October 21, 2007
The Sony PlayStation 2 is nearly 7 years old. Yet today was the first time I actually sat down and played an actual PS2 game. I got this PS2 unit some months ago, mostly for DVD playback. I have tried out a few PlayStation 1 titles on it. But I also have 3 PS2 games laying around.
The first one is called Evergrace, from the confusingly named FromSoftware. Apparently, this was a PS2 launch title. I purchased it while procuring a bunch of other cheap, old games from an eBay seller. Even though it was already in MobyGames (sans screenshots), it was cheap and in new condition, and I thought it might be nice to try a real PS2 game, and an RPG at that. I was disappointed. First, I tried to dutifully digest the manual before delving in since RPGs can be complicated. I have to pinch myself to keep from falling asleep since the manual goes into so much storyline. I skim the section on the controls and figure that they’ll make more sense in context, so I fire the game up. The first order of business is to check my speakers to see if anything is wrong. Nope– the music really is that cacophonic. Then the game assaults me with the same storyline I didn’t care about from the manual.
Eventually, the game gets rolling and you essentially have 2 characters to choose from — a guy and a girl — who will follow different paths in the game. Evergrace bills itself as an action RPG with an emphasis on equipment. I guess I’m supposed to kill creatures, get currency, exchange it for goods, and kill more creatures. I found the store, found out I was broke, went outside and tried to kill something, and learned that I was fairly ineffective in this task when using only my bare hands. I got bored of this quickly though I tried to give the game a fair shake. I even went back to the insomnia-curing manual a few times but couldn’t maintain the motivation.
The next title, Orphen: Scion of Sorcery, was also a launch title. I’m beginning to think that early adopters were awfully forgiving. I know these kind of graphics reigned supreme at one point but they seem fairly ho-hum these days. There is also the fact that for the past 7 years, I have largely been examining magazine and internet screenshots of PS2 games rather than seeing the actual games in action, which tends to elicit a far different reaction.
Anyway, Orphen– I had never looked too carefully at the literature for this one. I had always assumed it was an action game where the hero fired magic bullets. While that’s part of it, the game turns out to be of the genre action-RPG. RPGs really left me behind somewhere along the line. Mostly, I am used to the classic NES turn-based stylings of the original Final Fantasy game, the Ultima: Exodus port, and the classic Dragon Warrior series. The principle action in Orphen consists of encounters where characters square off with a number of enemies and quickly attack using offensive magic spells or magic weapons, or parry attacks with a magic shield. It’s RPG-ish, in a fast-paced way.
There is also some kind of storyline tying this all together. Based on the opening scenes, it was pretty obvious that Orphen must be based on an anime series, and sure enough. I’m not especially fond of anime to begin with and this game’s characters seem to embody much of what I despise. Still, I gave it the old college try. It’s a tad slow-going as you walk a few meters, run into a pre-scripted story advancement sequence, walk a few more meters, get more story, an enemy encounter, and then repeat. Apparently, that’s the whole game. The game’s copy lists as one of its key features “51 action-packed, event-based encounters.” I got through 5, maybe 6 of them, depending on how score is kept.
Finally, I decided to actually play a dreaded sports game– NHL Hitz 20-02. Generally, if I wind up with a sports game in my collection, it’s because A) it was dirt cheap, and B) because I wanted to study its multimedia files. This game served its purpose to that latter end. But how does the game play? The Hitz series is apparently a totally X-treme hockey experience based on licensed NHL teams. “No rules” is the overriding theme. The game assaults your auditory senses with Limp Bizkit in the opening FMV. Then there is quite a variety of activities available. Not only actual hockey, but violent minigames, such as body checking a number of players within a set time limit.
When I finally set up a screen capture process for my PS2 and Saturn games, at least I will know exactly what to capture for these 3 titles and be done with them.
Posted by Multimedia Mike under Action Games,PlayStation 2 Games,RPG Games,Sports Games | Comments (5)
October 21, 2007
This past week, the company cafeteria was serving a dish labeled “baked penne pasta with quatro formagio”. It certainly sounds like an authentico Italiano experience, until one recalls that “quatro formagio” just means “4 cheese”. For some reason, though, seeing the dish reminded me of an NES game yet to be played and entered into the database– an unlicensed Codemasters cartridge called Quattro Arcade. Codemasters actually put out a bunch of these Quattro game quartets for various old time systems. In fact, Quattro Arcade is already in the database so I thought this would be a straightforward screenshot recon exercise. No such luck as the NES version has 4 completely different games.
The quality of these old, unlicensed NES games is generally nothing to write home about, so I can’t say I’m excited about this experience. However, Codemasters is unique in the sense that they have endured to this day and are still putting out titles. And there is at least one game of the four that I really get into: F-16 Renegade:
The manual for Quattro Arcade is available online. Wouldn’t you know, the authors saw fit to craft long-winded backstories for each of the 4 games. Look, F-16 Renegade is simply a fun, straightforward, curiously devoid of music, shoot-em-up game that alternates between overhead levels, as seen above, and third person behind-the-plane levels:
All normal-looking planes (in the air) and normal tanks and missile batteries on the ground. There are powerups that enhance your offensive capability. The curious aspect of this is that the powerups carry over between the 2 different types of levels. And while one strike does your plane in, you only drop one power level when you get your next plane, instead of losing all of your firepower.
I made it to level 6 in this game. I am not sure how many levels there are, but level 4 was called “Rating… talented amateur”. So I suspect the game continues for some time.
There is a Dizzy title in this set. Dizzy seems to be a mainstay in Codemasters’ early IP repertoire. The game in this set, Go! Dizzy Go! struck me as sort of a bastard stepchild of Pac-Man.
On each map, collect all the fruit. Avoid the threats that are marching about, whatever they may be on this round. I can’t get past the idea of seahorses being a threat, but that’s just me. You can also push around columns of blocks. Okay, maybe it’s a little more reminiscent of a block-based puzzle game, e.g., a Lolo title.
Next up is Stunt Buggies. Drive around in an overhead perspective and collect bombs while enemy buggies work desperately to stop you. You can slow down enemy buggies, apparently by leaving some exhaust.
The final game in the quartet is C.J.’s Elephant Antics. The game actually starts in Paris:
It’s a side-scrolling game. C.J. must make his way home to Africa, according to the manual. He has an umbrella to slow descents. He can fire peanuts. Also, he can drop bombs. Until that last item, this seemed like an all-too-delightful kids game.
Posted by Multimedia Mike under Action Games,NES Games | Comments (0)
October 5, 2007
Another batch of budget bilge ordered from eBay arrived today. My customary first title of the group is Minigolf: The Game … maybe. It might be Minigolf 2003. Or perhaps just Golf 2003. It depends on which of the 5 companies involved with this game that you ask. This is the kind of game that really causes headaches when it comes to logging its data into MobyGames. As stated, the game mentions no fewer than 5 companies between the packaging and the in-game screens. Further, it contains 3 copyright dates depending on where you look as well as 3 different titles. Which takes precedent?
I am guessing that this game was developed by a non-English-speaking development house, as evidenced by the instructions screen. A portion is shown below and illustrates how the title for the post is derived:
Right off the bat, it’s fair to say that I prefer those 3D Ultra Mini Golf Adventures games from Taco Bell. This Macromedia Director-based game left me with the impression that the developers had never actually played minigolf, or just don’t grasp what the appeal of the game is. I refer of course to goofy courses. This overhead perspective take on the game is a bit sterile, to say the least:
You can place the ball anywhere in the circle to start. Then you use the mouse to determine the ball’s vector; the force that the ball is hit with is implicitly determined by the length of the line.
You don’t actually play against anyone. You merely play against yourself and must sink the ball in a certain number of strokes. A hole in one is worth 10 points. Each stroke beyond that is worth progressively fewer points: 5, 3, 2, 1 then 0. After the 0-pointer, you are given one more opportunity where the game warns you that you must play for your, ahem, “live”:
Play or die. The game’s final question was not difficult to answer:
Posted by Multimedia Mike under Golf Games,Windows Games | Comments (0)
October 1, 2007
I played G.I. Joe: The Atlantis Factor a little bit tonight. I long had an aversion to the original G.I. Joe NES title from Taxan– I remember it being somewhat difficult, or perhaps I just was not up to the challenge. The graphics and gameplay were up to par, though. Capcom snared the license for this second title and I had high hopes.
The storyline involves the Cobra organization raising the lost continent of Atlantis. The G.I. Joe team has to infiltrate the place and put a stop to whatever is the bad guys are going. At first, General Hawk goes it alone but collects more team members as the game proceeds.
This is the first miniboss, a giant with an equally large cinder block sledge hammer. He may or may not have been a canon G.I. Joe franchise character with his own action figure; I never kept up with G.I. Joe as much as I did with Transformers.
There is no strategy at play here. Just hope you have powered up your primary gun enough, haven’t taken too much damage yet, and give him everything you’ve got, head on.
Another notable feature of this game is the wackiest password system I have ever encountered in any NES game:
I am ecstatic that I never rented this game and, therefore, never had to copy down a single password for this game.
Posted by Multimedia Mike under Action Games,Adventure Games,NES Games | Comments (2)