Saturday, 18 June 2016

Freelancer (PC)

Freelancer logo
Developer:Digital Anvil|Release Date:2003|Systems:PC

This week on Super Adventures I'm having a go of PC Elite 'em up Freelancer. I've been meaning to write about this on my site for years but other games kept taking its place in the queue and it eventually got shoved to the back burner. But I played this game to completion back when it was new and I'm hyped to finally get around to jumping back into the Sirius Sector for some simulated space combat.

The game's by Digital Anvil, founded by Wing Commander developer Chris Roberts, who's probably better known these days as the man space sim fans keep throwing money at in the hopes he'll someday give them Star Citizen. Microsoft bought Digital Anvil in 2000, a few months after buying Bungie, but Freelancer escaped Halo's fate of becoming Xbox exclusive. Instead it remained PC exclusive, which still kind of sucks for console owners. If the Dreamcast could handle Starlancer, I bet the newer consoles could've managed the sequel.

Like Star Citizen, Freelancer promised a lot of ambitious features, like a dynamic galaxy with fluctuating stock prices, supporting thousands of players at once! And then the final game had a static galaxy supporting 128 players. It supports exactly 1 player these days, as the official servers were shut down 5 years after release, but I'm sure fans are still running galaxies of their own. It's all irrelevant to me though as I'm only going to be checking out the single player.

(Click the screenshots to gaze upon them in their full 1280x960 majesty).

Friday, 10 June 2016

Simon the Sorcerer (PC)

Developer:Adventure Soft|Release Date:1993|Systems:PC, Amiga, CD32, Acorn, Android, iPhone

This week on Super Adventures I'm taking a quick look at classic PC and Amiga adventure game Simon the Sorcerer. It's also got the subtitle The Original Adventure on my box, but I'm not calling it that.

According to Wikipedia:
Simon the Sorcerer or Simon the Magician, in Latin Simon Magus (Greek Σίμων ὁ μάγος), was a Samaritan magus or religious figure and a convert to Christianity, baptised by Philip the Evangelist, whose later confrontation with Peter is recorded in Acts 8:9–24.
But that's entirely irrelevant as the game's got nothing to do with him. This is an entirely unrelated Simon who performs completely different sorcery.

I've played Simon the Sorcerer before, I've even beaten the thing (with the help of a walkthrough), but it's been a while and all I remember about it now is the pitiful Swampling inadvertently poisoning Simon with his terrible cooking, and the theme song. Here, have a YouTube link to the theme so you can permanently burn it into your own brain as well.

I'll be playing the PC CD XP release through Scumm VM, just so you know. It's still pretty much the 1993 game as far as I know, and is likely exactly what you'd get from GOG.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Saints Row (Xbox 360)

Developer:Volition|Release Date:2006|Systems:Xbox 360

This week on Super Adventures I'm going to fix an obvious omission on my site that's been bothering me for two years. I've written about Saints Rows 2 to IV, but I've completely overlooked the original game in the series! No I'm not talking about Grand Theft Auto 3, but I understand your confusion.

I'm a big fan of the Saints Row sequels but I've only played the first game once back when it was new, and only long enough to think 'wow, this is familiar'. The impression I've been getting from others is that the game was pretty much a practice run for Volition, a generic GTA: San Andreas clone without the personality the series developed later, so now I'm going to play it properly and see how true that is.

By the way, the game's 10 years old this August, and the console it was released on was discontinued in April, so that means it's officially retro! Maybe. Either way it's a pleasure to finally introduce the Xbox 360 to Super Adventures (even if I'm only doing it because this bloody game didn't get a convenient, easy to screenshot PC release like its sequels).

(Clicking the images will make them big, so you can see all the nice H.264 video compression artefacts).

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.

Semi-Random Game Box