Weekly: It’s Snowing In Mojave

This was supposed to be the post when I officially announce the beginning of the Winter Gaming Season. Then I would ramble how much I like spending long dark evenings with video games, make a promise to finally write a list of games which are most suitable for this part of the year. After all, it finally arrived last week and now its glorious snow everywhere and northern darkness is embracing us. So, it’s the right time to play Skyrim again and post a picture of my new character, right?

I’m sorry, it’s not going to happen yet. I’m still stuck in the desert.

20171204000820_1

That’s right, New Vegas is just too good to abandon it now just because my favourite season has started. Last week, most of my gaming time was wandering from one settlement to another and looking for Wanted posters. The funny thing is that the third and final part of New Vegas Bounties takes the player to a new location which just happens to be a snowy mountain valley. What’s wrong with playing New Vegas in December when it looks like lo-fi Skyrim?

t985-9-transarctica-aga

Of course, the season will eventually begin and what would be better than celebrating it by the best winter game ever. I return to Transarctica almost every winter, but this time it has to be done right. No cheats, no walk-throughs, and I will play a properly installed HD0 version — which will require some tinkering with the WinUAE, something I’ve always hated.

Goals, goals, goals: Install Transarctica. Spend at least one hour writing that My Best Winter Games post.

 

 

Advertisements

Just Finished: Another World

My back is broken, I can’t feel my legs and I will probably never find a way back home, but at least my only friend in this another world is here, and we’re riding towards the sunset on the back of a huge flying lizard. See you in the next episode.

20171102211046_1

By a lucky coincidence, I played the original Another World at the same time as when I discovered the joys of reading classic SF books. The thing is that some of the old editions available at my school’s library had those fantastic illustrations made by masters like Frank Frazetta and others. Well, sometimes their art was too fantastic — I swear that I was too afraid to open my copy of Burroughs’ Princess of Mars — but it certainly helped me to appreciate the incredible vision of an alien reality in Eric Chahi‘s masterpiece.

20170917020930_1.jpg

Too bad that I lacked the skill and resolve for fair play and used codes to skip some, let’s say, problematic sections, but as a kid I didn’t care about it. Now it’s time to return and do it the proper way.

First of all, playing the 25th anniversary edition made me understand why people on Steam and elsewhere keep complaining about remastered editions. In case of Another World, you don’t get much, just hi-res graphics and soundtrack. There’s no audio commentary from the maker, no concept art, no new levels. Maybe I shouldn’t complain, though, because I shamelessly pirated the Amiga original so it was the right thing to pay the money without any additional benefits.

20171030000114_1.jpg

What are my thoughts after I finally finished the right way? Human memory is a fickle thing, but this might have been the first mature game in my life. In this case ‘mature’ means an ambition to reach beyond, transgress the borders and make a video game something more than just pure leisure.

One example of this revolutionary approach is Buddy, the NPC companion with whom you try to escape captivity. Being a native to this another world, he has a different set of skills and is able to operate alien technology, but also to fight the baddies hand-to-hand – something that our eggheaded protagonist isn’t capable to do. What’s even better, sometimes our former cell-mate acts in a different dimension, for example escaping pursuit right in front of the virtual camera while the hero moves in the background. A very interesting and unique approach whis reminds the player that this 2D game has an actual third dimension.

Of course, being almost two decades, I cannot ignore the game’s flaws now. First of all, there’s little interaction with the environment and virtually no dialogue at all. The combat mechanics, although surprisingly exciting, are too simplistic – a cover system like in Alcatraz or Blackthorne would make it much more interesting. Finally, my standard complaint is that it’s far too short, but it’s understandable given the technical limitations of home computers at the time Another World was released.

Still, does it all even matter when we’re talking about a work of a genius. Maybe one day I’ll make my personal shrine, a shelf with physical copies of the greatest games I’ve ever played. Another World will certainly be among them.

20171102211233_1

Weekly: Sunday Beast

Sometimes, Sunday playing means embracing childhood nostalgia. This time the wonderful WinUAE emulator took me back to one of my favourite platformers.

Shadow of the Beast III was the first part of the series I played in my childhood and the only one I keep returning to. This is one of the rare cases when going back to my early Amiga years doesn’t end as a disappointment. I think everyone who has ever had the pleasure to play a Psygnosis game will admit that they were experts in turning visuals and sfx into magic. Personally, I think that they reached the peak of Amiga’s possibilities, but maybe I’m just blinded with nostalgia. After all, the Weird Owl Team was far from mastery in terms of pure gameplay — there are two different puzzles in the game which have always stopped me from finishing it, simply because they’re ridiculously unfair. It doesn’t matter, because I’m still hopelessly in love with the third Beast and I’ll give it another chance. Maybe a miracle will happen and I’ll be able to add it to my Just Finished collection.

20171105192248_1.jpg

Leaving the Sierra Madre casino after a prolonged stay made me realise that the strongest point of this game is it’s open world. There is nothing better than just travelling on foot between locations and admiring the cruel beauty of the Mojave desert. Especially when you can play hide-and-seek with a mutated lizard and dispose of it with one precise shot. Yeah, New Vegas would be a lot worse without old rugged bolt-action guns.

Weekly Quest: nothing big this time, just remember to write down something interesting for the next episode every day.

Daily Gamer: Look Me in the Eyes

From the Day One, this blog was supposed to be a personal sketchbook to capture my disorderly thoughts about games I was playing, so I didn’t care much about having a profile picture, but since I’ve started to comment other blogs, I think that it’s necessary to finally get one. Because sharing your precious commentary without showing your face would be just rude.

apocalypse-disk-2-of-3cr-hlm_001

Flight Officer Squarehead reporting for duty.

Who would think it would be so easy to find a proper photo? The first game that came to my mind was Apocalypse — a long forgotten helicopter shooter released in 1994. The screenshot above comes from the game’s loading screen and shows our hero, an unnamed pilot on a search-and-rescuse mission in the dark jungles of Majipoor. The sterotypical face of an über-masculine action movie hero, its old-school pixelation and the chiaroscuro effect fit my gaming taste perfectly.

What I didn’t expect was that now I feel a strong urge to replay Apocalypse on WinUAE. Well, I was planning to return to it anyway, so let’s add it to my special list of classics I’ve never managed to finish and launch the emulator.

Distraction: Dirty Coward

Surprisingly, my innocent pastime with Fire Force is taking longer than expected. While I was planning to play just it for a while and eventually drop it, discouraged by the player-unfriendly difficulty level, I’m actually managing to pass the first missions without any effort,  and enjoying it. Even awkward controls can’t scare me off. Of course, it’s always a little discouraging see the name of my brave Navy Seal with a little K.I.A. next to it, but, all out of sudden, I found a way to deal with the (perma)death…

…which is surprisingly simple. So simple that it’s no wonder that I haven’t discovered that one dirty trick before. Just like mentioned in my previous post about Fire Force, the game records the outcome of each mission on a special savedisk. Of course, using two different disks to avoid the permadeath would definitely be cheating, but there’s another way to save my character’s skin when things are about to go SNAFU. Similarly to the Cannon Fodder series, it’s possible to abort the mission on any given moment simply by hitting the Escape key. No matter if my stalwart defender of the American Way of Life has just received an entire AKM magazine into is stomach, no matter if the extraction zone is on the other end of the level — the game will return to the roster screen without saving the game status, giving the player a chance to replay a mission without any penalties. Of course, a true hardcore gamer would be too high-principled to exploit this option, which certainly looks strange in a game trying to be somewhat realistic (for the standards of a platformer released in 1992, of course). Well, this doesn’t bother me at all, because I wouldn’t dare to call myself a hardcore videogame player (despite my unhealthy inclination to set myself impossible challenges) and, of course, I don’t have that much time to play daily anymore while there are so many other titles I intend to finish. Besides, it really seems that the miraculous escape button is a genuine feature, not bug. Hey, the game even keeps rewarding me with medals and promotions, so I guess this time my conscience is clean.

blank_001