Friday, 4 May 2018

You can Keep your Shoppe

Well, Shoppe Keep is just turdy. In a strange piece of synchronicity, the sequel has just come out today, and I can tell you now that it's a game that I won't be buying (please remind me of that the next time it turns up in a bundle). It's incredibly user-unfriendly, and incredibly tedious. The 'tutorial' is so bad that I had to use a wiki to work out how to even begin. I forgot to say, this is a game that was published in the last couple of years, not in the '80s. You essentially have to build and run a weapons shop in a fantasy land, and this is very much about the management aspects of said shop. You have to plan your display area, buy stock, manage prices and stock levels, and so on. If that sounds tedious to you, then you think the same way as I do. In my first day (which seemed to take a long time), I made 6 gold pieces in profit. Now, I'm sure you probably do start slow and build your way up the ladder to greater things, but that's way slower that I'm happy to start. That's not even enough to buy a single extra item at the end of the day. That's just dull. And what do you do all day? Nothing. You stand there waiting for customers, and when someone buys something you order a replacement and, when it comes through, you put it back on the same pedestal. Fun. Actually, there is some excitement when you get robbed. I had 3 robberies in the first day. When you get robbed, you chase after the culprit (you can run much faster than they can) and you hit them once with your sword. They then fall over and you pick up the object they took from you and traipse back to your shop where you return it to its place on the pedestal. Then you go back to standing and waiting for people to come in and buy something. God it's dull. I'm sure there are more options that open up when you have more money, and the game gets a bit more exciting (at least I hope it does), but to get that far I'd have to play the game for another few hours, and there's no way I'm doing that. Sorry. And I thought Prehistorik was going to be my worst game of the year. Onwards!

Next up on the randometer is...Blind Justice! Never heard of it. Looks like a mid-'90s RPG, so worth a shot.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018


Well, Flight of the Intruder was never going to get much of my attention. Half an hour over lunch is enough for me. It's just not my type of game, and it's one that no matter how much longer I spend with it, I know I'm still not going to enjoy it. It's loosely structured on the book of the same name (which I haven't read, or seen the film), but I don't think that gives it more than a theatre of war and some flavour for the missions. Otherwise, it feels like a pretty standard combat flight sim of the era. Of course, I'm no expert, so I could be completely wrong, but nothing jumped out and shouted PLAY ME. It was made by Rowan, who were experts in the genre, so I'm sure it was technically a great game, but...meh. I've got a cup of tea in front of me, and it doesn't resemble a flight sim at all.

Next up on the randometer is...Shoppe Keep! Looks like some kind of fantasy shop management game. Might be interesting.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018


Prehistorik was mercifully short, because it's a terrible, terrible game. I finished it in a couple of lunchtimes, leaping from platform to platform and bashing enemies on the way. I don't remember much of the old Prehistorik game, so I can't tell you how similar it was to this one (I just checked and I do have the original games, but I'm treating them as a separate entity...not sure if I should have done), but this one looks fine in the spit and polish department. The graphics are fine - a little rough around the edges, but fine - and the sound is fine (although bizarrely it's really loud and there's no volume control, only on or off), but where the game sinks to the absolute pits is the control. I don't know what it is with games like this, but too often modern platform games have terrible controls, and this is no exception. It's floaty and unresponsive, and you'll often feel that you died unfairly rather than because of your own mistakes. My guess would be that it's something to do with the animation cycles, but I'm sure they could have made it better. It just ruins the whole experience.

The basic premise of the game is that some giant geezer has stolen your village's food, so you have to try and get it back again. That means that you have to pick up a minimum amount of food on each level before you can exit it. To be honest, that was never a problem. I didn't once have to go out of my way to find more food than I did just walking the main path to the exit, so it was largely a pointless endeavour. I think you might unlock a bonus level if you pick up all of the food and all of the B-O-N-U-S letters in the level, but I never did that, so never saw a bonus level. When I completed the game, my fly companion (don't ask) became a superfly and said it would help me find secrets and hard to reach items, so I did the first level again thinking it would help me 100% it and open the bonus level, but it didn't seem to make any difference at all. Great. That may well be a contender for worst game of the year...let's hope so.

Next up on the randometer is...Flight of the Intruder! Another flight sim. Joy of joys. I can't have that many left, can I?

Monday, 30 April 2018

Reneging Command

I need to apologise to Carrier Command. It looks like a great game. It was ahead of its time. It features in the 1001 Videogames You Must Play Before You Die. In so many ways it's one of those games that this blog was started for, so I can play the missed classics and get a feel for them. just leaves me cold. I want to give it the time and the head space that it deserves, but I don't have either. It's one of those games that starts up and presents you with a screen full of icons, and you will have no idea what they do. You can't fire it up quickly and play for a bit to get a feel for it because you can't even move without reading the manual. And I have tried to read the manual. It's a good manual. Nothing wrong with the instructions it gives, but nothing in there fills me with excitement to go ahead and try it. I have moved a boat. I have launched a Mantis. I have fired a laser. None of those things made me want to repeat them. I don't know if it's a symptom of the larger mid-life ennui I'm feeling, but I just want something braindead and splashy. You could argue that's exactly what Doom is, and you'd be right, but even that has lost a little of its lustre. To make it even worse, I've bought quite a few random games in sales recently that I really didn't require. It's a cold, rainy day out there, and maybe what I really need is a good old RPG blanket I can wrap myself in. Fingers crossed to the random gods.

Next up on the randometer is...Prehistorik! Hmmm. Looks like a modern-ish remake of the old platform game. Ah, pretty mindless.

Monday, 9 April 2018

El Gato

Well, I had a quick look at GATO over the weekend, but didn't get anywhere with it. I managed to look around with my periscope, switch from electric to diesel power and back again, dive and rise, look at a map, arm my torpedoes, read the mission briefing...and that's about it. I couldn't actually get the submarine to move at all, or to find any enemy ships or to do...well...anything, really. I'm sure I could have scoured the internet and found the manual, then lovingly pored over it and worked out how to maneuver my sub while learning the detailed history of these fabulous machines...but time was too short and it's only a CGA sub game that, to be honest, I'm not that interested in. So, another title falls to my mood for skipping through games and disregarding my own internal rules. Yay!

Next up on the randometer is...Carrier Command! Seriously? What is it with me and late '80s strategy games at the moment. Ugh. At least this one was supposed to be pretty good...on the Amiga. No idea what the PC version will be like.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Step on my old Psi 5s

I had a quick look into Psi 5 Trading Company at lunch today, and that's probably enough for me (gosh, I am getting a bit lax in my old age!). It's actually quite an interesting little game. It strangely reminded me of FTL but in real time. You pick a destination that you want to transfer your cargo to - the further away it is, the more money you'll get from the run. You then proceed to pick the crew, selecting different aliens for different roles in your ship - navigation, weapons, engineer, etc. You then jet off into space where in no time at all you'll be set upon by random pirates as you try to deliver your precious cargo on time. Through giving orders to your crew, you can control which weapons to fire, where to send your repair bots, when to boost the engines, when to boost the shields with emergency batteries and so on. There are a ton of options to choose from, and you'll need to rapidly switch between crew screens screaming orders to various aliens in order to complete your run. Strangely, when you do complete your run, there doesn't appear to be any option to go on and do another one. I thought you'd build a career jetting among the stars and building a trade empire, but it appears to be more of a score attack game, trying to better your last high-score by delivering goods farther and faster. A lovely bit of CGA and plenty to do, but I can't say I'd really recommend it.

Next up on the randometer is...GATO! Looks like an old submarine simulator. I'll give it a go over the weekend if I get a minute, but I don't think I'll spend long on it.

Still Doom

I finally finished Doom 3 over the Easter weekend. I'm finding it quite a hard one to write about (partly because I've got a horrible cold and my brain's not working). It's Doom, but prettier. Much prettier. The engine looks great and moves quickly. It's all a bit samey, but thenDoom always has been. There are basically only two environments: in a space station or in Hell. Oh, you do also step out onto the surface of Mars on occasion, but you're on an extremely limited oxygen supply, so you're running around trying to find the quickest way back into the space station rather than admiring the scenery. A few more varied locations would have really made a difference (even the expansion packs were in exactly the same locations). It was all very claustrophobic, too (intentionally, I guess), with not even any of the variety in scale that the original Doom had. There weren't really any open spaces, which may have been the feel they were going for (and certainly would be correct for a Mars base), but it made parts of it pretty boring. Then, of course, there's the lighting. I remember the massive outcry at the original release of the game because it didn't allow you to hold a torch and fire a gun at the same time. Doom 3 is a dark and moody game, and you're unable to see anything in many places without your torch. It was bad enough with the rapidly draining torch inthe version I played, I can't imagine playing it the original way without being able to fire at the same time. It seems like a crazy decision to me. The rest of the game is spent shooting things and finding keys (audio logs) to progress. I think the amount of audio logs in Doom 3 was roundly mocked, and it is a bit crazy. The story's just not interesting enough to demand that amount of content, and most of it is just boring filler. I'm being a bit harsh on it, but I think it was a bit behind the times. The engine was amazing, but games like Half Life had already taken the FPS in a different direction, and Doom 3 feels a little bit unsure of itself. It doesn't have the balls to stick to its guns (quite literally) and just be a straight high-octane shooter, but it doesn't have the skill and variety to be a story-led FPS. The story, the weapons and the monsters all feel a bit generic. The mission packs tried to change things up a bit with a gravity gun that they barely used and a bullet-time artifact that I didn't use once. It was all too little too late, and too badly integrated into the main game. This cold's making me extra negative. It was a fun game, and I wouldn't not recommend it, I just found it a bit of a drag towards the end, and I was very glad when it was over. Next up is the most recent Doom game, just called DOOM once again. I was fairly dreading this, but that was blown away when I started it up. I'm not much of a graphics whore as you can probably guess from the blog, but this game looks amazing! It's by far the most recent triple-A game I've played (and probably will play for some time) and the jump in graphical fidelity is astounding. It's leagues ahead of Fallout 4, which was the last game of this level that I played. I was also very pleased to see their intent with this game - right at the beginning your marine wakes up and finds a monitor screen with a voice intoning your mission in exactly the same way as in Doom 3. The marine promptly smashes the screen and hurls it away half way through the message. Coming straight from Doom 3, that was a beautiful thing to see. I'm now very much looking forward to playing through the new Doom.

I think I'm also done with Super Off Road. I gave it pretty short shrift, but hey. It's a very basic top- down Super Sprint-style racing game. The differences here are that it's off-road, so there are lumps and jumps in the track, along with pools of water and other obstacles, and there's a career mode built in, so you earn money for winning races (or you can sometimes pick it up on the track) and you can spend that money on upgrades to your vehicle. Things like extra speed or grippy tyres, etc. It's a perfectly fine game, and has the usual caveat where it'd be great fun with a few friends and a few beers. As it is, though, it's not something that I'm going to spend a great deal of time on. I played for a little while and managed to win a few races, and that's enough for me.

Next up on the randometer is...iF-16 Fighting Falcon! Ugh, yet another flight sim. Ah well, better get it out of the way, I guess.

...Yay, it doesn't work! It's a Win95 game that won't run under Win 10, and bums am I going to try and look for a solution for it. Come on random number generator, don't fail me now. Next up on the randometer is...Psi 5 Trading Company! A space trading game from the '80s. Thanks gods of randomness.