I just got back from playing some Pac-Man Championship Edition: DX and some Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1.
PCEDX
is a great example of an old game receiving a complete overhaul in design, while still retaining most of the core elements and goals (and adding new ones.) I’ll admit that I am a very, very shitty Pac-Man player, but Championship Edition DX is so thoroughly redesigned that you don’t need to be good at the original Pac-Man to be pretty decent at scoring a good amount of points. I highly recommend it to anyone who’s looking to pick up a Live Arcade game that can be easily picked up and played occasionally, while still being interesting enough to keep you occupied for hours as well.

Sonic 4: Episode 1 on the other hand, goes back to the series’ roots and looks to recreate the feeling of the original Mega Drive/Genesis titles while still being a completely new game, and it succeeds at it in most aspects. This is not going to be an in-depth review of it, but there are a few things worthy of mention, those things being awkward movement physics (that are much too different from the physics of the first three/four Sonic games on MD/G) and an awful abuse of phaser-ish synth instruments in the music. Other than the aforementioned flaws, it actually is a good Sonic game. Levels are very well designed and the game is fun to play.

One major point that is bugging me about the time attack mode though (uh-oh, rant incoming), is that there are no checkpoints. To me, as a player, it is a horrible punishment to have to go back from the very start of the level, should I make just one simple mistake in my effort to beat the level as fast as possible. From a designer point of view, I think it is a bit of a poor decision. Having checkpoints and adding five or ten seconds as punishment when you die would be a lot friendlier. Or, why not even just leave the checkpoints in there? If you restart from a checkpoint, you’ll be starting at a full stop anyway, so by the time you’ve accelerated back to full speed, you’ll have lost a few seconds time.
A few seconds is all that’s needed to be bumped down several spaces on the global leaderboards, so that’s a punishment in itself if you’re aiming for being nothing but the best. But, if that’s your aim, you’re already wasting your time, since there are apparently people who’ve cleared the levels in as little as 0’00”00!

Yes, I do realise that those records are hacked. It’s pretty obvious.

Enough ranting though. Now, I’m going to get back to working on my essay on ‘implementation of Dungeons & Dragons-systems in officially licensed D&D video games.’
Which basically means that I’ll get back to playing Eye of the Beholder II: The Legend of Darkmoon and get started with playing Baldur’s Gate. Sometimes, homework is kind of awesome.

That’s all for now, take care and play games!
/ Marcus