Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pigeon's Scrapbook: Alisia Dragoon

Welcome to Pigeon's Scrapbook! Hidden away within this dusty tome are some of my fondest (and not-so fondest) memories of the games of generations past, as well as a few in the present. From consoles to computers, these are the games that I hold near and dear to my heart, be they great or ghastly. So take flight, birds, and let the bittersweet winds of nostalgia carry you through the quiet, empty streets of Memory Lane.

Released: 1992
Developer: Game Arts/Gainax
Platform(s): Sega Genesis/Mega Drive
NA/EU cover art
JP cover art
1992 was a pretty big year in the world of video games. Gamers all across North America were prepared to enter the next level, as Sega's CD-ROM add-on for the Genesis was released. And with it, the first glimpse of Full Motion Video entertainment. Midway's Mortal Kombat was taking video arcades by storm. And a little company by the name of id Software put PC gamers into the shoes of B.J. Blazkowicz, as they infiltrated Castle Wolfenstein in an attempt to bring about the end of the Nazi regime. And somewhere between all the hype of disc based gaming, head ripping fatalities, and first person action, a collaboration between Japanese developer Game Arts and animation juggernaut Gainax resulted in an overlooked gem of a game that stands the test of time and remains a challenging, fun filled experience: Alisia Dragoon.
A.D.'s narrative is simple. Players take control of the sorceress Alisia, as she traverses eight levels in an attempt to put an end to the schemes of the wicked god Baldour, and avenge the murder of her father at the hands of Baldour's archmage, Ornah. To accomplish this task, Alisia can bend the elemental forces of lightning to her will, and unleash a stream of hi-voltage destruction upon those who would do the world harm. Also, she is accompanied by four familiars, each offering a unique method of aiding the sorceress in her quest, and can be called upon at any time. Having been responsible for the creation of Alisia Dragoon's visual style, the team at Gainax present us with an interesting fantasy world that melds the standard fantasy tropes of vast forests, ancient temples, and rugged mountain ranges with sci-fi trappings. Indeed, one of the levels has Alisia exploring the ruins of a crashed space cruiser, as she contends with the rusted war machines, loose munitions, and undead crew that still linger in the holds. It's a visual style that brings to mind some of Hayao Miyazaki's earlier works, such as Naussica of the Valley of the Wind. And accompanying the action is, in my opinion, one of the best soundtracks that can be found on a Sega Genesis game. The compositions are appropriately heroic, mysterious, and tense, and fit the on screen events nicely.
Of course, graphics and sound don't hold much meaning if the game itself can't deliver. Fortunately, Alisia Dragoon is easy to control, and offers gamers a great challenge even on it's base setting. Enemies will beset you from all sides, and some boss encounters will punish you if you don't stick to the patterns. To help give you an edge, there are numerous power-ups hidden all over the various levels that will allow you to increase your maximun health, as well as strengthen your lightning magic and the familiar's abilities. And if one of the familiars kicks the bucket, you can also find a power-up to return them to life and continue the fight. 

Now I can sit here and blab on about how much I like this game. But, to be honest, I'd much rather you take the opportunity to experience it yourself and form your own opinion. There's plenty of emulators out there, and I'm certain you could snag a hard copy from an eBay or Amazon seller if you'd rather keep things legit. Either way, I definitely recommend you give Alisia Dragoon a go!

Friday, July 27, 2012


Fridays at the Pigeon Coop are about to get a lot more flossy, as we take some time out of the day to celebrate one of the most entertaining personalities in professional wrestling: The immortal Ric Flair. From matches, to promos, to interviews, anything and everything that features the Nature Boy will be featured in this weekly segment. But enough talk...HAVE AT YOU!

One of the things I love so much about Ric Flair is his uncanny ability to fall on his face in the most ridiculous ways possible. I know I'm not alone in this belief, as YouTube user TJWFilmProductions has paid tribute to Flair's floundering in this exquisite montage. So grab your coffee, take a seat, and immerse yourself in the spectacle that is..."The Flair Flop."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hey, Birds! Yer ol' pal B.P. is back in the air, and tonight I've got an itch for art that's begging to be scratched. So get settled in your nests, and allow me to give a quick Squak Out to an artist from Pigeon's neck of the woods: the talented GoddessIX!

It's been a real pleasure to watch this divine diva improve her craft over the years. From her cute little doodles, to some of the more elaborate pieces that I've displayed here, the Goddess' works exude a Disney-esque charm that I can't get enough of.

If you've got the time and the inclination, stop on by her DeviantArt page, peruse her works, and give her some Pigeon sized encouragement and critiques to help her become an even better artist than she already is. Or you could just insult her, and be branded as a massive jerkwad.

And nobody wants to hang out with a massive jerkwad. So don't be one.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Pigeon's Quickies: London 2012

Summer is in full swing, and the 2012 Summer Olympics will soon be upon us. Of course, you can't have one of the world's biggest sporting events without an officially licensed video game. And that's where Sega comes in, giving us some of the most popular events of the Olympiad to enjoy alone or with friends.

Players can select from 36 different countries and vie for Olympic gold and glory in a decent variety of events, from the 'meat and potatoes' of Track & Field, to obscure pursuits such as Table Tennis. The control schemes for each contest are done rather well, and won't leave your hands fatigued like the games of yesterday. The visuals are also impressive, with detailed athletes and venues popping off the screen in all their HD glory.

For the more socially minded gamer, there's plenty of multiplayer to be had. From online competitons via your favorite gaming service, to a local party mode where you and three friends engage in different challenges. They even threw in a very basic customization mode, where you can change the names, faces, and ethnicity of your athletes.

Admittedly, the events are not going to hold your interest for very long. But, I honestly don't think they're supposed to. The game, just like every other Olympic game that's come before, simply serves as a quick diversion or a bit of party time fun, as you wait for the Speed Walking finals to start brodcasting. Thankfully, Sega Studios Australia's work here is good enough that the only time you'd throw your controller down in disgust would be when your buddy beats your World Record.

VERDICT: A solid purchase for hardcore Olympic fanatics, and a fun rent for everyone else.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sega Announces NiGHTS HD. Pigeon Grins Like Small Child.

The good news keeps on rolling in for me today. : 3

Say what you will about the over-abundance of HD remakes and re-releases. But when it's something as enjoyable as NiGHTS, I can't help but get all tingly inside. I just hope we'll get an HD version of Christmas NiGHTS to go along with it.

In any case, I hope this will lay the foundation for more ports of classic Sega titles. Which I'm not too worried about, since that's 80% of Sega's business model these days (points at all twenty Sonic the Hedgehog re-releases). : D

You Were a Table of the Order, Jondar....

Yes, I know it's spelled with a 'K.' Deal with it.

Epic Finger Pointing comes to the Playstation 3 with JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle

If there's one thing I love about JoJo's besides all the crazy characters and crazy fighting, it's the intense finger pointing. And all the craziness and index finger intensity are set to hit the Playstation 3 in a big way, as Namco Bandai has just announced JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle, developed by the folks that gave us Asura's Wrath.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking: Isn't there already an All Star Battle coming out for the PS3?

And you are correct. However, that All Star Battle is just a Smash Bros. wanna-be with a bunch of hacks that nobody really cares about. This All Star Battle features characters spanning all seven volumes of the JoJo's series. Characters that wield awesome martial arts moves and astral projections named after popular musicians. You also get kung fu animals, Nazis, time travel, and of course:

No release date has been announced, and neither have any plans to release the game outside of Japan. More information as it develops, folks!