I love me some pixels and retro games from the 16-Bit era and I miss the arcades of early 90's. Recently bought a PS3 followed by a 360 but I tend not to keep up with new releases, instead I often play older games I missed out on. Lately it's been hard though. Gamefly just keeps sending me games, and I keep beating them =)
Dragon Age: Origins
Rainbow Six: Las Vegas 2
Zombie Shooter 2
Shadow of the Colossus
Metal Gear Solid
Thief 2:The Metal Age
River City Ransom
Castlevania:Symphony of the Night
Secret of Mana
System Shock 2
Final Fantasy III(j6)
Baldur's Gate 2
Zelda: Link to the Past
LONG WINDED INTRO I POSTED IN THE FORUMS
Love this site, and the people involved in making it great. Its nice to have a gaming news blog that lets me curse unchecked when I fucking need to! I feel fortunate to be a part of such a great community. I became a big fan of the site when I stumbled across RetroforceGo! and fell in love with retro games all over again listening to others share their memories of the early glory days of gaming. Yeah, I'm an "old timer" that dislikes online console nonsense, misses the arcades and the fact that 2D games still take a back seat to 3D (the uprising is coming, I swear it!) but allow me to tell you how I came to be the gamer I am today.
I'm 27 and grew up on Nintendo and PC Gaming. Basically when my brother would have the TV to game I would be killing Nazis in Wolfenstein 3D or mapping out dungeons for Eye of the Beholder. When the SNES was released, the same pattern was repeated only with Doom and Lands of Lore in the mix. Throw in some Warcarft and Duke Nukem and I was two mouse clicks away from being addicted to PC gaming for life. Thankfully my brother was gracious enough to have a life so I could waste mine on our consoles when he had things to do, lol.
Back then every Friday it was almost an unspoken tradition to ride our bikes to Video Action down the block and rent a game for the weekend. Good lord we rented some terrible Nintendo games, but hey, we hadn't played them yet, so we had to try them. Home Alone and Cliffhanger would teach me otherwise.
I, like many, was duped by Nintendo with the 64. What a piece of shit system! At least I got to play Zelda and I did beat Turok (3D pitfall jumps and all). Mario 64 and F-Zero round out the few games I actually enjoyed on that system. PC games filled A LOT of my time then. Baldurs Gate, Thief, Tie Fighter, Diablo, Half-Life, Jagged Alliance, Mechwarrior 2, Warcraft 2, Starcraft, Hexen, Counter-Strike, etc. It wasn't until I convinced my brother that he had to get a Playstation for Final Fantasy 7 that I truly became a console junkie.
Getting a PS2 was a no brainer for me in high school. How could I not after devoting countless hours to my PS1 with games like Resident Evil 1 & 2, Alundra, Bushido Blade, FF8, FFTactics, Wild Arms, BoF3, Vagrant Story, Syphon Filter, Grandia, Silent Hill, Castlevania:SotN, Metal Gear Solid... I mean, sweet Jesus there were A LOT of great games for Playstation. Yeah they look old and busted now but back then they were amazing. So PS2 was just the next natural step up.
I PC gamed a lot more after that, heh. For some reason the PS2 console couldn't hold my attention past the obvious choices like GTA3/VC/SA and MGS2 & 3. Probably had more to do with my upgraded PC and the fact that PC games had a lot more appeal to me during the PS2's life cycle. Morrowind, Fallout 1 & 2, Diablo 2, Half-Life 2, Farcry, Deus Ex, Thief 3, Warcraft 3, Call of Duty, Gothic 1 & 2, Oblivion and then... World of Warcraft. Above all other reasons I find myself so behind on games, its because of WoW. That and around the time of WoW's release I started dating girls. I am now 3 years clean from WoW and am a better gamer for it. Only a few years clean from women, and also a better gamer for it, lol.
These days I'm catching up on games I missed. After two failed engagements and finally graduating from college with a BA I find I have LOTS of free on my hands but I'm loving every second of it. You realize how much you really take for granted when your freedom is limited for a time, and then given back to you.
RetroforceGo introduced me in to a new genre of games - SHMUPs!! I never get tired of some arcade shooting action. Can you yell DO DON PACHI!?! I can and do when I'm drunk and shooting spaceships in droves, muwhaha!
Bought a Gamecube for Twilight Princess and Metroid Prime. Then there was Ikaruga. I suck at it but man do I love playing that game. I plan on getting through Windwaker one of these days, but that damned jail sequence at the beginning really pissed me off.
Bought a PS3 for GTAIV because I knew MGS4 would be out soon and I'd have to have that as well. The 360 came soon after I realized games like Castle Crashers, Braid, Crackdown, Dead Rising and various SHMUPs needed my attention. Games like Dead Dishwasher Samurai still make me happy about my 360 purchase. Doubt I'll ever buy a Wii, though the new Punch Out was a lot of fun.
My DS begs for my attention as I attempt to play Piano for the first time ever. I also love reading fantasy novels from R.A. Salvatore and George R.R. Martin, watching movies and GOOD anime as well. I'm really in to TV shows like Dexter, House MD, and Sons of Anarchy as well as good independent pro wrestling like Ring of Honor and real sports like the NFL. Greenbay Packers 4 life! There just isn't enough hours in a day. Man, it is a great time to be a young nerd these days.
I'm a huge fan of movies, but an even bigger fan of games. However, the two forms of entertainment have been at odds with one another for as long as I can remember. Very, VERY, few video game movies manage to get it right. So when I came across this news, I am hopeful for at least one enjoyable video game movie in the future.
I mean, could they really get it right here? Doubtful. But hey, an R rated bad movie is better than a PG-13 rated bad movie. So this is a good thing right? I mean, if there is going to be a terrible movie based on a good game, why not throw some violence in there to make up for its shortcomings?
Take the movie Wanted for example. Were it not for the R rating, I don't think I would have loved that movie quite as much as I did. Same could be said for the last Rambo flick. Thankfully there are some people in the industry who still see the value of putting some balls into their action flicks. I mean, isn't that what they are suppose to be about anyways? Gratuitous violence and over the top action!? Yes, please!
I would hope the success of Kill Bill, Sin City, and 300 (to name a few) would have already shown film makers the value of keeping violence in action films today but apparently someone tried hard to shit on Die Hard 4 in a big way. Tsk, tsk.
Keep the heads rollin' I say >:-) Both in my games and in my movies!
Let me take you back to a time before the acronym FPS was recognized as a genre. A time before mouselook and jump/crouch buttons. A time when blood flowed as freely as the thousands of spin offs that would soon follow this game's unstoppable reign of terror.
The "2" stands for "Your Going To Die"
As much as I loved killing Nazis in id Software's first creations of Wolfenstien 3D and Spear of Destiny, there was just something so satisfying about making demons spill their intestines that hypnotized me as a teenager. What was it? The sound of their gurgled death screams? The piles of broken bodies that I left in my wake? Or the look on my mom's face when she passed by the computer as I played? Its hard to say.
This game was my first real addiction in gaming I experienced. I would play, and replay it, over and over again. I became so good that I'd actually turn the tint down on my monitor so it was harder to see the enemies. It was also the first game I discovered fan made map packs (WADs) that made me fall in love with creative PC gaming communities. Oh, and this little beauty...
"This... is my BOOMSTICK!"
"Ohhh! Thats gotta hurt!"
With point blank fire being as powerful as a rocket blast, this new gun gave way to a new gameplay style that made the original Doom look like child's play. Speaking of, let me make a quick look back at the original Doom first to understand how we get to Doom 2 in all its glory.
Artwork for Doom? Only Brom could fit the bill. A match made in hell.
The first Doom had three episodes and for the most part used a level design that was much more compact and enemy placement was more on the sneaky side. There was a lot more exploring with those early levels and everything was built around a methodical, plodding pace. This is especially true in episode 2. In episode 3 we saw a more frantic style of levels with tight spaces and lots of enemies for a more in your face approach as opposed to the earlier episodes. However, by that time the player has already seen just about everything and knew how to handle themselves well enough to carve their way through the hordes of Hell. Taking that hectic pace to heart, id Software moved on to create Doom 2.
Doom 2 - A classic start to a classic game
Level design for the first few maps was pretty standard. But as soon as you get that double barreled beauty in level 3, it was on. You'll see the numbers of enemies almost double. Nothing too crazy yet, just standard mix of what the first Doom had along with the new chaingun asshats.
Snipers with a machine guns right here. These fat fingered zombies will pick you apart from the distance if you let them.
Maps 1 - 5 were designed to get you used to the level of difficulty and the proper use of the new shotgun, which you are going to need. However in map 6 we get to see the giagantic spiderdemon boss from Doom get crushed, literally. That happens in map 6! Holy hell!
Right there you knew something was up with Doom 2. Those original bosses were held in unholy revere, kept hidden until the very end of the game in Doom. Here we see him in level 6! Its almost as if John Romero said, "Doom is dead, I crush it. This is Doom 2. Just wait for what we have in store for you later my little green space marine."
Once map 7 hits, you had best be ready. Cleverly titled "Dead Simple," this map introduces both the Arachnotron and the Mancubus in one unapologetic right cross to your face. Object of the level being, be the last man standing.
A Plasma gun and 4 legs of loud mechanical annoyance.
MumjuMAARR!!! At least I think thats what they scream as waves of fire fly at you.
Did I win yet?
From then on they slowly bring in the new enemies you'll learn to fear in different ways. The Pain Elemental that spits flying skulls at you, or the Baron of Hell's little cousin that packs the same punch but goes down a little bit faster. Then we have these skinny bastards...
Thats right, skeletons with two shoulder mounted launchers with homing rockets. Eat your heart out Predator.
And the ultimate of demonic healers...
Revives the dead as well as torches you with fire. Pretty much a must kill immediately if you see one. Just the sound his laugh is enough to make you cringe.
Once you hit levels 12 and on, the maps begin to open up in larger areas providing more space. Why? Because you'll need it to run your ass off! At times, very large groups of everything will come at you in seemingly never ending waves of evil.
Sweet Jesus on a pogo stick!
This is when I learned how to REALLY play Doom 2.
What enemy to kill first and exactly what gun works best given the distance between us. How much damage it will take to drop said enemy. What amount of running space I have to work with if things get too dicey. Naturally you just start to pick up things as you go. What works best, what doesn't. Even what the enemies sound like, the way they move and attack.
And just when you felt like you were getting the hang of things, the next level would mix it up entirely. Levels began to take on a new form of ugly. Instead of just allowing you to have fun in exploring, they were also meant to destroy you. Ambushes became common and very dangerous. Need that health pack in that corner? Go ahead, take it... but that wall drops instantly and you'll find yourself staring at a horde of very bad things.
If you've ever watched a talented Doom 2 player, its a thing of beauty.
To see how they switch between weapons on the run and reacted quickly to a changing hostile environment. Its amazing to see how much chaos gets thrown at a player while they somehow manage to stay calm, assess a situation and think on the fly.
Like a good SHMUP player that can dance in and out of fire without blinking, a good Doom player can predict the direction of enemy projectile fire and how little they need to move left or right in order to bob and weave their way in close to unload that double barrel blast without getting hit. Being able to time their movements with the awesome reload animation that takes about 2 seconds is essential.
Feels so good to watch you die.
I played this game for hours on end. I was memorized by the hellish levels and sense of accomplishment I gained with bleeding my way through each new map. Every area provided a new challenge and double barreled blasts of holy retribution were usually my saving grace.
In looking back, the original Doom seems slow and easy compared to the experience provided in Doom 2. However, with a re release of Doom seen in "Ultimate Doom" they added a 4th episode titled Thy Flesh Consumed. With the knowledge taken from Doom 2 on how best to kill the player, they created the hardest official Doom experience ever.
Still though, nothing will ever compare to the first shock of playing Doom 2. With its new level of difficulty and the massive amounts of in your face action that 32 levels provided. A landmark in gaming history and the reason I'm terrible at FPS games on consoles today. I was born and raised in the hell fires of Doom. Lost in a satanic world with my mouse, my keyboard, and my dear ol' double barrel.
(Warning - long winded rant draws near, no spoilers though)
I loved Heavenly Sword... like I loved Kill Bill. It was B movie material except with an amazing soundtrack. You'll find plenty of over the top nonsense with outlandish plots and characters. The spectacularly gory martial arts violence was a massive delight for me! The main character, Nariko, is probably the most drop dead gorgeous female video game character to ever walk the virtual earth. Its just not even fair that they can make a perfect female of such stunning beauty and then give her the perfect voice along with her facial animations. (English accents... Mmmmm)
She is beautiful, its just too bad she couldn't have been in a better game
Speaking of facial expressions, this game says much more without words. For once in a game I'm seeing real emotion on ever inch of a characters face, its crazy. GTA IV did this well too but Heavenly Sword takes it to a whole new level. I remember when Valve first did stuff like that with G-Man in Half-Life 2. Heavenly Sword makes G-Man look 8 bit in comparison to facial detail. Better still they have the guy who did Gollum for the LotR movies as the main bad guy. He brings life to the lead villain of the game in such a way that only he could. Well acted, well timed, with funny little one liners mixed in for variety.
The levels have this amazing art to them too with huge sweeping vista's of waterfalls and sunsets that are just spectacular.
Being able to beat three shades of shit out a lot of baddies never gets old for me. As long as there is always a healthy dose of blood and options in attacks. Nariko has more moves and combos than I could count with her three different stances plus the ability to switch mid attack to mix up the array of offense provides for some VERY satisfying results. I made kills with moves I didn't even know existed. It made Kratos look almost gimped by comparison. ALMOST.
I never once had a problem with the controls except for the shit brained idea of having the player waggle the controller when knocked flying in the air so she can pull off another amazing move. Fuck your waggle Sony! Last time I checked, the buttons on controllers still work. Fucking use them. Pretty much gave up on that move, making it a goal not to get knocked silly.
Grace and beauty flying through the air just tearing shit up. This is obviously the best part of the game, and its as impressive as watching TonyJaa tear through people.
But alas, all of the above is tarnished by the following faults...
Gameplay... dear God what were they thinking? The sections that will put you up against 50 baddies you can tear through to your delight in an good old fashioned beat down are tons of fun. I want more of that! I wanted more blood, more action. The fighting is so sweet! I wanted to watch Nariko twist and turn all day long while sending spouts of blood and bodies flying in every direction. Thats not what I got. Instead I got to spend 40 minutes firing a cannon at some catapults using the siaxis motion controller... while being timed. Not so cool. In fact, it was fucking awful. And if that wasn't bad enough, their are sections after that which has you playing as a different character with a crossbow and nothing else. Enter the obligatory frustration with the motion controller. I don't want to spend hours fine tuning motion control with flying obstacles. I really don't. If I wanted that, I'd buy a Wii.
And how the hell is she able to make arrows fly like that anyway? Mind control? Is she the Revolver Ocelot meets Psycho Mantis of medieval times with curving arrows?! Fun character but she left me with a feeling of - Huh?
When I am given the most stunning combat action since the first time I played Devil May Cry, the last thing I want to do is play mini-games with motion controls. *sigh* Soooo much potential but Sony just had to show of their motion controller. Good for you guys. Have a cookie you rip off douche bags. The whole game is like that. You'll have one level that is just bad ass and has you singing praises for the game and then it will turn around and slap you in the face the next. The pacing is all wrong.
The puzzles involve... you guessed it, throwing stuff with motion controls. This I didn't mind as much. Puzzles are what puzzles are. Pushing blocks in God of War wasn't really ground breaking material either, but lets face it, the puzzles aren't there to challenge you really. If I want that I'll play Alundra or Lolo's Adventure. The puzzles are there to break up the action, give you a breather... but it fails in this game because there isn't enough action as it is!
Also - Quick Time Events. FUCKING DIE! Thank you God of War for giving us something great so other companies can try it in every game possible and fail miserably. There is so much intense and very quick action going on in HS that you can't help but watch the action in awe, so when it pops the "press this button" it takes a second to realize, "Oh shit! QTE!" and by then its too late. You seriously need split second reaction for them or you fail. I found the trick to them though, look through the screen. Try it, let everything going on screen blur out and just focus your mind on looking through the one point on the screen. When the button pops on screen you will recognize it immediately. Thats what I had to do in order to pass some of the QTE's. Which sucked balls because I wanted to watch the amazing action! And we're talking Legolas taking down a Elephant type of material. Real grade A in your face cinematic action playing out and I had to instead focus on pressing a fucking button. GARH! Good thing that the QTE's are not random, so you can memorize the buttons that will pop at least.
Why oh why am I STILL being forced to rewatch cutscenes after failing a level. "I just saw this, lets move on. I need to practice this level. Ahhhh for fucks sake, do I need to hear this shit again?" I thought this is Next Gen. I thought we moved past this.
And let me just get downright mean for a second here while I'm at it. I watched the behind the scenes making of where everyone and their mother drooled over the graphics and motion mapping and it became clear to me... these people don't look like they play a lot of games. They look like a lot of overworked programmers and art designers. These fucking people probably never even played their own game. I mean, it took them 4 years to make a game that I can beat in two sit downs (7 hours total). Not sure if thats because they had no dev kit to work with the PS3 at the time or what but I hope their next game can focus more on the GAMEPLAY content and not the "oooh, did you see that pixel shading? OMG Motion Capture! The colors! Wow! This is amazing! We need more graphical power, where is the PS4?!"
They spent so much time focusing on the wrong things in my opinion. Yes, the game looks beautiful (See the above screen shots) but what does that matter if the game sucks overall? How can you make fighting that spectacular and not have more? I don't get it.
Alright, enough rambling, I think you get the picture. Overall this game is best treated like a popcorn movie. Take in its flaws and try to have fun where you can. Don't worry if it gets frustrating as its not a long game, and your bound to kick some serious ass eventually even if it is against a VERY predictable boss fight. This beautifully flawed game needs more ACTION and less GIMMICKS.
It was about a month ago today that I beat Shadow of the Colossus for the first time and looking back, I can't remember the last time a game choked me up as much as
that game did.
** SPOILERS (obviously...)
(This is seriously how mentally tied in to the game I was as the following actually went through my head as I approached the last Colossi of the game, adding my own narrative in my head.)
My horse and I, the only friends either of us had in this strange land.
We moved deliberately slow to the massive dark doors. Raising my sword to shine the light of the sun seemed like the only natural thing to do. The magical doorway opened and for a brief moment I thought I heard angels singing as we moved cautiously in to the shadows again.
Trotted to a stop before jumping off to say a quick prayer at the shrine to whatever gods may guide me, or not at this point as there was always something sad about killing a colossi and for the life of me, could not find the reasons why. It just, felt wrong. I buried the doubt again as I had before with the thought of the dying girl who needed my help. Turning to my horse I found reassurance.
Thats when it occurred to me, "this is the last colossi of the game, I won't be able to control my horse after this. I probably won't even need him anymore." In my mind I imagined my character saying a final farewell. So I gave him a last look and then bounded up the steps. When I got to the top of the steps I looked around the canyon, my thoughts lost on what to do next and how to cross over to the other side. Behind me, the echoes of "clip-clops"
reverberated off of the stone walls. I turned to look, then waited. Agro slowly plodded up the stairs, he had followed me.
I called his name and smiled. My faithful friend would not let me go so easily it seemed. I obliged and mounted his back one last time. As I sat in the saddle, I put my sword away and gave him a good pat on the head. We slowly stepped around the edge, there seemed no way over to the other side but an ancient walkway. It soon dawned on me what had to be done. I could not make that jump alone, Agro would have to come with me to the other side. I was happy to get the chance to spend just a little more time with him before I most likely had to leave him sitting somewhere while I continued on to tackle the next colossi like I had so many times before.
Another pat on his mane, and a whisper in to his ear for assurance, I leaned in close to him and snapped the reigns three quick times and off we went. We bounded playfully over the first jump however the seriousness of the situation became immediately clear to me as the ancient walkway started to collapse behind us. I kicked Agro again, pleading for more speed even though he was giving me all he could muster. Then it happened. My friend had tumbled, lost his footing and I was launched forward, landing safely on the other side of the expanse.
I remember saying to myself right then and there, "No!" It was the strangest thing that has happened to me while playing a game in a long time, fuck me, maybe ever. My in game character got up from the fall, turned and looked at the screen and cried out the same as I did, mouth agape in shock. The emotion he showed on his face was actually the same as mine at that time, a look of helpless shock and disbelief before crying out to his friend.
The poor noble beast struggled desperately with the falling rocks before finally tumbling
in to the dark waters below. It still chokes me up now as I write about the experience.
But I swallowed hard, looked to the skies and swore I would make someone pay for that. It was easier to continue on as one would actually do in life... bitter, angry and vengeful. I made the last climb up the rocks biting back the tears. I had come this far, no turning back now. I remember in the end, thinking as my sword finally stabbed deep in to the massive giant's head, "that one was for Agro you son of a bitch!"
What an amazing game full of sad and tragic emotions. My heart was hurting, my gut was wrenching and that wasn't even the end of the game.
Intrigued? I hope so. No, this isn't me having fun with photoshop again. This is an actual creation of my brother's from 11 years ago. I thought I'd share this with you guys as I think its pretty sweet and fellow retro junkies might get a kick out of it.
For those that don't know, the picture below is Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest for the NES...
And this is Super Castlevania 2...
Yes, that is Birdo from Super Mario Bros. 2 and the Eggplant Wizard from Kid Icarus. Tell me now, who hasn't wanted to whip the holy hell out of each of those guys? Notice too the classic Belmont garb instead of tight black leather pants. They provide a much more comfortable flow for the whip snap action while giving you the ability to avoid looking like a lead singer of an 80's hair band.
New sprites for items and enemies all taken from other classic NES games. The story is completely rewritten from every character dialog to all three of the endings, which I wrote. It seems that a bunch of famous Nintendo characters have been trapped inside of Castlevania 2! Oh no! Will they ever make it back to their own games?
You can find more pics and details here. Warning - The site is 11 years old so its a little rough on the eyes but the pictures of all the changes are worth it. Plus there is music from the entire game to be found and the actual remade game itself. Enjoy!