That Was No lizard: Dino Crisis

Spoiler Warning: This article contains plot spoilers for Dino Crisis and strong dinosaur references

Motivated by my recent nostalgic ramblings about games with fixed camera angles and pre-rendered backgrounds, I decided to give something new, but of the same era and style a go, so I leapt on to eBay to pick up a copy of Capcom’s 1999 PS1 release, Dino Crisis … and now owe everyone an apology because Dino Crisis doesn’t have pre-rendered backgrounds, it takes place in 3D environment… so, sorry everyone… I was wrong… It is however a game that follows the Resident Evil style of gameplay remarkably closely which is unsurprising being directed by Shinji Mikami, produced by Capcom at a time that the early Resident Evil games were at their peak, and even mentions Resident Evil on the boxart. At the time I was aware of it mainly through playing a short (and seemingly mis-remembered) demo, although given that there were two sequels, it must had had at least a fair following and reception. From my own point of view it strummed all the right nostalgic chords that I had hoped for when I got the urge to revisit a “Resident Evil” game; so much that I played it through to completion which is more than I can say for some retro games I’ve tried to turn my hand to.   Continue reading “That Was No lizard: Dino Crisis”

Immovable Viewpoint: Reminiscing About Pre-Rendered Backgrounds

With current generation PC’s and consoles able to render glorious scenes on-the-fly in almost photo-realistic detail… well, at least until the next step forward when we’ll all look back and wonder how we ever coped with the current blocky mess of low-resolution graphics… the idea of pre-rendering backgrounds feels like a quaint footnote in the annals of gaming’s heritage. It occupied the fabled spot of cutting edge practice for a few short years around the mid to late 90’s and is most closely associated with Capcom survival horror games (the early Resident Evil games and Dino Crisis) but was used in a few other notable games including Final Fantasy VII. Of course with my self acknowledged predisposition to Resident Evil 2 I do have a soft spot for this particular visual style and, having been reminded of it following my recent nostslgia trip into Devil May Cry, my brain has been idley mulling over the technique from a practical and stylistic point of view. The ‘What’ & ‘Why’ of pre-rendered backgrounds is worth picking over before getting to how I feel about them, especially as there may be (shockingly) more than a few people reading who’ve never experienced a game with fixed camera angles and pre-rendered backgrounds. Continue reading “Immovable Viewpoint: Reminiscing About Pre-Rendered Backgrounds”

Please Insert Disk Two: Episode 2 – Devil May Cry (Podcast)

The long awaited second episode of  Please Insert Disk Twois finally here!

Sure it’s been a little while since out last audio outing, but Chinery and I have rustled together the next instalment of our gaming cultural exchange. Once again one of us has picked a gaming favourite from their personal history that somehow passed the other by… but this time the roles are reversedContinue reading “Please Insert Disk Two: Episode 2 – Devil May Cry (Podcast)”

QotM*: Which Videogame Should Have Had a Sequel?

*Question of the month is the blogging equivalent of that cup of coffee in the middle of a tedious job brought to you by those good people over at Later Levels… with a Jammy Dodger on the side… Game sequels tend to get a raw deal, developers are pressured into slapping a ‘2’ on the end of their successful title, building on the original, keeping it … Continue reading QotM*: Which Videogame Should Have Had a Sequel?

How Fast is Sonic: My Own Take on the Age Old Question

So ‘Sonic Mania’ is arriving soon and, although that may not excite many people, any of us who fought bravely in the 16-bit wars of the early 90’s on the side of the blue spiked hero will be eagerly awaiting his return to his 2D homeland where he is still loved, in all the same settings that we loved him in. It promises to be … Continue reading How Fast is Sonic: My Own Take on the Age Old Question

Jurassic Park CD: Hundstrasse Plays Another Jurassic Park Game…

My only guidance was a few grainy images from in a well-thumbed issue of ‘Mean Machines Sega’, but as a child I had made up my mind that the Sega CD’s Jurassic Park Game was the definitive way to experience first-hand the wonder of John Hammond’s ill-fated theme park…

For those of you who havn’t picked up on the subtlety with which I’ve mentioned it in the past, ‘Jurassic Park’ is one of my favourite films. It’s enchanting, exciting, and mysterious, but most of all it is set in a world with blurry edges everywhere making it feel real and expansive rather than enclosed. The characters are all larger than life and caricaturish, each with a distinctive personality and matching wardrobe. Unfortunately it’s a franchise which has never really found its place in the videogame world to the loss of gamers everywhere as it is a setting that is more than ready. Arguably my favourite JP game was the recent ‘Lego Jurassic World’ which made both the ‘list of top 5 games I played in 2015’ and also my recommendation for ‘the best game for non-gamers’. Having said that, there were aspects to the flawed TellTale offering that I also found enchanting, mainly the devotion to the source material and plot (even if the gameplay was weak… to be super-nice to it…). At the time of writing that article, I mentioned the mysterious draw of the SegaCD Jurassic Park game, so one idle Friday evening I set out to play it.

As my opening paragraph alluded, this is a game that had been on my radar for some time; as a child the SegaCD was an enigmatic system where everything seemed to be FMV based (Full Motion video.. as opposed to what?… Half Motion Video?… No Motion Video?) relying on actors and grainy footage to cobble together some kind of game. I’m going to avoid criticising the technology too much, these early CD games were necessary for the development of the medium, havn’t stood the test of time (I think that the controversial ‘Night Trap’ is possibly the only one with any kind of following), but even by these standards, this is a pretty terrible game, so let me walk you through my experiences of it…

Continue reading “Jurassic Park CD: Hundstrasse Plays Another Jurassic Park Game…”

QotM*: Which Video Game has the Best Idle Animation?… and Retro-Mumblings on ‘The Lion King’

*QotM is some kind of warming stew that’s sitting in a slow cooker waiting for you on a cold day brewed up by Later Levels

It’s time for July’s round of ‘Question of the Month’ which has pitched some of the greatest blogging minds against each other in cerebral combat to answer the question “Which video game has the best idle animation?”.

I know that idle animations are present in modern gaming, but I can’t help but associate them with the 16-bit era. Something about wringing every last bit of enjoyment from a game at that time meant that quirks like idle animations & easter eggs held more wonder in games where deviation from the ‘game’s formula’ had a more significant resource cost. I guess it was also the era when idle animations first appeared. Whatever the reason, the question immediately made me think of my days with the Sega MegaDrive, so it is after careful consideration that I have come up with my nomination for the best video game idle animation, and in accordance with the normal rules, here it is in under 100 words:

Continue reading “QotM*: Which Video Game has the Best Idle Animation?… and Retro-Mumblings on ‘The Lion King’”