My Favorite Games: Part 10

And so… we finally reach the end of My Favorite Games. As expected there’s lots of games I’m fond of that I couldn’t find space for, and I’m sure as Red Parsley wears on there will be many more to consider, and even replace some of the games already here. Nearly all these games come from my younger days and I enjoyed them all in their prime and continue to enjoy them now, but since the purpose of this blog it to help me discover older games I haven’t previously played, some new lists will undoubtedly follow. Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my lists as much as I have enjoyed writing them.

Wiz n Liz – MegaDrive (1993)

Wiz n Liz - MegaDrive

Also released on the Amiga, this frantic platformer is not very well known for some reason, despite receiving decent reviews in its day. That never stopped me from playing it to death on my MD though, and I still do! This is also a good example of how games don’t need to be remotely violent to be great fun – aside from a few bosses there’s not a single enemy in the whole game! The object is to rescue all the rabbits that were stolen from the amusingly-named planet of Pum. Collecting rabbits releases letters and fruits which can be used to spell out and then mix magic spells, and they release various other items too. There is a huge variety of magic spells, each of which has a different effect – some give you bonuses, some are mini-games, others are just for fun. With fantastic graphics and music, this fast-paced platformer is a criminally under-played gem (which also offers simultaneous two-player action) and I can’t stop playing it!

Goldeneye 007 – Nintendo 64 (1997)

Goldeneye 007 - Nintendo 64

Yep, sorry, but I had to include it! This was pretty much the first FPS I played properly and what an experience it was! Being a fan of the Bond films didn’t hurt either. In fact, I had just watched the Goldeneye movie before I first played this and, having been used to terrible movie tie-ins generally, wasn’t really expecting much from it. To my amazement, however, not only was it amazingly playable but it also stuck to the plot of the film too. That was unheard of! This fantastic game represents many firsts for me, notably my first use of a sniper-rifle which was awesome, as well as probably the first game I’d played where stealth and cunning yielded more rewards than charging in all-guns-blazing like a bull in a china shop! Goldeneye is probably more famous for its multi-player deathmatches than for its one-player game but it was the latter that kept me playing this, even when I got stuck in the damn jungle level!

Soul Calibur
– Dreamcast (1999)

Soul Calibur - Dreamcast

Being a big Sega fan, not many games made me prouder of being a Dreamcast owner than this one. Stunning graphics (which actually improved on the arcade game) and a equally stunning soundtrack were the icing on the cake of this ground-breaking game from Namco. It had a lot of flashy moves which weren’t too difficult to perform, a great range of characters, and flawless combat physics, but my biggest surprise was discovering the Adventure Mode which saw you travelling around completing various missions to unlock many treats in the game! Many were hoping for a good conversion of this game. What they got was so much better than the arcade original it defied belief! This is still the finest 3D fighting game I’ve ever played.

Operation Wolf – Arcade (1987)

Operation Wolf - Arcade

Out of all my many visits to the arcades of Hayling Island in the late 80’s/early 90’s, this was the game that received most of my money. It was my first experience of a light-gun game, and it was a hell of an intro! An Uzi with grenade-launcher? Yes please! The force-feedback on the gun made things all the more authentic and I just loved playing this over and over, even if I wasn’t very good at it and never managed to complete it. No game of its type ever ensnared me like this did, until Point Blank of all things arrived! Shooting the helicopters and trucks was always particularly satisfying. Of all the home versions, only the Master System version was much cop, but even that didn’t offer the tense atmosphere of this fantastic original.

Sonic 2 – MegaDrive (1992)

Sonic 2 - MegaDrive

Last and not least… as a Sega fan I can’t possibly leave out a Sonic game, and as most will probably agree, the series never surpassed the second MD game. Released after a MAJOR hype campaign, this was one of the rare games that actually lived up to expectations. It took everything that Sonic 1 started and added a whole lot more – bigger, prettier stages and more of them, a new character in Tails, two-player action, those famous tunnel-based bonus rounds, a bigger challenge… Some of the later Sonic games were good but none of them were ever as endlessly entertaining as this one. Going back to play this makes me sad in a way as it marks not only Sonic’s peak, but arguably that of Sega themselves too. Oh well, let us Sega fanboys remember the good times – even Nintendo fanboys must’ve been jealous of this one!

The End…

Atlantica Online Review

Atlantica Online screenshot

One Sentence Review:
“A modern day MMO that’s a mix of Ogre Battle and Shining Force”

Overall Review Score:
8 out of 10

The Good:
– MMO version of a remake of Ogre Battle (SNES) and Shining Force (Sega Genesis).
– Free to Play MMO that for the most part has no subscription system.
– Laid back MMO for PVE.
– Great music creates a nice atmosphere.
– Great auto travel system.
– Gets-the-job-done auto combat system (for PVE).
– Awesome crafting system.
– Awesome party system for power leveling other players.
– Addictive.
– Daily and weekend special events.
– Many optimized gameplay functions that are taken from other great MMOs.
– Some quests require you to type something in reply to a question (making it more like a real RPG or old text adventure game).
– Guild to Guild, Nation to Nation warfare, cross server warfare.
– A guild can control one town and run it (infrastructure, improvements, population, etc.).
– Cross server based player crafting run economy.
– Referral and mentoring system for getting benefits of referring new players and power leveling them faster.
– World based on Earth’s map so you don’t need to learn the geography of some random fantasy world.
– The art style of the game looks a lot like Soul Calibur.
– Most of the time you can play the game while afk or alt tabbed, when doing pve.
– So much killing… oh and when you kill, you craft at the same time!
– All the concepts and items that can be bought with real world money can also be bought with in game money.
– In a high level area, a mob of mobs of monsters can potentially jump you. That makes the game a lot more challenging (feels like a last stand kind of fight).

The Bad:
– Addictive.
– Some game functions do require having almost like a subscription because they expire in X amount of days.
– You don’t get to directly do stuff with your high level friends until much later in the game when you are all top levels. The game feels like a single player RPG until then.
– The servers can’t sometimes handle the load of having many players on it, like on the weekends during special event days (when most people play).
– Some common known bugs in the game are not addressed by the developers.
– Quest givers are retarded.
– Some quests require you to type something in reply to a question.
– Some people use bot programs but there are ways to rob their stuff.
– Referral program does not have a URL link with your account name embedded where a new player can download the game to give you credit for the referral automatically.
– Western audiences might be turned off from the game looking like a Korean MMO but hardcore gamers won’t be.
– Most parts of the game will be too laid back for the pvp mmo crowd (the kind that shouts all the time over ventrilo or team speak).
– The AI is pretty retarded.
– A lot of grinding.
– Repetitive kind of quests (kill, collect, buy, go here) … just the setting changes.
– Pay to win “free-to-play” problem. Some super characters that can only be bought at the real money store cost about $50 EACH. This is a game breaker for most people. They should learn from World of Tanks and League of Legends and only make the premium characters about $10 each maximum. Although this is true, they do give you about $60 worth of free stuff (licenses) which makes power leveling a LOT faster. There are sales sometimes for premium stuff and rarely you can get them from a special in game event but most people won’t wait for that to happen.
– Some UI problems like it giving certain chat windows priority over others making you waste time clicking.
– There is an PVP execution called King’s Judgement where a guild leader that is in a level 5 nation can challenge a player to punish him. If the defender loses then he permanently gives the challenger a piece of equipment.
– More drama than a spanish soap opera, except without all the hot bitches.

Conclusion:
A great game to play at work or if need to go afk a lot.

Download Link for Atlantica Online:
http://atlantica.nexon.net/

Retro Love: Buy a Dreamcast

Sega Dreamcast Logo

It’s been quite some time since I’ve got my brand new, but also (and that’s quite an oxymoron) second hand, SEGA Dreamcast, and let me tell you, I am as happy a punter as one can be. I’m a 100% converted and a newborn SEGA fanboy (well, not a boy in the full sense, but you get the idea… at least I’m not in my thirties just yet). I’m also rather thankful to the Dreamcast Junkyard for fuelling my DC obsession.

All things considered I’m thankful to dear Mr. Elderly too, for providing this blog’s comments space with a healthy dose of Irish surrealism, but that’s definitely none of your business. All you should focus on is buying a Dreamcast (unless of course you already got one, in which case you should consider buying a second). Why? Well, because…

1) It’s a matter of price.

The Dreamcast is dead cheap. You should be able to buy a brand new one for less than 80$ (that’s 60 euros) over at Lik-Sang (try clicking on the banner at the end of the article to see for yourself), or follow my example and buy a second hand one, either at e-bay or at your local second-hand-store-bazaar-whatever for quite a bit less than 50$. And this is paying for a 100% current-gen console.
Sega Dreamcast Console
the Dreamcast (via)

2) It’s the bleeding hardware

It doesn’t only look smart, it is smart. SEGA’s Dreamcast is miles ahead from both the Nintendo 64 and the PlayStation, even though it’s not as powerful as the PS2 or the GameCube. It sports a RISC 128bit CPU capable of 360 MIPS (N64 ~120 MIPS, PS1 ~30 MIPS), a special edition PowerVR2 graphics processor, that can cope with 10 times PS1’s polygons, 16MB of RAM, a 1 Giga “GD-ROM” (aka fancy, fast and easily pirated CD-ROM) drive, brilliant 64 channel audio and a modem. Yes. The first console modem ever. Oh, and European players will apparently enjoy full 60Hz PAL support.

Sega Dreamcast Motherboard

the insides of the beast (via)

3) It’s the brilliant (and admittedly very cheap) games

With more than 300 games, the Dreamcast has something for everyone, except perhaps for us poor football minded maniacs. Most used (and abused) games should be picked up at ridiculous prices of 5-10$ (less in euros, even less in pounds), while published titles include such brilliant gems as Soul Calibur, Rez, Sonic Adventure 2, Rayman 2, Phantasy Star Online, Quake 3 (you might even be able to track down Half-Life), Metropolis Street Racer, Shenmue, Ikaruga, Crazy Taxi 2, Jet Grind Radio and the quite legendary Samba de Amigo.

Soul Calibur - Sega Dreamcast Screenshot

Soul Calibur

 

I could actually go on and mention at least a dozen more distinctive and defining games, but I’d rather mention something else. Dreamcast games are still being produced! Have a look at the 2006 released Under Defeat or the forthcoming Last Hope shooter.

Under Defeat - Sega Dreamcast Screenshot

Under Defeat

4) It’s the innovation and the quirkyness

And I’m talking innovation, beside the Internet connection or the PAL ting. The Dreamcast controller featured a brilliant analog stick, the now-standard shaped triggers and interestingly the Virtual Memory Unit, or VMU. This VMU thingy was far more than a memory stick. It plugged into the controller and used its little LCD screen to display relevant game information or graphics and even was a wee version of Gameboy, as it also functioned as a completely separate portable handheld gaming device (from hell). VMU games can be found right here, but searching and googling around will lead you to quite a few more cyber-stashes.

Sega Dreamcast VMU

the VMU (exposed)

 

As for quirkyness, one could mention the DC Keyboard, the Fishing Rod, the quite new-at-the-time Vibration Pack and above all Dreamcast’s Wii capabilities.

5) It’s the scene

By saying the scene I’m talking of the vibrant DC emulation, demo, homebrew and even amateur journalism community. On the Dreamcast you see, one can play anything from old arcade, to MegaDrive, Amiga, Atari, Gameboy, Playstation or NES games. There’s even a ScummVM port that makes those old Lucasarts adventures of yore DC compatible. Then again one can listen to MP3s, watch DivX videos, see the Dreamcast get pushed to its limits and play zillions of Tetris versions. All of these courtesy of the scene.

To start tasting sweet freeware offerings (you will need DiscJuggler to burn things on CD) try the following links: DCEvolution.net, Dreamcast Homebrew, IGN Dreamcast, Dreamcast @ pout.net.

6) There is no 6

Go on. Buy one! It’s cheap and powerful, but also quite the retro machine. Oh, and the Wii isn’t out yet.

Cosplay: Curves

Alienware Rocks:

You can’t please everyone no matter how hard you try. The common wisdom today is that customer service and tech support doesn’t care about their customers. I can understand that feeling because of things like massive outsourcing and stories of how dumb people think customers are. However, I can say truthfully that during my time in Customer and Tech Support we did everything we could to make people happy.

Now of course that was up to a point. We all knew our stuff and knew our products and since the company was small at the time it was easy to go check on a system personally. Everyone knew everyone so it was simple to ask that something be double checked, triple checked and so on.

You rarely hear from happy customers, but the angry ones last forever. In one instance we had a customer who built a system for her son. A few weeks after he received the system he said it was full of viruses and crashed and had software issues. After checking it out we told his mother it was due to lack of an anti-virus and the fact that her son was going to sites that let’s just say are known to carry viruses.

We that just didn’t sit well with the mother, she said it was our fault and her son is a saint and would never surf bad sites. We did clean up the system and had proof it was due to viruses, but we were not there to prove her wrong, we wanted to help. Unfortunately, we knew the future.

As the weeks went on we continued to hear from the customer about how the system was “broken again”. No matter how we tried to explain it we were in the wrong and her son was in the right. Then the lemon law talk started. Believe me, we tried everything including giving her free anti-virus software and even monitoring software, and still time after time he would call in saying his system “sucks”.

We agreed to have the system come in to do a full look over. At this time she wanted a new system, but we knew it was not something a new computer would fix. If nothing else we hoped to get the system in and set it up so that no matter where her son went the computer would not get infected. We eagerly awaited the systems arrival and when it came to our shipping depot the manager told us it seemed really heavy. When we went to look at it the box seemed fine, but when we opened it inside was tons of small to medium sized rocks and a note that just said Alienware rocks.

I won’t go into what happened next, but in the end it was proven her son did cause the issues. I doubt the mom forgave us, but you can’t win them all.

Alright, if you read all this thanks. If not, it’s okay. Now on to what you came here for.

Check out the rest of our Cosplay.