Archive for the ‘Random Retro Corner’ Category

earthbound1

Oh Nintendo. Remember when your consoles used to be inundated with tough, amazing, weird hardcore games? Yeah I know. Feels like so long ago now. Well fear not desperate Nintendo fans. For those of you that bought a Wii U and have exhausted the obligatory Mario and family party games I am very pleased to announce that Earthbound is finally seeing a re-release on Virtual Console.

Many of you will have probably never heard of Earthbound before. To be honest my first encounter with the series was the choice of playing as Ness in the Smash Bros franchise. I clearly remember thinking to myself ‘who the hell is this kid? Why’s he attacking people with a yoyo?! WHY THE HELL IS HE PSYCIC?!!?!?’ and so on and so forth. It wasn’t until last year I managed to obtain a copy after spending a good couple of hours listening to the Retro RPG Podcast wax lyrical about how great and off the wall this game is. And boy oh boy is this forgotten gem worth every bit of cult classic praise that is showered upon it.

earthbound2

I don’t want to delv too much into the story as pretty much everything that happens from the off, narrative and character wise, is a pure treat. But to give you a brief outline you play as a young boy called Ness. You are awoken one night to the sound of a meteor crashing near your house. Being the protagonist of the game it is your sworn duty to investigate the mysterious occurrence and off you go! You find that the meteor is actually the crashed vessel of an advanced Bee called Buzz Buzz who has travelled from the future to warn you that a being from the future called Giygas is going to destroy the world…..yeah I’m not making this up.

You then set out on your quest to save the world. However unlike pretty much every other JRPG nothing and I really mean nothing about this game is conventional. Along your journey you will be fighting hippies, intelligent piles of vomit and many other bizarre and warped creations. The only thing that could be called conventional in this game is the battle system itself. Very much inspired by the Dragon Warrior games of the day, the battles all take place in the first person and can be very tough and very challenging.

earthbound3

The world of Eagleton is a pure unadulterated joy to explore. Using very simple and stylised pixel art (think Pokemon but a bit more 2.5D) the setting of the game, a 1960’s parody of western civilisation, very much compliments the visual style of the game, and visa versa. Indeed when I first booted up the game I was instantly put in the frame of mind that this is what a Peanuts cartoon would have looked like had Hunter S. Thompson written the screenplay for it! You see the themes both on a visual and physical level do get quite dark at times. This can make for quite a sinister experience. However the perfectly written humour never lets up so you are never as depressed as you would be playing, say, a Silent Hill game.

The music is fairly standard. Nothing sticks out in my mind as much as any of the Super Nintendo era Final Fantasy games did. But the overall feel of the score is very upbeat and will definitely have you humming along and tapping the joypad.

earthbound4

In conclusion I can’t recommend this game enough. It is without a doubt one of the best roleplaying games of a generation and one of the best JRPG’s of all time. The only reasons I would suggest you stay away from it would be if a. you don’t like JRPG’s and b. you don’t like hard games. But if you want to see a perfect example of what it used to be like back in the day when developers had a lot more free reign and creativity when it came to physical games this will blow you away. Smart, dark, hard, funny and wacky, Earthbound is one of the best examples of making weird work in the gaming world.

Advertisements

Ok. So I know I said that this week’s RRR was going to be Ducktales, but in the words of L.J from the academy award winning film Resident evil Apocalypse, ‘My shit is custom!’ In other words I’ll do what I want when I want! (Anyway I haven’t finished replaying Ducktales yet and I did finish Leon’s B scenario last night.)

So for those of you that have already sampled the delights of Resi 2 there isn’t going to be a lot of insight here. This is mainly for those of you that missed it. I’m going to start off by telling you the lay of the land. Resi 2 is one of the greatest action games ever created! Yeah I know that it’s technically survival horror but seriously, the last hour of the game evokes the same amount of adrenalin that MGS1 did back in the day. It’s that good!

res2

Furthermore I’d even go as far to say that Resi 2 is the perfect Resi game. It has everything. A great and gripping story, albeit delivered with some very hammy dialog. Nothing here is on par with some of the cracking one liner’s from Resi 1 (Jill sandwich) however Ada Wong’s I’m just a woman who fell in love with you, nothing more” comes pretty close.

But enough of that. I’ll attempt to quickly brush over what makes this game great (only because I’ve got Nemesis downloaded on my PS Vita and it’s giving me those come to bed eyes!)

4 campaigns! That’s right! Count ‘em! You get to play Leon and Claire’s A and B scenarios with the choices you make and items you pick up affecting the next play through. For example late in the game, playing as Claire, you can release a gas in a lab which kills all Biohazards in that area. Then upon completing the game, and starting Leon’s B scenario, you won’t be able to do this and will have to fight your way through the labs! Great yeah?! The two initial campaign’s play fairly similarly with a few different areas to explore and enemies to fight like Mr X, the Nemesis inspiring baddie who stalks you throughout the entire game.

Then you’ve got the weapons. And I’m not talking about Claire’s standard crossbow and grenade launcher. No I’m getting all up in Leon’s arsenal! Leon’s three main weapons, the shotgun, pistol and magnum, can all be upgraded into zombie splitting machines. The pistol into a sort of semi-automatic Uzi. The shotgun into a whip cracking Licker destroyer. And the magnum into a bucking elephant annihilator! All three of which are incredibly satisfying to use.

res1

Then there is the setting. One of my favourite aspects of a Resi game is the journey you make from the normal to the strange. And Resi 2 pulls this off with aplomb. Starting in the deserted zombie infested streets of Raccoon city you gradually crawl your way through various gorgeously rendered environments such as the RCPD police department, the spider infested sewers and then the underground secret laboratories of the Umbrella Corporation. And it’s when you get to these clinical shiny corridors that you know some serious shit is going to be going down. And of course all of these locations are accompanied by suitably eerie and creepy musical scores.

Finally Leon Kennedy himself. One of the best protagonists in any game ever! He looks like the dogs proverbial in his blue RCPD duds and his final words in the final cut scene which greet the spastically amazing badass bass slaps of the final credits music are on a level of manliness that Chuck Norris only dreams of reaching!

In short if you own a ps2, N64, Vita, Gamecube, ps3, Dreamcast or PC you owe it to yourself…nay…mankind to play this game!  

Hello children, hello. And welcome to kind Uncle Tim’s Random Retro Corner. Every few days, using a very intricate random selection technique that definitely does NOT involve emulation, I’ll be bringing you the very best in forgotten gems of yesteryear.

And what better place to start for someone who is so invested in the world of sport, than the classic that everyone loves and adores, NBA Jam on the Super Nintendo.

nba1

Ok enough of that! As anyone who knows me can attest, I know nothing of any sport in the world whatsoever. However the random game generator cannot be denied and I shall try my best to shed the light of an ignorant ignoramus over this cart!

I’m going to say two things straight away!

  1. This game has been made by Iguana Entertainment who seem to have one of the coolest logos of all time. This of course instantly catapults the game up into the higher echelons of SNES classics such as Final Fantasy 6 and Super Metroid.

iguana

2. This music is funky. REALLY funky. I’m talking Funky Kong pilled up to the eyes pulling an all nighter at Fabric funky!

After these initial niceties everything else is a bit of a blur. I choose a two on two game (?) and the team I pick is the good old Chicago Bulls (I’ve seen Space Jam I’m not stupid!) and we are locking horns with The Pistons! And this is when the trouble starts. I don’t know what I’m doing! I score (is that right?) two ‘dunks’? Then we are hit with ‘stop clock violations’! The announcer is constantly shouting ‘heat it up!’, ‘from downtown!’ and ‘ugly shot!’ I don’t know where I am!

Anyway, long story short, as the ‘quarters’ roll by and the clock ticks down, I loose. I get annihilated. The final score lies at Bulls 17 Pistons 38. I vow never to play a basketball game ever again. I take a good long hard look at myself in the mirror and remind myself that yes, Michael Jordan may have money but is he happy? No. Am I happy? Yes. Kinda I guess….

nba2

Well I hope we’ve all learned something today. I know I have. Join me in a few days’ time, or next week (I’m not quite sure yet). For more valuable, rare and classic insights into gaming’s glorious past.