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”

Enjoying the Painstaking: A ‘Receiver’ Retrospective

I’ve been battling against a minor case of writer’s block this week when it comes to blogging, or at least writer’s struggle if that’s a thing. Each post idea I’ve decided to run with has been abandoned pretty quickly and sentences just arn’t flowing. Even now I’m struggling to extract each phrase in exactly the way I want to from the ideas zipping around my head. One of the big things I’ve learnt about blogging is that each post forms itself in different ways; sometimes the whole thing can just be blurted out, sometimes the piece is longer but flows from idea to idea and sometimes, like now, the post needs to be assembled piece by piece with each phrase and thought painstakingly formed. Having admitted that, I’ll also say that these painstakingly formed articles often come out well and I find that there is an attention to detail that can be lost in my blurted ramblings. It was somewhere roaming through these thoughts about the painstakingly laborious and what aspect of gaming I could write about that I found myself thinking about ‘Receiver’, a game that I have sporadic urges to play, have thoroughly enjoyed, but with which the word painstaking seems innately connected. Continue reading “Enjoying the Painstaking: A ‘Receiver’ Retrospective”

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)”

PU:BG – Bathroom Surprise!

It’s been difficult to miss the wave of enthusiasm within the gaming community for the fabled ‘PLAYER UNKNOWN’s BATTLEGROUNDS’; a currently early access title with its roots set in the modding community (like so many great games before it) and with a user base now measured in millions. Having only a cursory understanding of the game, but a high degree of curiosity, I jumped in a couple of weeks ago and with about 24 hours of playtime I’ve been staring at a blank screen trying to work out how to go about wrapping up these hours in a digestible and entertaining form… If I’m honest I’ve begun and scrapped half-a-dozen attempts to take a witty spin on it, or begin in a quirky off the wall way, and come to the conclusion that for PU:BG, a blunt direct approach might just be the best for what is in essence a clean and straightforward concept.

If there is anyone out there that still has no idea what I’m jabbering on about, PU:BG is a Battle Royale game based on an open world island; 100 players skydive in, all with the aim of being the last standing. Periodically the blue shimmering play boundary, known only as “the circle” shrinks, forcing those hiding and trembling survivors to scamper from their rabbit holes into the rapidly diminishing territory. Players outside the circle are ‘encouraged’ back in through the use of physical damage, and an occasional air strike is thrown in just to keep everyone on their toes. Other than that the game is fairly standard shooter fare with weapons, health, & armour pickups in buildings, vehicles to move hastily (but noisily), and an island peppered with soviet era towns, buildings, & bridges along with a healthy dose of wilderness. The task can be tackled in solo, pair, or four person squad modes and although the island is always the same, the vector of the transport aircraft along with the shirking play-zone seems to keep gameplay fresh whilst allowing the player to quickly recognise landmarks (and even pick out the odd favourite  haunt amongst the buildings). Continue reading “PU:BG – Bathroom Surprise!”

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…”

The Witness: A Cross-Examination

I was going to write this one without spoilers, but some things I wanted to discuss certainly fall into that category so consider yourself duly warned… SPOILERS AHEAD ME HEARTIES!!! 

It’s currently one of Steam’s “Quick! Now’s your chance to trim that wishlist!” events which means I’ve parted with some cash to pick up some games in what I tell myself is a sly and savvy bit of retail action, but in reality is money that I wouldn’t necessarily have spent otherwise.

One of these purchases… specifically the one I’ve sunk 17 hours into over the past week... is ‘The Witness’, Jonathan Blow’s enigmatic follow up to to ‘Braid’. It’s a game that was pretty difficult to miss when it was released 18 months ago, as it seemed to gather polarised reviews and sparked some controversy over its perceived high prices “for an indie title“. As the dust has settled, it seems to be widely regarded as a creative success receiving solid review scores and being hailed as a work of art by many for its visual style, and ‘hidden depths’. The player jumps into the shoes (well, we assume, the topic of footwear never actually comes up) of a mysterious person emerging from an underground chamber to be greeted by a bright, colourful, highly stylised, and above all mysterious island. To escape our subterranean ingress point that player is presented with a door; a symbol, a dot with a line attached, sits expectantly on the panel and the player must tap the dot and trace the line to the end in order to open the door. That’s the first one… repeat about 400 times until you reach the ‘end’ of the game… and many more if you want to 100% (which as we’ve talked about isn’t my thing).

… that’s it… blog post over…    Continue reading “The Witness: A Cross-Examination”

Cities Skylines: Idle Gaming

No, not ‘game idling’, that’s leaving TF2 running on an empty server because you’re desperately trying to get a hat as cool as my heavy’s purple-super-awesome-fuzzy-hat; it’ll never happen, so you should probably stop trying now. 

In the past week I’ve once more returned to ‘Cities: Skylines’, which may not be the most catchy name, but I guess the developers decided against calling it ‘Cities: The Game That SimCity Reboot Should Have Been’. I first tried my hand at this gentle brand of city planning back in 2015 when it made the list of top 5 games I played that year and, despite rarely being touched since the close of that twelve-months, it remained installed on my PC; a worthy achievement as I tend to clear space pretty regularly to make way for new titles. Working on the ‘Field of Dreams’ school of thought the player lays out roads, infrastructure, designated zones, and the population, like ballplayers through a cornfield, arrive to live, work, and shop. It’s a tried and tested formula that, in all the important ways, has remained unchanged since the first SimCity hit consoles and home computers in 1989 (if you can believe that!). ‘Cities: Skylines’ brings back all the important elements and adds a few more for good measure; along with overall budgeting the player can designate districts within their virtual utopia specifying local bylaws and incentives; for example you could designate a district which gives tax breaks to small businesses, or distribute smoke detectors to residents of a specific residential area. Along with this the game allows you to place certain landmark buildings as you reach gameplay milestones which in broad terms bring in more tourism and act as some kind of indicator of ingame progress. Continue reading “Cities Skylines: Idle Gaming”