Actually, the title of this game is merely Hunt, which will make it annoying to search for when it gets into MobyGames soon. It’s of the “casual game” genre, or must be, because not only did I pick it up in the budget software section where I found My Fantasy Wedding and Bratz: Rock Angelz, but also because it was on clearance. It’s a curious genre cross between a first person shooter and a hunting game.
First, there is the section where you go out into the haunted or perhaps radioactive forest, armed with 4 different weapons, and mow down aggressive animals like bears and boars (later levels apparently have rabbits too):
When you reach the flagstaff, you have the opportunity to switch to a more traditional hunting scene in a more serene setting.
There’s a bear in that picture, but it’s a little far off. It’s easier when the random bear encounter occurs closer to you.
And that’s all I really feel like writing on Christmas Eve.
Time to get back to it, especially since I have finally completed acquisition of the entire Deer Avenger tetralogy with the recent eBay find of Deer Avenger 3D. Based on the story told by the opening animation (partially through that timeless plot-unfolding device, the Star Wars scroller), this is what I told MobyGames about the game: “Our hero Bambo seems to have found happiness with a new doe bride, while believing that the dreaded human hunters have forever been vanquished. Just as the pair is about to engage in intimacy, small woodland creatures appear at their window to urgently warn of the hunters’ return. Bambo’s bride laments that she can’t get into the mood while the creatures of the wilderness are threatened. With a cry of soul-wrenching anguish, Bambo finds himself curiously motivated to strike out to dispatch the bipedal enemies once more.”
So, that’s probably the most interesting part of this episode. I’m glad I skipped this one and went straight to 4; if I had played this first I might have had a severe aversion towards the fourth installment. It feels as though the designers were still trying to hold on to certain gameplay characteristics from the first 2 Deer Avenger games, whereas #4 went full on into FPS-type territory.
I take Bambo out into the wilderness equipped with something from his arsenal (whose selection grows as enemies are offed). I wander around the mountain-enclosed, snow-packed arena, laying out a lure here and there and finding the occasional fart powerup. That’s an unfortunate mainstay on the entire series, a disgusting one that’s not altogether welcome after I’ve just eaten. Fortunately, the farts aren’t as visually detailed in this game as they are in #4; in fact, they come out as pixellated white clouds. (Aside: It finally occurs to me that in his quest to rid the forest of stereotypically vulgar rednecks, Bambo has lowered himself to their level. In effect, he is no better than his enemy, a profound theme that underlies the entire series.)
So I eventually hear a hunter in the arena:
A female hunter, no less, and in a revealing hunting outfit. At least, I think she’s a hunter. She could be a jogger with a rifle. I chase her around and around a bluff and just barely keep pace with her. After I notice that she keeps trotting in the same circle, I wait in one spot for her to run by– but I can’t seem to hit her. Eventually, it occurs to me to move into her path and shoot her directly. I still can’t land a shot and she still doesn’t take up arms against me. However, she does run off after I attempt this new strategy; I don’t know if she became scared or if she had finished her little workout. I keep thinking that maybe she was just a jogger, but she did have a gun for which she verbally expressed inordinate affection.
In addition to the normal modes of travel that include both walking and running, Bambo can now jump. It’s a very stylish, powerful jump. But I honestly don’t see any practical application for it through the entire game. The gameplay is rather odd and even ineffectual. You guide Bambo from a 3rd person perspective around the wooded arena using the keyboard. When it’s time to shoot, use the mouse to select the first person shooting view. From here, you have very limited mobility — you can basically rotate about the point where you stand and fire. This puts you in a precarious situation if the hunters decide to shoot back — which, oddly, they rarely seem to do.
Emma Sue shows up again and isn’t on her workout anymore. I make short work of her since she’s not running. I take care of 2 other hunters soon afterwards. This game is pretty easy, especially compared to #4 which actually required some strategy. There are also some harmless humans, typified by the hippie who also shows up in the fourth game. Don’t shoot them (too many times) or it’s game over:
This is the ultimate weirdness that I have seen throughout the entire Deer Avenger series — a forest ranger who implicitly countenances your slaughter of human hunters.
I’m that much closer to collecting the entire Deer Avenger quadrilogy. Apparently, the joke hadn’t completely worn out with the first 3 Deer Avenger games and Hypnotix went ahead with the fourth game in 2001. One day, I will probably see the transition from #2 to this game, Deer Avenger 3D. Without that game as an intermediary, #4 is the biggest technological leap I have ever seen for a video game franchise since the jump from 8-bit Metal Gear to PlayStation Metal Gear Solid. This time, the game is a full-fledged first-person shooter. I concede that the graphics are quite amazing, but don’t forget the kinds of games I’m used to. In fact, this game is capable of running at any supported resolution from 320×200 all the way up to 1920×1440 on my machine. So I run it at that highest resolution and it takes a proportionately long time to capture a screenshot. This is the only game I have ever run at 1920×1440 aside from the Unreal Tournament 2004 demo.
The game starts off in Bambo’s cave dwelling which has a remarkable home theater setup complete with a cave-mounted flatscreen television.
From here, Bambo has the option of watching any of the opening animations from any of the 4 Deer Avenger games. There is ample space for a trophy case and then four different passageways to differents states, 3 of which are boarded up at the outset. So I go with Idaho, my only choice. This thrusts me into a wide open wilderness that appears to go on and on at first glance. Closer inspection, however, reveals that it’s actually a large arena walled off by slightly higher hills than you can ordinarily run over.
The game makes effective use of 3D sound and I hear someone singing and strumming a guitar. I follow the sound until I happen upon a hippie specimen. I sneak up on him and open fire. Predictably, he freaks out and starts running around the woods. He’s easy to catch and I keep plugging him with my side arm but he just won’t stay down. I would eventually realize that he is in tune with nature and is actually here to help me, despite my cursory efforts to treat him as I would any other human in the game. This assistance comes in the form of food powerups which are actually used for actuating 4 different types of farts.
Deer Avenger 4 action screenshot
I quickly establish a gameplay routine that works like this:
Run around the arena landscape collecting any powerups I can find; these seem to be most abundant along the perimeter.
Activate the magnet fart (broccoli) whenever available since that is alleged to attract hunters. This strikes me as being as ineffective as calls were in the first game for the same purpose.
After a few minutes of tooling around the forest, a hunter inevitably appears. You know that they are on the map when the country twang music kicks in. You can also hear them somewhere in the distance. You can try to follow the sound of their voice or you can make use of your Taco Hut-powered compass fart which will blow in the direction of the hunter. Magical.
Make a bee line for the showdown with the hunter, using a rocket fart-powered assist from a hot dog powerup if you are in a serious hurry.
When the hunter is in view, things degenerate into a serious dogfight. Take cover and get in a shot whenever possible. You can’t take much damage so be extra careful or risk playing through the above steps again and again.
The hunters seem to have better weapons and aim, at least at the outset of the game. At least you have infinite ammo, though you do have to reload occasionally from your infinite stock. If you can get close enough to a hunter, unleash the chili-powered nuclear fart for a quick resolution to the hunter conundrum.
Yeah, vulgar and disgusting, just like the rest of the Deer Avenger series. But undoubtedly an effective use of fog effects available on advanced video cards.
There’s one more Windows-based interactive movie on my list that I have neglected up to this point: Psychotron. To be fair, it’s actually just a demo that came on a disc with several other demos and 2 full games published by the same company (Merit Software). I vividly remember when I first picked up this title along with 19 others. I perused the multimedia on the CD-ROM, as is my custom. This demo had a number of Cinepak-encoded AVI videos. Videos that are pretty much on the bottom rung of all FMV I have experienced. Seriously, watching this junk almost made me snap and scrap this entire multimedia hobby if it meant I wouldn’t have to watch this kind of nonsense ever again.
How bad is it? First, the tracking lines. Yes, tracking lines. If I were to piece together their game-making process, I would have to assume that they filmed their actors with a tape-based videocamera and then replayed the video in a VCR hooked up to digital capture equipment. They most likely cued the tape in the right place, paused, started the capture gear, and unpaused the VCR. Thus, most videos seem to start with tracking bars.
Then there’s the actual content of the videos. The demo included scenes where you’re trying to get information from a mega-geek in a cemetary and from some mobsters at their poker game. Now, I have to admit that I’m an extremely poor judge of the acting craft. Generally, I can only spot bad acting if it’s really bad, especially wooden acting. These people play their characters as the most extreme stereotypes imaginable for nerds and Italian gangsters. I have edited together 7 videos (first 2 are the geek, last 5 are at the mobsters’ poker table) for your review:
Good acting? Bad acting? Overacting? Like I say, I’m no expert. But I’m not sure if I believe certain whiplash transitions like when the head mobster’s frustration turns to a calm resolve to cap you.
The Psychotron demo is a Windows app (MobyGames reports a DOS version but this demo is for Windows). It doesn’t work in native XP or Windows 95/VMware. Color me surprised. It looks like I will need to find a way to install Windows 3.1 (either on a real machine, via VMware, or through DOSBox) sooner or later to handle a number of games. I would still like to get a glimpse of how this game actually plays. I think this would be a great candidate for my I-movie engine re-implementation brainstorm, especially when I studied the directory structure and found dozens of straight text files that are shown in the game. Simple data structure; that’s what I’m guessing. From a spot check of some of the text files, I learned that the president of the United States in this game’s universe is Richard Marx.
I want to play some new game this evening. There is plenty to choose from on the disc. Here’s the menu:
I think I’ll check out that DOS-based full Blade Warrior game. Err, no I won’t. It crashes DOSBox (0.65). For giggles, I tried it in the WinXP command prompt. “Program too big to fit in memory.”
Let’s check out the demo for Isle Of The Dead. This works quite a bit better. The game is from 1993 and is sort of a one-off of Wolfenstein 3D. Your plane crash-landed on an island that happens to be infested with zombies. Explore around the island’s perimeter which is quite safe. Pick up your basic items (health, shotgun & shells, coconuts). You’ll get stuck pretty quick if you don’t use your machete to find just the right spot on the wall of vegetation in order to break through to where the real action is. The deadly action. The deadly, undead action. The nearly impossible-to-get-2-meters-into-the-jungle deadly undead action. One moment, you’re looking at this:
The next moment, the zombie gang is tearing you to pieces (FMV! Flic files):
Okay, I’m pleased to say that I actually played a game today. So this is just the demo of Isle Of The Dead. According to this old review of the game, the full version cost $70! That’s not Canadian dollars, either– 214 is in Texas.
I already had the momentum from last night’s Deer Avenger so I thought I would keep going and gather screenshots for the sequel, Deer Avenger 2: Deer In The City. That’s right, there was a sequel. After all, the cover copy claims that the first game was a best-selling parody. A sequel is pretty much mandatory. In fact, a little Googling reveals that there was also Deer Avenger 3-D and Deer Avenger 4: The Rednecks Strike Back.
As the title implies, Bambo takes the battle to the humans in this episode. His specific mission is to take revenge for his would-be doe lover who was caught in the headlights of a truck piloted by 3 particularly ruthless and drunk rednecks. The game revolves around going after each of the 3 offenders on their respective home turfs: the Armpit Estates (suburban setting), the Business District (office setting), and the Swamp Ass Grill (redneck bar locale). The game takes great pains to explain, as humorously as it can, that no metaphorical humans are being killed in this game. You have 3 high-powered tranquilizer-launching firearms to choose from– a Snuzi, a R.E.M.-16 and a Dream Weaver. Each has its own characteristics. Personally, I was partial to the limited automatic capability of the R.E.M.-16 because it allowed for strafing moving targets.
The above screenshot depicts the Armpit Estates stage. You have unlimited ammo and are rewarded for shooting anything that can be destroyed– Windows, trash cans, and of course people. Sometimes you have do shoot doors or garage doors to get to the people. When you get rid of the rest of the humans in the area, you are able to take on the stage boss, one of the 3 hunters responsible for the death of your loved one. As for gameplay, you have your primary weapon and can also duck to dodge return fire. You can not use your weapon in the ducked state but you always have your limited capacity fart offensive capability to fall back on. Find salt shakers for extra health.
It’s interesting to note that when a game really is popular enough to warrant a sequel, the designers don’t usually mess with the formula too much. The people behind this game decided to speed things up significantly vs. the previous game, which I appreciate greatly. What I really enjoyed about this game is the diversity of enemies. Each of the three areas has its own unique set of characters, and each character has its own unique patterns and challenges. I should mention at this point that all the enemies are well-armed, and not with tranquilizer darts. Here is the office environment:
That’s the boss’s son. He’s exceptionally weak and when you take him down, Bambo puts him over the knee for a harsh spanking. I’m not sure what brought that on, exactly.
The most grotesque part of the game was when I was dutifully viewing the credits movie which showcases the most farts accompanied by the most deer anuses. The things I do for MobyGames.
Thanks again to Mans for furnishing a FreeDOS VMware image that enabled me to try Lost Eden without resorting to an actual vintage machine. The image came with the now-GPL’d Doom in order to verify that FreeDOS could play a DOS4GW-based game. Since it was there, I had to give it a go for old time’s sake: A brief diversion that’s still fun. I started to wonder why it maintains its enjoyability. Here’s one factor:
You go up the stairs from where you begin into a turret with some body armor. Outside the windows, you can see expansive, isolating mountains. It’s atmospheric. It grabs you. The manner in which the mountains are presented gives a real sense of depth. I just love those mountains. I remember seeing this game — and those mountains — in action in the early days of its release at a local computer shop that was showcasing it on a very large monitor (19″, maybe 21″, whatever it was, it was ridiculously HUGE at the time when 14″ tubes were the norm). And that mountain scene is what made me remember the moment.
Its simplicity is the next engaging aspect. It’s not difficult for a newbie to dive right in and start killing monsters. Story time: In the spring semester of 1997 I was a teaching assistant for an experimental course called Internet For Everyone (incredible! The University of Colorado still maintains a record of the courses for that semester). Despite its high course number, it was actually just a basic internet exposure course in the early days of the WWW. One of the lab exercises dealt with (get ready for it) finding games on the internet. One of the students in my lab found the Macintosh port of Doom sensibly titled MacDoom. She started playing…
I witnessed a curious transformation in the span of a few minutes. She bumbled around the first room where there are few offensive threats to your health. Eventually, she found the door that leads to danger. An alien spits fireballs. She’s sustaining damage. “Ah! What do I do?!”
“Shoot back! Ctrl key,” I bark back. She does so. Monster dies.
Brief calm after the storm… then, wide-eyed, the student exclaims, “That was awesome! What else can I kill?!”