Articles by Michael Anderson

The Netbook Gamer: Star Wars Jedi Knight (1997, FPS)

Welcome to the first entry in the new Netbook Gamer series! In the fall of 1997 LucasArts delivered into the hands of gamers something they had wanted since they first saw one twenty years prior – a lightsaber. Dark Forces brought the Star Wars universe a new level of immersion through the first person shooter perspective. The story brought in classic settings abd characters and introduced a new hero – Kyle Katarn. Former Imperial Academy hero shaken by the discovery of the nature of the Empire through tragic events, Katarn is joined by his partner Jan Ors as the pair…

New Series: The Netbook Gamer

Welcome to a new series here at Gear Diary! Called the Netbook Gamer, this will allow me to share two of my loves – playing computer games and exploiting my netbooks to deliver whatever performance I can squeeze from them. In this series I will look at games released over the last decade that might have pushed the boundaries of what was possible when released, but still work on a modern PC and will run smoothly on a current release netbook. In the title I will identify the game, the year it was released and the genre – expect these…

Review: SPB Quads for Windows Mobile

After years of ‘Match 3’ games like Bejeweled and Puzzle Quest and even multi-dimensional ‘Match 3’ games like Puzzle Quest Galactrix, there was only one natural course to follow .. MATCH 4! Of course, since Match 3 games already offered extra bonuses for a 4th matched item, the folks at SPB needed to do something different. Here is the scenario: you make the connection between three sides of a rectangle! So how well does this game work in terms of keeping interesting going in a seemingly saturated matching-game field? Read on and see!

Fate / Unlimited Codes for PSP Review

It is fairly amazing given the fairly thin release schedule for the PSP to think that there might have been two games released in the fighting genre in the last month … so it is simply stunning that we have gotten three! Alongside Dissidia: Final Fantasy and Soul Calibur PSP comes a fighting game from Capcom based on a Japanese adult graphic novel turned anime show called ‘Fate/Stay Night’. Each of these games provides fans of the genre with a satisfying array of the core elements required of any good fighting game, yet they are very different from one another….

Gear Diary Antique Roadshow

If you see a friend with a gadget fetish carrying something different, chances are it is something new and trendy. Gadget-heads are seen as fickle and trendy, and bitterly loyal … for about 30 seconds until the next bright & shiny object comes along. But I have typically held on to the stuff I loved the most, and recently I’ve been alternating between 4 PDA/handhelds – my Axim x51v, iPod Touch, Psion Revo and HP200LX. Made me wonder – what sorts of ‘old school’ stuff does the rest of the Gear Diary staff use? So I asked the question –…

Techlasers Infiniti II 95mW 532nm Green Laser Pointer Review

Back in late June Judie reviewed the SKYlasers 125mW green laser pointer, providing a fun look at some of the interesting things you can do with a laser such as that. Soon thereafter, TechLasers provided us with one of their 95mW Infinity II 532nm Green Laser Pointers to evaluate for review. Judie also sent me the SKYlasers pointer, so I could do a bit of comparing. I will also attempt to answer a slightly more serious question – why the heck does someone need a 95mW laser pointer?

Don’t Copy That 2 reminds you to … not copy stuff!

So how many folks remember that public service announcement (PSA) ‘Don’t Copy That Floppy’? Well, the folks at Consumerist have noticed that an ‘Official Sequel’ has been released, ‘Don’t Copy That 2’ that reminds you that copying and especially profiting from making copies is a serious crime … and the new video is every bit as ‘hip’ as the original!

Arcade Hockey for iPhone Review

My distinct memories of getting an air hockey table back during the 70’s fad era certainly places me in time, but I do still have a certain fondness for the game that I share with my family from time to time. Our kids got one of those multi-game tables with a small air-hockey board included. So when I heard about Arcade Hockey coming to the iTunes App Store I was thrilled … but the obvious question remains – how does the table game translate to the small screen?

Wolfenstein RPG for iPhone Review

Back in 1992 when id Software was preparing to release their seminal first-person shooter ‘Wolfenstein 3D’, I was already sold – it had been over a decade since I had my first Wolfenstein addiction. In 1981 the game ‘Castle Wolfenstein’ for the Apple ][ captivated me to the point that when I heard that Wolf3D would be set in the same game world, I was already sold. Needless to say, Wolf3D was an amazing game regardless of lineage, and I professed my love for it here in my review of the iPhone version. Now the question is – how does…

SphereXYZ Review

Next year the Rubix Cube turns 30, so the fact that I was working part-time in a retail department store to support school / books / music / games / friends/ etc when it came out means a couple of things. First it means that there is a certain nostalgia attached to the Cube. OK, so it also says I’m old! Anyway, when I had the opportunity to try out the SphereXYZ, a challenging puzzle that invokes the spirit of the classic Cube, I jumped! So let’s find out of the game lives up to the classic and if it…

iBlink Earbuds Review

Back when I was much younger headphones were headphones – of sure there was a wide range of quality, but in general you were getting two padded speakers that clapped over your ears. Later, when the Sony Walkman and other portable products arrived around 1980, much smaller on-ear headphones arrived to support those products. The 1990’s brought us earbuds and other varieties of on-ear, around-ear, and in-ear products. Ear-canal audio products are the most recent, offering the portability of earbuds with a better frequency response range and noise isolation. There are so many products of each type that a trip…

Review: Tales of Monkey Island Episode One for PC

Before I can start to talk about Tales of Monkey Island, the five-part episodic adventure game made by TellTale Games in cooperation with LucasArts, I need to step into the way-back machine nearly twenty years and talk about one of the true classics of the adventure game genre, Secrets of Monkey Island. Secrets of Monkey Island was released in 1990 by Lucasfilms Games (as LucasArts were then called), and used the SCUMM engine that Lucasfilms had developed as a means to more quickly develop adventure games. The game is largely the brain-child of Ron Gilbert, with the humorous script mostly…

Trine for PC Review

When I heard FrozenByte – the guys who made the games Shadowgrounds and Shadowgrounds: Survivor – was making a new game I was thrilled and knew I’d want to play it. When I heard it was a fantasy side-scrolling platform action game that required using three players in harmony to solve challenges, I was curious about what it would be like … and if I would still be thrilled when I was done!

Review: CaseCrown Slim Pocket Case for 10″ Netbooks

Buying a laptop case has always been a challenge for a very simple reason: very few laptops share the same external dimensions. This is a problem that goes back to my first two portables – the Compaq LTE and Mac Portable, which were vastly different in size and configuration. As a result, many of us who have depended on laptops for years have an odd collection of ill-fitting bags scattered in our storage areas. Some were included with laptops, others we bought to fit whatever laptop seemed like it would be the center of our lives for years to some….

Black Sigil: Blade of the Exile for Nintendo DS Review

There is a fine line somewhere between homage and outright copying, and also a line between recreating the best elements of a classic in a modern setting and bringing something that was shackled by its’ time into the future warts and all. Black Sigil is a game that captures much of the magic from the 16-bit era of jRPG’s such as Chrono Trigger, Vay (recently released for the iPhone), the Lunar series and so on, but it also brings along a load of things many gamers might have hoped would have stayed back in the 1990’s. If you can’t tell…

Resident Evil 4 for iPhone Review

Back in early 2005 Capcom released the latest iteration of the Resident Evil series. The franchise had lost much of its luster as ports of the beloved original PlayStation games seemed to be just milking the franchise for cash. Fortunately,Capcom not only remembered what the series great, they also kept up with the trend of making large changes in each new release. Subsequently, Resident Evil 4 is the highest rated game and the best selling since the original title. It was successfully ported to the PS2 and Wii consoles, and also got an atrociously lazy port to the PC. Now…

Chess Elite for iPhone Review

Chess is one of those classic games I tend to always grab for whatever new device I get, so it was surprising to me that I hadn’t added anything since grabbing the original Chess game released soon after the App Store launched. That game served the basic needs of offering me a chess game on the go, but not much more. Since then there have been a load of new chess games added to the iTunes App Store, and the latest is Chess Elite. Let’s take a look at what the game has to offer and whether it is worth…

Marble Blast for iPhone Review

Marble Blast was one of those cool ideas that turns into a really great game. Initially created as more or less a demo to show that the Torque 3D engine could be used for more than the first-person shooters it had been associated with to date, but grew into a fully-formed physics-based puzzle action game. Many Mac users found it pre-installed on their Mac, and others were able to grab it from the software offers on iTools (remember that?!?). This classic game has become the latest to make the jump to the iPhone. Let’s take a look!

AblePlanet PSM500 Gaming Headset Review

As someone who is a gamer but also has a busy family and work schedule, I often find my video game time late at night when the house is quiet and most everyone else is asleep. This gives me two options – mute the sound or use headphones. Sometimes it is a hybrid of these, as I leave my headphones sitting my desk as low-volume speakers. For the past several years I have used fairly cheap headphones, starting with a pair from an older Sony portable CD player, moving on to a pair of cheap headphones I bought for my…

My Squares! Here & Now! for iPhone Review

Puzzle games are perfect for handhelds – I have already gushed enough about Peggle on the iPhone! My Squares! Here & Now! is – as the iTunes App Store listing says – a strategy board game with puzzles. The premise is simple – you want to change as many squares on the board to your color while preventing other players from doing the same.

Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars Director’s Cut (DS) Review

My wife thinks I am insane when I buy something more than once – she considers it extraneous. Generally she is right, and I seldom do it – but there are also times I go overboard. For example, there are several games I own for both Mac & PC so I can play whatever platform is available. Also, I recently bought ‘Puzzle Quest’ for the iPhone, which is now my 8th copy – I bought it for the PSP, two copies for the DS to play multiplayer with my kids, the PC, Mac, Wii, and normal cell phone version. All…