Tag Archives: Sega

April in Games

Games completed during April

Strong mix of well regarded indie games and Forza this month.


headerEpistory – PC

Loved every minute of this, the typing mechanic is a lot of fun. A few challenging moments but never got stale. Hope to see more games like this!


journey-ps3-logoJourney – PS4

As hinted at last month, I felt I should play this before making a start on Abzû. Probably should have left it in the pile! I expect it might have been more impressive if I’d played it back on PS3, the experience kind of left me cold. It does look pretty, but the desert setting isn’t too inspiring. When I finished I was a bit concerned I’d made a mistake in picking up Abzû…


header (2)Abzû – PS4

I needn’t have worried, it’s easy to see where the Journey comparisons came from, but this was a much more enjoyable experience. I expect this is mostly because I was much more interested in the undersea setting than the beige boredom of the desert. It did leave me craving a new Ecco the Dolphin game though!


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Forza Horizon 3 & Blizzard Mountain – XB1

As started last month, I stuck with Blizzard Mountain until I’d mostly finished it. (Cleared the story and some of the extra challenges, but I’ve got no interest in going for the ‘3 star all events’ type stuff.) Forza-Horizon-3-06-HD

Once I’d cleared the expansion I found I was back into the main game again, and finished the story there too. I’ve found myself well back on the Forza wagon.

 


header (3)Inside – PS4

Really glad I picked this up, it’s very much “Limbo 2”. Identical gameplay system and story-telling but that’s no bad thing. New setting and manages to be even darker. A real gem, if you haven’t played these, I heartily recommend both!


1384846394forzahorizonForza Horizon – XB1 / 360 BC

I didn’t like this when it first came out, but it turned up free on Games with Gold, backwards compatible on the Xbox One, and I thought I’d give it another go. It helps that the ‘Forza Hub’ awards bonuses in each Forza game based on your overall performance in the whole series. Gave me the motivation to stick with it, and I’m glad I did. Had a lot of fun playing through the story, and still going back to mop up some of the other challenges.


24626644906_bc9f14df15_bKing of Fighters XIV – Story – PS4

Picked this up in the sale as a bit of a gamble. Street Fighter V has been a let down, and I’m keen to find something new to get stuck into. It’s going to take some getting used to, but I’m enjoying it so far. Put a bit of time in and cleared the story mode, trying to get a feel for which characters I’ll use. My buddy picked it up too, so looking forward to trying out some friendly versus combat


Also played in April

downloadRetired – Banjo Tooie – XB1 / Rare Replay

Meant to include this in March. I’ve shelved Banjo Tooie, possibly for good. A pity since it was one of my goal games for 2017, but I just wasn’t enjoying it. Did make way for the next game on my list though…

 


headerYooka Layle – PS4

My pre-order arrived for launch, and I’m largely a fan. I’ve mostly cleared the first two worlds. One major issue though, the game gives me motion sickness if I try to play more than an hour. I hear a new patch is going to address some of the camera problems, so I’m hoping this will improve. It seems most of the criticism is valid, it’s not a great game by any means, but it’s certainly not bad either. Plenty of fun to be had! (Nausea not withstanding)


C9z2xE0WsAA6ZkGWonderboy: The Dragon’s Trap – PS4

Another game I pre-ordered. I have fond memories of playing this with my Bro-in-Law back on the Master System, but I was too young to really ‘get’ it. This remake is an absolute masterpiece. Preserves the great gameplay, and brings it up to date with excellent modern graphics and sound. I know some people have complained about the art style, but I really like it. It’s also a really nice touch that you can switch between any combination of modern & old for graphics, sounds and music. The graphics can be switched on the fly with a single button press, much like in Halo: Master Chief Collection, it’s oddly compelling. (How the title screen changes if you play as the girl character is a nice touch too!)

Hopefully I’ll complete this during May, I’ve just unlocked Hawk Man, hurrah.


Forza-MS6A-04-HDForza 6 – XB1 & Apex – PC

With my Forza love safely resurrected, I’ve been back to these two as well. Lots of ‘Forza Hub’ points to be obtained. It’s funny, when the first Horizon game came out, I was well into Forza 4 and much preferred the more serious 507156bc-fa81-4f82-b487-5c69ad1c671egames to this new open world approach. With Horizon 2 and 3 though I now would rather play those than these serious ones. I’m not sure if it’s a general decline of the main Forza Motorsport line, but the Career mode in Forza 6 is very stale. The racing is second to none though, just wish it was a bit less ‘dry’. I never played Forza 5 and am wondering if it’s worth picking up for the Hub points. Would like them to add Forza 2,3 & 4 to Backwards Compatibility though so I could at least see if they’re as good as I remember.


1fc40618-68a8-45a2-bc11-6656400d9877Forza Horizon 2 – XB1

In for a penny… I also went back to this during April too. Moping up achievements across all 3 Horizon games, first thing I did was drive all the roads in each game. It’s really nice to go between the games because of their different geography. Unlike how similar the Forza Motorsport games are from one to the next, the fresh location for each Horizon game really helps. I’m also really looking forward to the Hot Wheels expansion coming to Horizon 3, has some exciting potential!


Games picked up

H2x1_NSwitch_PuyoPuyoTetrisPuyo Puyo Tetris – PS4

With this finally getting a Western release, I was very happy to be able to pick the English version up, and put aside my Japanese copy and my 30 page print out of menu translations. It’s still the finest arcade puzzle game of all time and it’s great to see how many people are now getting to experience it. I’m still not interested in getting a Switch, but I can see how this must be a perfect fit for that machine.

All-time Top 5 JRPGs (wot I’ve played…)

Yeah a bit of a cheat this one, as I’ve only properly played 5 Japanese Role Playing Games (JRPGs) so that’ll be why your favourite isn’t in the list… I have tried to play plenty, but never got more than 2 hours into anything other than these 5.

I have really enjoyed the ones I have played (well the top 3 anyway) so I wouldn’t rule out playing more in the future. Anyway, on with the countdown!

Number 5 – Final Fantasy VII (PSX)

headerMy first JRPG, and apparently, the first one many of my friends played too. This game was a major event back in a high school, and for a while it seemed everyone was playing FFVII. I was quite enjoying it, albeit a departure from my usual choice of game. I do remember that trying to navigate the world map while also dealing with random encounters tested my patience, but the whole thing collapsed when my memory card corrupted around 20 hours in. I appreciate in the grand scheme of things, 20 hours isn’t very long, but that was pretty huge for me at the time, and certainly more than I’d be happy to play over.

I pretty much swore off the genre after this, and it would be quite a few years before I was to try them again.

Number 4 – Bravely Default (3DS)

BravelyDefault-810x449I gave this a go when struggling to find something other than Animal Crossing or Mario Kart to play on my 3DS. Discussions about it described a game with a similar feel to Final Fantasy VII which made me think perhaps I’d enjoy it. I was aware of the “outrage” at the changes made for the Western release from the anti video game censorship crowd, but they all seemed like changes for the better to me, so figured I’d give it a go.

I mostly enjoyed the game for maybe 18 hours. The story was nonsense and even with the localisation there was a a sufficient creepy ‘ick’ factor that never quite went away. (I think it was hard to distance from the fact that these characters were originally written to be 15 years old). However, the gameplay mechanics were fun, and I liked the ‘job’ system in building my party. It all got a bit grindy and dull though, and I just lost the will to come back to it.

Number 3 – Lost Odyssey (Xbox 360)

landscape-1481743951-lost-odysseyA game I played mostly by chance, got a bargain on release without knowing anything about it and fired it up just to see what it was. I was blown away by the graphics, it was easily the best looking game I’d seen so far on a console, and at first was just playing to admire the aesthetics. I got sucked in though, and it became the first JRPG I ever saw through to completion. The story was ridiculous, which I suspect may be an essential criteria for a JRPG, and the costume designs left me questioning the usefulness of such armor in a swordfight.

I really liked the combat though, and the timing based boost you could give to your attacks was surprisingly satisfying. I sometimes think I might replay this, but then I laugh at the thought of me replaying anything, never mind a 40+ hour epic, and the impulse goes away.

Number 2 – Panzer Dragoon Saga (Sega Saturn)

Panzer-Dragoon-SagaOnly played through this for the first time last month, and I am amazed how well it has held up. I was a big fan of Panzer Dragoon and Panzer Dragoon Zwei first time round on the Saturn, and this is doubtless the main reason I took to Saga the way I did. The art style was consistent with the previous games, and immediately felt like a comfortable return to that world.

The shift to turn-based combat was a concern before I started, I didn’t know how the previous rail-shooter style would translate. I need not have worried, the combat is superb, with the two basic attacks being lifted straight out of the other games to feel instantly familiar. The need to constantly keep re-positioning around the enemies and the bonus to attack speed granted for attacking as you move ensures that the combat remains engaging.

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I found the controls in general to be very well done, particularly in the parts where you’re navigating the world on your dragon. When revisiting early 3D games you often have to make allowances for the controls and/or camera, but I can honestly say I had no issues with either.

While the story here is no exception to my understanding of the JRPG norm, I did find myself happily reading all the subtitles and enjoying the many cut-scenes. This extra flavour for the world is a big part of why I’ve gone back to playing the original games, and why I’m optimistic that I might even beat them this time round.

Number 1 – Eternal Sonata (Xbox 360)

Eternal-Sonata-810x456Or, the one time I liked cel-shaded graphics.

I know about as much about JRPGs on the whole as I do Classical Music. The only composer I really like is Chopin, so the premise of this game immediately had me intrigued. The game is set inside a dream Frédéric Chopin has while he dies of Tuberculosis. Yeah. We’re well set up for another nonsense story, but this one did really hook me.

Until Eternal Sonata, I always found cel-shading to be a bit of a novelty. It’s such a perfect fit for making the whole game feel like an elaborate cartoon. It’s joyful, twee and yet manages to be interestingly educational at the same time, as along with the story cut-scenes it also has video history lessons relating to Chopin’s life. (From reading some commentary these weren’t to everyone’s taste, but I loved it)

The music in the game is obviously Chopin influenced, and accordingly spectacular. There are very few game soundtracks I listen to outside of playing the games, but the 4 disc album produced for this is still a staple on my iPod.

I remain annoyed the PS3 release afterwards had extra content, as I didn’t want to start over from the beginning after I completed it on the 360. I think I’d happily replay it now though if it was given a refresh for the modern consoles.

I’ve heard plenty of critique about Eternal Sonata, more than one person declare it “the worst JRPG I ever played”. I take some amusement from this, as it seems likely that as a generalisation, I can still say I don’t like JRPGs, and perhaps I like the ones I do because they are outliers within the genre.

What next?

I remain open to suggestions from anyone who can suggest games I might like based on what I’ve written above. I’ll be honest though and say there is next to no chance of me playing anything 16-bit or earlier.

I am thinking of playing Skies of Arcadia Legends, it always sort of appealed to me on Dreamcast, and now I’ve got the GameCube version which I’ve heard is generally an improvement.

March Gaming

Games completed this month

I’m three for three so far in gameplay months worthy of an update. Some progress has been made, and I’ve identified a few more games I might pick up due later this year.


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Rise of the Tomb Raider – Xbox One: No surprise here, as I was fairly close to completion in February. I finished the main story early in March. Really enjoyed the game, but the Challenge Tombs remain the highlight, and the parts that feel like the games I remember. I won’t be going for 100% completion, as there appear to be hundreds of pointless collectables, but I do fancy going back and clearing the few Challenge Tombs I missed on my way.


Panzer-Dragoon-Saga

Panzer Dragoon Saga – Sega Saturn: One from my long term bucket list, it’s only taken almost 20 years to get around to. A game that by all accounts was well out of my price range, but the recent addition of a modded Saturn to my collection changed that. I’m going to write a bit more about this game in a following post, but I’ll just say how well it holds up considering its age, and how satisfying it was to play. My getting through any RPG is a rare thing indeed, and should be acknowledged.


Firewatch-01

Firewatch – PS4: I picked this up along with the other PS4 games mentioned below in a recent Playstation Store sale. I was a bit wary getting another “Walking Simulator” (urgh) as I bounced off the Vanishing of Ethan Carter and actively disliked Dear Esther. I enjoyed Gone Home however, and the art style of Firewatch was instantly appealing. I was hooked pretty quickly and played it over two nights. At 4 hours long it’s still a short game but about twice the length of Gone Home. The story is engaging, and as I’d done a good job of avoiding any spoilers, I also found it surprisingly tense.


Also played in March

header

Epistory – PC: Grabbed this in a Steam Sale as it had been on my radar for a while. It’s a sort of cross between an isometric Action RPG and Typing of the Dead. Great little game where all the combat and some of the exploration is done via typing. I love the Typing of the Dead games, and played the second one to death (ahem) when it came to Steam. More games should have Typing combat as a mechanic.

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Panzer Dragoon: Playing through Saga this month really got me back in the mood for revisiting the original games. Haven’t quite managed to beat it yet but I think I’ll keep it in the Saturn for a while.

 

8a407642-56b7-4327-bd86-1bd8bb3d757bForza Horizon 3 – Blizzard Mountain: This month I grabbed the DLC expansion as it was on offer for 50% off. Played a couple of hours of it so far and it is good fun. Like the main game it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and delivery an enjoyable arcade style Rally in the Snow experience.


Games picked up:

header (2)Abzû – PS4: Not really sure what to expect here, all I know is it’s an underwater adventure game along the same lines as Journey. However I still have Journey in my “to play” pile, so we’ll see. Looks really pretty though, and I’m a sucker for the theme.

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Inside – PS4: The follow up to the superb “Limbo” looking forward to getting on this one, I’ve heard lots of good things!

 

header (1)Caladrius Blaze – PS4: Was a bit disappointed with this, and glad I only paid a small amount for it in the sale. At its core it’s a fun vertical shmup, but unfortunately has an overdose of Japanese “fanservice” that gives it a disturbing creepy vibe. When choosing your ship style, you’re also effectively choosing a pilot. The pilots are mostly (possibly all) Anime women, in revealing attire (so far so par for the course). However during the game whenever you take damage, you get a pop up graphic of your clothes gradually disappearing. To make this even trashier than it already is, they also manage to call this the “shame” system, because getting your clothes ripped when fighting to save the world/galaxy/whatever is obviously shameful.

I did discover after my first go that you can turn this shite off, so the game is at least playable. I’m annoyed I didn’t know about it before I started, and have to live with the trophy it awarded me for having ‘experienced’ all the shame breaks of the first character I chose. *shudder*

Gears-of-War-4-01-HDGears of War 4 – Xbox One: Won’t be on this yet, as I will be playing it in co-op with a buddy. However we’re half way through Halo 1 on the Master Chief Collection atm, and intend to play Halo 2 before we start Gears 4. Was a great price though, and it is one from my list of games to play in 2017.


More releases I’m looking forward to:

When I compiled my list of 2017 games, I struggled a bit to find many games due this year to add. Indeed of the three I did select, I don’t think Life is Strange 2 will appear till at least 2018 (if at all). I’ve since found a few more that I’m now intending to play however, although all but 1 are remaster/reboots of games I’ve played before.

crash-bandicoot-trilogy-trailerCrash N Sane Trilogy: I was a big fan of the Crash Bandicoot games on the original Playstation, but don’t think I ever finished any of them. Looking forward to putting that right with this collection.

 

Wonder-Boy

Wonderboy – The Dragon’s Trap: A game I remember fondly from my Master System days, and another I never finished, although I put that down to my still being in single digits at the time.

 

wipeout-omega-collection-listing-thumb-us-03dec16Wipeout Omega Collection: Essentially the third time I’ll have bought some of this content, it represents a collection of the PS3 & Vita Wipeout games, but delivering them at a crisp & smooth 1080p 60fps (hopefully).  Let’s be honest though, it’s Wipeout and I was always going to be buying it.

maxresdefaultNex Machina: The one new game in this list is a new shmup from Housemarque. Big fan of their previous games, and optimistic that this could do for Robotron what Resogun did for Defender.

February Gaming

Games completed this month

Managed to clear a couple more games this month, thought it might be worth an update.


header-1Spec Ops: The Line (PC)

As suggested in my January post, I finished this at the start of February. Another one to tick off the 2017 list, I was pleasantly surprised by this. It is perhaps a bit less polished than some comparable military shooters, but the story was ambitious and had something to say. In places it was clunky, and some of the bigger twists were sort of spoiled for me by being late playing it, but if you’re a fan of this style of shooter and haven’t played this yet (or just bored of Call of Duty) it’s definitely worth a play.


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Game of Thrones – Telltale Adventure (PS4)

I managed to stick with this much better following Batman. It’s the worst of the Telltale games I’ve played, but still engaging enough. Part of the problem with it is just how well it does “Game of Thrones”, it’s just so bleak! Easier to recommend if you’re a fan of the show more than a fan of Telltale games, it comes with the same warning you’d give to someone just starting to read the books or watch the TV series. Don’t get too attached to anyone!


Also played in January

70009b60d454b028ef60886bd20b2ae2Rise of the Tomb Raider (Xbox One)

A decent promotion in Game, combined with my remaining store credit saw me picking both this and Shadow of Mordor on Xbox One.  I had intended to play Tomb Raider on either PC or PS4, but couldn’t argue with the price.  I’ve put 20ish hours in so far, and am about 70% through apparently.  Really enjoying it, have noticed a few bits of slowdown but nothing has really damaged the experience.  Looks likely that I’ll finish it in March and be able to move on to something else. Feeling good about continued progress towards that 2017 target!


headerAssault Android Cactus (PC)

Really good twin-stick shmup that deserves more attention than it received. I have been dropping in and out of this for a while, but over the last few weeks I have focused a bit more on the story mode.  I’d hoped to clear it during Feb but finding the last boss to be tricky! I have limited patience to just keep retrying though so I’ll be lucky if I even manage to clear it during March. We’ll see.


maxresdefaultOvercooked (Xbox One)

Finally got a couple of friends together for a decent session on this, made some good progress and we’re starting to gel a bit as a team. Well we were, until the alcohol being consumed hit Peak levels, and our skills went into decline.  Hopefully we can get another go at this in soon.


Mega Drive & Saturn stuff

I’ve now got a new (to me), modded Japanese SEGA Saturn, so have been dabbling quite a bit with that. Planning on picking a Saturn game to settle into when I’m done with Tomb Raider. I’ve got a few ideas so optimistic that’ll turn out well for a future update.

I’ve also been spending a bit of time with the Mega Drive again, mostly just playing a few shmups. I’d quite like to get a 1cc on Super Fantasy Zone on my actual hardware, as I’ve only previously managed to do it under emulation. If I’m successful I might see if I’m capable of any others…

Top 5 Light Gun Games – (Playable on a HDTV…)

A favourite genre of mine growing up, my love for light gun games started with the SMS port of Operation Wolf. A genre most at home in the arcade, the home ports ran right through the various consoles over the years, peaking in the 32bit era, then almost dying out when we all (well not all but you know what I mean) started ditching those giant CRT screens for nice new flat ones.

For me the greatest thing to come out of the whole ‘motion control’ run started by the Wii, was those developers using the Wii pointers and Playstation Move controllers to bring back the Light Gun shooter. The Playstation 3 also had a couple of other gun peripherals, but the decent games are either PSMove compatible or exclusive. This list is simply my top 5 of the games to be played on these systems, then I’ll round it out with a summary of the others I know of for the gen. I think a follow up post might cover my favourites from the CRT days.

So in reverse order:

5) Dead Storm Pirates (PS3)
The least deep (haha) of the games in this list, it’s a no frills port of the arcade game, but it is still great fun to play with a friend. I believe you can get it on its own from the PSN store, but it is also included on the disc with the PS Move version of Time Crisis Razing Storm (more on that at the end) which is now picked up very cheaply.

4) Resident Evil Chronicles HD Collection (PS3)
A double pack containing HD updates of Umbrella Chronicles and Darkside Chronicles from the Wii. Probably not worth getting again if you did complete them on the Wii, but if you’re coming at it fresh, then this is the version to go for. These are actually my favourite Resident Evil games, I always preferred the story to the game play of the main series, and my favourite memories of the early games is still watching other people play rather than playing myself. Be warned though, these are pretty tough!

3) Dead Space Extraction (PS3)
Ported from the Wii version, everything seems pretty much the same, but the graphics have had the usual polish. I understand it’s a prequel to the main Dead Space trilogy, but I still haven’t got round to playing those…

2) Ghost Squad (Wii)
Most of the Wii gun games made it to PS3, where Sony’s console received superior versions. However Ghost Squad was never ported, and is now the sole reason I still keep a Wii hooked up. It’s a port of the SEGA arcade game, and for me as close as they’ve got to recapturing the magic of Virtua Cop. A whole host of unlockables has me regularly going back to this, and it’s always a joy to play with a friend.

1) House of the Dead Overkill (Wii & PS3)
This is superb and quite possibly my favourite Light Gun game of all time. The soundtrack is amazing, some really funky tunes. The writing is often genuinely amusing too, although the dialogue is definitely not for children. The PS3 version has an extra level, supports 3D TV’s and also hilariously anaglyph 3D, shipping with a couple of pairs of the old red & blue 3D glasses. I originally played it through on the Wii, but switched to PS3 when that came out. It’s definitely better played on PS3, but both versions are solid.

Also worth mentioning is the excellent Typing of the Dead Overkill which came out on Steam. This is a typing game using all the levels from the House of the Dead Overkill, in the same way that the original Typing of the Dead on Dreamcast was based on House of the Dead 2.

I never got round to picking up gun attachments for my Wii, and happily play Wii games with just the naked wiimotes, on PS3 however I can recommend the official pistol grip attachments shown in the photo, they do make a difference.

Other mentions:
The Shoot (PS3) – Feels a bit like a tech demo, but it’s mildly entertaining. Worth grabbing for the £1 or £2 it can be found for now.

House of the Dead 2 & 3 (Wii) and House of the Dead 3 & 4 (PS3) – Really good ports of the arcade games, annoyingly HotD 2 never got ported to PS3, but it’s nice to be able to play it on Wii and not worry about finding room for a CRT to hook up a dreamcast…

Time Crisis Razing Storm & Time Crisis 4 (PS3) – Razing Storm is dreadful. However, Time Crisis 4 is a nice arcade game, and this disc also containing Dead Storm Pirates makes it pretty good value just for the two other games.

Link Crossbow Trainer (Wii) – Originally bundled with the bizarre official lightgun attachment for the Wii, this is a surprisingly fun short game. It’s good to play but I’d put that plastic attachment in the bin straight away. Pistol grips are the only way to go if you do want a gun style holder.

Gunblade NY & LA Machineguns (Wii) – I still haven’t played this, they weren’t great arcade games, so I haven’t bothered picking up this double pack of the ports, but may still grab them at some point.

Mad Dog McCree Gunslinger Pack (Wii) – This is a triple pack of the ‘classic’ FMV games, the first two games are also available on the PS3. They’re very hard to recommend as they really haven’t aged well. The Nostalgia is strong though, and I loved the first game with the gun back on the CDi…

You may have noticed that I haven’t included Child of Eden in the list, despite it being in the photo. While still a “Rail Shooter”, it’s not quite the same, having more in common with Rez and the Panzer Dragoon games. Perhaps a blog for another day.

All-Time Top 5 Games Consoles

Time for another top 5, in reverse order again, although I already spoiled this if you read my Top 5 games post.  Again these are my favourites, so the rankings have been influenced by nostalgia and sentiment.  I will throw the “almost made it” machines onto the end.

Number 5 – SEGA Master System

The only system in this list that I don’t currently own, but that’s simply because I play the games on my Mega Drive to save space.  I grew up in a house with 4 older sisters, and fondly remember early years with the shared Texas TI99 and then a ZX Spectrum, but it wasn’t until the Master System that I would get a machine of my own.

I received the Master System II machine with built in Alex Kidd in Miracle World for my birthday. I shortly after received The Ninja and Transbot and these were the only games I owned for a year or so.  Transbot doesn’t really hold up so well now, but I loved them all and Alex Kidd remains a favourite today.  Fortunately, at the time I received my console, two of my sisters’s partners also owned Master Systems, with a good collection of games.  Through borrowing their games I discovered (and played to death) Fantasy Zone, Operation Wolf, Rocky, R-Type, Rampage and Moonwalker.  It was also the beginning of the age of video game rentals, and the repeated renting of Bubble Bobble started a series of gaming with one of my sisters that would continue throughout my childhood.

On Twitter recently, @nakamuramartin started a conversation about retrogaming, asking people to identify the console that they had the most nostalgia for. (Well it was recently when I started writing this…)  In my case nothing tops the Master System for that.

Number 4 – SEGA Dreamcast

The Dreamcast did so many things right, and in many ways was just a bit too early.  Online gaming on consoles wouldn’t really take off until home broadband was more widespread.  I was one of those who did play a lot of Dreamcast online, making full use of the available keyboard & mouse setup to play Quake 3 Arena 2 v 2 Capture the Flag.  It pains me to this day that consoles supporting keyboard & mouse for FPS games didn’t become the norm.  (PS3 showed such promise when Unreal Tournament 3 supported this setup and I loved it.  Interestingly it also supported mods and it was relatively easy to port mods from the PC version over.)

Another win for the machine was the availability of relatively inexpensive but quality Arcade Sticks.  These are still sought after now, and very popular for the modding community to upgrade the components and make them compatible with more modern consoles.  Having access to these for my favourite genres of shmups and fighting games really made the console shine in my eyes.  The console is still regarded as a powerhouse for these two genres particularly, and this is largely how it earns a place in my top 5.

A lot of criticism the Dreamcast does receive is about that controller.  I did find it good for the racing games on the system, and for me it is still the best way to play Crazy Taxi outside the arcade.  However, I can’t recommend it for those genres mentioned above, and understand completely if you wrote off FPS and Fighting games on Dreamcast at the time because the controller was pap.

I keep one setup now, and still return to it regularly for Mars Matrix and trips to Street Fighter Alpha 3.  It also still looks great on my HDTV, thanks to that VGA adapter.

Number 3 – SEGA Mega Drive

Another system on the list heavily influenced by nostalgia, this was the natural progression from my Master System, and still remember the Christmas it turned up.  I had the pack in with Mega Games 2, and spent so much time with Streets of Rage, Golden Axe and the Revenge of Shinobi.  Sonic the Hedgehog blew me away, and much like with Alex Kidd in Miracle World, I still can’t walk past the first Sonic game without at least doing the first couple of stages. So, so good.

Co-op gaming with my sister continued here, with Toejam & Earl being the game of choice.  Also fond memories of playing hours of 3 & 4 player James Pond: Aquatic Games, such a great multiplayer title.  I also enjoyed watching my sister play through Ecco the Dolphin, and being thoroughly confused by that final boss.  (I found the game too terrifying to play myself, and still struggle with it now!)  It’s such an iconic game though, I’d love a new Ecco game.

There are so many memories from the Mega Drive, and I hope to cover some of my favourites from the system in future posts.  I recently picked up an EverDrive cartridge for mine, and am enjoying discovering those titles from the excellent library of 16 bit shmups I missed first time round.  It’s a joy in full 60hz RGB.

Number 2 – PlayStation Vita

Probably the only system in the list that some people might find surprising, but bear with me. The second place spot was previously occupied by the Atari Jaguar (!) for the simple fact that it housed my previous favourite game of all time, Tempest 2000.  I am happy to replace that in my life with the Vita, since TxK took over as my favourite game, and is exclusive to the Vita.  At least with Tempest 2000 I can play an almost as good version on my number 1 console…

I adore the Vita, it’s so good at what it does.  It has an excellent collection of shmups, the first time I’ve really enjoyed them on a handheld. The PSP did a decent enough job, just never found it comfy enough for extended play times.  Wipeout 2048 is superb and there are so many great indies that although multiplatform, I still consider them ‘best on vita’.  Games like Velocity 2X, Rogue Legacy, Limbo, Thomas Was Alone etc.

Number 1 – SEGA Saturn

I’m certainly not alone in this choice, although at the time you could barely find people who had even heard of it.  The console that really made me feel like the Arcade experience was possible at home.  SEGA Rally, Virtual Fighter 2, Virtua Cop, these were the games I wanted to play constantly.  Digging deeper, particularly into the Japanese library, you discover that it has one of the greatest librarys of 2D shmups and fighters ever.  SNK and Capcom both put some superb titles onto this machine, often making use of the 1-4MB RAM expansion card to achieve amazing arcade ports that just weren’t possible otherwise.

This was also the last system I played a lot with my sister, before we grew up and moved out. We lived on Bust-a-Move 2 (Puzzle Bobble) and it remains my favourite Puzzler/Match 3 to this day.  We even had the Bubble Bobble & Rainbow Islands pack, and played that together feeling nostalgic for the Master System.

This is close to being my most played console, and is in constant contention with my more modern machines.  I love it and if I only had one machine it would definitely be a SEGA Saturn.

Sega Saturn Joy

 

I could have been a contender…

PSX – This was close, as it does have some absolute gems.  Racing games in particular really stand out, I have found myself picking some of these up again to play on my PS3.  If anything though it is partly represented by the PS Vita, since playing Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain and Kula World on that is a joy.

Neo Geo Pocket Colour – I have such affection for this console, and I still think it has the best thumbstick of any handheld.  A bigger library and a backlit screen would probably have secured it’s place in my top 5, I still fondly remember getting mine at UK launch.  I’ve yet to find another handheld that is so satisfying for fighting games.

All-time Top 5 Videogames

Hot on the heels of (13 months later than) my Top 5 Christmas songs, I’ve decided this format is a useful tool for inspiring blog posts.  This is still influenced by High Fidelity, but also because my friend Simon over at Red Parsley does it so well.

Maybe writing about my top 5 games of all time might give me pause to consider that I have the list right.  I’ll add a few ‘also rans’ to the end for those that either nearly made the list, or that may have been on there in the past.

In reverse order:

Number 5 – Saturn Bomberman – SEGA Saturn 1996

Bomberman is one of my favourite game series, and still my favourite local multi-player title.  I’ve been playing it since Dyna Blaster, and there have been some stand out titles along the way.  (Also plenty of dross spin-offs, but we’ll skip over them)  The Saturn edition is my favourite, partly because it’s on my favourite system of all time (oooh, I can feel another list coming on) but also because 10 player bomberman on a widescreen is still a thing of beauty, and a highlight of retro events for me.  I also enjoyed the single player campaign on this one, which I wouldn’t usually bother with.  Other releases in the series that I’ve really enjoyed are:

Bomberman Live: (This was Xbox 360, but essentially the same game came to Wii and PS3, I bought all 3 versions to play with different groups of friends online).  I adored it on the 360 and played it constantly.  Sadly my friends gradually stopped playing with me, apparently I’m a Bomberbully. 😦

Wario Blast: One of my favourite games for the original Gameboy, and one of few I still own.  I remember playing through this in co-op with my best mate in high school on his Super Gameboy.  Perhaps that SNES had a use afterall… *chuckle*

Atomic Bomberman: Difficult to defend generally, I nonetheless had a lot of fun with this.  Supporting 10 players, I played a bunch of it online on PC way before the Xbox 360 was on the scene.  It also helped that I grabbed the ‘Sold Out Software’ release, for full RRP, £4.99.

The PSX, Mega Drive and PC Engine also have solid versions I would happily recommend. 

Saturn Bomberman

Number 4 – Warcraft 3 – PC 2002

My favourite ever RTS, and the reason I ended up losing thousands of hours to World of Warcraft…  Real Time Strategy is that one genre I like the idea of much more than the reality.  I think Warcraft 3 remains as the only RTS I completed the entire story mode for, and all the content from the expansion.  It’s also the only one I ever managed to win any games online against randoms (although probably still less than 1 in 10…)  I keep it installed now, and still fire up the occasional skirmish.

It's all your fault, WC3!

It’s all your fault, WC3!

Number 3 – Bubble Bobble – SEGA Master System 1991

There is admittedly a certain amount of sentimentality to this for me, but the game still holds up today and deserves its place here.  These days I play it on the SEGA Saturn double release with Rainbow Islands, but first time round this was a regular on my Master System (arguably the best home port of the game ever) I played it in co-op with one of my sisters, and it is a favourite gaming memory.  If I ever do a top 5 local co-op games list, I’m pretty sure this will be number 1.  Interestingly the ‘Match 3’ spin-off series Bust-a-Move/Puzzle Bobble is my favourite game in that genre too, and I played a lot of that with the same sister when I first got my Saturn.  From a nostalgia point of view, Toejam & Earl holds a similar place in my heart to Bubble Bobble, as that was our game on the Mega Drive, but it doesn’t play quite so well today.

Bubble Bobble

Number 2 – Quake – PC 1996

This was the game that made me really pay attention to the FPS genre.  One of my biggest (my views on Nintendo aside) ‘gamer crimes’ is not really liking Doom.  I just never really caught the hype, and although I had quite a bit of fun with Heretic, I didn’t really ‘get it’ until Quake came, and things were really 3D for the first time.  It also helped that I experienced DosQuake, then WinQuake, then GLQuake over a short period of time, each one blowing my mind afresh.  It was seriously close to taking my number one spot, and I replay at least the first few levels frequently (albeit with a nice new modern engine).  The single player game is glorious and the theme had me hooked.

The multi-player introduced me to deathmatches and led to those weekends of carrying your whole PC to a friend’s house for LAN parties.  It sparked a love affair with FPS multi-player which lasted a solid decade for me, and peaked with Q3A and UT99.  There have been great games since, but those are always the experiences I’m chasing when I play online now.

Quake

Number 1 and the greatest game of All-time! – TxK – 2014

Up until the release of TxK, this spot was occupied by Tempest 2000 on the Jaguar.  My views on Tempest 2000 can be applied to TxK pretty much as a copy & paste and still fit exactly.

TxK for me is the perfect game.  The visuals, sounds and gameplay all suit my tastes, and when I play it is gaming enjoyment at its finest.  This game alone would be enough to keep my Vita secure in its place as my favourite ever handheld (uh-oh…).  I also really love Space Giraffe (the game that caused me to buy an Xbox 360).

If you get the chance, Llamasoft attend a lot of games shows across the UK, and frequently have a version of TxK running on VR hardware with a custom built rotary controller.  This is the best way to experience the game, and I really wish it was in my house.

TxK

I could have been a contender…

These games almost made my list, and if I make top 5 lists based on platform or genre, I’d expect to see them there.

From the Master System: Fantasy Zone and Alex Kidd in Miracle World.  Both games massively sentimental for me, bathed in nostalgia.  I grew up with four older sisters who owned various micro computers.  My first gaming experiences were on the Texas Ti99, Commodore 16+4, Rubber-keyed speccy, but the first machine that was MINE was my Master System 2.  It had Alex Kidd built in, and it’ll forever be in my heart.  Fantasy Zone was probably bettered by its sequels, but the original still holds up.

Representing Nintendo (because I’m not a monster): Animal Crossing and Mario Kart.  These two series are generally the reason I buy Nintendo hardware.  Animal Crossing on the 3DS is probably my favourite, and Mario Kart Wii was stand-out because of how much I played it online.  Mario Kart DS at the height of the console’s popularity was sublime though, at one point I was playing this daily with 4 other people during lunchtime at work, including my boss.

Honourable mention: Myst – This was bundled with our first Windows 95 PC, a delightful P75 Compaq Presario.  It was SO pretty, and the music and sound fx were spot on.  I have been replaying it as ‘Real Myst’ on Steam recently, it gets a lot of grief, but it’s one of the best adventure games I’ve ever played, and one of the most atmospheric games of any genre.  (Also read the books, they’re excellent.)