As 2010 was the year of the Snapdragon processor 2011 looks set to be the year of dual core smartphones. With the LG Optimus 2X already on sale in European and Asian markets and many more dual core handsets lined up for release in the coming months it seems that this increase in processing power is going open up a whole new world of smartphone entertainment and features. The Motorola Atrix 4G was the first dual core smartphone to see release in the United States and is now making its way into other arenas. Unfortunately, many of these do not yet feature nationwide 4G networks and so these non-US Atrix handsets have had to drop their 4G capabilities.
While this is annoying for people who wanted to get to grips with the new generation of high speed data transfer on their phones it should in no way detract from the allure of the Atrix which, even in its 4G-less state, still puts paid to most of its competition. The Atrix features a dual core processor and 1GB RAM offering exceptional speed and power, although it is not for this reason that many are likening the Atrix to a mini computer.
This is instead due to the fact that the Atrix comes with an additional laptop dock which can indeed transform the smartphone into such a computing device. On its own, the laptop dock is just an empty shell somewhat reminiscent of a laptop with a dead battery. The dock itself does not spring to life until the Atrix phone is slotted into position at the back, whereupon Motorola’s new WebTop operating system is loaded onto the device. This OS supports true multitasking and desktop applications like a fully tabbed Firefox, although the WebTop OS and all of the processing power behind it stem entirely from the Atrix smartphone.
This docking port along with the similar natured media dock are optional extras and the Atrix is still fully functional as a standalone smartphone. In this role the Atrix does not run on WebTop but instead packs an installation of Android Froyo, complete with all the excellent features and apps supported by it. Many games and apps can be enjoyed on the Atrix and are available from Android Market, and many more apps come included with the phone.
As an Android device the Atrix comes with excellent support for social networks like Facebook and also features superb messaging features for email, instant messaging and threaded SMS. Web browsing is a real joy on the Atrix, partly due to the excellent HTML browser with Flash support, partly due to the high speed 3G and Wi-Fi connections and partly due to the gorgeous 4″ capacitive screen in use that allows web pages to be displayed in a spacious manner. The screen supports multitouch input and also comes with a very high 540 x 960 screen resolution.
The Atrix supports DLNA Wi-Fi and can be used as a wireless hotspot as well, and can be easily hooked up to other devices such as TVs. One feature of particular interest and for the time being completely unique to the Atrix is the biometric fingerprint scanner that can add additional security to your smartphone. Moreover, you may also desire to explore Motorola Milestone 2 deals for other available deals.
In today’s video game market, sequels, spin-offs, and remakes abound. Due to the immensely high development costs of modern video games, original ideas are incredibly rare, for fear of poor reception and low sales. Consequently, popular franchises get dozens, and in rare cases, hundreds of sequels. While not always the most exceptional of games, often sequels to popular franchises are solid games that re-use all of the features that made predecessor games popular. Sometimes, though, developers decide to try something new, or simply fail to recapture the thrill of older games in the series. Below are some of the most horrific sequels to good or great series that were ever released.
Bionic Commando (PS3, Xbox 360, PC) – The original Bionic Commando was released on the NES in 1988. It was a unique platform game, due to the fact that your main character could not jump. Instead, vertical movement was performed by swinging on a mechanical grappling hook built into your character. Despite a huge difficulty curve, the game was actually quite stellar and had a moderate sized cult following. Almost two decades passed before eager fans finally got a sequel. The 3-D, first person sequel was far from what fans were hoping for. Voted as the Reader’s Choice for Most Disappointing Game of 2009 at Gamespot, the clunky interface, lackluster plot, ridiculous plot twist, and mediocre game play combined to make a first person shooter that couldn’t even sell well to the core audience.
Legend of Mana (PS) – To truly understand how disappointing this sequel was, you need to understand the history of the Mana series. In 1993, Chrono Trigger was the undisputed best game of the year. Despite this, Secret of Mana, released in the same year, sold only slightly fewer copies and had widespread appeal. In any other year, it would have easily been the best game of the year. The long awaited sequel, Legend of Mana, received surprisingly little advertising or fanfare when released 7 years later. The low visibility was probably for the best, given how badly designed the game was. Almost entirely discarding all of the features that made the first game so popular, Legend of Mana was a bland side-scrolling action game with almost no role playing elements and a confusing interface of world design that made the game feel like a series of mini-games, rather than a complete game.
Bloody Roar 3 (PS2) – The original Bloody Roar was anything but a traditional fighting game. The premise of the game was that various lycanthropes, ranging from the traditional werewolf to the absurd wererabbit, were fighting in street fighter style duels for dominance. The fighting system was not as advanced as many similar fighting games, but the transformation system was remarkably fun and the game had an excessive amount of flash and style. Bloody Roar 3 was the first outing of the series on the PS2. Despite higher graphical quality, the game did not look exceptionally better than the previous installments. Slight tweaks to beast mode and fighting actually made the game less responsive and overall the game simply didn’t have the flair of its predecessors.
X-Com: Enforcer (PC) – Fans of the X-Com series probably are mostly unaware of this sequel and those who are aware likely disavow its existence. The X-Com series was one of the most popular and genre defining of turn-based tactical games. The original, X-Com: UFO Defense is considered by critics to be a classic and the 2nd sequel, X-Com: Apocalypse, was lauded for blending real time game play with turn based tactics in an effective and enjoyable way. Fans of the series were horrified when this 3rd person, over the shoulder shooter was released as the final sequel in the series. All of the tactical and strategic elements of the game were scrapped. The publishers simply created a mediocre shooting game with terrible AI and slapped the X-Com name on it, despite an entire lack of plot continuity with the rest of the series. The failure of this game is often credited for ending a once great franchise.
Master of Orion 3 (PC) – Master of Orion and Master of Orion II, having both won multiple awards, are considered to be some of the greatest turn based strategy games ever, with the latter often being the metric by which new space themed strategy games are judged. This sequel was expected to continue the pattern of excellence. Unfortunately, diverging from its predecessors, the game focused on macromanagement rather than micromanagement, and the change stripped away all of the enjoyable features of the series. Without the ability to direct how planets developed, except via imprecise AI protocols, players felt powerless while playing the game. Nearly every player complained that the game felt like it was playing itself and no amount of patches or code changes ever completely resolved the problems.
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (NES) – At face value, this game is actually a reasonably good side scrolling action game, compared to similar games at the time. The problem was that this game was the sequel to The Legend of Zelda, and a slightly above average action game was not an acceptable sequel to a best selling action role playing game that had revolutionized the industry. Maybe the problem was just that this game was rushed to publication too quickly to iron out the little details, but it just didn’t have the same feel as its predecessor and the difficulty curve was way too erratic for fans of the original, most casual gamers, to truly enjoy the game. Based on its reception, it is not surprising that the next sequel, A Link to the Past, returned to the top down perspective of the original.
Final Fantasy Mystic Quest (SNES) – After Final Fantasy II was released in the United States, fans were eagerly awaiting another epic game in the highly popular series. Despite blatant warning by Square that Final Fantasy Mystic Quest was designed as a gateway game to gamers new to the role playing genre, fans eagerly bought this game upon release. The simplistic game play, unimaginative plot, and complete lack of character customization immediately alienated fans of the series. Despite modest reviews and sales, the game simply had no target audience and consistently tops lists for worst game ever in the series.
In an effort to make profits, even bad games often produce sequels and become franchises. What makes the above games so disappointing is that they are all terrible games that emerged from otherwise good, and in some case, truly excellent series. In some cases, the game was so bad as to have ended the franchise forever, as is the case with Master of Orion 3, X-Com: Enforcer, and most likely Bionic Commando. In other cases, the series survived the terrible sequel and even managed to flourish, though the games still leave a lasting legacy as a blemish that can never be removed. The only bright point is that fans of the series never need actually play the offending sequels.
The Addams Family: Pugsley’s Scavenger Hunt is a game that has had me giggling for years. While it’s predecessor is not all that great, this game is quite fun and addicting. Released and developed by Ocean Software in 1992, The Addams Family: Pugsley’s Scavenger Hunt was ported to almost every platform available during that time period (even many Arcade systems!).
The Addams Family: Pugsley’s Scavenger Hunt has literally no plot. While the first Addams Family game reflected a loose story that revolved around the apparent “kidnapping” of many of the Family members, this game has almost nothing. Wednesday, the female of the twins, is said to have hidden objects around the mansion, and it’s Pugsley’s (the male) duty to find them. As I said: no story. (Despite this, however, the game is wonderfully fun, and I enjoy it greatly!)
The graphics in The Addams Family: Pugsley’s Scavenger Hunt are similar to those in the first installment; in fact, there’s been no change. All environmental objects are the same, most animations have not been altered, and the characters are quite similar. Since you play Pugsley, his animations and character sprites have been altered significantly, but there’s nothing to speak of after that.
The sound tracks in The Addams Family: Pugsley’s Scavenger Hunt are relatively the same as those in the first, with the characteristic finger-snapping theme being the norm. The sound track generically changes based on the “mood” of the individual level, though there are only three or four “mood” changes in total.
The reason The Addams Family: Pugsley’s Scavenger Hunt is so fun is because of everything above-it’s simple! It’s magnificent in its simplicity. My favorite level, being inside of the lavatory of The Addams Family’s home (specifically, the toiley!), is one of the most energetic, with enemies and obstacles abound. The amount of collectables has been increased, as well, making the game a little easier (but much harder if you play by your own rules!) Also, the difficulty level of The Addams Family: Pugsley’s Scavenger Hunt is altogether equal to that of the first game. It remains a generic, Mario-clone platformer, with a fun Addams Family theme.
In closing, The Addams Family: Pugsley’s Scavenger Hunt is a magnificent little gem that seems to be tragically underrated. Despite offering almost nothing new and having no deep or engaging storyline, the gameplay and the thematics keep me coming back year after year.
Even though I know that I shouldn’t, I spend a great deal of time playing PC games. Why? Because they’re addictive! Here is a list of the top eight most addictive PC games in my book.
8.) Virtual Villagers (and Virtual Villagers 2)
In this game, you have control of a village. Sounds boring? Well, it isn’t. The story behind the game is that some people were on an island, a volcano erupted, so they fled to another island. Once they got there, they realized that they didn’t actually bring any food or supplies with them.
Your job is to make sure that the villagers get food (and eat it), build huts, and procreate. Another part of the game is that you have to figure out who the island’s original inhabitants were, by digging up new clues and unlocking secrets. It’s very addictive. I should also mention that it’s in real time, so you can’t just play one day and leave it for a month.
You are a fairy, and it is your mission to grant one wish to a human. The first human you come across wishes for the gardens behind his house to be rid of weeds, rocks, and bugs. Therefore, the entire game is spent planting flowers, picking up rocks, killing insects, and pulling weeds. Sounds tedious, but as you start to learn new “spells,” it makes the game a lot more interesting.
We all know what the paparazzi are. Who would think that they’d make a game about them? You are, of course, a paparazzo and it’s your job to photograph all of the latest scandals around town. You get leads, and you can pay money to your informers for hints in order to find even more things to photograph. This game is sort of silly, because some of the celebrities include an alien and Bigfoot.
5.) Diner Dash
This is the first PC game that really got me hooked as a young adult. I had heard stories from people about how they couldn’t stop playing, but I never thought it would happen to me..little did I know! Most of you probably know what it’s about, but if you don’t, you are a waitress named Flo. You work at a restaurant. You seat people, take their orders, deliver their food, pick up their plates, and give them appetizers and drinks if they get impatient. I’m telling you, it’s like a drug.
4.) Burger Island
You play a girl who washes up on a desert island (what is it with these games and desert islands?). There’s nothing on the island except a burger shack. The owners of the burger shack give it to you, and you get to make burgers, fries, and milkshakes for your customers. It can get frustrating, especially when your assistant (a caricature of a French waiter) starts to yell at you. After you beat each level, you can unlock new (more complex) recipes.
You come back from cooking school and find out that a giant bakery has taken over the neighborhood, pushing out your grandmother’s small shop. You are determined to win back customers, so you start making cakes yourself. This is the only one of these games that I haven’t actually beaten yet. I really like this game because it has little holiday phases; a man dressed up as the Easter bunny comes in to buy cakes during Easter, Dracula comes in during Halloween, Cupid during Valentine’s Day, and so on. Extremely fun but you have to be fast.
2.) Belle’s Beauty Boutique
You are Belle, owner of a salon. People come in and ask for you to cut their hair, dye their hair, dry their hair, wash their hair, or color their nails. If you put certain people next to other people, you get bonuses (ie; boys next to girls gets you a “flirt” bonus and housewife next to grandma gets a “gossip” bonus). This game is good if you don’t want anything too challenging, but something that will take your mind off of things. I beat it in about three weeks, and I wasn’t trying very hard (or playing that often). The last level is the absolute best. I won’t give it away, but I will say that it has to do with my favorite holiday!
1.) Diner Dash: Flo on the Go
I know that I already mentioned Diner Dash, but this might as well be a different game. Totally different graphics, different pace, and while it’s the same premise, it just feels entirely different. There’s also another added bonus: you get to change your wardrobe! As you beat each level, you earn clothing. Then you can go into your “closet” and mix and match to create your own outfit to wear while you bus tables. It really adds another dimension to the game!