Archive for the ‘Playstation’ Category
Some titles just never seem to fair well in the West. Klonoa is a cute cuddly anthropomorphic animal, he kinda looks like he’s a cross between a dog, a cat and maybe a rabbit. In Japan this cute fella was incredibly popular and his Playstation game rocketed to the top of the charts for sales. Then Klonoa made his happy debut in the West and things just didn’t seem to fair well for the poor guy. The problem you see is we are horrible people over here in the West. Gamers here are hungry for blood like vicious hyenas, and that’s why games like Tomb Raider did well. If we have a platformer it better have attitude like Crash Bandicoot or be in 3D like Spyro the Dragon. Klonona failed to perform well and in turn the game become very rare and sought after to Playstation collectors in the West. I was lucky enough to rent this game back in 1998. Fortunately with the power of PSN, I was able to download the game to my PSP and see what this cuddly adventure has to offer and what we folk in the West failed to see.
This week the mod conversation continues as the guys move into the CD-based consoles and the wonderful world of modchips. There were many ways to get different things done in the Playstation era and beyond. Finally the show wraps up with soft modding and the various things that can be done from consoles only a few generations old.
As I said in a previous article regarding Wolfenstein 3D, “Wolfenstein 3D did it first and Doom did it best.” The same team, id Software, created both games so it’s less of a competition and more of an evolution. While I agree that all games are a team effort, the technology that runs these games can sometimes be credited to one person. In the case of Doom that one person is none other than John D. Carmack. By this point most of us are aware of John Carmack and what he’s contributed to video games as a whole, but back in 1992 he was the guy creating a new engine for a new game. That engine was called the Doom Engine. Carmack claims the name Doom came from the movie The Color of Money in which Tom Cruise describes a custom pool cue as “doom” when questioned as to what’s in his case. It was created to enhance the first person shooter to include different heights, distances, and even sound effects in stereo for a more realistic type of game. In truth the hardware of the time couldn’t handle rendering a 3D world so the game is actually all on a flat plane in the code, which is why rooms never overlap and you can shoot a guy on a ledge by just aiming at the wall beneath him. I don’t know about the rest of you, but in 1993 I hardly noticed. Doom had positional breathing of mutant men, lighting effects (including dark rooms), a hybrid cyberpunk and distopian Hell setting, and a ton of violence. It was the rock star of the video game world.
The Resident Evil 2 (or Biohazard 2 in Japan) that was released was not the original version. Series creator Shinji Mikami took on a producing role that it appears was heavily micro-managed and director Hideki Kamiya disagreed with a lot of his decisions. Eventually Mikami dubbed the game boring and without the strength of the original and it was scrapped completely, resulting in the delay of the game another year and a complete reworking. This is an exploration of the leaked 40 percent complete version of that original game, often dubbed Biohazard 1.5 in Capcom and also Resident Evil 1.5 online.
The original Tomb Raider exploded in popularity on its release in 1996. People were blown away by the 3D graphics and the title helped promote the Sony Playstation despite being released in mind for the Sega Saturn. The game was praised to high heaven by gaming critics and it launched Lara Croft into icon status by being the first digital character to feature on the cover of Face magazine in the UK. Lara would then quickly go on to be more of a sell out than Krusty the Clown. Her image was used to sell various products like the Lucozade energy drink and Land Rover vehicles. After all why not, she was huge in the UK. This game was the talk of many playground conversations when I was younger not just because of the mythical “Nude Raider” code but gamers would discuss how to get through difficult sections of the game. Guides were not common place back then and the small ones printed in magazines lacked the impressive detail we see in fan made guides online today. It was considered a badge of honour if you were able to finish this game without using cheat codes. Its almost twenty years now since this game came out so I made this months Game Club my personal mission to finish this game without a guide. After lots of blood sweat and gamer tears here are my thoughts.
Time has not been kind to Tomb Raider along with the rest of the back catalogue of early 3D 32 bit games. Before I get started on the game itself I really wanted to hit home that I am very nostalgic for games of this era. Resident Evil on Playstation one still remains one of my favourite games of all time, my enjoyment of titles from this generation seems to have actually grown as I got older. This is the beauty of nostalgia, unfortunately for the someone who doesn’t share this connection you’ll probably go into a lot of these old 3D games and have issues with the controls and be generally turned off by the graphics. I acknowledge all these negative points yet I still enjoy these games. I feel these points are worth bringing up before you hear what I have to say about Tomb Raider now.
The Clock Tower series has always been a unique horror title since it’s western inception on the original Playstation. There are no weapons, no fighting, and the main mechanic is hiding from a small man swinging around massive shears that will only result in death if your character is found. What many may not know is that the series actually began in Japan only on the SNES (and even had a remake of sorts on the Playstation, again in Japan only). Thanks fan translations, Jam and Fred sit down to discuss this initial outing that we in the West never got and is probably the strongest entry in the franchise.
Parasite Eve was born from the JRPG rush that flooded onto the original Playstation in the West after the success of Final Fantasy VII. During this time we see many new franchises that never left Japan coming over to the West as well as several franchises from the days of the 16-bit era coming over as enhanced ports on the PS1. Square Enix, one of the top developers and publishers of JRPGs, decided to create a Western-focused action RPG that was developed by Americans working closely with some of Japan’s top talent. The result is the survival horror and RPG hybrid Parasite Eve, that doesn’t quite capture the hearts of either fan, but is an undeniably unique title.
It’s not quite a survival horror, but not quite an RPG. It’s not quite developed in Japan but hardly a sole USA product either. Needless to say whether you’ve played it or not, there aren’t really other games with the development history or style of Parasite Eve. Beloved by those who played it back in the late 90s, this Squaresoft RPG with action elements that hit during the PS1 JRPG boon has its place among Square’s robust catalog.
Suikoden has always been regarded as one of those many staple JRPGs that graced the North American Playstation with its presence after Final Fantasy VII paved the way for the genre to become mainstream in the United States. In contrast to Square’s innovative title, Suikoden is a transplant from the late SNES days and to a certain extent its 16-bit roots show (and not just graphically). Couple that with developer Konami being relatively new to RPGs itself and you see why the overall game feels like a dated throwback to the days before even Final Fantasy IV or VI (II or III in the US), but despite these shortcomings there is the foundation of a much stronger title. Oh yeah, and did I mention that the game has up to 108 playable characters?
Suikoden is based off of the Chinese novel Shui Hu Zhuan (which basically translates to the same name) that tells a tale of politics, religion, revolution, and social unrest, which is somewhat common of Eastern storytelling in classic literature. You play as a hero – named whatever you choose – that enters into the posh world of being the son of the empire’s top military officer. It’s early in your life and no one respects you yet. When your father travels off to the north to protect the borders, an adventure unfolds that has you not only questioning everything you know, but lands you as the rebel leader for the army opposing the empire. There is, of course, a lot more to it than that, but for the sake of the review and your enjoyment with the game, we’ll leave it there. From the very start you can tell that Suikoden is going to throw more characters at you than you may be used to. Some of the earliest missions you partake on have you hot-swapping up to six characters, many of which will join your party along the way and you’ll be using in battle within moments. Read the rest of this entry »