Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Article by plume: Me vs. Lee Enfield

Apart from Zooey Deschanel, the Commodore 64 has always been one of my ultimate loves, and I feel it loves me back. In ways which I cannot describe. For you would immediately be sick.
Although I do actually set up the original hardware every now and then, I am also an avid user of the tremendous C64 emulator 'VICE' working alongside 'Gamebase64'.

For those not familiar with the 'Gamebase' software, it is an emulator frontend and database which, with the right packages, will give you an incredible amount of options for each game added to it, such as scans of magazine adverts, the ability to play the soundtrack separately, screenshots and much more.
It supports a ton of different systems including SNES, Mastersystem, NES, Megadrive and of course, C64.
The latest version of 'Gamebase64' (v8.0) supports 22500(!) games, and for this article I was going to review 5 games plucked from this collection which I had previously enjoyed. Until I spotted the 'Random Game' button obviously placed in 'Gamebase64' by fucking wizards.
Here are 5 random C64 game reviews! JOIN ME.

1. Hindenburg (19??)

We start our journey on the 'Hindenburg'. "OH NO!" I don't hear you say. "The same 'Hindenburg which was ravaged by flames above Lakehurst airfield, tragically claiming the lives of 35 men and women and children and Germans"? I also don't hear you say that sentence, but I answer anyway:
"Yes. Also, this game exists".

Not pictured: Me being sick.

Using a joystick in port 2 (or your mind, futureman), you must guide the seemingly resurrected blimp through perilous skies, to rescue hapless citizens atop skyscrapers.
Once again, I don't hear you say "Why do the skies prove so perilous? Marauding mustang fighters? Birds with knives for beaks? Bees?"

No, Worse. Clouds.

As everyone reading this will be aware, clouds have been mankind's most formidable enemy since 1856, and...hang on, that's not right. Clouds are shit.
Yet in this game you hit one and you die. Which you will. A lot. Mind you, if you are mental enough to fill a massive balloon with 7062000 cubic feet of hydrogen, cram it full of chain smoking Nazi's and fly it through a lightning storm, you deserve everything you get.

Shit game. NEXT!

2. Blast 'em (1989)

Yeah! Spaceships and shit! The titlescreen that precedes the game claims: "Blast 'em, another fine game by Dr. Knox!"

Along with: "Blast 'em, a fantastic game with an intelligent design."

And this: "Those who want to get an autograph from Dr. Knox should look in the code for my address." (I'm not making this up, play it and see!)

Woah there! just who is this mysterious genius Dr. Knox? And has he managed to code something so mind shattering that it makes scholars sick and poo?
No. No he hasn't. Therefore for the remainder of this review, 'Blast 'em' will be referred to as 'Lie Simulator' and 'Dr. Knox' known as 'Dr Cocks'.

The title scroller of 'Lie Simulator' (Programmed by Dr Cocks) claims that the entire game was coded in 31 hours. So I see. Pressing fire to launch 'Lie Simulator' presents us with a ship at the bottom of the screen with the ability to move halfway up the playfield in all directions.

You should see it in motion. Looks like dogs exploded into sausages.

The enemy which cascades from the top of the screen consists of floppy disks, two types of wasp, and what looks like a waffle. Now, I have only been into space a limited number of times, but can definitely confirm that not one of these things have made the endless vacuum their natural habitat.
Their attack pattern is left to right. What else should I expect from an infuriated space waffle?

When destroyed, the enemies resulting explosion will also deplete your stock of lives should you get caught by it, often stripping you of two lives in a row. This is unfair, Dr Cocks. At least the music is decent.

Anyway, I'm off to "Ihlestr 18-2820, Bremen 77, West Germany" (again, I'm not making this up), to call on 'Dr Cocks' and make him eat waffles smeared with dead wasps. JOIN ME (again).


3. Typing Aid (19??)

That contemptuous bitch.


4. Slalom (1985)

Upon loading, I was greeted with a pleasant tune at the title screen which actually made me think of snow. Weird!

Upon pressing 'F1' and then choosing the lowest difficulty, I was greeted with a skier advancing down a slope, covered in it's entirety by snow. Weird!

Upon starting my descent of the mountain, I found myself admiring a decent parallax scrolling effect on the skyline and a reasonably good effort at sprite scaling on the trees as I weaved between flags, icy patches and what I can only describe as piles of shit. How did this feces get to be here? Yeti's? Weird!

Mothman descended upon the quiet Swiss village for his annual feed...

Sound effects are inoffensive enough, but overall there's just not enough content in 'Slalom' to keep me playing for long periods of time. Selecting the hardest difficulty only serves to ramp the game speed up ten fold, yet the course length stays the same, making it now last approximately twelve seconds. Weird!

Ultimately, it's kind of like the 'Winter Olympics'. It looks and sounds alright, but I'll only watch it for ten minutes.


5. Bob Moran / Lee Enfield (1988)

I don't even...what is...Gah!

I was so astounded by this game, I had to make a video of it. It's fucking astonishing! There's a reason why there aren't any other videos of this game on the Internet. it's because as soon as one is discovered, the server it is stored on gets destroyed by hammers made of bears.

The designers originally included a two player option but had to remove it after discovering that when two people played it at the same time, their arms would turn into snakes and they would instantly devour each others bodies.

The title screen looks pretty fucking bad-ass, with a squid lipped 'Bob Moran' (incidentally he was re-named 'Lee Enfield' for the British version, probably because being named after a gun is one billion times cooler than 'Bob') holding a sword to the face of a blue vampire. And a tiny castle. Yeah!

But no.

When warlocks first scoured civilisations for a vessel in which they could store their beast-magic, waiting for a suitable moment to unleash it upon our planet, they chose this game. Watch the video. (Only once though, lest you scratch out your eyes).

Oddly, the 'Lee Enfield' version wont work in emulators.
Doesn't matter, they both eat their young.

First, focus on the music. It's the maniacal composition of a complete fucking lunatic and it actually fits the situation perfectly. The game contains no text, so scrolls (I think), and other items appear as pixellated messes, with no description of what they are or what their use in the game is.

The controls are chronically unresponsive (it's not just me being a prick in the video) and completely break the game. Watch me unsuccessfully try to open a chest several times. It's hilarious!

But by far and away my FAVOURITE part of the game is the fighting. Seriously, it's unreal. Just watch! As you initiate battle with the denizens of darkness (namely a man in a green cape and the shitting Yeti from 'Slalom'), You both enter into a spectacular, limb thrashing, spastic dance. The most amazing event in the video is definitely when the Yeti joins me in the centre of a room and we completely spaz out together until it becomes too much for him and he explodes into a cloud of shit. It's majestic.
I advise everyone to play these games at least once in their lives. Except 'Lee Enfield'. Let the pain I endured, and this video, serve as the only reminders of a frighteningly destructive force which hides among us. Lee Enfield, Harvester of Souls, will one day arise to wreak his malevolence. And only you my friends, only you, will recognise the true face of abhorrent evil.

It has squid lips.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Review by Geo: "Virtual Hydlide" (Saturn, 1995)

Cumbersome Rotters.

Killer trees, deadly dragons and bloodthirsty zombies are rife in this magical slash and hack adventure. To the haunting strains of the atmospheric soundtrack, explore the super-realistic 3D fantasy world, warping to different dimensions, collecting powerful weapons and mysterious objects and tackling weird and wonderful foes. The amazing landscape generator creates a completely new adventure every time you play, providing a whole new dimension in rpg gaming.

 "Quick, there's Noel, STAB HIM...oh, it's a tree..."

Thats what it promised me when I was standing in the PDSA with a fresh two pound coin, with 'Virtual Hydlide' and 'Radiant Silvergun'. So I chose Vitual Hydlide naturally because of the zombies and the deadly dragons.
You play yourself on this almighty quest to do something which is probably good like rescue the princess, beat Dr Robotnik, destroy Hal, save the universe, discover the cure for aids, turn this fucking shit off etc etc etc . (It's actually rescue the princess by the way).

 The general idea of this game is good, but the result is about as fun as eating a cut off bit of cancer with broken glass and Jason Crouch for a starter. Thankfully it's not as bad as looking at Noel James' shitty little monkey face. ( You stole my scooter monkeylad).

 What the fuck?!?

Graphics are rubbish as (insert swear). Do you remember when we first had PC's back in the 'Nam, there was a screen saver which put you through this amazing 3-D maze...well its nothing like that. It's more like its aborted 3d sister '3-D fucking shit maze-etta'. Its lifelike main character looks like an Ewok with growth problems who has robotic legs and long arms. Textures have had no love put into them and the sound has been constructed of noises soley made from crisp packets.

 "Geo panics as he realises he's stepped into Hydlide's gay tavern - The Pink Knight."

Gameplay is as good as a shitting dog.

The only redeeming feature this has is that it generates a new world for you to play in every time you start a new game. Wow.
And what the fuck are those green blob things!!!!!!!!!!!
Dont bother offending your eyes, leave locked in a box with 'Clayfighter 63 1/3'.


Review by plume: "Fatal Frame/Project Zero" (PS2, 2001)

I fucking HATE this game.

Not because it's shit you understand, because it's not shit. It's actually really good, minor faults withstanding.
I fucking hate it because it almost gave me a heart attack one night and an irrational fear of cameras, which I have since overcome.
Hang on, that's just a blatant lie. On with the review eh?

First of all "Project Zero" kind of sounds like an early Jackie Chan movie when they were good (especially "Wheels on Meals"), and I'm kind of torn as to whether this name change was a good move or not.

Right, I love wasting stuff in games, especially zombies.

There's no zombies, but you do play a Japanese schoolgirl, so that's ok then.
You get to skulk around a huge fuck-off mansion equipped with a camera and a short skirt, expected to vaquish ghosts by taking photos of them. Yeah right. I'm telling you if I came across any of these in Real Life(tm) I'd be sitting in a corner talking in tongues and wallowing in my own faeces.
When I was living in Ireland in a big fuck-off house (not a mansion, mind), I opened up a fuse box at the top of the stairs one night, and a fucking moth flew out. I almost had a faecal implosion then. A fucking moth.

I must mention that the graphics are particularly fabulous throughout, a lovely shadow technique is employed, making the shadows dance by torchlight, having the delightful and pant-soiling effect of "something in every corner". Although a game full of just "Corners" and "Things" would be as shit as chocolate coal, Probably.

It's ok, he's great with children...and a salad. Sorry.

The textures are generally high quality, with very few turning to an unidentifiable mess when up close, which can only be good news as far as ghost snapping is concerned. I mean I dont want to be wasting precious film trying to dispatch of a "freeform full-torso floating apparition" (Ghostbusters, P.S - I'm a twat), only to find out I've been trying to kill a fucking kettle. Or a cabinet.

As I'm sure you horror aficionados are aware, good use of sound is one of the the most important aspects of a horror flick.
1. Imagine no sound at all. There is nothing scary about a silent horror movie.
2. Imagine a horror movie with Dido as the soundtrack. The wrong use of sound can lead to death and mass suicide.

The sound which is present is pretty sparse, but does a very good job delivering stabbing orchestral jabs and haunting chorus. The undead will occasionally mutter a just audible "Help me" or "You've got some Babybel on your cheek, do you want a tissue to wipe it off with?" or "DIE SHITHOUSE", along with general moaning. Because that's all ghosts do is bloody moan.

Although most praise for this game is duly deserved, there nevertheless exists some flaws which, to be quite honest were quite annoying a few years ago, and amazingly still exist today in titles such as Resident Evil 4. (But due to to mitigating circumstances like...ummmm, oh yeah, IT'S FUCKING AMAZING and AUTOSAVE, we let it off).
For one, WWHHHHHHYYYYYYYY do I have to collect things in order to save my game? When you have reached so far in a game and want to explore a bit, you are effectivley being punished for straying too far and being too inquisitive. It really shouldn't do that.

This is "Kirby's Fucking Wonderworld". Happy now Geo?

The inventory system.

You cannot tell me that there is no simpler way of doing this other than pausing the game, selecting and equipping an object, unpausing the game and into the foray once more, forgetting that you needed the knife to slash the bears face in, and not the shitting "GREEN HERB".

Perfect dark had a sometimes bewildering array of items and weapons in the inventory at once, even cycling with a shoulder button was tedious. It got around this problem by having the player hold down the weapon select button and a circle of weapons and objects would appear as an overlay on the action (still visible). as long as the button was held down the stick could be used to select an icon (easily distinguishable in a firefight), and the moment the button was are back where you belong: Not the Real World(tm). You can breathe again.

Now I fully understand that this method is not suitable for every genre of game, but truly believe that it may be a huge help to the survival horror / third person category of game. Even RE4 suffers from the inventory problem when you need to select a few weapons / items in a short space of time, and I've not even played it that much. 


Now I've been going on for too long and I'm tired. And hungry. And tired. And hungry. And tired. And hungry. And hungry. And tired. And tired. And hungry.

Maybe if this game were to come with a real ghost in the box, some trousers which have been shitted already (to save you the trouble), and maybe a japanese girl, then it would be a truly momentous game indeed. Not to mention highly illegal. As it stands, it is merely a great game and, thankfully, entirly legal.
Apart from the special edition apparently...Actually no, I'm lying again. 

 "...I think I've leaked..."