My Gaming History ‘Part 9’

Posted in My Gaming History with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 1, 2013 by Mortal Mikey

Firstly, for anyone who has been enjoying these entries about my gaming history, I’d like to apologise for the lack of posts since part 8. Life moves pretty fast when you get older, either that or Alzheimer’s is creeping in steadily and actually I have no idea how much I’m not doing.

If you aren’t really that old yet, i.e. you are cruising through life at around 18 years old, eating packet pasta, walking around in flip flops and scarfs, studying for a job that appeared yesterday, It might be difficult to envisage how this feels or works. Using the power of the metaphor, I’ll try and explain this to you.

HipsterFlipFlops

Imagine for a moment you have a small wicker basket, this represents your life, you can hold this basket in one hand. In said wicker basket are a number of small rubber bouncy balls, of various sizes. Each ball represents certain aspects of your life and their size is determined by the importance of each aspect. This could include, goals, aspirations, hopes, dreams, caring for your dog, browsing mortal-mikeys blog, looking after yourself, learning a new language, remembering important birthdays, passing that exam, revision for said exam…you get the idea.

What I’m trying to convey here that your small wicker basket is in no way large enough to easily contain all of these bouncy balls but you will do your best to stack them, which sometimes believe it or not, actually works. Albeit for a brief, insignificant amount of time.

Then imagine that the world around you is a gypsy fun house, you know, the funny looking, rickety old wooden ‘house’ that you’d find at the fair, containing all manner of dangerous mechanisms and illusions that have you falling over yourself, bumping into things, whilst being bombarded with strobe lights, loud horns and blasts of compressed air.

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Life in adulthood is like trying to navigate through one of these, whilst being followed by several large doormen (or bouncers), holding on to your little wicker basket of balls as you do. The doormen all have names too, in this case we’ll call them, debt, work and time. Anytime you knock one of these bouncy balls out of the basket due to the mayhem that occurs around you, you’ll desperately scramble around on the floor, using your only free hand, as the three of them give you a little shove here and there to move you along, which invariably means you’ll lose sight of one or two of the balls, sometimes for a moment, sometimes forever. If God were to play any part in this analogy, he would be the fat bearded chap sitting in the dirty, food stained ticket booth. Granted, to enter life (or the “fun house” as he’d like to call it) it doesn’t cost fuck all, but your journey through it is going to be all on show for the omnipresent spectator to cackle at.

If reincarnation does actually exist, which I believe is probably much like a character select screen, just ask if you can enter spectator mode yourself and kick back with a beer and a selection of your favourite snacks.

Spectator mode

“Who writes this shit?”

The PlayStation was the last console I mentioned in my gaming history. I must admit I had only briefly mentioned just how ground breaking everything was when it came to the PSX. The control pad was very impressive for a start. It really felt like a another leap forward in the ergonomics theory and the way that the designers now connected with gamers. Control pads of the past were built as if every child had hands shaped like Lego which required no real dexterity to play.

SegaMasterSystemControlPad3020v1_z1

The Sony PlayStation controller was built at the perfect size and shape for human hands and the button layout was perfect for present and future games. The construction was solid and each button was sat perfectly in the plastic casing, all rubber mounted to the circuit board which gave the buttons a nice consistent feel with minimal travel. This could only be found on an original Sony built controller, all third party copies creaked and cracked like pensioner with no heating at Christmas.

Coming from a long history of controllers with buttons labelled A,B,C,X,Y,Z meant that at first it was a little confusing with Sony’s new approach to button configuration. Square, X, Circle and Triangle replaced the familiar layout from the SNES and added to this were four shoulder buttons. L1, L2, R1 and R2. Developers wasted no time and threw us all in the deep end, new titles sprang up every five minutes and with that, new button configurations and patterns had to be learned, which meant at first some games were like baptising a cat.

Love handles

Love handles

Sony’s design became the preferred method of play globally, from that time, right up until the introduction of the first Xbox.

The ability to save games also became much easier on the console with the introduction of Sony’s memory cards, which from my hazy memory, had 8Mb storage, which in today’s world is about three digital photographs. Games data could be taken from your home to a friend’s place who could quickly and easily copy data from your card to theirs with Sony’s front end system. Being that it was also a CD Rom drive meant that users could pop in a music CD and play tunes through your setup, which could be controlled entirely by the control pad, all backed by mad 3D rendered psychedelic visuals that would have given your dad an acid flashback. The beginnings of a home console becoming a multimedia platform were taking shape and it felt good that the functionality was for there for us.

8mb card

With more power obviously meant more exciting titles. The PlayStation will forever be remembered for bringing us a new plethora of fighting games and of course light gun games. Games from the arcades were coming to the home once again with titles like Lethal Enforcers, Time Crisis and Point Blank.

Light gun games were pretty poor on the 8-Bit systems, with few exceptions. Both Sega and Nintendo had their own light gun systems on the Megadrive and the SNES which only really served as a novelty in my opinion. The initial expense of the ‘Menacer’ on the Megadrive system was pretty steep and the games pack that came with the gun were short lived titles.

Turn off the lights, turn up the sound and sit back with your best mate with a copy of Lethal Enforcers on the PS1 and you were in for some wholesome criminal killing. So the graphics weren’t exactly show stopping but the real gun sound effects, real digitised characters on photographed backgrounds had appeal. Sure, every time you pull the trigger the screen flashed bright white, which happened several thousand times a minute and no doubt induced many seizures in bedrooms around the globe, but perhaps the danger element added to the excitement.

Complete with his and her's Colt .44 Magnum

Complete with his and hers Colt .44 Magnum

We certainly got a bang for our buck with Die Hard Trilogy. Looking back at the game now it’s hard to imagine why we were so excited, as most of the game, by today’s standards, looked like it was constructed by primary school children locked in a dark room full of computers, with a basic knowledge of programming and the Die Hard films being played on big screens 24 hours a day.

The game play was a completely different story, there were three different game types, and if I’m honest, the game play and sound certainly was impressive at the time. Each Die hard had a different style of play which up until that point hadn’t really been seen before and since then hasn’t been replicated. Die Hard was set in the skyscraper and in this section of the game you ran around as John McLane in a third person perspective and gunned down anyone who stands between you and the hostages. There wasn’t much in the way of strategy in this chapter, John ran with his gun constantly at arm’s length, in his vest and simply shot things until they stopped moving. It was the little things added to the game that entertained, John would occasionally say one liners when you shot enemies or picked up health and ammo. A majority of the surrounding furniture of the game was destructible too, such as windows, table objects, roof tiles etc. The bigger the weapon, the more damage, and it isn’t long before you get into the flow and have enemies bouncing off the office walls using well placed grenades.

diehard

Scores take priority over exploding Ambulance?

Scores take priority over exploding Ambulance?

Die Hard 2 was set in the airport obviously and this is where you could use the light gun. The game controlled your character through the scenes and just allowed you to shoot. The characters in Die Hard Trilogy at first looked a little awkward, but soon it was evident that quite a lot of work had gone into them. There were some early examples of ‘ragdoll’ physics here in a 3D environment, this also meant that enemies and civilians didn’t always take exactly the same path with every play through.

Take that Hans!

Take that Hans!

Die Hard Trilogy was produced by Probe entertainment here in the UK, which could account for the crude German accents that appear throughout the game and could also account for the call to ban the game in Germany. This was one of the first times I had seen photos rendered onto polygons, if you looked closely, on some of the characters had the faces of the development team. Although the game was extremely buggy at times, the subtle comedic effect of the sounds and the mayhem that could be unleashed with the light and grenades meant that a lot of homework was never done.

Die harder

Finally Die Hard with Vengeance was again completely different in terms of game play due to the fact it was purely driving. You start out in the yellow New York taxi and acquire several missions along the way which require you to drive other vehicles. This was undoubtedly the least realistic of the three games but was often the most fun. The missions usually involved simply ramming the shit out of the target vehicle or ramming a dustbin containing a bomb, but instead of crashing and immobilising the enemy car or getting out and disarming the bomb, targets would explode like a small nuke with no regard for civilians.

diehardest

Even changing into a new vehicle for a mission required you to smash into it, creating yet another explosion as you drive off. Polygon civilians would run for their lives as you sped through the city, if you mounted the pavement GTA style, the screen would be splattered with blood making the wipers work.

_-Die-Hard-Trilogy-PlayStation-_2 _-Die-Hard-Trilogy-PlayStation-_

Thats it for this part, I promise in 2013 I’ll be keeping up a reasonable pace with this series, right up until present day.

Happy new year!

Mortal Mikey on Facebook

Anderson M5 RC motocross bike

Posted in The Pit with tags , , , , on December 9, 2012 by Mortal Mikey

The great thing about being an ‘adult’, is that you can experience what it felt like to buy something pointless, that makes you giggle like a child again but with the added bonus of feeling what the debt feels like too.

DRIVE

Posted in The Pit with tags , , , on December 9, 2012 by Mortal Mikey

Made on one lazy Sunday afternoon, whilst visiting my parents. My niece decided to set up her sylvanian families toys and I found my old ‘Crash Test Dummies car’. This is the result.
Soundtrack inspired by the Film Drive.

Crafty Cat Bank

Posted in The Pit with tags , , , on December 9, 2012 by Mortal Mikey

Given to me as a birthday gift this year. Pretty cool if you like cats, or if you don’t, also cool, because it’s a cat, seemingly trapped in a box.
Unlike a real cat he collects your money instead of your soul, which you can collect from the little hole in the bottom.

My Gaming History ‘Part 8’

Posted in My Gaming History with tags , , , , , , on June 21, 2012 by Mortal Mikey

The Playstation emerged triumphant, boasting a wealth of games and a control pad that actually fitted in your hands rather than feeling like you playing on your console using a shoe.

With my package I received a demo disc ‘d1 version’ and a copy of Wipeout 2097. Combined with several PS1 magazine issues which contained demo discs, I had a fair few hours of playing time to enjoy. There is nothing like opening a new box of hardware from a games console manufacturer. The look, the feel and the smell of everything new inside all of the fiddly wrapping, who knows, this could be the end of the outside world.

In the future we will laugh and tell stories about wires.

The Sony demo disc not only had several games to play on but also some tech demos from Sony that really were jaw dropping at the time. Many of you will remember the T-Rex that walked onto screen which you could control with your pad. It was really impressive to see first hand, the leap from the 16 to 32bit hardware. I think, unfortunately, the first time we actually saw a T-rex in a published game for the PS1 was in Tomb Raider but it didn’t look quite as polished as the d1 demo version but more like something your nephew put together using dry pasta and glue.

No one knows what colour a T rex was, so in this game he was cucumber.

Wipeout 2097 was a ground breaking and very addictive title for the PS1, it was a must have game for the Playstation. The first thing to notice when I popped the disc in and setup the game through the menus, was the music. Real, stereo, music!

The game was set in the future (according to the title ‘Wipeout 2097’ it was set in the year 2097). You compete for money in a dangerous race using vehicles, powered by some kind of free energy which enabled your craft to hover above the ground. Using a combination of thrust and directional air braking, you guided yourself in between the track walls to the unmistakable sounds of The Prodigy, Underworld, Daft Punk and Orbital. Throughout the race you were able to pick up ‘power ups’ to use, including missiles, bombs, shields and speed boosts to ensure yourself the win. With the option to race split screen the game was a massive hit and really put together what Sony were out to achieve. A multi media, powerful entertainment system that was not just a flash in the pan.

Some gameplay with Prodigy soundtrack

The game that got me totally hooked on this console was Need For Speed. A game released only for PC, 3DO and PS1 when launched, little did anyone know how big this series was going to be. In recent times the games design has been altered to cater for a wider audience, compared with the early, quite serious take on road racing.

NFS has been tossed like a Spaniard in a bull ring around several studios in its time, sometimes hitting the mark and other times it…well…just hasn’t.

Before fun cost money

The first NFS was something of a landmark in racing games for the gaming community, first released on the Panasonic 3DO, the hardware’s exoticism matched the exclusiveness of the software. It had a certain mature quality that made you think you were experiencing something quite premium, like eating Ferrero Rocher on a jet plane, or wiping your arse with a tenner.

All of the cars included in the game had full specifications, listed and narrated by one of the team at Road & Track, who have been helping out games designers in racing games for many years.

You could view videos of each of the cars each with their own incredibly soft rock track over the top. The kind of rock you’d hear over the final action sequence in Saved By The Bell, in an episode where Zack Morris finds a passion for amateur basketball and is aided by his friends in defeating his confidence gremlins, with provocative suggestions from females and high fives from the guys. The climax of the show would be the failed look upon the opponents faces after the final shot from Zack and the look of approval and admiration from Mr Belding, who previously thought Basketball was not to be taken as seriously as one of the more academic studies that semester.

Watch a Need for Speed video from the 90’s!

“Wow c-c-ake…i mean Kelly”

It was the first time I had been impressed by the attention to detail of the cars and the way they handled in the game. The Canadian based company ‘Distinctive Software’, which became known as ‘EA Canada’ really went to town with the detail which has been seen in the entire series. As well as a solid choice of vehicles in the game, gamers were also treated to an impressive cockpit view of the car, detailing all of the real world dials and gauges, this was somewhat revolutionary when put against other racing titles at the time, including ‘Distinctive Software’s’ Test Drive and Test Drive II.

250 miles an hour, with no hands.

I’ve always been of the opinion that Need For Speed’s attention to detail and the track design has been something really worth mentioning right from the get go. The first game treated you to some great open roads, the point to point races were definitely a highlight in the game, a step away from the usual perfecting of lap times on a track you were made to do in other racing titles, like the rather clinical Gran Turismo series. Alpine courses, coastal runs and city freeways kept things interesting as well as good-looking.

It was nice just to be able to take one of the exotic cars out for a razz on the open roads, hand brake turning every now and then, infuriating the local police force. NFS currently sits top dog as cop-chase-racer, in its humble beginnings cops were present but not the main focus of the game, perhaps it was just a simple reminder that in real life, if you found yourself travelling at 180mph through an Alpine road in your Lamborghini, you could wind up with a ticket.

As well as visually pleasing the NFS series also set the standard for in-game audio. Occasionally I’d find myself causally driving along the roads looking for viewpoints and locations listening to the environmental sounds of birds, planes, trains, rivers and tractors…all of which were in the game but usually overlooked due to the fact you’d be passing these locations at breakneck speed.

You could tell, as a keen car enthusiast, that time had been taken to digitally reproduce the real sounds of each of the cars, down to the clunk of the gear change in the inside view. From the deep growl of the Dodge Vipers V10, to the high-end buzz of the Ferrari Testarossa it was all part of the series strong points which are still seen very much today.

In my opinion Need for Speed II (1997) has been one of the best in the series. Again, track design was superb, it wiped the floor with Nintendo’s N64 titles at the time, it was slicker than the Test Drive title at the time and more fun than Tokyo Highway battle (a personal favourite of mine).

The car selection was defiantly aimed at the enthusiast. The featured eight supercars: the Ferrari F50, Lotus GT1, Jaguar XJ220, Ford GT90, Lotus Esprit V8, McLarren F1, Italdesign Cala, and the Isdera Commendatore 112I. And tracks were set in locations such as Canada, Norway, Australia, Northern Europe, and Nepal.

If and when you become bored with the myriad of super cars and exotic locations, there were some inbuilt cheat codes in the game which allowed you to drive any of the civilian vehicles (and some scenery props) you see during the races. Much fun was had chasing a friend in a school bus whilst he tried desperately to outrun you in a Citron 2CV along a narrow mountain pass. Or go all out and unlock the large green T-rex and the wooden outhouse. What other racing game provided you with an opportunity to overtake a dinosaur with a fucking toilet? Stick that in your Gran Turismo pipe and smoke it.

Need for Speed III ‘Hot Pursuit’ really was the full introduction of cat and mouse, cop VS racer hot pursuit. The graphics had been pushed to the limit on the 32 bit machines, the car selection was as exclusive as ever but this time you could take the role as the cop. The hot pursuit mode included many things that you will recognise in today’s NFS. Cops had to slow or stop racers along the several miles of road, using spike strips or road blocks where available.

The music was as solid as always within this series, you could choose from rock or techno as your preferred genre to race to. The tracks were composed and produced mainly by Saki Kaskas, exclusively for need for speed (NFS 1-5). EA had opted to use these tracks instead of using a collection of commercial tracks, as each track was specifically designed for each race track, it really brought the whole racing experience to a new level. Furthermore they had improved on the interactive music from Need For Speed II…the music would break down during a crash, change pace when in the lead, or if you were lagging behind.

One final video from the Speed Series…

The PlayStation was really living up to its hype and was without doubt ‘Next gen’ gaming. If the initial innovative releases weren’t enough, one virtual woman gave gamers two big reasons for paying more attention to Sony’s fun box. Lara Croft, a household name today and since being played by brown baby snatcher, Angelina Jolie. Lara has gained herself international recognition.

Armed with gun holsters/suspenders, short shorts, army boots and a blue skin-tight top, the initial art work and advertising had young gamers by their little hairless balls. This title, as well as the varied mix of new game concepts, also captivated an older audience who saw that shit had just got serious in the design and attention to detail of the games on this platform.

Lara Croft as far as I could tell, is an intelligent, British born woman who’s parents sadly had passed away in a tragic accident, leaving her a huge mansion, one outfit and a butler. She has an assault course in her garden that you could mess about on to hone your skills for when you were out adventuring.

The camera was situated behind Lara and intelligent enough that it was possible to look over her shoulder when needed. She could run, jump, grab, shimmy, dive and crawl. You would need all of these skills for when exploring caves and buildings, occasionally avoiding booby traps and enemies. To everyone’s surprise the game wasn’t just a pair of tits, it played very well and being able to jump whilst shooting henchmen and wolves in the face was something we had not seen before. The game was a nice mix of puzzles, shooting and survival with a story line that was quite original. Lara’s looks, coupled with her dry wit and gun play was an instant classic, there have been a number of releases since that time, some of which haven’t matched the subtle qualities of the original.

So with its powerful bespoke hardware on board, including the successful MIPS R3000A 32bit chip and the capability of running CD ROMs, the output of 360,000 polygons a second and 180,000 texture mapped and light-sourced polygons per second, kicked out impressive visuals and sound. Granted, now we look back at the triangular wobbly polygon worlds of the PlayStation and wonder how our eyes coped with it. I’ve played an early Ridge Racer game recently and aside from the dire sound effects of engines and tyre screeching, the track looked like I had poured myself a pre-race cup of magic mushrooms and all the colours were trying to kill me.

Again with each and every console that has been released, there are always the instant classics and the birth of new ideas and game series.

Here is Angelina Jolie, summing up everything about Tomb Raider. Tune: Fluke – Atom Bomb

I hope you’ve been enjoying the posts, if you have then please spread the word on Facebook and Twitter.

Part 9 coming soon!

My Gaming History ‘Part 7’

Posted in My Gaming History with tags , , , , , , , on May 24, 2012 by Mortal Mikey

I don’t read the tabloids, also about ten years ago today when I moved out from my parents place, I decided to never watch TV again and disconnected the aerial. Sure, I miss some entertainment, friends often talk about these new shows that are talent contests and tell me how well a young person sang an old persons song in front of judges and cried. Or American series like ‘Twilight’ from which all I know is that it sounds like Dawson’s Creek with teeth?

Just reading a little more on IMDB now, I learned some interesting trivia about the series;

“Taylor Lautner had to wear a wig for his role as Jacob Black.”

This is my therious face guys

As brilliant as watching a man with false teeth in a wig, wooing a lady sounds. TV will have to do better than that to pull me away from playing Forza Motorsport 4 on Xbox live with two of my best friends.

In my friends initiation into the club we’ve created, we asked him to choose a Ford shit box, whilst we chased him in two heavily modified Range Rovers dressed in full ‘Thames Valley Police’ colours. We pretend he’s a runner and set him off with a five second head start, on the famous Nurburgring in Germany. His confusion and panic was understandable, we could have informed him it was an initiation and that we had modified our 4×4’s but watching his Ford Escort swerve left and right, billowing out smoke from our relentless attempts at putting him into a hedge, was simply too much fun to spoil the surprise.

 

I browse the internet sometimes to seek out technology news and pictures of cats but sometimes I see stories that are just too hard to miss. One that caught my eye today was about the man who set himself on fire amidst the court proceedings for the oxygen stealer, Anders Breivik. I had read previously that Breivik had stated that he used computer games, specifically Call of Duty, to simulate the kind of situation he’d hope to be in when he shot and killed 69 innocent people.

Sure, there has again been uproar about this kind of game as they say it may affect young people in similar ways, although as you already know, I like to think of it as games make people killers like spoons make you fat.

He’s gonna bwow!

I mean what kind of game was the chap playing that set himself on fire outside court, Burned on Duty 4?  A simple game which only involves one level, whereby you take a walk to a petrol station, fill up a Jerry can, go to the desired location, douse yourself in fuel and strike a match. No, you have to be a sick kind of mental to think shooting children on an island is worth anything, even more deranged to become a human torch

Wooo…flames…yeah

Sadly, unlike Call of Duty where you die quite often in a short space of time, Anders Breivik is still alive, and if that’s taught anyone anything that is, unlike computer games, if you massacre people in cold blood, you’ll be kept alive so we can hear all the interesting anecdotes about bad times in your life and how many people you had hoped to kill. I’m not an advocate of real violence, it’s too tiring, in Breiviks case however, I think if I was one of the armed officers who approached him, id make out I tripped over a log and accidentally let off twenty-five rounds which all happened to hit Anders in his legs and the only way to help him out was to try to keep him conscious by repeatedly hitting him in the face with the butt of my rifle.

Anyways, I’m straying off point, I was meant to be explaining how I stepped out of the 16bit generation of machines and entered the 32bit realm of enjoyment.

Although the Megadrive still had some life in it, there was a lot of temptation on the horizon and I wanted in. The new breed of consoles were emerging and with it, some new innovations in games. A lot of the heavyweights in Sega’s reign had their run of sequels and it’s fair share of turkeys.

One game that stands out as a “Mega failure” was Rise Of The Robots. During the build up to its release everything looked promising. The characters were to be CGI sprites instead of the pixel art from Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. The inspirations looked to be from robots seen in Hollywood films too. Rumour had it that Brian May from Queen was to produce a full soundtrack for the game and all of this came on the usual 16BIT cartridge.

After some delay, the game was finally released, without May’s soundtrack and with all the excitement of a ham sandwich. Play-ability wasn’t an issue really, it was easy to play but this was probably due to the fact each character had around five or six moves. Even at eleven years old, me and my best friend exchanged looks of horror and astonishment at what had been such an eagerly awaited title. The characters moved like two wheel chair bound people attacking each other with brooms, it was laughably clumsy and it soon became clear that this was a classic case of “all the gear and no idea”.

Press A to win

If you had the money at this time, you would have had either the Sega MegaDrive or SNES and if you were feeling really flush, you would go all out and have the in-house arcade feel of the Neo-Geo.

For me, I had to make do with the Mega Drive alone because at twelve years old I didn’t have around £600 to spank on something that would mean I saw even less of the outside world. The Neo-Geo was the all out king of 2D gaming straight from the arcades, mainly focused around Japanese fighting games. The machine and the games had premium prices, titles in the US started at around $200, so only a niche market was hit. Even so, the console has outlived the MegaDrive and all other 2D competitors due to its hardware compatibility, it was released in 1990 and had its final official title released in 2004, ‘Samurai Showdown V Special’. It has been said that since the introduction of the Internet, SNK, the makers of this wonder box, decided to call it a day with the explosion of the piracy of games that are cartridge based.

In 1995 my attention was drawn to the stirrings from Sony and their talk of a CD based games machine, boasting massive power combined with a huge following of games developers, to give it the largest games library yet. At the time I had some brief playing time on the Atari Jaguar and the eagerly awaited following up console, the Sega Saturn. The Saturn did indeed look the part, it was quite mind blowing to see full polygonal games flowing at smooth frame rates but with the European prices, making the right choice of console was important.

A tidy looking machine

I haven’t got much to say about the Jaguar, from what I remember (being twelve at the time) was wondering into Comet (an electrical store) and being offered to play on it. I don’t remember the game specifically but I remember being overwhelmed by the size of the controller and the fact it had more buttons on it than the cockpit of a Boeing 747. I wasn’t overly impressed with the machine, some of the titles looked promising but the word on the street was, Sony had all of this and more.

A quote from Wikipedia;“PlayStation was the brainchild of Ken Kutaragi, a Sony executive who had just come out of his hardware engineering division at that time and would later be dubbed as “The Father of the PlayStation”

The console’s origins date back to 1988 where it was originally a joint project between Nintendo and Sony to create a CD-ROM for the Super Nintendo.

The PlayStation made its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in June 1991 when Sony revealed its console, a Super Famicom/SNES with a built-in CD-ROM drive (that incorporated Green Book technology or CDi). However, a day after the announcement at CES, Nintendo announced that it would be breaking its partnership with Sony, opting to go with Philips instead but using the same technology.

The deal was broken by Nintendo after they were unable to come to an agreement on how revenue would be split between the two companies. The breaking of the partnership infuriated Sony President Norio Ohga, who responded by appointing Kutaragi with the responsibility of developing of the PlayStation project to rival Nintendo.”

I decided after studying the news on each console, the options were the Saturn or the PlayStation. With SEGA’s unconventional hardware and programming engine, developers were losing patience with Sega early on and this was apparent at release in the summer of 1995, as there were only six titles to chose from here in the UK. Although the quadrilateral rendering of the Saturn was in some ways better looking than that of the PlayStations industry standard triangular form of rendering (See Lara Crofts triangular tits in the first Tomb Raider), for the majority of developers the Saturn was hard to play with. In the early days, the PlayStation did suffer with some polygonal distortion but overall, the performance of these games outshone the efforts of developers for SEGA.

Lara was more than just a pair of guns

After some shit flinging in the American market and some more grumbles from developers worldwide, SEGA were going to have to pull out all the stops. In September 1995 the PlayStation was released and it’s launch weekend Sony flogged 100,000 units, more than 20,000 than the total sales of the Saturn which was released six weeks before.

The choice was obvious. I clubbed together anything I had begged, borrowed and stolen, combined with the bank of mum and dad. I chose my bundle and setup my PlayStation and switched it on to hear this unforgettable sound…


My Gaming History ‘Part 6’

Posted in My Gaming History with tags , , , , , , , , on April 29, 2012 by Mortal Mikey

Picture the scene…

You’re an imperial born man, gone rogue, after escaping death because a fire-breathing dragon interrupted your public execution for crimes you did not commit. After fleeing with a bloke who shows you the way out, you’re free to explore a huge landscape full of myth and magic, barbarians and thieves, trying to understand the motives of the people and fight for your survival.

You’ve just spent the last 53 minutes dispatching ancient Nord un-dead in a huge burial tomb, armed with a battle-axe in one hand and a banded iron shield in the other. Your companion is Jenessa, a dark Elf woman with a sexy British accent, who lives out her life as a mercenary for anyone with enough coin. You find her drinking in a pub on her own in a pleasant town, she doesn’t speak much but her huge great sword does the talking, carving the un-dead into pieces as they break free from their restless death to attack you. You emerge from the caves exhausted and over cumbered with riches you stole from the dead, who you just killed, again. As you make your way to the nearest village with thoughts of a belly full of mead and a good night sleep, you spot a lonely chicken on the outskirts of the settlement. With the newly learned spell you found deep inside the caves, you are too eager to wait for a more opportune moment and test it out on the poultry target.

The chicken bursts into flames as Jenessa watches on with the same blank expression she carries whilst driving forged steel into the foreheads of unlucky foe’s. At this moment you realise your mistake, you’ve just spent an hour in that dark tomb without auto save on and there’s no option to turn back time. The guards of the village of which you’ve destroyed a chicken, come for you but they aren’t here for a bribe this time. Instead they attack you with no mercy for the crimes you’ve committed, in the confusion you have no choice but to reply with your axe and new-found magic.

Jenessa, ever the quick thinker, attacks with you, with no regard for the lives of many in the village. She uses her god given magic to resurrect the chicken. In the flurry of blades and fire you catch a glimpse of what has become of your actions, as the chicken jumps furiously at the innocent people of this once quiet place, striking at them like a crazed woodpecker. The orchestral battle music finally fades out and you’re left to look upon the smoldering remains of villagers and guards with only blood on your hands, as your mercenary and new feathered recruit look at you for the next orders.

If you’re unsure what this is about, I’m talking about the latest RPG from Bethesda studios, Elder scrolls, Skyrim.

“Get back…your breath stinks!”

I learnt a valuable lesson that day, auto save is priceless with the kind of memory I have and that in modern games, you have to be mindful of your actions.

So far I’ve spent a solid 90+ hours in Skyrim and if you think the above sounds like a crazy tale, you should watch me attacking a bandit camp, dressed in a blacksmith apron, with only a wood cutters axe, magically enchanted to electrocute people as it strikes.

Often games in the old school category are usually based around the most simple of story lines, to save tricky programming with limited technology.

Take one of my all time favourite games on any platform, Streets of Rage.

Streets of Rage, or ‘Bare knuckle’ as it was known outside of the UK, was a side scrolling beat’em up that I probably spent too much time playing. The story involved a gang of hero’s who sought to stop the evil Mr.x controlling the city and allowing it spiral into chaos. Conveniently this meant civilians didn’t venture out onto the streets at night, leaving only thugs and lunatics to roam freely, a programmers dream.

The second installment of this series was my favourite, combining a great original old school dance soundtrack with smooth graphics and slick game play. You choose anyone of the four playable characters and then begin your journey through eight stages of smacking punks, surviving on apples and whole chickens.

How nice of someone to leave it on a plate

Axel Stone

The main dude and ‘leader’ of the gang was Axel, not to be confused with the automotive component or the loud fella from Guns and Roses. He wore a pair of light blue denim jeans, some cool trainers and a vest, topped off with a typically 80’s headband. He was quick, nimble and his wide variety of moves made him a favourite. Axel could be found in all 3 versions of Streets of Rage, he led the gang through the story, offering a backhand to anyone who crossed him.

Skate

Skate was a very different character to your usual band of muscle men and women, as he was a child. Obviously brought up tough enough, he fights alongside the other three characters in search for his dad Adam (from the first game) who was kidnapped by Mr.x. His name, I’m guessing, comes from the fact he wears roller skates all of the time which in a fighting situation seems like a pretty daft idea but it does allow him to pull off some moves involving a flying kick utilising the underside of the skates and a special move, which was a break dancing move flailing his legs at the enemy. Not one of my favourite characters to play with as when faced with a boss who was usually several times the size of a child, it was near on impossible to avoid being murdered.

Blaze Fielding

Blaze was the female of the bunch, armed with stiletto heels and martial arts, enemies were met with speed and technique reminiscent of Street Fighters, Chun Li. Teamed up with one of the stronger males in the gang you and a friend could plough through enemies like a tractor through a crowd at a Justin Beiber concert.

Max System

Perhaps not as well remembered as Haggard from Final Fight, Max acted less like a street fighter and more like a bull in hall of mirrors. If you ever got into a spot of bother as one of the other three characters Max could wade in, pick up the nearest punk and throw his sorry looking Mohawk through the pavement. Whilst it was always satisfying to complete the game with Axel or another less powerful character, it was a great stress reliever to enter the streets as Max and throw criminals around for an hour finally meeting Mr.x and putting that gun up his fucking arse.

Z is about to have a bad day

A lot of time and effort went into this series, if you compared it to other side scrolling beat’em ups of the time, they usually fell short in terms of level design, music and character content. One example of this was that some characters, due to their size, could not swing or throw certain objects as they were too big, or the clever fight system in which you could use each other to ‘double team’ opponents.

The control system was superb, combining techniques from the popular 2D fighters from the likes of Street Fighter and Fatal Fury, extra grappling moves were included to make the street fighting more realistic and varied.

I think I hold the game in high regard still as it contains many of the aspects of game play and visuals that made this era of gaming what it was.

It was all about simple straight forward action at this time, it didn’t matter that it was wildly inaccurate and always with a slightly biased view of the states. So it was always nice when something completely new and completely original was found in the shops.

At around the same time as the SOR games were released, EA, or Electronic Arts, published a game that would shift gaming into a higher gear and set new levels of innovation once again with the Strike series.

Desert Strike: Return to The Gulf, was essentially chop lifter in 3D. A quote from Wikipedia…

The lead designer, Mike Posehn, had no video game experience prior to developing Desert Strike. Inspired by Choplifter, he aimed to create a nonlinear game with smoothly animated vehicles. Posehn, a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, developed a camera system with momentum to mimic realistic helicopter movements. Three-dimensional (3D) modeling was used to generate the vehicle sprites, which were later touched up on the pixel level with color.

This was a near perfect game in my opinion and still, with its innovative game play and physics, it can still be enjoyable today.

Set in the Gulf not so long after America had what it needed, you’re sent into one of the world’s most dangerous environments, in a single helicopter, to irradiate some lunatic with a huge moustache and a beret, much like the late Saddam Hussein. You were fed information and locations through a tactical menu and you went about your day saving prisoners of war, blowing up all of the bad guys whilst picking up fuel and ammunition as you did so.

Critics obviously had a field day with this title, claiming it was a little insensitive so soon after our governments had sent our young men and women out there with shoddy weapons and a slim chance of survival.

Looking back I don’t see how it was so offensive, you got to fly a single helicopter with a control pad around in a virtual desert land for thirty quid, completing tasks and usually surviving the ordeal. I thought they’d have more of an issue with several billions of dollars wasted, lots of dead brown people and a cushy re-armament plan for one mad Arab but then again we wouldn’t have the idea for the game without that.

“Yeah yeah yeah, with extra cheese..”

In fact, every single game ever created on a computer is a just a poor graphical representation of something that has ACTUALLY already happened, whether it was yesterday, last month or several centuries ago. With the only exceptions being the very weird and surreal games like TOKI on the Mega Drive. A game in which you roam around a colourful fantasy land as an ape with a huge head, spitting at enemies and attacking a submarine with a chimps face on it.

Games magazines (Because this was before the internet, kids) gave Desert strike 90% and above in reviews. It was just so playable, innovative and fun. The visuals in the game were inspired by Mike Posehn’s love for matchbox vehicles as a kid, so he wanted to make the game seem like it was just a bunch of war toys going at it, instead of the serious simulator type game you’d find on the PC’s or home computers.

Due to its success the Strike franchise lived and produced not one but four more games, each with its own unique theme. The exceptionally well crafted physics model and camera movements were evolved each time and the non-linear mission elements that made the game so great, were kept.

When Soviet Strike came out on the Playstation in the first generation of CD consoles, we were not only witness to a new and improved polygon engine but slick video cut scenes with real actors and sets, in high quality sound.

The final installment was released for eager Strike fans in 1997 as ‘Nuclear Strike’ and although it wasn’t as popular as the older titles it was still very much a well presented game. Once you had dealt with the last mission, the credits rolled before a short cut scene involving a computer animated Mech robot was seen, as a taste of what was to come. Sadly for whatever reason, this was never the Strike game it could have been and instead was released as Future cop: LAPD, which was about as much fun as throwing stones down a drain.

I leave you with this, for anyone who never experienced Strike games.