Gaming History 101

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Psychic World Review

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pw_smspw_ggPlatform: Game Gear (there is a European Master System version) – For the hardcore, the Japanese MSX version is worth looking up.
Released: 1991 (worldwide)
Developer: Hertz
Publisher: Sega
Digital Release? No
Price: $3.75 (cart only), $15.00 (complete), and $15.00 (new/sealed) per Price Charting

Psychic World is one of those old Sega games that just seemed to get lost in time. Originally called Psycho World, in Japan on the MSX computer, the game was brought over to Europe in 1991 and renamed the more suitable Psychic World. The game was released on the Master System and Game Gear, for this review well be delving into the Game Gear version (which did come out in the US). This was probably one of the first Game Gear games I ever played next to the original Wonder Boy.

Psychic World is set in the year 19XX. which no matter how you write that on paper now sounds like it’s in the past, even though the setting of this game feels far into the future. I guess the game developers thought we would enjoy the 20th century so much we wouldn’t want to leave it so they started sticking Roman Numerals at the end.

pw_3So, a very small research team consisting of Dr. Knavik, Cecile and Lucia (who you play as) are carrying out work on ESP which stands for Extra Sensory Perception. Well wouldn’t you know disaster strikes and the lab explodes and some of the test subjects which just happen to be monsters take Ceclie and run off. I guess that’s one way to strike at work. Lucia takes a ESP Booster a special tool that enables the user to use psychic powers and heads out to save her sister. I have to say for a old game it was a breathe of fresh air to play as a female protagonist, instead of some muscle bound dude, that’s one point to Japan right there. The story is very simple and you really don’t see much of it apart from the introduction of the game and the final boss conflict but it works and is presented in very nice panels.

The game plays a straight forward platformer with many power ups at your disposal. Your main weapon is a sort of shooter that fires off waves to take down the baddies. To begin with this weapon is really weak. As you progress through the game you can upgrade the weapon by collecting power ups dropped by fallen enemies or just lying around the level. Upgrading increases the damage and draw distance of the shot. It’s also pretty cool to see the progression of your upgrades as you progress from the beginning to the end of the game. You can also find new weapons like the fire shot, sonic shot and freeze shot which can also be upgraded. All the weapons in the game have unlimited usage and each weapon is better suited to specific enemies or environments. For example, the freeze shot can create new platforms in the ice level.

You can also find and use a wide variety of psychic powers. These drain your green ESP bar and the power ups can also be upgraded improving the effect and length of time they act for. Power ups include levitation which allows you to jump higher for a short period and explosion which damages everything on screen. The power up you’ll be using all the time however, is restoration which practically makes you invulnerable for a short period of time. Though this is a very useful power up it makes the game a little too easy because it hardly drains your ESP bar and you can easily refill the bar by item drops from enemies. It’s almost possible to do the entire level with this power up. Basically if you want to have a more challenging game you need to resist the urge to use this power up.

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You have a health bar in the game which drains as you touch enemies, get shot or fall in a pit. There is no period of invulnerability so you continuously drain health until you escape the hazard. This can potentially lead to some quick deaths. There are plenty of health pick ups throughout each level should you need to replenish your health though. And lets not forget the ever helpful restoration powerup.

There are four levels each has a unique feel to it and contains a mid level and end of level boss. Though the levels are fairly decent sizes the game is still very short, you can easily finish it in under a hour. The game still feels suited to the platform and after all this is a handheld game with no saves or passwords. . The final boss is worth mentioning because even to this day this conflict makes no sense. I won’t spoil what happens but lets just say the game surprises you by removing all your weapons and power ups and changes the game into something else entirely. So much so you probably won’t know what to do and it’s pot luck if you succeed or not. Of course there is always the internet, but back in the nineties this was a pain to have placed right at the end of the game.

pw_2Graphics for the Game Gear are quite colourful and stand out on the small Game Gear screen. You will travel through a variety of environments like a forest, a volcano, an ice cavern, and a metal base. Character sprites stand out too and there is a wide variety of enemy types. The boss characters in particular look surprisingly good on the small Game Gear screen.

Music is also quite the delight in this game. The PSG (Programmable Sound Generators) chip does a good job at presenting some catchy tunes, providing it still works in your old Game Gear. The first level and the boss battles probably have the most memorable music. Though each level has its own charm. The victory music when you complete a level is also very memorable.

Psychic World is a game that really fits into the hidden gem category. Even today I love this game, it’s great fun to pick up and go back to. The game is not very long but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t warrant another playthrough. Many reviewers rate this game as average and generic but while the restoration power up can be over used to make the game a lot easier, its one of those games that you can set your own challenges. Even if you do spam the restoration power up it’s still a blast to play. This game goes for very little online even today so if you love that Game Gear and have not checked out this game I highly recommend giving it a go.

Final Score: 4 out of 5 (review guidelines)

Written by jamalais

January 29, 2015 at 11:58 am

Posted in Game Gear, Reviews

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Podcast: Who Hasn’t Pirated? Come On

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online-piracy

This week Fred and Jam are tackling the tricky subject of video game piracy.  It’s older than you would guess.  In fact, ever since there were video games it appears there were ways to pirate them.  They discuss the history behind piracy, ethical and practical considerations, and all of the best piracy and anti-piracy methods used.


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Written by Fred Rojas

January 28, 2015 at 11:00 am

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Retro Game Challenge: Shinobi (PS2), Part 2

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More than a year ago, Fred  featured the Playstation 2 game Shinobi on Retro Game Night.  I was told that this is a brutally hard title that will test my skills.  He put it to the back burner, but after recent feedback we’re returning to these games to take up the challenge.  In his own words, here’s Fred’s reflection:

I remember playing it at first and didn’t understand what the big deal was.  Shinobi’s battle mechanics are pretty basic, not even coming close to the skills required of games like Ninja Gaiden on the original Xbox.  While the two games may be compared based on premise, time of release, and challenge, they couldn’t be more different.  Shinobi is not hard at the beginning, it’s barely a challenge, while I know plenty who haven’t completed the first level (and specifically boss) of Ninja Gaiden.  All of that changed with part 2 of this Retro Game Challenge.  Shinobi ramps up fast and despite beating the level at the end, it made my blood boil and wasn’t worth the effort I put in.  My conquest felt cheap, possibly even cheating.  I’m not done with this title, but my skepticism on it’s fairness and ability to provide a proper challenge that I enjoy in gaming, is raised.  I guess we’ll see.  In the meantime, enjoy a video that starts very positive and ends with a nearly embarrassing response from me.  As you may have already guessed beware of crass adult language near the end.

Written by Fred Rojas

January 27, 2015 at 11:00 am

Posted in PS2, Retro Game Challenge, Videos

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Mini Podcast: The Pages of Myst

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myst_post

For this special episode Fred flies solo to discuss Myst, it’s concept, and it’s rightful place as one of the “killer apps” for the CD-ROM format.  Logic puzzles not included.


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Written by Fred Rojas

January 23, 2015 at 11:37 pm

Posted in PC/Mac, podcast

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A tribute to 100!

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Authors notes

I wrote a article for GH101 to celebrate the 100th episode last year. However, I decided not to post it because I felt it didn’t really fit in with the site.  After receiving a very touching e mail from a fan of GH101 I’ve changed my mind. It’s important to stand by your passions and I love writing, talking rubbish and being part of GH101 and this article is very much a tribute to that. Of course this is written in the past tense so take the content for what it is. Thank you.

Original article

On the 22nd of July Gaming History 101 is going to hit the milestone of 100 episodes which is a fantastic achievement. I thought I would share some of my memories listening to the podcast as well as becoming a co–presenter (co-host).

The route to G101

ffviiA couple of years ago I had taking up a job in Cambridge (a well known town in England) and commuted everyday from the outskirts of London. I was probably travelling around four hours a day either by foot, bike or train. Of course I was very much into gaming on the handheld, this was the perfect opportunity to play RPGs like Final Fantasy 7 on the PSP. But I often returned to my personal favourites, the Resident Evil games to see if I could complete them in a single day. I also read books, caught up on work on my Netbook, but I needed something else to fill this incredibly long void.

I was a big fan of YouTube and one evening I was watching a random video from YouTuber “PeteDorr,” who announced he was doing a podcast with some other members of the community called “AllGenGamers” and that it could be heard on itunes. I downloaded it to my ipod and its safe to say I became pretty hooked on gaming podcasts from then on. Since I traveled so far I listened to several podcasts including IGN UK and US, Giant Bomb, and Joystiq. I would also throw in non gaming podcasts as well like Hamish and Andy and Radio 4 film podcast.

Through “AllGenGamers” I heard another YouTuber called “Jumble Junkie” who announced he had his own podcast called Operation Kill Screen which I listened to since I quite enjoyed listening to the gamer’s opinions on news stories and games. You would be surprised how different they were from the mainstream website podcasts. It wasn’t long until I heard a plug for a little known podcast called Video Game Outsiders (VGO), and that is how I came to know allgames.com since VGO was on so late in the UK I could never listen live. So I continued on itunes and with my long commute.

Soon after that I heard a guy called Chip Cella aka “Captain Chaos” who had his own podcast called the B–Team. So I listened to this show also on allgames.com and I heard some funny fella with a interesting surname called Fred Rojas, with his enthusiastic golden voice made for radio, he mentioned he had his own show called Gaming History 101. I jumped on this show as from my experience there was no other podcast that really covered old games in a interesting way.

Obscure_coverThe first episode of Gaming History 101 I ever listened to was Obscure survival horror games. In this show Fred was a solo presenter and discussed some not so well know survival horror games like Obscure on the Original Xbox, Enemy Zero on the Saturn, and Overblood on PSone [I also covered Rule of Rose on the PS2 – Fred]. This show was right up my alley as survival horror is one of my favourite genres in gaming. I’m so sad I still have this podcast on my ipod as well as several episodes of GH101 which I listen to when I’m bored or going on a crazy long journey.

It’s also worth mentioning GH101 also introduced me to yet more great podcasts like 42 Level One, EZ Mode Unlocked, and recently Horseplay Live! and Pixelated Pints (Fred’s third podcast).

When Being a Fanboy Wasn’t Enough

Eventually it got to the point where I started writing in to Fred’s show on GH101. I wrote messages through his website most of the time it was to nit pick. After all that’s what we do as retro gamers, we correct people when they make mistakes. One of my favourite nit pick episodes by far was for Silent Hill 2. Fred did a solo game club on the show which received a lot of listener comments. I was going to jump on the band wagon but I think its fair to say poor Fred had well and truly learned that Silent Hill fans are hard people to please. Instead I had to praise the guy after all most of his shows are solo and it is hard to carry out a podcast by yourself and still make it sound interesting. I know this from experience as I presented my own radio show at University.

Eventually I wrote into Fred with some show requests specifically Silent Hill and Resident Evil. To my surprise Fred just flat out invited me on the show. My first appearance on the show was Silent Evil. It was Fred, myself, and guest Allen Epstein, a very nice guy with extensive knowledge on the Resident Evil and Silent Hill games. We initially meant to cover most of each games from the series but instead we ended up only covering the first game in each series and a little on the second game. Since this podcast we have done a follow up episode but we are still quite far from discussing all the games in both series.

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At this stage I was now living somewhere new and had a new job so no more ridiculously long journeys. So I was able to listen to the show live and actually join in the live chat on all games. I had also decided to start writing articles on gaming which I was doing for a website retrocollect.com, a website that is very useful for retro game news.

Time passed I made occasional guest appearances on the show still and made comments in the live chat. Eventually, I guess Fred got fed up with my nit picking and decided why not bring this annoying English person on the show all the time. And I’ve been a co-host ever since.

Best Parts

taito_postSome of my favourite podcasts that I have been on so far include the Taito episode as I share a lot of nostalgia for this company. The majority of the games I played when messing around on my parents Amstrad CPC were Taito games including New Zealand Story and a game that would later become my favourite game of all time Rainbow Islands. The Guardian Heroes game club was memorable because I had been waiting on this episode for ages and Fred originally cancelled it, I remember putting in all the preparation for the podcast only to hear Fred say he was no longer doing game club episodes. Fortunately, that didn’t stick and they returned. Game Club episodes to me are great because they usually encourage me to play games I would generally overlook. Of course one of my favourite episodes is Silent Evil because it was my first, you never forget your first.

Some of my favourite episodes I have not been on include the Sonic podcasts with Ali and Andy from 42 Level One mostly because it was fun hearing the two Scots defend the blue hedgehog on a two-part episode. The Metal Gear podcast with TreesLounge which to this day is the most downloaded episode of the show of all time. One of my favourite game club episodes by far was Blue Stinger on Dreamcast. This show also featured TreesLounge and was one of the the most bizarre games I had played to this point on a Game Club and would probably have never touched it had it not been for the podcast. You will never again come across a survival horror game set during Christmas (with Christmas music as well) in place called Dinosaur Island and has no Dinosaurs in it. It’s fantastic.

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Before I finish I wanted to say thanks to all out listeners especially for allowing me to be a co-host, it really is a dream come true for me. I have been out of the radio gig for quite a long time and its been great to come back to it. It’s been amazing meeting so many nice people from other podcasts and of course interacting with the fans.

Finally I just want to say thank you Mr Fred Rojas for Gaming History 101.

Lets raise a glass, take a shot, whatever your into and here’s to another 100 episodes.

Written by jamalais

January 22, 2015 at 12:48 pm

Posted in Blog

Podcast: Big Boss Man Part 2

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bigboss2_post

Listener @Fortengard joins us to continue our earlier discussion on the art of the boss battle.  With tons of community news, e-mails (thanks guys), and news articles, we don’t get there until about halfway through but then we get down to the concept of the doppelganger, the “dark” version, and attacking oneself.  We then tackle roundtable discussion about our significant boss battles.


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Written by Fred Rojas

January 21, 2015 at 11:01 am

Posted in Blog

Just Because: Die Hard Arcade (Dynamite Deka) PS2 Complete Playthrough

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Recently Fred played Die Hard Arcade on the Sega Saturn to show off one of the oddest directions licensed franchises have gone in games.  Well the game was known as Dynamite Deka (Dynamite Cop) in Japan, but retained all the Die Hard similarities, and was re-made in arcade perfect form on the PS2 (only in Japan as part of the Sega Ages 2500 series).  When Fred noticed it on the Japanese PSN for the PS3 – and at only ¥400 on sale, ¥823 normally – he had to pick it up and play through it.  Feel free to grab it for yourself if interested, but without further ado we present the complete playthrough of Dynamite Deka.

Written by Fred Rojas

January 20, 2015 at 11:34 am

Talking Ports: Half Life on the PS2

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I’ve always wanted to dedicate an article to Half Life on the Playstation 2 (PS2). However, Half Life is one of those games I genuinely get a bit worried about when reviewing, since so much as mentioning anything negative about this series will cause the entire Valve fan base to storm on you with torches and pitchforks. No where is safe, you are screwed. But since so few people have even played Half Life on the PS2 hopefully, its safe to come out of my Half Life hermit cave and talk about it.

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Now here is where I make my first shocking statement: Half Life on PS2 is the first time I ever played Half Life. One redeeming factor maybe that it did lead me to playing the game on the PC later when I was able to. Anyway, I was in day one for Half Life on console. I’d been anticipating the game since the hyped up Dreamcast port which never official surfaced outside of the homebrew scene (despite being advertised in leaflets that game with games at the time). It seems like a lot of the assets used to make the game on the Dreamcast surfaced on the PS2. Whether your a massive fan of the Dreamcast or not, its hard not to argue this game was much more suited to the PS2 due its its dual analogue sticks. This was the time where First Person Shooters (FPS) were finally getting easier to control on consoles, with thanks to Halo, gamers where just no longer stomaching the single analogue nub system famous on the N64 and Dreamcast.

hl_ps2_1Half Life on PS2 is technically an HD remaster (but just up-scaled, not actual HD graphics). The graphics received a massive overhaul and for the time looked fantastic. Enemies and human character models looked much more polished and some of the guns such as the assault rifle were completely remodelled. The recharge points had little probes for example, the health station had a syringe that would come out and stick your character. Though its very much a cosmetic change it does look pretty cool. The entire campaign was playable and you were able to save anywhere just like the PC version, which was quite uncommon for console games. Everything in the PC version is present on the PS2 even the humorous gore.

I actually played Red Faction on PS2 before Half Life and it was clear to see that a lot of the inspiration for that game came from the Half Life design. I also remember a article in PS2 Official Magazine confirming this from the developers.

hl_scro_gonNow the developers decided to include an interesting idea to make the game a bit more simple on the console. That feature is the dreaded auto lock-on system. I absolutely hated this and still don’t care for its inclusion to this day. This was probably a feature that was originally designed for the Dreamcast and probably made sense with its controller restrictions. Basically, what you do is when an enemy is in the area a simple press of the button will literally force Gordan Freeman to lock onto the enemy with his gun cursor pointing in more or less the correct area. It felt very similar to the lock-on feature [this is known by many as “Z-targeting” – Ed.] in Legend of Zelda Orcarina of Time (you know, just without the fairy shouting at you). Now you would think this feature would make the game a lot easier, but for a lot of the enemies, especially the boss characters like the scrotum monster on Xen (you know the one I’m talking about) the feature doesn’t lock-on properly and causes practically no damage. Its inclusion feels pointless especially when the dual analogue controls seem to work absolutely fine. Of course many would argue the controls can’t possibly compete with mouse and keyboard, but for a console port this was a fine effort.

hl_alienThe original Dreamcast version was going to feature the additional campaign, which later became Blue Shift, and was eventually released separately for PC. On the PS2 the developers included a co-op campaign that can be played in split screen, even if your playing alone. It’s a fantastic inclusion to the package. When you do play the game alone it’s a bit awkward because you have to control both of the female characters separately. A press of the button will switch back and forth between the characters if you are in the area alone your partner will defend themselves but will not move, they will just stand there like a loon till you move them yourself. This makes playing it solo feel very slow as you are literally travelling through the level twice. Unlike the main Gordon Freeman campaign, which is a continuous campaign with no level breaks, the co-op campaign is split up into individual levels you select from a menu. There is more backstory to the Half Life universe that even ties into the story of Blue Shift. So if you are a die hard Half Life fan and want to experience every campaign possible you will need to dust off your PS2 and get this game to experience the co-op campaign as it was exclusive on PS2. Not sure whether its worth all that effort though, since the co-op is very short. You do receive a fantastic bonus co-op mission where you get to play the aliens in the game; it’s brutally hard but its a nice touch.

hl_decaySo is Half Life on PS2 worth picking up? Well these days probably not so much especially since Half Life got another HD remaster in the form of Black Mesa on PC [as of this writing, Xen, the least popular portion – but also the ending – of Half Life is not included in Black Mesa although the development team reassured in early 2014 that it is coming and will be improved from the original – ed]. Die hard PC gamers will most likely laugh at this games existence despite the improvements the developers made to the graphics. The reason you may want to consider the title is if you already own a PS2 because this game is crazy cheap. Back in the day I paid full price for the game and I didn’t feel cheated. I later sold my entire PS2 collection but when I started collecting again I found Half Life on PS2 for a single British pound, and that’s still the going rate for this game. To this day I have an interest in PC ports to console even if they are most likely worse. It’s fascinating to see what developers do to a game to make it work on restricted hardware. Another fascinating example like this is Half Life 2 on the original Xbox and I may cover that in a later article.

Written by jamalais

January 19, 2015 at 11:00 am

Posted in Blog, PS2

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Resident Evil HD Remaster Review

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remake_logo

Fred’s Take

After long last it appears that Resident Evil, specifically the Gamecube remake from 2002, is making a widespread appearance on modern consoles complete with increased resolution, performance, and controls.  This is significant because the number of people who owned a Gamecube was relatively small and the Wii port had such a limited print run it was a bit difficult to find.  Not only that, but at 12 years old, the game itself has plenty of dated setbacks that most gamers I talk to refuse to put up with.  Thankfully this new version is digital only (no need to hunt down copies), adapted for today, and relatively inexpensive ($19.99 on all platforms).  With all the tweaks made to this game it is so close to being worth the money I can’t see any fan of horror games or the original series not wanting to pick up this new version.  Besides, it’s January, what else is coming out?

If you played the original to death – and pretty much anyone who owned the game back in 1996 did as we waited two whole years for the sequel – it’s a pretty rudimentary journey at this point.  You know where everything is, you probably know most of the tricks, you don’t need to save often, and your completion time will be somewhere in the 3-6 hour mark.  On the other hand, the limited release of this game and the cumbersome systems it can be found on means that you probably aren’t that familiar with it.  This is no graphical coat of paint over the original design, it’s a brand new experience.  The mansion’s layout has been changed, most of the puzzles are different, there are new enemies, and everything is scattered in completely different places.  That doesn’t mean that experts of the original can’t jump in and easily conquer this title from start to finish, but it’s going to take you some time.  Even more impressive is the fact that despite me completing the original at least once a year since it released, this version was able to get some tense and great jump scare moments out of me along the way.  It’s a new Resident Evil and it’s worth replaying.

Suppose you already picked up and played the Gamecube original (or the more rare Wii version), then there may be a bit less that this version has to offer.  Instead of 480p/widescreen (widescreen was only in the Wii version), you do have the benefit of 720p/1080p depending on the version you pick up.  Like many of Capcom’s Resident Evil HD versions before it, this version varies in the benefits of the new resolution from looking incredibly crisp and on par with today’s games and looking like a blurry stretched mess of an upscale.  Lighting is probably the most obvious and appreciated upgrade, Resident Evil is a better game with dynamic lighting and shadows.  Capcom was picky in what it remade and didn’t for this version and the inconsistency shows no matter how well versed you are at visuals.  That said, it’s still as gorgeous a game as it ever was and I didn’t see much of an issue – it looks much better than any other version I’ve ever played.  When you start to break down the differences between the 720p and 1080p versions, however, that’s where the lines begin to blur much more.  In short, just get the version that helps you sleep at night.  Having touched the fully upgraded PC version and compared it to the 720p PS3 version, I see little or no reason to own both, they are essentially the same game, even visually.  There is also a control option that plays a bit more like today’s shooters, but as I attempted a play with them I found myself hiding back into the hole of the classic tank controls.  This may not be the case for you, but to me it appears that Resident Evil is truly only Resident Evil with those tank style controls.  It makes sense, once we had a first person perspective mode Metal Gear Solid just didn’t seem right in The Twin Snakes, am I right?

This game is hard.  Not impossible and I’m not going to compare it in any way to a certain set of games by From Software, but if you are careless about your surroundings and enemies it will cost you.  This often comes in the form of dying after you had gone on a 30-60 minute run and had to re-start a portion all over.  Not only that, but with the new items and locations throughout this game it can be harder to figure out what you’re looking for or what to do next to progress without consulting a guide – which I admit I had to do twice during the campaign and it made me roll my eyes both times I saw the solution.  Pixel hunting and finding that item on the shelf isn’t so bad with the original because I know exactly where everything is and what to do, but that’s not the case with this one and you may be searching for like an hour to find a power cell that’s tucked away in a corner somewhere.  All of these items result in a much longer play of the game.  It appears Jam beat it in 7 hours whereas I was more around the 11 hour mark – although to be fair I only died 2 or 3 times because I was constantly backtracking and saving like a scaredy-cat.  So play however works best for you.  I also noticed that with the difficulty ramp of the Jill campaign, which is the easier of the two and my personal recommendation for you to start with, I am very eager to jump right back in and tackle the Chris campaign.  That’s not normal for me with Resident Evil on the PS1.

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In the end this is a way to bring those exclusive Nintendo titles over to mainstream consoles and share them with the masses.  I’m not sure how popular this version will be, but Capcom has made it as cheap and easy to find as it can within reason – those Wii U complainers will probably be reminded that the Wii version works on their console.  If you’ve never played this version or wish to revisit it after all these years, the price and availability makes one of my favorite games of all time come back to life.  Thank you Capcom.

Final Score: 5 out of 5 (review policy and guidelines)

If you wish to see this game in action, feel free to check out our quick look.

Jam’s Take

Once again you have stepped into the world of survival horror, good luck.

remake_jamAs you may be aware I have been a Resident Evil fan from day one. Originally I rented the Playstation original from Blockbuster, I genuinely found the experience to be quite scary and difficult. Yes, the graphics on that version haven’t exactly aged well but the game itself still holds up as a solid but difficult survival horror game. I think I warmed more to Resident Evil 2 in the earlier days because it was a lot easier. Over time though I began to appreciate Resident Evil a lot more.

Resident Evil then received a very impressive remake on the Gamecube. This for some of us was the reason we purchased a GameCube. I remember playing this game late into the night and actually falling off my chair at some of the jump scares. Since Nintendo had a deal with Capcom at the time this version of Resident Evil would remain an exclusive title to Nintendo consoles. But of course time passes and Capcom needs money especially with increased financial pressure on the company. It was no surprise that we would eventually see Resident Evil finally get a release on other consoles including the PC.

remake_4Last year a new remastered version has been released and being the Resident Evil fanboy that I am, I was’nt whiling to wait a month for the digital only release in my own territory. So I imported  a physical copy for PS3 all the way from Hong Kong. Though this version is Biohazard, (the original Japanese title of the game). This review very much represents the digital releases.

Even though I have played the Resident Evil Remake multiple times on the Gamecube and even the Wii version it still felt utterly fantastic booting this game up again and playing through. The opening cutscene remains untouched in terms of graphical quality, but, once you head into that familiar Spencer mansion I was surprised how good the graphics looked compared to the Gamecube version.  The game runs at 30fps on the last gen consoles and looks fantastic. Character models look great and the pre rendered backgrounds look even more detailed than before, it feels like there is less of a fog on the screen. Then again I am now playing the game on a flat screen TV whereas before I was still using a CRT. I found myself just wandering around appreciating the environments as a Zombie was lowly slumping toward me.

remake_1The entire Resident Evil remake campaign remains unchanged. The developers have now offered a easy mode which is available right from the beginning of the game (before I think it was only available when you died multiple times on standard difficulty). The biggest inclusion to the package is the altered controls. Don’t panic if you want to play the game in its original vanilla form with the tank controls you can still do that. To appeal to a new audience the developers have offered an alternative control scheme. Unlike before where you would have to hold down a button to run  pushing on the left analogue stick will make Jill or Chris run in whatever direction you want. These controls really simplify the experience but it kinda takes the tension away. I personally avoided this because I am so used to the original controls, it just felt right that way.

Since the Gamecube lacked online support the HD Remaster has included online leader boards so you can see how ridiculously fast other people have finished the game. You can also compare your scores to your friends. Of course with this being on next gen systems the game also has trophy/achievements included.

remake_5Resident Evil is a survival horror game. Health items and ammo are limited and it’s greatly discouraged to kill every enemy. You have limited inventory space to carry items, so you have to choose your equipment wisely. You get to chose one of two characters Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield. You are members of S.T.A.R.S (Special Tactics And Rescue Squad) hired to investigate some suspicious murders in the mountains. Of course you end up finding a mansion where hell breaks loose and your only goal to to escape. If you want an easier game you’ll pick Jill, but it is encouraged to play both campaigns as the stories play out completely different. As you explore the mansion you will come across Zombies as well as other nasty creatures. In between surviving those experiences there are also puzzles to solve some of which by failing could lead to your death. If that wasn’t enough the game throws a fair few boss battles at you. Should you enter a specific room under prepared this may also lead to a cheap death. Dying is a common place in this game the first time through, it’ll probably take you around 7 hours. Once you have memorized the correct pattern and route you will soon find yourself speeding through once you know what to expect. Nothing beats that first time experience though. You can save but it is limited to the amount of ink ribbons you have in your inventory. I came across a problem here with my copy the game took a very long time to save the game. Whether this is a problem with the import copy or my own PS3 console I’m not sure but looking at footage online it didn’t appear others were having this issue.

Unlike the original game on Playstation the remake does make a lot of changes to the game. For starters unless you get lucky and blow the head clean off a zombie the bodies don’t disappear. In fact if you don’t dispose of them properly they return again from the dead as the more threatening Crimson Heads which can kill in just a few hits. As well as that it is not uncommon for Zombies to bust down doors and follow you into other rooms practically forcing you to fight them.

My favourite part about the remake by far is how it surprises those that have even played the Playstation game to death. Certain memorable scenes will not play out the way you remember them. The puzzles in the game have also been re-worked so even though you may remember what you need to do, the solution now plays out completely different.

remake_puzzle

All the audio has been rerecorded for the game in Japanese and English depending on your preference. Since this is the remake there are no infamous ‘Jill Sandwich,’ lines which I kinda miss from the game. The voice acting and script is actually fine in the game. The use of sound in this game is excellent. Your footsteps will change as you run from carpet to marble floor. Lightening will occasionally fire off as you run past windows and on many occasions you’ll feel like you heard something in the dark distance but will just dread investigating further.

Resident Evil HD Remaster is a great horror title. Fans of the series will find reason to buy this again despite it being the same experience on the Gamecube (and Wii). The game still looks incredible and was a joy to playthrough again even though I am very familiar with the experience. Despite the inclusion of a simple control scheme and easier mode this probably still won’t appeal to the mass gamers. If the original Resident Evil games were not your cup of tea this new update will hardly convince you to have another go. If your new to the series and love horror games this however is a must buy.

Final Score: 5 out of 5

Now lets have a moments silence for the S.T.A.R.S members we lost during this game.

Resident Evil HD Remaster will be available tomorrow, January 20, on the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC for $19.99.  This release is digital only.  The 360/PS3 version runs at native 720p 30 frames per second (720p30fps) and the Playstation 4/XB1/PC version runs at native 1080p 60 frames per second (1080p60fps).  Content is identical in both versions.  The reviewers purchased advanced box copies from Asia, where the game released back in November, for this review.  If you’re interested in this version, visit play-asia.com.  This site and review have no ties to the Play-Asia web site.

Written by Fred Rojas

January 19, 2015 at 10:43 am

Mini Podcast: The Story of Tetris

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tetris_atari

Tetris has probably one of the most sordid tales about rights management.  This so-called “first game from behind the iron curtain” was one of the most popular and addicting games of the late 1980s.  Even more interesting is the story about how Nintendo snuck in behind a handful of eager parties who got in at the ground floor and secured sole console rights to one of the most money-producing games of all time.


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Written by Fred Rojas

January 18, 2015 at 8:15 pm

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