Realm of the Dead (PS2): A Random Game Encounter

A few months ago, the fabulous Kim from Later Levels and I had made plans to meet up at March’s London Gaming Market. Being on a bit of a retro kick recently, but not having access to a rich vein of retro-gaming shopping where I live, she suggested the market as a place where I could enjoy some good o’ fashioned spending and judgement free revelling in my own retro tastes with the promise of giving in to some impulse purchases for items that were unnecessary, but nevertheless ‘necessary’. After chatting about me almost definitely giving in and buying yet another obscure port of a certain game, Kim hatched a fun retro-plan: We would set a price limit and during our market visit buy each other some obscure retro game to play; the weirder the better! (and bonus points if neither of us had even heard of it).

… and then, you-know-what happened and we both ended up cancelling our London travel plans… Continue reading “Realm of the Dead (PS2): A Random Game Encounter”

Duct Tape & Tights: My Retro ‘Bloggers Who Stream’ Technical Rundown

I’m not a regular streamer; a combined lack of time, organisation, and confidence have seen that possibility sailing away, but those few occasions a year when I find a clear evening, a suitable (often retro) game, and invite you to boil up some popcorn and join me I enjoy the experience.

One such evening cropped up some months back when I wanted to share with you all my first ever impressions of Overblood. Sadly it wasn’t to be. The problem, I lamented to my fellow co-BloggersWhoStream-architect (Kim of LaterLevels fame), was that my technical setup was a little on the janky side. That technological marvel that I use to capture PlayStation 1 gameplay couldn’t cope with the shear number of resolution shifts that Overblood thought necessary to… do whatever it was that it was trying to do. As I explained the intricate number of seemingly unconnected elements that I put in place to stream from my original PlaySation, Kim came up with the superb idea that we should reach out to all the other bloggers who stream (namedrop) out there and see how they get on with this whole streaming lark; and so this week’s event was born.

Head on over to the Master Post; I’ll be populating it this week with all the event posts!  Continue reading “Duct Tape & Tights: My Retro ‘Bloggers Who Stream’ Technical Rundown”

Hard Opening

The retro-excursion that I took last week in to the weird world of Overblood left me with a lingering thought about the game’s opening. At first glance the level of instant threat seems absurd; the protagonist wakes up and the player is immediatly faced with the prospect of seeing them freeze to death unless they manage to work out all the controls, find the auxiliary heating power supply, and the stylish (but laughably small) shiny gilet to keep warm. I could just chalk it up to poor game design, dropping the player in to instant life or death peril isn’t what we’re used to in the current age of gaming, but compared to its contemporaries, Overblood isn’t the only title of this era to pull this trick.

When I revisited the Men in Black PS1 game a little while back, I was reminded that it kicks things off in a similar way; player enters an apartment and if they don’t act quickly then a bomb, cunningly hidden in the shadows, will take out most of the buiolding and thankfully the voice acting of whoever they employed to do a Will Smith impression. Maybe these aren’t the finest examples of the ‘3D Action/Adventure’ genre for PS1, but even some of the system’s greats make similar moves. During my epic exploration of Resident Evil 2 last year, I rambled about how tough the opening of the game is; the dramatic intro leaving the player abandoned in a street, several zombies approaching them. I doubt new players would even have managed to work out what the aim button is before taking a chomping. Even though the opening of Metal Gear Solid doesn’t put the player in immediate danger, acting as a playground of sorts, it still presents what most would consider to be the core gameplay in its entirety. I’ve noted in the past that MGS has only six areas where the classic sneaky gameplay is showcased and, as the player undertakes this area unarmed and under-equipped, the ‘dock’ represents one of the trickier regions that the player has to work their way through all whilst the opening credits are still running. Continue reading “Hard Opening”

OverBlood: UnderBlood

What do you mean you’ve never heard of Riverhillsoft? They’re famous for… erm… porting the original Prince of Persia to the Mega CD.

Overblood. I’m just going to let that hang in the air for a moment.

Overblood

How or why anyone thought this would be a suitable title for this game… or any game… I’ve no idea. It is literally meaningless, but like the game it game itself, it’s best not to overanalyse.

Overblood (even typing it makes me feel weird) is a game by long forgotten developer Riverhillsoft that, kind of, falls in to the category of early survival horror for the PlayStation 1 as made famous by Capcom. I first heard of the game in my early teens; shortly after first experiencing Resident Evil 2, my uncle mentioned this “‘similar’ game called Overblood where you wake up in a lab, freezing to death”. I think it was this ‘similarity’ that kept the name locked in to my brain for all these years and eventually led me to pick it up on an eBay whim a couple of months ago. A few days later a battered copy of this long forgotten title turned up. An eerie green hued character adorning the box-art, alongisde the title in stark font, and tagline “A 3D Sci-Fi Adventure”. I popped in the disk and was met with a fast-cut intro montage featuring Reboot style animation and a host of sci-fi staples such as warning klaxons, unconvincing monsters, and characters with shocked expressions. Continue reading “OverBlood: UnderBlood”

Resident Evil: Code Veronica … X.. Complete…

Spoiler Warning: Lots of spoilers for Resident Evil: Code Veronica are here! 

After digging out my PS2 games from my Mom’s attic earlier this year, I found myself revisiting a few of my favourites; Silent Hill 2, SSX3, … and finally Resident Evil: Code Veronica, before giving up sometime around June having scrambled through about half of the game. I decided to head back to that save file last week in an effort to clear some of the backlog playings that I have on the go, or more accurately before I felt like I could legitimately start file #2 of Resident Evil Outbreak.

RE:CV (X Complete; seriously Capcom, what is it with you and editions??) is an oddball of a game in the franchise and deserves a little backstory introduction, so settle back whilst I recline in my wing-back armchair and tell you the tale:

RE:CV has it’s origins way back with the original Resident Evil. Not only released for the PS1, the S.T.A.R.S. team’s first incident riddled adventure was also a bit of a standout title for Sega’s flailing Saturn. Seeing the reception of its sequel, Sega (like Nintendo) must’ve been straight on to the phone to Capcom asking for a Saturn port of Claire & Leon’s funtime zombie shooty-shooty. Unlike Nintendo however, Capcom concluded that the Saturn just didn’t have enough bits, or megs, or ram or whatever to handle RE2 and the idea was scuppered. Sega didn’t stop the conversation there however, they convinced Capcom to develop the direct sequel to RE2 for the yet to be released Sega console, the Dreamcast; a game that would become Code: Veronica. The only problem was that Sony also wanted an RE2 sequel on their system (and let’s not forget that by this time RE4 and Zero were already being developed for Nintendo; Capcom really spread themselves around). Capcom agreed, and an in-development spin-off title called “Last Escape” gained the ‘3’ to become part of the numbered games in the series and the third to be released on PS1 under the title Resident Evil 3: Nemesis in the west. Played in this context, these games seem to make much more sense with RE3 feeling lite on plot, but heavy on “here’s more of that Resident Evil that you like”, and RE:CV opening with a direct continuation of the plot from RE2. Continue reading “Resident Evil: Code Veronica … X.. Complete…”

X-Files on Playstation: Dang! That’s a lot of Photos of the Inside of a Warehouse

Spoiler Warning: This article contains spoilers for the X-Files game on PlayStation 1

*To be sung to the X-Files theme tune*
doodileeedoodilidooooooo
It’s Mulder and Sculllyyyyyy, 
doodileeedoodilidooooooo
It’s Mulder and Sculllyyyyyy, 
doodileeedoodilidooooooo
solving X-Files if they caaaannnn,
doodileeedoodilidooooooo
… avoiding the smookiinngg maaannnn… 
*…etc*

For at least some of this year we’ve been trying to re-watch the entirety of the X-Files. I’m not much of a binge watcher, so it’s been a drawn out process. We ran out of steam a few months ago somewhere in the Robert Patrick era…

… if you ever watch these then you need to pay special attention to he runs; arms flailing wildly. I imagine the director was continually yelling for him to run ‘less like the T-1000’: “More human, less robot Robert – yes! that’s it, wave those arms around!!”… Continue reading “X-Files on Playstation: Dang! That’s a lot of Photos of the Inside of a Warehouse”

Editorial: July – Wait?! What Happened to June?

Hey! How’s it going you July people? All good out there in Someplaceville? If you’re a sunshine-type person then I hope you’re out there enjoying the good weather, or if you’re like me then I hope you’re safely locked indoors away from all that pollen and we can collectively hope to get a few good storms out of the humidity. Either way it’s July already, … Continue reading Editorial: July – Wait?! What Happened to June?

Resident Evil: Director’s Cut; What’s the Deal With That?

… oh yes, it’s another Resident Evil related post!… 

A few blog posts ago, I vaguely said that my next streaming outing was going to be ‘Resident Evil: Director’s Cut’ (RE:DC) for PS1. Unfortunately life got in the way of me actually streaming, and whilst I might cover this in more detail in an editorial, the cinematic release version of events is that I got crazy busy (both home and at work) and went on an impromptu blogging hiatus because I just couldn’t find my blogging motivation with other things happening. Part of the upshot of the hiatus was that I really wanted to play RE:DC but didn’t have the time to set up a whole streaming evening and finally gave in to playing it as-and-when I could grab a gaming session, sadly without having all you good people over to watch…

… this doesn’t mean that streaming is off the table, I still have to come up with a time and theme for my next evening on Twitch…

Part of the reason I wanted to go back to RE:DC is that it is the version of the original Resident Evil that I own, but I’ve never played it half as much as the sequels. Resident Evil 2 was my initial ticket to Raccoon City and the original game was something I discovered afterwards. The other thing that I’d never really considered was what exactly that ‘Director’s Cut’ subtitle meant or why it existed in the first place. Continue reading “Resident Evil: Director’s Cut; What’s the Deal With That?”