#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 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.

Gaming

#ThrowBackThursday – Metal Gear Solid

Back at the beginning of 1999 Future Publishing released Official PlayStation Magazine UK issue 42, which was a big deal. The front cover depicted a robot ninja, the cover disc had the logo for Metal Gear Solid on it. There were other games on that demo disc, but as far as a 14 year old me was concerned they didn’t even exist. I got home from the Co-Op I’d bought it from, put the disc in the PlayStation (I’d read the MGS feature on the way home) and jumped straight into the demo. The following day I had French, I was in the first year of my GCSE’s, but instead of listening to the teacher a group of us were sat at the back of the class, talking as quietly as possible about sneaking past guards, Hind D’s and the DARPA chief. I’ve no idea how much I played that demo, but it was alot.

Later a friend of mine, who had a chipped PlayStation, got a bootleg copy of the US release, I went over to his straight after school and we spend the next week or so playing through. We were obviously hampered by not having a game case with Meryl’s codec code printed on the back and also that elevators would occasionally crash the game, but we got through it, taking it in turns to play, swapping the pad when the other died.

I didn’t get the PAL release on launch day, which was shortly after the magazine was published, I think I rented it from Blockbuster first and eventually persuaded my Mum to by me a copy of it and finished it on each difficulty multiple times (the only time I’ve ever done that for any game, aside from Phantasy Star Online on Dreamcast but that’s totally different), but I’d still say getting that demo was a pivotal moment in me becoming so enamored with video games as a medium. I’d been playing them for a long long time before then, and it wasn’t the first game that became an obsession (I think that would probably be SEGA Rally, but I didn’t own that for myself till much later, it was my brothers copy that I would play as much as I was/wasn’t allowed, but thats a story for another time), on the PlayStation it may have been Gran Turismo, but it was definitely a moment where I just wanted to know as much as I possibly could, I later got hold of MSX emulators for my PC to run the older Metal Gear games (although I bounced off of those) and picked up the Special Missions bonus disc when that came out (which my Step Brother from my Mums second marriage stole, well I blame him for it going missing but was never able to prove it). I made a fansite with as many video’s and pictures I could store on GeoCities when I started college, which then fuelled an obsession with finding out every little bit of information about Metal Gear Solid 2 as I possibly could.

I’ve loved every instalment I’ve played (so the main line titles up until and including Ground Zeroes) but none of them have grabbed me like Metal Gear Solid did where I’d find any reason I could to play through it again, including on two other occassions at other friends’ houses, taking over their playthroughs and showing them how to finish the game in a day (but still watching each and every one of the amazing cutscenes and codec sequences).