers which would blow up and kill them all. Can’t complain really.

You start the game playing as Luke on Tatooine rescuing C3P0 and R2, meeting Han and Chewie on the way to the Death Star before destroying it with your X-Wing. That’s where any similarity with the story ends. The droids are held captive by a giant beast in the Jawas’ lair, your landspeeder has more firepower than a Star Destroyer and your enemies are largely six legged robots and scorpions. That doesn’t matter though because its undeniably fun. Released on the SNES in 1992, it was a pioneer in Star Wars gaming and is still enjoyable to play to this day. Expect lots of explosions and lots of deaths. This game is hard. If you have the patience to play through it its certainly worth it for the final level attacking the Death Star.

This is a real-time strategy in which you expand the Empire and halt the burgeoning Rebel Alliance. It isn’t light on the details. You have to take time to swat up on the economics and troop deployment but its place in the top ten has been earned because of the space battles. Controlling huge fleets in real time is a thrill and the need to react quickly and think tactically is reminiscent of a Total War. It’s also easy to fall in to the trap of auto-resolving planetary conquests and automatically selecting troop reinforcement and turret erection. That’s a reality with any RTS game but nonetheless Empire at War is still the best adaptation yet.

What makes X-Wing such a great game is, perhaps more than any other game, it made you feel a part of the Star Wars universe. It was far more than just a shoot em up. It was frantic and exciting, even whilst lugging around the Y-Wing. Whilst flying any of the ships, you had a finite amount of energy. You dispersed this in real time between the engines, the shields and your weapons. This made it all the more engrossing as different missions required different approaches. Luckily, its available on Steam.

It was a close call between X-Wing and TIE Fighter but X-Wing was narrowly pipped by its sequel for two reasons. In X-Wing, you could either fail a mission because you hadn’t distributed your energy properly but in some cases because of faults in the design, completion was a physical impossibility. This was addressed in TIE Fighter and if you failed a mission, it was your fault and you knew it. The second reason was by virtue of being part of the Empire. In any other Star Wars game the Imperials are largely anonymous, expendable units you hack through to get to the bosses. In TIE Fighter, they’re your colleagues and you soon realise not all of them are bad guys...

Battlefront seems to divide opinion but Battlefront 2 was a marked improvement on its predecessor. The Rise of the Empire, where you play as the 501 st cloned infantry division, is a great game in its own right. Witnessing the guilt of the clone troopers as they fight by the side of the Jedi they know they’ll soon betray, it adds a depth to characters that were only cannon fodder in the films. The single player is fun but that doesn’t merit its rank at number 5. The online play is incredibly addictive and is reinvigorated by the addition of the Jedi and Sith. Of course it’s not a fair fight, but when you’re a Battle Droid and Mace Windu is running towards you flailing madly, there’s still a chance you can win. And when you do...

If there was a silver lining in the cloud that was the prequel trilogy, it was podracing. Fortunately, podracing wasn’t merged in to the tedious game adaptation of The Phantom Menace and instead it was given a standalone spin off. The greatest compliment this game can be paid is that it’s better than the scene in the film. And somehow, it’s faster than the scene in the film. Even playing it back now, you’re still surprised when you take off and quickly reach 600mph. It was a challenging game (particularly on the Abyss levels where you would have to frequently apply the brakes, which seemed a bizarre concept) but managing to come first on certain levels was an achievement you felt you’d earned. If you’re lucky enough to try this on an N64 try using 2 controllers. Mind blown.

It’s getting very close at the top and frankly any of the games in the top 3 spots have a claim to being in first. Jedi Knight: Jedi Outcast II is the final part of Kyle Katarn’s story. Without giving too much away, the story spans the Star Wars galaxy (with an incredible variety in levels) with a plot that’s mature, engaging and surprising. Cutscenes are often easy to skip in games but Jedi Outcast’s powerful narrative leaves you watching them as you would a Star Wars film. You care about Kyle and you care about Jan and that’s part of what spurs you on playing. The size of each level is awesome. You could easily spend an hour or two on each level and maps such as Nar Shaddaa need that alone to walk from one end to the other. Yes, this is one of the greatest Star Wars games of all time. It’s also one of the greatest games of all time.

Knights of the Old Republic has very little to do with the story which fans are familiar with – yes its Jedi versus Sith and there are lightsabers and Wookies, but that’s about it. That doesn’t matter though because the soul of Star Wars is threaded throughout this game. You’re never in any doubt as to what universe you’re in, this game is quintessentially Star Wars. The characters you meet and recruit along the way become like a family. All you’re actions shape their destinies and you either end up finishing the game feeling utterly proud or utterly dismayed. No playthrough of this game will be the same – conversations you control shape the course of events and the personalities of the characters. It can be swept through if you prefer the combat or if you enjoy the nitty gritty there are endless side missions brought about by chatting to passers by which introduce new characters and new possibilities. And it’s now available on Android...

“What?!?” we hear you yell. Hear us out. For a lot of people the best Star Wars games are the first ones they played. Whichever game first transported you in to the Star Wars universe, either by thrusting a lightsaber in your hands or placing you in the cockpit of an X-Wing, those are the games which you remember most fondly. For us that game was Rogue Squadron. Starting by flying an X-Wing over the Tatooine sand dunes was for the first time was jaw-dropping. And Rogue Squadron has stood the test of time: even though you don’t see the characters the twisting plot and great voice acting makes it enthralling. With unlockable levels (Beggars Canyon, the Death Star Trench Run and Hoth available for achieving straight bronze, silver and gold medals respectively) there’s plenty of replay value once you’ve beaten the last level. So there it is, the best Star Wars game. We’re sure you’ll agree...

Recently I had a brief conversation regarding the best games available on the good old Super Nintendo. I mentioned Cannon Fodder and was greeted by a number of blank looks. People had never heard of it. It came down to the fact that it doesn't look to have made it to the other side

of the pond. Which only begs the question of why? (I may have got blank looks for other reasons...) It was popular across multi formats and on the Atari or Amiga it was mentioned in the same breath as Battle Chess and Monkey Island. Everyone remembers them, right? The game starts on a big

green hill. The scoreboard says Home 0 - 0 Away. Willing conscripts walk up to a check point and a number pass through to start their mission. You play in squads of up to five and the point and click control system was easy to get to grips with.

Move the cursor and click a button and your squad walks there or fires in that general direction. Kill the enemy, blow up buildings, avoid the random bit of roof that comes off and could wipe out all of your squad, and carry out your

objectives like good soldiers do. After each mission you get a breakdown of the heroes who rank up and the ones who have been killed in action. Scoreboard scores rack up accordingly as gravestones appear on the hill for your fallen heroes.

All the soldiers as they enter the fray are named and you do get strangely attached to "Jools" or "Jops" (who calls a kid Jops?) and get a sense of massive disappointment once their headstone joins the number on the hill and an extra digit clicks onto the away score. You really want to beat the game without losing anybody, but you won't. Expanses of water that limit firing and quick sand both see to that. To get down to the nuts and bolts of it, this game looks and sounds like it's from the early 90's but then it is and if we all wanted beautifully rendered landscapes to go to war in and explore we'd all of pre ordered Fallout 4 and wouldn't be reading an article about retro games. The only truly disappointing thing for me with this is the lack of in game soundtrack. Yes, an 8-bit sound track is repetitive and annoying, but

take it away and it’s sorely missed. We play old games for the playability though and although going back to some games you remember as a kid can be disappointing (replaying Chuck Rock devastated me) this is well worth a play through even with the lack of a SNES save feature. I'm sure an updated version as a download would score nearly as highly as this did when it was originally released.

World Record holder Rodrigo Martin Santos writes for Avid Gamer about his passion for Tomb Raider.

“My name is Rodrigo Martín Santos, I'm from Spain and my passion is the video game Tomb Raider. I was recognized by the Guinness World Records as the owner with the largest collection of Tomb Raider memorabilia in the world, appearing in the book of the Guinness World Records Gamers’ Edition 2015. My passion for Lara Croft and the game was born in 1996, when I discovered

the first sketches of the game made by its creator, Toby Gard. It is a character that has really changed my life and has remained with me all these years. My hobby has been increasing and currently I am the webmaster of tombraidercollection.com officially recognized by Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix. Since discovering Tomb Raider, I ‘ve collected all kinds of related items, from figures, comics, beach towels, t-shirts, posters, original art used in production... any object about Lara Croft and Tomb Raider is worth a special place in my collection.

The exhibition is located in Spain, between two places (Tenerife and Madrid) due to the need for a large space to expose. I always try to get every new object that goes on sale, trace it through the Internet and get in the best possible condition.

At first my hobby started as a simple pastime, but over the years has become a hobby in a big scale in order to preserve the legacy of the game and expose it as part of the popular culture of the videogame industry and also as part of the history of the British characters. Lara likes to collect artifacts, and I collect artifacts about Lara. One of the greatest moments I lived through my hobby was when I was contacted by Guinness World Records saying they were interested in my collection for a study between different global collectors. My collection was selected as the largest with a total of 2,383 different objects (today have brought together over 2,700). A lot of journalist and photographers traveled from London to take photos and interview me about my collection which was crazy, but a wonderful experience.

About 20 years have passed since the phenomenon of Lara Croft and Tomb Raider first came into our lives, a character who was born to stay with us and that certainly revolutionized the video game industry and popular culture. Today, with millions fans around the world, two movies, comics, over 15 games (console, portables, PC and mobile), and about 50 million units sold, Lara Croft is an unstoppable character. She is a character that can adapt to modern times and has evolved, and set to return later this year with her new adventure: Rise of the Tomb Raider.

modern times and has evolved effortlessly since her creation. The timeless saga is set to return later this year with her new adventure: Rise of the Tomb Raider.� Want to know more about Rodrigo’s collection? Visit: tombraidercollection.com facebook.com/tombraiderc ollection youtube.com/user/rodrims

Join the Vex Games #RugbyWorldCup Sweepstake! To celebrate the 2015 Rugby World Cup, we’re holding a sweepstake with the prize of a copy of Rugby 15 on a console of your choosing. Simply visit our twitter – @VexTechUK – and tweet us a number between 1 and 20. That corresponds to a team and if your team wins, you win the sweepstake! There aren’t many nations left so be quick!