Saturday, 17 November 2012

Movie to game conversions you must play!

It has been well documented that games to movies don't bode well. In my eyes, they're awesome. Take DOOM. It didn't follow the games storyline (scientists open a portal to hell on the surface of Mars, and that's all she wrote!), but it was an enjoyable romp, with The Rock hamming it up like there's no tomorrow. Movie to games, however, didn't fair all that badly. There were some gems among the chuff, and here they are:

Batman The Movie (any format you can name - Ocean/Sunsoft)
Of course, the first Michael Keaton Batman flick is one of the best, and the game that came out was also one of the best. Where the MD version was your typical side scrolling brawler, the Speccy/Amiga/C64 version mixed the styles up, with multi scrolling, driving and puzzle all thrown into the mix, and what a good mix it was too. Both versions are worth a play.

Robocop (A500/ST/Spec/C64/464 - Ocean)
Another tie in that mixed styles, it also ramped up the difficulty to extraordinary levels, but retained the awesome graphics. This one included shooting gallery levels, as well as the obligatory puzzles and side scrolling ones.

Goldeneye 007 (N64 - Rare)
How can you have a list like this and NOT include this gem. Sniper rifles, mines, huge levels, the chance to drive a tank, lots of guns, the chance to drive a tank, blowing stuff up and firing lasers. Oh, and the chance to drive a tank (in case you missed it).

Star Wars (Arc - Atari)
Your chance to fly an X-Wing down the Death Stars trench and blow the f**ker up. It might have vector graphics, but they do their job, and it still plays great.

Monday, 30 July 2012

The Classic Movie: The Philadelphia Experiment (1984 - New World Pictures)

October 10, 1943. Using Einstein's "Unified Field Theory", the U.S navy have devised a way to make their ships invisible to radar, by bending light around it to create the invisibility illusion. Using the U.S.S Eldridge as a guinea pig, the test is successful...until it never comes back! During the test, two sailors, David Herdeg (Michael Pare) and Jim Parker (Bobby Di Cicco), realize something is wrong, jump overboard, and land in 1984, not knowing that WWII has ended and what time period they're in. Now, on the run from the police and the Navy, they must find a way to get back home, with the help of Alison Haynes (Nancy Allen), while tracking down the scientist responsible for the experiment 40 years ago, in an attempt to find out what went wrong.

The film is based on the legend of an experiment that, according to the Office of Naval Research, never took place, and was the basis of Einstein's apparently true "Unified Field Theory". There were several accounts, all with differing details about the experiment, from various people. The film is based on some that were put together, and then a chase thriller added on to it. Some reports stated that when the ship re-appeared, people were seen to be fused into the deck of the ship, which made it into the film, and was a powerful aspect. Some claimed people actually disappeared, which was the basis for the two main characters.

The film, being based on supposed fact, is actually very good. The special effects when the ship disappears are really cool, and even when it goes through the time vortex, there's a sense of 'wow' when you see it. The performances are strong throughout, the script is good, and the scientific parts never make you go "what?".

It's a film everyone should see at least once in their lifetime. It might only be 1hr 40mins roughly, but the film does keep you on the edge of your seat. There was a sequel made 10 years later that, unfortunately, doesn't have the same cast in it, but is an ok follow up with a "what if..." storyline, involving Nazi's and a Stealth Fighter.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

PC Capers: Carmageddon (SCi - 1997)

6 combatants. Motors revving. The race official raises the flag, the cars motors sounding like lions roaring. The flag lowers, and the cars speed off, running over the race official. Turning the first corner, one of the racers plows into a gang of people, another hits a traffic light and sends it into the direction of another group, whilst the car gets crumpled like a piece of paper. Another gets blown up, while one goes off a cliff. Two left, ramming each other, while a mine comes into view. The red car, an Eagle Mk.I, rams the 4X4 into the mine, sending it whirling into the air, leaving the Eagle Mk.I the only survivor. This is Carmageddon.

Created by Stainless Software, and published by SCi, Carmageddon was supposed to be an official game, first of Mad Max, first released in 1979, then of the cult movie 'Death Race 2000', which was released in 1975, and starred David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone. In the movie, the racers got points for running over people, whilst racing from one side of America to the other, in a race called the 'Transcontinental Road Race'. After the deal fell through, it was decided to keep the basic premise, but have tracks, laps and weapons thrown into the mix. The tracks themselves range from mine shafts, to cities, to seaside areas. One other element added was the Police presence on various tracks: run over locals in front of a Police van, and it would come after you, until it stopped you. It's armour was tough, and could only be defeated by using the power-up Solid Granite Car. Because of it's subject matter, the game was at first banned by the ratings board but, after a while, it eventually passed with an 18 certificate, whereas in Australia and Germany, it got banned outright (until it was re-edited with zombies, and a password lock).

To kick things off, the game is gory, hence all the controversy around it. I mean, driving around, running people over isn't exactly FIFA Soccer, but even through it's intestine-stained exterior, it's a fun game. The graphics in it's super-duper, Xtra-3D suped-up version are still great. In software mode, it looks good, but it does hurt the eyes after a while. Each car model has hit points, and smashing into a wall in the various places causes that piece to crumple, so in that respect, it's realistic, same as the handling. Meanwhile, the pedestrians are all 2D sprite affairs, but are animated well, and even have accompanying screams when you run them over. Plus, you can also run over cows. Yes, that's right: Cows. You know: they who give us steaks, mince and McDonalds. In the top left hand corner,you've got the Prat-Cam. It shows your driver's ugly mug, as you race through the pedestrians, and they give different expressions whenever they do anything (they even bite their tongue when you use the Instant Handbrake!), but it all adds to the humour of it all.

The game still plays well, even after all this time. You can race, and go through the checkpoints. can smash into other racers and take them out, or run over all the peds, or a mixture of all three. You don't even have to stick to the track, and can even go and explore the whole area, finding more peds and power ups. The areas themselves are massive, and the track layouts vary with each track, and also as you go up the ranks. An expansion pack, called Max Splat Pack, was released a while later, which added new areas & tracks and new racers. A sequel was released a few years later, and expanded on the game, and while a good game, it was let down by the missions you had to do in ridiculous time limits. TDR 2000: Carmageddon 3 was just piss poor. It looked like a dog, it played like rubbish, and is contender for Crap Game Corner.

Still as great to play, and as irrelevant as ever, Carmageddon is one of the best racers you'll ever play. Go do some Cunning Stunt Bonuses, some Piledriver Bonuses, and some Nice Shots, Sir.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Top 100 games of all time: The Final Insult (aka part 10)

Well, this is it. The final stretch. The final ten. The final frontier. Or..something like that.

10 - Monkey Island II (PC/Amiga - Lucasarts)

LeChuck returns, more evil, more badass, and more dead, in this follow up to the smash hit. Join Guybrush in his attempt to destroy LeChuck (again). More! Puzzles. More! Monkeys. More! Guybrush. The humor is just as sharp, and you can even nail Stan inside a used coffin.

9 - Final Fight (Various - Capcom/US Gold)

Pick your fighter, and take it to the streets in Capcom's seminal three way brawl. Large, chunky graphics, awesome synth music, and smooth controls mean it's the best brawler you'll ever play.

8 - H.E.R.O (Various - Activision)

The ultimate save-em-up, blow up walls to find people trapped in caverns, while avoiding nasties and dead end, and take them to the surface, and safety. A game you can lose yourself in.

7 - Streets of Rage II (MD/GG/SMS - Sega)

Sega's answer to Final Fight, it packed in more levels, better graphics, a stomping soundtrack, and digitized speech. Better than the original, and infinitely better than the cack handed 3rd outing (that got so chopped up storywise, it was indecipherable!).

6 - Escape from the Planet of the Robot Monsters (Various - Atari/Tengen)

With it's 50's B-movie setting, you control either Jake or Duke, and have to blast your way across Planet X, in order to rescue scientists and stop an impending invasion. A good sci-fi romp for anyone who likes blasting robot monsters.

5 - Football Champ (Arcade - Taito)

Pure arcade action, as you play for the cup. But, whats wrong with taking the other team down with a few dirty tackles or knees to the face, and even punching the ref in the back of the head?  The game that inspired Red Card, it's a game that'll bring out your inner Vinny Jones.

4 - Turrican (Amiga - Rainbow Arts)

What can't be said about Turrican that hasn't been said already? A work of art that still gives a staggering challenge, a platform shooter that to this day still hasn't been bettered, and probably won't be.

3 - The Simpsons Arcade (ARC - Konami)

Pick your Simpsons character, and race to save Maggie from Mr. Burns and Mr. Smithers, who have stolen a diamond that Maggie picked up. It has the Simpsons charm, humour and the voices of the actual cast. A top arcade license.

2 - Braid (XBLA - Number None, Inc)

A platformer with a twist: you control time which helps to solve various puzzles to collect puzzle pieces, and save the princess. With beautiful music, gorgeous painted, living backgrounds and responsive controls, Braid is one huge game that will keep you enthralled for a long time, up until the twist ending.

We've been through 99 of the best games of all time. Some choices might seem controversial, but even with the worst looking game, a gem in gameplay hides beneath. So, without further ado, here it is: the Holy Grail. The Ark of the Covenant. The Sankara Stones. The best game ever. It is....

1 - Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe (Various - Bitmap Brothers)

Inspired by the 1970's movie Rollerball, take control of a struggling team of misfits, and lead them to glory in the most violent spectator sport known to man: Speedball. Converted to most of the home formats of the time, the game is known for it's immersive gameplay, the music, and the shouts of Ice Cream, Ice Cream!! Play it alone against the computer, and take on the various teams, all with increasing difficulty, while managing your team and trading in and out players, or take on a friend, and smash his team to oblivion. It was THE reason to own an A500.
Bitmap Brothers, we thank you.

Right, that's it, now bugger off!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Top 100 games of all time: part 9

20 places left, who will fill them? Will they be games you love? Games you hate? Will you even care? Meh, lets carry on regardless.

20 - Carmageddon (PC - SCi)

The original Death Race, pull off Cunning Stunts, do Nice Shots, Sir, make Piledriver Bonuses and find that Electrobastard Ray as you squash, ram, shunt, and push rival racers over cliffs and run pedestrians into the ground, all in the name of points. Petrol-fueled fun.

19 - Fallout 3 (PC/PS3/360 - Bethesda)

Post Apocalyptic action ahoy as you play a vault dweller who searches for his Pa in the wastelands of a barren wasteland of Washington D.C. Level up, face off against mutants, find stuff and save the world. A game you can literally sink hours into.

18 - Alcatraz (Amiga/ST/PC - Infogrames)

I personally champion this game, as I feel it's often overlooked. Amazing to look at, and to play, it mixes side scrolling action, with first person interior levels. An amazing experience.

17 - Lemmings (Various - Psygnosis)

Make 'em dig, make 'em build, make 'em block, make 'em pop! Guide the suicidal rodents to their home in 100 levels of puzzle goodness. Plus, it has tunes you can tap your feet to.

16 - Tenchu Stealth Assassins (PSX - Activision)

Be a ninja, and take down your enemies quickly and quietly in this 3D action adventure. Good looking, and although it's a hard game to master, the rewards are worth it.

15 - Layer Section (SAT - Taito)

More vertical scrolling action, this time fending off an invasion of Earth. Lock on to your enemies, and unleash a barrage of laser fire at them. One of the best imports for Sega's 32-bit powerhouse.

14 - Shenmue (DC - Sega)

Years in the making, it started off as a game for the Saturn, but development moved to Sega's new baby, and the extra power really shows. It's an absolutely beautiful game. Add to that an Arcade that has arcade perfect versions of Space Harrier and Hang On in it, and you've a game that'll last you ages.

13 - Grand Theft Auto Vice City (PC/PS2 - Rockstar)

The 80's. The quintessential decade. Big shoulder pads, synth-pop and classic telly. All lovingly recreated here, with a cohesive story, and excellent voice acting, GTA: VC is the ultimate GTA game.

12 - GoldenEye 007 (N64 - Rare)

The FPS that changed everything. Lots of missions, loads to unlock, the multiplayer that changed the way we play together and a stomping soundtrack, GoldenEye is the ultimate Bond game, that still plays well even today.

11 - Silent Hill 2 (PS2/PC - Konami)

A contender to Resident Evil's crown, it ups the tension, has buckets of atmosphere, and will give you more trouser brownage than a dose of the runs. The ultimate in survival horror.

We're one step away from that top spot. But, I might make you wait a bit longer to find out what the top game of all time will be (it's such a secret, not even I know what it is).

Top 100 games of all time: part 8

The Top 100: A young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of the innocent, the helpless, in a world of games who have no imagination. 30 to 21.

30 - Syndicate (Various - Bullfrog)

Take control of a huge mega corporation, and send out 4 top agents to do various mission, like assassinate, capture, 'persuade', and extract, all in gorgeous isometric-vision. Mega violence abound in this cult classic.

29 - Uncharted (PS3 - Naughty Dog)

Playing as a sort of Indiana Jones/Tomb Raider rip off, it is actually a bloody good game, with lots to see and hidden treasures to find, whilst stopping a generic bad guy from making off with the loot, and solving various puzzles. Top draw stuff.

28 - Burai Fighter (NES - Taxan)

8 way shooting ahoy, as you float through 8 bases of Burai and decimate anything in your path. A good rip off of Capcom's Forgotten Worlds, which is actually a tough cookie to beat.

27 - Auf Wiedersehen Monty (Various - Gremlin Graphics)

Monty's final outing on the 8-bit home computers, sees our Moley one collecting money around Europe, so he can buy his own little Greek island called Montos. It also contains many references to various characters, like the Swedish Chef from the Muppets, the radio station Radio Luxembourg and two room called Bjorn and Borg.

26 - Outlaws (PC - Lucasarts)

A first person western game, you play an ex-sherriff, who has to rescue his kidnapped daughter, and avenge his wife's murder. Running on a modified Dark Forces engine, it's a tense affair, with shoot outs in towns, a coal mine, a ranch, a moving train and a set of caves. Recommended for shooter fans and western fans also.

25 - Star Trek 25th Anniversary (PC/Amiga - Interplay)

It's worse than that, he's dead, Jim! One of the best Star Trek games around, the point 'n' click genre was made for it's sci-fi setting. Solve puzzles, shoot pesky Klingons, have a space battle or two, and be home in time for tea and crumpets. Plus, the CD version has the cast of the original series lend their voices. Which is nice.

24 - Steel Harbinger (PSX - Mindscape)

An early PSX release, it's also rather good. Some times the clunky controls do hamper progress a bit, but get past that, and you can still have some fun, shooting evil aliens, saving people, and eating body parts for health (that's right. Body parts for health. Hey! I didn't think it up!)

23 - Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem (Gamecube - Silicon Knights)

A rather creepy 3rd person adventure, it utilizes a unique system where, the more health you lose, the more your grip on reality slips. There's even a bit where your telly's volume goes wonky. An experience you won't forget.

22 - OutRun (Various - Sega)

Three words: Magical. Sound. Shower.

21 - Ikari Warriors (Various - SNK/Elite)

A vertical scrolling blast-em-up, Ikari Warriors doesn't skimp on the references to the popular action movies of the decade, like Rambo (being the major one), and others. Blow up shacks, shoot people, blow up tanks. Just another day in the office.

Can you smell it? The top 10 is just around the corner. Will you be ready for it? (I won't, and I'm writing the thing.)

Monday, 7 May 2012

Top 100 games of all time: part 7

Hunted by gamers, they survive as soldiers of fortune, being used in your home consoles and computer. If  can find them, maybe you could play:
The Top 100 40 to 31.

40 - Robocop (Various - Data East/Ocean)

The movie was great. The game was hard as nails. That didn't stop it from being in the charts for what seemed like 100 years. Just one of the best uses for a movie license, and it was addictive, if stupidly hard. Still, it sold well, it played well, so it deserves it's position in this list.

39 - The Empire Strikes Back (ARC/Various - Atari/Domark)

Released as a conversion kit for the original Star Wars cabinet, it featured the Battle of Hoth (spread over two battles), and the Millenium Falcon being chased through the Asteroid field. It might be short, but the ever increasing difficulty upon its completion means it be played for a while, but it will get repetitive. Still, it's enjoyable while it lasts.

38 - Bill & Ted's Excellent GameBoy Adventure (GB - Beam Software)

Playing much like A&F's Chuckie Egg, you have to collect orbs that have been scattered around the levels and enter the portal to the next. Highly addictive, and boasting some great graphics, it's a must play for Bill & Ted and puzzle fans everywhere.

37 - Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose (SNES - Konami)

Based on the cartoon of the same name, it's a very competent little game, with various mini games between levels, and the levels themselves take on themes of movies (like Westerns and Sci-Fi).

36 - The Simpsons: Bart Vs. The Space Mutants (Various - Acclaim)

The first Simpsons video game is also the best, with you playing as Bart, and trying to stop an alien invasion. Small, but excellent graphics, and a rather jaunty little rendition of the theme song all add up to a cracking game. Also, the intro sequence on the A500 version is something to behold.

35 - Command & Conquer (PC/PSX/N64/SAT - Westwood)

Build bases, command troops, obliterate the enemy. The perfect RTS series, whatever platform you play it on. A game you can lose hours in.

34 - Sonic Adventure (Dreamcast - Sega)

Mixing 3rd person platform elements with exploration, Sonic Adventure was THE reason to own a DC. It kept you hooked until the end, and would be the last, great Sonic game, until Generations last year. A true gem, and infinitely better than the follow up.

33 - Rambo First Blood Part II (Spec/Ams/C64 - Ocean)

Find your weapons, kill loads of enemy troops, enter the compound, and free the POWs. It's a shame I could never get it to work on the later +2A model Speccy. Still, there's the remake, which is very faithful. Play it. Play it now!

32 - Thunderblade (ARC - Sega)

Similar to Afterburner, you control an Apache helicopter, blowing the crap out of anything and everything you come across. Just make sure to find a hydrolic cabinet version, as it rocks all over the shop like a drunk on a dance floor, and its quite brilliant!

31 - Axelay (SNES - Konami)

First, its a vertical scroller. Then, it flips it on it's head, and turns into a side scroller. Some neat graphical effects, tight controls, and awesome music combine to make this a great shooter.

30 to 21 after the break, and we're getting closer to that elusive top spot, with the pimple just below.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Top 100 games of all time: part 6

If it loads, we can play it. Join me once more, as we count down from 50 to 41 in this top 100.

50 - Moonshine Racers (A500 - Millenium/Peak Star)

Coming across as a bit like Cannonball Run and Smokey & The Bandit, Moonshine Racers see you trying to deliver illegal hooch to old man Tucker, whilst trying to avoid the local rozzers. Trouble is, so's  load of other people, doing the exact same thing! Can you make it first? It's a good racer, with some good graphics, and the choice of music over sound is a godsend. The sound grates after a while, but a good solid racer. Try it.

49 - Anno 1503 (PCCD - Max Design)

Set sail to new islands, colonize them, and do trade, or go to war, with your neighbors. A game with so many layers, it's  nice, well rounded game. What I'd call a nice little stress reliever, as you can take your time over everything.

48 - Carmageddon II (PCCD - SCi)

More pedestrian-splattering shenanigans in this full 3d sequel to the awesome original. More cars, more power-ups, between race missions, and flying limbs, it's a good follow up, but the time limits on the missions can be unfair at times, but the races are still as fun as ever.

47 - Aliens UK (Various - Electric Dreams)

A sort of first person shooter (you control a cursor), you have to make it to the alien queens lair, kick seven bells out of her, find Newt, and make it back. A tough game to beat, and there's also the chance you can get lost. But, it's still worth experiencing.

46 - Resident Evil 2 (Various - Capcom)

The second entry for the zombie series is also a second entry in this top 100, mainly because it took everything about the original, and cracked it up to 11. Tyrants, lickers, more zombies, a much bigger playing area and multiple endings means this is one game you won't finish in a hurry.

45 - Zero Wing (MD/ARC - Toaplan)

It's getting a special mention just because of THAT ballsed up translation. Mind you, it is also a spiffing little game in it's own right.

44 - Bally II (A500 - Ultimate Computer Arts)

A Qix clone in the best sense, it's actually very addictive, even though it has very simple graphics, simple gameplay, and loads of charm.

43 - The Secret of Monkey Island (Various - Lucasarts)

Buckets of humor, insult sword fighting, good graphics, logical puzzles, and the ability to use a giant cotton bud on the ear of a giant monkey statue. One of the best point 'n' click adventures ever made. Whats more to say on the matter?

42 - Zool (Various - Gremlin Graphics)

A platformer that rivals Sonic's speed, Zool meshed together a load of good ideas, and wrapped it up in a blood fast, and good, platform game.

41 - James Pond: Robocod (Various - Millenium)

Cross a fish, with James Bond, then cross it with Robocop (minus the gun and helmet, and add the ability to stretch to great heights), and you've got Robocod. Your mission is to save Santa, and a truck load of penguins, at Santa's Workshop at the North Pole, after it fell into the hands of Dr. Maybe. Highly recommended.

Up next: getting closer to the top ten, with number 40 to 31. Can Batman evade the Joker? Will Bond escape? (I don't have the foggiest, and I've no idea what it's got to do with this at all!!!)