Today I mourn the passing of a few close friends. For years they have been with me, through good times and bad, and though at least one of them was responsible for more than one bad time, there were more good than bad, I think. That was confusing. Anyways, I know that all of them could be counted on for at least one reasonably good game.|
I discovered their passing this morning as I worked on what I should have "on deck" in my revised gaming room (Room 1, v2). I had finally settled on PS2, NES, SNES, Genesis, T-16, and N64 (Dreamcast and Xbox are stationed in Room 2, v2). After fixing the mass of wire-spaghetti making sure the proper hook-ups were hooked up I discovered the tragedy. My Sega CD, Genesis model 1, and Turbografx CD had passed onto a better place. I did what I could, but in the end there was no saving them. They have gone Home, and I will have to come to terms with this on my own.
The viewing will be scheduled Sunday, September 15th at approximately 11 am EST. As per their last requests, games will be placed in their trays/slot. They will be Sonic CD, Final Zone II, and StarFlight (for the Sega CD, Turbo CD, and Genesis, respectively). The funeral has been scheduled to take place in my basement, where they will be entombed in my console display shelf (since they are inanimate objects) and dusted not less than once a month.
Goodbye, my friends.
[UPDATE] - It seems the Turbo CD isn't totally dead, but is unable to play CD games. It look like the CD drive gear has stripped out, which is the death knell for this particular system. Fortunately I can still play regular Turbo games on it (and through composite), so for now it will stay next to my SNES.
I haven't been playing very much in the way of games this past week. Part of it is because I upgraded from a basic cell to an Android phone and the rest is lack of sleep due to my daughter's illness. I've spent a lot of time watching Netflix and Youtube (Gamecenter CX and Crab's videos) while sitting in a rocking chair. And thinking.
I want this to sound not like a confessional but a realization: I may have been neglecting my retro roots. I have been neglecting my retro roots. This came to me in the forums when Apollo.Boy kept telling me how much better older games look on a good CRT rather than an LCD. While I was trying to think of another way of reinforcing my point I began to wonder: when was the last time I really enjoyed playing a retro game on an old television. When was the last time I enjoyed playing a retro game at all? I had no idea. Sure, I've playing a lot of games (some of them old), but I was looking more at my backlog as a whole then as individual games. I was playing my games with the goal of completion, not enjoyment. This was the essence of my problem with Stellar-Fire, I think.
In the spirit of this I will be republishing two of my earlier articles, neither which appeared on RF Generation (that I can tell). I will also be once again be revamping the way I choose games to play. From now on I will choose both a game that closer fits with the overall spirit at RFG as well as a game that is more in character with, well, me.
GTA: Episodes from Liberty City: I haven't finished these games yet, but yet I have. Let me explain. Because of the content I cannot play these games around my children I am limited to after they are asleep, which basically means that I am playing about two missions a night. I am satisfied with this, so I feel that I can put these games on the Post Mortem list and walk away. Anyways, I think I have more pressing issues to confront.
Games For This Week
Platform: Sega CD
Purchase Date: 1998
Despite what I wrote at the beginning of this article, I still firmly believe this is not a good game in any capacity. Regardless, I shall strive forth. I've found a somewhat decent recorder (Hypercam 2), but I am having some sound issues. Below you will find one of my earlier experiments with Hypercam (as well as Stellar-Fire). Sorry about the fumbling sound.
The goal for each level is to collect a certain number of crystals scattered about the landscape while fighting and avoiding enemies at every turn and finally facing a boss. The problem is that the crystals are scattered in a very non-linear pattern that only gets more spread out with every level, eventually bordering on the ridiculous. To add to the difficulty there is no compass, so you are forced to rely on the background landscape. Very interesting. If I can ever beat this game I plan on writing a FAQ.
Title: Super Mario Brothers
Like many of you, this was the first game I ever played on the NES. I first played back in 1987 after a friend, who spent many days mowing lawns and selling rebuilt bicycles, purchased one. Initially I sucked quite a bit at this game, despite my arcade experience. I kept dying at the elevators in World 1-2. Later when I received an NES for Christmas I was able to get better, but only a bit as I also received The Legend of Zelda as well.
I've never actually beaten this game. Did I say that already? I've seem most of the game, but for some reason I never saw it to the end. Very strange, though I have been assured by a friend that this is actually pretty common. I am reluctant to believe him, but I guess it could be true.
While I will be challenging this game on my NES, I might do a playthrough on an emulator so I can record it.
Title: Boku No Natsuyasumi 4 (My Summer Vacation 4)
Purchase Date: 4/2011
The Boku No Natsuyasumi series revolves around a boy (Boku?) visiting relatives during summer vacation in Japan. The game is considered very nostalgic and features many games and activities Japanese men would have enjoyed during their childhood in the eighties (such as bug collecting, beetle-fighting, and toy collecting). There is a story, but since I don't understand Japanese I don't know it, though I've been told that the series is perfect for those wishing to learn to read Japanese.
I've never tried to beat the game, but instead just putter around the island, collecting things, sticking my nose into everything, and enjoying the atmosphere of nostalgia the game creates (even though I don't have a cultural reference for it).
Will there ever be a game about a nerdy kid in the eighties as he trolls around the woods and roadside looking for returnable bottles so he can play arcade games at the laundry-mat and 7-11? I sure hope so. Then again, there is always Shenmue.
In The Bag For 2012
Alan Wake - 1/25
Dead Space 2 - 2/4
Portal 2 - 2/10
Enslaved - 2/17
What if someone handed you a disc and told you it is a game created by a studio named Artdink that is a caveman simulator? You eat, evolve weapons, sleep, kill animals, and eventually die. Would you hand it back, or would your curiosity perk up enough to play it?
Tail of the Sun is a fun little game involving a tribe of cave people (you start out with 2) on a singular quest: to create a stairway of mammoth skulls to reach the sun. It's a 3D polygonal PSX game from 1996, which will tell you all you need to know about the graphics. The 3D isn't a true 3D, at least not in the sense that you will have control over the viewpoint (camera): you will always see direct north regardless of the direction your caveman (or woman) is facing. You can pan the camera up/down and left/right a bit, but you will rarely use this, outside of keeping watch on circling birds. The sound however, is quite nice. Lots of ambient noise and a techno music, which enhances the caveman atmosphere (?), I think.
In reality, calling this game a caveman simulator is a bit misleading. After all, if it were a real caveman simulator, you would likely spend your time scrounging for food, fornicating with whatever happened along, and trying not to die in any number of horrible ways, as opposed to running around aimlessly like a weirdo, hitting everything that moves and listening to techno music. There is a day/night cycle, and your caveperson will fall asleep automatically, which can result from anything to a short, harmless slide down a hill to a senseless death by drowning, or killed by a carnivore or bird. Sometimes you will come across some strange artifact, UFO, alien, or cave system. The world is fairly large (for the time period), and there is a great deal to see, though little to interact with (outside of killing it), but in this wide world you have one goal: make a tower of woolly mammoth skulls to read the sun.
Cons - The cons are glaring, so I will take care of those first:
- The camera is a horror from beyond time. It is 3D, but you can only see in one direction: north. You can use the shoulder buttons to look a bit up or down, but you are locked into the same perspective, regardless of running direction. This becomes fatal when you can hear a bird, but cant see the direction it is attacking from.
- While the weapons (fists on up to stone-tipped spears) are adequate for dealing with large prey (rhinos, hippos, or mammoths), you will find yourself dying often when being swarmed by smaller opponents, such as birds. This sort of relates back to the camera, I guess, as I am convinced that a manual camera would have eased, if not solved the problem entirely.
- The world is very large, and there are a great many points of interest to seek out, but ultimately nothing to actually do. Since the mammoths only live in one place (far north) you will only end up finding these spots once or twice, and spend the rest of the game (every time you play it) collecting those mammoth skulls.
- The last thing I think I'll bitch about is the sleeping thing. Your caveman needs to sleep once a day. If you let him get on with it when he drops down for the night and everything will be fine, but sometimes you need him to be awake. Once you wake him up, your caveman can and will drop off into a deep sleep randomly, which will place you in situations when the caveman will drown or die while hunting or trying to escape a predator.
- The game is refreshingly original, and a joy to behold for the first time (if you are open-minded, that is). It really makes me nostalgic for the "anything goes" mentality that dominated the minds of many game developers during this era.
- The sound is great. From sound effects to music, it all adds either immersiveness (birds chirping at dawn) or ambiance to the final package. The strangest part is when the techno music starts up, and it actually feels right, like it belongs. Also, much like the Castlevania SOTN disc, there are actual music tracks on it, so you can place it in a normal CD player and rock out. Or whatever.
- It just feels good, which is enough to warrant a purchase if you're a hedonist, I guess.
- The game is cheap to moderately priced. While there are a number of knuckleheads on eBay trying to cash in on the sad fact no one bought this game in the day, you can usually find a complete game for under $20 on eBay. Quite a bit less it you're only interested in the disc. Another alternative to Goozex, where it goes for 250 points (about $12.50, though they usually give you 100 points when you first sign up).
Looking back at the writeup it appears that the bad totally outweigh the good, but that is far from the truth. Sure, there are quite a few flaws (some easier to overlook that than others), but I think there is something special here. If nothing else, it allows one to see a bygone age of game design, where nothing more was needed than a silly (but unique) sounding idea to green light the creation of a game.