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.
Continue reading “Silent Hill 4: Room Service”
… 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.
Continue reading “Home Strike: I Played all the Ten-Pin Bowling Games on PS2”
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.
Continue reading “Silent Hill: Shattered Memories – Speed Dial”
Spoiler Warning: This article contains plot spoilers for Silent Hill 3 and the original Silent Hill
Some weeks ago I made the long train journey to London to check out the London Gaming Market. It’s something that I originally wanted to do waaay back in 2020, but we all know what scuppered those particular plans, so I finally decided to face my crowd-apprehension and check it out.
… luckily for me I didn’t have to face the crowds alone as I’d arranged to meet up with Kim, Pete, and Co. from LaterLevels at the gaming market. I had a fantastic day picking through the stalls and boxes at all the different sellers and enjoying some great catching up and long overdue gamerery chat. Really hoping that we’ll be able to do it again soon.
Despite pawing over many many titles, I finally decided to splash out and pick up a copy of Silent Hill 3 (PS2). The second in the series is one of my favourite games on the system, but I haven’t really explored the other outings to that small town too much. Weirdly enough I recently replayed the PS1 original (Heck, maybe that’s what finally convinced me to pick up no. 3), but despite owning it for many years, I think I may have only played that game fully twice. I also used to own Silent Hill 4 back when it was a ‘current’ game, but sadly I traded it in due to gameplay frustrations before ever making it to the finish line. My investment in 3 goes way above the normal amount that I’d outlay for a retrogame, but it’s also one that I’ve lost many eBay auctions for, so seeing a good looking copy right there was too much of a temptation.
Continue reading “Silent Hill 3: Shopping Maul”
Spoiler Warning for Jurassic Park Rampage Edition… I guess… This post is part of my ongoing quest to explore Jurassic Park games.
A few weeks ago I embarked on the 16-bit Sega take of ‘Jurassic Park’ for Sega Mega Drive… and if you didn’t read that one then at least give it a quick Bristol flyover as I’m going to be referencing it quite a bit... My overwhelming opinion was that it is ‘ok’. It does the job. It is technically a 16-bit Jurassic Park videogame that does the minimum to meet that standard and stave off being referred to as a ‘bad game’. But nothing about it really stood out, either as a game, or as an homage to the most Jurassic of Parks.
Jurassic Park: Rampage Edition is a direct sequel to that game, and one that I have technically played in the past thanks to a Blockbuster rental on some otherwise uneventful weekend in the 90’s. I was always a little confused as a kid by the ‘Rampage Edition’ subtitle. It didn’t seem to be clear if it was a new game, or just an amped up version of the original. Having picked up it up on eBay I was kind of amazed how much of it came flooding back to me once I put the cartridge in. Yes, this is a new game which, despite superficial graphical and genre similarities, one that is quite different from the original Mega Drive outing. I’m not saying that the developers, BlueSky, have time travel technology, but it seems a little too convenient that I write a piece about the JP game and there just happens to exist a sequel that addresses all the negatives.
Continue reading “Jurassic Park Rampage Edition (SMD):”
Part of my ongoing quest to play lots of Jurassic Park Games, this article also contains spoilers for Jurassic Park on Sega Mega Drive
“Jurassic Park on Sega Mega Drive“, jam that into a shellsuit and you might have to sit down for all the early 90’s that it is emitting, but that’s just how I like my JP experiences.
With a permanent inhome location for my retro consoles (aka ‘The Retro Nook’) I decided that it was time to undertake the first platforming title in the ongoing JP exploration. Resurrecting my childhood Mega Drive II is always fun, but knowing that I now have a space to leave it permanently setup is even better. The icing on the cake has been the acquisition of a good quality shielded component cable (from retrogamingcables.co.uk … no, this is not sponsored, I just like them that much) and an OSSC line doubler gifted by the amazing Kim & Pete at LaterLevels (I cannot say Thank-you enough!). When these powers combine, they produce a magnificent and crisp image that finally matches my retro-vision memory of the console. Without wanting to disappear too far down a techtalk rabbit-hole, I also play with added scanlines courtesy of the OSSC because I genuinely think it matches more closely my own idea of how a 16-bit system should look.
This shiny new-old setup now deserved a fresh-aged experience, so I picked up the original Jurassic Park title for Mega Drive and (after a little contact cleaning) jammed it in to be greeted by a T-Rex Roaring “Sega”, those iconic park gates opening, a flash of lightning, and flickering torches, all in grimy, dithered, graphics. My JP experience so far has taught me that the Jurassic-park-ness of a game is often set, or at least telegraphed by the title screen and so far the SMD JP was performing well. The game lets the player pick between two scenarios; Alan Grant or Raptor. I opted to begin with Alan Grant, hit the start button, and watched the opening cutscene showing the tour LandCruiser being attacked by the T-Rex…
Continue reading “Jurassic Park (SMD): Rooaaeeggaaaaarr”
Erm… Spoiler warning for Mad Dog McCree .. I guess… Does that need a warning?…
If movies, T.V., and the unreliable 4-year-old-me memory are to be believed, the U.S. in the 80’s & 90’s was a haven of amusement complexes and arcade machines, which the U.K. never seemed to latch on to. As a kid growing up in the U.K. my gaming, like so many, started with home computing before moving on to SEGA consoles. Arcade machines were rarely seen out in the wild beyond a small handful sitting nervously amongst fruit machines or penny falls in seaside towns, and popping up sporadically in the foyer areas of larger cinemas. The only place I could guarantee a reasonable selection of arcade machines was at a bowling alley, so take my hand and join me back in the early 90’s as we push through the double doors and on to the garish carpet of Anytown’s bowling alley*. Past the newly opened Quasar laser tag, past the Addams Family Pinball machine, toward the arcade section, and marvel as you set eyes on a huge rear projection TV cabinet. A solitary tethered pistol in the holster, the words ‘Mad Dog McCree’ emblazoned across the top, and some grizzled prospector onscreen enticing you to part with whatever small change you had in your pocket to try and take down the outlaw.
Continue reading “Mad Dog McCree: Slippery Shoes & Sticky Floors”
Long time readers will know that I’m on a quest… one of the slowest burning quests in history maybe, but a quest none-the-less… to play all the Jurassic Park* games out there. So far I have played ‘some of them‘, But hey, who’s keeping track? I’ve sampled a good variety, including PnC, platform, FPS, and, whatever the heck you classify the DOS one as, but I’ve yet to try a park builder, which is where Operation Genesis comes in.
I’d been keeping my eyes vaguely open for a copy of JP:OG for a while now, but with my recent retro-gaming kick I happened to spot a copy of the PlayStation 2 version going at the same little online shop where I picked up a GameCube so I decided to give it a shot.
Continue reading “Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis – I Don’t Know Why It’s Called That…”
Warning! Contain Spoilers for Bioshock 2 and the DLC ‘Minerva’s Den’
The City of Rapture is easily one of my favourite game settings. That art-deco undersea metropolis not only provides a unique backdrop for some fine first-person horror, but is inexorably linked to the plot through the vision of Andrew Ryan, its in-game conceptual architect. I like this setting so much that I’ve revisited Bioshock several times in the past few years, and replayed Bioshock Infinite an equal number of times to justify replaying the ‘Burial at Sea’ DLC in order to get back to the vistas of Rapture.
However, until earlier this year, I had never completed Bioshock 2. There was a failed attempt to play it a few years ago which petered out a couple of hours in and left me generally poorly disposed to this oft overlooked child in the Bioshock Trilogy. I think there were key barriers to me wanting to pick it up again. Firstly, without the original team at the helm, I wondered just how good that sequel outing under the sea would really be, and secondly, I didn’t want to play as a Big Daddy. Sure, they make a great imposing ingame element, but the lumbering sections imitating a Daddy towards the end of the first game certainly didn’t warm me to the concept. Plus there is an undoubted emphasis on melee combat, something that I tend to avoid in first person titles, which I ultimately ignored in favour of firearms. That being said, the draw of rapture is strong, and one of the biggest plus points about leaky-corridor-simulator 2 is that there is indeed more Rapture to discover here. So, I hung up my misgivings, greased myself up, and slid in to an oversized diving suit to give it another shot.
Continue reading “Somewhere Beneath the Sea: Bioshock 2”
Just recently I did something that I thought as pretty cool… and I don’t say that lightly, I rarely find anything I do ‘cool’. But this was really a little bit cool, and if you follow me on Twitter you may already know what I’m going to talk about. Oh yes, I’m talking about the ‘Zapstrasse!’. A little while ago I had an idea of how you could fool a Playstation G-Con (or G-Con 2 for PS2 in this case) style light gun in to thinking it’s looking at a CRT TV and make it playable on a modern flatscreen. Unlike many of my other random ideas, I followed through on this one and built a proof-of-concept prototype to see if the idea worked. And it kinda does. I mean there are problems and the current version isn’t super stable, but yeah, the idea worked.
… But I’ve already given the technical rundown of that if you’re interested.
No, this is about the next bit, the bit that made me want to do this in the first place, the bit where I got to put it to the test on a game that I haven’t played through since it was a new release. I used the ‘Zapstrasse!’ to go back and play one of the often forgotten Resident Evil Games; Resident Evil: Dead Aim.
Continue reading “Resident Evil: Dead Aim – Survivor Bias”