Tuesday, January 27, 2009

McDonaldland longplay part 3 (C64, 1992)

Part three of the ongoing McDonaldland longplay. This features various levels from world-two, which is my favourite. Why? Cause it has lots of ice and snow. I have a thing for ice and snow in videogames. -)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

CJ's Elephant Antics (C64, 1991)

Right, here's how it is. You're CJ the elephant (are you?). You're captured and they 'll put you in a zoo (damn). But somehow you escape (yeah). So what do you do? Head back to your family in Africa of course. But.. not so easy. You have to find your way to Africa via four levels of platforming action and such destinations such as France, the snowy Switzerland, Egypt and Africa itself.

The game is a classic platformer. You don't jump on enemies
Mario-style, but instead you shoot them with peanuts. You can also throw bombs at them (if you find any around, which you'll do), and there's a simultaneous two-player option. There's also a sub-game that involves biking through obstacles and collecting balloons, which is just that, a sub-game.

OK, so let's not be over-analytical here. I'll be short and sweet. The first three levels are pure magic, with excellent evocative graphics (including a bash around the Eiffel Tower and a tour across the Egyptian pyramids), a great and slightly melancholic tune, and with your basic fun platforming action. And you know what, this was a budget game, which means that while you were buying overpriced pap like, say,
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for 20 pounds, this one merely cost 3 pounds. Nice one Codemasters.

PS - The game was such a success that Codemasters released three clones later on (
CJ in the USA, DJ Puff's Capers and Stuntman Seymour), while a third installment (CJ in Space) sadly got lost in the translation (any news on that Games That Weren't?).


Friday, January 9, 2009

McDonaldland longplay part 2 (C64, 1992)

Alright, here's part two of the McDonaldland longplay. It's a biggie, so there's gonna be many more parts. -) This is still world-one in the game, where things are still somewhat faithful to the NES original, albeit almost in slow motion.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Summer Camp (C64, 1990)

OK, let's admit it, Zzap never game a Thalamus game a bad rating because, well, they belonged in the same company: Newsfield Publications. How's that for objective, unbiased journalism? A bit corrupted maybe? Poor old Zzap reviewers, you could sense for example that when they gave the mediocre Delta 74%, the pressure was really on them to give it a somewhat positive review. And don't even get me started on Hawkeye's golden medal. -)

Summer Camp was actually one of the last titles that Thalamus published for the C64 but it never really caught on the way Creatures or Nobby The Aardvark did. It's a flick-screen platformer where you play the part of a mouse, Maximus, and you have to find the flag of your summer-camp which has somehow gone missing. In order to do that you have to go through four levels, and your objective is to pick all Acme crates located there. These crates contain vehicle parts for your transportation to the next level. There's also a bonus round in-between, where you have to assemble these vehicle parts.

The first thing you notice about Summer Camp is the colourful, cartoony graphics. Boy, are they wonderful! The second thing you notice is how difficult it is to move around the platforms. That's because the controls suck, which is very frustrating for a game that demands pixel-perfect positioning. The collision detection doesn't do you any favours either, and neither do the hordes of re-spawning enemies, as opposed to non re-spawning power-ups. Again, terribly frustrating for a game that relies so much on them. The game is just unbelievably, infuriatingly difficult. You might find the patience to practice enough to make it through the first two levels (the summer-camp itself and a Wild-West styled ghost-town), but levels three and four (some gold-mine and the moon!) are just impossible.

It's not really worth bothering. The game is just an evolution of the ancient Jet Set Willy formula, with enemies going back and forth around the screen, and you having to climb your way through the desirable object. Oh sure, there are amusing touches, such as Maximus using his tail to become helicopter-like (if you get the necessary power-up), or the cat in level-two which swallows you and then burps you out, or the platforms which you can move yourself in level-four etc. The thing is that the average games-player will never get to see them because he will give up too soon, seeing as the game is stupidly difficult. What a shame.


Friday, January 2, 2009

McDonaldland longplay part 1 (C64, 1992)

Now here's something different.. a longplay! McDonaldland was a platformer that came fairly late in the C64's commercial lifetime, and it was a conversion of a NES game. Mystifyingly, both Commodore Format and Zzap64 (aka Commodore Force) gave the game somewhat positive reviews (both in the low 70's range), which was weird seeing as the game was an appalling conversion. There's a ridiculous number of bugs to be found (unforgivable for a commercial release), it's terribly slow, there's a general lack of enemies, and later levels look rather unfinished. But it sort of has a charming fairy-tale like atmosphere, one not unlike Super Mario World, and there's a fair bit of variety to be found. Check it out.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Virtua Striker (coin-op, 1994)

Bzzzt, happy new year! I thought I'd do another update now that I'm sort of reinvigorated. OK, so.. coin-ops! Were you a fan? I was. Arcade games had a rather bad reputation when I was a kid, in the sense that it was the "bad boys" that went there and spent their time (and money) instead of doing their homework. That only enhanced their appeal as far as I'm concerned.

Of course an arcade game is different in it's philosophy than a home-computer game. Since it relies on the player keeping paying in order to continue playing, the game has to be instantly appealing and not too deep in it's gameplay mechanics.

I only started going in the arcades from high-school onwards, and I do admit on missing a few good classes in lyceum. Coin-ops didn't help in trying to get to university either. -) Sega's Virtua Striker is one of the games I've wasted *shitloads* of money in. It was that good. A two-player game was a must, and usually resulted in a shouting match. Emulating it these days on my PC, I find that it's just as playable as it ever was. Why is that? Simply put.. simplicity!!

No modern-day FIFA or Pro-Evolution Soccer overload of complex controls. Instead you just control the movement and get two different types of passing (high pass and low pass) whose power depends on how hard (long) you push the button, a button for shooting, and two different types of tackling. Yet the game feels quite realistic thanks to the spiffy 3D-graphics, as opposed to the popular overhead footie arcade games of the early 90's like Kick-Off 2 and Sensible Soccer.

The game sort of helps you out with it's mechanics, in the sense that when passing the ball, it automatically heads towards the direction of the next free player. But excuse me, isn't that what would happen as well if you were playing in a real football match? It all has to do with not making the experience overly complicated. It works. Virtua Striker 2 was more complicated and somehow lost the appeal.

I still play this game every now and then, and I invite old pals to relive the erstwhile Virtua Striker feud - with a beer or three. It's fun!!