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28th May 2022: The Entire Spectrum

Of all the games that I had played in the past, and still really wanted to complete, this one was the oldest. Dating all the way back to 1983, I tried this game several times as a young lad on our family's old Speccy, but could never figure out what the hell to do. I probably never would have figured anything out this time either, if I'd not watched a Youtube video showing that you need to put several items into a magic box, in order to craft a spell that can defeat the main villain of the game: The Evil Warlock!

Yes, this game is Alchemist.

So, as you might guess, you play as an alchemist. You look a lot like a wizard, and can cast spells, and you fight monsters, and you can turn into an eagle, and the object of the game is to defeat a warlock.

But you're definitely an alchemist.

Okay...

Well, this is essentially an action platformer, though you don't really do much platforming. I guess your old alchemist legs can't do much, so instead, you turn into a bird and fly around the place.

There's also not much action. Sure you can try and zap the enemies with wibbly beams of energy, but I was never able to kill one like that. It also takes forever for your spell energy to recharge. So instead, I just walked into the enemies, and we both took damage until the enemies died. The big advantage here is that there was an ever-respawning food item that healed you, so I just kept using that.

So it's old, and clunky, and only takes about 15 minutes to complete once you've figured out what to do. But I've got to give the game its props. Compared to the other Spectrum games I've played while doing this blog, this one controlled by far the smoothest. Sometimes it would double click when I would pick up or put down an item, and the alchemist would just pick it straight back up or put it straight back down. Which was odd. But that was the only thing that was janky. Well, by Spectrum game standards that is.

But I can finally say I finished it. And that's cool.

Just going for a strut around this funky coloured castle

Just going for a strut around this funky coloured castle

Who ya gonna call?

Who ya gonna call?

The Evil Warlock looks a lot like an angry strawberry

The Evil Warlock looks a lot like an angry strawberry

What an awesome end screen

What an awesome end screen


I maybe only tried this next game two or three times as a kid, where my bro, my next door neighbour and I couldn't even get out of the initial couple of rooms. We were all real big fans of the TV show the game was based on, so were all incredibly disappointed with this pathetic attempt at an adaptation.

But all these years later, I'd still got a little spark inside that wanted to see what the whole game was like. So down I descended into the Dungeon of Deceit, to tackle Knightmare.

So, not going to lie. I had exactly the same trouble as an adult as I had as a kid. I couldn't figure out for the life of me how to get out of the first two rooms. So I had a quick check online in order to progress, and then got stumped figuring out what to do next. Sigh.

The problem is, the game is just too unintuitive, and to be fair, nothing like the TV show at all. I ended up having to follow a guide for pretty much the entire thing. And even following the guide, I did not understand why I was doing most of the things I was doing.

I mean, why am I digging in random rooms in order to dig up pitch? And what the hell is pitch anyway? And why am I drinking this random potion that makes the screen go all wibbly? Just what did it do? And why is the final boss dragon poking its head through a hole in the wall? And why am I defeating said dragon by throwing a jar of fat at it?
Urgh. The game made no sense whatsoever.

The least they could have done is make it feel like the TV show. Here, you have to fight off enemies by throwing rocks at them or stabbing them with a sword, where in the show you could only beat enemies through wits and knowledge.
And the dungeon master, Treguard, could be a bit sarcastic in the show, but here he's an absolute prick who just insults you over and over.

Well, I'm glad this one is behind me at least...

I'm blindfolded. What do you expect?

I'm blindfolded. What do you expect?

Why does Treguard keep calling me a 'pheasant meal'?

Why does Treguard keep calling me a 'pheasant meal'?

Can't have a Knightmare game without some wall monsters

Can't have a Knightmare game without some wall monsters

This is a bedroom? Does she sleep on the floor?

This is a bedroom? Does she sleep on the floor?

Everyone knows you have to throw fat at a dragon in order to kill it

Everyone knows you have to throw fat at a dragon in order to kill it


Of all the computers and consoles I've played games on in the past, my PS3 is the only one I'm fully done with, with no reason to go back to. After playing this next game, I would be entirely done with the ZX Spectrum platform, meaning I could finally tick another machine off the list.

The game is one I played a lot on as a kid. I was sure it was with my brother, but he couldn't remember it very well. Scoob, however, was sure he played it a lot, and even finished it, which is something I can't remember doing. So who I played it with and how far we got will forever remain a mystery to me.

Probably the first ever side-scrolling beat em up we ever played, the game is Target: Renegade. It seemed like an obvious choice for Scoob and I to team up and try to kick this thing's ass, just to be sure.

Well, I did say try.

The effort that Scoob and I put in actually happened all the way back in July last year. We couldn't even get passed the first level after several attempts, so we called it quits and the game was put back into its time capsule. That was, until recently, when I had a proper good single player attempt.

To put it simply, there is no way I finished this as a kid. Even trying my hardest, and utilising the save state functionality to the max, I could only get to level 4 out of 5. It is just too hard to properly control your character, what with this being a Spectrum game. Half the time, you tell him to do a specific attack, and he just walks away, or does a different attack entirely. Sometimes even getting him to turn and face the other way is an exercise in futility.

Still, I got to where I did by using the flying kick a lot to knock down the enemies, then finish them off by beating the snot out of them when they were on the ground. What undid me on level 4 is the fact that most of the enemies can dodge the flying kick, meaning there is no way to quickly knock them down, allowing multiple foes to surround you and hit you from all sides. Add in that you must complete each level within a certain time limit, and with the controls being so crap, it was too frustrating to spend any more time on.

Scoob tries to fight off the villains as I take a nap

Scoob tries to fight off the villains as I take a nap

Flying kicking my way to victory

Flying kicking my way to victory

Getting owned by some buxom lasses

Getting owned by some buxom lasses

Socking a hoodlum in the jaw

Socking a hoodlum in the jaw


Though I failed at the original game, I discovered there was another chance at conquering Target: Renegade. All the way back in 2006, someone made a Windows remake of it that was still available to download.

So, out came my old Windows XP laptop to give this a go, and see what it was like.

Holy crap, this thing was so much easier than the Spectrum version, even though it had more levels. The enemies didn't have the evil intelligence to surround you like the original game, so I could easily line them all up in front of me and keep swinging while they walked into my fists.

In fact, the hardest thing about the entire game was trying to get screenshots, as both Fraps and Bandicam struggled to detect it.

Getting some revenge

Getting some revenge

Lining them up...

Lining them up...

...and knocking them down

...and knocking them down

Twonking Mr. Big

Twonking Mr. Big


So with all of the Target: Renegade shenanigans out of the way, the final nail has been hammered into the coffin of my ZX Spectrum adventures.

There were a bunch of other games I played as a kid, but none I've ever thought about playing again, or have ever looked back on with the desire to complete.

So I can say goodbye to another aspect of my childhood. Ah well, it's not like I'll miss playing Speccy games. With my brain, give it another few years and I probably won't even remember that far back anyway...

26th April 2022: 7R + 2

So I've taken some time out of my big OG FF7 replay in order to go through the remake again, as I'd got some unfinished business with it. I also thought I could hit the exact day that I originally completed it two years ago, which I've (kind-of) managed to do.

My original idea was to replay it on normal difficulty again to do all the little side things I didn't do before. I figured this would be good so that I could remember how to play it, while also fully levelling the characters and materia, setting myself up as best as possible for a hard mode attempt in which I would just skip all the side missions and stuff.

However, a lot of the things I was worried about two years ago have proven to be true, culminating in the sad fact that this game is just not very fun to replay. The many, many, very slow parts drag on even more, and I got very annoyed every time the game made my character slow to a walk, or take control of the camera away from me for some time-dragging and arbitrary reason.
So I quickly started to get bored with it, and by half way through I wasn't really fancying another play through.

Instead, I just did everything I could possibly do on this normal replay, and have laid the game to rest.

Admittedly, it's been 21 years since I last played through the original, compared to this one's two years, but I'm having a lot more fun with the old game, which I didn't think would be the case.

Why can't I just use a cure spell?

Why can't I just use a cure spell?

Still haven't patched these textures, I see

Still haven't patched these textures, I see

That simultaneous walk<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

That simultaneous walk
(webm video)

Swatting some bugs

Swatting some bugs

Ghostly Aerith. Oh, the foreshadowing.<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

Ghostly Aerith. Oh, the foreshadowing.
(webm video)

So what was my experience like doing all of the extra things that I skipped passed before?

Well, ultimately, because I was overlevelled compared to when I should have done them, I found most of these extra things quite easy and probably not as rewarding as they might have been.

In fact, all the way through this playthrough, there were only three fights that I failed to beat first time and with very little difficulty. Up first was the Fat Chocobo battle, because I rushed straight into it with only Cloud in the party, and before I had fully remembered how to play. Secondly, in one of Aerith's simulator fights I came across the phantom who put reflect on itself, making it immune to all of Aerith's attacks. And finally was the battle against Bahamut, who put me on the defensive straight away and made it very difficult for me to hit back.

In all of these cases I won the fight at the second attempt, either with different party members, different materia, or different tactics. The Bahamut fight in particular felt the best to beat, even though I had to leave my fave girl Tifa on the sidelines. But with the extra ranged attacks provided by Aerith, I was able to answer Bahamut's aggression with my own aggression, and wore him down.

I do wish, however, that I had not missed the chance to do Aerith's colosseum fights, because this meant having to replay part of chapter 9 to get back there and tick those off the list.

Some of the other little side mini-games were more challenging. It took three or four attempts to get the top score in Whack-A-Box, and probably 8-10 attempts for me to finally beat Jules in the pull-ups. I just kept pressing the button too early right at the start of round 2. Took me a while to remember to slow it back down. But getting it done was a relief. Also, whoever it was who recommended turning the sound down for this challenge was a genius. Thanks, internet.

Though the slow moments dragged down the experience, there are still plenty of things to enjoy in this game.

It simply can't be overstated how much I appreciate the re-casting of the English voice cast. Tifa's and Aerith's actresses in particular are way better than their previous English actresses. If you hear how they sounded in something like Advent Children for example, the actresses in that seem like they just don't care. Whereas here, they simply knock it out of the park. How neither of them even got a nod at that year's game awards still boggles my brain.

Aerith doesn't like Hedgehog Pie. Don't tell a man called Martin.

Aerith doesn't like Hedgehog Pie. Don't tell a man called Martin.

Who put all these boxes in my way?

Who put all these boxes in my way?

Nailed it<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

Nailed it
(webm video)

Barret wailing on a bad doggo

Barret wailing on a bad doggo

Tifa wailing on everybody

Tifa wailing on everybody

And while that, yes, I was overlevelled and combat was much easier, it was still fun using certain tactics and mechanics that I never used in my first playthrough, after reading about them on the internet. Using lots of Cloud's punisher mode and counter attacks was something I only really did in certain boss fights in my first run, but here I was always looking to use it as it really does make you feel like a boss.

Using Barret was also much more agreeable, as I brought in more of his defensive, tanky skills, and also optimised his overcharge a lot better, making him kick out a lot more damage.

But it was with Tifa I had the most fun. She is simply a joy to play, and to watch. That is, if your eyes can keep up with her. It was made all the better because in this playthrough I finally used the L1 shortcuts during combat, so I was jumping around all over the place having a grand old time. It's going to be so much fun seeing her and Yuffie in the same party in future games. The screen is going to be a whirlwind of mayhem.

Two years ago, in the end fight, I got Tifa then Barret to help me out. In this playthrough, I thought I would get the same, as I didn't feel like I'd used Aerith enough to warrant her inclusion. But I was wrong, and it was Tifa and Aerith that rocked up to help me smack Sephiroth down. Though how annoying is it that we still can't screengrab the last chapter, as there are so many cool screenshots I would like.

When it comes to the story, I am still concerned about that ending, and where the story might be going. I'm never a fan of time travel, multiple timelines, or any of that baloney, as 9 times out of 10 things end up with huge plotholes or simply not making any sense. In addition, this is modern day Square Enix after all, so I have a right to be worried. Good old Squaresoft this is not.

However, if they nail it, it will probably elevate the FF7 story to even greater heights in my mind. So I will continue to hope.

Ultimately though, when part 2 comes out, I think I will end up just watching someone else play it, rather than worry about it myself. For a start I don't have a PS5, and don't really want one just for FF7. I already did that by buying my PS4 essentially just for this game. The way it's going, it might still be hard to get hold of a PS5 anyway, even when the next part comes out.
I guess there's always an outside chance I could get it on PC in the very distant future, but that seems unlikely. Square, like many Japanese developers, seem to be madly in love with DRM these days. Such a shame.

Tifa is the pull-up champ<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

Tifa is the pull-up champ
(webm video)

That's an ouchie right there

That's an ouchie right there

Hot damn, I love going mental with Tifa<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

Hot damn, I love going mental with Tifa
(webm video)

Get that hentai shit outta here

Get that hentai shit outta here

Red comes diving in

Red comes diving in


Scoob and I recently had a little go on two RTS games, just testing to see if we want to get back into that genre.

Up first was Command & Conquer: Red Alert, using OpenRA. I don't remember playing this all that much back in the day, as I only really got into the series for Red Alert 2. But it's a game I own that deserves some gameplay, and hopefully, a completion.

We just played a few short skirmishes against the AI for a bit of fun and as a refresher. I couldn't get into it as much as I hoped I would, and Scoob really didn't seem into it that much at all. But I'm leaving it installed as I really want to play all the campaign levels so I can say I've completed it at last. Maybe this will be the game I play alongside FF7 going into the future?

My dudes try not to get their eyebrows singed

My dudes try not to get their eyebrows singed

My blues and Scoob's reds move in on the yellows

My blues and Scoob's reds move in on the yellows

The pinks having a mammoth problem

The pinks having a mammoth problem


Total War: Warhammer was recently made available for free on Epic Games, so Scoob and I quickly swiped it with our grubby paws. This was a game we had long wanted to try, but didn't really want to use any launchers or DRM bollocks.

But for free, could we really grumble?

After trying a few skirmishes against the AI, I can definitely say that the tactics the computer employs are far better than in the only other Total War game I have played, which was Rome. In that other game, smacking the AI all over the place was no challenge whatsoever, but here, even on easy, we were only winning about 50% of our battles. True, we've only just started to play it, but it definitely seems like it's going to be much harder.

Scoob has started his own single player campaign, but I've not played it since we played these games a couple of weeks back. It's our intention to do a multiplayer campaign, but whether we will ever find the time, who knows.

My Wolf Riders charging into battle

My Wolf Riders charging into battle

Our Ladz look down the valley at the 'Oomies

Our Ladz look down the valley at the 'Oomies

Big spooder, little spooder

Big spooder, little spooder

Engaging an enormous Undead horde. Things do not go well.

Engaging an enormous Undead horde. Things do not go well.

28th March 2022: Monster Mission

Just got done playing another game with the Scoobster that we started over the Christmas holiday. This one being Titan Quest.

Now I can't say that ARPG style games have ever been my fave genre, but I've enjoyed them here and there. A few years back, a faulty graphics card stopped us playing through our last attempt at Diablo II, and by the time I got it replaced and thought about that game again Blizzard had started to act like absolute dickwads, so I decided never to play their games again.
Shame, as D2 had been on the list of games I had wanted to complete for many years. I'd also started to play Starcraft after learning that was free, but that attempted completion also went out of the window. Thanks, Blizzard scum.

Nevertheless, we fancied a bit of ARPG action, with Scoob even dipping his toes back into Path Of Exile. I however wanted to finish one of the games I owned, so it was down to either this game or Grim Dawn. As I'd owned this a lot longer, and it was a lot older, we went with this.

But don't worry Grim Dawn. Your time will come. At some point. Probably.

After installing this on my two machines, it immediately looked like it was going to be buggy as hell. I went for a little test run, and the first quest would not even complete. It certainly got the alarm bells ringing.
But luckily, once Scoob joined me and we played the game proper this problem did not occur and we were able to continue.

However, while we had no problems completing quests from then on, the game still proved itself to be buggy as hell. Just some fun examples:

Surrounded by beastmen

Surrounded by beastmen

Run away!

Run away!

She really doesn't want us getting into her box. Or she really <i>does</i> want us to get into her box. Hard to tell.

She really doesn't want us getting into her box. Or she really does want us to get into her box. Hard to tell.

Floating ratman graphical bug gives a good opportunity for a Twonk! image

Floating ratman graphical bug gives a good opportunity for a Twonk! image

But despite these issues it was a fun enough game, though one we started to get a little tired of by the end. It's definitely given me my fill of ARPG action for the time being. This version of the game also includes the Immortal Throne expansion, but after playing this for 3 months we've had enough for now.

The story was a fairly standard affair for these kinds of games. Three beings known as "Telkines" want to free an imprisoned Titan, who himself wants to go and fight the Gods for imprisoning him. And the players have to stop them. Simple as that.

Who knows what we will play next, but we've just found out that Total War: Warhammer is free in a few days over on Epic Games. Now that's a game we've really wanted to play for a while. And I won't really be able to whine about the DRM if it's free now will I?

Well maybe just a little.

So much loot in this game. And 99.9% of it useless.

So much loot in this game. And 99.9% of it useless.

We hit this yeti so hard it went through the floor

We hit this yeti so hard it went through the floor

Letting the final Telkine have it

Letting the final Telkine have it

The end boss Typhon spits at me while Scoob dishes the plinnage

The end boss Typhon spits at me while Scoob dishes the plinnage

I've now been completing games on this blog now for just over 10 years, and have managed 85 games in that time. I don't know if that's good or bad. I also don't know why I mentioned it. I just seem to be on this anniversary kick at the minute. First there was Resident Evil, and Lord Of The Rings, and now this. And I've also got a big FF7 anniversary playthrough on the go right now.

Maybe I'm just getting old and nostalgic.

What am I talking about? I am old and nostalgic.

But mainly old.

12th January 2022: Devoted To Games That Work

Now, I don't really play scary games that often, nor do I play them specifically for Halloween. But for this game, I wanted to make an exception. See, this game had been removed from Steam, and denied release on GOG, because the developers had made a stupid joke about the Chinese President. And for some reason, a lot of people are shit scared of upsetting China.

Big whoop is what I think. I mean, we can freely take the piss out of other world leaders and they don't get all arsey about it. So why not China?

So I bought this game, which is called Devotion, direct from the developers when they made it available on their own site, fully intending to play it on 31st October. As it is only a short game, I figured there'd be no problem doing that. No problem at all.

Well, so much for one of my long term plans.

Along came Halloween, and off I set into the game's strange psychological hellhole. I quickly grew frustrated at how slow and sluggish your character moves. And move is pretty much all you can do in this game, as it is essentially a walking simulator. All I seemed to be able to do was slowly walk from one room to the next and do some simple puzzles by picking up items and placing them somewhere else.

Well that's all well and good, as long as the game is otherwise interesting. And to be fair, it seemed to be setting up some strange things in terms of story and characters, and I could have easily carried on, if the game had allowed me to.

See, about half an hour in, I came to a stand still. All the doors were locked, and I had no items to interact with. After wandering around for a while, I looked on Youtube at someone's playthrough, and on their game, another scene triggered which allowed them to continue. I figured my game had bugged, so I reloaded, to no avail. Then I closed the game and restarted, again to no avail. Every time I get to that point, the game does not trigger the next scene.

I suppose I could re-download the game again in case something is broken in the files. But I don't think I could be arsed to muck about much more with it. There's a chance I could come back to it and try again. Or I could just forget it and watch the playthrough. But I probably won't do anything. Got loads of other shit to do.

I've figured it out: I'm a vampire!

I've figured it out: I'm a vampire!

What are all you lot looking at?

What are all you lot looking at?

Ahh, she had a strange taste in men

Ahh, she had a strange taste in men


After trying Devotion I wanted to play something else that also had a little bit of a horror flavour. To get away from all the slow walking, I went with the 2004 game Doom 3, for some fast-paced chaotic fights and frights.

This was a game I'd had prior experience of, as many years ago I'd played some of it with my bro, using a weird patch that let us play it co-op. However, I can't remember exactly what happened, but at one point it bugged out on me, and our playthrough was scrapped.

For this playthrough, I used a community-made source port, called dhewm3, which made my old disc version play better on modern systems, better resolution and bugfixes etc...

Yeah, punch that turkey!

Yeah, punch that turkey!

I see you skulking there

I see you skulking there

Not looking good

Not looking good

Just taking out the trash

Just taking out the trash

Unfortunately, while I have eventually managed to complete it, I found it to be so boring, and an absolute slog to get through. I mean, I've been playing this thing for more than two months, because each time I played it, I couldn't stomach more than about 30-40 minutes.

I just got so frustrated with the gameplay. It was just full of cheap enemy ambushes, and scripted fights that made no sense. The amount of times I cleared an area, only to then get totally dogpiled on just because I'd picked up a PDA with some information in.

And holy shit, how fast do the guns run out of ammo? An FPS game, where your task is to mow down the minions from hell in a hail of bullets, is not the game I want to be constantly reloading, or switching weapons because I'm out of ammo. I want to hold down the trigger, and fucking kill things! Even weapons like the minigun would only let me kill one or two enemies before I would have to duck into cover or run away while I reloaded. So irritating.

But it's done now, and I never have to consider playing this crap ever again.

Zombie marine busts some moves

Zombie marine busts some moves

Don't lose your head

Don't lose your head

I get that reference

I get that reference

Right hooking a demon

Right hooking a demon


One of the games Scoob and I tried recently was an action platformer called Megabyte Punch. I was up for trying this one because it reminded me of an old Mega Drive game we played years ago called Cyborg Justice. In it, you control robots going through levels, beating up enemies, and swapping out body parts to give yourself new abilities and upgrades.

The basic action platformer concept is a solid one, and there were definitely things to like here. But there were far more things to dislike. For example, you don't kill enemies by doing damage to them. Instead, you kill them by doing knockback to them. And the more they are damaged the more they get knocked back, when you do knock them back. Now, this would probably be fine, but a vast array of abilities, and seemingly all of the ones we enjoyed using, did not have any knockback to them. So we could literally pummel the enemies over and over and not kill them until we hit them with some form of knockback. It's such a stupid mechanic.

The platforming elements were also frustrating, with damaging walls, gases and explosives all over the place, especially in later levels. This was even worse due to us playing it in multiplayer. Frustratingly, the co-op mode in this game is only local and only split screen. This means vision is severely hampered. Why there's no LAN or internet connection so we could have had our own monitors I just don't know.

We tried several times to get through the last level to unlock the end boss checkpoint, but try as we might we just couldn't manage it. I even tried on my own, so I had more vision on the full screen and could collect all the bits myself. But even after gaining several bonus lives, I just couldn't get through stage 3. It just got to the point where it was too frustrating, and so we decided to abandon it.

Open fire!

Open fire!

Wailing on the boss

Wailing on the boss

Something just went pop

Something just went pop

Trying to deal with an irritating flying enemy

Trying to deal with an irritating flying enemy


Another game we tried recently was Rampage on the Amiga emulator. A bunch of us used to play this a lot back on my old Amiga in the late 80s and early 90s. However, I don't remember us playing it to try and finish it. Instead, we would run around playing tig like a bunch of muppets.

Scoob joined me again for a proper attempt, and we played for what seemed like ages until it started to get really repetitive and boring. I finally checked how long this game goes on for, which is when I discovered it has no end, and just loops over and over, with the only aim of the game being to get a high score.

Oh well.

George tries to punch Ralph in the armpit

George tries to punch Ralph in the armpit

Ralph getting shot in the eyeballs

Ralph getting shot in the eyeballs

Ralph chows down on soldier sweeties as George smashes stuff up

Ralph chows down on soldier sweeties as George smashes stuff up

Timber!

Timber!

8th November 2021: Always Wild. Never Gammy.

<Old Stuff>

Between May 2006 and January 2008 I took part in two large campaigns in the game Rome: Total War, along with a few friends. Calling ourselves the Wild Monkey Generals, we threw our troops against each other in a variety of silly ways in an attempt to kill, slap, annoy, tickle and then maybe eat the opposition...

Wild--Duff-MAN

Wild--Duff-MAN

Wild--Nemishikados

Wild--Nemishikados

Wild--Splapdink

Wild--Splapdink

Wild--Westwood

Wild--Westwood

For some weird reason I thought it was about time I dug out the chronicles of these battles from my old website, and give them a new home here.

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