Tag Archives: PS1

Worms Armageddon (PC, Dreamcast, PlayStation, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Colour & BeOS)

Developer(s) – Team17

Publisher(s) – Atari, Team17, MicroProse, Hasbro Interactive & Infogrames Entertainment

The original Worms game was very much a question of trial and error, but still turned out to be a very good game. Worms Armageddon, however, took the same formula and built upon it extensively, making for a much better gaming experience than the first. Delivering more on their outlandish sense of humour and unique gameplay style, Team17 set the bar for innovation within the industry with Worms Armageddon, and continues to hold up as an excellent game to this day.

Graphics – 7/10

As well as having greatly improved visuals from the original game, with the character sprites being in a lot more detail than before, the settings in Armageddon are also a lot more diverse, and the sound bytes used are a lot more humorous and varied. However, for a number of reasons, the PlayStation port in particular, is much better than the Nintendo 64 version of the game. One of which is the inclusion of the many funny FMVs shown before each battle, which in the Nintendo 64 version, are absent.

Gameplay – 7/10

Thankfully, the great gameplay is present in all ports of the title. The biggest improvement is that there are a lot more game modes to indulge in, and thus, increased variety. As well as having single or multiplayer, there is also a training mode, which can be used to improve the status of either pre-created teams or custom made ones. All these new features work to keep things a lot more interesting than in the previous instalment, and give it much more replay value as well.

Controls – 9/10

Just like the first, however the only issue I have about the game’s control scheme is the system of measuring up wind resistance against trajectory to take the most accurate shot possible with bazookas or grenades. In my opinion, it makes the game unnecessarily difficult at times, given the most awkward of circumstances and unit positions. However, there are no problems otherwise. It can be argued that it is also easier to play it on the PlayStation than it is on the Nintendo 64, given size comparison between the two system’s controllers.

Lifespan – N/A (10/10)

Like the first game, Worms Armageddon is a game that can simply be picked up and played without players having to worry about making progress in the conventional sense or having to worry about how fleeting the experience may feel like after they’ve finished playing. However, with Armageddon, he extra gameplay features warrant heightened player interest, and thus can be made to last even longer than the original game would have done.

Storyline – N/A (10/10)

In lieu of Team17 tradition, Armageddon, as well as the entire Worms franchise, has no established story, but only a basic premise; worms warring with each other. Again, the best thing about the premise of Worms Armageddon is the continuation of the comedic valued displayed in the many FMVs of the game, which play out before each fight. While they may not be quite as funny as the ones in the original game, they’re still quite humorous.

Originality – 7/10

Even at the back end of the 90s, when a lot of the innovation and outlandish ideas of the fifth generation had been well and truly established, Worms Armageddon in my opinion, was still able to stand out among many of the other different games that were around at the time. It wasn’t as if the idea had been completely fazed out by that time; the idea still hasn’t been fazed out even to this day, since Team17 continue to release and re-release instalments of it on a regular basis.

Happii

Happii

To sum up, Worms Armageddon is my favourite Worms game of all time, and one that I would highly recommend to any fans of the series who may not have played it yet. Team17 have produced very many ideas that may sound ridiculous on paper, but work well on console over the course of their foray into gaming, but this to me, is the one that stands out most.

Score

50/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Worms (Amiga, CD32, Jaguar, Super Nintendo, Game Boy, Mega Drive, Sega Saturn, MS DOS, PlayStation & PC)

Developer(s) – Team17

Publisher(s) – Ocean Software

Designer – Andy Davidson

Starting out as an entry for a programming competition called Total Wormage, Worms went on to become not only a hugely popular game, but a hugely popular franchise. A by-product of the 90s, a strange time for the industry in its own right, Worms combines some concepts which may sound ridiculous on paper, but make for something very entertaining on either CD or cartridge format.

Graphics – 6.5/10

The designs of the in-game battlefield in particular are quite unique compared to typical video game settings for not only its times, but for video games in general, taking place in settings varying from glaciers and scrap yards. The FMVs that play out before the beginning of each battle were also pretty well done for the time and add quite a bit of entertainment to the game, which I will elaborate on further into the review. The aspect that I think lets the visuals down, however, is how poorly detailed the character sprites stand out among the in-game scenery. I think by that token, the game hasn’t aged particularly well from a visual perspective. After a while, the sound bytes of the character voices could get a little annoying after a while in the first instalment.

Gameplay – 6.5/10

I find that this game’s fairly strong level of addiction can be attributed to how much challenge can be involved at times, and for how much strategy and variety in gameplay was surprisingly included in a game like this, which I personally commend it for. At the time, there was something strangely wonderful about determining the best way to take out each of the opposing teams worms before they take the player’s team out, and it’s a unique gameplay novelty, which I believe still hold up to this very day.

Controls – 9/10

The only gripe I have about this game’s control scheme is the system of having to measure up wind resistance against trajectory in order to take the most accurate shot possible with the bazooka or grenades. In my opinion, that can make the game unnecessarily difficult at times, given the most awkward of circumstances and unit positions. To my dismay, this system would feature in future Worms titles. However, there are no problems otherwise.

Lifespan – N/A (10/10)

As a game with no fixed lifespan, it only lasts as long as player interest. Like games such as Mario Kart, Worms is a game that cam simply be picked up and played without players having to worry about making progress in the conventional sense or having to worry about how fleeting the experience may feel like after they’ve finished playing.

Storyline – N/A (10/10)

As like many video games before and after the release of Worms, this game has no properly established storyline, but rather a mere basic premise; worms warring with each other. The best thing about the premise of Worms is the entertaining comedic element portrayed in the many FMVs of the game, which play out before each fight. This would become a stable in the series, much to my personal approval.

Originality – 7/10

In the 90’s in particular, when most players were primarily used to 2D side scrolling and first person shooting, a real-time strategy game about worms at war and using a wide variety of weapons and gadgets to subdue each other was a breath of fresh air on both a conceptual level, and in terms of gameplay. Indeed, these are the kinds of seemingly nonsensical ideas, which have been the very foundations for some of the greatest video game franchises ever conceived.

Happii

Happii

In summation, Worms is a very unique and compelling game, which whilst not holding up on a graphical point of view, definitely holds up in terms of both gameplay and originality. In my opinion, it’s a must-have for any fan of the real-time strategy genre.

Score

49/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Wipeout (PlayStation)

Developer(s) – Psygnosis

Publisher(s) – Psygnosis

Director – John White

Producer – Dominic Mallinson

Released early on in the shelf life of the original PlayStation, and developed with the likes of both Super Mario Kart and F-Zero in mind, the original Wipeout was world apart from most games that Psygnosis had developed prior, such as Barbarian and Bloodwych, and offered exactly the kind of gaming experience that Sony needed at the time. Aside from 3D platformers and RPGs, which were gaining mainstream popularity at the time, racing games remained fairly popular, although the genre would be saturated with a number of licensed games (some of which developed by Psygnosis themselves), but Wipeout took elements from both the kart racing genre and the anti-gravity racing genre, and combined them to make something very different and fascinating indeed.

Graphics – 8/10

Wipeout takes place in a futuristic imagining of our own world, with the game set in places like Canada, Germany and Japan, and includes a lot of varied and wonderfully designed courses and intricate track designs. Not only did this game do an exceptional job of showing off what the original PlayStation was capable of in it’s early years, but I think the graphics also still hold up to this day, despite one or two glitches that can found in most of the tracks namely Canada. Ship designs would go on to become more diverse in future games, but I think they made a decent impression with even the few ships players have at their disposal to start the game off with.

Gameplay – 7/10

As the perfect marriage between two Nintendo classics, Mario Kart and F-Zero, Wipeout is as enjoyable as it is both challenging and exhilarating. I think one reason why it can be viewed as more of a challenge than Mario Kart games is because the player always has to climb from last place to first to win each race, unlike Mario Kart, whereby if the player starts from whichever position they finished in. It’s also a lot more of a challenge to hit opponents with certain projectiles I find, since Mario Kart 64 was very forgiving of how much time players had to hit someone even with a green shell at close range.

Controls – 7/10

Since this was the first game in the series, it was always going to be a question of trial and error in terms of controls; especially since the PlayStation controller, since it lacked the analogue stick at this point. It’s initial absence didn’t cause as much of a problem in this game as it did in many early 3D platformers available early on in the PlayStation’s shelf life, such as Croc: Legend of the Gobbos and Bubsy 3D, but making certain turns can be seen as an unnecessary hassle at times, and it would take a few instalments for the developers eventually got it fully perfected.

Originality – 10/10

Although this game took influence from not only numerous Nintendo games, but from many other different things, such as the culture and music which was most popular during the mid 90s, but the game also went to boost the popularity of its respective influences, such as underground techno music, and as I said before, offered an experience unique to the PlayStation console that may not have been conceived other wise. Crash Team Racing did eventually come along as a challenger to the popularity of Mario Kart 64 and Diddy Kong Racing, but Wipeout would go on to evolve in different ways to the aforementioned examples, even across the lifespan of the original PlayStation alone.

Happii

Happii

To summarize, Wipeout is a must-have for anyone with either a PlayStation or PlayStation 3, and is a classic experience that still holds up to this day. Players may encounter issues with the game’s physics and control scheme, but by no mans do these factor make the game unplayable.

Score

32/40

8/10 (Very good)

Tunguska: Legend of Faith (PC & PlayStation)

Developer – Exortus Software

Publisher – Take-Two Interactive

Graphic Director – Alexei Danikine

Producer – Lee Brown

Tunguska: Legend of Faith was a game released in 1998, and ported to both the PC and the original PlayStation. I tried to research into it further for the purpose of the review, but it seems to have been lost on the entire industry. There’s no Wikipedia article about it, people would be hard-pressed to find a review of it (which is hopefully where I come in), and although it was indeed published by Take-Two Interactive, it doesn’t even appear on their Wikipedia list of games they’ve published. However, this can all only be a good thing, as it is an awful, wretched game; even for the time was it so undeniably bad in every single way. In the development company’s lifespan, Germany-based company, Exortus Software, only managed to get two games out to retail; a game called WorldSpiral: Liath, and this monstrosity. The way I see it, it’s no wonder they folded if they were putting out games like this.

Graphics – 5/10

Whilst the visual quality is fairly average for the time, and all things considered, has not aged well compared to other early PlayStation games, it’s also conceptually weak. All the corridors throughout the castle in the game look the same as one another. There is not one standout feature other than maybe some of the traps strewn across the place, and even they aren’t anything special to look at. The opening cutscene in the beginning of the game was fairly well done, but from there, it only gets far, far worse.

Gameplay – 1/10

The game is anything but enjoyable to play. All it involves is basically walking around a castle fighting a few people along the way and trying to run past traps; occasionally solving the odd boorish puzzle. The combat system is extremely ridiculous and the game also gets unreasonably hard as the player progresses. The fighting is repetitive, there are absolutely no side quests to do in between playing through the main story and by this token has no replay value whatsoever. It is for the good of the industry that this game is left as obscure as it is.

Controls – 1/10

This game more than gave testament to the initial wanting quality of the PlayStation’s control scheme; it took it to a greater degree of inadequacy. With a control scheme similar to Resident Evil, only with hand-to-hand fighting sequences, the fighting system is confusing at best. There are often times when the camera pans too far away from the in-game character, and it’s difficult to see exactly what’s going on. The command registration system is also very inaccurate, as what player wants the character to do when they press certain buttons doesn’t always happen, and the character can be killed very easily as a result. Also, the mechanic of having to enter another room by clicking on a door in a separate screen to get it open is extremely unnecessary. Why did they not just have a system whereby the player presses a certain button once they reach the door, and then it opens? Why does a separate screen have to pop up? It’s absolutely ridiculous.

Lifespan – 1/10

On average, this game will take less than 2 hours to complete. But I’m very confident that most players will lose interest before then if they ever choose to play this game. Video games that fall under the genre need to last much longer than that, and it doesn’t even feel as if the developers tried at all to prolong the lifespan of the game.

Storyline – 0/10

Now, this is the aspect in which this game falls apart faster than an opinion about football expressed by Adrian Chiles. The ridiculous narrative centres on a condemned criminal named Jack Riley, who is falsely imprisoned for the murder of his wife. As he gets the electric chair, he is transported to another dimension, where he must traverse through a castle, and uncover its secrets. By doing so, he comes back to life and he is miraculously cleared of his crimes. That’s all that happens. It’s uninteresting at best. I have just spoiled the entire story by revealing what happens in the end, but to be honest, I would not consider this a major loss.

Originality – 0/10

This game is original in all the wrong ways. I.e., it’s original in the sense of how bad it is. Not many games can boast such a profound and blatant level of inadequacy. I feel as if the budget used to develop this game could’ve been put to much better use.

Furiious

Furiious

To put it simply, stay away folks…stay away.

Score

8/60

1/10 (Farcical)

Theme Hospital (PC, PlayStation & PlayStation Network)

Developer(s) – Bullfrog Studios & Krisalis Software

Publisher(s) – EA

Theme Hospital is a simulator game, whereby the player must manage various hospitals by researching breakthrough medical advances, employing competent and committed staff and of course, successfully treating as many patients as possible. The game is notable for it’s immersing gameplay, and twisted sense of humour. If history has gone a different way, that humour may be seen as even darker by others, as the fictional and comedic diseases used in the game, such as Discrete Itching and Chronic Nosehair were put in to replace the originally planned inclusion of real-life illnesses into the game. While that does add some controversy, it was thankfully nevertheless tailored to be much more light-hearted and comedic, and most importantly, gameplay came first.

Graphics – 5/10

While comic relief is added in the game’s graphics through some of the comedic looks of some of the patients with ridiculous diseases, such as Bloaty Head, there was never going to be much else in terms of concept in a hospital simulator game. There are a few full-motion videos adding a bit more to the game’s comedic value as well as the darker aspect of its humour, but other than these small elements, there’s not much else to look at, unfortunately.

Gameplay – 8/10

Theme Hospital was one of the most addictive games I ever played growing up, and that level of addiction still hold up to this day the way I see it. I remember it was one of the first games that made me understand how something that could be seen as being mundane and repetitive in real life can be made to seem extremely entertaining. There have been many other games come and gone that have tried to replicate that feeling with the same level of success; indeed most recently, I’ve been playing the game Papers Please, which could easily fall under this category, but very few have succeeded on the same level as this game.

Controls – 10/10

The simulation and real-time strategy gaming genre had been long since perfected prior to the release of Theme Hospital, and so it was unlikely to begin with that there would be any problems with the game’s control scheme; and so there isn’t. Theme Hospital, though relatively difficult to master, is simple to get to grips with.

Lifespan – 3/10

The biggest issue I have with this game, however, is that there is a fixed lifespan, making the game very short-lived for one in it’s genre. The game’s main mode can be complete in less than six hours, and for a game that can be made to last an infinite amount if time, that’s almost unforgivable. Unlike Rollercoaster Tycoon, there doesn’t exist any kind of endless mode, whereby players can just build and maintain a hospital, and stick to it; they simply have to meet all the hospital’s requirements, and then move onto the next until the game is complete. That, in turn, also affects the gameplay, as this makes it a lot less satisfying to play than it easily could have been.

Storyline – N/A (10/10)

Theme Hospital doesn’t have any kind of established story, or even much in the way of a basic premise; but nor did it need anything like that to be any more enjoyable. The only elements of story is in the game’s humour, which can make the ambience of the game both funny and taboo at the same time, but otherwise, there isn’t much else to talk about in terms of story. There’s no need for the game to lose marks for not having something that it didn’t necessarily have to have.

Originality – 8/10

Simulator games had been around for some time prior to this, but this game was in a class of it’s own. It garnished a great level of popularity among players, and is still unlike anything I’ve ever played since. It was instrumental in shaping a lot of my own personal viewpoints about gaming, and it’s my hope that more titles like this come along in the near future, with the same, or an even greater level of originality attached to it.

Happii

Happii

Overall, whilst it hasn’t stood the test of time as well as other games of the 90s have, Theme Hospital is still fairly addictive and fun to play, and it’s dark and twisted humour and great level of uniqueness has made it a cult classic, and I would still recommend it to anyone reading who hasn’t tried it yet.

Score

45/60

7.5/10 (Good)

Tekken 3 (Arcade, PlayStation & PlayStation 2)

Developer(s) – Namco

Publisher(s) – Namco

Director – Katsuhiro Harada

Tekken 3 is not only considered to be one of the greatest fighting games of all time, but many so regard it as one of the greatest games of all time. Receiving almost perfect scores from most publications at the time, citing its inclusion of a more diverse character roster, and its improved soundtrack and graphics over its predecessors. Overall, I think Tekken 2 is the better instalment out of the original trilogy, but this is a more than worthy sequel in my opinion.

Graphics – 8/10

The most noteworthy aspect of Tekken 3 is the dramatic change in artistic direction. Some classic characters are swapped out for new ones, and the appearances of many classic characters left in were also re-imagined; especially Yoshimitsu. It reminds me very much of how Midway tried to drastically branch out in terms of visuals whilst developing Mortal Kombat 3, when most of the palette-swapped ninja characters were either re-tooled or swapped out for more original looking characters. The arena designs in the third game are also massively improved on, and the FMV cutscenes featured in each characters arcade mode ending are also very well done. Tekken 3’s graphics were among some of the best that the PlayStation had to offer; comparable to the likes of Final Fantasies VII, VIII and IX, and it is made very apparent.

Gameplay – 7.5/10

What I like about Tekken 3 is that it is extremely accessible in the sense that it is patently open to both amateurs and professional fighting game players, and both sets of players can enjoy it regardless of experience. Tekken 3 has a good few game modes, including the Tekken Force mode, which presents a 2.5D side-scrolling form of gameplay very similar to Streets of Rage. But what I like most about paying through Tekken 3 is the plethora of unlockable characters available to obtain. It’s extremely satisfying to play through the arcade mode with each of these characters and see how their stories end. But I think that if the Tekken Force mode was built on much more than it was, then Tekken 3 could have potentially been a lot more addictive than it is. It was actually one of the first examples of 2.5D side-scrolling gameplay, and it could have done with having some more emphasis being put onto it to make the game much more interesting.

Controls – 10/10

My opinion of this game’s control scheme is identical to that of Injustice: Gods Among Us, or most other fighting game; there are no problems, and its all down to either how fast players can mash buttons, or how effectively they can execute combos.

Lifespan – 10/10

I would estimate that it would take even inexperienced payers a maximum of 3 hours to unlock every character, and complete the arcade mode with every character. But after that, it simply becomes a game that can be picked up and played at player’s leisure, without the worry of making conformist progress.

Storyline – 5/10

The story of Tekken 3 revolves around a young fighter called Jin, who enters the third King of Iron Fist Tournament announced by his mentor Heihachi, in order to take revenge on the creature Ogre, who had presumably killed his mother. Although the basic premise is easy enough to understand, and each character has their own unique ending, apart from this, the game’s story is not elaborated on any further than that. People don’t generally play fighting games for their story, but the fact of the matter is that the story is present, but there isn’t very much depth to it. But still, it makes a lot more sense than the story of Injustice: Gods Among Us, and its much easier to follow.

Originality – 7.5/10

Of course, with the inclusion of the Tekken Force mode, Tekken 3 stands out among more or less every other fighting game of its time, and the developer’s expression of desire to branch out from an artistic point of view is more than apparent, as when I first played this game back in the day, whilst I knew I was playing an instalment of Tekken, I was quick to notice the amount of change that was implemented.

Happii

Happii

To sum up, Tekken 3 is indeed one of the greatest fighting games I have ever played, and I would recommend it to not only hardcore fighting game fans who may not have played it, but I would especially recommend it as a starting point to people who haven’t tried playing fighting games yet, as they will be able to make progress without throwing their controllers across their living rooms.

Score

48/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Tekken 2 (PlayStation & Arcade)

Developer(s) – Namco

Publisher(s) – Namco

Director – Masamichi Abe

Producer – Hajime Nakatani

Making significant improvements over the original game, Tekken 2 was a best-seller in the UK in particular, but is also often regarded by most critics to be one of the greatest fighting games of all time; including me. Back around the time of it’s release, I spent a lot of time playing this game, since not only was there more to do and unlock than in the first, but it also seemed a lot more accessible.

Graphics – 7/10

The first of many enhancements made by the developers with the second game was in the graphics; most notably, the increased diversity in both level and character design. In many ways, it reminds me of the transition from Mortal Kombat II to III; only in this case, there was less for the developers to worry about, since there were considerably less palette-swapped characters in the original Tekken than in Mortal Kombat II. But regardless, they still managed to branch out in very different artistic directions in the way Midway did with Mortal Kombat III.

Gameplay – 8/10

As well as there being new modes added to keep things fresh compared to other fighting games of the time, there are seven more characters to unlock than in the first, with the introduction of a few new faces, as well as the classics. But with new characters also came new move sets for players to become accustomed to overtime, which in itself added more variety to the game than before. Though many of the move sets are simply recycled for all of the secret characters to use, unlocking them still felt particularly rewarding.

Controls – 10/10

I’ve always found it impressive how seamlessly fighting games made the transition from 2D to 3D throughout the fifth generation of gaming. The first Tekken had a particularly impressive control scheme, which presented no complications whatsoever. But the second game perfected this formula, as combat and movement was made a lot more fluent and even easier to cope with; which to me, is most probably the reason why the second game is a lot more accessible than the first by proxy.

Originality – 7/10

The developers also did relatively well to differentiate the Tekken franchise from other games in the genre; especially considering the fact that the franchise was not originally intended to be a fighting game at all. It was one of the first to establish a stable storyline, as well as being one of the first to include 2D backdrops in 3D environments, which is still one of my favourite forms of graphical rendering to this very day. The second game built greatly upon what had already been accomplished with the first game, making it one of the most standout titles of the fifth generation in my opinion.

Happii

Happii

To summarize, Tekken 2 went leaps and bounds ahead of it’s predecessor, and still remains a very entertaining experience, which I would recommend to any fan of the fighting genre who may not have played it yet. As well as it being one of the best fighting games I’ve ever played, it’s also my favourite in the Tekken franchise overall.

Score

32/40

8/10 (Very Good)

Street Racer (Super Nintendo, Sega Mega Drive, Game Boy, Sega Saturn, PlayStation, Amiga, Amiga 32CD & PC)

Developer – Vivid Image

Publisher – Ubisoft

After the release of Super Mario Kart, kart-racing games were being developed left, right and centre; one of many company standards and innovations that Nintendo pioneered at the time. Street Racer, to me, was undoubtedly the closest competitor to Super Mario Kart, as there was more depth in gameplay than the likes of Apogee Software’s Wacky Wheels and Sonic Drift for the Game Gear, for example. One thing that I must point out, however, is that it heavily depends on which system the game is being played on, as many of them differ greatly. Personally, I would recommend either the Super Nintendo or Sega Mega Drive port over any of the others, as the PlayStation and Sega Saturn ports, for example, was heavily dubbed down in terms of gameplay and nowhere near as enjoyable as a result.

Graphics – 7.5/10

From a technical standpoint at least, the visuals actually exceed the quality of Super Mario Kart, as mode 7 rendering was used to design the game, and thus it was made a lot more graphically smoother and much more polished than the former. However, whilst the settings are fairly diverse, they’re not as diverse as Super Mario Kart, and I personally believe that artistic merit in visuals should come before graphical capability. The Super Nintendo port also has much more diverse settings than that of the PlayStation, and because the graphics were rendered differently for the PlayStation port, details can also take longer to load up than in the Super Nintendo version. So, not only is the Super Nintendo superior from a conceptual perspective, but it’s superior from a technical perspective too, which to me, would have seemed particularly embarrassing at the time, given that the PlayStation was supposed to be the superior console.

Gameplay – 6.5/10

In terms of gameplay, I think that this is a decent Super Mario Kart clone; but nowadays, that would be pretty much all I would have to say about it, really. There are a few imaginative gameplay modes attributed to it, such as the soccer mode for example, but the problem is it’s just not quite as varied as even the original Super Mario Kart; let alone other games of the kind that have been released since, such as Diddy Kong Racing, for example. So by that logic, at hasn’t held up as well as I initially suspected that it might have done before I started playing it again for the purposes of this review. But as I pointed out earlier, it is much more enjoyable to play the game on the earlier consoles, as alternative gameplay modes were removed from the PlayStation version in particular.

Controls – 10/10

For all ports, there are no problems with the controls; not even for the systems it was later ported to, as the formula had been long since mastered by developers. Something interesting about the PlayStation version was that the game could be switched to a different gameplay mode, which would make the game play out a bit more like the Micro Machines games as opposed to a conventional kart-racing game.

Lifespan – N/A (10/10)

Though it will take an hour or two to complete each championship mode tournament (if that), very much like Mario Kart and other games of the genre, it then becomes a game that can simply be picked up and played at any time without the worry of needing to make conventional progress. After the championship mode is completed, the game’s lifespan is simply dependant on player’s own personal interest.

Storyline- N/A (10/10)

As a racing game, there wasn’t any cal for any kind of elaborate storyline, and there’s no need for Street Racer to lose marks for not having something that it didn’t require. I think if the developers did try and make a story of it, however, I don’t suspect they will have gotten very far. It’d be particularly hard to make a story out of the characters that are included in the game, I find.

Originality – 3/10

Though this game does have a certain level of uniqueness about it such as the moderate level of diversity in track design, it is essentially a rip-off of Super Mario Kart, and there’s wasn’t enough for me to make it stand out to the extent whereby it would hold up today. I believe this opinion of mine is made even more apparent whilst playing the PlayStation version, as many of the best track design and additional game modes had been taken away; like the life had been sucked out of it, in a sense.

Happii

Happii

Overall, I believe Street Racer makes for a good few hours of entertainment, but I would advise people wanting to try it out to get their hands on the Super Nintendo or Sega Mega Drive version of the game to truly see the game for what it is; a moderately imaginative and fairly enjoyable Mario Kart clone.

Score

44/10

7/10 (Fair)

Spyro the Dragon (PlayStation)

Developer(s) – Insomniac Games

Publisher(s) – Sony Computer Entertainment

Artist – Charles Zembillas

Producer – Mike Cerny

Back when the PlayStation was first released, the control scheme seemed to be a cause for concern when it came to dev eloping 3D platformers for the system. That is until Spyro the Dragon came along. Not only it is symbolic to me of a time when Sony finally got the formula right, but it’s also a very enjoyable title and it stil stand out as one of the better games on the system.

Graphics – 9/10

When I was growing up, the medieval era and dragons always captivated my imagination, so it seemed to me that the first Spyro game would be right up my alley; and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s medieval settings (as well as an array of other different kinds of settings) and its level of graphical detail was absolutely astounding for the time. After playing Super Mario 64, I was astonished to see another superbly designed in-game world, which was just as big as the one in the Nintendo 64 classic; if not bigger. Although the conceptual design falls slightly short of that of Super Mario 64, it was still a very good effort from Insomniac Games in terms of presentation. I’m also actually pretty sure that this was the first game I played that featured multiple overworlds.

Gameplay – 8/10

Overall, the first Spyro was a very decent experience. I liked it for its amount of variety in gameplay. In addition to the standard 3D platforming exploration elements, there are also stages which feature flying challenges that I particularly enjoyed. To me, those sequences not only make the game stand out greatly among other 3D platformers for the time, but they also provide a very stern challenge. There is also a small incentive for completing the game to 100% in the form of an alternative ending, but that was somewhat commonplace for the time, and truth be told, is now considered non-canonical to the rest of the series, which makes it somewhat redundant in the long run.

Controls – 9/10

For the most part, the controls are fine. The only problem I had with them concerned the various degrees of speed the character can move at and issues surrounding it. When the character moves normally, it can be fairly slow and gameplay can be somewhat hampered by it in turn. But when the character is dashing, it sometimes makes moving Spyro around a little bit difficult, as it can be easily to bump into a lot of things along the way. But what needs to be kept in mind is that this was one of Sony’s first decent 3D platforming games, and as such, it was going to be a case of trial and error when it came to controls, as there were a lot of issues to be addressed at the time. But overall, Insomniac handled things more than well enough.

Lifespan – 8/10

For an early PlayStation game, this was fairly long. It may not have been on the same level as Final Fantasy VII, but 100% completion would take in excess of 20-30 hours, which is outstanding as far I’m concerned. The longer a game can be made to last, the better. Nowadays, that may seem like a fraction of what quite a few games of today can deliver, but I was left wanting for nothing after I finished this game when I was a kid. It still makes for a very fulfilling experience to this day; being aware of the game’s historical importance and what impact it subsequently had on Sony only makes the experience evermore enthralling.

Storyline – 6/10

This is where the game falls down a little bit for me. As with a lot of video game stories for the time, it is somewhat basic. Insomniac had a bit of a ways to go before they would eventually expand on this area in other instalments. The story follows a young purple dragon called Spyro, who lives among a colony of dragons. During a television interview (bizarrely), one of the dragons insults the game’s main villain, Gnasty Gnorc, who then becomes enraged and decides to use his magic to turn all the dragons into crystal. Spyro escapes his wrath, and sets out on a journey to find and free the imprisoned dragons and defeat Gnasty Gnorc. The best thing about this story is it’s element of humour; in lieu of Insomniac tradition, it would seem. It’s been seen all throughout the Ratchet & Clank series, but it’s interesting to see where it all stemmed from.

Originality – 8/10

Even though this game was heavily based on Super Mario 64, and that there is overwhelming evidence to suggest that Sony and Insomniac Games were influenced by Nintendo’s success, the developers did add quite a lot of flair to Spyro the Dragon and indeed made the overall concept their own. It had many different gameplay elements, which made it fairly unique in it’s own right. One Super Mario 64 element they did improve on was the flying mechanics, as it could sometimes be pretty difficult to control Mario in the air when he was equipped with the wing cap, but with the free-flying sequences of Spyro, it was all down to player’s individual skill.

Happii

Happii

In summary, I believe this is a game that should be owned by anyone who has either a PlayStation or PlayStation 2. If not, it’s definitely worth downloading from the PlayStation Network, as it is very much worth playing through. It’s an excellent experience, and it paved the way for the series to reach for the skies; just like Spyro himself.

Score

48/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers (Sega Saturn, PlayStation & 3DS)

Developer(s) –Atlus

Publisher(s) – Atlus

Lead Artist – Kazuma Kaneko

Originally released for both the Sega Saturn and the PlayStation, Soul Hackers, for the longest time, never saw a release outside of Japan, (with Sony Computer Entertainment America rejecting a proposed overseas port), until it was eventually released in 2013 in both that region and Europe for the 3DS. After playing this game, whilst I would agree with the notion that there are far worse games out there, I’d say it was no surprise that Sony of America would reject a proposed port at first, since Final Fantasy VIII was out at the time, and it would most definitely have been lost in the crossfire. I think based on the fact that the same thing happened to Breath of Fire IV during the release of Final Fantasy IX, and people consider Breath of Fire IV to now be a lost relic, it could have easily happened to Soul Hackers back then.

Graphics – 7/10

For the time at least, the graphics were fairly advanced, using many cutting edge and clever visual techniques used in many of it’s main competitors, such as Final Fantasy; techniques like using hand-drawn still as backgrounds and FMVs to move the story forward. They made the game look pretty realistic. But conceptually, however, there’s much to suggest that Final Fantasy VII was a major influence, since by that time, that series also deviated away from the typical RPG settings fan of the series were used to in favour of a more cyber-punk setting.

Gameplay – 4.5/10

Since this game seemed to incorporate a more tedious form of exploration than many other RPGs around at the time, and there seemed to be less combating involved, I found it quite hard to get into; especially towards the beginning. This imbalance of combat and exploration also makes me sceptical of the rest of the series, since most other Megami Tensei games play out very similarly to one another.

Controls – 9/10

A first-person RPG, which whilst somewhat unique, made the control scheme a little bit fiddly at time. It reminded me of another RPG I once played called Orcs & Elves, in which movement was unnecessarily complicated. Otherwise, however, there are no other issues. The turn-based RG formula had been long since perfected, and if they had managed to mess that aspect of it up, there would be considerably bigger problems than there ended up being in this title.

Lifespan – 8.5/10

As the strongest point of this game, it lasts a pretty decent amount of time, taking up to 30 to 40 hours to finish. Whilst this may still be below the standard of many other turn-based RPGs being released at the time, it’s still a longer time than what most video games last. The biggest problem, however, is the danger of the lifespan most probably outlasting the boorish gameplay.

Storyline – 6/10

The story follows a group of characters who dwell within a virtual reality city created by a sinister corporation, who resolve to end their tyranny as well as a group of cyber terrorist hackers called spookies (led by a man named Masahiro Sakurai, named after the developer of both the Kirby and Super Smash Bros series). The story is fairly well conceived, but it can get a little bit confusing at times. It’s hard to follow to begin with, since events move at such a pace that not much time is given for players to think about whats going on. But after that, it does become much easier to follow. It’s also interesting to think of what other stories influenced this games, such as Ghost in the Shell for example.

Originality – 6/10

Whilst it may be considerably unique from the rest of the Megami Tensei saga, with the settings and conceptual design being drastically different from any other entry in the series, there’s not much present to differentiate it from most other turn-based RPGs; even for the time. The game’s play doesn’t stand out particularly well, and it is easy to see how many other players had been so put off by the fact that it is a first-person RPG, since the controls are indeed unnecessarily harder to get to grips with than the like of Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest.

Niiutral

Niiutral

To summarize, Soul Hackers is not the most enjoyable game to play, but does provide a relatively long experience and a well thought out story. Unfortunately, half-decent visuals and a good narrative aren’t enough for me to label this a classic, as many other people believe it is; there needs to be engrossing gameplay above all else, and I didn’t find any of that in this title.

Score

41/60

6.5/10 (Above Average)