Monday, 28 November 2016

Zombie High (Sega Megadrive/Genesis)

Zombie High (Megadrive/Genesis) :

Not really a proper game this, but I thought I'd add it anyway. It's a prototype of a game from EA that was never released, and sees you controlling a chap who has to deal with zombies taking over his high school...

It was previously thought that you could only get to the end of the first level of the game before you came up against some unstoppable enemies, and until yesterday that's as far as I'd got, but then I was really pleased to discover this link which tells you how to access a debug menu by plugging in a second pad and holding Start and A on that....

This lets you explore the game a bit more, and you can get access to levels with zombie cheerleaders and american footballers, and fight weird teacher bosses or bulldogs and stuff...Anyway, I thought I'd include it just as an interesting look at something that for whatever reason never made it to shop shelves...

It actually looks like it would have been a really fun little game if it had been finished properly, and it's a shame it got cancelled. Go find a copy of the prototype online, get a decent Sega emulator and check it out....

Friday, 25 November 2016

Beetlejuice in ~ Skeletons In The Closet (PC)

Beetlejuice In ~ Skeletons In The Closet (PC):

We get to grips with old Beetle-bonce himself in this odd, old Hi-Tech DOS game from 1990. It's a fairly simple little game. You play as Beetlejuice and walk him round the screen shooting loogies at skeletons, which crumple to the ground for Lydia to hoover up the bones! 

Sandworms stick their heads up every now and again to try and eat you, so you have to avoid those, and sometimes Lydia gets trapped by the skeletons and put in a cage, so you'll have to rush up and free her from that predicament by collecting a lightning pick-up from a dead (re-dead?) skeleton. The skeletons drop a few other pick-ups too, like one that gives you the ability to fire your head at them instead of spit or multi-spit shots, etc.

Beetles crawl around that you can pick up to spell the word "TRUTH", and that acts as a smart bomb that kills all the enemies on screen at once. Once you complete a screen you move on to the next...and...uhm...well, that's it! I told you it was fairly simple! It does seem to get a bit trickier the further you progress, but there's nothing else to the game really!

Which is fair enough! It still manages to be quite addictive despite not having much to it and would actually be a great game for kids to play after watching an episode or two of the cartoon! It won't have you playing for hours upon hours though... 

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Monster Max (Gameboy)

Monster Max (Gameboy) :

Poor Max, the monster guitarist, was getting ready to rock up a storm when a particularly pesky human invader by the name of Krond took over the planet & banned music! Being more than a little miffed at losing his chance of stardom and faced with never again moshing like a monster of rock should, Max enlists in the Mega Hero Academy! Here he must complete nine levels of training before he's ready to face the evil Krond and save music!

Taking control of Max, you're faced with hundreds of screens filled with platforms and puzzles in an isometric adventure that's probably the best example of the genre ever made! You'll control robots as you try to manoevure platforms with them, use ducks! And bombs, guns, swords and all sorts of other power-ups to solve the sorts of puzzles you'll be expecting if you know your isometric-type adventures!

Programmed by Jon Ritman with graphics by Bernie Drummond, these guys took everything they learned from previous hits Batman 3D & Head Over Heels, and created a real monster-sized game! 600 locations made it twice as big as Head Over Heels, and the level design is superb meaning you'll never really blame the game for any mistakes! If you fail at a puzzle, you'll curse yourself for making a mistake and jump straight back to trying to conquer it again. 

As you'd expect from a title with a rock-star monster,  the game also features a great soundtrack by David Wise with lots of great toe-tapping tunes! Nice little extra touches, like Max rocking out when you leave him idling, make for a charming & fun game that should be more famous and popular than it actually is.. 

As Jon Ritman says on his own site..

"Max got the best reviews I’ve ever seen but Titus seemed very slow in getting it on the shelves – I have to question the reasoning behind getting 98% in January’s reviews and selling it the following December. As a result the sales were fairly poor for a Game Boy product. Such is life.

This means it can be hard to find a copy for sale,  but if you can find a copy grab it quick as you can with your monster mitts before those pesky humans invade and try to ban it or something....

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

The Mummy (Gameboy Advance)

The Mummy (GBA) :

Based on the animated series (trailer below), which itself was based on the The Mummy Returns, this game was a pleasant surprise! Often when you get games based on animated shows, they reek of quick cash-in and have very little in the way of gameplay or indeed, fun!

But here, we're given control of all three members of the O'Connells as they scramble to collect the pages of the mystical Book Of The Dead that evil Imhotep is trying to get his manky mummified hands on! And the levels they traverse are a grand set of puzzle-filled mazes.. full of traps & treasures!

Each of the three family members has unique abilities to help in the quest to recover page pieces. You flick between them using the right shoulder button when you need someone to do something specific. Rick is the muscle, so he pulls levers, rolls rocks and has the strongest punches! This also means he's the slowest of the trio though. Evy is a bit more athletic and somersaults over traps, lobs sticks at unreachable levers and enemies and is a bit faster but not as strong.

She is however an expert in hieroglyphics, so you'll be using her to read any inscribed pillars you find! Alex, their son,  is in possession of the manacle which allows him access to the treasure chests & specific locks. He's the fastest, but also the weakest of the family, so he can find four different magic spells to fire at the nasties instead of trying to beat them up!

The enemies themselves are what you'd expect to find in ancient tombs! Scorpions, ancient zombie guards, know, the usual! A little red circle appears when you approach an enemy, and this means that you've automatically locked on to that baddie. Beating them up grants you combos, and the longer you can keep the hits going you'll be awarded with extra coins or health.

 Once you get cornered it can be quite tricky too, so don't expect to be playing a game just for the kiddies! Of course, you can choose just to obliterate them with some magic or one of Rick's souped up punches rather than waste time on combos, which is quicker but produces less items!

Music & sound effects are suitably Egyptian, and as you can see from the screenshots the graphics are pretty groovy too with some nice lighting effects when magic stuff is happening! All in all it's presented pretty well, and does a great job with the licence! I'm only a tiny bit of the way into the game, but so far it's been loads of fun exploring the tombs and using the family's different abilities. So yeah, pick it up if you can find it.....or you could always just send your Mummy to get it for you!

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Under The Skin (Playstation 2)

Under The Skin (PS2) :

When a child turns 3 years old on Planet Mischief, they must travel to another planet and hone their skills in the art of mischief making. If successful in inducing mass panic on that planet, they will be awarded with praise and be ready for their lives as adults. However, the star of this game,  Cosmi, will have his work cut out as he is being sent to Earth...a planet that no other alien has ever managed to conquer! If he manages to make mischief here, he'll become a hero!

On his way to Earth however, Cosmi crashes into a TV station satellite, and ditches his craft near Coco Town! Thankfully, Earth's Mischief Master, Master Itazura, finds him before the earthlings and whisks him off to the Dojo to train for survival...

After learning a few of the tricks of the game in the Dojo tutorial, you're unleashed upon Coco Town as Cosmi, where you'll be competing with another alien to collect the most coins. Or sometimes you'll work together to collect as much money as possible! All this is done by playing pranks on the inhabitants of whatever level you happen to be on. First however, you'll need to use your hoover gun to capture a human that you can disguise yourself as!

After nabbing your human, head to one of the flying saucers dotted around the level, and you'll be able to disguise yourself as that person. Once disguised, you can use that humans items to prank your victims. There's loads of items to use, such as bowling balls to knock people over, microphones that you'll use to sing Karaoke and assault peoples eardrums and cannons to fire yourself from and splat people with!

Be careful though as one hit from an enemy will see you running about in your undies and arousing suspicion from the townsfolk, and another will make you lose the disguise and a load of coins and have you rushing back to the nearest UFO! Just remember to have sucked up another human too, or you won't be able to change into someone else!

Whoever has the most coins at the end of the timed level wins, and progresses to the next area. There are 8 areas in total, and each has a different theme. Frontiersville is a wild-west themed town for instance, whereas High Stakes Hills has a Casino theme. As a nice surprise there's also a level based around Raccoon City from Resident Evil, where you have to steal coins from RE3's Nemesis and you can disguise yourself as Jill Valentine

At a certain point in the levels, Panic Time happens, where things get even more crazy for a rush hour in Coco Town or Death being unleashed to claim souls in Pranksylvania! You'll need to work extra hard during these periods to hang on to your coins, as the panic is hard to avoid!

There's a versus mode so that you can compete split-screen with a friend and a co-op mode that can be unlocked so you can both attack a level together, so it's worth finding someone to play along with! Some of the levels can be a bit tricky, and the camera is one of the games biggest flaws, as often your view will get totally obscured by the masses of people you've just pissed off by flattening them with a giant cheeseburger....

But these are minor niggles and it's all massive fun, and has that insane feel that only the Japanese developers can seem to get right! Released in October 2004, the game has just turned 12, and it's a shame that it's never quite had the following it it's the perfect time to seek it out and give it some love!

Monday, 21 November 2016

Nosferatu (SNES)

Nosferatu (SNES) :

In this game, we're off to help some poor chap rescue his girlie from the clutches of an evil Nosferatu (or vampire as they're more commonly known) who has snuck into their house one night looking for a snack, and carried her off to his castle so he can nibble on her later, or make her his bride.... or whatever it is this particular bloodsucker wants to do with her.....

The game starts off with a nice atmospheric intro, and then you find yourself plonked right in at the deep end and facing a Prince Of Persia meets Castlevania style journey through various monster infested, spiky trapped levels. The baddies you face are a varied bunch, ranging from bat-like vampire imps and melty-gloopy zombies to weird flying eyeballs, ghostly axes and ceiling lurking grabby things!

Thankfully, you seem to be quite capable of giving them a good bashing, and combat is quite satisfying, with punches, shoulder barges and kicks aplenty! You get some help from red crystals you pick up along the way too, which give you a little power-up for every three you can hold on to! They can be easily lost though, as if you run into a wall or get knocked down by a monster, you'll drop one of them and it'll vanish....

Other crystals can also be found lying around in boxes in rooms...these boost your health and as such are very much required. Be sure to check any boxes you find by pushing Up two or three times, as sometimes there's more than one crystal tucked away inside....

Every now and then, you'll face an end of level boss...and these are some odd chaps indeed! The end of the first level sees you tackling a hunchback who suddenly changes into a werewolf...pretty much the type of baddie you'd expect in a game like this really....but the end of Level 2 has you sizing up not one, but two Gorillas!! Any game that throws in random apes gets bonus points from me....but I wasn't expecting them!

Unfortunately, I haven't managed to see any more bosses yet. The game is pretty hard right from the start, but Level 3 sees a massive ramp up in the difficulty by adding lots and lots of spikes....spikes in the ceiling, in the floor, in the walls....spikes bloody everywhere! The controls don't help you much either, as there are one or two odd button combinations required to get our hero to do what you want him too, although if you play the game enough you do get slightly more used to them...But yeah, after hours of play I still haven't managed to make it to Level 4 yet...

Overall then, it's a nicely presented and atmospheric platformer, slightly ruined by some dodgy controls and by being a bit too difficult for it's own good! Still, it's well worth a go or two, especially if you're a fan of Prince Of Persia, Flashback or other similar titles!

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Phantasmagoria (PC)

Phantasmagoria (PC) :

I got a couple of complaints previously that I didn't have enough PC games included on the blog. That's something I intend to remedy in future! The problem has always been that I've never had a PC very capable of running games, and being someone who's always had consoles I've always found the setting up of PC games very fiddly and annoying....

Thank heavens for  then! After finally getting a semi-decent PC, I decided to try them out and was very pleased to find that when you download games from there, they get rid of most of the faffing about setting up DOSbox, etc. and just let you get straight into playing the games! Phantasmagoria was the first game I decided to give a go..

Writer Adrienne Delaney has just moved into a new home with her husband Don, hoping to find inspiration for a new horror novel. The house used to be owned by a famous 19th Century magician named Zoltan Carnovasch, and is filled with all manner of spooky items and props.....

However, what the happy couple don't realise is that old "Carno" was a bit of a nasty piece of work, who liked to practice all manner of dark deeds! As Adrienne explores the house, she starts to uncover things that should really be left covered, and things soon escalate to horrific heights!

Being from 1995, the game uses Full Motion Video, the "next big thing" in videogames at the time. Having only experienced console FMV games until very recently though, I can safely say that the PC handled such games a lot better than most consoles of the time, especially when they applied it to point-and-click style games such as this.....

It's fairly easy to control Adrienne, and exploring the mansion and discovering it's secrets is a lot of fun! There are quite a few odd characters you'll bump into during the course of the game too, and although the acting skills vary from character to character, it just helps add to the B-movie style feel of the whole thing...

The game was very controversial on it's release. Designed by Sierra'Roberta Williams who was known for producing family-friendly fare, it features lots of violence, some really gory cut-scenes and most controversial of all, the infamous "rape scene" where Don forces himself onto Adrienne....

Because of this, the game was banned in Australia and many US stores decided not to stock it. This didn't really affect sales though, with Phantasmagoria being one of the best selling games of 1995. No doubt this pleased Sierra, who had invested a lot of time and money into the project...

The script for the game was four times larger than most movie scripts, being 550 pages long and having 100 additional storyboard pages to assist artists in creating the 800 scenes in the game! Filming took four months, with the final chase sequence alone eating up a week of that time. Actress Victoria Morsell spent hour after hour in front of a blue-screen performing the hundreds of different actions players can make her character do in the game, and another 200 people were involved in production! And that's not including the 135-strong Gregorian Choir that was used for the game's score!

So did it all pay off? Well....yes! The game is a lot of fun to play, and although it sometimes suffers from the usual point and click problems like needing to click on something at the right time and in the right place to activate it, and wandering around with not much happening if you're not sure how to advance, it never really gets too difficult or boring. As I mentioned, sometimes the acting can be a bit iffy but overall it's a good game that had to be included on the blog...even if Roberta Williams herself doesn't see it as gruesome (see video below)! 

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Stubbs The Zombie in Rebel Without A Pulse (Xbox / PC / Mac)

Stubbs The Zombie in Rebel Without A Pulse (Xbox / PC / Mac) :

Fed up of endless zombie games where you have to survive wave after wave of the undead? Tired of avoiding the zombie plague and starting to wonder what would be so bad about just succumbing to the inevitable and becoming a zombie yourself? Then Stubbs the Zombie is the game for you!

In this 1950's America-set tale, you control Stubbs, a chap who has recently returned to life and is out for revenge on the folks who put him in an early grave. Punchbowl, a futuristic city is being built atop the place where you were buried, and so you decide to explore and see if you can hunt down the people responsible for your death.

Being a zombie, the main focus of the game is to try and turn everybody else into the undead. In order to help you achieve this, various bits of your body can be used ! Stubbs' hand can be detached and sent off to leap on someones head and control their brain...his gut can be flung as a grenade...his head becomes an exploding bowling ball...and his farts are bad enough to stun enemies, making them easy targets for a bit of brain breakfast!

The members of the public you infect aren't quite as well evolved undead creatures as your good self, and so require a bit of herding to get them to go where you want them can shove them around and if you walk a bit away from them, a whistle will have them regrouping and following the noise to where you are..making it easier to take on the soldiers and policemen who are out to put a stop to your mission.

There are some vehicles to be found too, and as this game was created using the same game engine as Halo, they all control pretty well and are a nice change to shuffling around. Sound too is superb, with versions of fifties songs sung by new bands and generic B-movie type sounds playing elsewhere! The enemies do get a lot tougher as the game progresses, but it never seems unfair and you should make steady progress..

Causing zombie chaos is fantastic fun, and the B-movie atmosphere adds a lot to the appeal of the game. It doesn't take itself too seriously at all, and as it was created before the current saturated zombie genre took hold, you could say it was before its time too..and it still makes for a refreshing change! I reckon it deserves a sequel on current gen!! Lets start a petition or something!!

Friday, 18 November 2016

Shadows Of The Damned (Xbox 360 / PS3)

Shadows Of The Damned (Xbox 360 / PS3) :

This is a game from the creative super-duo of Shinji Mikaki (Resident Evil, Devil May Cry) Goichi "Suda 51" Suda (Killer 7, No More Heroes)....and it's totally insane!

Described as a "punk rock road trip" by the developers Grasshopper, the game has you take control of Mexican Demon Hunter, Garcia Hotspur, as he goes on a quest to the demon underworld to rescue his girlfriend Paula who has been kidnapped by the Demon-lord Fleming! He's accompanied by ex-demon Johnson, a floating skull who can transform into weapons and a kick-ass motorbike....

Your journey into hell is a bizarre one, which sees you feeding strawberries or brains to cherub-headed doors, shooting goat-heads to lighten up darkened areas, reading fairy-tale-style storybooks about bosses you'll face...and even taking part in an odd little 2D-shoot-em-up on some levels!

The main part of the game though is a pretty damn decent third-person shooter in the style of Resident Evil 4...What makes it different, is the light/darkness mechanic. Demons are constantly trying to plunge you into darkness where they're stronger and you constantly lose health...Luckily, Johnson can fire out a Light Shot which when fired at the aforementioned goat heads will light your path ahead. It can also be fired at demons who retain some of their darkness, making it easier for you to finish them off with one of Johnson's many gun-forms!

You'll constantly be finding crystals when you defeat the demons, and these come in three varieties...White, which are used as currency and given to a big friendly demon named Christopher in exchange for alcohol (which replenishes energy) or Red diamonds. These Red diamonds are also hidden away in the levels, and let you power up the various different gun-forms that Johnson transforms into...these new forms come from the last type, Blue diamonds...which appear after you defeat one of the many boss demons...

This game won't be for everyone though, because as well as it's decidedly Grindhouse-style leanings, it also has a rather immature vein of humour that centres around a certain part of the male anatomy! These jokes litter even the main dialogue of the game, and this might put off some people from playing it....I personally didn't find it too much and the rest of the humour makes the game funny, especially the dialogue between Garcia & Johnson and the various stories in the storybooks! And there's a revelation about strawberries that might well put you off them for life!!

I had a real blast playing through Shadows Of The had me hooked from the start! Take a look at the videos above and if you like the look of it, give it a go! I reckon it deserves a bit more recognition than it seems to have received...and even if you don't enjoy the humour, you'll still find a lot more in it's quirky settings and gameplay to keep you amused!

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Decap Attack (Sega Megadrive / Genesis)

Decap Attack (Megadrive/Genesis) :

When the evil Max D. Cap and his minions rise up from the Underworld to wreak havoc, Professor Frank N. Stein sends out his latest creation, Chuck D. Head to put a stop to Max and his cronies! Chuck is a headless mummy....wait, no..actually he's not headless! His head just resides in his stomach...and he can force it out using his intestines or something in order to bash any baddies that happen to get in his way...

As Chuck, you can also get the help of Head, a skull you'll find lying around the levels. He'll attach himself to your torso, and you can lob him at enemies or statues or whatever, with him zooming back to you boomerang style! He'll only stick around until you take a hit though, so it's worth trying to avoid trouble...

Also helping you in your quest are various power-ups hidden away in little gargoyle-type statues..(this is also where you'll find Head should you lose him)...These power-ups don't activate immediately though! They get stored in your inventory, which you can access via a button push and receive helpful information about what each power-up actually does from the Prof. and his assistant Igor...

The levels take place on various parts of a skeleton-shaped island that has been split into various different sections. Every few levels you'll reach the end of that particular section and face an inevitable boss...but even when you defeat them, you might not be quite finished with that section yet, as you have to find a special item on each stage..and if you haven't found it yet, you have to go back and search the level for it!

Vic Tokai's Decap Attack is an enjoyable platformer, with my favourite bits being the groovy graphics and funky spooky music...I would prefer it if the baddies followed suit though, as only a few of them appear spooky enough for my tastes! Also, it can be a little tricky getting used to how Chuck handles to begin with, but if you stick with it you'll soon have no problems...and maybe that's just me being a bit poop!

Overall though, this game should keep you happy and comes highly recommend...Oh, before I move on, I should probably let you know that it's also a port of a Japanese game called Magical Hat Flying Turbo Adventure which has totally different graphics, music and level design..with only the gameplay remaining similar...

And just one more question...How exactly did Chuck come to have a head in his torso anyway? Isn't that a bit odd? Well, thankfully Nigel Kitching gave us the answer when he did the Decap Attack strip that appeared in Fleetway's Sonic The Comic in the nineties.....

Oh, and even if you don't have a Megadrive/Genesis you can play the game on modern consoles and PC by picking up one of the various Sega Megadrive Collections, which come with loads of other groovy games too! So now you've no excuse not to play.....well.....unless you don't own any of them either......