Sunday, 16 February 2014

So its been a loooong time....

To tell the truth, I'd actually forgotten about this blog! Terrible, I know, but life has been so busy over the last, what 14 months, that something had to give, and this was it sadly.

Any way, I'm back!

So, whats been going on in the world of 8/16/32bit? Well, despite not having time to keep this blog updated, I have still been enjoying my retro gaming. I've added a few bits and pieces to my collection, which I'm now going to detail:

Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) My wonderful wife bought me this last year. I've wanted one for absolutely ages, and after much ebay trawling she found me one at the right price. It came with the following games: Super Mario Bros/Duck Hunt, Godzilla, Digger T. Rock, and 10 Yard Fight.

Sega Dreamcast Another system that lived on my wish list seemingly forever. Bought this for myself from my new local retro pick up joint (oo-err), Rewind Collectables ( in Ashton Under Lyne. Didn't pay overly much for the system itself (@£20), and picked up a couple of games (ECW Anarchy Rulz, Sonic Adventure, Soul Calibur). I've bagged a few more games, some legit, some, shall we say less so (the magic of self booting CDRs... Dreamcast was far to easy to pirate games on in its day).

Sega Mega Drive 1 Another purchase from Rewind. Nice condition, scart lead, and a couple of games (EA Sports Double Header, Wrestle War). Grabbed a massive amount of games from the in-laws garage too, so I have the beginnings of a decent little collection.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Compare the Intro: Night Trap

Mega CD/Sega CD

This version clearly has the lowest resolution, colour depth and video size. Still not too bad given the tech involved though, especially for a '1st generation' title. (Sega vastly improved the quality of the TruPak video codec as the life cycle of their 16bit CD add on progressed)

Clearly running on superior hardware, the quality of the video footage is significantly improved. A few other differences include removing Sega specific references, and using a different control pad to demonstrate the games control mechanism. 

Sega 32x CD

The enhanced capabilities of the 32x system add on make this version of Night Trap look almost as good as the 3D0 variant. The video takes up a smaller piece of screen than the 3D0 version, but the colour depth looks just as vibrant. Interestingly, this version also omits the Sega specific content.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Chrimbo gaming memories....

Given that we are just days away from another Xmas holiday, I thought I'd sahre some of my finest Xmas gaming memories with you all.

First up:

World of Illusion. This was the first game fire dup on the Sega Megadrive 2 that my brother and I received for mas in 1992. After a  hour epic trek around Manchester city centre trying to find said console (we looked everywhere, literally. No one had any left... except Currys IIRC), and many shop assistants trying to fob us off with a SNES (we were both Sega fans at the time... ah the innocence of youth) we finally got one bundled with Segas excellent Disney co-op platformer.

On Xmas morning at the frankly ludicrous time of 5am (as my mother had to go to work...damned NHS!) we set the system up, slipped the cart into the slot and pressed the power switch.

It is still the only time in almost 30 years of gaming that me and my brother have sat and played together without trying to kill each other. See, thats the magic of Disney!

We followed it with this:

Kept us busy playing in shifts the rest of the day..... Good times.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

S.O.R. 2 intro comparison

So, as a bit of a cross platform comparison, I thought Id show youa ll the intro movies from the SMS/GG and SMD/Genesis versions of S.O.R. 2.

First up, the SMD/Genesis:

Now the SMS/GG:

All things considered, the SMS/GG does apretty good job of replicating the original SMD/Genesis intro. The graphics look decent, and the music is recogniseably the same piece. Bravo SMS conversion team. Bravo indeed.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Night Trap

Night Trap is like gaming marmite. You either enjoy it, or you don't. Me, I enjoy it. I find it fun to play (given the inherent gameplay limitations, more on which later), endlessly entertaining to watch in a cheesy 80s horror movie way, and the standout title in a short lived but long remembered genre.

Night Trap was the poster child of the 'FMV'/'Interactive Movie' genre. Quite literally, these games allowed gamers to interact in a fairly limited way with pre-recorded video footage. Obviously, given the nature of the footage, and the limited storage capacity of CD based games systems (which were the primary delivery system for FMV titles), these games tended to be relatively simplistic, and brief in nature.

Night Trap plays out in 'real time', with various streams of footage relating to various parts of the game map playing out concurrently, with you switching back and forth as the games puzzles dictate. The plot is straight out of an 80s horor flick: A group of teenagers congregate at the house of one of their friends, who is a vampire, and it is up to you to prevent their deaths, and defeat both the vampire family, and their semi mutated bretheren, the 'Augers'. You do this by hacking into a sophisticated CCTV and trap based security system. As the game progresses, you have to trap as many of the Augers and vamps as possible, whilst keeping as many of the Teens alive as you can. Let too many Teens die, and its game over.

Despite the simplicity of the core gameplay (press the 'trap' button when the enemies are within range to trigger the trap) the game is pretty damned tough, often with multiple traps needing to be triggered in fairly rapid succession to progress.

The games visuals vary greatly depending on which system you manage to play it on. Bottom of the pile is the Sega Mega CD version, being the lowest powered machine this game appeared on. The video footage is this version is relatively small, and suffers from a very limited colour palette. The 32X, 3DO and PC CD-ROM versions are significantly better looking, with a larger video display, and better colour depth. Frankly though, this barely affects the playing of the game at all. It plays the same on all versions, with the PC edition getting an edge due to the availability of mouse control making it easier to switch from room to room.

And, yes, this game was controversial. It is not, however, remotely as violent or perverted as its reputation may indicate. In fact, you don't see any blood, or nudity at all. If it were released as a straight up film, it would probably be a 'PG'.

So give it a try. You might be entertained, or you might not.

5/5 if you like FMV games. 0/5 if you don't.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

The PSP...

I have to admit, I was never that impressed with the PSP when it was announced. Sure, it was clearly the most powerful handheld system devised at that point, but the price and proprietary memory stick formet (with the extra expense this implied) left me feeling distinctly meh.

Fast forward a few years, and I picked one up 2nd hand. And, despite owning a 3DS (the glorious Zelda edition), I find myself using the PSP as my main portable system.

First up, I own a PSP Slim & Lite model (PSP2003 to be exact), which is a distinct improvement over the original model (lighter weight, better screen, faster CPU), running a custom firmware (CFW 6.60 ME-1.6).

The PSP S&L 200X was the second iteration of the PSP released, and tis version was improved based on user feedback based on the original units. The revisions released are as follows:

PSP 100X series 'Phat'
PSP 200X series 'S&L' (Slimmer, lighter, better screen, faster CPU, minor alteration to the facsia and button positioning)
PSP 300X series 'S&L v2' (more minor upgrades to the screen and casing)
PSP 'GO' (No UMD drive. Downloadable games only)
PSP E-1000 (low cost model. Mono sound, no wifi)

The CFW is the important part for my purposes. Using the CFW has opened the system up to the wonders of emulation, which is precisely why my PSP gets such a work out.

Being able to play SMD, SMS, NES, and PC-E games on my bus journeys to and from work is a joy. Busy bus, full of annoying teenage girls and disgruntled office workers? No problemo! Fire up the PSP and play some soothig classic games to block out the outside world.

And I should mention the PSPs own library of games, too. Motorstorm Arctic Edge, Final Fantasy 4 Complete, Monster Hunter, and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed are probably the most played in my collection at the minute, but with Crisis Core on the horizon (just waiting til pay-day), I reckon that finishing Zelda on the 3Ds is just gonna have to wait a wee while longer.

And, coming soon I shall be reviewing the various emulators I've been using on the PSP, to show what it does well, and what is does not so well (SNES I'm looking at you..).

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Games shops....

Back in the mists of time, when I was a young man (or the 1990s in other words. In the 1980s it was all about John Menzies) I used to spend far more time than was probably healthy in games shops. After completing my morning paper round on a Saturday, and collecting my wages, which were a princely £15 a week, I would head off to one of my favourite gaming haunts. Chief amongst these during this 16bit heyday was my local 'swap shop' Mega Mania.

Mega Mania operated a simple system: They stocked pre owned SMD/MCD games, which were displayed on price banded shelves (£25 was the most expensive, down to £4 IIRC). You could either purchase a game for the listed price, or swap one you already owned for it. Swapping wasn't straight forward though. If your game was worth more than the game you wanted, the swap was free. If it was the same price, you paid £2.50 (IIRC) to swap it. If it was cheaper, you paid the difference. At least, thats how I remember it working.

I would often spend a good hour or so deciding what games I would get that particular week. Mostly, I swapped games as the cost to me was minimal, which mean't more sweets and drinks for the marathon gaming session to come. Occasionally I would outright buy a game. Happy days.

Another shop I often visited was near to my school. It was a small back street job, which stocked a veritable cornucopia of imported delights. Many a lunch break was spent in there, looking at the cool Japanese box art, and wishing I had a working region convertor cart. Indeed, my most striking memory of this shop was the first time I laid eyes on Splatterhouse 3. I wanted that game sooo bad it hurt. Took me another 10 years before I finally played it.....