Why did I play this?Why did I play this?

Posted on Oct 7th 2014 at 09:17:49 AM by (SirPsycho)
Posted under Horror, 3do, sega, saturn, sony, playstation, horror, halloween, spooky puzzles

Welcome back to a world of horror and fright. You may remember last year when I did a review of a game  (Thief: The Dark Project [http://www.rfgeneration.c...The-Dark-Project-2639.php]) that many would not consider when pondering their options to step into a good atmosphere that sends chills down your spine and squeals up your throat. The real "horror" came from the masterpiece's years spent in "Development Hell" where its focus was changed about a half dozen times. In contrast to a jumbled mess of juxtaposed design and experimentation that somehow worked brilliantly, this year I bring you D. Just "D." The letter "D." No more. No less. "D."

Continue reading Spooky Plays: D

Posted on Jun 20th 2014 at 03:11:28 PM by (SirPsycho)
Posted under SUNSOFT, nes, snes, famicom, disc system, albert odyssey, sega, mega drive, saturn

Naoki Kodaka is one of the most listened to 8-bit composers. I'm sure most of you have heard some of the music from the games he worked on, but may not have realized how many classics he had a hand in. Kodaka is known for his work at a company called Sunsoft, and he spent the better part of a decade composing soundtracks for the company. His first one was a shooter for the Famicom Disc System, Dead Zone in 1986.

His next game would also be exclusive to the FDS, Nazoler Land. Sunsoft was stepping up in the world and got the rights to port a couple of popular games to the NES. Activision's PC hit Shanghai and Bally Midway's arcade smash hit Spy Hunter were both ported to the NES by Sunsoft, and the soundtracks were re-arranged by Kodaka.

Sunsoft soon went international as a result of the success of these ports. In 1988 their Zapper game Freedom Force and first international sensation Blaster Master both had soundtracks composed by Kodaka and his fellow associates at the company. Naohisa Morota developed a sound engine that lead to Sunsoft's unique bass heavy sound style. This is now known as Sunsoft bass as a result of how much it stands out and the high quality of the company's soundtracks from the NES era. This year closed out with a port of Platoon and the Japanese FDS exclusive Nankin no Adventure.

The following two years are arguably the golden years of 8-bit soundtracks, with Kodaka and Sunsoft being one of the biggest reasons for this. In 1989 the company released Fester's Quest and Batman. The next year saw the Genesis/Mega Drive version of Batman, as well as the almost Terminator game Journey to Silius, as well as Gremlins 2: The New Batch. Nantettatte!! Baseball was the last of Sunsoft's Famicom exclusive games. All of these games had Kodaka at the musical helm.

Sunsoft was rather slow to convert to the 16 bit systems overall. They did release Batman for the Genesis, but continued pouring a great effort into the declining Famicom. Still, some great games and soundtracks came about from this arrangement. In 1991 Sunsoft released Ufouria seemingly everywhere but North America, they developed an updated version of Spy Hunter called Super Spy Hunter, and followed up on Batman with Return of the Joker. 1992 saw the release of Super Fantasy Zone for the Mega Drive. Again, these are all Sunsoft's games that had Kodaka as the lead composer.

Kodaka's output finally started slowing down when Sunsoft had him start work on their flagship strategy RPG series Albert Odyssey for the Super Famicom in 1993. The following year would have Albert Odyssey II and Sugoi Hebereke release for the SFC.

A two year break would follow before the third Albert Odyssey game released, Sunsoft moving the to the very popular in Japan Sega Saturn. North America had this game released by Working Designs as Albert Odyssey: Legend of Eldean. Kodaka's final composing project before retiring from video games would be Out Live: Be Elimiate Yesterday for the Playstation, and exclusively in Japan.

Posted on Jun 13th 2014 at 06:26:45 PM by (SirPsycho)
Posted under Saturn, sega, working designs, action, anime

Magic Knight Rayearth is an action/adventure based on a popular manga and anime series of the same name. Come to the Sega Saturn where we get going back down the Working Designs road!

Working Designs and Sega had quite a close relationship at first. Sega could make some money by licensing the rights to a game out to Working Designs that they themselves did not want to localize and release. Looking at the lineup of Working Designs Saturn games a staggering 4 of their 6 games for the Saturn were actually developed by Sega (5 if you count Camelot's Shining Wisdom since the company was founded by Sega, but they had broken away from them the same year it was released in Japan) including our game this week.

Continue reading Psychotic Reviews: Magic Knight Rayearth

Posted on Jun 7th 2014 at 07:33:48 PM by (SirPsycho)
Posted under Saturn, sega, sports, racing, arcade

Normally when I do a review I beat the game and then go about reviewing my experience with it. With RPGs it makes sense, since I'm investing at least two dozen hours into the recent ones I've been playing. Sega Rally Championship can be beaten in less than ten minutes. Its an arcade checkpoint racing game, one of the best of them in fact. I remember in the mid to late 90's when arcades died down to the point where it was basically nothing but these checkpoint racers, fighting games, and NFL Blitz. That was about it in my hometown, and by that time we had already lost one of the two arcades here.

I never did play Sega Rally Championship in the arcades, I did play a ton of Hydro Thunder. In terms of Sega I played more Daytona USA. Anyway, now I have a Sega Saturn, and Sega Rally Championship is one of the absolute cheapest games for the system. I paid $4 for my copy, and it was complete with an excellent, non broken case! But is this game cheap for the wrong reasons, or the right reasons? There's only one way to find out!

When you first start the game you have a menu of choices like the arcade mode, time attack, options and other normal console game selections. Time attack is just setting a course record and then racing the ghost. Once you're in the arcade mode you can choose whether or not to practice individual tracks, or jump straight into the race. There are only a grand total of three tracks in the entire game. Now it makes sense why the game is only ten minutes long. There are also only really two cars to choose from, with each car having an automatic or manual transmission option. There is a third unlockable car though.

Once you get that picked you're off to the races! In order the tracks go Desert, Forest, and Mountain. Each one is harder than the last. Even though Mountain is smaller than Forest it is jam packed with quick turns that can throw you off and have you crashing into the walls repeatedly. Desert is designed as the easy track to help you get used to the game mechanics. The first time you play the game don't be surprised if you get a Game Over on Desert, this game is a bit harder to master than most racers.

Drifting around Medium, Hairpins, and Fades are absolutely essential. Even on some of the Easy turns you'll need to do a bit of drifting. Don't worry, the game literally tells you what kind of turn you're getting close to and how long it is. The ones you have to be even more careful on are the turns where the announcer says "Maybe" at the end. He's not lying, "Long Easy Right... Maybe" might just make you hit the wall hard.

The music in the game, at least the Saturn port, is just there. Its good but its there as a background noise instead of something to bump the speakers to. There's a lot going on in this game in terms of audio, so not having too much too much to focus on at any one time seems like it was a smart move overall. The bad part is that the Saturn port of the game has music played by Joe Satriani, and its just there in the background.

If you do get a game over, well, then you're treated to the greatest game over screen in the history of gaming. Its so nice that it just makes you want to keep playing not because you're angry, but because it kept you happy. This game is not trying to rub your failure in your face and make you feel worthless because you couldn't get to that checkpoint in time, it makes you want to try again!

To really beat the game requires mastery of it. These three courses are much deeper than they appear, and memorizing the layout is only one half of the equation. The other half is learning how to properly take these memorized turns and practice it until you can do it in your sleep. Actual execution is just as important as track memorization. These two features mesh well together and working on perfecting turns and the drifting mechanics after memorizing track layouts is actually fun and rewarding when switching between modes like ghost racing in Time Attack.

Sega Rally Championship is a game worth every penny. Even though it can be beaten in a few minutes it will take hours to master, and almost every second will be enjoyable. Any annoyance is pressed onto yourself for not having perfect control. If you have a Saturn and haven't picked this up and played it, and are mildly interested in racing games or arcade games in general, this one is worth every single penny and then some.

Posted on May 31st 2014 at 12:37:07 AM by (SirPsycho)
Posted under RPG, sega, saturn, sunsoft

Albert Odyssey is one of those pesky Working Designs games for the Sega Saturn. It is a classical styled turn based RPG which is actually a departure from earlier titles in the series. The Albert Odyssey series started on the Super Famicom, developed and published by NES favorite Sunsoft. These are tactical, strategic RPGs in the vein of Fire Emblem and Ogre Battle mostly. There was also a sequel made for the Super Famicom, but both of these were never released outside of Japan. Albert Odyssey: Legend of Aldean began development for the Super Famicom as a side story to the first two games, but that version was cancelled and ported to the Sega Saturn. In Japan this game was released as Albert Odyssey Gaiden ~Legend of Eldean~, and was developed and published by Sunsoft as usual.

In comes Working Designs, finally moving beyond the limited audience of the Sega CD and onto Sega's new system. This audience would also be quite limited, and the Saturn's short life would eventually move the company onto the juggernaut Playstation. But before that happened the company managed to localize and release 6 games for the Saturn. Albert Odyssey is the first one that I am playing.

First off I want to say that graphically this game is a slight upgrade from its Super Famicom roots, but it certainly feels like it would be right at home for that system. As a result of the Saturn's strong 2D capabilities the pixel count is much higher than you would see on any Super Nintendo game. There are little bits of 3D perspective on the world map that the Saturn was able to soup up a bit, but these would have looked fine with the Mode 7 capabilities, much like Final Fantasy VI's airship traveling. The music is all Sega Saturn though, with nice CD quality audio and high quality, crisp voice acting from time to time. There's not much voice acting in the game, but what is there is quite enjoyable and fits the characters rather well. Not susprising since Working Designs was one of the first to utilize voice acting for their CD games.

What really bugs me about this game, and this was also a complaint from reviewers when the game released, is the localization. Its not a direct translation with a few cultural phrases, superstitions, and such changed so the new audience would understand them, oh no. Some of the dialogue, especially NPC dialogue, is a poor attempt to garner laughs, chuckles, and such, but it is poorly executed and a vast departure from the original Japanese script. I even saw on the main characters say "Holy Sh-nikes" to which I replied, "Holy 90s localization!" Another NPC blatantly breaks the fourth wall by saying she doesn't remember her lines in the script. This was the furthest thing from funny I've seen. Everybody calling Pike, the main character, fat gets really old, really quickly. Its because of games like this that have RPG fans so adamant about the differences between translation and localization. This is an example of a localization that just went too far and Working Designs is the prime reason for this.

See what I mean?

The story is a typical save-the-world from big evil bad guys scenario at first. Later on however, there is a twist where you must go on a manhunt, again looking for a big evil bad guy because kidnapping and such. At least this is a bit different. You not only have to save the world from certain conquest and destruction not once, but twice! I wonder what would happen if you failed in taking down the first threat, would the two bastions of evil then decide to fight it out to determine who shall be the supreme evil overlord of all beings of this world? Would they enter some sort of endless using pawns of little evil underlings for various schemes and maneuvers? That would be some Baatezu vs. Tanar'ri style warfare there.

One feature I do enjoy about Working Designs games of this time period is a section of the manual where they explain what changes were made to the gameplay. Some of the things they did included cut down on the encounter rate while increasing experience gains, decrease load times, fixing diagonal movement, and adding shoulder button support to change between characters in the equipment and magic menus. I really can't imagine why a game would originally release without shoulder button support for character switches but hey, they were still kind of new in 1996, by five years. This at least gives you an idea about some of the changes, and helps you realize how some minor changes like L + R button support can shave a lot of time off of menu navigation.

Overall this game is quite easy. It starts off impossible to lose but does increase in difficulty as you get stronger and add more members to the party. It never gets overbearing though, and you'll only really grind for about 10 minutes here and there to squeeze out an extra level or get a little bit more money. The characters are quite interesting from a narrative standpoint, with Pike being one of the most boring ones. He was a child when his hometown was invaded and destroyed, so he was raised by peaceful harpies and carries a magical sword. Eka is a beautiful singer who joins Pike and the two end up getting married and living happily ever after. Leos is a charismatic priestess who becomes renowned for caring about all the people and races of the world, and going above and beyond to help them. Gryzz is a Dragonman who joins after the party saves his people from certain death, he's young but is a bastion of honor and the party's heaviest hitter. Amon is a metrosexual Birdman who joins because he's hot headed and tired of the personal politics of his tribe, so he joins the group without even really knowing them too well. Kia is a young magician who joins the party for their second quest. She has the power of the teleport spell and adds a rather naive young voice to the party.

The gameplay is solid, yet simple. This game is quite short, so if you're looking for an RPG that you can sink your teeth into, play casually, and beat without much of a time investment then I would recommend this game. If you're somebody who wants more value for your buck then I would pass on this game, as it regularly sells for over $80 nowadays. The packaging is quite solid and beautiful, with shiny lettering and a much higher quality manual than most Saturn games received, so this game has a crossover appeal between RPG fans and collectors since it looks so good on a shelf.

Posted on Jun 26th 2013 at 07:52:18 PM by (SirPsycho)
Posted under music, saturn, dreamcast, playstation, games, video

Noriyuki Iwadare: Chapter 2

When we last left off with Iwadare's career we just stopped at Der Langrisser, and covered the big Lunar games and one remake, now its time for a new series to rise, and Lunar to continue with its remake train.

In 1996 Iwadare and Pack-In-Video worked together to make Monstania, a short tactical RPG for the Super Famicom that you guessed it, was never localized anywhere. It was quite late in the Super's lifecycle by then and Japan already had the Nintendo 64 to play with. Also, Pack-In-Video almost never localized their games anyway.

In the same year Iwadare and Game Arts released the Playstation remake of the first Lunar, adding Story to the end of the title for some reason. Anyway, this is more than just a simple remake, since the Playstation has more power than a Sega CD the developers were able to upgrade graphics, sound, music, everything, and with the upgrades came new songs.

A year later saw the Japanese exclusive release of Langrisser IV for the Sega Saturn, Iwadare worked with a couple of others to produce the music for the game. The aforementioned remake of Lunar Walking School, Magic School Lunar, also released for the Saturn and only for Japan in 1997.

What the rest of us got from the wonderful year of 1997 is another work from Iwadare and Game Arts, a new project, one that's not Lunar. Grandia. Grandia originally came out in 1997 for the Sega Saturn (for Japan only of course), but it was ported to the Playstation and released internationally in 1999 (2000 for the Euros out there). Because of its similarity to Xenogears in appearance and camera control it is the cause for some finger pointing ire amongst RPG fanboys, or did back when people cared.

1998 would see a couple more big projects from Iwadare. Langrisser V would release for the Saturn and Playstation (what geographical area do you think it was released in?) This is currently the latest game of the Langrisser series until Schwarz releases. Iwadare is credited as the composer for this upcoming game as well. But, the big news, at least internationally, was the remake of Lunar 2, getting the full Playstation treatment just like the first game got.

The next year was fairly quiet for the international Iwadare fan. None of the games would release outside of Japan but one did start a brand new series. Well, it is a new game in a way. Growlanser released in Japan only in 1999, but we would get some of the later games in the series.

In 2000 the world of role playing would be shaken to its core, or it should have been if it didn't, because Game Arts and Iwadare came out with an all new Grandia for the new at the time Sega Dreamcast! I consider this game to be in the Holy Trinity of Dreamcast RPGs alongside Skies of Arcadia and Phantasy Star Online. Just ignore the PS2 port and get the DC version!

Let us start the 21st century by saying that the next couple games had no chance of releasing outside of Japan. Mercurius Pretty is a remake of an old Japanese PC-98 game, there was no exposure when it was originally released and most likely not going to attract even a niche fanbase at the time. True Love Story 3 is a dating sim, that's about it for that one.

So the next music the international crowd was introduced to is a Grandia spin off, Grandia Xtreme. I have not played this game yet as I have never owned it and did not rent it back in the day, it is on my hunting list though as I have been digging the music.

Another True Love Story would come out along with an... 'adult' visual novel called Wind: A Breath of Heart. All the good stuff is in the PC version as it was cut for the console market. 2003 would see Iwadare work on that timeless PS2 classic Mega Man X7 with an entire music crew. Counting him, there are 9 credited composers for that game. Yikes!

Anyway I'll skip the Mega Man X7 for now and move onto something else completely awesome. Lawyers. Namely, Capcom's resident lawyer Nick Wright and crew. Yes, Iwadare started in the Ace Attorney series with the 3rd game, which we know as Trials and Tribulations. These games originally released as Game Boy Advance games. They were later remade for the Nintendo DS and released internationally a few years later, when I got in on the series.

Iwadare finally got to work for the big name in console RPGs, Square Enix, to compose the soundtrack to Radiata Stories before going back to compose the music for the Grandia I wish I could forget, Grandia III. After this he went back to making music for some Japanese exclusive sims primarily he made a return to the Ace Attorney series with Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth in 2009, and its UNLOCALIZED sequel Gyakuten Kenji 2 in 2011.

Alongside the new Ace Attorney spin off Game Arts and Iwadare made ANOTHER Lunar remake for the Playstation Portable. Lunar: Silver Star Harmony came out in 2009. The awesome Limited Edition has some sexy Lunar girl cards and a sweet CD soundtrack of all the music in the game! This is more of a slight enhancement to the PS1 remake than a different overhaul of the Sega CD original.

Grandia Online released in 2010 with Iwadare composing the entire soundtrack. Yes, this MMO is exclusive to Japan. I think its getting quite clear why Noriyuki Iwadare might not be as well known as he should be. Half his music never made it across any body of water!

The most recent games that Iwadare has worked on are the aforementioned Grandia Online, Gyakuten Kenji 2, and Kid Icarus: Uprising. Upcoming games with his music are the newest Ace Attorney game and Nick's return; Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies, as well as Langrisser Schwarz.

Composer Compendium LP - Stewart Copeland

Introducing the Composer Compendium Limited Play, or LP for short. The idea behind the LP is to highlight a short career in video games. Perhaps a life was tragically cut short, or an artist made music for a handful of games and moved on, or, and this is the most common one, they exist as a popular entity outside of video games already. They have a made name with clout behind it, whether the person was in a famous band, does Broadway music, movie and TV soundtracks, whatever else they were doing beforehand does not matter.

As an extra to the conclusion of Noriyuki Iwadare here is the Limited Play of The Police's drummer Stewart Copeland's work in the video game industry.

Sadly, he only worked on one series of games and one other random game, but the best games in that series. Mr. Copeland composed the music for the first four Spyro games. He started work on the very first one for the Playstation, and finished with Enter the Dragonfly on PS2.

This time coincided with many musicians outside of the realm of video games entering the medium in the West. They no longer needed in depth knowledge of a system's sound capabilities with the rise of CD gaming. The CD brought incredibly high quality music with it since NEC first introduced the Turbo CD as an add-on to the Turbografx-16. You did not need to be Yuzo Koshiro and create your own music coding language just to create high quality music. This brought many new audio styles to the world of mid-late 90's gaming.

I love me some Insomniac, and part of that reason is that I grew up with the PS1 trilogy of games and this music. I still like to try and play through them every other summer for some fun and nostalgia. Even back then I thought the music was much different from anything I had played on the Super Nintendo and PS1 beforehand. This may have to do with Copeland's lack of experience with the overall gaming market. He wasn't listening to the soundtracks of other games to get a style of what a game should sound like, he just made great music to fit the style of the one game he was working on at the time.

The one non-Spyro game soundtrack Copeland did is Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare. I have not played this game so I don't know how it holds up, but I know its supposed to at least be creepy and mildly scary at times. I'll leave you with this nice, pleasant, limited little Spyro sample and this interview footage of the man himself.

Posted on Dec 20th 2012 at 01:01:54 PM by (SirPsycho)
Posted under Not a sell out, commercials, christmas, playstation, saturn, super nintendo, snes, genesis, mega drive

I am a child of the 90's, a love child. This was the age of Mode-7, Blast Processing, 3D, Playstation, and encompasses the rise and fall of Sega. So let's take a look at as many Christmas commercials from the 90's as we can possibly fit on our monitor.

What exemplifies the early 90's more than the constant playground war of Nintendo vs. Sega? So it makes perfect sense for retailers to pick one side of the other in this argument or face everybody's wrath!

Gee, would you look at the time? I missed the memo that I must write in rhyme! When it comes to your games, Sears has them all days. In the front or the back, come buy your new cartridge pack, and play the kiosk in store to curb your hunger for more.

Seriously, Sears kicked ass in the 90's for gamers. What the hell happened?

This is just amazing, if there is one piece of media that makes me remember what it was like being a kid in the 90's it is this right here. Entitlement of youth, grungy attitudes, snarky remarks, and a desire to sit down and play video games. I like how the rhyme goes, "South Park will be fine," as if they're just settling for it. "Yeah I'll take it, but I really wanted Mystical Ninja you dumbass parents!"

A nice, generational war, of course. Then as soon as the douchey 90's teens find out that grandpa likes to roll with some Tetris they decide that old folk aren't bad. If grandpa's hearing aid worked he might learn that Tetris was made by a dirty Communist!

So those were some pretty entertaining commercials from Nintendo's side of the ring. But does Sega always do what Nintendon't? Can they top the Big N and encourage people to buy any of the 3 systems they released in the 90's? How about the add-ons?

Sega advertising at its finest, if you want your kid to be the cool kid on the block then go out and buy him a Sega Genesis for Christmas, then every kid in the city will want a piece of that Blast Processing action.

As a constant follower of Midget Wrestling this is one of the quickest ways to grab my attention, and they have good taste in video games since they just made a ton of money selling the game to Sega, somehow.

Ok, now let's move away from North America for a moment and take a look at what Sega brought out for their Japanese commercials.

This may very well be the greatest thing I have ever laid eyes on. I am going to perpetuate the story of Segata Sanshiro as Santa Claus to my children, citing this commercial as definitive proof. If you're unfamiliar with Segata Sanshiro and why he helped the Saturn dominate the Japanese sales charts then just check out this playlist.

Word of warning, the American Saturn commercials are weird as all hell, and incredibly frightening in some cases. Search at your own risk.

A newcomer on the scene of home video game hardware in the mid 90's, Sony and their Playstation quickly rose to global dominance and kept its grip firm for over a decade. Is it because their commercials were great?

Yes, yes they were. Oh that sound and the PS logo really take me back, excuse me while I nostalgia-gasm all over my room. Again, this commercial shows what the 90's was all about, trying to find your own voice, going against the grain, and supporting Bill Clinton.

What's awesome about this commercial is that everything the singers say about Crash Bandicoot: Warped is 100% factual. This is one of the greatest parodies of a Christmas carol I've ever heard, I might start singing it this year. I feel bad for Canadians though, $50 for a new PS1 game and its already $10 off? Man, you guys will hate when I say brand new PS1 games in the States were $40. What was the exchange rate in 1998? Tell me Crabby!

Let's head back to the Land of the Rising Sun.

Crash Bandicoot and PaRappa walk up to a random guy bearing Christmas gifts, just another thing to add to my list of things to experience before I die. Cosplayers, make this happen!


Kick! Punch! its all in the mind.

Well that about does it for the nostalgic video game Christmas commercials. I will be going on a small hiatus until 2013 rolls around. Until then, please share if you've enjoyed this post and my others, comment with feedback, and hit that follow button on the sidebar. SirPsycho out!

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