Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category
Our main man Jamalais has been busy at work this week with some videos for the GH101 community. The first is an unboxing video of the mystery package he received from the Awesome Games Done Quick (AGDQ) speerunning marathon and yetee.com:
The second is a promo video for the two great games we are featuring for the March Game Club, Alien Trilogy and Die Hard Trilogy:
Check them out!
We have a launched a new campaign that will get the community more involved, push more content, and give away more games. Please give our 1 minute audio a quick listen or click the link under the “Help Keep Gaming History 101 Going” section on the right sidebar. Thanks again from Fred and Jam.
Video games are much longer than they used to be. It makes sense, the technology was originally geared toward coin-op experiences that wanted you to get as addicted as possible to pay as much as possible to keep playing. Arguably that still holds true today with “free to play” or “freemuim” gaming, mostly on mobile devices, but for most home console or PC games there has been a growth in how long you’re playing the game. I think the consensus is that with a longer game you are getting more for your money, which certainly seems to be the sentiment of everyone more concerned with The Order 1886‘s length rather than content. On the other hand I get much more enjoyment out of a five minute game of Donkey Kong or even a fifteen minute run in Rogue Legacy than I can speak for with all 22 hours I’ve spent with the Dragon Age trilogy. Personal taste aside, that last example speaks to the fact that this new dollar:hour ratio is shy of calculating actual value out of a game and thus suggests that longer is not always better.
When I ask people what their favorite games of all time are there are some consistent answers. Super Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog 2, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Ico, Bioshock, God of War: Chains of Olympus, Portal, the list goes on. One thing all of these games have in common is that they are relatively short titles in comparison to all other games on their platform. Super Mario Bros. can be beaten in an hour even if you suck at the game, I’ve proven that. Metal Gear Solid spans two discs and barely six hours and without speed running I can get to the helipad in Resident Evil (PS1) in just around four and half hours. Ico is still considered one of the best PS2 games of all time and one of our most popular game clubs, it’s five hours long. Portal can be beaten faster than it takes to watch Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, and it’s much more fun too. My point is that a good game is a good game, it transcends the concept of how long you play it for by making up for that in memories or the urge to replay it, even if it wasn’t designed to be replayed. No one is going to be able to convince me that just because Silent Hill 2 is much shorter than most other PS2 games that it’s less of a game for it. How many games have an inexcusable amount of padding that begins to wear on you to the point of exhaustion. Ever played Half Life? In hindsight the game is far too long, has way too much padding, and whether it’s length or platforming, the whole Xen area can pretty much be avoided. That’s a concern when a game’s content doesn’t make up for its length.
I’m sure plenty of readers out there saw my list and wondered what happened to Skyrim, Final Fantasy IV and VI, Pokemon, Shenmue, Doom, Resident Evil 4, The Witcher 2, Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect, and a whole slew of other games that are extremely long and more than make up for their length with solid content. Yes, I was trying to prove a point, and yes they were intentionally off that previous list. That’s because they are perfect examples of games that not only offer a massive bang for your buck in terms of length, the content is so rich that you’re enjoying every one of the 30-100+ hours you spend with these games. Each and every one of the games listed above – and the hundreds that aren’t – go to show you, above everything else, that a long game is far from a bad game.
What both paragraphs clearly demonstrate is that length is a poor, if not unimportant, factor in the value of a game. Granted, on this very site we mention how long games take to beat but that’s only so you are prepared for the investment you are making because no game is fun under a crunch or time commitment. With all the hustle and bustle in life, a parent of three who only gets 20 minutes to an hour of gaming in a few days a week is probably better off not jumping into Grand Theft Auto IV on a whim because he’s going to find a lot of wasted time just driving around and going on dates that the meat of the game may never be revealed. Then again, when I was fifteen there was a hell of a lot more value out of Phantasy Star II than Altered Beast. It’s all relative. Given that fact, it’s good to know how long you’re in a game for so as not to allow the length of a game to cloud your judgement of it. I’ve started playing The Witcher 2 and given that I only get in about 5-10 hours of non-GH101 related gaming per week, I realistically plan on spending a few months with that game, but imagine if I had no idea how long it was and spent every night just pushing as hard as I could to see the end. This would harm my love for it. So while I concede that the length of a game does affect what I play, when I play it, and how much I’m willing to spend on it, I don’t think it’s a good judge to the value of the a game.
A good game is a good game and almost never do you discuss the amount of time you have to put into it, or limited amount of time you’re playing it, to convince people of it’s worth. I think this is an important fact to remember when trying to decide, especially prior to release, whether a game is good or not. So the next time someone tells you that a game is “only six hours” or “over 40 hours”, be sure to ask them the more important question, “well is it any good?”
This weekend I sat down and spent some time with Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered and while the responses were mixed, it dawned on me that no one – publishers, developers, gamers – has a clue as to what they want out of a re-release. It sounds funny and foolish at first, but the concept of the re-release has, in recent years, become quite the quandary. As a fan of the past and games of those time periods, I can’t say that I even know what I want and this shines light on the daunting task of trying to make sound business decisions around it. Furthermore, the vocal minority don’t often account for the way sales work out, and often times, are the exact opposite of what actual sales data states. Couple all of this with the stubbornness, and I do mean that term specifically, of gamers who would rather a publisher waste time to bring an Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 game to the Xbox One or Playstation 4 simply because they didn’t hang on to their old system is – in an exaggerated overstatement – a sin. To be clear I’m not even talking about games like The Last of Us Remastered or Halo: The Master Chief Collection, because at least those games were redone and improved upon visually, but rather direct ports of simple games like the arcade port of Double Dragon on XBLA coming to Xbox One. It’s a waste of time and it won’t generate more than a few thousand sales, stop wasting everyone’s time asking for it.
This all stems from an interesting call to action marketing e-mail I received from my Japanese PSN account, asking me to visit this link, log in, and tell Sony what arcade classics I would like to have brought to PS4. Keep in mind that it’s all from Japan’s PSN, which has seen a slew of arcade games ported to PS4 (known as Arcade Archives) from the Hamster Corporation including Rygar, Wonder Boy, Double Dragon, and quite a few more. Now so far the only games of this series to come to the US was Rygar and it has been said that when Gradius releases that we will see it too, but for the most part this is a Japan-only series. The meaning of this poll is twofold for us in the US: it will probably only be for Japan and it is limited to 80s and potentially 90s arcade ports. This is clear from what has already released and from knowing a bit about past deals involving Virtual Console, PSOne PSN releases, Xbox’s Game Room, licensing rights, and various other factors. Of course that doesn’t stop plenty of gamers, including a bunch of English speaking and presumably US gamers based on the requests, from flooding this thread and plenty of others on sites covering this thread with unrealistic and frankly stupid requests. I’ve seen it all and when you break down the reality of some of these requests it’s laughable. Here’s my breakdown of some of the more unrealistic and completely thoughtless requests and why they won’t happen.
Licensing Nightmares: WWF Wrestlefest – there’s no way the title or the now sadly deceased personas that make up a brunt of this list will ever come out, furthermore it wasn’t that popular in Japan. Robocop – this is a justified heavy request but if it didn’t happen in the Data East Arcade Collection on Wii, I’m betting it’s a licensing nightmare. Aliens - this little known arcade port from James Cameron’s fantastic action follow-up features some goofy graphics, a giraffe-like queen, and the notable flamethrower…it’s also never going to get through Ripley licensing, trust me. The list continues with movie licenses, comics, and even licenses that have come and gone like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The crowd doesn’t care it came out last gen, they want it in this gen now too, who cares if the games are now pulled from their respective stores due to license agreements pulling them down.
How: There’s nothing funnier than people wanting a game but having no idea how they would play it. Here are few of my favorite examples. Time Crisis: uh, how are you going to get the light gun to work? Don’t say Move or new hardware, either, they tried that on PS3 and it was a critical failure with either attempt. T2: Judgement Day – licensing issues aside, people seem to desperately want this game and they want it intact with light gun support. I’ll give it to them, Move can be an option for the 100 people than own them and want to take the time to get it all synced on a PS4, but in all reality you’re shooting yourself in the foot and all for a game you can’t get past level 2 on. Time Traveler – so you want Sega’s holographic arcade game that was a pure crap FMV title save for the hologram? How in the world do you expect Sony to integrate full holographic visuals at a price people will pay? Afterburner II – in all fairness this may actually happen, but you aren’t getting a flight stick or vertically rotating chair and the guy who requested it only seems to remember that about this game.
Are You Even Paying Attention: As a decent student in school, following the directions and answering the question I’m asked, especially when it comes to product marketing free research, is important. These people obviously were just dreaming in the clouds and figured what the hell. BattleToads, Donkey Kong, Popeye, Killer Instinct, Mario Kart, etc – all of these titles have a simple problem that will prevent them from ever coming to the PS4: they are owned by a competitor, ain’t gonna happen. Rival Schools, DoDonPachi, Golden Axe, Street Fighter (any of them), Darkstalkers (any), Mortal Kombat (any), etc – I don’t know if these are US people that don’t know better or if they are really expecting Sony to do triple duty, but all of these games (and many other requests) are available on the PSN right at this moment either as a download or as a PSOne classic, most of them also working on PSP and Vita. You already have them, they aren’t going to port them again, even for the PS4 only crowd. Resident Evil 1-6, Gauntlet Legends 1080p HD Remaster, Black, Spawn (PS2 version, not arcade, he specifically states this), and too many more to count – the fond memories I have for playing the original Resident Evil in the arcades are too many to count, not to mention my love for the cabinet version of the PS2/Xbox title Black, and let’s not forget the fantastic HD Remastering of Gauntlet Legends. Oh, you don’t know these versions or ports? Well that’s because THEY DON’T EXIST. At this point I was rolling my eyes at how far fetched people were going to answer a simple call to action on arcade games. Guys, Midway is dead, Gauntlet Legends, especially after the terrible sales of the recent title, is never getting an HD Remaster and it wouldn’t sell well if it did.
So there you have it, clear indication that gamers have no idea what they want and wouldn’t be able to properly communicate that to developers/publishers even if they did. If I ask you what fruit you want for breakfast and you say “lobster”, I can’t work with that. This isn’t to say publishers are clear of this either. Look at Square, who has issues HD remakes of every last gen western game they released near the end like Tomb Raider, Sleeping Dogs, and even a slew of Final Fantasy titles. They aren’t alone, the same goes for Capcom, Sony, Microsoft, and even Nintendo at this point, but I think I isolate Square the most because no one really asked for the updates whereas I admit to being a sucker myself for at least one or two of these other publishers’ titles.
And finally we get to developers. I’m worried most about these teams for two main reasons. The first is that it’s lazy port work for a game that most of these dev teams want to put in their past. That’s not to say they aren’t proud of their work, but even George Lucas put Star Wars to bed after two decades of tweaking and tearing the lore apart. Not only that, but it’s not uncommon for these updated ports to perform not as well as planned and have the whole studio shelved with only an HD remake as its swan song. We also see the breakdown of studios, people leaving, and a lack of new ideas coming out of a team that’s churning nothing but remakes and sequels, although to be fair this is an iceberg tip in a much larger problem that’s irrelevant to the re-issue/remake.
At a certain point I want to remind everyone that gaming is not dead, it’s very much alive, and so are the consoles that play your favorite games. I understand we want a world of convenience and space is limited – few people have an entire game room with ancient consoles sitting around nor should they be expected to – but some of the requests above seem a lot more lazy than anything else. Please keep in mind people that for every off-the-wall request there is an entire team of people who need to work out the logistics of time, business, work, compatibility, and market performance that’s being wasted on Streets of Rage while a timeless classic sits buried in the pile. I mean seriously, you can buy the entire Resident Evil franchise (1-6 and Code Veronica) on PS3 for around $65 and that’s if you don’t have Playstation Plus, shouldn’t we not spend time to get this all ported to PS4 (oh and Playstation Now actually does close that gap in a lot of instances). Black on PS2 and Xbox is selling on eBay for under $5 and can potentially work on 4 different consoles with backwards compatibility, do we really need to waste time on it? No, we don’t. So if you don’t mind, keep your wishlist to a simple personal blog post and only chime in to big companies with worthwhile answers to the questions they are asking, not the questions you wish they had asked.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the writer, Fred Rojas, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Gaming History 101 or its other writers, guests, hosts.
Please Note: All screenshots in this post are taken from retroachievements.org and were not created nor are they the property of Gaming History 101. I only used them to demonstrate the wonderful project and site that has been created. Please visit Retro Achievements to take advantage of the software and see for yourself the world described in this blog post. – Fred
I think the argument over the value of achievements/trophies/accomplishments/arbitrary rewards is all but required to occur at least once a week in video game enthusiast circles. It’s one of the least interesting and most divided discussions happening. At its core, however, it all boils down to one factor: do you or don’t you like achievements. Just because you like them doesn’t mean you’re a so-called “achievement whore” and I’m not saying that those who ignore them completely are getting any less out of their games than others, but it’s always a hotbed topic. I like achievements. I would say I like achievements more than most, especially when it comes to retro games. That’s like the one thing that few developers take the time to integrate into many ports – not remastered editions, but ports – most likely because the games weren’t built for those kind of triggers so retrofitting them must be a pain. It’s for this reason that when I stumbled upon the site retroachievements.org and found a series of emulators that have achievements built into them that I instantly fell in love. Retro gaming achievements just got “real”.
It works like this: you sign up and get a screen name, download an emulator, provide your own ROM, and begin unlocking achievements. In short, it’s just like any other console that supports achievements and it can breathe new life into your old games. I will admit there’s a bit of hesitation I had to overcome given that it’s emulation and frankly I will never believe that a PC controller can replace the original, but it’s the only way I’m going to be able to get achievements in old games outside of random re-releases, ports, and remastered editions that have business decisions associated with them. You can browse the site’s game lists to see what games have achievements and you’ll immediately notice that not all games have an equal number, some of your favorites may be missing, and that you have the ability to create achievements on your own. I don’t know how that last part works yet, but I do know that certain games like Road Rash and TMNT: The Hyperstone Heist stand no chance to be repackaged and resold so kudos to this option existing. Furthermore, for games that have been re-released and do have achievements, this option has a better list. For example, Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection only has a handful of achievements for the original Mortal Kombat and save for asking you to complete the game, there’s really nothing to do. On the other hand, the retro achievements emulator asks that you beat the game with each fighter, see each level, try to score 10,000,000 points or more, and beat the game on the hardest difficulty. Sure, they may be rudimentary achievements, but it’s sure better than “beat the game once”. Also keep in mind that there may not be an easy way to detect when you fight Reptile, for example, and thus make that it an achievement (although I’m looking into that because it totally should be). There are other games that have slightly more dynamic achievements, but any retro gamer will tell you that beating a game back then wasn’t the commonality it is today; it truly is an achievement.
If you enjoy achievements like I do, this is a new reason to go back and play many games. I need to get more involved in this group and actually play on a computer where I can get online (I used my MAME machine last night) and start unlocking ‘cheevos. Since almost none of us have ways of proving we’ve accomplished certain things in older games, I think there’s a lot to be said about the value of this great, and free, project. Well, the rest is up to you. My username is “spydersvenom”, hopefully I’ll see a friend request from you soon.
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.
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
A 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.
The 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.
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.
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.
Some 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Half 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.
Now 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.
The 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.
So 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.
This past week a charity event has taking place in the America called “Awesome Games Done Quick” (AGDQ). For those of you who have not heard of this event, it is where gamers from all over the world gather together to speedrun various games (retro and modern). It’s twenty four hours of gaming goodness over seven days all in the name of charity. The event is to raise money for the Prevent Cancer Foundation. Today’s article is a tribute to the internet phenomenon that is speedruning.
I first became interested in speedruns after getting into a debate with a friend about what the fastest time Resident Evil on PSone could be completed. Eventually we headed to YouTube to find a video of a speedrunner by the title of Carcinogen, running through the game in just over an hour. There was something quite mind blowing of how precise he played through the game. This then lead me to finding more videos and consequently discover ADGQ which almost feels like an esports event, as people speedrun a game live while crowds of people roar with cheer as they pull of a difficult glitch. I then soon learned there was a entire website of people speedrunning games twenty four hours a day (speedrunslive.com). Not only are runners somewhere in the world speedrunning games right now, there are also runners racing each other. I’ve have never really been much of a Sunday football watching kinda guy, but I guess I know the feeling now since watching speedrunners race each other can be quite exciting.
Speedrunning games is easy to get into. Just pick a game and finish it as fast as you can. Then play it again and do it quicker. Mastering the art of speedrunning is a true investment of time and patience. Speedrunners literally play the same game over and over again just to improve their times by a few seconds in hopes it will beat there PB (Personal Best) and in some cases grant them the WR (World Record). Runners will study the games to exploit every glitch possible, explore all routes and break the game in whatever way they can to get through the experience as quick as possible. The community of speedrunners is becoming increasingly popular online with forums dedicated to revealing the best routes through games. Some of the runners have access to the debugged game and can explore the game design in more detail to study the additional routes and exploits in the games framework. Most of these runners spend weeks and possibly years playing a game thousands of time just to shave off seconds from there records.
Records for every game can vary as well. Take Super Metroid for example. Theres a record for finishing the game 100% as well as finishing the game with just 1%. There are multiple categories per game and going either these routes may drastically change up the way the runner plays through the game. Some runners even go one crazy step further and speedrun games like Punch-Out!! on NES blindfolded, a game I can’t even conquer with my eyes open let alone closed. With the increasing popularity of twitch a vast majority of these speedrunners are able to stream there record attempts online. Many of these runners are so popular they are able to earn some money from advertising revenue.
You really won’t believe your eyes when you see certain runners breaking games like God of War 2 and Zelda: Ocarina of Time, games that come across as solid glitch free experiences are made to look shameful by runners. Even the developers of the games have been surprised by some of the secrets exposed by runners. Last year during one of the AGDQ charity events one of the developers of Borderlands 2 was left speechless as a runner exposed glitches in the game.
Much like when players find high scores for websites like Twin Galaxies, speedrunners record playthroughs and they are submitted for assessment to see if the record is legitimate and involves no cheating. In these particular sensitive scenarios the runner will also submit a second recording of themselves using the controller to play the game. Most records can be found on Speed Demos Archive.
Speedrunning is becoming increasing more popular over the internet. Just like the fighting Evo tournaments and League of Legends live events its continuous evidence that watching other people play video games is becoming just as popular as watching sports on TV.
I’m not the best speedrunner the only games I am able to complete quickly (and that just because I play them constantly) are Resident Evil 2 (PSone), Streets of Rage 2 (Mega Drive/Genesis) and Rainbow Islands (Arcade).
AGDQ is over now but you can revisit all the runs on YouTube. Be sure to check out their second charity marathon over the Summer cleverly titled “Summer Games Done Quick.”