Metal Gear (NES): I Feel Asleep

This is Mission Commander Big Boss. The following article contains spoilers for the original Metal Gear. The game is thirty years old, do I still need to warn you? You have been warned! 

In my recent 20 year retrospective about Metal Gear Solid for PS1 I mentioned that the original Metal Gear for NES was one of the few games that I own for that system and yet I’ve never completed it (to clarify, my NES is not a childhood console, I picked it up about ten years ago on eBay). With that thought gently turning the cogs of my mind I decided to finally play it and see where the series began and how it shaped the follow up monster of the PlayStation 1 era. Blowing the dust off both the console and the game I fired it up and…

Continue reading “Metal Gear (NES): I Feel Asleep”

Duck Season: With Paprika

Spoiler Warning: This article contains spoilers for “Duck Season”… also whilst I’m warning, so does the trailer for “Duck Season”.

I’d lay a guinea to the fact that most of you reading this are of that very specific age to have grown up knowing the simple time pressure of renting a videogame from Blockbuster. Three-day rental, five-day rental, it made little difference, there was always a race against time. How far could you get before the return day approached? I can’t say that I had that many of the pre-requisite entirely free weekends which coincided with a Friday night adventure through the fabled door below the ripped ticket stub in to the land of blue, yellow, overpriced snacks, and disappoint of realising that although they had about a hundred of the empty cover boxes of the latest movie you needed to find one of the generic boxes to actually rent that movie. Game rental for me was indeed a rare treat, so much so that I can remember almost every instance of it during the 16-bit era… and they were all mediocre titles at best. Continue reading “Duck Season: With Paprika”

I Expect You to Die: James Bond without much James Bonding

The opening title sequence of a game is rarely something mentioned in a “review” (if that is what I do here…) but in the case of “I Expect you to Die”, the opening titles are a notable VR experience in themselves. The player is a passenger through a Bond inspired, highly stylised, red & black dichromatic intro sequence complete with Shirley Bassey style theme music. It’s an homage to everything that the game strives to be – an over the top Spy experience paying tribute to Connery and Moore whilst keeping its tongue firmly in cheek.  Continue reading “I Expect You to Die: James Bond without much James Bonding”

Arizona Sunshine Features Both Arizona and Sunshine

Shooting zombies; it’s what gamers have been doing since the 90’s. Wave after wave they arrive to be met by the ingame blast of a shotgun or grenade, and likewise the zombie shooter genre itself feels as though it’s been delivering a relentless onslaught of titles for the past 20 years. Even if you’re not a fan, it’s difficult to deny that this subgenre has been a successful formula; ever mutating to match the style of the time, but always dropping the player in that futile struggle against the undead. Whether highlighting the harrowing reality of the scenario, taking a darkly comedic look at the crisis, or simply focusing on guilt-free carnage, gamers still seem to find this well-worn path appealing.

One of the first games I looked for when road testing my Vive was a zombie shooter. A short VR experience about two years ago had been with a rail shooter and I was impressed then with how effectively the motion tracking managed to sustain the illusion of wielding weapons.

Enter “Arizona Sunshine” which seems to be the leading VR zombie shooter on the Steam Store and (for those of you who can’t be bothered to read to the end) it delivers a competent VR FPS zombie shooting experience… which might not sound like wildly extravagant praise, but is a pretty good achievement nonetheless. Continue reading “Arizona Sunshine Features Both Arizona and Sunshine”

Jurassic Park (DOS 1993) – Split Personality

“Who better to get the children through Jurassic Park than a dinosaur expert” – John Hammond … to be said in a warm Scottish accent… 

Who better indeed than Alan Grant? The embodiment of Good-Sam-Neil; as oppose to Bad-Sam-Neil that we all know and were terrified by in Event Horizon.

The latest in my very leisurely quest to explore the many Jurassic Park games goes right back to 1993 where it all started with the PC game released by Ocean software. Ocean were also responsible for the Nintendo (NES, GB, SNES) Jurassic Park games which all took a more top-down action approach when compared to the side-scrolling action of the SEGA games; but those are DNA strands to break down another day. The PC version is most similar to the SNES version with both isometric and first person segments, but they are two quite different games as I managed to complete the PC version whereas any time I’ve attempted the SNES version I’ve failed to make it more than one-hundred in-game meters from the opening screen. Continue reading “Jurassic Park (DOS 1993) – Split Personality”

Spy Party: Purloin That Guest List

Hello… are you sitting comfortably?…no, come closer… slide your chair in… closer… closer… move in to uncomfortably close territory as though you’re trying to see the flaw in a waxwork. Now start studying my behaviour intensely and try to work out if I’m doing anything devious.. am I?… 

This is what Spy Party feels like.

Spy Party is a game that has been in development for an extraordinary length of time. I first heard about it in an issue of Games tm (so back when I still bought print magazines) maybe ten or more years ago. Since then I’ve kept an occasional eye on the Spy Party website for development updates, I even bought the game in beta (although didn’t really play it at that point), and finally in recent months it has hit Steam; albeit in early access form. It was the simple, yet instantly understandable, concept that hooked my interest, held it for all those years and is what makes it a very interesting experience now I’ve finally spent some time playing. Continue reading “Spy Party: Purloin That Guest List”

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter: Love & Hate

I’ve tried to avoid major plot spoilers, but there’s a chance that there are some minor spoilers lurking in the text below. Also, for completeness, I played the Redux version of the game which has a few gameplay tweaks, slightly enhanced graphics, and loading optimisation.

I’m not sure if subliminally I was inspired by Steam’s latest “event” which is bizarrely focused on getting gamers to acknowledge their growing backlog of… well, whatever has been picked up for a bargain in the past 200 Steam sales yet never played… but I finally decided to fire up “The Vanishing of Ethan Carter”… then some hours later I finished it. The affectionately acronym-ed TVoEC (Pronounced too-voh-eck) jumped out at me x steam sales ago for being a first-person exploration game with some puzzle elements, a supernatural vibe, and seemingly coupled with some healthy reviews & recommendations. The cynical might call it a “walking simulator” leaning heavily on the negative implications of the phrase whilst the more pro-exploration crowd might also refer to it as a “walking simulator” but in a positive light of a group trying to own what was initially a derogatory term. I guess I prefer the more neutral “first-person exploration” as a genre, but given how widely recognised it is as a phrase I don’t flinch at the aforementioned divisive terminology which is a microcosm of the divide that this style of game causes. As I ambled through TVoEC I couldn’t help but begin to see it as a prime example of how and why this genre manages to split gamers. Continue reading “The Vanishing of Ethan Carter: Love & Hate”