#throwbackthursday, Gaming

#ThrowBackThursday Resident Evil 0

This is probably going to be brief, and some might ask why bother writing this at all, but well, that’s the point of joining in with a monthly club isn’t it? You give something a chance and it doesn’t always stick but you can at least now, hopefully, say why that is the case.

Retro Games Club played Resident Evil 0 in November, the number of people actively playing it was probably the least we’ve had since the community I’m a part of started doing this. Personally, I was apprehensive anyway, I’ve never really gotten on with the series, I’ve tried everything up to and including 4, but its never really stuck with me. I did actually complete 4 (on PS2) and the light gun game Resident Evil Survivor (which I remember actually liking, even if it’s not widely accepted as a good entry in the franchise), though I’d never played 0 until it came up for the games club.

Resident Evil 0 was another that wasn’t well-received, I think by that point the general feeling was that the way these games played had gotten a bit old.

For clarities sake, I was playing the HD Remaster via Steam rather than the Gamecube original, I did look at picking it up on Gamecube but figured it’d be easier to just get it on Steam and run it in better quality on my PC, plus I’d be able to take screenshots and/or stream to Twitch.

Now I know this one is set before the events of Resident Evil, hence the 0 in its title, but having never finished that, nor pretty much any other game in the series, I’m not entirely sure how this all fits together. However, things open up with the player starting out as STARS team medic Rebecca. You’ve somehow been trapped upon a train and eventually meet escaped convict, Billy. The Resident Evil series has a tradition of two protagonists per game, but usually, you pick one and play through the game as that person and then play through the game as the other person with some variances in events that happen throughout.

Resident Evil 0 does things differently, you almost always have access to both Rebecca and Billy, and can switch which you are controlling at any given time, though some times they have to be separated to overcome certain obstacles which add some interesting if some times clumsy puzzle mechanics to proceedings.

It’s not quite as tank-like in its controls as my memory of the other games would have me believe either, and by that I mean that whilst its not got the fluidity of movement they introduced by placing the camera over Leon’s shoulder in Resident Evil 4, and even though it sticks to the static, moodily placed camera’s, it still actually feels fairly natural control.

However, during the month that we were playing it, I didn’t actually get around to finishing it, I’m still in the research centre if truth be told, and I’ll have to admit, I was quite disappointed when the characters arrived in yet another mansion, when I saw that the story began on a train I was hoping for a much larger number of carriages and a fucked up Resident Evil inspired take on Andrei Konchalovsky’s “Runaway Train”.

#throwbackthursday, Gaming

#ThrowbackThursday: Captain America and the Avengers

Last week I wrote about Gregory Horror Show when normally it would have been an update on my Final Fantasy IX playthrough. This week is the first Thursday of the month, and like with yesterdays Book Club update, that means its Retro Game Club time. Octobers game, voted on by the rest of the group is Captain America and the Avengers which comes from a time before Marvel licenses were the biggest thing in the world.

Originally released in the arcades, Captain America and the Avengers was ported to a variety of the early 90s platforms, though its the Mega Drive/Genesis version of the game that I chose to play.

What we have then is a fairly basic side scrolling beat em up, you choose from Cap, Thor, Hawkeye or Vision and take on a variety of lesser known Marvel villains that have been hired by the Red Skull in another attempt to take on the world. Each of those villains acts as an end level boss that you fight after working your way through a variety of robot like opponents. This was probably chosen as a means to keep the license family friendly.

I’ve already said that the game is fairly basic, you have a jump button, a punch button and a projectile attack, though despite the Mega Drive having three buttons on its controller (and probably as many buttons as they wished on the arcade cab) Data East have chosen to attach the projectile to you having to press both the jump and punch button at the same time, this is all the more baffling when you consider the inclusion of Hawkeye, rather than his default attack being his bow and arrow he’s forced to punch his way through the game as the only difference in the four characters is purely cosmetic.

So game play wise, its fairly dull, though it does throw an odd curve ball by turning into a side scrolling shooter for a few of its levels. It’s the games presentation that make it stand out. Whilst the general enemies are non-descript, the main cast of heroes and villains really pop off the screen and the inclusion of comic book sound effects as you punch your way through levels is a nice touch though in my opinion the sound effects sound a little muddy.

I didn’t manage to stick Captain America and the Avengers out until its end, but I cant really see it throwing much else at me that could have changed my impressions of it. Last months ESWAT was flawed but tried to play about with its mechanics, this doesn’t try anything brave at all and is largely forgetful.

Gaming

#ThrowBackThursday Daytona USA

It’s that time of the month again where we take a break from my Final Fantasy IX playthrough to cover the retro game I’d been playing over the past month as part of a Retro Games Club I join in with. For August we voted to play the classic SEGA racer Daytona USA. Ladies and Gentleman, Start you engines!

I’ve owned this on Saturn for years, in fact alongside SEGA Rally (also on Saturn) and F-Zero (on SNES) its one of the games I’d sneak into my brothers bed room to play whilst he was working. Anyway, I own the Championship Circuit Edition on Saturn but the disc has seen better days and could do with having a bit of a skim so my Saturn can read it properly. I also own the game on Dreamcast, which we’ll come to later, and PSN, which is the version I spent the most time with this month.

Actually, I didn’t get as much time with it as I’d have liked, even so, the blue skies SEGA racer feeling was the perfect solution for a game to play during this rather odd summer we’ve had. So the time I did spend on it I only really sunk into the famous Novice course: Three Seven Speedway. Apparently, and I didn’t try this, its possible to take a shortcut through the pits, but it only works on certain laps. One thing I did know about though is that as you approach Sonic Turn there’s a slot machine built into the rock that goes over the circuit. As you approach, if you press the select button on the PS3 pad (it works on Saturn too, but I can’t recall what button it is) three times, you can stop the wheels from turning, the aim being to get 3 three’s or 3 seven’s which then add that amount of time to the counter as a time bonus, you can only do it once per race and I couldn’t get it right on my attempts this month but I definetly recall doing it on the Saturn.

Another thing you can do is the famous powerslide, its only really worth doing at Sonic Turn and is initiated by dropping to second gear, turning heavily into the apex of the corner then working your way back up to fourth gear as you exit the corner. Again, I got good at doing this back on the Saturn and was getting some real good lap times back then, usually in high 15 seconds/ low 16 seconds, but this time out my fastest time was a 17.56 but usually I was hitting low 18 seconds.

On to the Dreamcast version and I remember not liking it back in the day, I certainly remember thinking they’d really messed it up. Returning to it though and it just doesn’t feel like Daytona USA at all. Oh don’t get me wrong, everything that should be there is there, but it doesn’t feel as over the top as the arcade/Saturn versions (the PSN version is a port of the arcade version with a few bits added) and the handling model is atrocious. There’s the saying that the mark of a bad race car is that it both understeers and oversteers in the same corner and thats exactly what happens with the cars in Daytona USA 2001, trying to navigate traffic is a horrible twitchy mess then when you get to a corner the car initially dives to which ever side you’re steering but then doesn’t continue that turn and goes in pretty much a straight line.

As part of the discussion around the game, a few of us discussed this, and the consensus was that it performs better using the Dreamcast steering wheel, which I’ve never owned, though one voice said it still handles like arse with the wheel.

In short then, if you want to play Daytona, don’t pick up the Dreamcast version, it may look lovely and sharp, but its just not fun to play, a replication of the arcade version is available on both Sony and Microsofts stores for PS3 and XBox 360 respectively (its wont work on PS4 but it is on the Backwards Compatability list for XBox One), so go with that one. It’s a game I’d love SEGA to return to though, I think gaming could do with more old-skool SEGA blue skies racing games.

Gaming

#ThrowBackThursday Sexy Parodius

The past few #ThrowBackThursdays have been my playthrough of Final Fantasy IX, but this week marks the cut off for the current Retro Game Club title that we played throughout July. The game that was decided upon was the Parodius series, with us being able to choose any version and release that we wanted to. I was excited about this one as I thought it gave me an opportunity to get the SEGA Saturn down from the loft and play the copy I have for that, unfortunately the disc appears to be missing from its case so my next best option was loading the PSP collection onto my modded PSP and give those versions a go.

I played each of the five games on offer for about half an hour each before settling on one title to focus on, which was Sexy Parodius. Originally released in the arcades in 1996 it was also ported to the PlayStation and Saturn. For those that aren’t aware, Parodius is based upon another Konami license: Gradius, and to my untrained eye there is very little difference in either games mechanics. Visually they both differ greatly (although Gradius’ Vic Viper is a playable character in all Parodius instalments). There seems to be some sort of story attached to Sexy Parodius, but its told in title cards before each level/mission and, in this vision, is all in Japanese, which despite my best efforts on the Drops language learning app on my phone, I can’t understand the language save for a handful of words (I can say “bread”).

As you shoot your way through each level you can collect power up devices that gradually increase your characters capabilities, whilst different coloured bells give you special one use attacks (the trick is to shoot the bell before collecting it to change its colour and thus change what attack you’re rewarded with).

I’ll say now though that I’ve not made it particularly far. I’ve no idea how many levels there are but thankfully you seem to get infinite continues, however prior to sitting down to write this I’d only made it as far as the Medusa boss, which a quick Google reveals is called the “Castlevania level”, which I suppose makes sense. Each mission sets you the task of collecting something particular items, failure to do so results in different completion paths much like the branching roads in games like OutRun.

Over the years I’ve tried all sorts of SHMUPS, but the genre has never really clicked with me, I’ve tried stuff like this, Ikaruga, Giga Wing and many others, however I struggle to control my craft properly, ducking in an out of enemy waves or their fire and so my progress is often hampered. I’d have no doubt eventually reached the end of Sexy Parodius if I’d have kept at it for another few weeks but I’ve now ran out of time and we’re discussing the next game we’re going to play. I’m not saying Sexy Parodius is bad, I can see that its not, its just that its not for me.

My Final Fantasy IX playthrough will return next week.