Bully: Bully for You Sir!

Bully is a game that deserves a gentle preamble for anyone not familiar with it, or the controversy that surrounded Rockstar games in the early 2000’s. Two years prior to Bully’s release, Rockstar bestowed upon the world GTA: San Andreas, another link in their lucrative GTA series served with lashings of violence, murder, and crime. Strangely however it wasn’t any of these nuanced facets that attracted the public’s attention, it was the “unintended” inclusion of an erotically charged polygon-ey mini-game in which the player could QTE their way through some awkward sexy-times. Rockstar had removed the mini-game prior to release but the modding community being what it was quickly found out that the code remained on the disc and just needed to be reactivated. Various moral advocacy groups erupted in outrage, politicians had a fresh pinata to beat with their anti-gaming stick, and Rockstar were forced to make some costly gestures to try and fix the damage. The whole thing smooshed together to become what we now know as the Hot Coffee Controversy. 

Having never played any GTA games aside from the original top-down PC release, I can’t comment on how detrimental to the moral fibre of the world this digital intimacy was, although I doubt it did more damage than the player’s illicit activities in the rest of the game.     

Two years later in 2006, Rockstar released “Bully”; a game with a similar sandbox structure to the GTA games set in the fictional boarding school, Bullworth Academy. Already on high alert from the previous controversy, and with Rockstar still squarely in their sights, the same groups immediately branded Bully as GTA set in a school with further objections raised from anti-bullying groups. The complaints rolled in before it was released leading to some UK high-street shops refusing to stock the game, more political debate, and Rockstar changing the game’s name to the less provocative “Canis Canem Edit” (Roughly translated to “Dog Eat Dog”) in the PAL regions. Continue reading “Bully: Bully for You Sir!”

Weird Retro Mumblings: Missed Consoles

Staring out at the vast sprawling gaming metropolis in front of us now there’s so much going on: the overpopulated Steam district buzzing with indie and shovelware; Sony & Microsoft towers, each continually building to be the tallest in the land; and the pleasant Switch district with its artisan shops and quirky antiques. It’s easy, in this metaphorical kingdom, to forget that things weren’t always … Continue reading Weird Retro Mumblings: Missed Consoles

Jurassic Park: Trespasser – Next Time It’ll Be Flawless

… You know that bit where John Hammond spoils the magic of the flea circus by telling Ellie that it was all motorised? Well, I’m not like John. This article contains spoilers about the bizarre & obscure PC title Jurassic Park: Trespasser, you have been warned… 

After the excitement of that first groundbreaking movie, the cinematic adaptation of Michael Crichton’s follow up “Jurassic Park: The Lost world” was a huge deal. I remember all the promotions and merchandise tie-ins alluding to the mysterious “Site B” – I’m pretty sure that even now, if you utter that short word coupled with a solitary letter most people (at least in my age range) would immediately think of dinosaurs. A year later in 1998 DreamWorks Interactive released “Jurassic Park: Trespasser” (actually just called “Trespasser”) to coincide with the home release of  the movie. Sadly, rushing a game tie-in out to meet with some other release schedule is, as I’ve mentioned before, often one of the big problems with such a title and Trespasser was no exception. It was buggy, had sections cut, and largely failed to live up to the ambitious intentions of the designers. Twenty years later I decided to give this notorious game a shot in my ongoing quest to find the best Jurassic Park game out there. Continue reading “Jurassic Park: Trespasser – Next Time It’ll Be Flawless”

There’s a Hole in the Sky, Through Which Things Can Fly – A Portal Retrospective

Shhhh… I have a confession to make and I’m pretty sure that I can trust you all, right? I got kinda starstruck the other day on Twitter, but it’s OK because I played it cool and I don’t think the person involved was any the wiser.

Now I’ve grabbed your attention I can reveal that the mystery person was the most excellent game designer, Kim Swift. Through the magic… or weirdness… of Twitter we shared a short exchange about successfully (or not in my case) driving in snow. Unfortunately, despite being strangely informative, that is not what I would ideally have liked to quiz Kim about. In that ideal world I would have asked her about her time heading up the team that developed Portal; her involvement in the Left4Dead games; why she left Valve; what she thought about Portal 2; and her hopes for the future. The whole incident left me thinking about Portal and its legacy. Even the story of Gabe Newall hiring Kim and her team after seeing their short title, ‘Narbacular Drop’, has a touch of mystery about it. Continue reading “There’s a Hole in the Sky, Through Which Things Can Fly – A Portal Retrospective”

Weird Retro Mumblings: Oh My! NBA Jam T.E.

Apparently first released back in 1994, NBA Jam T.E. (For Sega Mega Drive) holds the illustrious honour of being possibly the only ‘team sports’ game that I’ve ever really enjoyed. As I’ve often mentioned, one of the great things about gaming is the breadth of the medium, so whilst it’s not my preferred “Heftgröße” (as our German speaking cousins would say) I know that there are gamers out there who revel in ‘Fifa’ and ‘Madden’ as much as I do in ‘Bioshock’ and BotW. Continue reading “Weird Retro Mumblings: Oh My! NBA Jam T.E.”

QotM*: Poor Wardrobe Selection

*Question of the Month is a metaphorical puppy let loose in a ball-pool orchestrated by Later Levels

As always the game blogging community isn’t afraid to tackle the really big issues of our chosen sphere of interest. For November we’re looking at fashion choices, but not the most stylish, or sexiest, … Or even those outfits that we as gamers would like to steal from our favourite digital protagonists and strut around in from time to time (answer to all three is Link’s barbarian armour set from BotW). For this question we’ve been asked to come up with the character who has just made a plain bad choice because of the practicalities of their chosen activity. Continue reading “QotM*: Poor Wardrobe Selection”

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”