Archive for February 2015
Platform: Sega CD (originally in arcades and released on almost every console ever, seriously)
Released: 1983 (arcade), 1993 (Sega CD version)
Developer: Advanced Microcomputer Systems
Digital Release? Yes, far too many to count
Price (Sega CD Version): $7.10 (disc only), $14.95 (complete), $19.95 (sealed)
Platform: PC-9821, 3DO, Playstation, Saturn (Japan Only)
Released: 1994-1996 (depending on platform, Japan Only)
Digital Release? No
Price: Unavailable, game never sold in US or UK
Building off of what Kojima had started in Snatcher, I feel that Policenauts is an attempt to revise the mistakes and setbacks of that original attempt and create a spiritual successor that flows more like a game. Technically, I guess that’s what Policenauts is, unfortunately the solution appears to be making it a point-and-click adventure and adding in more (and more frustrating) shooting sequences. While I have to commend the efforts by having a more genuine story – although the similarities to the first two Lethal Weapon films is undeniable – that flows naturally and keeps you intrigued, this game has so many walls to break through to get to that story that it’s best read in a walkthrough or watched on YouTube. For this reason, and the countless other reasons that prevent most of us outside of a Japanese speaking region, I can’t recommend Policenauts as a coveted loss treasure we never got.
Platform: Sega/Mega CD (only this platform for US/Europe); PC-8801, MSX2, PC-Engine CD, Mega CD, Playstation, and Saturn releases in Japan
Released: 1988-1996 depending on platform (Japan), 1994 (US/Europe)
Digital Release? No
Price: $256 (disc only), $300 (complete), $1500 (sealed) according to Price Charting (US only prices)
I’m an avid fan of cyberpunk as am I an avid fan of the only series I’ve ever played by Hideo Kojima, Metal Gear (both Solid and the MSX titles), so you would think naturally I would love this game. Granted, being an adventure game that is slower in pace was somewhat of a setback for a player like me that doesn’t care for the genre, but the “annoying” light gun sequences helped sweeten the deal. I will confess to having my light gun not hold up to the shooting sequences and since playing through this title I’m fairly certain my Justifier light gun no longer works, but I can safely proclaim that it wasn’t Snatcher that broke it. Anyway, put it altogether in a Blade Runner type game and I’m sold from start to finish, even if the pacing of this title is its biggest weakness.
Hideo Kojima, best known for the quirky stealth series Metal Gear and Metal Gear Solid has also delved into the world of visual novels and point-and-click adventure games. If you aren’t aware of them, it’s probably because Snatcher released on the Sega CD only and didn’t clear 10,000 units sold in the US and Policenauts has never released outside of Japan. Thanks to Fred’s lucky ownership of a super rare game and emulation/fan translations for all other instances, the GH101 crew delves deeply into a nearly 3 hour podcast on Kojima’s futuristic adventures with some of the worst shooting sequences in all of gaming.
No one likes to release something that is half finished. It’s even more embarrassing when you know there’s no way to complete something you started. This is one of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn with the world of hacked consoles, fan translations, and promising things before you’ve completed them here on Gaming History 101. With a perfectly working copy of Policenauts, the English fan translation that released for PS1, I set out to do a longplay for tonight’s game club just as I had with Snatcher. Unfortunately the game seems to break in several parts of disc 2’s translation despite disc 1 working perfectly (more than half the game as well) and the same disc 2 that broke on my PS1 and PS2 doesn’t have problems playing on my PC through the ePSXe emulator. While I have no idea why this is happening – I can’t seem to find anyone who played on console and the other YouTube videos are clearly from emulation – it rendered my longplay unable to be finished. Rest assured I beat Policenauts on Sunday night and am ready to discuss it in full for tonight’s game club, but I only have the first 2 acts captured on video before the game began to break in Act 3. I used various save data to load parts of Acts 4 and 5, which loaded fine and played fine until certain moments of scripted events that occur within 15-30 minutes of loading a save (same place, has nothing to do with the save point, load point, or amount of time played). Fortunately out of the 12 hours of length that is Policenauts, 7 or so of those hours is Acts 1 & 2, leaving the other 5 hours for Acts 3-7 and the epilogue, oh Kojima. With all that said, I was debating on whether or not to release the videos, but I haven’t released much video content in the last two weeks and I’ve been cranking out videos so I figured you should see where half of this hard work went. Here is the official playlist of the first six videos of my longplay in full upscaled 720p HD with commentary. You won’t get to see me complete the game, but you can get a great feel for what the game as a whole was like. Additionally this playlist is available openly on YouTube, but I’ve put it as “unlisted”, which means it will only be accessed by direct link or searches, not on the main channel page proper. Be sure to listen to our game club for complete coverage on this never released in the US title. We also will have reviews going live on Thursday. Below is the first video of the series, enjoy!
Wait, what? A modern review?!? Yes, it’s true, we will from time to time be reviewing new games. It’s not because we got review copies, because we didn’t in this case, and it’s not because we’re changing focus from retro gaming either. We just wanted an outlet to write reviews on the modern games that we play and frankly, some of the games that were releasing when GH101 started might now be considered retro. Keep in mind that the site, articles, podcast, and videos will remain focused largely on retro gaming.
The Order 1886 is that vapid leggy blonde at the bar. It’s gorgeous to look at and consistently takes your mind off of any other gripes you may have, but as time goes on you find yourself less and less tolerant of its flaws – keep in mind I’m referring to the game and not the blonde as “it”. Not only that, but I’m not particularly fond of the game that The Order 1886 is, which is a cover-based shooter, and it seemed to me that Sony went aggressively out of its way to not describe the game as any more than a cinematic experience. After its brief campaign that seems like a half-finished story you’re left not really wanting more, just hoping that the game evolves in its planned sequel, if we ever get one. That’s not to say there aren’t aspects to like about the game, but at its core The Order 1886 can’t remain consistent in gameplay type or quality.
The Evil Within is the stuff nightmares are made of. I’m not being dramatic, almost everything in this game will cater to the popular nightmares that plague humanity – in my case that happens to be clowns – and throws them right in your face. That’s not to say it is a scary game, because unlike other contemporaries the goal of The Evil Within is to disturb you and create tension rather than grab you with a quick jump scare (although it can’t resist the urge to do that as well at times). Bundled altogether it creates the closest representation of a haunted house without forgetting that it’s also a video game and therefore can make death a reality for all parties involved. This would be a fantastic reality for the definitive horror experience if it weren’t for the abundance of setbacks that range from visuals, to AI, and even creep into gameplay that no matter how big a fan you are just cannot be ignored.
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.
Urban legends are a phenomenon that has always fascinated people with how they offer plausible stories that in the end turn out to be true, false, or inconclusive, but always entertain. Video games are no exception and with the golden age of gaming pre-dating mass online use there were some great urban legends that came out. Not that the Internet eliminated urban legends, as the later stories of this episode prove, but regardless of that fact there are crazy urban legends of gaming and some of which are remarkably true.
The February game club is only a week away and there are two Hideo Kojima adventure games on the list: Snatcher and Policenauts. Haven’t gotten a chance to play Snatcher? Want someone to do all the work for you pre-game club? Well look no further, here’s the entire game from start to finish in seven hour-ish videos. I’ve put the first video in this post for embedded watching here if you prefer.