Total Object Interactivity™
Developer: Traveller’s Tales
Platform: Sega Mega Drive, Sega Mega CD, Commodore Amiga
Traveller’s Tales have an interesting history in that though they’ve been around since the early 90′s and have developed a lot of great selling games (i.e., the Lego series of games), they’ve never actually had their own intellectual property – they’ve always done work for other people. They started off working with Psygnosis (now known as Studio Liverpool and sadly made defunct by Sony Computer Entertainment) on Leander, an Amiga game similar to Shadow of the Beast and a game based on the movie Bram Stoker’s Dracula for the Mega Drive and Super Nintendo (other console versions were handled by Probe Entertainment or an internal Psygnosis team). Their third game, Puggsy, is something special.
2012 was bit of an interim year, as far as these sorts of things go, despite seeing the launch of two consoles – the PlayStation Vita and Wii U. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t a swathe of great games released, however.
A fan-translated ROM of Super Robot Wars J running in the VBA-M Gameboy Advance emulator.
There’s an inherent issue with being interested in video games from an earlier time. There’s not always an easy or legal way to play the game you want to. Take for example Ever17. The original publisher, Hirameki International, have been gone from the industry since 2008 (though their parent company came back in 2010 to sell console accessories in Japan). At the time of writing, there were no English PC copies on eBay. There was one copy of Amazon – for USD$400. None of the console (PlayStation 2, Dreamcast, PlayStation Portable, Xbox 360) releases of the game were translated to English. At that point, what do you do? What choice do you have? Do you just go without? Or do you turn to the ‘dark side’ and download images of the game’s discs and play it that way?
This was not called execution. It was called retirement.
Developer: Westwood Studios
Publisher: Virgin Interactive Entertainment
Blade Runner was one of the most influential films of the 80’s. Its influence on design, atmosphere and storytelling can still be felt in movies to this day. Like just about any movie, good or bad, it had a video game tie-in, right? Well sort of.
When you’re sad and blue
Developer: Irem Software Engineering
Publisher: Atlus USA, 505 Games
Platform: PlayStation 2
Freedom in video games is an interesting concept. Intriguing, often expansive worlds and environments are made for games and quite often you want to just run around and explore. However, there is a big divide between how ‘Eastern’ (generally Japanese) and ‘Western’ (generally American) games show freedom. That is to say, Eastern games are generally very linear, with the designers wanting you to play a specific way and follow what they’ve scripted out – such as Final Fantasy XIII, which doesn’t have any sidequests until fairly late in the game. Western games have a tendency to be very ‘open’ and let you do what you want – The Elder Scrolls and Grand Theft Auto series being prime examples of this.
Steambot Chronicles, interestingly enough, decides to ride the line between the two in a steam-powered mech.
WARNING A HUGE BATTLESHIP
IS APPROACHING FAST
Genre: Horizontal Shooter
Also on: Saturn/PlayStation/Windows/PlayStation 2/Xbox
It’s hard to believe that at one point, arcades were dominated by “shooters”. Not first-person shooters such as Doom or Quake, but games where you had a small spaceship (or plane, as was the case with Capcom‘s 1942) and fired upon waves and waves of enemies, generally of the alien variety. In 1978, Taito more or less invented the genre, depending on your views of Spacewar!, and really pushed video games into public knowledge with Space Invaders. Space Invaders was one of those games which managed to become a household name and in Japan even managed to create a shortage of 100 yen coins. It was a fairly simple game. You had a spaceship, positioned at the bottom of the screen, and shot at blocky aliens who somewhat resembled sea critters. This last part leads us to 1986, where some crazy whackjob at Taito decided to make a game where you shot at giant mechanical fish, with the action taking place across three monitors to give it a huge widescreen look. Weirdness aside, the first couple of Darius games were very by-the-numbers shooters. They weren’t bad, but nothing special. And then, in 1994, Darius Gaiden was released.
This story is not yet an end, for only you are in the infinity loop
Genre: Visual Novel
Developer: Kindle Imagine Develop (KID)
Publisher: Hirameki International
Also on: Dreamcast/PlayStation 2/PlayStation Portable/Xbox 360
You’ve likely not ever heard the term ‘visual novel’ before, so I’ll give a quick outline of it. A visual novel is basically a cross between a choose-your-own-adventure book and the Infocom interactive fiction games of the 80′s. Have you ever played Phoenix Wright, or Nine Persons Nine Hours Nine Doors? They’re visual novels. How about Sakura Wars, or Agarest: Generations of War? Those are two games which mix Strategy RPG gameplay with visual novel scenes to create something altogether different.
In a nutshell, a visual novel tells you a story, shows you some graphics and music (sometimes voice acting, too) to illustrate the scene, and then gives you some choices. Some of these can be quite complex (such as Ever17) or quite long (Fate/stay night is three times the length of all three Lord of the Rings books AND The Hobbit combined).
With that in mind, you can understand that it’s quite tough to write or talk about a specific visual novel without completely spoiling it, given that ninety percent of what makes it great is its plot. »Read More
Also on: Mega Drive
Do you like pinball? How about 16-bit metal? Are you a fan of hitting demons with a steel ball? If you answered “yes” to any one of those, you’ll find something to like about Compile’s heretical pinball release. It improved upon their previous “Crush” game, Alien’s Crush, in quite a few ways – the major one being that the table now scrolls with the ball. In Alien’s Crush, when you hit the middle of the screen, it would blank out for roughly half a second and change to the other part of the table. As you can guess, that got annoying pretty quickly. There’s also a lot more going on this time around. A giant woman’s face grafted to some bizarre machine/armour contraption is in the absolute centre of the play-field, the “She Giant” bizarrely highlighted on the rear of the box. The more you thwack it with your ball, the more it slowly transforms from human to some unsettling demon-snake hybrid. It changes back afterwards, but it’s still very odd. Also notable, right up the top is a big glowing pentagram with robed “followers” circling it, whom you can hit and destroy. They’re obviously bad people and deserve to be hit with a big ball of metal that’s roughly twice the size of themselves.