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English bloke. Binge drinker and ASBO gamer. Player of old games and new, I like tattoos, strong drinks, loud music, Scottish sun sets and traveling. I am also Determined to convince people of the merits of Fox McCloud's' thousand yard stare.


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I've changed my avatar to Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, I look a little like this in real life...


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Until recently I had considered my collection of PS1 games complete. I had ticked every one of my childhood memories off the list, studied ‘best of’ lists for any gems that appealed to me, and decided I was pretty much done. But before I knew it, I was seeing conversations about Dino Crisis and War Craft II and knew I was far from finished really.

The same goes for the other consoles in my collection. Despite that my video games now dwarf my books and DVD’s I still find myself searching, pricing and collecting these old games. I have always been a retro gamer, even when I was a child I would want to play the older, weirder, and frankly harder to grasp games of the Commodore 64 and the ZX Spectrum. And this has continued throughout my adulthood, bargain bins and thrift shops are raided for treasures regularly, and I make constant ‘want’ lists arguing with myself over which ones are more important that others.

But, something has dawned on me; I rarely play any of them.

Sure they get dug out occasionally. A friend who found the allure of retro through Game Grumps will indulge in a stack of weird and wonderful games and a few beers. But these nights are few and far between. The majority of these games gather dust lovingly filed away In a collection of retro gems. I remind myself that they’re there if I need them, or that there will come a day when I want to smash Donkey Kong Country one last time, and on those days I’ll be so glad that I’ve got them.

But the problem is that this isn’t limited to retro consoles, this attitude of purchase and don’t play extends to current gen as well as last gen. my PS3 collection is pretty ridiculous, and I’m buying back every Wii title that could be considered solid before I move on to X-box and X-box 360 exclusives so that I have all the bases covered. All of these purchases on top of trying to keep up to date with modern releases.

So is it fair to call this a ‘backlog’ still? I don’t think it is, I think the term collection is far more apt. Whilst I have every intention of playing these games, I don’t know if I’ll ever get round to it. Rather it is borne out of a desire to have every version of every game across the many machines at my disposal. A desire to complete my collection and look at it with glowing pride, to be able to dip into the treasures I have amassed when the mood takes me. And if the mood rarely takes me, that’s my prerogative.

But does this make me much of a fan any more? Sure, I play games most nights and can wax lyrical to whomever is listening about SNES versus Genesis or why the Dreamcast was revolutionary. But when it comes to my ‘collection’ I wonder if it is little more than a collection of vintage vinyl. Too sacred to be played, too delicate to be touched, and owned just to be able to say I’VE GOT THAT.

Perhaps the true retro heads are the ones who sit for hours playing ROMS and not spending a penny. I do enjoy them yes, but I get more masochist pleasure from seeing the holes in my collection rather than the vastness of elements of it. The obsessive list making and ebay checking, the trawling and digging to find precious copies is where I get the majority of my retro joy. The gaming itself is relegated to second.

Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, being self aware enough to know that I enjoy the chase more than the pray is perfectly acceptable. But it does make me wonder about other retro heads. The hundreds of pounds that change hands across ebay make me wonder if these games are even being played or if they are being filed away like I find myself doing.  And whilst I am still a games enthusiast, I fear many of these people know they can turn a profit on software, using retro resale as a back room business.

Take for example my recent spate of selling off some duplicates in my collection. 2 out of every 3 sales went to someone running a company. These games won’t be played or enjoyed, but rather they will be re-sold again. Like I, these games will be filed and stored and perhaps they will be sold onto someone who will cherish them.

What inspired this blog was something my mother would say “have you not got enough son?” when I bugged her about getting a new game. “aren’t they all the same really? Do you not have enough?”

The problem for both my bank balance and my sanity, is there is never enough, and I’ll never be finished my collection. I know I’m falling into the hands of the re-sellers, and I know I haven’t got enough time, but dammit do I adore the collecting.  

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Whilst romping though the not very good FPS Fear 3 (or F3AR as it is want to call itself) I noticed something that stuck out more than the legions and legions of genetically modified super soldiers and predicable level design.

It’s bloody full of Candles.

Right from the get go, the moment you stumble over one of the standard “oooo creepy!” bits the candles start popping up. It seems that it is now in the “spooky by numbers book of game design” to have drippy candles everywhere. I always assumed that the troupes for horror games would be a little more horror-ful. I can enjoy carcases or skulls and bones, in fact I’m fond of them, and everyone loves a bit of sinister string music to get them in the pant filling mood, but all these candles… I’m just not into them.

And the reason is the same for so many complaints about our beloved media format. Logistics. It just does not make logistical sense for all these candles to be everywhere. I don’t care if the evil spirit of the mutant child Alma HAS infected an entire city to lose their minds and turn on each other, why has she also encouraged all these people to get out every candle them own, light them, and place them in oooo spooky arrangements?!

Why when losing your mind does the lighting and placing of candles seem to be so prolifically important? Is this a thing? Are asylum’s consistently full of candles? Is that the first sign of building madness? The constant need to light candles? If this is true, then isn’t it a fire hazard to have so many flames exposed to those who are most vulnerable in society?

And where are all these candles coming from? It can be fairly argued that I am “a bit of a goth” the tomb stone tattoos and perchance for Edger Alan Poe all point towards to someone with more than the average number of candles. Even with that in mind, it’s still in the single digits. Think how many goths would be required for something like THIS!

And the expense!  A big box of Dr Creepy Dribble Candles costs a fair few bob. When the darkness comes in these videogame nightmare worlds, are those afflicted spending their life savings on candles so that the way to progress for the hero of the piece can follow them? I can only imagine how the discourse goes when the darkness spreads over the land…

“I say Clive, I appear to have succumbed to the deranged nightmare that is effecting the local populous!”

“As have I Rudiger! The overwhelming urge to attack people and possibly eat their flesh is quite the delirium!”

“Well my good sir, you know the rules, before we can go all crazy and write creepy things in our own blood and shit, we have to make sure the place is covered in candles. Fetch my wallet as we will have to visit Ikea before we can begin. “

“Marvellous, shall we position them in elaborate displays that boggle the mind at how they were and remain lit?”

“I should say so! Let’s get hotdogs at Ikea as well”

Dead Space was pretty terrible for this as well, but almost worse as it was set in well…. space. I’m no expert but countless oxygen guzzling candles doesn’t seem like a smart move. It also struggles because again, they are in space and can’t pop round to Walmart to pick up a shit ton of candles. Sure it’s creepy, but it’s so over the top.  

 The strangest part is that the illogical use of candles is mostly in modern to future setting games. Period or fantasy settings, were liberal use of candles would make a lot more sense, are in fact sparser. Skyrim? A few candles, Dark Souls? Hardly any. Insomnia? Absolutely balls all. And I could have done with a few more and a clean pair of pants during my play through!

Candles in video games have the best of intentions, but it’s just too illogical. Too forced and too impractical to be taken seriously. Please, no more elaborate use of candles, there must be other creepy things you can use? I always liked a single swinging bulb myself.









Gaming has some wonderful moments, moments you’ll cherish and think of fondly. The beginning of Half Life, the death of Aerith or “Would you kindly” all spring to mind. But sometimes there are moments that revolve around the playing of games which transpire that no other medium can quite touch upon.

Let me tell you a little story…

The scene: Glasgow’s beautiful west end in the cold winter of 2004. A young man is over the moon to have been bought a copy of Mario Kart for the SNES. My girlfriend at the time knew how much I adored retro gaming, in particular the games that had slipped though my grasp in my accent to adulthood. Mario Kart was one such game, and as any retro gamers will know, it fetches a pretty penny on Ebay. I truly was overjoyed.

Have you guys played Mario Kart? Its amazing. It was revolutionary at the time and goddamnit if it doesn’t hold up pretty damn well. Each character handles differently, each item needs mastering, and each course is a joy in terms of design and in imagination. With trepidation and excitement I put the Kart into my aged and worn SNES and prepared for an afternoons delight.

And it was bliss. I tore round the tracks like a pro. My heart leapt to the sounds of Donut Plains and Koopa Beach. Despite it looking a little rough around the edges compared to my PS2’s graphics it was still bright colourful and joyful at every turn. With Yoshi and a feather I discovered shortcuts that gave me an edge, I lined up some cracking green shell shots like a pro.

I tore through 50cc, I decimated 100cc. When it came to 150cc though, I had to up my game. See back in the 16 –bit era, we just accepted things. If it was hard, or it was unfair we just accepted it. And in the case of Mario Kart, I was expected to accept that the computer just plain cheats. And over the last two generations I had forgotten quite how much the computer is allowed to cheat.

But back to our tale…

After a few weeks of racing in between lectures and drunken chaos, I was nearing completion of the game. It had been a struggle, but I had Gold trophy’d all the courses except for 150CC special cup. I was pretty pumped, and keen to complete the game completely as it had been quite a struggle. All of which paled in comparison to this demonic finale.

I tried once. I failed. Okay, no big deal. I had made a few mistakes, mistakes I’ll iron out in my next run. I tried again. And again. And again. In fact I played those same five courses over and over again for five hours.

Every race was the same, I would smash into the top 3 with a boost start, handle the contours of each course like a pro, weaving through banana skins and green shells as if they were nothing. Occasional pretenders would jossle for my position but they were swiftly dispatched, until the final section.

Without fail, every single time, Luigi would soar past me at some ungodly speed, claiming 1st place and pushing me into 2nd. I mean every time. It was almost comical if it wasn’t so infuriating. I had mastered the game, I was the best I could be, and yet I was constantly foiled by this dickhead in green. The cheating little bugger was stealing my pole position without playing fair!

I psyched myself up. One more time. I can do this! Each time I’m inches closer I can feel it. I assumed the pro gaming position (leaning slightly further forward than I was previously) and loaded up the dreaded special cup. The first race, I screamed round the track, obliterating the competition, Donut plains 3 wasn’t too hard. Same goes for Koopa Beach 2 which was dispatched without issue.

And now, the dreaded trio. I slipped to 3rd place on ghost valley 3. I missed timed feather jump and plummeted into oblivion. But I was still top of the pack in overall points. Luigi’s constant smile gurned at me from second place, daring me to try for gold. On Vanilla Lake 2 I scrapped 2nd, whilst that Nerf Hearder Luigi took 1st. we were neck and neck, it had all come down to this.

Rainbow Road.

This bloody course. How many controllers have been destroyed in frustration at its bumperless chaos? I was ready, and refused to give up. This was the time, i could feel it. I screamed into 1st place, and held onto it for dear life. I played it cool around the thromps, but fired on all cylinders when I could. Luigi, biting at my ass at every moment, until half way round the third lap I got him.

A perfect shot. A one in a million green sheller. The 2nd fiddle plumper was blown out of 1st place and off the side of the course. “YES!!” I screamed! I was going to do it, I was actually going to do it! The finishing line was in sight! I could consider myself a master of Mario kart! Until just at the line, Luigi passed me.

“FUCK YOU LUIGI, YOU GREEN FUCKING BASTARD!”

I screamed, as I threw my controller asunder and stormed out of the room.

Five minutes later, there was a knock at the door. I had decided video games were now rubbish and had my nose in a book, but I gingerly opened the front door of our student hovel. There stood an exhausted looking man in his thirties, in his arms a screaming baby of no more than a few months. With furious eyes that looked close to tears the man turned to me:

“I’ve no idea who Luigi is or what makes him a bastard, but you woke my daughter up with your profanity. Please resolve your domestic problems quietly!” he snapped.

Video games man.









Eek! So I ruffled a few feathers with my last few blog, hope no one was too irritated. In penance, lets  dig out another forgotten treasure and sing its praises, this time something a little more modern, but still a gem and still sadly forgotten about.

I’ll level with you, I’ve not played PT, but I did play Silent Hill: Homecoming, which are about as far removed from one another as you can get. In fact, Homecoming was so mediocre, so dull and so infuriating, that I abandoned it half way through and wrote off a generation’s worth of Silent Hill games.

More fool me, as luck would have it a bargain basement copy of Downpour has really got my Silent Hill gland pulsing, and I recommend you grab hold of this diamond in the rough.

Straight off, Downpour grabbed me by the goolies. It was not to be a game about a Man with a DARK SECRET, but rather we witness the dark secret in the opening few minutes. The game asks why has our lead done what he felt compelled to do, making for a more investing and ponderous story. My favourite Silent Hill’s and survival horrors begin with a question, which they answer over the course of the game, and Downpour follows suit. Hints and musings are drip fed to the player through the normal method of journal entries and flash backs, but never play their hand completely, leaving the player to wonder about the plot as it unfolds.

The player will have plenty of time to muse as well, as Downpour contains large portions with little but atmosphere to keep you company. I adore it when a game uses the lack of excitement to build tension, and Downpour does it so well. The bleak horror of the town and surrounding areas feel genuinely threatening, even when there’s nothing there, adding to the purgatory-esque style of the series as a whole.

The feel of the game is refreshingly old school as well. Our lead handles like a car with a squeaky wheel, and the clumsy combat adds layers to the tension. At first, I thought it was bad game design, but as you progress it actually is a stroke of genius. In modern “horror” titles, you can cut through waves of evil thanks to intuitive controls, but by making them difficult and awkward, the combat takes on a far more threatening and lethal atmosphere. Murphy flings his weapons with fear and fury, making every landed hit a small desperate win.

Silent Hill the town has never been so desolate and yet so full. Littered throughout the main story are side quests which give pant filling views into the tortured lives of the residents. Whilst not important, they add an almost RPG feel to survival, encouraging the player to explore and delve further into the mystery of the town. A slight complaint however, there is no need for Murphy to do any of these things. Whilst we the players want to learn more, he has no reason at all for faffing about with a broken cinema or returning stolen goods. A small complaint, and perhaps its to encourage moral and immoral play through, but a little more effort and the side quests could have been Fallout levels of awesome.

 Opinions differ on what makes a game scary. Some people hate jump scares, whilst I’m quite fond of them. Tension obviously is important, and with Silent Hill an otherworldy sense of disconnection and confusion is vital to maintaining the heebie-geebies. Downpour manages to do all of these and more, creating a scary experience no matter your preferred type of horror. Building from this, Downpour adds a very adult edge to its horror. Whilst there are bloodier games, and there are grosser games, the inclusion of some of the darkest elements of humanity adds to Downpour’s tension. Child murder and suicide for example are in Downpour. And rather than pouring buckets of blood all over the place, they are dealt with coldly and cruelly, reflecting the true skin crawling nature of these crimes.

Downpour is by no means perfect. It has some irritating bits, and some down right problems. Plus, the PS3 version is buggier than Klendathu. But, if you can look past those issues, it’s a superb horror title with tension, story and terror in generous servings. Give this game a go, and you’ll remember why Silent Hill isn’t quite done with us yet.

Silent Hill : Downpour is available for PS3 and X–box 360    

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Dtoid’s own beloved review shaman Chris Carter recently pointed out that The Order: 1886 is a short game, and he is perfectly okay with this as long as it’s a solid short game.

I respectfully am not okay with this.

And like Chris, my reasons for feeling this way are that “value is relative”. But in a market place filled with tacked on multi-player, micro transactions and DLC, has the concept of value been lost? I fear so, whilst a solid 10 hours for £40 is fine for some, its not something I would even consider. Even if The Order: 1886 is solid gold, I will still be waiting for it to come down to around £20.

To begin with we must first accept that different people play games for different reasons. And with that in mind, we have to accept that no one game will please absolutely everyone. Therefore, the concept of what makes a game “value for money” can be somewhat diluted, as this concept depends on varying factors for each consumer.

For example, Lylat Wars (or Starfox 64) is the greatest game of all time. And it is very short. But this is expanded with multiple routes, a multiplayer and a score attack mode. Perhaps this is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it definitely adds value to a short game.

But, where does this leave games like The Order: 1886? As Chris points out the game does not include multiplayer, whilst not something I enjoy I can respect that lots of people love it and will happily clock in the hours justifying their purchase. But without the multiplayer, and without other functions, what does the game offer in terms of value and longevity?

DLC I would bet- That vile little acronym that is fast becoming the plague of the games industry. Perhaps there will be extended chapters, additional levels, new weapons or whatever other crap they can think of, but all at another price. This is unfair longevity, intentionally taking concepts away from the original product with the intention of selling it back to us.

Without multiplayer and additional options, and before the DLC is released, the Order: 1886 will have to have ONE HELL of a good game to warrant second and third play throughs. Don’t give me the “expert mode” completion bonus, or achieving 100% on the trophies, we play games a second and a third time because they were stellar. The Last of Us was flawless and I cannot wait to sink my teeth into it again, Mirror’s Edge…. Not so much.

That is a serious gamble, one that I will not be risking. If as I suspect, it is a solid but fairly standard affair, £40 would leave me with a sour taste. To spend that sort of money and then file it away after a measly few hours would be disappointing, but to do so knowing that there is a butt ton of additional content behind pay walls coming your way just rubs salt into the wound.

Personally, I am quite frugal with my purchasing. I’m not made of money, and £40 is a lot to me. A lot I could be spending on beer and porn. I have begun to operate a simple equation to calculate if a game was worth the money:

Price/Hours played = Y

If Y is less than the minimum wage of an 18 year old the game was worth it.  

So for the Order: 1886? Eek, sorry game. You’re 21p short. What I’m trying to get at is that an hour of my time is valuable, but not so valuable that I want games to be over in a flash. Gambling on the game being a stellar classic which goes down in the history books is a dangerous one. And if this is a ploy for DLC additional, then I will vote with my wallet and not bother my arse with The Order: 1886.

Sorry Chris, but this consumer refuses to spend that sort of money on a mere 10 hours. It would have to be a heart wrenching, jockey tightening mind fuckery of a 10 hours, and I just don’t see that happening. 

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I mean it! Not because it’s good, I mean we all know how terrible it is: but because its so so bad we should all bear witness to this master class in fail. Like Shaq-Fu in the 16-bit era, Ride to Hell: Retribution should be held up as a golden turd that makes all other games shine by comparison. As a perfect example of a bad game it should be marvelled upon. Like old grind house or made for TV movies, this celebration of shit-ness should be used from here on out as how NOT to do video games. A rare game that deserves its 5 out of 5 turds, it has to be witnessed to be believed.

Released in 2013, Ride to Hell was panned like no other. Originally planned as part of a series of games, this iteration was forced through development and plopped out like the metaphorical shite it is. But what I found fascinating and down right hilarious, was the ambitions of the creators; the concept and the ideas behind RTH show a genuine desire to make a decent game. Trouble is, it was a game that should have been released in 2007 for PS2 and it should have been playable as well.

 

For example, the quick time events. Everyone has mixed feelings on QTE’s I personally don’t mind them, as they can make a cinematic moment feel more involving. For example the Far Cry 3 or Bioshock used them really well. RTH tries to do the same trying to make fight scenes exciting and interactive. The reality is they are horribly animated, difficult to judge and sometimes unbearably dull. By making them so bad that on occasion you have to guess what the next input will be, RTH gives a perfect template of what to avoid. After suffering through these god awful fight scenes and the “toys out of the pram” rage mode, all other QTE’s will seem like button mashing blessings from now on.

Are you a human? Do you like the sex with other humans? Want to know how it doesn’t work? Play this game. RTH is so far from “portrayal of woman in videogames” it needs to be studied for its “portrayal of humans in videogames”. Jake our hero is sexed by a series of women in a series of locations for murdering people. Seriously, its bleeding hilarious. Murdered their pimp? Sex. Murdered their boyfriend? Sex. Murdered all the people in their bar? Sex. Murdered everyone at a house party? Orgy. With the dialogue of the worst fan fiction (or like a good version of 50 shades) Jake has the sex with these women fully clothed for no reason. There is no sexiness, no tenderness, no romance and no reason for any of it. Why was it included unless to cause no end of amusement? Next time you lay with someone, remember how the developer Eutechnyx thinks its done and crown yourself lover of the year, while RTH gets another turd.

 This doesn't seem right to me.

Hit detection is weird. I don’t know how to programme the Tivo let alone a videogame, but I assume someone at some point makes some physical sorta boxy thing to show where hurts and where doesn’t . RTH throws the rule book out of the window with distant explosions that kill you, and bullets that can be spat out in seconds. Jake goes from unstoppable tank to wet bit of loo paper depending on his mood. It makes for exciting (read infuriating) game play. No one even bothered to check if it worked at all, which is at least refreshing. To make matters more interesting, RTH has both melee and gun fighting…neither of which work, but at least show ambition! For the hours wasted floundering around like a damp cake, RTH manages to warrant another poo.

I used to ride a motorcycle. It handled like a motorcycle, not a fridge on pram wheels like in RTH. What I’m sure were intended as thrilling ‘Sons of Anarchy’ esque chase and race scenes are more like trying to pilot a bike whilst wearing oven mitts, flaming oven mitts covered in rat’s faeces. It is hilariously bad, in part because you’ve no idea if you’re going to crash and fade to black, or if your indestructi-bike will sail through the hazards as if nothing happened. While it is horribly bad, No other game has made me laugh so hard as when Jake spontaneously combusts for no reason. Admirable effort was put in at some point, but it was all for naught.

When I was nine I wrote a story about Sonic the hedgehog. It was better than RTH’s plot. It was probably better than Sonic Boom, but that’s for another day. RTH makes Sonic look like fucking Shakespeare. All the characters’ are 2 dimensional non-people, with the worst motivations for mass murder I’ve ever heard. When the credits role, you’ll be none the wiser what the hell happened or why. The voice acting is more akin to having a conversation with Siri when you’re drunk than how actual people talk. Every line is solid gold crap, as unintentionally hilarious as the next, some truly have to be witnessed to be believed, the horrible story spurred me on, I had to find out how much worse it could get. And thankfully it delivered. Bravo you rancid squirt of whale sperm.

As Yahtzee said, this is our Plan Nine from Outer Space. It should be hailed as a testament of awfulness, celebrated for being the best worst thing ever. Every moment of the game was both criminal and hilarious, they tried, by god they tried, but this game is like a thousand monkeys with typewriters trying to code for the Unreal Engine. If you see a copy buy it, really I mean it. I’ve no regrets with my time with this game. If you finish it every game for the rest of your life will seem like an orgasmic dream. Ride to Hell :Retribution will become a cult legend, and I can see why. Truly nothing will ever touch this 5 out of 5 turds, vomit educing, side splittingly funny, horribly written, piss stained excuse for a game. Go buy it!