Monday, 21 July 2014

Short Strides

Well, I didn't mean to, but I had a quick go at Strider, and it turned into a slightly longer go at Strider, and before I knew it the game was finished. I think the version I had must have been cracked because I didn't seem to be losing any lives. Even so, I don't think it looked special enough to make me seek out a different version. I have to say, I'm going to have to check out a Let's Play on YouTube or something because the ending was rubbish. I finished the game and all I got was a bloke saying that the test simulation was complete and now I was ready for the real challenge. The game then restarted from the beginning. I played through the first level again, but it all seemed to be exactly the same so I'm not sure if there would have been another ending if I'd played through the whole thing again. ... Hmm,just checked and no, it has a completely different, but still a bit rubbish, ending. Also, watching the arcade version it makes me realise how terrible the PC version is. Hardly any enemies, hardly any power-ups, no moving platforms, no backgrounds to speak of, no music (the original music was cool), and so on. It's an incredibly cut down version. Ah well, it's over now. Onwards.

Next up on the randometer is...Kingdom Rush! It looks like a fairly standard Tower Defence game, originally made for mobile and then ported to PC. I really do need to hit Ishar 3, too. Not tonight, though.

Fable Tabled

Away last week, so not much happened. I did have a chance to try out Fable on the Surface and it seemed to work fine. I decided to play Surface games on the big TV downstairs (it keeps the tablet cooler and, hey, it looks better), so I'm going to add those to the PS3 list instead of the normal list. Yes, I know I have a lot of lists. The good news is that means it's time to spin the wheel again.

Next up on the randometer is...Megapede! An old-school clone of Centipede with ASCII graphics. I might just have a quick go at it now and see if I can ring all of the juice from it.
And I'm spent. I don't think I'll be playing much more of that. It's actually a pretty fun and faithful adaptation, but I was always pretty rubbish at Centipede, and that fact didn't change with this version. Still, it's another game to tick off - yay. Onwards.

Next up on the randometer is...Strider! Gosh. I played Strider a bit back in the day but I was always fairly rubbish at it (there's a pattern emerging here). I think we used to play it on someone's Amiga at school, I don't think I've ever tried the (1989) PC version before, though. I should try and hit Ishar 3, too. That fills me with dread a bit. but there's better games coming up on the series list that I want to get to.

Friday, 11 July 2014


At lunchtime today I finally polished off Chronomaster. I was wrong about one thing - it's not an FMV game, it just has lots and lots of bad '90s pre-rendered animations. The style has a certain charm, and it's good for what it is...but it's pretty fugly. Other than that, it was a fairly standard adventure set in a unique premise (penned by Roger Zelazny) - in the far future you're on a mission to track down some pirate leaders who organised a massacre on a distant world. Each of these pirates is in their own pocket universe, giving rise to a lot of extremely varied locations. The puzzles are pretty much all of the standard 'use object from inventory on other object' style, but they were all fairly obscure. There were some that I don't think I would have got at all without the help of a walkthrough. I didn't use it all the way, though, I made a lovely map of a crazy maze all on my own (I considered scanning it in to put with this post...but it's not that exciting). The other thing was that the game was extremely slow. The main guy, Rene, walks incredibly slowly, and there is a loooot of walking to do. The aforementioned maze was particularly frustrating on this point because there was so much wandering around and backtracking while I tried to map the place. Oh, but as a massive plus point, it does have Ron Perlman as the voice of Rene. This was in his early-early days, but he lends it a sort of bored but obliquely fascinated charm. Another one down. Onwards!

Next up on the randometer is...Oooh, Fable! Lionhead's magnus opus (it's got to be better than Black and White, anyway). I think the others are all XBox only, but the first one is on PC. It won't run on my old machine, so I might try and give it a go on the Surface'll be an interesting experiment, and might mean I return to Ishar 3 on my old machine to play them in tandem. I am very much looking forward to Fable, though. My claim to Fable fame is that I playtested it at Lionhead while there for a job interview. They asked me to come back in a different position, but at that point I'd already accepted another job...ah, what could have been. I wonder if they acted on any of my playtesting suggestions? I also had a go on another game in development - BC - while I was there. I don't think it was ever released...a shame, it was quite fun from what I remember.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Somewhere Nova the Rainbow...

It's been almost a month since my last post, and I've barely had time to play anything. It's not all Hard Nova's fault - work's been super busy and we've got builders in at the moment, so my lunch free time has been rather compromised. There was also the Steam and GoG sales, which I succumbed to a little, even though there wasn't really much there that I wanted (I was going to say 'needed' then, but since when have I ever needed more games!). With all that in mind, I'm going to move on from Hard Nova and hope for something quicker and simpler up next. First, though, a little about Hard Nova. Hard Nova is a good game; it's a fun game; it's a game that's so much better than Ishar...but it's a slow game. In it, you play a space mercenary trying to discover and neutralise the threat that's facing the four star systems that you call home. You get to command a squad of mercs (and you can hire more members), fly a space ship, and navigate around planets in your landing shuttle. It's of a similar age to the Ishar games, but what makes it so much more enjoyable than them is the writing. Ishar is a French game without a great deal of text in it. This was probably done for reasons of internationalisation, but it makes it a much more empty experience. When you play an RPG, you want to get involved with the story and characters, but in Ishar all of that is very thin on the ground, and what little there is is rendered in a strange tongue (e.g. the greeting, "Warm tear"), which I guess is supposed to add flavour, but it just makes it even less approachable. Hard Nova, by comparison, has great writing. There's not masses of it, but the conversations with NPCs feel fresh and realistic. Your character has conversation choices, and the NPCs give appropriate responses. They're not really branching systems like those of modern RPGs, but they create a good illusion of it. The limited inventory system drove me a bit mad, but other than that, I was really enjoying my time with it...but it's weeks since I last played it and I just haven't got the heart to return to it now. I'm also starting to realise that much as I want to, I'm never going to complete all of the games on my list, it would take too many lifetimes, so I should start cutting off those I've had a decent run with. I've been doing it more recently anyway, but now I'm going to make it an official rule (in my head) so I won't feel so guilty for quitting them...I'm a bit crazy like that! I feel like I've seen everything Hard Nova has to offer in terms of systems and gameplay - it would have been nice to finish the story, but to be honest I've forgotten where I was in it anyway. Onwards!

The next game up on the randometer is...Chronomaster! It's an adventure game that game out in the dodgy rendered graphics/bad FMV era...that sounds like a bad thing, but I love that era, so I'm looking forward to this one. I remember it in mags, and think I may even have played a demo, so I'll hit this before returning to the lists for Ishar 3. You may even find that things move at Walkthrough speed - don't hate me.

In other news, I did just have a quick blast of 10,000,000 at lunchtime today...and won it! It's another one of those games I've been playing in odd 2-minute snatches here and there (it's a conversion of an iPhone game, so made for that type of play). I'd previously unlocked all of the equipment upgrades possible, but hadn't hit the magical score. Well, phew. It feels good to actually finish something!