Longplay: TimeSplitters 2

As presented by the LongplayArchive, TimeSplitters 2 for the GameCube. The vid is about three and a half hours long. Give them a like and a sub if you enjoy the video.

I’ll have an update to this post in the future. I admired Rareware a lot back in the 90s, as I’m sure many others did who played their games on the Nintendo systems. Free Radical Designs, the company that developed TimeSplitters, was compromised of some Goldeneye 007 veterans. I’ve been piecing together the story behind TimeSplitters and the early days of Free Radical, but it’s all very fragmented and a little confusing. But look for my update soon.

Longplay: Doom (SNES)

As played by bg048, Doom on the SNES. This is the Knee Deep in the Dead episode, on Nightmare setting. The video is about 1 hour 18 minutes long:

Doom on the SNES was quite a technical accomplishment for its time, even if it left a lot to be desired vis-à-vis the PC version. Some of the development story is told in the excellent 2004 book Masters of Doom. If I remember right, the initial porting work was given to a different programmer from the core id software team. He left a lot to be desired, and to get the game to run adequately on the SNES hardware, some technical wizardry was needed.

It’s been a long time since I read the book, so don’t quote me on all that. I’m sure interviews and post mortems can be found on the internet, if you’re really curious. What I do know is that the cart used the special FX chips, without which I’m pretty sure the game wouldn’t run. Several levels were cut in the final version, and if you notice the monster animations are very limited. They can’t turn, for instance.

The soundtrack is a high point still, in my opinion, on the SNES.

There’s probably no need to hunt down a copy or a ROM if you’ve played old Doom ever in your life. But for me this brings back a lot of fond memories.

Gameplay: Madden 09 (PS2)

I took an informal poll of my gaming pals for today’s nostalgia post. The 00’s Madden series came up, which I’m largely ignorant of. In fact  I haven’t played a Madden game since Madden ’93. Football just isn’t my cup of tea. But we’re always on the look out for sampling different gameplay here at Usualjay.com, so here’s a gameplay video of Madden 09:

Seems like a fun game, but as I said it’s not my forte. Madden, of course, has been a powerhouse franchise for decades, though it seems like there might be some series fatigue of late. My friend called this the “last good Madden”, at least on PS2. I assume this might have been the last Madden on PS2 at all.

 

Cancelled Games: Damage Inc. (Metallica)

Once upon a time, during the St. Anger era of that famous metal band, I caught a story on some outlet about a Metallica themed car combat game. Damage Inc seemed like a natural title for such a project. A short CGI trailer came with the St. Anger album, with a promise of a 2005 release date. That was the last I heard about it. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the game never came out. Fast forward 15 years or so. Lo and behold, footage of this cancelled oddity is on YouTube. Check out this excellent video PtoPOnline about Damage Inc.:

At the time I scoffed at the idea. But the early build of the gameplay, now I wish it had come out. If the developer used the right Metallica tracks this might have become a cult classic.

The games that never come, eh?

Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock impressions

Recall a few months ago that a turn based strategy game set in the RDM Battlestar Galactica universe came out. I finally got the game while it was on sale for PS4 last month. And a few days ago I finally got the chance to play it for a spell. So far, I like what I see, though it’s going to take me a while to get used to the interface. Here are some quick impressions.

Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock World

The game is set during the first Cylon war in the reimagined Battlestar universe. While it’s not necessary to know the show at all to get into the storyline, if you’ve seen the show at all, everything will be very familiar to you. The premise involves a revolt by a cybernetic race of slaves (the Cylons) against their human masters. The twelve colonies consist of different inhabited worlds, which I guess are independent. In return for forming a united government, each of the colonies are granted a superweapon via the “Jupiter Project.”  The battlestars are these weapons. The very first battlestar, for Caprica, is – you guessed it – the Galactica.

The Galactica goes missing on its first deployment (figures) but in the meantime, there’s a war to fight. Things are at a standstill between man and machine, and it’s hoped that the united colonies will be able to muster the strength necessary to defeat their former robot help. Rear Admiral Cain takes command of the fleet after one of the colonies suffers a sneak attack, which also happens to threaten fleet headquarters. As Admiral Cain’s XO, you the player assume operational command of the fleet.

That’s the premise anyway, and after the exposition, we’re deposited to the map screen for the campaign.

Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock Gameplay

As a turn based strategy game, you get to manage a fleet of ships in battle, and handle their deployments on the strategic screen. I only played the first mission, which involved taking control of two smaller vessels. A Cylon ship warps in and you essentially get a tutorial on how to move your ships around and control them. A second Cylon ship soon joins the fray.

You can control the placement of your vessels, along with their altitude and their rotation. I’m guessing in big fleet battles this will be a key tactical element. My ships didn’t have any Vipers (fighters), just gun turrets and missiles. You can also assign damage control teams from a sub screen.

I found the controls somewhat clumsy, and you use the triggers to rotate the screen and zoom, but also switch between ships. You use the D-Pad to move your active ships, and use the Square button to get into the command sub screen.

After all your commands are inputted, you go the command screen again and hold Triangle to end your turn. Your ships execute those commands, while the enemy player gets a go. Rinse, lather, repeat, until both enemy ships are destroyed.

Impressions

When the game was new, I caught a bit of Total Biscuit’s gameplay. He mentioned the steep curve getting into the game. This lasts say a half hour to an hour or so. But once you do, it’s rewarding. I’m going to continue playing the campaign and see how far along I get. I don’t know what the community looks like (or if multiplayer is even available). The controls did trip me up quite a bit, but I’ll get over that. I would like to get a better feel for that strategic screen. The in-game tutorial system seems a bit minimalistic.

But wow, does this game make you feel like you’re playing the show. Hard to believe “Daybreak” was almost ten years ago. I’ll post updated impressions when I have them.

WWF Royal Rumble (Dreamcast)

Since today is the day of the 2018 WWE Royal Rumble, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the WWF Royal Rumble game for Dreamcast. I’ve never played it, though it looks like it’s has the same lineage as those n64 Yuke’s titles. Here’s a gameplay video from John GodGames:

It actually…doesn’t look that great to me.

Final Fantasy Tactics Speedrun

Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the North American release of Final Fantasy Tactics. Or as I like to call it, one of the best Final Fantasy games ever made.

If you’ve got four hours to burn, check out this speed run of the original PlayStation version by Claude.

RAW 25th Anniversary

Tonight, WWE will celebrate the 25th anniversary of its flagship program, Monday Night Raw. 25 years! Where did the time go? I still remember watching the premiere, mostly for Bobby Heenan trying to sneak in and that scorcher of a main event, the Undertaker vs. Skinner. Yep.

Anyhow, since I only have time for a short post today, I thought I would post a few gameplay videos I found of the Raw brand games for the occasion. Enjoy:

WWF Raw (SNES – 1994)

SNES version shown here, it was also on the Genesis and 32X. I’ve talked about these LJN brand games before, but as the first Raw brand game created, it deserves to be mentioned again. I still have the SNES copy somewhere in the Back Catalog.

WWF War Zone (N64 – 1998)

The Nintendo 64 version shown here. Ok so it’s not technically “Raw” branded, but the “Warzone” was one of the hours of the Raw show, back during the head-to-head competition with WCW. I didn’t care for this game, as I preferred THQ’s wrestling titles, but it did look good (for its time). It was the first WWF game on the n64.

WWF Raw (Xbox – 2002)

I never played this Xbox exclusive THQ game, but I was envious of it at the time. The graphics look surprisingly good for a circa 2001/2002 game. But the collision detection…not so much. Check out those top ropes bending without the Rock model touching them during the entrance. CD is kind of important in a wrestling game. This title has the distinction of being the last WWF branded game.

WWE Raw 2 (Xbox – 2003)

The sequel to the above Xbox Raw game. Looks pretty similar, with the exception of the GUI and the obvious changeover to the WWE brand. Tommy Dreamer vs. Steven Richards seems like a nice ECW inspired choice here on the part of SpriteNick. I never played any of these games so I don’t know how good (or bad) they were.

 Smackdown! vs. Raw (PS2 – 2004)

The first of the Smackdown! v Raw games, published by THQ and developed by Yuke’s. This was the only game of the series that I played, and only briefly. I had quit watching wrestling at some point in 2002, as my interest in it waned. I’m in that camp of fans who believed that without a real competitor (i.e., WCW), Vince’s product would get stale. Plus all that drama from 90s had dissipated by that point. I kind of regret it now since I missed out on a lot of good runs by guys I had followed. Anyway, about the game: it traced its lineage to the very first Smackdown! game on PlayStation. I preferred the Aki engine from the n64 heyday, but Yuke’s was serviceable.

I’ll post the rest of the Smackdown! vs Raw games for completion’s sake, but like I said, I didn’t play any of them so I won’t comment further. The next time I would play a WWE game was with WWE 2K13, which I believe this series had evolved into, going on to today. They all look pretty similar. As expected.

Smackdown! vs Raw 2006 (PS2 – 2005)

Smackdown Vs Raw 2007 (X360 – 2006)

Smackdown vs Raw 2008 (X360 – 2007)

Smackdown vs Raw 2009 (PS3 – 2008)

 

Smackdown vs Raw 2010 (X360 – 2009)

 

Smackdown vs Raw 2011 (PS3 – 2010)

 

Resident Evil 1.5

Since we’re a week away from the twentieth anniversary of Resident Evil 2, I thought I would take a look at the first pass at the game, or what we now call Resident Evil 1.5. Take a look at the gameplay below, with commentary:

According to the legend (or developer interviews), Resident Evil 2 was something like 80% done when the producer and team decided it was junk and started over from scratch. Although the scenario remained roughly the same, with two characters trying to escape the doomed police station in Raccoon City, many of the details were different. For instance, the woman character Elza Walker evolved into the Claire Redfield we know from the release. The game seemed a little more sterile (or “modern” if you prefer) and there were supposedly going to be more zombies.  On the whole, it seems like the ideas weren’t totally discarded, and some were recycled into other survival horror/action horror games.

This piece in Vice, while admittedly a little clickbaitish, gives a good run-down of some of the differences between the release version and the scrapped game. I don’t agree with much of the author’s “What if” daydreaming, but the insights from the mod team are interesting. If you want some more detailed information, one of the Resident Evil wikis provides a translated version of a Famitsu interview with the core Capcom team, circa 1998.

I had no idea, by the way, that there were so many different/planned/canned versions of the early Resident Evil games. It’s probably a sign of why the series is loved by so many, the games are just solid. With that much iterration, how could they not be?

I’ll have more about Resident Evil in the coming days. I’m crossing my fingers that we hear something about the planned RE2 remake. But we’re probably still a ways off from playing it.

 

Back Catalog: The Wii GameCube Connection

Time for a quick update on the Back Catalog. Today I received a used Wii, and completed my Nintendo system collection. From the NES to the Switch, it’s kind of nice to have the whole family together under one roof again. But I had quite forgotten a nice feature of the original Wii: full backward compatibility with the GameCube.

Now that was a first. Nintendo had long eschewed backward compatibility on its home consoles. There were plenty of reasons not to include it. The business model depended on people buying the games to subsidize the system, for one. And compatibility is a complex design issue, for another. So we have all this old hardware, competing for precious shelf space. Most of the time, it’s not worth it to hang onto the old stuff. Memories tend to create halos around old games, as I recently discovered. But sometimes, we just want to play anyway. At least, the GameCube games have aged a little better than those 90s consoles, I have to admit.

I might be mistaken, but I think Nintendo achieved backward compatibility the same way Sony did so with the PS2 and PS3; by grafting on the old chipsets. Indeed the Wii has four controller ports for GameCube controllers and two memory card ports. When you flip those hatches open, the system starts to resemble those old Sega hybrids that occasionally surfaced. It works pretty well too; as far as I can tell, there isn’t any difference between a game played on the Cube and one played on the Wii.

One more benefit to this transaction: I do have component cables for the Wii. After changing over the default configuration to 480p mode, and setting the 16:9 display setting, I gave The Twin Snakes a quick run. It looked low res, of course. But glorious nonetheless in widescreen display. I can’t wait to try out Rogue Leader in the coming weeks. And I might have an idea about a certain 20th anniversary coming up. Stay tuned.