Archive for the ‘PC/Mac’ Category
For the November game club we are playing through Tomb Raider, both the original and anniversary. Fred is tackling Anniversary. By popular request two versions of each video is being uploaded: one with and one without commentary. This has commentary, so if you wish to see the one without simply go here.
This review originally published on The B-Team Podcast site. An agreement with that site and GH101 allows the reviews to run in both locations.
If you were around for the point-and-click adventure boom on computers in the 80s and early 90s, then you’re probably already aware of Shadowgate. While Sierra and LucasArts battled it out for the number one position – Sierra always won, by the way, even if it didn’t have the better games – there were a handful of developers that released lesser known adventure titles. Of those, one of the more prominent were known as “MacVenture” titles, which were menu driven point-and-click adventure games specifically for the Macintosh and created by ICOM. These games were so popular they ended up getting ported to microcomputers, received color, and eventually even made it onto the NES. Shadowgate was one of those MacVenture games and when I played it on my NES as a youngster I couldn’t believe the amount of horror, death, and adult themes that appeared on a console riddled with childlike concepts. Much like other adventure titles I had to try everything on everything, but unlike those other titles I would die all the time and merely be sent back to the scene just before my death. This meant that if I was patient and persistent enough, I could overcome the challenges and complete the game. The idea that I couldn’t get stuck and barely got penalized for being experimental was the key drawing point of Shadowgate and its peers with the enchanting story being the icing on the cake. Now, almost 30 years later, Shadowgate has been re-imagined and somewhat brought it into the modern times resulting in a title that is unapologetically retro and yet refreshing for veterans all the same.
Condemned Criminal Origins premiers as a console exclusive on the Xbox 360 – it later came to PC – in late 2005 (launch window), but represents a striking change for video games. Sure, titles like Grand Theft Auto III and Manhunt were garnering attention for brutality, but those were still third person perspective titles that lacked true realism for the average player. On the other hand Condemned is first person, the weapons are almost solely melee, the audio is in surround sound, and the vibration in the controller combined by the jarring view on screen when you get hit makes the whole experience realistic. While violence-hating senators and parental groups hardly took notice, looking back it’s a visceral simulation of the brutality of those darker recesses of society we pretend doesn’t exist.
It has been quite the journey this week horror fans. Through the days of Horror Obscura we have visited various areas of deep seated fear from the virus infested Antarctic to the fear of being in a relationship. I’ve really only scratched the surface there are so many more games covering various horror themes, but I guess we’ll get to those another time. For the final entry of this series of articles I wanted to save what I consider the game that rocked me to my very core as a youngling. Retro fans, I’ve lived through many scary moments in and out of video games I’ve walked through haunted caves, played through Alien Isolation and walked home in pitch black. It takes a lot to truly terrify me. The reason for this is nothing quite rocked me to my very core more than the software I am about to speak of. Some might even not call this a game in fact it’s actually considered an educational tool in the early days of microcomputers. Just talking the title of this game will send children running to the hills in fear. You think you know fear? Then you have never played Granny’s Garden on the BBC Micro.
The Horror Obscura Finale (2015) – Granny’s Garden
Granny’s Garden is an educational program that plays out as a text adventure game with various visual aids. It was designed as a tool to help teach basic computer skills to kids in Primary school. I remember vividly booting up this software and thinking how amazing it was that I was allowed to play a game in school time. Oh if only I knew the terror that awaited me. Your quest is to go find all the missing children within the Kingdom of the Mountains. You are consistently bombarded with text based puzzles where you would have to type the answer into the keyboard to progress.
Day 5: Manhunt
Manhunt is a game that I feel to this day I have to tread very carefully when I discuss it. This was one of the very few titles that was actually banned in the UK due to a very unfortunate link to a horrific news story which I will not be discussing in this article. With that short intro out the way lets get into why I’m featuring this title in the Horror Obscura.
I view Manhunt as a title in time with those gore fest films like Saw only a lot worse. Manhunt is a game that is really uncomfortable to play. For starters you don’t even play the good guy, you take control as James Earl Cash who is a pawn in a game where he is directed by a psychopath known as “The Director,” to brutally murder members of gangs and other crazy people. This game is incredibly dark and not for everyone. There are no redeeming qualities to Cash either. He is bad, he kills without remorse and even when he does meet support characters he has no interest in making friends. This is a rare video game that forces you down the dark path. If you are able to get past this you will actually be in for quite an impressive stealth title.
Note: This review originally appeared on the B-Team Podcast site and has an agreement with the owner of the review, Fred Rojas, to post on Gaming History 101 as well and visa versa.
Typically any game being remade in HD comes with the acceptance that it was already a prominent title, which accounts for the ongoing debate as to whether or not to re-purchase it. That’s why Legend of Kay Anniversary strikes me as such an interesting decision because almost no one played the original on PS2 in 2005 or even the port to DS in 2010. Granted, when you complete the Anniversary edition the phrase “We’ll be back!” is at the end of the credits so I can only guess an upcoming sequel is the reasoning for this beautiful HD remake. Having now played the game to completion I have to admit that Nordic was smart to purchase it from Capcom and this partial Zelda clone does make for a lengthy and impressive campaign. When it originally released, Legend of Kay garnered quite positive reviews and I’m pleased to say that the game is just as great now as it presumably was when it released, only now it has received one hell of a face lift.
Please Note: Many reviewers out there seem to think it is appropriate to discuss the events of previous episodes of Life is Strange as if everyone who would read it damn well should have already played the previous episodes. It has been my experience that if you have held out this long and haven’t already played this episode then you are most likely wondering how the game progresses throughout the season and will decide whether or not to buy when all episodes are out. This is why each episodic review is spoiler free for the entire season, not just this episode.
Episode 4: Dark Room
We have arrived at episode 4, nearing the end of the season and who knows, perhaps this episode contains the major climax for the arc. I say this without assurance because episode 3 had such an unexpected cliffhanger that I didn’t think it was possible to get me again. I was wrong. That being said I need to come right out and say I was a little unimpressed overall with episode 4, proving that the warning I gave in the first episode’s review may have actually come to fruition. Whereas episodes 2 and especially three can begin to fork based off of your choices and possibly even suggest that two playthroughs is more of a recommendation rather than an option, episode 4 is forcing you down a corridor. Granted, it’s a well calculated corridor that presents itself with the illusion of choice, but I’ve seen this trick before in The Walking Dead series from Telltale and without sounding catty, I thought Dontnod was above that. There’s a decent amount of substance here still, with the story having easily its highest moment yet as the episode closes and again there are some strong emotional scenes that make up a very heavy episode. One thing I do find a bit troubling is the fact that as certain plots unfold, others are left almost unmentioned, which nets a lot of catch up, wrap up, and resolution required for the fifth and final episode. I’m just hoping that it remains as interactive as the others have been and doesn’t become the 90 minute ending of Metal Gear Solid 4. Dontnod has yet to convince me they don’t know how to craft a story and without a doubt they know how to catch my interest, here’s hoping the ending stands as strongly as the jaw-dropping cliffhangers of previous episodes.
One of the most common questions I have been asked in regards to fighting games is, “why is Street Fighter II a sequel? Where is Street Fighter?” An understandable question, especially when you consider that the original Street Fighter was released in arcades a whopping four years later, plays completely different from its sequel, and was called Fighting Street in its only US console release (on the Turbografx-CD no less). If you’re a fan of Street Fighter II, the concept of getting to see where the series starts is tempting to say the least (and now completely possible without expensive hardware thanks to the virtual console and Capcom Collection), but you’ll soon find that Street Fighter is much more of a proof of concept rather than a fighting game that pre-dates the record setting sequel.
Writers Notes: In an attempt to make my comeback in game reviewing I wanted to get nostalgic again and revisit the first video game review I ever wrote. But since film and game developers seem to love to remaster everything, I thought I would jump on that bandwagon and re work my old review. Enjoy and hopefully you will see more content from me soon. Today I am going to revisit the 16-bit hit Shadows of the Beast II on the Sega Mega Drive developed by Reflections Interactive and published by the late Psygnosis. I decided to return once again to this brutally challenging game and see if I still remember how to play through what is a relatively short experience (if you know what you are doing).