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Retro Game Night: Crypt Killer and Mad Dog McCree

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This week for Retro Game Night we go all light gun shooters (yes, they can be captured and streamed).

First up is arcade 3D shooter Crypt Killer, which was horror themed and moved from arcades to Saturn and the PS1 (Saturn version shown).  Sorry about the sound on the game being much louder than my voice, it was live and no one told me.

Next up is the 1990 “classic” Mad Dog McCree, one of the first laserdisc arcade games that was almost perfectly ported to the Nintendo Wii.  Here it is in all its glory (and in 720p!)

If you want to check out Retro Game Night, we do it every Friday night at 11:30 pm est on our Twitch channel (twitch.tv/gh101).  You can also follow us for random live broadcasts and check that page for our ongoing replay of Resident Evil HD Remaster on the PS3, which comes to the US on January 20.

Written by Fred Rojas

January 10, 2015 at 12:12 pm

Syphon Filter – PSone Review

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syphon_filter_boxPlatform: Playstation
Released: 1999 (worldwide)
Developer: Eidetic
Publisher: 989 Studios
Digital Release? Yes, this is available as a PSOne classic on PSN for $5.99
Price: $2.89 (disc only), $4.95 (complete), and $9.99 (new/sealed) per Price Charting

In the late nineties stealth was becoming a big deal in the game industry, a lot of this was thanks to games like Metal Gear Solid on PSone and Thief on PC. Along comes 989 studios with a little game called Syphon Filter. I knew very little about this game before it was released. In the UK this game received very little coverage in the magazines even though it ended up reviewing quite well. My first experience of the game was actually playing the demo which came free with Official Playstation Magazine. The demo was just of the first level but I found it enjoyable enough to sought the game out on release and I kinda enjoyed the game. It seemed like I was the only one of my circle of friends that knew about this game but that didn’t stop the game receiving two additional sequels on the PSone as well as additional games on the PS2 and PSP. For now lets revisit the original and see how it fairs now.

syphon_filter_runIn Syphon Filter You play as Americas hero Gabriel Logan who appropriately shortens his name to Gabe, I guess to sound more manly. Gabe works for “The Agency”, a company who keeps things simple when it comes to naming its organisation. When Gabe is not standing around meeting rooms he is out taking down the bad guys. In this game there is a terrorist called Rhoemer who is up to no good in his army uniform wanting to take over the world with a deadly weapon called Syphon Filter which is a bio weapon that has the ability to kill several people in a short space of time. So its up to Gabe to save the day shooting many people in the process. The plot comes across as a 90s Arnie film, just with less one liners and the game really wants you to take the plot seriously. There are twists and turns in the plot but nothing comes as a big surprise. Before you start each level you will get to watch a cutscene and while the level loads you will be given a entire page of text to read explaining the plot and your objectives. Its always nice to see games that make the loading screen something that isn’t the words ‘loading.’

Syphon filter is a third person action game. The gameplay varies throughout the levels. The majority of the game is a pretty fun shooter with objectives which you have to complete, failing any of the missions will force you back to the nearest checkpoint. Objectives are quite varied and you can complete them in any order you choose. This was quite fun especially when replaying the game, the levels still come across as quite linear but its still nice to choose how to carry out each objective. You have many weapons at your disposal to shoot terrorists in the face including the good old silenced pistol to assault rifles and sniper rifles. All serve there purpose and allow you to mix up your shooting play style.

Some of the games levels turn into massive stealth sections which are very dull and boring. The reason being is if you are spotted once you have to restart the level. Not only that you usually had to take out a couple of enemies(but shooting them in the face) without being spotted while following some bad guy. It slows everything down and doesn’t feel as exciting as the general shooting syphon_filter_adgameplay. There are levels in the game where stealth is advised but being spotted doesn’t end the game. The problem here I found was the game flat out bombarded you with constant enemy respawns practically encouraging you to manually restart the level because the level was now just too hard.

The games shooting mechanics were quite interesting for the time. In this game you could manually aim in first person, though you could not move Gabe while doing this. If you aimed your crosshair over a enemies head a subtitle would appear saying ‘head shot,’ indicating your shot would take the target out in one hit. This became the most reliant method of taking down enemies especially later in the game because it would kill all enemies including some bosses in one hit even if they wore a flak jacket. Enemies that wear these require several hits to take down. There was also a auto aim feature which had a crosshair automatically target the nearest enemy, this was useful as you could move around while targeting. The problem was the shots would only hit the enemies chest and only felt useful early on in the game.

The game has a pretty unique hud. In the top left for the screen you have a health bar and a danger bar. The health bar shows your remaining health and amour, you armour can be replenished by picking up flak jackets if you start to loose health this could not be recovered. It felt very tense if you only had a little bit of health left as you desperately searched for a flak jacket.. The danger bar is interesting, when a enemy targeted you the bar would fill up. If it reached the maximum level and started flashing it meant every shot from the enemy would hit you, though it was possible shots could occasionally hit you while the bar was increasing. Moving into cover, or rolling around, or just moving away from the enemy reduced the bar and hence the probability the enemy would hit you. This was particularly useful as if helped you decide how at risk you were from enemy fire so you could judge whether to go in all guns blazing or take a more tactical approach.

syphon_filter_shotI remember playing this game back in the late nineties and thinking wow this game was pretty over the top. Originally slapped with a 18+ rating by the ELSPA (now replaced by the PEGI rating in Europe), this game had some pretty graphic content [editor’s note: this game was ironically only a “T” in the US – Fred]. For starters whenever you shot somebody it would leave a incredibly large blood patch on their character model. You would also see a nice shower of pixelated blood coming from the character. The most gruesome weapon by far and the one weapon you will remember most from this game is the taser. This is possibly the most over powered taser in video game history. Essentially you shoot a terrorist with it while holding the fire button down. After a short period the enemy will begin to scream and smoke will come out of them indicating its time to let them fall to the floor in a heap. But if your feeling evil, and you will, your most likely going to keep that fire button held. The smoke soon turns to fire and the enemy is literally being barbequed by your taser while still screaming, until you finally get bored and let go. Did I mention you start with this weapon in the game and it has unlimited shots, so yeah you’ll probably be having fun with this.

Syphon Filter will certainly keep you busy for a while. If your able to get passed the difficult stealth levels this game certainly warrants more than a single playthrough just because it’s fun to play. Even better once you have finished the game once you can select any of the previous levels you played, so you can skip the ones you hated.

Graphics are pretty blocky. The game being on PSone hasn’t aged well. Environments are pretty dull and boring, but that was the case even when this game was released. You’ll travel through city streets, city parks, army bases, caves and a cathedral and it all just looks dull. Probably the most interesting looking level is the Museum which looks pretty cool, unfortunately this is the boring stealth level which I didn’t care for. The most memorable level was later in the game where two armies are literally fighting each other and you have to somehow progress through a level while a small war is going on.

The soundtrack to this game was pretty solid with some genuinely memorable level music. The intro music when you get to the title screen is a nice warm welcome to the game. The voice acting however is quite bipolar. The bad guys sound a lot more into the game than the good characters. Gabe just sounds so bored all the time with his monotone voice. Even when dramatic scenes occur in the game where you would expect a display of human emotion Gabe stills comes out with the same dull tone voice putting very little into his performance. You really can’t help but chuckle at this.

syphon_filter_suit

Syphon Filter is quite a long game. The game will probably keep you busy for around twelve hours the first time through. The game does increase in difficulty quite dramatically about a third of the way through which may lead to leave this game to the side. There is not much replay value though you can input good old fashioned cheats in the menu if you want to play around or just find the game too difficult on its standard difficulty.

Overall, Syphon Filter was a brave first step into a new series. The game hasn’t aged very well in looks. The gameplay mechanics feel a little but there are more fun levels than frustrating ones. I remember when this game was released if was compared a lot to Metal Gear Solid, personally I see no resemblance here. The game looks pretty boring and the voice acting especially from Gabe is pretty terrible but the gameplay does a good job to make you forget these lingering issues and some levels will leave a lasting impression. Syphon Filter may look like a pretty standard shooter but it you will be surprised by what this little gem has to offer

Final Score: 4 out of 5  (review policy and guidelines)

Written by jamalais

January 2, 2015 at 11:00 am

Posted in Playstation, Reviews

Tagged with ,

Retro Game Night: Die Hard Trilogy and Arcade

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This week for Retro Game Night it’s a double header from the greatest Christmas movie of all time: Die Hard.  When the PS1 and Saturn launched Fox Interactive released a series of trilogy video games from its properties, one of which was Die Hard Trilogy, combining a 3rd person isometric shooter for the original film, an on-rails Virtua Cop style light gun shooter (controllers work too) for the second film, and somewhat of a Crazy Taxi clone for the third film.  We play it here (in HD) to give you a taste of all three.

Then, around the same time Sega decided to release its arcade brawler Die Hard Arcade (which started life as Streets of Rage 4) exclusively on the Saturn.  With no other ports (thanks to Sega’s publishing and distribution rights) and a so-so version on MAME, this is truly the only plug-and-play home port of the game.  Check it out.

Written by Fred Rojas

December 27, 2014 at 2:17 pm

Spyro The Dragon Review

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spyro_boxPlatform: Playstation
Released: 1998 (worldwide)
Developer: Insomniac
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment of America (SCEA)
Digital Release? Yes, this is available as a PSOne classic on PSN for $5.99
Price: $13.99 (disc only), $19.98 (complete), and $55.00 (new/sealed) per Price Charting

Jam’s Take

The Sony Playstation was well known for having a generous supply of 3D platformers. You had Crash Bandicoot, Gex (other than the first) and Croc but there was also another animal who made a name for himself on the system and later rose to greater popularity, probably even more so than Crash. I am of course referring to Spyro the Dragon.  For this review we are going back to the origins of the character with the very first game on the Playstation that was developed by Insomniac games.

spyro_statueIn the game you play as the cute little dragon Spyro. After a elder dragon insults a baddie named Nasty Gnorc on television he gets mad and turns all the dragons to stone. Spyro somehow evades this and sets out to free his buddies. The story is very humorous and cute with plenty of chuckles to have whatever age you are. It’s a very simple story but it works.

Spyro is a 3D platformer with a heavy emphasis on collecting, this is essential to progress further in the game. You begin the game in a hub world which acts as a level in itself, except it also provides gateways to other levels which you can enter in whatever order you choose. Within each level the idea is to find and rescue all the dragons tombed in crystal. When you release each dragon they thank you and either give you a gameplay tip or say something funny just don’t expect any comedy gold. As well as rescuing dragons you need to collect gems and dragon eggs if they are present in the level. A simple menu helps you keep track of your progress in each level. One of the best features is once you have collected any item or rescued a dragon you can leave the level or loose a life and it doesn’t matter you still have the item banked permanently. This may make the game easier but it allows you to return to levels later without incurring a penalty. You don’t need to collect everything to progress in the game but it’s quite addictive and you’ll find yourself generally looking in every nook and cranny. If you are hardcore and collect everything the game rewards you with a bonus area at the end of the game.  There are five Hub world areas to explore each with several levels. One level in each section is a brutally hard flying segment which required you to shoot or collect several items while flying with a incredibly strict time limit. Making just a few mistakes lead to failing these segments. To the games credit the load times are short if you retry but these were the levels I usually avoided.

spyro1Spyro is walking on four legs and it certainly feels that way when controlling him. Occasionally the camera can be a pain and not work with you. Spyro has two main moves, charge and fire, and specific moves only work on certain enemies. For example, tall fat enemies are too tough to charge and you’ll just get bumped off there bear belly followed by a whack of a club, a little fire though makes short work. The game never feels too difficult and more of a casual playthrough which isn’t a bad thing. The difficulty does gradually increase as you progress especially towards the end of the game, but most people will be able to get to the end of this adventure without to much difficulty.

Spyro has lovely colourful graphics. The levels all vary in environments you would expect, there is a ice area and a grass area. Each level is fairly small in size and won’t take you too long to navigate. All the enemy models are pretty simple polygon designs, this was after all a early
3D platformer and although many of the characters look pretty simple at least they have some colour to them.

gnasty_gnorc

Gnasty Gnorc

 

Spyro has a a impressive soundtrack. The was composed by Steward Copeland (former drummer for The Police). Apparently Copeland played through the levels in the game multiple times when coming up with the soundtrack. This attention to detail really shows in the final product as the music really suits the fantasy setting. The voice acting is also top notch. Characters regularly come out with funny one liners. If you really hate the voice acting or cutscenes which are incredibly short anyway you can skip them.

Spyro is a pretty long game most likely keeping you busy for around two weeks the first time through and longer if you want to collect absolutely everything. The good news is if you do complete the game without collecting everything you can reload the save and continue post credit scene.

spyro_treasureOverall, Spyro the Dragon is a very enjoyable 3D platformer if you have the itch for collecting items. The game is generally not very difficult but it makes for a nice casual playthrough. The colourful graphics, humour and fun gamplay all gel together to create a fun experience that you should be happy you invest the time into. This game certainly proved the Sony Playstation had a game for practically every gamers taste and I for one am very happy I finally got a chance to appreciate the magic of this game.

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

Fred’s Take
I don’t have the luxury of having played Spyro the Dragon when it came out in 1998 and from that point through the nearly 10 games that have ever released, I managed to miss out on all of them.  As a result, I can’t help but make potentially unfair comparisons to Super Mario 64.  Spyro (the game, not the character) walks, talks, and acts just like a Super Mario 64 clone.  The hub world where you go through mirror-like portals to be taken into individual levels that are geared at one, sometimes more, goals to build up enough items to unlock the next world is a concept that I first saw two years earlier with 64.  Boss characters being random and more puzzle-like encounters, finding characters you can interact with that give little tips, a movable camera in only a few short directions, the list goes on and on.  Having said all that, Spyro the Dragon is truly an enchanting game that stands as one of the few to withstand the test of time on early 3D games.  I had no problem appreciating all it had to offer, and eagerly moving on to each new area, in 2014; this is a massive compliment to Spyro.

spyro_portal

It’s easy to point out some nitpicks like the fact that Spyro’s jump and glide maneuver is almost never usable and not the solution in parts you think it would be, the hit detection is pathetic, and when you’re trying to find that last handful of dragons near the end it all starts to feel like a chore.  This is all countered by what Spyro gets so right in contrast to my favorite comparison of Super Mario 64.  There are flying levels with multiple objectives that require near perfection to best, which to some may be the curse of the universe, but a player like me loves to repeat a hundred times over just to be enthralled when we finally get it right.  If that’s not your thing, no problem, you can easily navigate this title to the end and have little to worry about, but you won’t get the “true” ending, ha ha ha!  The aforementioned soundtrack by Steward Copeland was so clean and wonderful that I had to weave it into our podcast on the trilogy, something Mario 64 – and that entire console for that matter – wishes it could have.  And on that note, for being a clone title I definitely didn’t find my attention wain through the game’s short but sweet campaign.  Sure it may be a clone, but Super Mario 64 never came to the Playstation and Spyro was a rock solid competitor for our favorite plumber’s first 3D outing.

Final Score: 4 out of 5  (review policy and guidelines)

Written by jamalais

December 27, 2014 at 11:00 am

Primal Rage Retrospective and Comparison Video

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Primal Rage was one of the more notable Mortal Kombat clones in arcades in 1994.  The popularity of this Atari Games fighter secured multiple ports to the home consoles of the time, a true cross-gen title that was on most portable, 16-bit, and 32-bit CD consoles.  GH101 looks into the history, gameplay, and home console versions of this dinosaur brawler.

Written by Fred Rojas

December 23, 2014 at 1:44 pm

Podcast: Ready, Aim, Fire!

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lightgun_post

This week Fred and Jam tackle the wonderful world of light gun shooters.  What started as a mere carnival game evolved into one of the more interactive – and for some of us fun – genres that has not withstood the test of time.  With the advent of newer screens, the technology that made light guns possible is now ruined by delays of no more than a fraction of a second.  In this episode we discuss the history, technology behind, and our fondest memories of the games that utilized the light gun peripheral.


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Written by Fred Rojas

December 17, 2014 at 11:00 am

Podcast: Test Your Might

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90_fight_post

This week Fred and Jam are throwing around fighters of the 90s (that aren’t Street Fighter II or Tekken, we did a show for those already).  In the 1990s, the fighter genre was the most popular type of game available (like First Person Shooters today), and among those that have withstood the test of time there were plenty of others that played the field.  From Mortal Kombat to Soulcalibur you had plenty of arcades (and home ports) to drink your quarters in arcades.


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Podcast: U R Not [RED] e

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SONY DSC

This week Fred and Jam are joined by Andy from 42 Level One to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Sony Playstation.  This CD based console is responsible for so much ushering into the next iteration of game development, hardware, media, and game libraries.  It touched each host in his own way and deserves to be celebrated on its second decade of existence.


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Written by Fred Rojas

December 3, 2014 at 11:00 am

Podcast: Ripto – Trilogy of the Dragon

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spyro_post

In a widely requested topic, this week Jam and Fred discuss the Spyro the Dragon trilogy on PS1.  After briefly telling the story of the origins of developer Insomniac, the guys delve deep into the young dragon that played one of the only open world 3D competitors to Nintendo’s Super Mario 64.


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Written by Fred Rojas

November 5, 2014 at 8:50 pm

Podcast: Zombies Ate My Podcast

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zampc_post

Traditionally horror and comedy are entwined, faithfully representing a laughable moment of relief to accompany the graphic depictions of death that follow.  Although more rare, there is also room for comedy with horror elements and this week Fred and Jam are celebrating the games that get it right.  From some of LucasArts classic hybrids to bikini clad samurai warriors, there’s no lack of hilarity in gaming for those not looking for a scare.


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