Tag Archives: Budget games

Jet Gunner Review


These days it isn’t hard to find a game with graphics inspired by the Nintendo Entertainment System. Some of them are terrible, others are pretty great, and some fall somewhere in between. Jet Gunner is one of the better ones you can add to your Steam library. Because it does give you what it promises, and even goes beyond.

PROS: Nintendo hard. Performs well. Very generous Easter Egg.

CONS: Lack of options.

JETPACKS: May be making a resurgence in games.

Jet Gunner does give you what it promises, an action platformer that will remind you of NES games by Capcom, and Konami. The story is simple. A giant brain controlling the world’s robots has gone mad, and attacked humanity. As the last human in the military you have to single-handedly destroy the robots, and brain. Basically, a B movie level plot that could have been in many NES games.


Jet Gunner is an action platformer that has the pace of NES Contra, with enemies out of Super C, and Castlevania. It also has the re-spawning enemies, and jumping challenges of Mega Man. Keep in mind when I say this, I don’t mean they’ve lifted any sprites or designs. Rather, that these elements were clearly inspired by those games. Jet Gunner also does a few interesting things with these elements so it doesn’t feel like you’re playing a cobbled together pretender.


There are sections early on that will keep you on your feet, or off of your feet. Buildings crumble beneath you. Cars try to run you down. Chunks of the scenery fall from above. This game can be ambitious at times. It also has a jetpack mechanic. Double jumping will launch you into the air. Some of the game’s platforming is built around it, putting you through jumping puzzles to get 1-ups, health or weapons.

The weapon variety is actually pretty nice. Again, it will likely remind you of the NES Contra games. There’s a machine gun, a spread gun, a flame thrower, a gun that shoots flaming buzz saws that boomerang, and others. Most of the weapons feel pretty useful except maybe for the spread gun. It shoots a high, and low arc. But nothing straight in front of you. Each gives only a finite amount of ammo though, so you don’t want to shoot these things haphazardly.


The game also borrows an element from Shatterhand, and that’s giving you random robot helpers. Weapon pickups have two different colored boxes. One color gives you the gun, the other will spawn a robot helper with that weapon. Unlike Shatterhand, you don’t need to collect multiple letter combinations to get them. One box is all you need.

Across the six stages you’ll go through the usual video game locations, cities, jungles, oil refineries, and the like. But again each of them does something different to keep things from getting monotonous. Ironically things can still feel a little monotonous due to the lengths of the stages. Each gives you a lot to see, but go on for six sections each. Every stage has multiple bosses though. Each one of these ranges from a spin on a Contra boss to something creative, and original. When you find the former, you’ll just smile, and remember the stage 1 fortress, or the stage 6 Robot. But when you hit the latter you’ll be amazed, and wonder why every boss couldn’t be on the same caliber. The game also does save your progress after you beat each stage, and you can continue as many times as you want.


Jet Gunner has a couple of minor bugs, in the vein of things you’d find in some actual NES games. At one point I glitched through a platform on the second stage. They’re very uncommon, and sparse so you won’t really see them very often. The only other complaints I had were the lack of options. You can run the game windowed, or full screen. You can also turn off Vsync to get better performance. But this is one of the rare cases I’d advise you leave it on because everything flickers, and you’ll be running into invisible enemies. You can play with either a keyboard or an Xbox 360 game pad. If you have any other game pad you’ll have to use an external mapping program like Xpadder in order to use it.

The graphics, and sound on display do very well to emulate the feel of an old NES Konami game. It uses a nice palate for backgrounds, and the foreground characters have a fair amount of detail. The characters are all one color though, so they don’t have some of the definition  some old games had. Still, it’s nothing to sneeze at. The music isn’t all that memorable, but it does fit the general theme of the game. Jet Gunner also has one hell of an Easter Egg. If you dig through the game folder, you’ll find it includes a second game. An entire second game. It’s cool to see any developer go the extra mile to give you value. You basically get two games without even realizing it.


Overall, I’d say Jet Gunner is a worthy addition to your Steam library. It might not be the best looking indie game, but it does give you what is advertised. A challenging action game with NES inspired graphics. It’s fun to play, and while levels can get a bit long-winded, the length is mitigated by the ability to save, and continue. Plus you’re getting a second game included with it without even knowing about it. If you were to give this to someone, you could actually get away with saying “It’s the gift that keeps on giving.”.

Final Score: 8 out of 10.

Turbo Pug Review


I love this time of year. I’m always reminded of the gifts of love, forgiveness, along with the people in my life. I can’t get them out of debt, or solve their complex problems, but I can try to give them a few moments of joy. So seeing how we’re mostly fans of gaming, I nab a bunch of stuff during Valve’s annual sales for my gift giving inventory. Often times I’ll use Steam Wallet cards to do this, since I’m not a big fan of interest fees.

Anyway, often times those cards leave nickels, dimes, and pennies in the wallet at the end. “What to do with forty-one cents?” I ask myself. Usually the answer is to just leave it there, until I want to buy something else. But this year, sorting the game list from cheapest game to highest price game revealed a really fun, and interesting title. One trading card sale later, I had enough coins to dive in.

PROS: Probably the best endless runner this side of Robot Unicorn Attack.

CONS: Intrusive Unity pop ups need to be toggled off.

WHAT?: There is an unlockable penguin who is seemingly useless.

On its surface Turbo Pug is little more than a cobbled together Robot Unicorn Attack clone. Since Adult Swim’s flash game, there have been countless endless runners. Some, like Bit Trip Runner, have been great, adding their own spin to the formula. Others like Meme Run have had mixed reaction to say the least.


But Turbo Pug is actually one of the best endless runners you’ll probably ever play. Not only is it as addictive as Robot Unicorn Attack. Not only is it as fun as the Bit Trip series. It is oozing with charm. Turbo Pug puts you in the role of a pet pug running through randomized environments for points. There is a jump button, and that is pretty much it. All you need to do is time your jumps accordingly to avoid pits, lava, and more.

The longer you go, the more dangerous the traps become. By the time you get around 2,000 points or more you’ll begin to see spikes, buzz saws, and other nefarious plots to kill you. You can also find spinning pug coins that will give you 50 or 100 points depending on what axis they are on when you land on them.


But Turbo Pug goes even farther than that. It has a real time, day, and night cycle. Over the course of a few minutes you will see the sun set, the moon rise, and the sun come up again. It also has weather cycles. At any given time the game will decide to rain or snow. When it rains, there is also the odd chance that your pug will be struck by lightning. If this happens you won’t be able to jump for a few seconds. But you also won’t fall from your current height until the sting is over.

“Wow!” you might exclaim.”That sounds pretty deep for what could pass for a cell phone time waster.” But at the risk of sounding like a game show announcer, that isn’t all. Turbo Pug also has a multitude of unlockable characters. Each character has its own properties, that may or may not help you in your quest for a high score. Super pug has a cape, and a double jump. Pumpkin pug has a light that comes on during night cycles. The penguin is slow, and will probably fall to his doom rather quickly.


Turbo Pug also scratches your retro itch with its Amiga like sprites. The game looks like a 16-bit computer game through, and through. It has a great color palette, and the sprite art has a lot of great detail. The end result is beyond cute, and adorable. The audio really only features two songs, and some small sound effects. But the two songs are very catchy compositions that combine the soft rock sound of lite-FM, and Atari 2600 era chip tunes.


The only real problems with Turbo Pug, are the intrusive Unity tool tips that come up the first time you play. You’ll want to disable them right away. Aside from that, while the game does engage in Valve’s Steam Trading Card program pretty well, it doesn’t have achievements. It seems like a game that would take advantage of achievements well, but they’re nowhere to be seen. There is a high score leaderboard though to motivate you to keep shooting for the stars.


I highly recommend Turbo Pug. It could have easily indeed been a quickly churned out piece of shovelware. But it isn’t. There is a lot of effort on display for such a simple game. It’s engaging too. It will easily make you lose an afternoon to its cute protagonist, challenging jumping puzzles, and soft music if you allow it to. Let your actual pug have a well deserved nap, and fire up some Turbo Pug.

Final Score: 8 out of 10


Crash Time 2 Review

Recently re-released on digital storefronts, Crash Time 2 is a game that tries to converge Criterion’s Burnout Paradise with Taito’s Chase H.Q.

PROS: Visuals hold up surprisingly well.

CONS: Jerky controls, glitches, abysmal voice acting

WAIT, WHAT?: Split Screen Multiplayer.

Originally released in 2008 as Burning Wheels, Crash Time 2 is the second game in a series of five games. The last of which was released two years ago. Many players will have only recently heard of this franchise. Why? Because it was predominately marketed, and sold in European countries. With its release on Steam, Crash Time 2 finally brings the franchise to other parts of the world.

The game takes place in an open city environment, with hub tunnels connecting various areas of the city. In the game you play as a duo of police detectives who have to go on missions stopping criminals. Crash Time 2 has several modes of play. The first is a story mode that puts you in aforementioned scenarios chasing down criminal drivers. Sometimes it mixes things up by having you drive to a certain location, or alongside a certain NPC vehicle. These missions borrow heavily from Taito’s Chase H.Q. games.

You’ll spend most of the story mode chasing down criminal cars, and trying to ram them off of the road until they finally break down. The game also attempts to take a page from Criterion’s Burnout series of games by having damage modeling factor into the missions. As you drive into objects like fences, oncoming cars, or even the enemies you are tasked with bringing down, you will take damage. Windshields will crack, bodies will dent, and  your wheels can even snap off of the axle. Damage will negatively affect car behavior, making maneuvering more difficult.

As you complete missions, you’ll also get access to other cars throughout the game. There are a fair number of them.

The second mode is a free-roam mode. This lets you pretty much drive around, taking things at your leisure. It’s about the best part of the game, as it’s going to let you get a good idea of where roads lead, and where you can go off of the beaten path. There are also a number of areas connected by tunnels. These load the next open section that you’re heading into. Each of these are of a fair size, and give you a decent amount of ground to explore.

Finally, there is a racing mode. This mode works essentially like the old Burnout games, in that you have a circuit of tracks against other A.I. racers, and you can force them into traffic, ram them, and such to try to destroy their cars, and cost them time. But unlike the games it  steals from (It even features an instant replay when you crash or take someone down) it doesn’t reward you for driving recklessly. In fact, if you drive into oncoming traffic the game gives you a warning countdown to get back into your own lane as it doesn’t count as part of the track. As you go through this mode, you’ll unlock newer tracks, and cars.

All of this sounds pretty respectable until you actually start playing. While I’ve certainly played worse driving games, Crash Time 2 isn’t very good. This is because cars have some of the worst driving mechanics this side of early sandbox crime games. Cars always take the widest, sluggish turns. The game does have a hand brake button in addition to the regular brake button. The hand brake function in most other racing games is awesome. It makes drifting around those “L” shaped turns achievable. In this game however, it’s horrible. Unlike a good arcade racer, This makes drifting  around 90 degree turns nearly impossible. Which is really bad because the criminal driver A.I can do it with ease. Even on the easiest setting with traffic set to the minimum number of cars this will be troublesome. Hand braking will almost always result in a spin out or an axle breaking car crash. Criminals get away, races are lost, and free roaming is cut short.

The game does throw in a rechargeable nitro boost to give you a chance to catch up, but chances are the A.I. will easily escape with perfect cornering after you grind a guard rail or love tap a weary traveler. To remedy this, you have a siren function the game swears makes traffic stay out-of-the-way in the loading screen tool tips. But the siren does absolutely nothing for you in practice. There is also a horn button, but again this is wasted breath.

Losses are not only infuriating, but tedious too. Rather than simply start you at a checkpoint when you’ve taken too much damage, it forces you to watch a timer countdown. As the enemies escape your range while you’re stranded with no wheels. If you’re the persistent type you will pause, and restart with every crash instead of going through this monotony. When you do hit objects, or enemy targets the game arbitrarily throws out damage point money in Euros. But this doesn’t seem to serve any practical purpose in game play.


While the car damage does look pretty cool, in practice it isn’t very good either. This is because it is FAR too easy to destroy a crucial part of the car. A minor grind up against the curb will many times cause a wheel to snap off of the axle. Even at pedestrian speeds. Sometimes you could be hit by NPC traffic, resulting in getting T-Boned, and thwarting your ability to steer. This will only serve to annoy you further.

Voice acting in this game is awful. Dialogue comes off as if the performers simply read their lines aloud off of cardboard. There are no believable performances whatsoever. The generic metal soundtrack fares a little bit better, but in time you will probably shut off most of the sounds that aren’t actual vehicle or car accident sound effects.

There is no online multiplayer in this game either. So if you are morbidly curious enough to play it, do not expect to be able to play it with friends or relatives over the internet. The game does have split screen multiplayer for whatever reason. So if you must insist on playing it with someone at the same desk you can. It also allows you to split the screen vertically or horizontally.

The game features a tutorial you can play through to try to get a hang on the basics, but with the wonky steering controls it really won’t matter. This is one of those budget titles that starts off with a bit of promise, but squanders it all with its bad controls. Even when using a gamepad Crash Time 2 isn’t very fun. The same floaty, fishtailing on even the slightest turns is still present with a controller. True, there are far worse driving games out there to be sure. But there are also many, many, better ones. Please, for your own sake, and sanity play one of those instead.

Final Score: 3 out of 10