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).

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Frost Byte (Amiga) (For real this time)

Developer:JJ & DJA|Release Date:1988|Systems:Amiga, Atari ST, ZX Spectrum, CPC, C64

This week on Super Adventures, the long awaited 'screenshots and writing' part of my Frost Byte article! Only five years late.

It took me a while to figure out exactly what I was doing with this video game website of mine. I eventually realised that people are happier when there's a 'Read on' button they can click to satisfy their curiosity, but for the first few weeks I'd occasionally post a single title screen or screenshot I liked and then call it a day. So this grumpy cyclops has been staring out at people from my site with basically zero context since Feb 4th 2011.

But I can now reveal that this is a port of a 1986 ZX Spectrum game, brought to the Amiga by someone called J. Jameson. I could also make a joke about him being Spider-Man's bastard of a boss at the Daily Bugle, but I'm one 'J' short. They have the optimal number of 'J's to be porn star Jenna Jameson though.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Prey (PC)

Developer:Human Head|Release Date:2006|Systems:Windows, Mac, Linux, Xbox 360

This week on Super Adventures, I'm having a go at Prey! I've already played Doom 3 and Quake 4, so I figured it was about time to give the third id Tech 4 game a go.

Prey was going to be 3D Realms' cutting edge graphical showcase, a game designed from the ground up to require a 3D card! It was originally intended to come out in 1998 you see, as a competitor to games like Unreal, Half-Life, Turok... Daikatana and Duke Nukem Forever.

The advanced 3D game engine was going to support things like area sourced coloured lighting, reflections, dynamic shadows, and dynamic portals. This portal technology was actually a clever way to divide the levels up into smaller areas of geometry so the processor only had to think about one room at a time, meaning higher polygon counts at faster framerates. Though by 1998 the developers were also showing off proper Portal-style placeable tears in reality, and there was much hype.

But then 3D Realms went and pulled a '3D Realms', scrapping all the work they'd done so far due to issues with the technology and starting over with a different engine. The project fell dormant until Human Head took over in 2001, and in 2002 they licensed the shiny new id Tech 4 engine (with its working portal tech) and spent four years putting together an entirely different Prey with it. Which was then completely overshadowed by Portal the following year. Alas.

TECHNICAL BOX
Before starting it up, I created an autoexec.cfg file and typed in a couple of lines to hopefully turn off the mouse acceleration and smoothing:

seta m_accel "0"
seta m_smooth "0"

(Click images for slightly bigger screenshots).

Semi-Random Game Box