Thursday, 19 May 2016

Punky Skunk (PSX)

Punky Skunk title screen
Developer:Ukiyotei|Release Date:1998 (96 in Japan)|Systems:PlayStation

This week on Super Adventures, I'm playing another mascot platformer! Because they take less time than trying to figure out a strategy game or get anywhere in an RPG and I'm trying to keep these posts coming out weekly.

Punky Skunk's been on my 'to play' list for a long while now, so long that I can't even remember if I ever knew what it is. I do know that the internet hates it though, as poor Punky's turned up on Game Informer's 'Worst Character Names' list, EGM's worst mascot list and IGN's 'Great Games With Silly Names' article... as an example of a game that really does suck as badly as its title suggests.

To be fair you know you've hit the bottom of the mascot barrel when you've reached 'skunk'. No one wants to play as a skunk, punky or otherwise (that's why Pepé Le Pew never got a game). Also the title screen isn't exactly giving the best first impression. All the dithering and scruffy lines makes it look like they scanned it in but didn't have time to clean it up afterwards. It's basically the same as the box art though so I suppose Punky's face is meant to look like it's been scribbled in a notebook.

Okay I'm going to keep playing until I've beaten the first boss, or died trying, or gnawed my own hands off, whichever happens first.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Dungeon Siege (PC)

Dungeon Siege title screen
Developer:Gas Powered Games|Release Date:2002|Systems:Windows, Mac

This week on Super Adventures I went and did that thing I wasn't supposed to do and played another RPG! I've got nothing against the genre, they just take so much time and so many words.

Dungeon Siege has gotten a bit of a reputation for being a game that basically plays itself, but I've got fond memories of it. Well, I've got a vague memory of being fond of it at least. I've beaten the game, but the only thing I can recall after 14 years is that the steampunk goblins were cool. So I plan to keep going in the game at least long enough to run into those guys.

You know I still get surprised when I'm reminded this got an movie adaptation, though I can very much believe it was nega-director Uwe Boll who made it happen. 'In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale' came out five years after the game, in actual cinemas, with folks like Jason Statham, Ron Perlman, Ray Liotta and Burt Reynolds collecting paychecks for their participation. Boll really was on a mission to ruin the chances of us ever getting a decent video game movie back then, releasing three of them in 2007 alone ('Dungeon Siege', 'Postal' and 'BloodRayne 2'). He's slowed down a bit since then, but that hasn't saved us from 'In the Name of the King 3: The Last Mission'.

(Click any image to see the original sized screenshot. The game can apparently support more modern resolutions, but I’ll be playing at 800x600 because I want to give you a fighting chance to read the on screen text.)

Saturday, 30 April 2016

SiN (PC)

Sin title screen
Developer:Ritual|Release Date:1998|Systems:Win, Mac, Linux

This week on Super Adventures I'm taking a look at SiN, the first actual game by Ritual Entertainment. Or 'sin' according to the box, title screen, menu, intro etc. (the manual just calls it Sin).

I used to play a lot of first person shooters back in the 90s (and every other decade), so if I haven't seen the full version of something, chances are I've at least played the demo. But SiN apparently slipped right by me. All I know about it is that it starts in a bank, I don't even know if it's 3D like Half-Life or 2.5D like Doom (though in my head I'm imagining it looking like Duke Nukem 3D).

Part of the reason I never got around to it might be that when the game came out it wasn't exactly firing on all cylinders. The game was full of bugs, it took minutes to load levels and save games, and a lot of people didn't even get sound. But now it's full patched up and it even runs on modern PCs! I hope!

(Click the screenshots to view the images at 800x600 res! I was playing in fake 3dfx mode so it's the best I could get.)

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Syndicate (MS-DOS)

Syndicate title screen
Developer:Bullfrog|Release Date:1993|Systems:PC, Amiga, Acorn, Mac, PC-98, 3DO, Jaguar, CD32

This fine Wednesday on Super Adventures I'm having a go of one of Bullfrog's most classic games, Syndicate!

It's about time as well, because for the last five years or so the only Bullfrog games I've had on my site have been Hi-Octane and Genewars. No Dungeon Keepers, no Theme Parks, and nary a single Populous (not even going to try working out the plural of that... or how to play it).

Syndicate and I have met a few times over the years, but we've never really got on. I'm not sure why, maybe I've been misunderstanding some aspect of gameplay, maybe it's just not my thing, but I've always found it to be finicky, frustrating and bloody difficulty to get anywhere in. Every now and again though I find myself wanting to give it another chance, because I love its particular remix of the 'Blade Runner' dystopian aesthetic and I'm always up for a bit of ultra-violent cyberpunk tactical action. But every time I load it up I end up putting in a cheat and firing Gauss guns at cars for a bit before turning it right back off again.

For some reason I always thought that the Amiga version was the genuine article and all others mere reflections, but this was actually the first Bullfrog game designed first for PC. Works for me, I got it off Origin a short while back when they were giving it away, so I'm all set up to give it another shot.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Kaze Kiri: Ninja Action (TurboGrafx-CD)

Developer:Naxat Soft|Release Date:1994|Systems:PC Engine Super CD-ROM²

This week on Super Adventures, a game called Kaze Kiri: Ninja Action that came out in Japan and nowhere else.

I'm not sure I've played a Naxat Soft game before so I've no idea what to expect. Maybe it'll be an incredibly slick showcase for what the humble PC Engine can do in the hands of experts, maybe it'll be an unplayable piece of crap, I can't even guess. It's a Super CD-ROM² game so it has the potential to be at least as good as Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, but I won't be getting my hopes up.

One thing I know for sure is that I hate how long it takes to get to the title screen. First you have to wait through a flickering five second movie countdown and then another ten for the title to form. C'mon game, I've got ninjas to kill or maybe play as!

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Sword Coast Legends (PC)

Sword Coast Legends title screen
Developer:n-Space + Digital Extremes|Release Date:2015|Systems:Windows, Mac, Linux

This week on Super Adventures I'm playing a few hours of shiny new RPG Sword Coast Legends! Well it's pretty new, as it came out in October 2015.

I'm really curious about this one as it's the first proper Baldur’s Gate-style 'Dungeons & Dragons' RPG since Obsidian's Neverwinter Nights 2 a decade ago. The thing is though, it's by n-Space, the people who brought the world games like Mary-Kate and Ashley: Crush Course and Hannah Montana: The Movie, when they weren't busy porting first person shooters to the DS. But Dragon Age: Origins director Dan Tudge joined the company to lead development on the game, and that's got to be a good sign. It also means I'll likely be typing 'Dragon Age' a lot.

Sadly it seems like n-Space may have been better off on their path they were on, as this was their last game. After 22 years of game development, the company closed down last week.

Oh I should mention that I'm only playing the single player campaign. A big deal was made about the game's innovative multiplayer Dungeon Master Mode, which lets one player guide a group of others through their home-made dungeons, so be aware that it exists and I'm just ignoring it. Because I do that.

(Remember: clicking images will display higher resolution screenshots.)

Friday, 1 April 2016

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (Movie)

Written by:Al Reinert, Jeff Vintar|Directed by:Hironobu Sakaguchi|Release Date:2001

I've been writing about video games for a long time now, over five years in fact, and it's starting to become a dull routine for me to be honest. I need to widen my scope, pick a new subject, try something different! I mean I'm still fascinated by games and I always will be, but I have a very slight obsession with science fiction as well and it'd be nice to shift gears and focus on that for a while.

So this week on Sci-Fi Adventures, I'm writing about a science fiction movie! Because I do that now.

Speaking of trying something new, 'Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within' was the debut movie from Square Pictures, the video game company's new computer animated film division. And it was also the last, because it bombed so hard. They'd would only work on one more project, the 'Final Flight of the Osiris' short for the 'Animatrix', before being shut down. I guess if you keep using 'Final' in your titles it will eventually come true.

I'm not sure the movie failed because it was based on a video game though, because I've seen this before and I know full well that it ain't based on any 'Final Fantasy' games I've played. But this isn't a case of a movie studio taking a brand name and doing their own thing with it, as it was conceived and directed by 'Final Fantasy' creator Hironobu Sakaguchi himself! His very first film in fact, and also his last.

Despite its utter failure, Spirits Within was a pretty important milestone in cinema, as it's the first full-length 'photorealistic' motion captured animated movie. A proper big-budget serious cartoon aimed at adults starring humans, four years in the making! To give it a bit of context, it came out 6 years after Toy Story (the first full length CG movie) and around the same time that 'Final Fantasy X' hit the PlayStation 2. So yes, it really is 15 years old at the time I'm writing this.

(I'm basically going to go ahead and spoil this entire movie one scene at a time now, so please stop right here unless you're okay with that).

Semi-Random Game Box