March 31, 2008
I would hate for March to transpire without a single entry (when I sat down to write this, I had honestly forgotten that I had already logged one post this month, but I am sort of committed to this evening’s gaming now). So here I am, again, at the very last minute. Hey, I think I’ll even resolve to springboard over the 10K mark on MobyGames tonight. May as well since I’m only 15 points away from the symbolic marker. That’s only 7 1/2 screenshots. I think the reason I have been putting this off for so long is because I haven’t had time to prepare my 10K acceptance speech.
It’s a good day to play a game because I just got a new shipment in from an eBay seller. That’s right! I’m still accumulating games from eBay sellers. That’s not as strange as the fact that I found a seller from whom I was able to order over a dozen games, many of which were not in the database yet. Many of these are old DOS games from the early-mid 1990s, some were later re-released on CD-ROM.
Here’s one that is already in the database but only had 2 screenshots: Wrath of the Demon. The reason it interested me is that the person who submitted the 2 screenshots claimed that he couldn’t get far enough into the game to gather anymore screenshots. I’m pleased to report that I was able to collect a few more, but mostly because I remembered to capture things like story screens, game over screens, etc.
I think this is actually a darn good game by 1990-1991 PC action game standards. At least, it excels in the audio/video departments with its parallax side scrolling and MT-32 soundtrack, both beautifully emulated via DosBox. Indeed, the jewel case copy gushes about the features: “Over 3 megabytes of graphics data; over 600 screens of actions! Smooth 15-level parallax scrolling…; Over 100 monsters, some larger than half the screen.” It makes me feel a bit short-changed since I couldn’t get much farther than the original screenshot poster.
The first level, seen above, has you riding horseback, jumping obstacles, and dodging birds. I guessed that last part. I later realized that I could hit the birds using the space bar even though I was pressing up on the gamepad to jump. With a little persistence, I eventually managed to clear this stage. Afterwards, a pair of monsters ambushes your campfire. You go into a sword battle with one while his friend chucks blades at you from a distance. I couldn’t come up with a strategy for besting them. So I had to sit through their victory dance:
No reason to stop there for tonight since I have plenty of new games that pique my curiosity. Try this title, for example: Forced Alliance: The Glarius Mandate. The game comes on 3 CD-ROMs, features a lot of Smacker animation files, and was published in 1997. It prominently features that bizarre animation style that came to characterize mid-90s 3D animation technology. There must be a name for it, but this is a perfect representation:
The game opens competently enough, with some good looking (for 1997) animations depicting a spaceship prospecting for minerals in an asteroid belt when a new alien threat attacks him. Some humans murmur ominously about this event and the game fast forwards by 10 years. This shows some recruits about to suit up for some space combat training. Unfortunately, this is when the game exhibits another characteristic that I recall was prevalent from the same gaming epoch: instability.
So there is no getting past the intro of this game. I’ll try one more game that gives me no clues from the copy– a Mindscape-published game known only as MagnaFlux Runner. It turns out to be a fairly pointless little overhead racing game:
What can I say about it? Well, at least the MIDI music was nice. And it also allowed me an encounter with one of the strangest bugs ever:
Okay, so what happened is that I put the computer on auto-pilot, playing against itself. I was writing up the game’s description in TextPad. When the game got to level 2, I switched back to the game window. However, part of my text editor remained in the game’s window. That’s not the weird part. The weird part is that the cars seemed to be treating the text editor window as an impassable boundary! I think the behavior occurred as a result of the game window being obscured during a level change.
Anyway, watch for 10K points soon.
Posted by Multimedia Mike under Action Games,DOS Games,Flight Sim,Windows Games | Comments (7)
September 16, 2007
I was justifiably nervous about RC Daredevil– it’s another eGames title. Fortunately, it appears to come from after their reformation period, when they started publishing games that A) worked; and B) were not bundled with spyware. I also spied the file VBRUN300.DLL (Visual Basic 3.0 runtime) on the CD-ROM and groaned.
Mercifully, the game works, did not infect my system, and may not even be written in VB. It’s also the most sophisticated flight game I have played since Pilotwings on the SNES. This game has the player flying one of 5 radio-controlled planes against computer-controlled radio-controlled planes in a variety of different competition modes, such as dogfighting, aerial racing, and paint balloon bombing campaigns.
Take a look at this screenshot:
It highlights two interesting details about the game. First is the kooky, jagged residential architecture. The second is the fact that every parking lot has handicap parking spaces. Very conscientious. The artists paid a lot of attention to details in this game. However, here’s one detail that they probably hoped no one would notice:
I only noticed these cardboard cutout trees because the game can be hard to get the hang of and I was trying to get back down closer to the earth.
On balance, RC Daredevil is a decent casual game, stipulating that I don’t expect much from eGames in the first place. There is nice visual detail, and I think the developer did a good job with the ambient sounds such as the faithful recreation of downtown traffic cacophony during the air race through the downtown skyscrapers. In fact, it’s the rare game that was good enough for me to start up and play again even after I had collected enough data for a MobyGames submission. That said, it’s still a casual game that won’t keep you entertained for very long after the novelty of all 4 game modes wears off.
Posted by Multimedia Mike under Flight Sim,Windows Games | Comments (5)
April 13, 2007
I was reading recently about stealth aircraft including the F-117A Nighthawk when I remembered there was a NES game with that particular fighter craft in the title role. Sure enough: F-117A Stealth Fighter, and it’s not in the database yet. The title screen bears a 1992 copyright date. What I’m trying to figure out is whether the game is a NES platform port of the game Night Hawk: F-117A Stealth Fighter 2.0 that was released for DOS in 1991, Amiga in 1993, and Mac in 1994. Same company: MicroProse.
In fact, MicroProse published the first combat flight sim I ever played: F-15 Strike Eagle. It was also the first game my family bought for our brand new 8088-based PC right before Christmas in 1984. Therefore, the game would have to have been released in 1984, contrary to MobyGames’ release date of 1985 for the PC booter version. Regrettably, the discs and box are long gone so I have no evidence to back this up. I only bring it up as it is remains a longstanding point of friendly contention between myself and one of MobyGames’ founding fathers, Trixter (I’ll never let it go!).
But I digress in a major way… I was curious to see exactly how one might pull off a flight simulator on the NES. Flight sims are among the more complicated — and therefore feared, by me — games that one can undertake. That old F-15 Strike Eagle game used quite a bit of the keyboard and I was curious to see how MicroProse could execute a combat flight sim with only 8 input buttons (up, down, left, right, select, start, B, and of course, A). The answer turns out to be combinations of buttons (e.g., B+select to switch from map to radar view) and unintuitive navigation through option menus.
I found the actual gameplay very frustrating, much more so than the F-15 from 8 years prior (that’s right! Eight years, not seven! I’ll never drop the issue!). The controls were much less responsive and the graphics much worse than that old PC booter game. Both graphics systems had severe weaknesses to overcome. The PC had its 4-color 320×200 bit-plane raster display. The NES had its tile-addressed 256×224 display capable of a few more colors. It was hard to make anything out in either game. Now that I think about it, this game did have better enemy plane representations. F-15 basically had wire mosquitos. This had sprite drawings at different sizes. Though I found it suspicious that there were never any clouds in the sky at the same time enemy planes were in your sights.
It didn’t take long before I got so frustrated that I wanted to kill myself. I sure couldn’t count on death-by-combat since no matter how many missile strikes I sustained, my craft still remained airworthy. Time to take a bath. You wouldn’t believe how long it took to plunge straight down into the Mediterranean Sea between Sicily and Libya. Long enough to write plenty of notes detailing why this game probably won’t make my list of games to replay sometime.
Perhaps the most notable feature of this game is its use of digitized voices, longer than I have heard in any other game yet (not very long, but still).
Posted by Multimedia Mike under Flight Sim,NES Games | Comments (0)