Thursday, November 30, 2006
Having been blown away by the latest post from the Gagaman(n) about NEW Dreamcast seasonal stocking fillers, it is with a degree of shame that I revert to reporting on old stuff that's been around for ages. And yet some old chestnuts are worth checking out... and one such title is the amazing 'Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2.'
(That's the real Tony, quuite a nice chap and family type really...)
Now this title has a particular resonance for me... For whilst I may now look like Fred Elliot... (from Northern English 'Kitchen Sink' Drama themed soap "Coronation Street" ... that's for our American cousins...)'
I was once a long haired thin framed skate fiend.
Sure I could never 'pop an ollie' or 'grind a rail' but I could skate with reasonable ability. My early skateboards looked a bit like this...
In fact, and this is no lie, my first skateboard was literally a coffin shaped plank of wood, with two rollerskates nailed to it. Now I know that that sounds to you young types, much like one of those 'old folks tales' of how 'We had it hard back in my day... You young'uns don't know your born...' etc. It is in fact TRUE!
Anyway I skated from the age of 10 to 21. In fact the only thing that stopped me was the fact that:
a.) I had become a father... and therfore presumed I needed to 'grow up a bit..'
b.) A long haired hippy skateboarder, skating through my council estate in Levenshulme, Manchester, would have been a target for ridicule, stone throwing and window smashing from sinister local skinheads, white trash youths wearing hoodies, ill-fitting baseball caps and Nike Shocks... depressing really...
So instead, I discovered the sofa, video games and beer (HURRAH!) and they've been my friends ever since.
Now video games are great! Anyone reading this post will know this. One of the reasons for this phenomena, is that if the game is sufficiently good, you will be absorbed into it.
It will take you away from the drudgery of your normal existence, and you will 'become one' with the game you are playing. Especially if you are on drugs...
(Which I was for a significant period of my gaming history!)
Yes games allow you to kick ass like Bruce Lee, when you couldn't fight your way out of a wet paper bag, Drive like Colin McCrae when you haven't passed your test...
OR score goals like Steven Gerrard even when you were the last person to be picked for your playground team, during the dinnertime football match as a kid. ( Yes that's football, not soccer CALEB, FOOTBALL!)
So for me, (having given you a glimpse of my personal history) , to be able to project myself into the world of Tony Hawk and become a fucking shit hot skateboarder, is going to be a winner every time!!!
Now let's actually consider the game shall we? O.K.
Instant pick up and play potential... the mastery of the controls is simple. Getting it right in the flow of a skate sesion is not quite as simple, however. The game rewards you with points and money for good combos and a smooth two minutes of skatey showing off.
A 'power meter' at the top of the screen allows you to know how successful your intended skate trickery will be...
Hang on the lip of a half pipe in a 'gymnast plant' (you'll get used to the lingo) for too long will amass points, but do it for too long, and you'll crunch to the ground with a sickening thud.
Plus there's blood , lots of blood when you 'crash and burn' , but don't worry... your chosen skater will simply pick himself up, dust himself off, get on his 'board' and get on with the job...
THPS2 allows you to unlock new parks and levels. The initial level , " The Hangar" is a dream Skate Park...
It allows the novice skater to look good and score big points. The subsequent levels, (The School Yard and so on) are increasingly difficult to skate.
Level Three (Marseilles) is a skate competition, and a good leveller for knowing how crap you really are!
You skate against the AI attempting to win points, medals and dollars. You usually come last... and have to try again.
No problem. The game is so addictive, you'll want to play again and again.
I can't really tell you how many levels and skateparks there are, 'cos I haven't got that far...
But what I can tell you, is there's a lot to unlock, if you play long enough.
On each level there are secret sections with hidden goals. Each of these in turn will unlock points and cash, and this will help you progress to the next level.
Earned cash will enable you to buy 'stats' and 'tricks' which will enable yo to get further in the game.
There's a lot of 'customisation' within the game. You can choose from a variety of pro-skaters (Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero, Chad Muska or Kareem Cambell etc.) -Yes I've never heard of them either...
Customise their outfits, mess about with their skating 'stats', buy them new boards and even present them with a skatepark built to your own whims/specifications.
I've never seen this in a "Top Dreamcast Games Of All Time..." list, and that may well be because it was a multi-format game and not unique to the Dreamcast.
For me this is actually a bonus, 'cos I'm currently playing the DC version at home and playing the GBA version on my DS on the move. But the compatability is very good and something I've never experienced before. Bonus!!
To finish this rambling post, dear reader there's two surprising thing's I've found out whilst writing this epistle...
1.) The strange proliferation of Sega Swirl's , first identified by TeeLeeCee is still happening... Check this out! It just appeared on a sandwich I made for my Mrs!
2.) And also..THPS 2 is the favourite game of Hollywood beauty and Sin City star Rosario Dawson... who'd a thunk it?????
Good night children, wherever you are...
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
But don't fret, as not everything being released in the near future is going to involve little space ships with a hell of a lot of fire power, as there is also plenty of other types of games coming out of the Home Brew scene. Here I'll give you a taste of the NEW Dreamcast games on the way.
This Neo-Geo port's pre-orders ended up being the 2nd biggest selling item on Play-Asia last week, just behind Japanese imports of Sony's $600 lump of impending doom. Yes, it's another scrolling shooter, a genre of which is hardly loved by everyone even here at the Junkyard, but the game has been compared to classics such as R-Type and Gradius, so show it some respect. It's released this December, is region free, and can be bought now at Play-Asia, ready to be shipped your way on it's release for just over £20. Just don't expect fancy 3D graphics, this is old school 2D all the way. Here is a preview video for you all:
TRIGGER HEART EXELICA
With names like 'Under Defeat' and 'Last Hope', you'd think these developers are hinting that their releases are going to become the Dreamcast's last ever release, but then this announcement comes along of yet ANOTHER scrolling shooter on it's way in February 2007. Like any good 'shump' as some people like to call them, Trigger Heart has a unique feature (Read: gimmick) that separates it from other shumps, and in this one's case it's the ability to grab enemy ships (even the ones 50 times bigger than you) with what looks like a tractor beam, swing them about then toss them at other enemies. With this in place, you'll actually find yourself spending more time spinning hapless foes across the screen the you will shooting them with millions of little bullets. Here's some footage of what to expect, submitted at Youtube by BlueNocturne:
This one hasn't been confirmed as of yet, but it would come as no surprise to me at all if this got itself a Dreamcast port sometime next year. Produced by Mile Stone, Karous (That's Japanese for 'Crows', apparently), looks like a spiritual follow up to the Dreamcast ported Radigy, with similar game play elements, but this time with a slightly less cartoon-y, darker feel. The game was recently revealed in Japanese arcades and like it's predecessor, it's running on Sega's Naomi system, so a port would be a doddle. Come on Mile Stone, you know you wanna! Here's a trailer submitted at YouTube by Indygamer:
This Home Brew release, being ported to the Dreamcast, is said to be available sometime around Christmas. There's not a lot to go by about the Dreamcast version as of yet, but it's described on the website as "a futuristic-styled 3D action/adventure game, using a third person perspective. The game features a total 16 levels with 3D environments in 4 different sceneries, a multitude of weapons, bonuses and upgrades and a nicely balanced game play." Hmm!
AGE OF THE BEAST
This is Senile Team's follow up to the excellent Beats of Rage, improving on everything that game gave us while also using completely original graphics which are looking stunning! This time around the fighting is set in a Sword & Sorcery land, complete with knights and shining amour and hobbits...well, maybe not hobbits. It's looking set to be like the Golden Axe sequel we never got (I know there were two sequels, but they didn't improve on the first much), with 4 player co-op, magic spells, throws, sheids, wolves to ride about on, and a slew of bad guys to slash! It even runs in wide screen! Release date is unknown as of yet, but this is going to ROCK none the less. Here's the trailer to wet your appetite:
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Well, now it appears that people are finally starting to appreciate the master piece Sega has given us, with these two lumps of evidence I've discovered in the last two days.
EVIDENCE NUMBER ONE.
Yesterday, me Uni lot went on a trip up to Londo (Sorry, London) where we went to the Science Museum for the 'GAME ON' exhibit that is on there till February. I've posted more about this joyous, fantastic place at my personal Blog here, complete with dozens of photos, but here I want to point out that while the Dreamcast wasn't presented quite as well as it could have been (Samba De Amigo? Soul Calibur?) thy did have a few Dreamcast's set up for play. Just a cake walk from the projected Pong, you could play it's replacement Virtua Tennis 2, and there was also a Dreamcast running Bust-a-Move 4 further in. They also had a PS2 running the Dreamcast's swan song REZ, easily the strongest example of video games as an art form you can possibly get. Best of all, however, was that the Dreamcast was part of a long time line painting going across one of the walls by illustrator Jon Bugerman (No relation to the Burger King):
And the stuff surrounding the funny looking drawing of our favorite white box has more in common than you would first suspect: DDR was ported to the console in Japan, Half Life was on the Dreamcast at least in unreleased form, Metal Gear Solid was playable via one of the Bleem discs, and Cartman gave the console free adverting in an episode of South Park. Just ignore the mobile phone and X-Files thingys, they don't belong there.
The Game On Exhibit is on till some time in February, so make sure you hop over to the Science Museum in Londo (Gah, did it again. Darn you Fokker/Falcon!) while you still can, it's well worth he six quid to get in, if only for he six player Saturn Bomberman.
EVIDENCE NUMBER TWO.
Next up, you have a personal art project by a clever soul who goes by the name of Lydia, that I found out about thanks to Kotaku. Now what could possibly be a better way of celebrating such a wonderful piece of machinery than this?
So what is it made of? Chocolate? WRONG. Believe it or not, this is actually made of Bronze. Yes, an actual size, SIX KILO Bronze re-creation of the controller. And what's more, the memory card and rumble pack are separate pieces too! If hat's how heavy a bronze controller would be, imagine what a bronze Arcade stick would be like! Hoo hoo! Check out the rest of the photos here, then imagine walking into a posh art museum and spotting this sitting on a stand.
So there you have it. Dreamcast? Art. Art? Dreamcast. Dreamart? Artcast? Monkey's with maracas.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Result!!! Next, (and this is what has inspired me to post) was presented in the cabinet just lying there, just waiting silently for me to find it, fall in love with it, and buy it instantly... (Despite the fact I'd never heard of it or quite frankly never needed it...) It was this.... Sega Game Gear!!!!!! Like the grandaddy to the PSP, and the superior ripost to Nintendo's ' Gayboy'.... Sorry Gameboy. This was Sega's bold attempt to enter the 'hand held' market. It's lifespan was from 1990 to 1997 and it notched up an impressive collection of titles... (see Wikipedia) I've so far played 'Ninja Gaiden' and 'Columns'... the Sega version of Tetris... which incidentally was a feature of the Dreamcast title 'Sega Smash Pack' (see how I cleverly linked up to the Dreamcast?... And just to add other weird synchronicity to this experience, one of the other titles I picked up was the Sega Smash Pack for the Gameboy Advance for £5... which I can play on my DS! Including.. Golden Axe! (See earlier post....) plus ECCO & Sonic Spinball. ( A rare import for the GBA) Now as if all this wasn't enough, as I went to pay for said haul at the counter, I noticed in the peripheral section, a 'see through' green Madcatz DC controller for the princely sum of 99p!!!! It goes perfectly with my 'see through' green Dreamcast...
So there is a God,
He has a plan, and Gamestation is where you can experience it. Post over. Good night children, wherever you are... P.S. Whilst researching 'Game Gear' I've just discovered that it is the favourite console of Mexican Love Goddess Salma Hayek! Who would have thought it???
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
House Of The Dead 2 vs.Typing Of The Dead
Well it's been a while since or founding father, mentor and patron, Sir Teeleecee, walked out of the 'Yard with a knotted hankie on a stick, slung across his shoulder, to embark on his Confidential Mission... to save the world from the Axis Of Evil. And I don't know about you, but the 'Yard seems kind of empty without him.... (Sniff!)
Still, it is the sworn duty of myself and the Gagaman(n) to maintain the place in his absence. And so, without any further ado, I will embark on my next epic post (for the second fucking time, seeing as Blogger just wiped out about an hour and a half of fucking typing, by kindly 'updating' itself...)
BASTARD! (and now it seems to be underlining my text and changing font sizes without me wanting it to...
Take a look at this!
It's my new super-duper-fan-fucking-tastic 'Microsoft Wireless Desktop Elite' keyboard! (Wahey!) Everytime I run my fingers over it's bouncey, responsive keys it makes my 'third leg' stand to attention!
Each time I check out it's 'space age' contours, with different tactile materials...("Grunt! Gasp!"... Hard plastic keys, spongey, foamy exterior...) my swollen testacles start to tingle. Check out the fucking buttons and gizmos! AWLRIGHT!
Keyboards... originally found on the humble typewriter, then later ascribed to fledgling computers, they've made life easier for us all.
In Dreamcast terms the keyboard was originally intended to enhance it's users experience of accessing the internet. (I did that a few weeks back and it was frankly wanktastic...56K modem? Dial up? Fuck me sideways...) For some gamers it allowed them to remain in a PC comfort zone...playing games like 'Quake 3 Arena' and 'Outtrigger' using Keyboard and Mouse to point and shoot.
But which fucking genius decided to use the keyboard as a peripheral to experience the established 'light gun classic' House of TheDead?
Someone at developer 'Smilebit' apparently... and if I ever meet that guy, I'll gladly suck him off...
Sorry! I meant to say "Shake him warmly by the hand"....
'House Of The Dead' Father? That tired old title has oft been discussed within the 'Yard... why drag it's sorry ass back up for another probing?
Well it needs to be re-inspected and compared to it's lesser known cousin 'Typing Of The Dead'...
'Cos like many a great DC title release, we Europeans were passed over! I've never understood why corporations like Sony (bawk!), Sega and Nintendo (feeling of warm acceptance...) feel the need to selectively deny Europeans, Japanese or Americans access to the same gaming experience, at the same time....
This inevitably ends up with commited gamers like myself, having to trawl eBay years later to find hidden gems... Our American cousins were denied Shenmue 2, and that's just wrong.
We on this side of the pond were denied the 'Sega Smash Pack' and 'Caution Seaman'.
Why? answers on a postcard please...
Anyway, back to the games... lets compare them...
House Of the Dead 2
A classic franchise, first experienced outside arcades by Sega Saturn owners as 'House of The Dead'. (Still retailing in Gamestation for a pricey £24.99 due to it's cult clasic status and rarity) A light gun classic, but in retrospect grainy, pixellated and rushed. It was poorly presented, had an unimaginative storyline and was badly voice-acted. Certain features that Sega were apparently keen to keep apparently...
So lo and behold, along comes House Of The Dead 2, one of the flagship titles for the Dreamcast. Back in the day, the game+ lightgun would have cost you a harsh £75.... Current 2006 price for game and peripheral? £8.50... OK so we've already got a reason to check it out... but the Dreamcast release had addressed the failings of the original Saturn game... Here we had sumptuous graphics, great frame rates, little pixellation, and a near perfect arcade port.
The voice acting was still terrible and the storyline equally weak, but to your average gamer, light gun at the ready, it was just an excuse to waste animated corpses, spilling green, YES GREEN blood..
O.K. Weak story line? What is it?
You play as James Taylor (no not the easy listening hippy ex-husband of Carly Simon- ignore that if you're under 40) but the AMS agent assisted by colleagues Gary Stewart, Amy Stewart and Harry Harris... (I kid you not....) Harry fucking Harris? Pur-lease...
You're fighting aginst the evil machinations of the mysterious Goldman... which have resulted in.... axe wielding, chainsaw toting, barrel tossing zombies!
Overthrowing the un-named city and presumably the world. And if you're not quick enough on the draw they're gonna bite you. Oh yes.
Depending on your zombie ass kicking skills you will be shown a variety of routes through the city. Play poorly and you'll arrive at something of a dead end. Save civillians and you'll be rewarded with extra lives... Kill 'em and you'll have lives taken away- fair enough!
There are four modes in the game...
Arcade, Original , Boss and Training. Play on Original and you get to save items like coins, gems, gold frogs, (no I have not been ingesting psychedelic mushrooms...recently...) air guns and unlimited continues that help you complete the game.
Complete the game? I wish! Never have and probably never will...
'Cos apart from items that you store in your car boot/trunk, you can't save shit on this mother fucker! (Why am I posting like an extra from 'Shaft'?)
'One bullet away from killing the last boss, and completing the game... and YOU DIE!
Then start all over again.
And incidentally, that's why I named it my most frustrating DC game on Tom's most magnificent recent post... I love it/hate it!
Ok I'm rambling...And you might have guessed already that I'm more in favour of the
Typing Of The Dead...
OK no need to go through any of the features of the original 'cos it's exactly the same as this one.
Except that the graphics and even the voice acting seem a bit more polished.
And ( now heres the rub) Instead of a gun you use a keyboard!!!
As do your charcters...
Instead of 'poppin' caps' you have to type like a bitch ass secretary on speed to repel the zombie hoarde. The basic scenario is this... The game is exactly the same but instead of shooting zombies you have to read set phrases and then type them.
Easy? NO! If your a good typist, no problem... If you've got poor keyboard skills (like me) then watch out. You just have to copy familiar (or increasingly non-familiar) words and phrases thrown at you by the game. "Hospitalised brick"? "Rasta"? "Uncle Slam"?
They're the easy ones... try "I lay my hand on yours my sweet, and then let out the nastiest fart you'll know".
Try that whilst zombies are threatening to chomp a chunk out of your face...
Having said that, compared to the light gun version, they actually wait around a little bit... patiently(!)... Whilst you complete your typing.
Unlike the original, they kind of lay off, lurking not too menacingly whilst you fumble over your typing errors.
To make things less horrific, they carry sink plungers, rubber mallets and sausages to throw at you instead of knives and axes. Plug two keyboards in and play against a friend. I did and it was some of the most gaming fun I've had in ages... You can pick up keyboards for peanuts these days...
Now back in 2001 two keyboards would have cost you £40.
In 2006? Two quid each for two keyboards if you look around...
(I was given one keyboard free by the wonderful Summit Games, Bangor, N.Wales because I bought a couple of rare import games from them-Heads Up! Respect!)
The two biggest gingers played them solid at the Lighthouse last weekend... in favour
of Tekken 5 Dark resuurection on the PSP.. Even the younger ginger generation are into
the gameplay...and BONUS! they're improving their typing skills!
IGN 2006 gave 'Typing' a 9/10 in the face of reviews of games on the 360, PS3 and Wii...
Planet Dreamcast in 2001 gave 'Typing...' an 8/10.
The original light gun HOTD version got a paltry 7/10.
And I endorse their conclusions... ergo Typing Of The Dead.... A clear winner!!!
So check this.... score a DC (£20 max) Score HOTD2 (£2.50 max) Score TOTD (maybe a bit more but probably under a tenner) (Score a couple of keyboards for the DC (Guess...£20 max) add it up... maybe (max) £55 and you get yourself a shit hot console, two games and the necessary peripherals for less than a next gen game.
I rest my luddite case m'lud!
Good night children... wherever you are...here's a little gift to make you sleep easier after looking at all those zombies....