Monday, 20 March 2017

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PSX)

Castlevania Symphony of the Night title screen
Developer:Konami|Release Date:1997|Systems:PSX, PSP, PSN, Saturn, Xbox 360

Today on Super Adventures I'm celebrating the 20th anniversary of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night! It was the 20th anniversary of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series a few days back and it'll be the movie Blade's 20th birthday next year too, so in retrospect the late 90s was a terrible time to be a vampire.

Speaking of things that happened in ages past, man it's been while since my epic marathon of all the traditional Castlevania platformers. "This is going to be the final Castlevania game I'll be playing for a long long time," I wrote at the end of my Castlevania Legends article, but I had no idea it'd take me 6 years to get around to the next one! You could make a third of a Duke Nukem game in that time.  Though in my defence I used to avoid writing about games I'd played before and I've actually beaten this one on the Xbox 360.

If playing all those classic Castlevanias taught me anything, it's that Konami were determined to get those Belmonts onto every system they could, and that each console had to get its own exclusive game. Seriously, to play the whole series up to this point you would've needed access to a NES, an MSX2, a Game Boy, a PC Engine with a CD drive, an X68000, a Mega Drive, a SNES and an arcade with the Haunted Castle cabinet. In this case though they skipped the Sega 32X due to it being dead and put their new 2D Castlevania on two consoles, the PlayStation and Saturn (with the Game Boy getting Legends instead and the N64 getting both Castlevania 64 and Legacy of Darkness two years later).

It was a bit strange though that Konami released this for the PlayStation, at least in the West, partly because Sony of America had a real hate on for 2D and partly because it's the direct sequel to a game that didn't get an English release until a decade later! In Japan the game’s called Akumajō Dracula X: Gekka no Yasōkyoku (Nocturne in the Moonlight), because it follows on from PC Engine game Akumajō Dracula X: Chi no Rondo (Rondo of Blood). This 'music term of the vampire-related thing' theme carried on through a couple of the GBA games until they started throwing in words like 'Dawn' and 'Portrait' and ruined the pattern.

Anyway I've waited long enough to give this a replay so I should get on with it. I hope I don't hate it now!

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Broken Age (PC)

Developer:Double Fine|Release Date:2015|Systems:Win, OS X, Linux, Ouya, iOS, Android, PS4, PSVita

This month on Super Adventures I'm playing Broken Age, formerly known as Double Fine Adventure back in its Kickstarter days.

Though this isn't one of them Kickstarter success stories like Giana Sisters, FTL, Pillars of Eternity and the rest, this is THE Kickstarter success story, the one that kickstarted all the others by proving that game developers could actually crowd-fund niche video game projects that publishers would never touch. In this case Tim Schafer wanted to make an old school point-and-click adventure game like the ones he worked on at LucasArts during the 90s.

They asked for $400,000 ($300,000 for the game, $100,000 for a documentary), which seemed like they were pushing their luck a little, but soon people were lining up to take a risk in the hopes of getting another Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle or Grim Fandango. They ended up raising a massive $3,336,371 in the end, which is clearly $3,038 too much. Except not really, as even after getting over 8 times the amount they wanted they still ran out of cash and had to split the game up into two parts, with their plan being to fund the second half with their earnings from the first half.

Broken Age: Act 1 came out in 2014 (just 2 years later than planned), but I've written 2015 up there as the release date because I'm playing the complete product here, with both acts welded together into one seamless whole. I remember that its second act wasn't all that well received, on account of it being bastard hard due to overcompensation after criticism of Act 1, but that's about where my knowledge of the game ends, so I'm not really sure what to expect from this. Though I'm hoping it's like a cross between Broken Sword and Dragon Age, or maybe Brain Age and... damn I can't think of another game with 'Broken' in the title.

By the way, the game supports widescreen just fine, but it's making me rescale the window manually by dragging the edges around and every time I start it up it resets to defaults, so I'm leaving the title screen how I found it to teach Double Fine a lesson. Also I think I like it better in 4:3 anyway, as there's more clouds.

(Click the screenshots to view them slightly bigger than they are here but not as big as they'd be for most players.)

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Super Adventures Update, March 2017

Today on Super Adventures, I'm still playing nothing. Sorry, I've been busy.

But there'll be new content soon, I promise! Two new games before the end of the month with any luck, and it's possible that they both donated letters to that picture above. In fact it's likely that quite a few games coming up have donated letters, but seeing I haven't managed to get the site updated in a month I wouldn't put too much faith in my ability to stick to a plan.

Further update: check below if you want to know where the letters all came from. Just... try not to be too disappointed when you find out that I've been in an adventure game mood lately. This isn't an exhaustive list of what's coming up this year.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Psycho Fox (Master System)

Developer:Vic Tokai|Release Date:1989|Systems:Master System

This week on Super Adventures I'm not even going to acknowledge the fact that I didn't post a new game last week. I'm just going to act as if I wasn't too busy/lazy to give you your weekly screenshots and move right on to talking about whatever this is.

Psycho Fox is basically what you get if you put Metal Gear Solid characters Psycho Mantis and Gray Fox into one of those teleporter pods from The Fly. But it's also a platformer released for the Master System during Sega's Alex Kidd era by Vic Tokai, creators of Clash at Demonhead and Magical Hat no Buttobi Tabo! Daibōken (aka. that DecapAttack game I played in 2011). In fact Wikipedia claims that DecapAttack is meant to be Psycho Fox's spiritual successor, which means I should have some idea what to expect. But I don't, because it's been six years since I played it.

I've only just turned this game on and already I have so many questions! Why is that monkey sticking a metal rod into Psycho Fox's ear? Is Psycho Fox related to Spy Fox? What's the 'F' supposed to be made out of? Why is the sun so bloody happy? Why magenta? Also this has to be the first time I've seen a fox that looks like he's about ready to fuck up a tiger. I'm getting a real Clockwork Orange vibe from these guys, like it's Psycho Fox and his Droogs.

Alright I'm going to give it an hour or so and see what it's like.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Legends (Amiga)

If my calculations are correct it should be Super Adventures' 6th birthday right about... now. I've been watching it creep up on me for a while, struggling to come up with an idea of what to do about it when it got here.

One idea I had was that I could turn the site around and start going back the way I came, revisiting all the games I've played, starting with Carmageddon, then Spy Fox, and so on all the way back to Deathbringer. Then I had a slightly less terrible idea: I could work through a huge chunk of my game requests all at once! 50 games in one article, each getting a screenshot and a couple of lines of text. It'll be just like the olden days when I'd put up a few dozen half-assed posts a day because I didn't know what the hell I was doing.

But in the end I realised that if I want to go back to Super Adventures' origins what I really need to do is find an old obscure Amiga game I haven't heard of and go into it blind.

Developer:Krysalis|Release Date:1996|Systems:Amiga AGA, CD32, DOS

So this week on Super Adventures I'm playing Legends!

I know about all kinds of games, Amiga games especially; it's a side effect to suffering prolonged exposure to a shelf full of game magazines as a child. But I have never heard of this one in my life and that's kind of weird, because it's by Krysalis, the folks who created Soccer Kid and Arabian Nights.

I've got a theory about why it slipped under my radar though, and that's because my Amiga magazines only go up to 1995. By the time this came out everyone was moving away to SVGA PCs and next gen consoles and I doubt even the DOS port of this low-res Amiga game got much attention. So they left it a bit late there. But then I suppose a game like this takes a while to make... possibly. Depends on what kind of game it is really.

The title screen up there makes me think it's some kind of strategy game with empires clashing across the world, or an RPG with classes from across history, but that doesn't narrow it down much and it's just as likely to be another platformer. All I know for sure is that it's not that classic isometric RPG; that's Legend without the S.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Carmageddon (MS-DOS)

Developer:Stainless Games|Release Date:1997|Systems:PC, Mac, Android, iOS

This week on Super Adventures you can look forward to several words on the subject of PlayStation-era vehicular carnage racing game Carmageddon! Or is that supposed to be CarmaGeddoN? The oversized letters are throwing me off.

It feels like it's been ages since I've had a racing game on the site. In fact looking back through the archives it seems like the last one was Super Mario Kart all the way back in 2013. I don't remember much about this besides what I can pull from my fuzzy memories of old magazines, but I expect it to be dissimilar.

I'm also expecting to be driving a red car with spikes running down the middle. Plus I'm sure this is the one with a picture of a bloke in the top left of the screen that makes faces when you run people over. Or run zombies over if you're playing the censored version with the green blood, which I'm hopefully not. I've had enough zombies lately thanks, no more zombies.

I'll be playing the Carmageddon Max Pack from GOG, all packaged up to run on modern PCs with nGlide pretending I've got a 3dfx card. So the graphics may potentially be a little prettier than they were back in the day, but I wouldn't bother clicking the screenshots for a better view because they'll all be 640x480 resolution or less.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Spy Fox in "Dry Cereal" (PC)

Developer:Humongous Entertainment|Release Date:1997|Systems:Windows, Mac OS, Wii, iOS, Android, Linux

This week on Super Adventures, I'm taking a look at a Junior Adventure about a fox who does intelligence work, designed for 5-10 year olds! Because it appeared as a gift in my Steam library one day, and I want to know if I should be grateful.

Spy Fox in "Dry Cereal" is apparently the first of three Spy Fox adventure games, and I've never played any of them at any age, so I have zero nostalgia for the series. I've managed to go my entire life so far in blissful ignorance of what any of Humongous Entertainment's games are like, but I am very slightly optimistic because I know that it's where Monkey Island creator Ron Gilbert disappeared to for a while after Monkey Island 2.

The Steam download comes with ScummVM so that it runs on modern systems, but I don't know if they've given me the US or the UK version. I've read that there's a few small differences between the versions, the main one being that the game was redubbed with British accents! Spy Fox sounds like a suave English agent in the UK dub, but in the original game he's more like Don Adams from Get Smart. I've no idea why they did this, half the cartoons on British TV come from America and we'd been listening to Don Adams' voice come out of Inspector Gadget's mouth for years, but I guess they were concerned some references would fly over young kids' heads. They'd have never heard of Get Smart for one thing.

Semi-Random Game Box