Gaming History 101

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Posts Tagged ‘shooter

Rez (United Game Artists)

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Rez was one of those games I hear way too many people recommend without mentioning what the game is about.  In my mind, it’s an on-rails shooter version of the virtual reality world I so desperately wanted to play in the movie The Lawnmower Man.  In truth it’s a bit more like a visual representation of William Gibson’s famous novel Neuromancer with a different plotline.  Either way the significance of this title, and it’s predecessor Child of Eden (which came out later), has aesthetic value that is a treat for both the eyes and the ears.

Scene from The Lawnmower Man

Conceptually the game entails you as a hacker entering the virtual world of a computer known as the K-Project, which I think of as the Internet.  An AI controls the goings on of the K-Project, her name is Eden, and she has become overwhelmed with the amount of data stored within.  Her solution to the problem is to shut down the K-Project and thus basically shutting down global communications.  Your job as a hacker in the system is to prevent her from doing this through five levels that have everything from small, simple enemies to big bosses with many destruction points.  I have always been a huge fan of cyberpunk, my youth spent watching movies like Blade Runner, Johnny Mnemonic, and of course The Matrix while authors like William Gibson and Bruce Sterling spoke of things to come when man meets technology.  Even the mention of what Rez was all about prompted me to quickly pick up a copy, although for the life of me I can’t imagine why I opted to import the Dreamcast version over the HD remake on Xbox Live.

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Written by Fred Rojas

March 27, 2012 at 12:00 pm

What is a Shmup?

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For some reason, this screen from R-Type is always what I think about when I hear the word “shmup”.

It’s leap day, a day that on most years doesn’t even exist, and had it not been for today it would officially be March.  For those of us in the retro gaming world, shooter fans or basically anyone who listens to Drunken Gamers Radio it also means Shmuppreciation month.  For 31 long days we show our appreciation for intergalactic starships, Moai heads, tiered power-ups, sexy young girls with large breasts that aren’t involved in a hentai game, dodging thousands of bullets and actually seeing a vertical raster effect in a high-definition game.  It is all for the love of the shoot ’em up, these days called “shmups” for short.  What’s distinct about the shmup is that aside from most other genres, it has been around as long as video games themselves – yes, the first video game was a shmup – and has remained relatively unchanged for more than 30 years.  As an avid fan with probably more than $1,000 in shmups alone among almost every system – did I mention the shmup has some of the most expensive games in existence? – I wanted to reflect on the history of the shmup.

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Written by Fred Rojas

February 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm