Sunday, 7 July 2013

16 bits, 2 bytes - Third Event

Shadowrun, Beam Software 1993

The realm of Dungeons & Dragons is the ultimate pen and paper RPG and for those who have never heard of the concept, I’ll briefly explain.

Providing you can get a bunch of willing participants, he/she is nominated to become the so-called Game Master who is burdened with creating a setting and rules while others will be expected to act out the role of the char and actions are directed through speech.

We cuddle its closest rival in pixels.

In the year 2050, a variety of chars, magic and creatures inhabit the cyberpunk city of Seattle.

The protagonist Jake is gunned down for reasons as yet unknown and presumed dead.  Anyway, he looking pretty good for a corpse as he wakes up in the morgue with amnesia and wants to know who or what was responsible for the hit ordered on him.

A quest must be embarked upon to have questions answered, by whatever course of action necessary.

The viewpoint is sensibly isometric and points of interest are interacted with via a pointy hand.

Typically with this type of game, if you hover over something and nothing immediately interesting is seen, leave it well alone.

More often than not, much can be interacted with such as doors, items, talking to NPC’s and combat.

This is naturally packed with statistics such as magic, items, armour, skills and weapon.

Charisma and karma provide mild intrigue as the former affects Leadership and Negotiation skills as Shadowrunners (team members) can be influenced to stay with you and can even be bought a bargain price.

The latter translates to experience points and is got through successful kills.  It is also essential when increasing skills.

Money makes the world go round and in 2050, things are no different and Nugen is the stuff you’ll require to buy bits with other bobs.

You can also expect some to flog you various shit.

Another thing you can do is cyberdeck which involves hacking computers to enter cyberspace, battle programs and retrieve data.  However, dying in this world has fatal consequences…

We all need a nap and Jake will do this regularly because visiting the land of nod reaps many benefits.

Okay, apart from counting sheep, you can save, heal, become magic and increase attributes.

In addition, computer and firearm skills can also benefit from an upgrade.

During the love affair with chars and quite intensive dialogue, important clues are shoved in your face in the form of bold writing which should make the player think ‘Hmmm, can I ask about that?’

Well, yes you can.

So interrogating that person about whatever word(s) are obvious will bring further information, clues and responses.

When you’ve exhausted all options, you should skidaddle as you’ll just go around in circles.

Holding conversations is an essential part of the adventure and consequently, be prepared to do this frequently.

There are those that are more hostile than others and when they've bitten the dust, examining and pillaging the corpse should always be entertained as you never know what the dead may be holding.

The char graphics are small and are animated okay but there is a fair deal of variety in environments such as the streets, inside and out, car yards, bars and clubs.

Your ears could listen to worse beeps and bleeps as this suits proceedings.

It’s not the worst or best looking game in the world but with responsive controls and a fairly interesting story, it’s well worth persevering.

Okay, it is guilty of having heavy dialogue and some may find the necessity to drain information from people irritating and long-winded but it’s something that you’ll get used to pretty quickly.

In 1994, BlueSky Software had its punt on the Mega Drive which not only had a totally different look, but also provided a more open-ended world, third person action and heavy emphasis on The Matrix.

Regardless of your preference, only a drekhead will truly hate either version.

Mario Paint, Nintendo 1992

If setting traps is proving fruitless in capturing a hairy rodent, purchasing this was the sure fire way to owning alternative motion control.

Yep, apart from a huge box and ugly mouse mat, this was the mangy carrot that Nintendo dangled in the hope to shift this gimmick.

So what did this ‘program’ involve because it's certainly not a game.  It’s an art package, with Mario.

Even on release, this wasn't unique as I remember messing about with a drawing package on the C64.  Wow, that was prehistoric.

Apart from being able to draw your own sketch, pre-generated pictures depicting a typical Mario scene are open for a splash of colour and if you can handle the excitement, why not make your own stamp too?

Yeah, this sounds absolutely thrilling doesn't it?

A fly swatting mini-game fails miserably in a desperate attempt in disguising irrelevance.

On a lighter note, there are some trippy rubbing out effects and one looks like either a C64 game loading or a VHS tape been rewound or forwarded.

If your brain hasn't already seized up, animating pictures could bring some amusement.

The most enjoyable aspect is making music and pre-loaded songs give you an idea of what can be achieved.

Jumping to the present, the most advanced thing you can get is UDraw Studio as you get a pen and drawing pad that transmits actions to the screen.  Even today, a Bluetooth dongle thing cannot exorcise the battery demons...

Whatever, the most astute advice I can bring is this.

Grab yourself whatever type of PC, click the Start Button, hover over ‘All Programs’, wait a second until you see ‘Accessories’ and click ‘Paint’…

Soul Blazer, Quintet/Enix 1992

Welcome to another set of three and no offence Jaleco, but this trilogy is marginally better…

This is basically a variation and/or expansion to Actraiser, only without Rastan and the ability to build.

So with that in mind, the mechanics have gone through a few changes and strangely, the result isn't as satisfying as its previous incarnation.

Anyway, let’s pick the bones out of this skeleton.

Freil Empire is ruled by King Magridd and when greed takes a strangle hold; he forces a brilliant inventor and general brainbox Dr. Leo to make him even richer by inventing a machine to summon Deathtoll, the King of Evil.

His Majesty agrees to exchange all living creatures for untold wealth but of course, The Master can’t be having that so he sends a ‘Soul Blazer’ to revive the world.

Assuming the role of a spell casting, sword wielder complete with a revolving blue orb possessing the ability of magical projectiles, we and he should kick monster ass.

The influence of Actraiser shines through and through, right down to energy bar and sound effects.  Opening the menu screen will reveal current weapon, armour, magic and item.

There are numerous types of each while gaining XP and Levelling Up are achieved in the usual way.

Magic comes at a cost of using gems and currency can be collected when enemies bite the dust. 

Before entering each ‘action’ area, you meander around and interact to chars who tell you what needs to be done and what happens should you do it right.

Once inside, you’ll primarily swing with your pointy stick and baddies are weak at first but after eating their Weetabix, magic will be needed to tame those in your way.

It’s the same idea as before because enemies appear from their respective lairs and those need to be sealed.

However, as you no longer have control over miracles and no corresponding grid to issue commands, lairs are sealed by first killing a certain amount of enemies and then stepping on.

The result of sealing each lair results in opening areas, revealing items and releasing whatever was trapped inside.

It really is a case of ‘whatever’ because what was somehow trapped inside is comical.

Animal, vegetation, flowers, mermaids, humans and furniture will all be on early parole.

Furniture?  Are we to assume that Deathtoll kidnapped the store manager of Ikea?

Items are used on others and can also be equipped for your own selfish needs.

These animals are highly intelligent and have evolved to engage in conversation.

When you release the ridiculous, the message that frequently appears is arguably more annoying than the ‘unexpected’ equivalent of Actraiser.

[Insert your chosen name before play here] has released [insert whatever]

Yeah you guessed it, this happens every bastard time and those who already know will surely scowl at the monotony.

To compound this insanity, you’ll believe you’re schizophrenic as you’ll hear voices, a whole lot of voices…

A decent assortment of backgrounds is on offer including those with waterfalls, fire, water, jungle, snow and a laboratory.

Its bosses are definitely not a case of the bigger they are, but the harder they fall.

In order to end this, you must gather six differently coloured stones which opens the gate to Deathtoll’s World of Evil.

These are gratefully received on the demise of each boss.

One thing that really encourages anger is even when all six stones are got; you need to acquire the power of Phoenix as without it, the palace won’t appear.

This is achieved by completing some kind of shitty obligatory side quest to retrieve the Master’s three symbols.

Arrrggghhhhh!

Deathtoll is nothing special to look at and when you've kicked ass with fiery phoenix fury, the king blows all his blood money on building a new town and the world is a beautiful place again.

Thanks pal, but an entertainment complex with arcades on free play would have been better.

Visuals are more involved than before but the music is no longer composed by the brilliant Yuzo Koshiro.

Instead, singer/songwriter Yukihide Takekawa handles the bleeps and I really didn't warm to the spaced out mixture of rock and calmness.

There’s even some kind of weird Bach sounding shit during the save area.

This is far from awful but knocks on the door of an unnecessary experiment.

Illusion of Gaia, Quintet/Enix 1994

During the age of exploration where new lands are discovered, the Darkside of an ancient civilisation, the Chaos Comet is orbiting the Earth to do very bad things…

A young whippersnapper named Will is born amidst the danger and separated from his father in the Tower of Babel.

Telekinetic powers awaken within South Cape and this powerful psychic must embark on a quest not only to be reunited with his father, but also to restore the planet to its original condition.

Can you handle the pressure with the fate of the world resting on your shoulders?

Of course you can.

This will not only shower the player with typical RPG attributes, an effective story means it's a ride well worth riding.

The perspective is classic and movement is not particularly restricted in your pursuit to reach Babel.

As well as bringing information, speaking to chars will put you on the spot to respond as appropriate.

Ah, decisions, decisions.

Engaging in conversation can sometimes be lengthy and wow, do these innocents chat frequent shit.

A girl named Kara will find she has a special significance…

There is a slight nod towards Mystical Ninja as mini games can bring the reward of prizes.

What makes this a novel mammal is that it boots the typical trademark XP system into touch and trades it for a jewel alternative.

The deal is that by defeating all enemies, HP, Defence, Strength is increased when a now visible jewel appears.

Jewels can be given to the so-called Jeweller Gem who holds these precious stones.  The more he hoards, the better it is for stats as items, defence and life are raised.

You can expect a large variety of threat that naturally resist more than others.

Combat is not turn-based and the strong whiff of Zelda wafts up your nostrils.  The opportunity to sometimes kill enemies in a brisk manner results in an item reward.

After chewing the fat with others, you’ll be told that something needs to be done and when you've been a good boy, further hints will be given.

Items are got from innocents which are used to progress in the thick of action.

The menu screen is user-friendly and various slots can be rearranged at Will.

Almost as essential as being a jewel thief is entering an area known as Dark Space where Will’s guardian angel Gaia is always available to question.

If you want to save, receive advice and heal wounds, he's your entity. 

Unlike other RPG’s, Gaia may be visited more often than not because herbs are the only item that can recover vitality.

However, red and yellow herbs cannot be mixed to either recover full health or be cured from poison.

For further botanical advice, please visit Raccoon City

The backgrounds and places of interest are a right admirable bunch spanning between myth and reality.

Villages, camps, Inca Ruins, China’s Great Wall, mines, Nazca Desert, Watermia and the pyramids are some of areas that Will cannot help but visit.

The mysterious Nazca Lines are not forgotten and it’s always exciting to set sail, especially on a golden Inca Ship.

Apart from cherry blossom falling and shafts of light, further strawberry sauce is added to this sundae with day to night transitions that actively take place but unlike Fatal Fury, it doesn't happen between rounds…

As the story develops, it is necessary for ‘young’ Will to assume the guise of other chars via other statues within infinite space.

Of these chars, further abilities are also learnt such as attacks, powers and manoeuvres.  Certain additions can only be enjoyed by some meaning that char switching is essential in order to ensure further progression.

So apart from ‘young Will’, Dark Knight Freedan and Shadow are the other options.

Will dishes out violence with his flute, Freedan swishes with a sword and Shadow whips with water.

The whole point of this merry jaunt is to acquire six Mystic Statues made by the Knights of Light and Dark.  You can expect these to be received after successfully negotiating a boss fight.

Actually, there are only get five because the last is entrusted by you.

When you are inside the Tower, it’s time for Kara to recognise her purpose.

After speaking with your father from beyond about the ancients worshipping comets (seen as spirits of stars) and the evolution of demons, Kara and Will join to become the Light Knight and the Dark Knight’s firebird power is born.

Hmmm, I sense a climatic pattern emerging here…

The imminent threat of Dark Gaia awaits and reminds me of what something Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger would come up with.

Whichever descriptive term is used, the facial tree thing looks good and fights back with all kinds of projectiles.

When it eventually gives up the ghost, the world is returned to its original condition and those who have managed to battle through deserve a pat on the back as this adventure is not exactly a walk in the park.

The soundtrack is composed by Yasuhiro Kawaskai and his efforts mean that ear plugs will not be required…

Ditching XP for a jewel or several breathes fresh impetus into overbearing familiarity meaning it’s definitely one of ‘the’ RPG’s to play on a system burdened with so many ostrich eggs.

All in all, it’s a rather splendid escapade but the final chunk tastes the most satisfying of all.

Terranigma, Quintet/Enix 1996

The sequel to Gaia is a pyrotechnic explosion of delight.

It’s a true 32 meg triumph and simply blitzes the CGI laden efforts of today.

A fabulous intro sets the scene as we are told that very different results were brought when the planet possessed two souls of Lightside and Darkside.

Enter Ark, a curious dude caught up in the struggle and wow, an adventure of astronomical proportions is about to unfold.

Become party to a magical tale as you’ll resurrect continents, revive life and re-establish civilisation which will hopefully restore the balance of light and dark.

The only town to be spared from the troubles of years ago is Crysta, which naturally acts as the principal friendly zone.

As with any RPG classic in the 16 bit era, the traditional roots of a top down perspective are generously watered making for a fantastic looking game.

This is Illusion of Gaia with a substantial paint job and the result is fantastic.

Arc wanders in and out of trouble with chars inevitably chatting shit.  Dialogue regularly gives you the opportunity to make a decision and while it probably matters not what answer is given, hey ho.

You are also given hints, provided with information and made aware of general threat.

Items can have important uses as some are given to others to get you out of scrapes with enemies.

Upon progression, you will only get stronger and putting enemies to the sword increases level, life, strength, defence and luck.

The jewel system has gone but thanks to the stereotypical menu screen, this is still an innovative voyage.

Breaking a seal releases this ‘thing’ Yomi from his prison. 

Once you've dived inside this box, it becomes the menu screen but is actually a room with multiple doors that stores all manner of useful goodies.

Unlike the Lament Configuration, it doesn't need solving and opening doors is perfectly safe.

You have the main hub and other doors include weapons and armour.

It works better than a piss up at a brewery.

Arc can freely wander about an animated world map and is how you get from A to B.  As you’d expect, entering a new area is the focal point of action.

The world map is at first navigated only on foot but vehicles and even a feathered friend also feature.

While mixing it up with creatures of all types, you must negotiate moving platforms, push blocks, solve puzzles and required to hop about like a mad flea.

Apart from the lesser types, there are some bad bosses hoping to have more success in draining life quicker than water disappears down a plug hole.

As you conquer areas once populated by malevolence, these become safe havens.

The game itself is divided up into four monstrous chapters, each with their own story, purpose and outcome including resurrecting continents, reviving land and life as monsters become plants and mammals

After the resurrection and/or revival, this uncorked champagne bottle froths over to reveal excellent sequences displaying the outcome of success.

There are a huge array of enemies and backgrounds include snow, caves, deserts, forests and much more.

Terrain even encourages the fury of weather as blizzards and sand storms are eminently visible.

A new and improved Dark Gaia provides a fitting final challenge and sealing his powers will be no peaceful jog in the countryside.

This tyrant simply subjects the player to a form of torture few would think the SNES was capable of.

Graphics benefit from gorgeous detail and a joint effort between Masanori Hikichi and Miyoko Kobayashi helps the soundtrack to have the necessary pizzazz.

We also have a story that is not only stimulating but also well written.

This game is h…u…g…e.

I reckon there’s at least 40 hours plus to demolish and makes for an exceptional experience.

All in all, this ranks as one of the best RPG’s of any system and few can challenge its might.

To finish up and as a pointless bit of trivia, Turbo the Dog appears in all three games.

I know what you’re thinking; that’s barking, right?

Can this slab of gammon be topped with tastier eggs?  Well, maybe and possibly.

Sunset Riders, Konami 1993

Giddy up horsey, load that chamber and crack open that sippin’ whiskey as we’re heading to the Wild West for this very accurate arcade port.

Choose your gunslinger(s), go it alone or cooperatively and bring those low down dirty varmints to justice.

Who knows, you may just secure a whole load of bounty.

Each stage requires you to move freely from below to above ground and works extremely well, even if this steals from Sega’s Shinobi.

After gunning down each of the respective bosses’ henchmen, it’s time to take down the head honcho himself.

Travelling on horseback and boarding a train all adds to the atmosphere and style.

It’s simple and generic but it matters not when things are this enjoyable.

Perversely, the removal of all references to alcohol and bomb throwers changing sex paints the very clear lesson that censorship is not all about hiding blood and guts.

Sigh!

Great visuals and jolly sound make for an excellent home port and while a game of this type is never going to boast longevity, it’s a blast while it lasts.

Plok, Software Creations 1993

This is a smart little platforming gem that deserves to sparkle in the sunlight.

I really must flag up the point of this and somebody’s going to pay for the frequent selfish stealing of Plok’s most favourite thing in the world.

Our man’s an odd little red creature with a curly whipped head and fires multiple limbs to attack those that stand a little too close to him.

A possible inspiration for Rayman perhaps?

Your clobber changes and reflects whatever weapon you’re holding with bicycles and choppers are vehicles that can be ridden.

If you fancy turning up the heat with a flame thrower or becoming a buck hunter, you know where to come.

Like Smash TV, your firepower is against the time…

To complete each stage, you must find the flag but Plok is never happy and prompts a whinge that touching wood, are different each time.

The real prize is claimed after a boss is defeated but those inconsiderate bastards continue to steal and drive our peculiar looking friend to near distraction.

Floating bloaters, jumping lips and a mischievous looking spider suggest curious substances were smoked.

There is a short section that involves playing Grandpappy in his search for a lost amulet and the world becomes very black and white.

However, there’s never a dull moment in an adventure that bursts with colour, sounds great and because it’s also a delight to play, flag retrieval is up there to rival Return Fire.

Earthbound, Ape Inc 1994/1995

The year is 199X, a meteor has landed in Onett town and Giygas, the Universal Cosmic Destroyer, has brought eternal darkness (without Sanity’s Requiem).

We embrace a tale of wisdom, courage and friendship.

According to legend, it foretells that three boys (and a girl) will defeat Giygas by uniting their own power with the Earth.

Wouldn’t it be great if this was a wacky alternative re-imagining of Three Men and a Baby?

No?  Okay, fair enough.

As this is an RPG, it features trademark elements which shouldn't encourage perspiration.

XP, level Up, defence, offence, guts, IQ and vitality are all inevitably increased.

Guts and IQ?  Okay, whatever.

Apart from examining items, cracking open the menu will reveal equipment, status and other necessities.

You gab, he/she chats and quickly forget whatever nonsense flashes up.

Also, when you talk to principal chars, these tend to join your party and follow like a herd of sheep.

This is immediately unique as there is no ‘safe’ haven or world map and is seemingly integrated as one.

The perspective is neither isometric nor top down but chooses something known as oblique projection as it also allows diagonal movement.

It almost feels like a 3D playing field, even though it’s entirely 2D.

I now bring other reasons why this garlic bread tastes a bit tangier than what your usual pizza shop serves.

Saving is just a phone call away and dosh is withdrawn at an ATM.

Initially, Ness’s pop makes a fixed cash deposit and continues to do so after each fight.

This financial reward may depend on how quick a fight is won but that’s only a guess.

Shopkeepers always have a healthy supply of items, weapons and body armour that should be used and equipped as appropriate.

Psychic Points (PP) permit magical power so great, it would make Merlin quiver in his sneakers.

Boss fights are forced and largely, regular critters are just looking for trouble.

Once engaged in combat, it’s fairly bonkers as adversaries include robots, zombies, animals, men, Ness’s nightmare and the police.

During a fight, it’s mildly funny as they may ‘feel a little strange’ and are ‘acting a bit unusual’.

The weapons swung aren't your typical pointy sticks and range from various types of bat to yo-yos.

Did they borrow from Goeman?

Similarly, health isn't recovered via a potion and is by swallowing hamburgers and skip sandwiches.

Of the latter, whether they melt in your mouth is another matter…

The whole point of this madness is to first acquire a sound stone which you use to record melodies from eight locations referred to as sanctuaries.

Visuals aren't the best but do have their own charm as night to day transitions take place through towns, snow, desert and caves.

Giygas is best described as an alien spider robot and takes some punishment before yielding.

What we have is a nice little game featuring cutesy charm, funny dialogue, quirky sound and most importantly, is proud to be different.

This is definitely a break from the norm and surely that can only be a good thing.

Lethal Weapon, Ocean 1992

Let’s face it, adapting a video based on the antics of Riggs and Murtaugh was never going to work and holy shit, this more than magnifies the fact as this is fucking terrible.

You’ll immediately question as to why the assholes concerned actually bothered.

It’s one of those ‘relying on a big movie franchise to sell your product’ situations and we all know how good The Terminator games were…

So after orders were passed, they settled on insulting the franchise with a shitty platform game.

Before I plunge in this mire, the box art is for Lethal Weapon 3 which for some reason leads me to suggest that even the title makes no fucking sense.

Okay, the film was released in 1992 but as this has no bearing or resemblance to that or any of the other previous outings; why not call it something like Lethal Weapon: The Adventures of Riggs and Murtaugh?  At least then they’d have some excuse for what’s contained.

As you may have already guessed, this is not going to get a glowing reception…

The music is predictably nothing like Michael Kamen’s theme and did I really expect anything else?  Not really.

They had to get something right and amazingly, Riggs and Murtaugh are here to cringe and either/or can be chosen to tackle generic indigestion.

The stock enemies include guys with guns, flamethrowers and rocket launchers.

Each stage has a time limit and most will probably avoid the clocks that give bonus time because they might accidentally progress further in this puerile profanity.

The designers must’ve taken a large snort of Joshua’s merchandise, er heroine, because the estranged Sergeants will grow smelly in sewers, admire the tube system and worry about electrified floors.

I suppose the harbour stage could be loosely based on the climax of Lethal Weapon 2.  No wait a minute, I’m just being really imaginative.

Boys and girls, are you ready for this, are you hanging onto the edge of one’s seat?

Did you know that during their LAPD tenure, Riggs and/or Murtaugh also had to avoid alligators and sharks?

I’m really not yanking your chain and what the fuck has this got to do with Lethal Weapon, diplomatic immunity and illegal firearms?

At the time, Jet Li didn’t break America.

Bosses include a knife handler and get this, a machine gun toting Arab.

This is a truly horrendous horror show, packed with appalling animation, putrid sound and gameplay that’s so tasteless, The Blues Brothers kicks ass.

If the cart was coated with human flesh, even an unemployed zombie would refuse tucking in to this woeful piece of shit.

Football Fury, American Sammy 1993

To me, American Football remains a mystery and/or chore.  All that quarterback shouting and formation fussiness doesn't inspire a great deal of excitement.

In film, the best American Football experience is the 1974 Burt Reynolds classic, The Longest Yard.  Years ago, it used to be called The Mean Machine and I can only think it was to coincide with the 2005 Adam Sandler remake.

Vinnie Jones starred in a scene for scene remake called The Mean Machine only with football.

I’d rather play sport than watch it and unfortunately, this is more of a case of Shit Shit Shit rather than Hut Hut Hut.

After you’ve chosen your team from whatever division, it’s time to set up offence and defence formations.

A Mode 7 pitch cannot disguise a thoroughly miserable game of stop start formation gameplay and the stupid music seals its fate.

Madden NFL or what the old guard call it, John Madden Football, has been around for years while Football Frenzy on the Neo Geo is also a more accessible suggestion.

Finally, when kicking for goal, “It’s good!” is displayed.  I hope they weren't referring to this game…

Legend, Seika 1993

Here we slash baddies in a competent Golden Axe rip off.

The most essential aspect for any game of this type is to ensure that a friend can also play if he/she wishes.  Rest assured, this doesn't disappoint.

Don’t you just love games where an objective is given before each stage and success is brought by merely by beating the stage, i.e. by defeating the boss.

I have to ask, what is the fucking point?

Anyway, enemies come and go, the stage scrolls, a boss stands in your way before ‘that’ objective is completed and repeat until the credits roll.

So like Golden Axe and every other type of scrolling brawler (using fists or weapons), it’s ultimately tedious but still entertaining.

Of those making trouble for our heroes include magicians, weapon wielders, ogres and dragons.

Aside from hacking and slaying, magic can be used to dish out suitable damage and areas include caverns, swamps, cities and temples.

Sprites are chunkier than your average chip and backgrounds feature enough detail to make this egg worth dipping with soldiers.

Disney’s Aladdin, Capcom 1993

No matter how famous something is, you don’t have to like it.

If you are somehow totally ignorant to the animation of 1992, key words include lamp, treasure, the River Jordan, Agrabah, a Jaffa cake, Jasmine and some rascal called Aladdin Sane.

Our annoying and handsome man will have to outwit Jaffa cake’s guards, bats and magically animated skeletons.

When self diagnosis failed, Aladdin visited the greatest medical mind in Agrabah but even he could not prescribe a medicine that would rid him of this pain the ass that incessantly follows; it’s called Abu.

Maybe this monkey and Jafar’s parrot Iago should get it on?

So this annoying primate attempts to justify its existence by advising Aladdin of the bleeding obvious and I really hate him.

The spritely rogue jumps on heads, swings on beams and clambers to loftier heights.

Disney approved or not, this is just a run of the mill platform game.

Presentation is a highlight as intermissions nicely tell the story of what you already know.

The difficultly and banal gameplay mean that children will lap it up and adults can only admire how dreamy the visuals are.

Aladdin and Abu will traverse over a wonderful world brimming with magical detail and bursting with Skittle coloured landscapes.

Jafar unsurprisingly provides the final challenge and even when he becomes a snake, you shouldn’t really fail.

The potent influence of Ghouls ‘n Ghosts shines through as there’s even a part on the Genie’s stage with tongues which is basically the third level of the original 1988 Ghouls ‘n Ghosts but without gargoyles.

Aladdin even eats up ground like Arthur.

Prince of Persia also rings true as he pulls himself up just like Jordan Mechner’s inspirational classic.

So it’s very attractive, emits decent sound but when you've seen all there is to see, you won’t feel the need to rub this lamp again.

Jammit, GTE Interactive Media 1994

Wow, this was given the wrong title as it should’ve clearly been called Dammit.

Oh it’s bad, this is very fucking bad.

In case you haven’t already guessed, this is a poor excuse for basketball hoops.

Aside from different courts, trash talking, betting on games and various rules on how a match should be played are all held in the lowest of regard.

It sounds different to your usual dribble, turn and hook shot but it matters not, as the execution is absolutely terrible with offensive visuals and lazy controls.

This will make you want to shoot something else rather than hoops, like the designers for instance.

The Combatribes, Technos 1992

If you fancy an alternative to Billy and Jimmy, this succeeds with a more ridiculous approach.

Lead by the ruthless Martha Splatterhead, an organisation known as Ground Zero controls the street gangs and it’s up to the Combatribes to bring the chaos of New York to order.

Splatterhead?  Ha ha ha!

Even if this was during the Multitap era, it’s realistic to suggest that the SNES wouldn't entertain the arcade’s 3P intensity due to the processor having an immediate heart attack.

It does manage the next thing though without struggling too much.

Bikers, clowns, rollerbladers and armed thug stand in your way among a shopping arcade, stadium and all the fun of the fair.

Defeating the usual boss geezer sparks a pointless story before the next sequence of biffing.

Unfortunately, the hills aren't alive with the sound of music as calling each tune only boring is an understatement.

No blood can be spilled and strangely, weapons can neither be picked up or thrown.

Okay, you’d expect blood removal but even for the SNES, it’s insulting that no object can be used to dish out alternative damage as only using fists and feet teeters with boredom.

Bashing people with objects and even carrying them made the arcade all the more enjoyable.

Therefore, I’m surprised you can still throw your enemies.

Another thing that is as welcome as a hairy boil is an exclusive one on one fighting mode which players and bosses (using password input), can execute mundane fireball attacks in various unique fields.

Many other console games have done this and as usual, you’re not just restricted to left to right movement.

You may try it out a few times through curiosity but it’s really not worth bothering with.

Anyway, most of the arcade’s staple ingredients are retained that include relentless enemy attack, ‘smashing’ gameplay and decent visuals.

Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure, Activision 1994

All retro nuts should’ve taken control and remember something resembling a sprite swinging on vines, clearing pits and dodging animals.

Of course it’s primitive but like many other relics, you still appreciate that classic retro feel.

So this is a case of same shit, different technology and is exploited delightfully on the SNES.

Apart from running, jumping and swinging, climbing, crawling and taking a bungee plunge brings something new.

The wannabe Indy cracks the whip but I’m sorry, a boomerang doesn't suit his pants.

Deep in the jungle, the beasts don’t take too kindly to our explorer’s presence that include snakes, bats, flying bugs, birds, warthogs and skeletons.

Have trust, you won’t love the bones that connect these baddies.

Aside from the rumble in the jungle, raging waterfalls, going mine-karting and negotiating ruins are all characteristic to this caper.

The coolest thing of all is that you can play the 1982 original.

I’m not entirely sure of how this is done or the conditions you have to meet but I just know it’s possible.

A special thumbs up goes to the silky smooth animation as our man has enough charisma to make this hot dog yummy with or without onions.

It’s hardly brilliant but because manoeuvres and controls are rather obedient, it’s well worth a swing.

Civilization, Microprose 1994

That Sid Meier geezer, he’s got a lot to answer for.  I mean, how selfish of him to devise such outrageous simulations with vast scope and depth.

Although it’s known as Sid Meier’s game, a stray called Bruce Shelley also helped out.

Build an empire to stand the test of time.

Yes, that’s not a request, it’s an order.

So your overriding aim is to expand your map and civilization, thus your empire conquering throughout history.

This was just one of many entries in a huge franchise so I’ll try and be as brief as possible in descriptive terms as it’s not particularly basic.

Like a football management game, a PC is required for the necessary processing power but matters are translated fairly well to the SNES.

Unsurprisingly, this is cursor and menu driven and I’m fairly sure that no matter how much the mouse squeaks, it's not compatible.

Human kind is divided up into many tribes and the world can also be customised such as land mass, climate and age.

Difficulty levels are represented by a ruler including a Prince, Warlord, King or Emperor.  Following this, the amount of civilizations to build can be chosen.

Aztec, Egyptian, American, Chinese, Greek, English, French are some of the tribes under your command with each led by a famous historical figure.

A small back story revolves around a Goddess who wants you to develop a civilization so it can rule the world.

Traits depend on who you to choose to control as some are more competitive and are a dab hand at certain things than others.

The key behind developing and ruling is mastering the art buried within some of these examples.

Mining for raw materials, road building leads to increased commerce and economical growth with irrigation and agriculture breeds population expansion.

Building libraries, banks and universities naturally cost and can you afford to spare the necessary resources in order to build.

Amongst all that, a trade can be pursued such as masonry and mysticism.  When this ‘secret’ is learned, you can’t miss it...

As history becomes more present day, more become available with a more futuristic nod.

There’s even a political slant as you can live in a democracy and reject offers made by other civilizations.

Emotions can boil over so peace treaties can be signed and even broken.

As battles commence, this is displayed via brief and basic animation shorts.

It works both ways of course as how can you trust thy neighbour?

Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.

Upsetting others is the name of this strategic simulation as new towns and cities can be built for a country and reversing the coin, other countries and towns can be destroyed that you take a disliking to.

Limited moves are available per turn and making an ‘unlimited’ move is somehow available.

All sorts of orders can be ordered and I’m not the type to order people about so I won’t be relaying these orders as there are too many orders to mention.

The game screen and graphics will not impress but it’s not the type of game that you’d expect to associate new  and flash Mode 7 wizardry.

Although having said that, visuals remain inferior to the PC version.

The time it takes to generate a world is embarrassingly sloth like.

I previously bitched about Another World but this puts a whole new emphasis on crawling…

If you have the time, great, but if you’re more of a pick up and play kinda guy or gal, forget this quicker than a one-hit chart topping wonder.

World Heroes and World Heroes 2, SNK/ADK 1993 and 1994

This franchise has attracted a cult following because it features brawlers based on historical figures.  Anyway, these present themselves on the chopping board with the usual case of ‘inferior’ being the buzz word.

Regardless of the ‘cult’ tag, this was one of the worst and least playable Neo Geo fighting franchises.

The other entries that didn't make it to the SNES were hiring a private Jet and a game that was far from Perfect.

Run Saber, Hori Electric 1993

Is this a distant cousin of Strider?  No, but it tries to be...

The bullshit story that nobody cares about is something to do with a robot experiment.

Your guy can boot kick, swing your ‘sword’, jump, climb, cling, slide and nuke.

There are some minor upsides such as a fairly cool ride on a Mode 7 jet and while the scenery consisting of a city, cliffs, missile base and a Contra alien base are stocked to the rafters of 'yawn central', at least matters look okay.

Monsters and/or experiments or whatever the fuck they’re supposed to be are dressed slightly worse as ninjas, winged monsters and aliens don’t even begin to impress.

There are usually mid battle baddies to take care of and these are lamer than an elderly yak with a limp.

Thankfully, the main boss scraps are moderately better as a large skull faced statue and walker robot provide some mild amusement.

Five levels later and that’s a rap.

One thing that really pisses me off is the annoying ‘Run Saber’ speech that occurs after every signature enemy is killed.

For all its inadequacies, it plays fairly well but as overall quality takes a backseat, I slam this harder than a door in the face of my enemy.

Lemmings, Sunsoft 1992

You've heard the myth, hopefully haven’t believed the myth and prevented suicide en masse on the Amiga.

DMA Design developed the classic original and while a mouse can’t be used, the controller doesn't make things particularly sluggish.

Although this is handled by a different developer, it still remains a merry exercise.

There may well be remixed and new levels but nothing really stands out to suggest any major omissions or additions.

For the benefit of those who don’t know, here’s the ingenious drill.

Before the actual level starting, you are told of the amount of lemmings available and the percentage of which is required to survive.

Lemming rescuing is against the time and the ‘Look’ function and on-screen map more than assists matters.

It’s of course not the point but sadistic types can purposely salivate and allow population deduction.

Unless the correct orders are given, those dozy dipsticks will die in an almost carefree manner.

High drops, fire, drowning and taking an acid bath are all ways in which their demise can be met.

It’s therefore a Brucie bonus that these zombies can be builders, blockers and diggers.

When it comes to music, you should immediately think Parodius as it combines original music, classical interpretation and nursery rhyme themes, albeit on a far smaller scale.

She’ll be Coming ‘Round the Mountain, Incy Wincy Spider, London Bridge Is Falling Down and Mozart’s Turkish March are there for all ears to hear.

2P offers a split screen challenge so whoever else can give things it a shot.

What Tribes and tribulations will these suicidal types get up to next?

Lemmings 2: The Tribes, DMA Design 1994

This is more of the same great stuff only now because of the mouse era, we can now issue commands via squeaking.

We still have the Look function but the in-game map has jumped off a cliff.

You can also speed up matters which is a nice idea because those on the receiving end of commands are never in a rush.

Lemmings are this time set for whatever level and each tribe possess a shitload of unseen abilities for you to enjoy.

Some are only given on specific stages and not for reasons unknown…

While getting from A to B, your tribe will trample and negotiate treacherous terrain such as the great outdoors, a trip to the beach, the future is medieval, juggling a circus, the rolling highlands, the polar regions, walking like an Egyptian, the classic, a sporting occasion and even launch into space.

I will give you a supreme taste of what you can expect to see as you set about trying to protect as many of your muckers as possible.

While many are fairly self-explanatory, some are not, so it’s sometimes worth elaborating.

These include:

Stomper, Superman, Bomber, Magic Carpet, Jumper, Runner, Roper, Filler, Kayaker, Miner, Hopper, Basher, Diver, Swimmer, Parachute, Fencer, Twister, Jet Pack, Icarus, Surfer and Climber.

Those lemmings can also be armed and dangerous with a Laser Blaster, Flame Thrower, Archer or Bazooka.

When you use a Hand Glider, a fan can be used to make sure that you blow in the right direction…

The Attractor may sound like others will stick to him like paper would to glue but instead, acts as a musical distraction.

This is cooler than most cucumbers as depending on what world you currently occupy, a musical instrument is strum, blew or played which will cause your associates to have a bit of a jig.

A cheerful ditty per environment should never annoy and expand upon the original’s diet of original, nursery rhymes and famous compositions.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, English Country Garden and Julius Fucik’s Entry of the Gladiators should all be obvious even to the untrained ear.

I would suggest that Nintendo’s Mario vs Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis on DS (followed by Mini-Land Mayhem), spiritually rips the concept off as it’s largely the same principle but instead, regular as clockwork.

Even today, it remains fun so what are you waiting for?

“Let’s Go!”

Mega Lo Mania, Sensible Software 1991

A mouse driven, icon happy, real-time Amiga strategy that means it’s another one of those marmite flavoured occasions but regardless, it works.

You fancy literally playing God?  Then this game has traits up its sleeve.

Scarlet – Fiery and aggressive
Oberon – Backstabbing and ruthless
Caesar – Vindictive and unpredictable
Madcap – Cunning and deadly

They control red, yellow, green and blue people respectively and your purpose is predictably to defeat the other Gods’ people and the very space of where they stand.

An epoch serves as a point in time particular to the origins of that era, hence why we start in BC then move onto AD.

Before each island, a number of men can be chosen in an attempt to shake up an epoch.

Epochs are divided into various islands so providing you conquer, you’ll move on up throughout time and so will your rank.

Players who progress will trot from Neolithic, The Bronze and Iron Ages together with The World War.

The time period is reflected by equipment available and technological advancement is more natural than a fish swimming.

Sectors and grid of an island dictate where placement and movement can take place with your assembled army relying on the correct strategy in order for asses to be booted.

When you rule, others drool and delusions of grandeur must come to fruition.

Of course, you can undo placement by removal and/or withdrawal as sectors allow the situation to be viewed theoretically at any time.

An army wouldn't be much of an army if it didn't pack heavy artillery and while things start out more archaic than an abacus, we eventually enjoy air support, ammunition and nukes.

Weapons need to be designed by your motley crew and while that sounds exciting and involved, it’s merely a question of instruction and letting the computer do what it has to do.

Catapults, stick, spear, longbow, rock, musket, machine gun and even a bazooka can all eventually be at your disposal.

Units need a production run while factory workers slog their guts out and when things take a knock, these can be repaired.

Buildings can be installed and removed, as can weapons, while mines and laboratories can also be built.

The computer controlled enemy will obviously fight back and when things get a bit strained between opposing forces, an alliance can be requested and of course be broken.

Providing you’re prepared to put in the man hours, rewards should be reaped.  Like all animals, a bit of training is required before it can be tamed.

Civilization is the dog's bollocks but this gives Sid Meir’s wild child a decent run for its cash and many will appreciate this fire burning brighter than most.

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