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Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth Review

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I remember the first time I read Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft.  I had come to it thanks to the Metallica song of the same name off the Ride the Lightning album, which intrigued me because the song had no lyrics despite being based off of a work of writing.  Some had touted it as a quintessential bit of horror fiction to rival even the strongest authors of today while others made the predictable claim that it was too disjointed from contemporary times to be relevant, let alone scary. I came away feeling a bit of both.  Much of the concepts of the work are for your head to create, but that’s also what made it so horrifying, it was indescribable.  Dark Corners of the Earth tries to bring an author and storyline that has dodged popular culture, widespread film, and of course video games for so long.  It’s one of the first instances where an interactive medium has attempted to bring Lovecraft’s world to life, no easy feat.  It’s not even based off of the main story Call of Cthulhu – although Lovecraft fans are used to the co-branding for various alternative works – but rather the novella The Shadow Over Innsmouth that details a town in New England that has isolated itself from the US.  Ultimately the town is inhabited by sea creatures and ancient beings, which is now brought to life with a twist in an unreliable narrator that wavers in sanity.  While Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth bites off a bit more than it can chew in overall design, not to mention the odd breaking point in the middle where it literally shifts genres, your ability to keep pace with it results in what could be one of the strongest horror video games of all time.

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Written by Fred Rojas

October 27, 2016 at 11:00 am

Retro Game Night 10/14/2016 – Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines

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A title with a massive cult following, Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines was plagued with bugs thanks to rushed development. Once it was finally patched to good working order, the game didn’t seem to play nice with Win7+ operating systems until a recent final patch came along that makes the game easy to run and play. You can find that patch here if you own the game on Steam or GoG: http://www.patches-scrolls.de/patch/4647

Fred jumps in, makes a character (Nosferatu), and proceeds to play the opening missions. This is a quick look to get a feel for the game and was originally broadcast on our Twitch channel. This is to become a regular series with a different class character as Fred discovers the intricacies of this forward thinking title.

***NOTE: I know I suck at the game and I know Nosferatu is not a good starting point if you’ve never played. This was discovered after the fact but clearly hinted while we broadcast. A new series of Let’s Play videos will be coming with a new character class.***

Written by Fred Rojas

October 17, 2016 at 3:00 pm

DoDonPachi Resurrection Review

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For whatever reason, the West gave up on the scrolling shooter genre back in the 90s.  Sure, games came and went after the 32-bit generation, but for the most part series that had existed for decades like GradiusDarius, and even R-Type ceased development.  In Japan, however, the shooter – sometimes called shoot-em-up or the divisive shorthand of shmup – has evolved along with new franchises and coveted developers.  Otaku, weeaboo (foreigners obsessed with Japanese culture), and shoot-em-up fans like myself remain aware and hungry for the new and challenging titles that come from the East.  Of those modern franchises, there are few developers more notable than Cave and there are few franchises more recognizable than DoDonPachi.  The name is a pun on both the literal meaning, angry leader bee, and the fact that “don” is onomatopoeia with bullet fire in Japanese.  The story is somewhat irrelevant at this point, mostly because we never saw a release of any of the DoDonPachi series outside of limited release in arcades, but suffice to say it revolves around fighting various human fighters under the control of a large bee set on world domination.  The “don” is fitting as well because your ship will be putting out literally hundreds of bullets every second and a sea of bright pink and blue bullet-fire will be coming back at you in retort.  This sub-genre is known as danmaku (“bullet hell”), which is a fitting name given the minute-by-minute gameplay.  Why does any of this matter?  Because we’re finally getting a Western release of DoDonPachi DaiFakkatsu (aka Resurrection) on Steam that is part of an impressive resurgence of the genre for this region.  DoDonPachi Resurrection is gorgeous, brutal, and feature packed to the point that both the veteran shooter fan and newcomers can find plenty to do and enjoy every potentially frustrating second.

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Written by Fred Rojas

October 13, 2016 at 11:00 am

Podcast: Call of Cthulhu Dark Corners of the Earth Game Club

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There is no writer quite like H.P. Lovecraft and there’s definitely not a whole lot of games like Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth.  A divisive title that is seen by some a tiresome game of pointless challenges while others revere it as the quintessential horror video game.  Fred and Jam delve into the design, development, and campaign of this unique horror title.


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Written by Fred Rojas

October 12, 2016 at 11:00 am

DoDonPachi Resurrection Quick Look

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DoDonPachi Resurrection will premiere on Steam October 14, a title previously exclusive to Japan.  Here Fred takes a look at the initial stages and describes basic gameplay.  This footage was captured at 4K/UHD resolution (3840×2160) and then downsampled to 1080p.

This quick look was originally posted on The B-Team Podcast (www.thebteampodcast.com) and have partial co-ownership with this site.  This is re-posted with permission.

Written by Fred Rojas

October 6, 2016 at 3:00 pm

Podcast: Psychic World

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This week Jam’s pick was Psychic World.  An action platformer originally released on the MSX as Psycho World (it was Japan only), this title received wider regard in the West as a Game Gear title and those in Europe may have also played the Sega Master System version.  Fred and Jam dissect the development, gameplay, and version differences between this largely forgotten title by an almost unknown developer.


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Written by Fred Rojas

August 10, 2016 at 11:00 am

The Technomancer Review

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The Technomancer reminds me of one of those relationships before I got married.  It’s dynamic and I enjoyed it, but ultimately I got to this point where I knew our time would have to end.  Much like those relationships, it probably lasted a bit longer than it should have, but that doesn’t mean that it was a waste of time.  Far from it.  Regardless of your opinion of nitpicks like whether or not the faces compete with modern powerhouse franchises or exactly what genre it should be labeled as, The Technomancer is offering a throwback to the complete package of RPG we saw often last generation.  That wouldn’t have made it stand out were it not for the fact that a title like this is somewhat rare these days.  Sure, everything is going open world, but releases of RPGs that heavily integrate decision and story are somewhat scarce and especially if you’re looking for sci-fi or cyberpunk.  So despite its flaws and not necessarily being able to keep up with its more established peers, The Technomancer is a worthwhile experience.

technomancer_1I’m guessing not many played developer Spiders’ first title Mars: War Logs, which you may be surprised to know is now available on PC and even Xbox One thanks to 360 backward compatibility (also on PS3).  It really is the early version of what would eventually become this title and established the lore of human colonization on Mars and the core of what the technomancers are.  That title was short, the combat was harshly integrated (especially for gamepads), and while I liked what it was doing I couldn’t get too invested.  Having played Mars: War Logs did allow me to appreciate how far Spiders has come in its sophomore effort on the concept, but it’s in no way necessary as a buffer for this title.  Newcomers and veterans alike will be introduced to Zachariah, a graduating technomancer that is coming to terms with his newfound powers and prepared to utilize them in an effort to keep the peace and eventually find a way back to Earth.  He’s not unique, many technomancers work for Abundance, a mega-corp that provides security on Mars and all technomancers are to guard the order’s secrets in an attempt to discover a way back home to Earth.  Beyond that you are free to hit the ground running in an open-world chock full of icons that represent main and side quests.  Along the way you will inevitably face combat, both in and out of hub locations, where your action fighting skills will be tested from start to finish.  I’ll return to the combat in a minute, but it’s important to note that the separation between non-combat zones and combat zones is blurred here, which I don’t often see in the modern world of RPGs that includes MMOs.  It may not be much of a change, but it struck me as somewhat unique.

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Written by Fred Rojas

July 11, 2016 at 11:00 am

Hard Reset Redux Review

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There’s this constant complaint heard all too often by the PC gaming crowd: why don’t more PC games come to consoles?  The reality is some combination between controls, marketability, and code development, but I always like to say, “it’s just more of a PC game.”  That wasn’t always the case though, as we’ve seen in the past with the original first person shooters like Doom and Duke Nukem 3D that seemed to have mass appeal beyond the keyboard and mouse.  Hard Reset felt like it was airlifted out of that time period in the way it played and handled game design and it made more sense that developer Flying Wild Hog’s first effort come to console gamers.  Now the updated Hard Reset Redux seeks to ask how interested console gamers really are.  It has updated controls for gamepads, it has seemingly enhanced graphics (although PC players may disagree), and it has a re-balanced campaign all for the sake of the console gamer.  This is a tailor-made conversion from the world of PC and if you’re wondering if it was all worth it the answer is a resounding, absolutely.

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Written by Fred Rojas

June 20, 2016 at 11:00 am

Dishonored Play Diary

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Trying something new here.  Dishonored is a game I (Fred) have not been able to play properly and the first video in this series shows why.  As a result, I’m trying to be more laid back and complete the title without worrying about perfect stealth and perfect pacifism.  Instead of a “Let’s Play” I’ve decided to do a new type of series called a “Play Diary” and here’s what these will be.  This video series currently only has one video, but will update as it grows.  No new posting will be created for each video.  If you want updates, I recommend subscribing to Fred’s channel.

Let’s Play videos are tough because the person playing them has to constantly be speaking to an audience, it stifles gameplay, and it’s a bunch of work to get live.  A longplay is easy because you just capture and upload, but only a handful of people watch it.  We’ve noticed that the commentary gets more views, but that people watch them for short periods, whereas a longplay is only seen by a smaller group but they watch often to entirety.  The Play Diary starts with a full length “quick look” of an hour or two with commentary followed by update videos that are about 5-15 minutes that cover several hours of gameplay and commentary.  In addition, the entire longplay is uploaded as a playlist for those that want to see the full playthrough.  Hopefully this is a more user friendly way for everyone to see what they want.  This will not completely replace my “Let’s Play” videos because certain rare games will want to be viewed from start to finish.  The video below is the playlist for the diary and the longplay playlist can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLlLaoX7aLm9_32Aqpog3OgW2ZenWg_mV8

Written by Fred Rojas

June 17, 2016 at 11:00 am

Origins of Shadow of the Beast

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It all began in 1989 with developer Reflections Interactive showing a tech demo to British publisher Psygnosis. With Psygnosis impressed by what they saw Shadow of the Beast was originally released on the Commodore Amiga and was graphically mind blowing for the time.  With several colours on screen at once as well as up to twelve levels of parallax scrolling backdrops, the game looked like it was from an arcade machine. Martin Edmonson, one of the founders of the company, was fond of very difficult video games. He wanted to be challenged and have to play a game multiple times to be able to master it. The score for the game was composed by David Whittaker, which was very atmospheric and left a lasting impression on fans.  The cover art for the game was from the talented hands of Roger Dean who was well know for working on album covers for Yes, Asia, Budgie, as well as several others. Roger Dean merged a stone age look with technology to create a very unique look to the cover of Shadow of the Beast. He would also later go on to redesign the logo for Tetris.

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Written by jamalais

May 26, 2016 at 11:26 am