Genre: Action Adventure
During its launch in the US, Sega’s new Dreamcast console released with 18 games in tow. While that’s not a paltry number for the time, there were only a handful of recognizable titles in the mix like Sonic Adventure and Mortal Kombat Gold. Titles like Soulcalibur and House of the Dead 2 weren’t exactly household titles yet but were familiar to the arcade going crowd. Then, there was a host of games to file under the “unknown” label; intellectual properties that were getting the chance to grow and become new franchises on a sparkly new system.
Blue Stinger is the system’s sole attempt at a straight-up action adventure game from their launch. With the newly formed Climax Graphics at the helm and heavyweight publisher Activision helping the game, it looked to be a formidable attempt at starting a new series in the vein of Dino Crisis and other success stories from the time. I still remember seeing a hefty amount of advertising pushing the game in magazines, and my best friend at the time had grabbed a copy almost immediately because it looked so good.
Unfortunately, I didn’t remember much about playing it aside from the opening scenes when I dove into it recently. As a huge fan of the Dreamcast and its unique library, Blue Stinger is a game I’ve been meaning to take a trip through given its strange existence in the gaming community today- plenty of folks seem not to remember the game exists and those who do have polarizing views on it.
Having dug my heels in to finish it recently, I have my own thoughts on it to share on both how it holds up and regarding its place in gaming at the time. Continue reading
Back to the Future
Nintendo Entertainment System
Genre: Run-and-Gun Action
Here we are again. Another film adaptation game on the NES, another trial I have wittingly thrown myself into. I’ve made no secret of my love for the somewhat broken Friday the 13th and my enjoyment of the slightly-more-broken Nightmare on Elm Street. That said, those games are also based off of films that I love. Is it biased to give games leeway because we love the source material? Kind of. I still stand by the idea that Friday the 13th has more to offer than it gets credit for, at the very least.
That said, what happens when a game comes up for a property that you’re ambivalent about? Don’t get me wrong- I really enjoy the Back to the Future films. I didn’t grow up watching them every day or anything, though. In fact, I didn’t watch the entirety of the first film until sometime in my late high school career. I enjoyed it, but it doesn’t have the nostalgia factor that some of my favorites have.
I did, however, have vague memories of playing the game on Nintendo a while ago. My childhood mind had some recollections of near-impossible minigames and something about running down a street. For whatever reason, I decided that I wanted to try to fill in those gaps and go back to play Back to the Future now that I’ve grown a bit and found an appreciation for particular game design choices and gained more of a critical eye for ways older games could be improved on.
I’m sure you can already tell how this went, but let’s push forward and maybe we’ll learn a thing or two along the journey!
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Genre: Horror Adventure
Everyone finds a different way to tackle their backlog, and it is hardly ever the same as the next person. I’ve worked on finding creative ways to approach my backlog, but it always seems to grow faster than I can get it to shrink. In a recent Twitter post, someone mentioned looking into your Steam library purchases to see what the first game you ever bought on the platform was. My curiosity got the better of me given my pile of games on there is probably the largest of all of my gaming methods, so I took the plunge to find out what my flagship Steam purchase was.
December 11th, 2010. A few days before my birthday so I must have been treating myself. No surprise that it was a horror game but a bit surprising that it was a game I hadn’t played to completion: Amnesia: The Dark Descent. As a bit of a Lovecraft fan and an entrenched horror gaming fan, it struck me as odd that I hadn’t taken the plunge to complete the game but had made a few unsuccessful attempts.
As someone who was very excited to check out Amnesia when it first released, knowing nearly ten years after it came out that I hadn’t finished it became the gasoline in my tank to push into it with the express purpose of seeing the end credits. Not that I didn’t have an inherent interest. After years of hype, though, and seeing it recommended by a ton of fellow horror fans, I had to wonder what kind of impact it would leave on me in the present day. Continue reading
Phantasmagoria 2: A Puzzle of Flesh
Genre: Point-and-Click Horror/Sci-Fi
Anyone who has talked with me about video games for an extended amount of times has stumbled on my love of FMV games. It’s probably due to the mixture of cinema and the interactivity of the medium, but something has always intrigued me about the jump to using live actors and CGI to bring games to the ‘next level’.
About three years ago, I put together a piece on a full-motion video game called Phantasmagoria, a game that was developed and published by prominent adventure game designer and Sierra On-Line luminary Roberta Williams. After the immense success of creating a video game that was aimed squarely at a more mature audience, it was only logical that a sequel would be developed; that’s the way that media works and Sierra did not disappoint in delivering another game to the short-lived franchise.
Phantasmagoria 2: A Puzzle of Flesh appeared on shelves a year after the original. Despite not being helmed by Williams this time around- the reins had been passed to a colleague of hers, Lorelei Shannon who wrote and directed- the sequel’s horrific box art and correlation to its controversial predecessor gave it the perfect setup to once again break records. The issue with following up groundbreaking work, however, is finding new ground to strike in a novel way. On the surface, this game seems ready to deliver the goods.
Once it’s open and the gears start turning, though, does the puzzle fit together or are there are few pieces missing that keep the final product from being as iconic as the first? Continue reading
Super Mario Kart
There are a few genres in gaming that I don’t talk about a lot. I haven’t played many sports games since I was a kid. I’m not really into the ‘4X’ strategy games that some of my friends gush over. One type of game that I’ve regularly played, though, and haven’t brought up is the ‘racing’ genre.
Nearly all of the major franchises from the 1990s ended up with some kind of racing title. Sonic Drift, Crash Team Racing, and even Final Fantasy had Chocobo Racing. One of the forerunners of this trend, of course, was the Mario franchise. When Super Mario Kart came out on the Super Nintendo, its colorful and chaotic cover art promised some new adventures involving a variety of characters from the universe we had all come to know and love. Given the number of spinoff games the franchise would receive, one could argue that Super Mario Kart opened the gates for the dearth of games we would see later on like Mario Party and Mario (insert name of sport here).
Even as a kid getting this game, though, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Playing as Mario without jumping on enemies and trying to navigate perilous worlds to save something? It was such a strange concept to me back then. Now, it seems as natural as any other idea given how many games bear the Mario Kart moniker. With the amount of time and refinement the games have gotten over multiple consoles and years, heading back to the beginning worried me. It could easily have been an undertaking of frustration that could decimate my nostalgia for the game.
Needless to say, I popped it in recently and gave it a whirl. What’s the worst that could happen? Continue reading