This is where you can read any of my irregular wafflings about computer gaming. The whole point of this blog is to help motivate me to properly finish games, whether they be recent ones or older ones I played when I was younger that I never managed to beat.
7th October 2014 - The Ancient Crusade
A marathon of an entry kicks off with the completion of another old Amiga game, in the form of Space Crusade. The board game of this got me into wargaming back in the early 90s, and I also played the computer game a little bit with my friends. I don't ever remember finishing a single mission properly, on the board game or the computer game. But that has changed now with this completion.
I know it's old and simple, but the game was a pain to get through. It was just so slow, constantly switching to pointless little animations that got old real quick. I'd have preferred if there was an option to turn those off. There were other annoying things such as the Soul Suckers being present instead of the Genestealers for some reason, and a few graphics bugs, which may have been down to the emulator.
I went into this controlling both the Imperial Fists and the Ultramarines, not knowing that the Blood Angels are supposed to have the best cards. Still, it made it more of a challenge I guess. Overall it was quite easy, up until the last couple of missions anyway. That was when the weaker Imperial Fists got slaughtered twice when under heavy close assault from many enemies. But the Ultramarines with their better close combat cards and medkit managed to forge a path through every level. Kind of a shame, as I prefer the Fists to the Ultramarines, but oh well.
The Ultramarines deploy
Trapping enemies in doors
A Marine loses his head, and his body
That room is gonna be interesting...
A huge rumble kicks off
Gretchin beat up a Marine
Commander Keifer is killed by a Soul Sucker
That's a Dreadnought not a Soul Sucker. Silly game.
Commander Goldstock fights for his life
Launcher Marine cleaning up the town
In the final mission, the Fists are destroyed
The Ultramarines are able to destroy the Chaos Cube
Don't look so smug, you silly smurf
Another game I thought I could quickly blast through and tick off the completed list was Star Wars Dark Forces. I got to the last level of this back on my original PC in the 90s, but never managed to beat it. Recently I found there was a mod for the game called DarkXL which made it a bit more up to date. After installing the game using DOSBox, I was soon playing the DarkXL version. However, I came up against several problems which stopped me in my tracks. Firstly, the game's very loud music can not be turned down or off using the mod, and also the graphics were incredibly dark with no brightness or gamma control in sight. Also, reading the t'interwebs, there are many bugs with the mod that make the game impossible to finish anyway.
So instead, I booted up the classic game on its own, but had issues there also, particularly the lack of mouse control and the lack of targeting reticule. Just how did I play like that back in the day?
Hopefully, DarkXL will get updated, as it is still in alpha. If it does, I'll be back to this in the future, but for now it's going back to its forgotten corner where it belongs...
Here, have one of my red diamonds
Darth Vader argues with Colonel Mustard
Sit down nerd
The emulator got a further workout when I had a bit of a fad recently on good old Sensible Soccer. I played four leagues on the trot, each one including more and more teams as I thought of new ones to create. It was honestly quite a bit harder than I remember it when I was a kid, and I continually failed to win the title until the fourth league where I really knuckled down. Even then, throughout the course of the madness, I had a fair few second half meltdowns, playing very badly in the second half after doing good work in the first.
But it was so much fun to just go nuts on a fondly remembered game from twenty-odd years ago.
Angron scores passed me for Chaos Utd...
...so I fight Chaos with chaos
Scoring passed the DC comics team
Going for the lunge
Everyone's on their arse
Marvel's keeper tries to head it out
Only Marvel beat me on the way to the title
The midfield battle against the Skumsplattaz
Great save by Aquaman in the DC goal
Champions at last
Me and Scoob have continued in our efforts to find other interesting multiplayer games to play, but unfortunately none of them have really worked for us.
Up first, we tried Monaco: What's Yours Is Mine from Humble Indie Bundle 11. This was fun enough, but after a few levels we quickly got bored, and the blocky art style really spoiled it in my opinion. Had the graphics been created with a sharper, more up to date style, without all the blockiness, I may have continued a bit more.
We also tried Empire Earth which I'd grabbed from GOG, as I was hoping for an interesting strategy game after the failure that was HOMM 3. This thing was a bit of a ball ache to get into, and it seems to be one of those games that starts off slow and builds up to the action. It didn't help that it seemed very close in style to the old Age Of Empire games. I'm not ruling out coming back to this, but if we really fancy playing a game of this type I'm sure we would just go and play Galactic Battlegrounds.
And then we tried one that I bought a while ago, System Shock 2, that I was really looking forward to getting into, mainly because it can be played 3-player co-op, and I thought me, Scoob and JIK could give it a go. In the end, I got tired of waiting for all of us to be available, so me and Scoob tried a 2-player game. I think I'd built it up in my head far too much, and was greatly disappointed. This thing was all kinds of clunky, especially the HUD and inventory. The combat and controls were also slow and frustrating, and we had no real idea what was going on. I went in expecting an interesting FPS horror game, and got psychic monkeys shooting energy balls at us. Hmmph.
Ever since Riot activated intermediate bots in custom games in LoL we've been challenging ourselves more and more against them. The latest challenge, and as far as we can tell, the hardest one we can create, was to go against five burst champions who could root or stun while using fairly weak melee champs ourselves. When the enemy bots grouped up we could not touch them, and they beat us a few times until we changed tactics. Rather than try and team-fight them, we instead outplayed them and pushed the lanes to their base. We were easily able to take their nexus down before they touched our own, with just five kills in the entire game. We have since gone on to beat them with a host of different champs and in straight up fights, so we'll need to find a new challenge...
I see you, copper!
No idea what just happened
The not so scary ghosts of System Shock 2
The definitely not scary monkeys
Another challenge complete
Also had a bit of an RTS revival recently playing a few sessions with Mr. Gallear. Included were some games of Rome: Total War for the first time since my days as a Wild Monkey general. We also played some Soulstorm, with one 2v2v2v2 battle lasting nearly two hours, and another 2v2v2v2 battle where every army was Necrons. Crazy fun.
My wonderful pink cavalry ride to the aid of Mr. Gallear
Catching the enemy from behind
The massive 4v4 battle stretches down into the valley
The Living Saint takes a beating
The Ecto-1 sure looks different these days
March of the Necrons
The enemy Necrons stand no chance
23rd March 2012 - Revisiting Classics
A few days ago I discovered the existence of GOG, which offers old PC games that are usable on current Windows. Of course, as soon as I saw the old Worms game on there I had to have it. I wrongly assumed though that the software had been tweaked so that it would install and run on XP, but instead the game is just as it was and is bundled with something called DOSBox that allows you to run it. I could have just downloaded DOSBox for free myself, as I'm pretty sure my brother's original Worms is in the loft somewhere, but oh well.
Worms was one of the first games we ever had for our first PC back when I started college in '95, and it was by far our favourite. My bro, my mates and I spent many a Saturday afternoon blowing each other's worms to pieces in a variety of silly ways, all the time trying to counter my mate Spud's dark side tactics!
Nug Nug Worm sorts two enemies out
Worms is a fairly customisable game, with the ability to add your own maps and sound effects. Back in the 90s we didn't have the capability to make our own speech, but I did add a couple of my own maps with (AFAIR) fairly little trouble. So, imagine my surprise recently when I found it very difficult to make my own maps, when I assumed it would be a doddle with newer software. Damn you Photoshop. Gimp is supposed to work though, so maybe I'll have to download that and give it a try. And when I can get around to it, I'm sure I'll be able to make my own speech sets with the contraptions that I now have available.
So far, I've only got around to entering a single team - based on the LLAP-Goch classic, "The Adventures Of Detective Cronkshonk", which I have been using to beat up on the Take That team.
After giving Worms a couple of plays, the existence of DOSBox got me thinking about other, even older games that can be played with emulators. Long before I had a PC I had a good old Amiga 500, so I decided to see if I could get the WinUAE to work. I had originally attempted to use WinUAE about 10 years ago, but the only game I ever really got to work to any decent level was called North & South (which I bloody loved by the way). Upon downloading the latest version I discovered it to be a much better bit of kit than the old one I tried, and allows you to automatically configure it to match any of the old Amiga models. And so I went hunting for the game I easily spent the most time on as a kid...
A few minutes later I was listening to the menu music of the one and only Sensible Soccer, and having a massive nostalgic experience. After starting a match I soon remembered the style of its gameplay. Your players just can not control that ball, and the slightest change in direction will see the ball dribbling away from them. So to progress up the pitch, lots of quick passes are in order (which is not easy on keyboard). Nevertheless, I came out of my first Sensible Soccer match in over 15 years with a 5-3 win, with Sparky and Choccy doing the business as usual. Really does go to show you how easy the original Sensible Soccer was, but I loved it all the same.
I then thought about what had been my staple footy game before I discovered Sensi. World Cup 90 by Genias really was not the best footy game ever made, but boy was it cool to hear that awesome music again. I set up a match and got stuck in. The gameplay really could not be more different than Sensi. In this one the ball sticks to your feet like glue, but I can not find any pass option to speak of. So instead the tactic here is run and shoot like mad. Somehow, despite not knowing what the hell was going on, I managed a 2-0 win over Argentina, the second goal of which was a bicycle kick after their keeper saved the initial shot.
Really will have to grab my joystick out of the loft and give these old footy games a proper go, as it's very hard to control those little dudes with the arrow keys.
It's my intention to get stuck into other old classic games, as many seem to be available. Fantasy World Dizzy, Gobliins 2 and 7th Guest are all calling to me, and maybe I could find Skychase which was such a cheesy laugh (those little Amiga balls as missiles - hilarious).
Really not sure what my player is up to here
He's gonna kick me in the face!