Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis – I Don’t Know Why It’s Called That…

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…”

Somewhere Beneath the Sea: Bioshock 2

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.

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Resident Evil: Dead Aim – Survivor Bias

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.

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Resident Evil 3: The Resident Evil 3 Perspective

This Article Contains Spoilers… likely for both the original Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (’99) and the 2020 Remake. You have been warned!

Late to the party as ever I’ve been in a bit of a Resident Evil hankering type of mood recently; which is not a mood I’m unfamiliar with. So whilst everyone with a PS5 or beefy enough PC to handle it has been exploring a certain Village, I finally got around to picking up and playing last year’s big Resi-offering; the remake of Resident Evil 3. Sitting as a direct sequel to the previous years remake of Resident Evil 2, the REMake3 (yes, I’m going with that shorthand) is mechanically and visually very similar to its predecessor but offers something quite different in the gameplay department.

Now, honestly I finally put the REMake3 down a couple of weeks ago, but I really wanted to digest the game that I’d just played through twice in a row, something virtually unheard of for me, before I publicly spoke about it. Eventually I settled on doing pretty much what I did with the RE2Make and sidestep all the regular review nonsense that so many other have covered to consider how it compares to he source material; in short, is the REMake3 a good remake of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (’99)?

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Sniper Elite III: Chewing Gum for the Thumbs

Step in to the shoes of Buck ‘Elite Sniper’ McSniper-Elite the most elite sniper in all of the sniping elite sniper division. Armed only with his elite sniping gun he must snipe more elite-ly then the other elite snipers to become the most elite sniper in all the sniping world of elites to prove once and for all who the most elite sniper is.

I mean, I assume that’s the general gist of the game. I wasn’t paying too much attention; oh, and you have to shoot nazis because it’s WW2 times, except in Africa which is slightly different to all the other WW2 times games that involve shooting nazis in mainland Europe. The problem is that, despite the amount of sarcasm that I’ve jam-packed in to that opening few sentences, I’ve sunk a fair few hours in to ‘Distance-Shooty-Number-3″ which probably says more about my current state of gaming than being a reflection on the game’s quality… and for the record, if spending all your ingame time crouched to the point that your back starts to sympathetically ache is something you enjoy, then knock yourself out because there’s kind of nothing seriously wrong with Sniper Elite III, it’s just that I’m struggling to tease out what qualities made it worthy of the hours I’ve personally played it for.

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Night Trap: Awww Grrrrrrr…

Spoiler Warning: This article contains plot spoilers for the game ‘Night Trap’

Call me childish, but there’s a small part of me still smirking at playing ‘Night Trap’ on Switch; a game that Nintendo’s North American President once said would “never appear on a Nintendo System”. Even stepping away from that, it’s clear that the game wears the controversy that surrounded its original release like some robe of state and that without the original drama it’s fairly questionable that it would have received a 25th anniversary re-release. Now, I know that it’s a title that has an unquestionably vast library of opinion pieces, critical breakdowns, and impact articles already associated with its name, but now that I’ve finally experienced the game myself, something that my eight year old self would have been super jealous of having seen those futuristic FMV graphics splashed across the pages of Mean Machines Sega, it’s a good moment to throw out my own views on the controversy surrounding it and how it actually stacks up as a game.

Night Trap is one of those titles where the events surrounding it are at least as (if not more so) interesting as the game itself. Graphics are mainly comprised of live action FMV video that is cut and changes depending on your actions as a player and represents that weird time when CD based games were young. With this new physical format developers were presented with a vast amount of storage space compared to the cartridges that they may have been used to, and like all new tech, they didn’t seem to quite know what to do with it. Thus games like ‘Night Trap’ were born, and for a brief instant were going to be the direction that all games were going; real actors in live action video where the player gently influences the actions in something more like an interactive movie than a traditional game. It was released on the MegaCD (or Sega CD), Sega’s CD drive add-on for that 16-bit blast-processing fuelled monster the Mega Drive (… sigh… or Genesis), in 1992 at arguably the height of Sega’s presence in the home console market on a system that was at the time one of the more widespread CD based platforms. This relatively high level of exposure to the general public arguably led to what happened next, but the twist is that this game was originally meant for a completely different (and more primitive) technology.

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Trüberbrook: Pointing, but not Clicking

Spoiler Warning: This article contains major plot spoilers for Trüberbrook

Point-n-clicks are one of those genres that has found a home in the arms of small and indie developers. Whilst mainstream triple-A releases focus on increasing levels of action and frame-rate, the humble PnC offers gamers something at a more sedate pace which I almost completely ignored growing up only to uncover their charms when I was a little older; and there’s a lot for me to like about PnC’s give my gaming tastes. One of the reasons I enjoy classic survival horror is that feeling of exploring, unravelling and gradually unlocking an area which a good PnC encapsulates. I also enjoy a good story and that certain brand of gaming where you don’t need to have twitch reflexes to play.

It was with this thirst for a story and world to explore that I picked up Trüberbrook, a PnC adventure that drops the player in to the scuffed shoes of a Quantum Physicist, Hans Tannhauser. Arriving in the small remote German village of Trüberbrook in the 1960’s, under the unquestioned circumstance of having won a competition that he didn’t enter, Tannhauser is drawn in to the mysterious local activities of the Millennium Corporation and ends up saving our reality. The visuals, made up of hand crafted model shots, are probably the most immediate draw with its intricate diorama-like presentation and an almost claymation quality to the onscreen cast of quirky characters. Regular readers will know that ‘small town mysterious events‘ and ‘diorama-like‘ are two of my triggers to an almost instant purchase, so it seemed like I was on to a winning formula already. Continue reading “Trüberbrook: Pointing, but not Clicking”

Ringfit Adventure: Gamification Done Right

… or WiiFit RingVenture as I like to call it… 

TLDR: It’s pretty good at doing what it does

Longer Version: I’m a long time dabbler in the gamification of exercise so I really know what I’m talking about. My relationship with the world of physical exertion is a complex and haphazard affair, especially compared to some of my family, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate the gradual gains and progression that exercise can bring… it’s just that I want some flashing lights and numbers… ideally in graph form… to go with seemingly endless reps. So I’ve tried all sorts of things, I’ve logged exercise through fitocracy and given the Google.. erm.. fit/exercise/active/whatever app a shot during my last sustained gym going effort (over a year ago now), but really nothing has stuck. The common problem with these types of apps for me (and I appreciate that they work for many people) is that they don’t really get to the heart of gamification. They tend to revolve around the idea of the user being happy with a sense of knowing that they’re doing exercise without really providing any sort of structure to do that; goals are self imposed and the experience of ‘logging your hours’ is largely the same on day one as it is in day 100.

… and let’s face it, if there aren’t unlockable costumes involved then I’m just not invested..  Continue reading “Ringfit Adventure: Gamification Done Right”

Sunset Riders: Deserves More than Arcade Archives

I get it, I really do. Hamster Corporation’s ‘Arcade Archives’ series is all about emulating some beloved and well known… along with some much less well known… arcade classics. Bringing the coin-op pleasures of yesteryear up to date with faithful console ports is indeed a laudable goal, it’s just that Konami’s early 90’s western run-n-gun, Sunset Riders, really deserved more.

It’s a game that I’ve been interested in since I borrowed the Mega Drive version for about a week from a neighbour at some point during the early 90’s. Being mostly a platform gamer I hadn’t ever really played many run-n-gun titles, let alone one that was as vibrant as Sunset Riders. That wild west town of the opening stage with its saloons, bandits popping up from every location and … bulls running through the streets?… drew me in to the extent that, despite never owning it, I’d often fire it up at times when I’ve indulged in a bit of sneaky 16-bit emulation over the years.

With all this in mind I was delighted to see it inconspicuously tucked away in the new releases section of the Nintendo Switch e-Shop under the Arcade Archives banner recently and barely paused before parting with the necessary funds to start it downloading. Continue reading “Sunset Riders: Deserves More than Arcade Archives”

Good Job! – Missing the Office Life?

Have you been working from home? I’ve been working from home. I’m guessing a whole load of you have been working from home, and if you’re one of those key-workers who have been heading out there day after day to keep the rest of us safe and sound then you absolutely have my gratitude and assurance that I have been doing whatever I can to stay the heck out of your way.

It may not be much, but the best that most of us can do in the current situation  is to think about how our actions impact everyone around us 

… but, whilst I’m normally a fan, working from home does deny me the simple pleasures of being in the office or lab. Pleasures like mashing the buttons on a vending machine and sending canned beverages flying out across the room or merrily driving a forklift through a warehouse wall. Luckily a short while ago, a super-accurate workplace simulation game, ‘Good Job!’ was released on Switch and, as most jobs are better with a colleague in tow, my wife and I picked it up on a whim after watching the trailer in order to enjoy a bit of couch co-op workplace recreation. Continue reading “Good Job! – Missing the Office Life?”