Thunderbolt logo

Nuts ‘N’ Bolts: Volume 2

With the sudden rush of games towards the end of Q1 2003 comes that ghost town feeling on the release schedule. Fortunately we have the brand spanking new GBA SP to gander over. In case you haven’t heard this is the ultimate game boy. This new edition has the same engine underneath its sleek mobile phone looks but it has a backlit display. Finally this means we can play our favourite handheld system without tilting the screen or bending our necks in that funny way in order to catch a glimpse of the action on-screen. This talk of handhelds reminds me- whatever happened to the Sony PocketStation?

Anyhow, remember the craze reported on in last week’s volume? That’s right, there’s more to add to the growing trend of classic games. Our new contender for trendiest old boy (Jim aside) comes in the shape and merry form of The Great Escape. Such a well known film title over here in the UK, its usually the first to spring to mind when thinking of classic World War II movies.

Now the game is heading for PS2, which gives us the long-awaited chance to step inside the shoes of Steve McQueen and wreck havoc in trying to escape from the Stalag Luft III POW camp.

The game itself is a fine blend of stealth and action with fantastic chase scenes, and yes it includes one of the most famous motorcycle scenes in movie history. Trucks and jeeps can be driven too as well as a fuel tanker. Using your stealth skills you can sneak up on guards and ‘borrow’ their superior firepower to blast your way out of the camp with the aid of machine guns, semi automatics and sniper rifles.

As with Reservoir Dogs, SCi is dealing with a classic title here but assures gamers that The Great Escape is very authentic and will feature the thrilling atmosphere and sheer excitement of its movie counter part.
We at Thunderbolt will keep you informed of all the news escaping from the SCi camp and are ready with our reviewing utensils and meat cleavers to tear the game apart.

Another wacky gaming idea from the wally wagon that is Japan is the introduction of Sony’s Eye Toy camera. This strange peripheral will allow the players to see themselves on the screen and interact with objects and characters within the game, as well as recording a video message onto your PS2 memory card.

Martial Art-em-up Kung Foo is one of the expected launch games and you must use your ninja skills to fight off gangs of baddies. Plate Spinner (where do they think these up?) gets you to move your hands to balance spinning plates, and word has it that you have to watch out for ‘drunken monkeys’ who attempt to knock them off! More titles are expected which include football, boxing and Beat Freak, where you can show off your dancing talent and hit targets in time with the beat.

There is certainly something for everyone in the way of wacky fun but it’s definitely those drunken monkeys that get my vote.

Fans of the hit TV series Crouching Tiger rejoice as Ubi Soft has confirmed the release of the game on PS2 in September of this year. The full title is Crouching Tiger: Hidden Dragon, and is a martial arts fighting game set in 10th century China based on the Wudan style.

Apparently it will combine adventure and innovative, dynamic combat with the ability to explore some lush looking environments, whilst defying the laws of space, gravity and the human body. Four characters from the movie will be playable, each of which possesses their own unique moves, talents and weapons.

“We’ve dedicated ourselves to capturing the incredible look and feel that made the film such an amazing hit. With compelling characters, action-packed fighting sequences and stunning environments, the game will feature the martial arts magic of this classic film.” Says Tony Kee, head of marketing for Ubi Soft Entertainment. But where have we heard this before?

Another title being developed with a TV license in mind is Alias. Come October Acclaim will be releasing the title on PS2, developed by Acclaim’s Cheltenham studio. For those of you that haven’t seen the series it’s about a female college student who is a part time secret agent. Think basic elements of Sabrina with a bit of bond on the side.

Early playable code suggests a similar game to Dark Angel. A third-person action adventure, Bristow must use “cunning” martial arts and loads of high-tech gadgets to accomplish mission objectives. You can also expect plot twists, stealth missions, time based objectives and various game locations around the globe.

“Alias is one of the strongest new TV entertainment properties and is filled with great characters, rich storylines and incredible action that lends itself perfectly to interactive entertainment,” said Evan Stein, Vice President of Marketing for Acclaim. “We are thrilled to have Alias join our portfolio of world-renowned licenses.”

Having sold one million units in Japan in its first month of release, it is little surprise to hear that KOEI is now bringing Dynasty Warriors 4 to the UK at the end of June.

In Dynasty Warriors 4, China has crumbled into three warring states – the four hundred year reign of the Han dynasty is over and now you must take to the battlefields and show where your loyalties lie.

Dynasty Warriors 4 features over 50 levels across 17 maps, making this the biggest Dynasty Warriors adventure yet. As well as new one-on-one battles with enemy officers, the game also includes catapults, flame throwing tanks and battering rams, making the action more intense than ever. The new edit mode means that players can create their own bodyguards and officers to take to battle.

The GBA SP has been launched and should be on the shelves as you read this. Disappointingly no major titles were developed or held back with the launch of the new GBA SP meaning not much anticipation. Surly if Nintendo would have released a Pokemon game or PSO Chronicles at the same time as a bundle then people would be queuing out the door to get one. Despite this the Japanese gaming community has lapped up the newest edition of the handheld family and is in fact out of stock. Large sales are expected in both Europe and the US.

As arguably the greatest golf franchise ever made, we were chuffed to find out that Mario Golf was coming to the GameCube. Better still, in an official announcement from Nintendo of America the US release date of the GC version of Mario Golf has been confirmed as July the 27th. Obviously then we’ll be seeing this game at E3 and rest assured that Thunderbolt will be there to bring you first impressions.

However it’s not all good news (like last month) for GameCube fans. Shelly Friend, Nintendo of Europe’s head of PR has stated that Nintendo won’t be showing off any online compatible games at the coming E3. This is a huge knock-back for those expecting the next Mario Kart to take advantage of online features.

It seems that, as usual, Nintendo is biding it’s time until taking a console online becomes attractive to the mass-market, and above all, profitable. Quite when this will happen is unclear, but lets hope that it happens soon – Animal Crossing 2 with no online elements doesn’t bear thinking about!

But despite this gloomy prospect, expect to see more information on the rumoured LAN (Local Area Network) capabilities of the GameCube in May.

Billy G’s Xbox Live has been on sale for around a month now and the interest has been picking up. With the introduction of broadband in the northern counties sales are expected to soar as the whole country gears up for internet gaming. Nothing to do with the absence of Sonys online plans.

News of a sequel to the excellent Buffy the Vampire Slayer has reached us, but not quite from where we would have expected. The news comes from the official Web site for Dark Horse comics. According to the site a new comic is under way and this will be based on the upcoming videogame, Buffy: Chaos Bleeds.

Two of the Buffy comic writers are apparently working on the videogame story line, which as you’d expect finds Sunnydale in all sorts of peril. As per usual, Buffy and the gang will have to work together to defeat the forces of darkness. We expect much of the same from the first game, which will be no bad thing, but hope that the sequel will have new features that take the series on.

It’s been in development since the dawn of time and subject to more delays than the 8.15 from Gloucester to Euston, but Confounding Factor seems resolute that Galleon will get a Q2 release this year. The fact that the same was said last year doesn’t exactly fill us with hope.

What has raised our spirits somewhat, however, are seven new screens on the Confounding Factor Web site – confounding-factor.com – that indicate that the extra development time has been well spent. The latest shots show much sharper textures and particle effects than we’ve seen in previous Galleon screens over the decades that it has been in development.

Players will take on the role of a certain Captain Rhama Sabrier in a game that boasts an ‘incredibly rich plot and great characters’ which will take you on a ‘roller coaster’. Shocking use of the most time worn cliché there, but hopefully the game will deliver – it has had long enough to get all of the key elements absolutely spot-on.

After the long delay in the release of the first Baldur’s Gate on Xbox, meaning that it has only been on shelves for a couple of months now, a sequel has been announced. Part II will enable players to embark on a new adventure in Baldur’s Gate, a town that is once again plagued by evil. With the fate of thousands apparently hanging in the balance players will have to rid the land of chaos and master weapons, skills and magic in order to do so.

The hack and slash combat will be spread over more than 40 levels, encompassed in four acts. There will be five new customisable characters, new detailed environments and a number of hidden areas, secret characters and items to be discovered. A two-player Co-operative mode will enable you and a mate to play through the story together.
The first game was an enjoyable experience so let’s hope that the sequel builds on this and also retains that busty barmaid from the tavern at the hub of the first game.

Check back here for the latest news and for the next volume of Nuts and Bolts next Wednesday.

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in June 2002.

Gentle persuasion

Think you can do better? Write for us.