Dark Summit: is better than it has a right to be…

… I mean, sure, that’s a bit of a clickbait-ey title, but let’s face it, when was the last time you heard anyone talk about 2001’s ‘Dark Summit’, a game that I picked up from last week’s Gaming Market in Birmingham on a bit of a whim. My retro-gaming habits tend to be ones of experimentation. If I see an interesting game that I’ve never heard of… and it’s cheap… then I’ll give it a shot, but I wasn’t expecting to give it much more than a quick hour in the GameCube to see just how bad this … snowboarding/action/adventure?… was.

For me, SSX3 holds the crown of snowboarding games, and I’d probably go as far as give it the crown of best reality-pushing extreme sports game. A genre that seemed to peak in the late 90’s and early 00’s. Dark Summit really owes a huge debt to SSX3 with the box proudly proclaiming ‘detachable board tricks’, a continuous mountain experience with the player able to ride form the top to the bottom, avalanches, challenges dotted around the peak, and even a run called “function junction” which will sound very familiar to anyone familiar with “dysfunction junction” in SSX3. Yes, ‘Dark Summit’ really borrowed a lot from ol’ SSX 3 that was released earlier in…. hang on, I’d better go check...

…. Wait? What? SSX3 was released a full two years After Dark Summit?!?….

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‘In the StackZ’ – ACT I of my text adventure can be played now!… or more interestingly “Why I Decided to Write a Text Adventure”

“Get Ye Flask”
… and it say…
“You can’t get ye flask!”
… and you just have to sit there and imagine why on earth you can’t get ye flask…

– StrongBad, 2004

Spare me your blogging nonsense and just let me download the Z-machine file for ‘In the StackZ – Act I’

Text Adventures! … or Text-Based Adventure Games… or Interactive Fiction… or just IF… whatever you call them, I’ve got a weird history with the genre. For younger gamers, who may not even be aware that these are a thing, they are games where the interface is entirely text based, usually looking a little like some kind of terminal window. The player enters instructions on what they want to do, and the game responds with some kind of descriptive text. For those of us who played these many years ago (or still do) then there’s a particular set of instructions, ‘style’, or conventions to the genre that you learn: For example, you can move between areas using compass directions, use key verbs like look to describe what’s around you, ‘i‘ to show your inventory, examine item to hone in on something specific in the scene…. heck, there’s a whole load of them, but you get the idea…

It’s a genre that sits in that interesting space of “It just made sense at the time” and “in hindsight it was basically a work around for the contemporary technical limitations“, which always makes me wonder what aspects of games that are current will be perceived as a ‘workaround’ in the future? For text-adventures, their backdrop was a home console market that could manage some blocky shapes moving around the screen, or early computing that were mostly text only blasted at the user through a green and black screen. Released in 1977, ‘ZORK’ probably represents one of the best known examples, but it’s not a game that I’ve ever played. Short descriptive paragraphs or scenes, characters, and objects served to power the most powerful graphics engine of all… Human Imagination…

… oh yes, I actually went there…

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Editorial: Whenever This Is

Yeah! Editorials!?! Remember those? Back when I tended to stick to a blogging schedule I would put one of these out every month to… well, I guess tell you about all the other things that I’d been doing that month. But as my blogging has drifted into the realm of less-regular (understatement), the hallowed ‘editorial’ was ditched to avoid every one reading like an apology for why I haven’t been writing more, or that I ‘would be taking’/’have just taken‘ a hiatus. There would just end up being more apologies than rambles about gaming and I didn’t want that. In general I’ve done my best to avoid talking about blogging breaks and suchlike, in the same way I try to avoid talking about social media on social media. We all know the deal: life happens, blogging sometimes happens, gaming happens etc…

What I’m trying to say is ‘Don’t Panic!’ nothing’s changing, I’m still going to be doing this blog with the regular super-infrequent irregularity that you’ve come to expect, and it’ll remain gaming focussed.

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Silent Hill 4: Room Service

Spoiler Warning: Contains Unmarked Spoilers about Silent Hill 4

Chalk up another one for ‘games that have an interesting concept, but flawed execution’. And, despite regular readers knowing that this type of thing is firmly situated on, or near, my avenue, even I found this one a struggle by the time the credits rolled.

I’ve got history with Silent Hill 4: The Room. First picking it up for PS2 around the time it was current; I’m going to say I found it in the 2nd hand basket of an Electronic’s Boutique. This time however, I had to pay a fairly premium 2nd hand eBay price for a PS2 copy to add to my collection having had my eyes open for a while and being repeatedly beaten to the auction finish line. Even then, I ended up with a copy missing its manual and suffering from a few (luckily non-showstopping) disk read errors around the mid-game point. Much to my current-self’s regret, I’d traded my original copy in years ago, having never made it to the end of the game. With my recent-ish exploration of the Silent Hill offerings, finally seeing the resolution of the 4th, and final (at time of writing), numbered entry into the mainline series was the next logical step.

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Home Strike: I Played all the Ten-Pin Bowling Games on PS2

… around about the time I was unwrapping the fourth packet from eBay to reveal yet another ten-pin bowling game, my wife rolled her eyes proclaiming that sometimes I was pretty weird... I object to the ‘sometimes’

The problem is that I can get an idea in my head and can’t let it go without seeing it through; the latest idea was ten-pin bowling. Fun Hundstrasse fact, many years ago I played regularly in a bowling league. It was in a strange period of my life where I found myself in a town that I didn’t want to be in with lots of free evenings on my hands. A casual conversation later and I was turning up weekly to a company league night having been recruited by a short-handed family team who… despite not remembering any of their names… I’m always kind of grateful for adopting me into their loosely related ranks of brothers, uncles, cousins and nieces. For those of you reading in the U.S. this may not seem out of the ordinary, but here in the UK bowling tends to be the domain of families with kids and bored teenagers on a Saturday afternoon with actual leagues and competitive play being more obscure. The point is, whilst not being anything special at actually playing it, I’ve always enjoyed bowling and the strange specific vibe of a bowling alley.

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Silent Hill: Shattered Memories – Speed Dial

Spoiler Warning: I’ve avoided big plot spoilers, but does contain some minor spoilers for Silent Hill Shattered Memories

Urgh! I’ve been staring at a half finished version of this post on and off for weeks now. And that was after a fair number of restarts. I want to write about Silent Hill Shattered Memories. I want to give it the ol’ “How does this fit in to the Silent Hill Family” treatment following my exploration of Silent Hill 3. I’d like to talk about how it’s an unorthodox take on the original outing and enriches the universe.

But I can’t. The amount of caveats, conditions, “buts”, “howevers”, and “Hmmmms” made the entire thing an unreadable mess that I ultimately got lost in time and time again. So I’m going to start fresh and say exactly what I want.

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