Tag Archives: PS1

SG88 Twisted Metal 4 Header

Twisted Metal 4 (PlayStation)

Developer(s) – 989 Studios

Publisher(s) – Sony Computer Entertainment

Director(s) – Jonathan Beard

Producer(s) – Jonathan Beard, Darrin Fuller & William Todd

ESRB – T For Teen

 

Released on Halloween of 1999, again exclusively in North America, Twisted Metal 4 split fans firmly down the middle in terms of quality, with it receiving mixed to positive reviews at the time. It delivered improvements on the gameplay and controls but introduced a very questionable cast of characters overall. In my opinion, the fourth game is without a shadow of a doubt the worst out of the original Twisted Metal quadrilogy, but I went into this game thinking I was going to end up giving it a far worse review than what I actually did. I was surprised in some respects playing this one. 

 

Graphics – 8.5/10

In terms of technical design, there were some minor improvements made to the level of polish, but regardless, the game still maintains the higher frame rate associated with 989 Studio’s take on the series, which is impressive. The variety in level design and the intricate layouts of tracks are also maintained to quite a high degree. It’s by a small fraction the best-looking game of the original four. The only thing letting it down in terms of conceptual design is the design of the new characters, which is largely underwhelming. Characters like Pizza Boy, The Joneses, and Trashman leave a lot to be desired.

 

Gameplay – 8/10

The gameplay premise remains identical to that of the first three games; vehicular deathmatches over a certain number of rounds and a few boss fights thrown in additionally. But the improvements made to Twisted Metal 4 over Twisted Metal 3 including things like more weapons to use and more variety in boss battles. Another neat little feature the developers added is the ability to use certain elements of each environment in combat. For example, players can control a crane in the first level to damage other cars. It was the level of improvement that the series needed come Twisted Metal 3, and they’re welcome additions in the fourth game. 

 

Controls – 10/10

There were also a few minor improvements made to the controls, including the new mechanics of manipulating the environment to the player’s advantage, and although the series didn’t really need any improvement in this respect, it’s always welcome to see minor tweaks implemented. I’m glad at least that the developers didn’t take it too far too soon, and try to incorporate all kinds of new mechanics and potentially ruin it in terms of controls at least.

 

Lifespan – 6/10

Clocking in fractionally longer than Twisted Metal 1 and 3, the game can be made to last around 13 hours with each playthrough lasting about an hour again. But I can’t help but think that if the boss characters were at least unlockable, or if the developers just had the inkling to add a few more game modes, which was at this point something the series desperately needed, then it could have been made to last so much longer than any of the previous three games. It was still quite a long time for a game like this to last, but by this time, there was definitely scope for expansion. 

 

Storyline – 2/10

Again, the basic premise of the story remains the same; the world’s best vehicular combatants challenging for the title of Twisted Metal champion. This time, however, the mascot of Twisted Metal, Sweet Tooth, has overthrown the tournament’s regular organizer Calypso and taken his power to grant wishes to the victor; indeed, Calypso is a playable character for the first time in the series as he looks to take back his status. Unfortunately, that, along with the story arcs of a few other characters such as Mr. Zombie, Quatro, and Captain Grimm are about the only ones that have any substance to them. 

Most of the new characters, like Pizza Boy, Meter Maid, Trashman, Goggle Eyes, and The Joneses have very nonsensical and unambitious wishes in scope. And although some of the endings to these characters are played for laughs, like Twisted Metal 3, it completely demeans what David Jaffe envisioned for this series. Twisted Metal 2 was the best in the series because it blended seriousness with humor pretty much perfectly. But when 989 Studios took the developmental rights, they made it into something much more slap[stick and cartoony, and I’ve never been a fan of this. But Twisted Metal 4 is where this idea was cranked up to 11, and doesn’t work for me at all. 

 

Originality – 6/10

The fourth game suffers from the exact same problem as what the third game does; some innovation made in some respects, but not enough overall. In terms of story, they started going back on what made the series great come the third game, but in the fourth, that is made far more apparent. It’s a shame how 989 Studios took certain elements of this series quite seriously and neglected others to the point where it becomes almost enraging.

 

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Overall, Twisted Metal 4 is the worst game of the original four, but at the very least, it is still fairly enjoyable to play; even if the incentive for completing the game with every character is minimal. The series would take a far more interesting turn in the future, but for the most part, like Twisted Metal 3, I’m glad it stayed in North America. 

Score

40.5/60

6.5/10 (Above Average)

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Twisted Metal 3 (PlayStation)

Developer(s) – 989 Studios

Publisher(s) –  989 Studios

Director(s) – Howard Liebeskind

Producer(s) – Ken George

ESRB – T For Teen

 

Released a year after Twisted Metal 2 exclusively in North America by a completely different development company, Twisted Metal 3 in some ways improved on the first two games, but in other ways, the series took a turn for the worse. Regardless, it sold relatively well in America and received a fair few positive reviews at the time too. Personally, I managed to find a middle ground with this game, as what is truly warranted. Overall, I’m glad that it didn’t get released over here because it gave me the time when I was a kid to focus more on the PlayStation classics, but overall, this isn’t one of the worse games released on the console. 

 

Graphics – 8/10

The immediate improvement to notice is the frame rate of the game is so much faster, making it seem a lot more fluent to play in turn. However, part of the reason for this may be because of how badly the game was polished compared to the other two games. The conceptual design stayed as diverse as it was in Twisted Metal 2 thankfully, and the track designs have also stayed as intricate; something which needed to happen. But in order to have been able to top Twisted Metal 2, every aspect of the graphics needed to be improved upon. I think I may have settled for the lower frame rate if it meant the game looking technically better, or the tracks being even more elaborate. 

 

Gameplay – 7.5/10

Again, the gameplay concept has stayed pretty much the same as it did in Twisted Metal 2, albeit with the inclusion of a few new boss races thrown in between each round for good measure. But beyond that, there was no further innovation made compared to the previous 2 games, which again, was needed at this point. I can’t help but think that 989 Studios would’ve been able to release the game overseas as well as in America if they’d simply taken that little bit more time to improve on what was already good as opposed to giving players the same game again. 

 

Controls – 10/10

There are furthermore no issues with the controls in Twisted Metal 3, and again, the increased frame rate indeed helps the game in this regard as well. No new mechanics were introduced, but what was already there seems to have been improved slightly, and I can’t take any points off it in this regard.

 

Lifespan – 6/10

Now that we’re back to 12 characters, it equates to a minimum of 12 hours gameplay, falling slightly shorter than Twisted Metal 2. It’s still the same minimum time as what the first Twisted Metal can be made to last, but since this is the third installment, it seems slightly more underwhelming as it’s only around the same time as what can come to expect, and not any longer. Even if they flooded the game with characters and they sacrificed character development even more, then I think that would’ve probably been the better option. 

 

Storyline – 4/10

Speaking of character development, this is the aspect in which the series took a drastic turn for the worse. The story of Twisted Metal 3 is pretty much the same as it was in Twisted Metal 2; the 12 best drivers hashing it out in vehicular deathmatches all around the world at the behest of Calypso. However, the cast of characters included is, even more, hit and miss than in the first 2 games, and the classic characters that have been included have still been downgraded in terms of their own individual personalities, as the game overall takes a far more cartoony approach to storytelling. The wishes that some of the drivers request from Calypso make very little sense or have no real substance to them, such as Flower Power’s wish for the world to be covered in flowers, or Damian’s wish to have a barbecue with all his friends. At least with the first two games, the characters made far more practical wishes and could be taken far more seriously; but in terms of story, it pretty much systematically destroys the legacy that David Jaffe left behind at this point. 

 

Originality – 6/10

Although improvements were made in some areas, not enough improvements were made to make this either one of the standout entries in the series or one of the standout titles on the original PlayStation. It certainly had its fanbase, as the sales figures in America would demonstrate, but the fact of the matter is that the 989 Studios era was without a shadow of a doubt the worst period of the series until David Jaffe would become involved with the series again, and the third game definitely gives testament to that. 

 

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Overall, Twisted Metal 3 is certainly one of the lowest points of the series, but at the same time, still being more playable than a lot of the shovelware titles developed for the original PlayStation. It has its upsides and its downsides; it’s certainly not the best entry in the series, but it’s not the worst one either. 

Score

41.5/60

6.5/10 (Above Average)

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Twisted Metal 2 (PlayStation)

Developer(s) – SingleTrac/Sony Interactive Studios America

Publisher(s) – Sony Computer Entertainment

Director(s) – David Jaffe

Producer(s) – David Jaffe

ELSPA – Suitable for all ages

ESRB – T for Teen

 

Released two years after the original game back in 1997 following a development cycle of 16 months, Twisted Metal 2 was praised worldwide as a decisive improvement over the original game and garnished sales figures of almost 2 million copies in America alone. To me personally, not only is the second game indeed a significant improvement over what SingleTrac did with the first Twisted Metal, but it is most definitely also the best game of the original PlayStation quadrilogy, and among many, remains one of the most definitive experiences on the original PlayStation.

 

Graphics – 8/10

The major improvements made to the game’s graphics are not on the technical side, as in that respect, it’s just about on par with the original game; something that it was criticized for at the time. The major improvements lie in its conceptual design, with the Twisted Metal tournament now taking place throughout the entire world as opposed to simply being confined to Los Angeles. The track designs are also far more intricate as well, making for better gameplay in turn; something which would then become a series mainstay. The accompanying soundtrack is also the best of the series overall in terms of its original score. Although the later games would include a lot of Rob Zombie music, which worked pretty well for me as a fan of his, the concept of original composition is still a lot more impressive to me personally.

 

Gameplay – 7.5/10

The basic gameplay premise remains the same as the first Twisted Metal with deathmatches played over a series of rounds complete with an end boss. But what makes this game far better than the original is in its increased variety in weapons, and of course, the intricately designed tracks. Not only does it make for more fun, but it also makes for more challenge as well, but not to the point of it being inaccessible to gamers. Later entries would include new game modes, but what was included in this game was indeed a massive improvement over the original. 

 

Controls – 10/10

What’s more, is that the minor problems with the first game’s controls have also been ironed out in the second, and no longer does the low framerate pose anywhere near as much of a problem. Again, this is something that would be further improved upon with both Twisted Metal 3 and 4, as both of those games are significantly less affected by in-game memory, but nevertheless, major improvements were made here that needed to happen if this series was going to go any further. 

 

Lifespan – 7.5/10

As there are 14 characters in total in the second game, it can be made to last fractionally longer at 14 hours. Again, it may have been a good idea for the developers to add more game modes at this stage as opposed to later in order to offer players even more than what they were given with this, but the fact of the matter is that 14 hours was still a significant amount for a game of this type to last at the time, and I can’t bring myself to criticize it too much in terms of lifespan. 

 

Storyline – 7/10

Another pretty sizable improvement made to the series with the second game was the expansion of its mythology and improved character development. in Twisted Metal 2, The Twisted Metal tournament had now branched throughout every major capital city on Earth as the owner of the contest Calypso has expanded his own empire globally. New and classic contestants return to hash it out for the title of Twisted Metal champion. The basic premise remains the same, but this time, cutscenes were added; albeit animated ones instead of full-motion video cutscenes as what was planned for the original game. The different endings overall are quite good; some can be taken relatively seriously, like Roadkill and Axel, and some of which are downright hilarious like Hammerhead and Spectre. The quality of the dialogue varies, but for the most part, the writers did a pretty good job. 

 

Originality – 7.5/10

To begin with, the vehicular combat genre had already been re-popularized with the introduction of the first game, but what kept the second game is fresh was the introduction of some new gameplay elements, some new characters being brought in, and characters of lesser quality in the first game being shipped out, and obviously with the expansion of the Twisted Metal mythos in general. It was definitely more evolutionary and revolutionary this time round, but the concept was kept fresh enough for people to still be talking about this game over 20 years on.

 

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Overall, Twisted Metal 2 is unanimously the best game out of the original 4 games, and still an experience that very much holds up to this day. A lot of its flaws can be forgiven, as it was a by-product of a time when the concept of detailed story in video games was still a relatively primitive idea, and regardless, delivered on the aspect that matters most; gameplay. 

Score

47.5/60

7.5/10 (Good)

Scouse Gamer 88 Pepsiman Header

Pepsiman (PlayStation)

Developer(s) – KID

Publisher(s) – KID 

Designer(s) – Nobuaki Umeda, Nozomi Takeguhi & Keisuke Itou

ESRB – T for Teen

 

Developed on a low budget and released exclusively in Japan after the development team failed to get the game published overseas, Pepsiman is an action game, which has silently become one of the most influential games in recent years, with it’s gameplay being the basis for a plethora of popular smartphone titles like Temple Run and Angry Gran. It’s one of those games that on paper would sound ridiculous, and in many respects it is, but regardless, it is a game worth playing.

 

Graphics – 6/10

The majority of the game is set in Pepsi City, where everything seems to revolve around Pepsi; there are billboards advertising it and Pepsi vans driving around everywhere; on some levels, there are even NPCs holding signs saying “I love Pepsi”. Other levels also break away from the modern-day city settings to levels set in science labs, sewers, and motorways. Conceptually, it stands out a lot more than what gamers would think it would after hearing about a game like this. In terms of the technical aspect, it just about meets industry standards set at the time, albeit including a number of 2D sprites all over the place, which back then were being fazed out gradually.

 

Gameplay – 7/10

The concept of the game is simple; guide Pepsiman through a series of on-rail levels, whilst collecting as many cans of Pepsi darted across each of the levels as possible. What isn’t easy is mastering the game, since there are a lot of obstacles and obstructions to overcome along the way. The natural flow is very cleverly disturbed at times, with Pepisman having to run into dustbins at certain points, which reverse the controls as long as his upper body is still in a dustbin for example. It provides much more of a stern challenge than what most people would think going into it; even for players who had previously played the games that were later inspired by it. At the time, a lot of critics were comparing the game to the original Crash Bandicoot games, which although I’m able to appreciate that that was the frame of reference at the time, Pepsiman is still a different type of game indeed. 

 

Controls – 10/10

The game’s control scheme also poses no issues; if the player fails, it’s solely on them. It’s also quite clever how the developers managed to implement changes to the controls based on Pepsiman’s given situation, such as for when he’s balancing on a barrel or riding a skateboard, or when the camera angle is reversed for when he must escape from objects moving behind him. 

 

Lifespan – 4/10

Disappointingly, one playthrough can only be made to last around half an hour, which for the amount of innovation perpetuated with this title, is nowhere near enough time for it to last; especially when drawing comparisons with other games like it, which can be made to last forever. There’s only a certain amount of replay value to be had in addition, with the only incentive being to unlock an alternative costume for Pepsiman, whereas again, there are several skins and characters that can be unlocked in future games that follow the same mantra. 

 

Storyline – 7/10

The story of Pepsiman is very reminiscent of that of an exploitation film in my opinion. It features Pepsiman traversing Pepsi City solving primarily Pepsi-related problems, such as stocking a particular vending machine with Pepsi, rehydrating a bunch of people stranded on a rooftop, and ultimately preventing a worldwide shortage of Pepsi and in turn, stopping a riot from continuing among those wanting Pepsi. It’s as ridiculous as it is flat-out hilarious. But it’s actually quite aware of how ridiculous it is, and the developers played on the fact heavily. It also features a lot of the slapstick violence that was synonymous with the character before the game was released, which further plays on the comedic aspect of the game throughout. 

 

Originality – 9/10

The amount of uniqueness attached to this game is staggering; especially compared to what perception the player will have going into it. It was a game that proved to be ahead of its time in terms of gameplay, given how many developers would go on to copy the model it set years later. Even the games that were perceived to have influenced it at the time are only very loosely related to it; it’s an action game by design, but in terms of its actual gameplay, it was genuinely in a genre of its own, as would later be proven.

 

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Overall, Pepsiman is much better than what it seems on the surface. When stripped back away from all the Pepsi ads and the hilariously bad story, there’s a very enjoyable game to be played for the short time that it unfortunately lasts. 

Score

43/60

7/10 (Fair)

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Rugrats: Search for Reptar (PlayStation)

Developer(s) – n-Space 

Publisher(s) – THQ

Director(s) – Seth Jacobsen & Don Nauert

Producer(s) – Symar Sambar, Leyland Mah & Jym Kelly 

ELSPA – 3

 

Released on the original PlayStation back in 1998 as part of a lucrative multi-million dollar deal between THQ and Nickelodeon, and boasting the second biggest video game marketing campaign of that year (second only to Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time) Rugrats: Search for Reptar is a good example of effective development of a game based on a pre-existing license before the standard would be even further elevated in the late 2000s. Back in the day and as a huge Rugrats fan growing up, I spent a ridiculous amount of time playing this game, and in all honesty, is still one that holds up to this day for a multitude of different reasons. 

 

Graphics – 8/10

The visuals are simple and cartoony to go along with the tableau of the show it’s based on. It’s a lot like a precursor to the concept of cel-shaded visuals perpetuated later by Jet Set Radio and a plethora of games developed afterward. It takes place in a hub world, which is the Pickles residence as well as across a number of locations presented in a variety of classic Rugrats episodes including Grandpa’s Teeth and The Mysterious Mr. Friend. It still holds up to this day because it was never meant to be a game with cutting-edge graphics; only to portray the visual style of the cartoon, which it does exceptionally well. 

 

Gameplay – 8/10

By design, the game is an action-adventure, but because it centers on several classic episodes of the series, it presents the player with a variety of different gameplay mechanics, such as golfing, riding a dog, and projectile combat. I almost forgot about how good this game is because it’s easy to forget and perpetuate a different idea of it after having not played it for a number of years. But after revisiting the game, I was able to appreciate the many different things it offered to gamers at the time and still does. 

 

Controls – 10/10

One of the major issues players and critics alike had with the game’s controls was the camera angle; mainly put down to the fact that this was developed during a time when 3D gaming was just coming out of its infancy. But none of that truly bothered me back in the day, and it still doesn’t now. The camera stays behind the player character and never moves beyond that. The controls are certainly nowhere near as much of a problem as they are in other 3D games released at around the same time, including Blasto and Croc: Legend of the Gobbos. Unlike in a lot of other early 3D games, the movement is also extremely fluent in addition, and the game flows naturally despite the number of play styles the player will have to adapt to throughout. 

 

Lifespan – 5/10

To me, the Lifespan was the most disappointing aspect of this title, as it can take less than 3 hours to complete, which fell below the established standard for 3D games even back in 1998. When considering that this game was advertised as much as what Ocarina of Time was, the difference in lifespan is eclipsing, as players can get through this game in a few hours and move on to Ocarina of Time, which takes far longer to complete to 100%.

 

Storyline – 7/10

The basic premise of the story is that Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, Lil, and Angelica are on a quest to recover the missing pieces of Tommy’s jigsaw puzzle modeled after his favorite cartoon character Reptar. The main story is simplistic, but it also takes place across several classic Rugrats episodes, which remain beloved by fans of the series everywhere, and to see them presented in the video game format was quite a unique thing at the time. As a fan of it growing up back in the day, it featured some of my favorite episodes of the series, so it worked particularly well for me back in the day. 

 

Originality – 7/10

Although 3D gaming was beginning to dominate the medium at this time and clones were cropping up all over the place on every home console, there was something quite unique about this game back in the day to give players this much variety in gameplay. It’s another example of developers not just using a pre-existing license, but also celebrating it in significant ways. The developers clearly had fun putting this game together and it really shows in more ways than one. 

 

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Overall, Rugrats: Search for Reptar is an excellent example of a game based on a beloved license, and an experience that still holds up to this day. I’m glad that I not long revisited this title, because if I hadn’t, I will have undoubtedly forgotten about how good a game it truly is. 

Score

45/60

7.5/10 (Good)

Resident Evil 2 (PC, PlayStation, Nintendo 64, Dreamcast & GameCube)

Developer(s) – Capcom

Publisher(s) – Capcom

Director(s) – Hideki Kamiya

Producer(s) – Shinji Mikami

PEGI – 18

Released in 1998 has generated more revenue than most Hollywood movies at the time, Resident Evil 2 is a continuation of the story of the original with new characters, new setting, and new dangers to overcome besides the zombies littering the mansion on the borders of Raccoon City. For various different reasons, I found the second game, whilst suffering from a few of the same problems as the first, to be a decisive improvement on its predecessor in a number of respects. 

 

Graphics – 9/10

The most notable improvement of which, in my opinion, is in terms of its visual quality, with the player no longer being confined to a single mansion on the outskirts of Raccoon City, but rather in the heart of Raccoon City itself. Locations range from the ruins of Raccoon City streets to the Raccoon Police Department to research facilities and it was a welcome change of scenery at the time that made the franchise a lot more diverse. The quality of the zombie sprites was also a lot more varied than in the original game with different outfits for zombies, zombie policemen, and even female zombies too. There were visible improvements in both the technical and conceptual aspects of the game, which were pleasant to see. 

 

Gameplay – 8/10

In terms of gameplay, it plays out pretty much like an extension to the first game with a couple of added mechanics thrown in for good measure. Like in the first game, there are two scenarios to play through with two different characters, so it almost felt like two different games at the time, especially as it came on two discs.  It also presents more of a challenge in the respect that it has new kinds of puzzles and new enemies to fight that require different strategies to take down, as well as a greater number of boss fights, which would later become a staple of the series. 

 

Controls – 7/10

The game’s control scheme, as such, is also the same as it was in the first game, and therefore, it suffers from very much the same issues as it did in the first game, with movement feeling very stiff and clunky, seemingly needlessly when compared to other games on the system. There had been some minor adjustments made, but enough for the game to deviate away further enough from the problems that came with the first game. The whole formula would go on to be improved with games like Onimusha, but overall, it didn’t make the game unplayable. 

 

Lifespan – 7/10

The game can be made to last the same amount of time as the first game; 15 hours give or take. That’s to play through both scenarios on both discs. There are a few more side quests in comparison to the original game, but overall, it lasts as long as Resident Evil. As a fan of the Onimusha series, I can’t help but think what the game would’ve been like if Capcom had implemented the same kind of ideas they with Onimusha 2 in comparison with the original Onimusha; how even more varied gameplay would’ve been and what different kinds of events could have been made to happen as a result. 

 

Storyline – 7/10

The story takes place around 2 months after the events of the original Resident Evil. It follows the journeys of Leon Kennedy, a STARS officer on his day with the department, and Claire Redfield, the brother of the previous games’ main protagonist Chris Redfield, whom she has come to Raccoon City to try and track down. The two soon become embroiled in a zombie outbreak across Raccoon City and they set out on a journey to discover the source of the outbreak. The quality of the story is much better than in the original game, with a better script and even better voice acting to a certain extent. It still comes across as somewhat corny and cliche at times, but it was certainly an improvement on the quality of writing that the first game had to offer. I’ve yet to come across many bigger memes in gaming than the whole Jill Sandwich thing; thankfully there’s nothing quite as laughable in this game as that. 

 

Originality – 7/10

A common problem I encounter with survival horror sequels is that when the same threat is included as in the original game, it seems far less scary when the player knows what they’re up against. But in Resident Evil 2, there is a new threat added to keep things diverse, which has become another staple within the series. The second game introduces players to the Lickers and other eldritch abominations that spawn from the new G-virus that acts as the main threat of the game, which at the time did relatively well to keep things fresh in comparison to the first game. The zombies didn’t seem as scary anymore, even at the time, but encountering a Licker for the first time most definitely instilled fear in me back in the day. 

 

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Overall, Resident Evil 2 made some very definitive improvements over the original game in almost every respect. I recommend it far more than I do than the first game as even taking the recent remaster into account, the original experience still holds up to this day. 

Score

46/60

7.5/10 (Good)

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Resident Evil (PC, PlayStation, Sega Saturn & DS)

Developer(s) – Capcom

Publisher(s) – Capcom

Director(s) – Shinji Mikami

Producer(s) – Tokuro Fujiwara & Masayuki Akahori

PEGI – 16

 

Released to universal praise back in 1996, the original Resident Evil (or Biohazard as it was named in Japan), in many ways, set the standards of the survival horror genre (for better or for worse) and has since spawned a beloved franchise with countless spin-off games, seven main entries in the series with an eighth on the way. My personal feeling regarding the Resident Evil series, as well as the survival horror genre in general, have been mixed throughout the years, as I have surmised that they offer far too little in terms of Gameplay compared to games in other genres, and far too much story, with the original Resident Evil, for me, being a very mixed bag. On one hand, there is a fair bit of Gameplay and action to keep up the entertainment (as well as replay value) and on the other hand, too much story with very questionable elements. 

 

Graphics – 8/10

The game primarily takes place in a mansion on the outskirts of Raccoon City; the location synonymous with the original trilogy. Like in the Final Fantasy series on the PlayStation, the scenery consists of wonderfully designed still images throughout, but cutscenes were created using live-action, which was something relatively new to me at the time. The technology of the same vein had been used, such as the inclusion of digitized sprites, but the idea of having full live-action cutscenes was something to behold back in the day. The biggest gripe I have with the visuals is the designs of the zombies, with the same sprite being replicated throughout. This would later be rectified in Resident Evil 2, but in the first game, after you see the first zombie, the recycled sprite doesn’t give you the same sense of horror anymore. 

 

Gameplay – 7/10

The game is an action third-person shooting, puzzle-solving survival horror. Players must navigate through the mansion and uncover its secrets; all the while fighting off zombies and other infected creatures including crows, dogs, and giant tarantulas. It’s during gameplay sequences where the vast majority of the horror in this game is conveyed through the build-up of tension as the player progresses through each room, which was a revolutionary gameplay trope at the time. In many ways, the game does display a great deal of innovation, and it’s in the respect of gameplay where this becomes most prominent. 

 

Controls – 7/10

The biggest problem I had with the controls is in terms of character movement. There were a lot of 3D games released early on during the PlayStation and Sega Saturn’s early days that suffered in terms of controls such as the original Tomb Raider, Croc: the Legend of the Gobbos, and Blasto. Unfortunately Resident Evil suffers from much of the same problems as well. It’s especially annoying during both general combat and the game’s end boss fight. Capcom would also use the same principles in games like Onimusha, which whilst improved on the general formula, still suffered from many of the same issues. 

 

Lifespan – 7/10

To complete the game fully will take around 15 hours, which for a survival horror was relatively impressive at the time. I’ve played many other survival horrors since playing through this game for the first time that has been made to last far less time, so for the game that brought the entire genre to greater prominence than ever before, it got off to a great start in this respect.

 

Storyline – 6/10

The story of the original Resident Evil follows the investigations of the Alpha Team of Raccoon City Police’s special forces unit STARS. Following reports of mysterious and seemingly random attacks throughout the city, the team is dispatched to investigate the matter. After becoming stranded in the city’s outskirts, the team is forced to retreat into a nearby mansion after being attacked by mutated dogs. The player chooses between two STARS members; Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine. The story follows the exploits of whichever character the player chooses. The structure of the story is well thought out and there are a lot of exciting twists and turns along the way, but what stops this story from being taken as seriously as it could’ve been is in the quality of both the dialogue and the voice acting. Indeed, the “Jill sandwich” line has become a meme throughout the years. 

 

Originality – 9/10

Regardless of the quality of the storytelling, however, the fact of the matter remains that this game changed the course of how players saw horror games, and the genre evolved from there, with many developers taking this title as a major source of inspiration. The rest of the Resident Evil series went on to vary in quality throughout the years, but this is where it all started, and it got off to a relatively solid start, albeit, an incredibly unique one. 

 

Happii

Overall, the original Resident Evil, though being one of the most influential games of all time sat only relatively well with me. Survival horror has never been one of my favorite genres of gaming, but there are titles that have managed to impress me over the years, such as BioShock and  Dead Space, and this is where the genre’s widespread popularity all began. Despite my gripes with it, I have to give credit where it is indeed due. 

Score

44/60

7/10 (Fair)

Scouse Gamer 88 Blasto Header

Blasto (PlayStation)

Developer(s) – Sony Interactive Studios America

Publisher(s) – Sony Computer Entertainment 

Designer(s) – Jonathan Beard

Producer(s) – Jonathan Beard & David Poe

ELSPA – 11+

 

Programmed by Star Fox lead developer Dylan Cuthbert and released in 1998 during the relative infancy of 3D gaming, Blasto is a third-person shooter whereby players take control of the titular character to save the galaxy from invasion from an alien tyrant; and apart from one or two elements about this game, it is indeed as generic as it sounds. There were a few things about this game that made me want to like it as I played through it, but unfortunately, there are too many faults with it that I couldn’t forego. 

 

Graphics – 7/10

Undoubtedly, the best thing this game has to offer is its conceptual design. On a technical level, this was far from the best-looking PlayStation game of 1998; but the in-game world is wonderfully colorful throughout and gets progressively darker as it goes on. The game soundtrack is also very orchestral and well put together. Composed by Syphon Filter veteran Chuck Doud, it’s the soundtrack is as wonderfully dramatic as the likes of Jet Force Gemini or Kurushi. 

 

Gameplay – 6/10

The game is a linear third-person shooting 3D platformer whereby players must destroy hordes of aliens, solve puzzles to progress, and rescue beautiful women along the way; like a downgraded version of Duke Nukem 3D if you will. The game is left a little bear for one that lasts the length of time that it does, which for the time of its release was quite long, especially for a linear game, but it was made intentionally hard, which for a game with bad controls, is never a good thing. Variety is to be had to an extent with a wide range of different guns to discover throughout the game, but not enough variety in enough respects to warrant it lasting as long as it does.

 

Controls – 5/10

Arriving at the issue of the game’s control scheme, it suffers from the same issue that a lot of 3D platforms had back in the day, which was that it wasn’t truly compatible with the analog stick, as the original PlayStation controller didn’t come with them. Movement is clunky at best, with the turning mechanics being laughably bad. The only saving grace the game has in this respect is the added ability to turn straight around in one fell swoop so that players don’t have to wait as long to turn a full 180 degrees; but even then, it’s still a massive problem. Another huge flaw the game has is the inability to access the map at will. The map is accessed through various pressure pads across each level and adds nothing to the game; it’s an unnecessary complication and should’ve been rethought before release. 

 

Lifespan – 7/10

The game can be made to last five and a half hours for those who can get past the above issues; but for those who can’t like me, it may only last one hour at most. It’s all very well and good having a game that lasts a long time, but unless there’s enough to do within that time to keep it entertaining, the game won’t warrant players spending a great deal of time on it anyway. It really needed more to do, even for a game with a linear progression like this. 

 

Storyline – 6/10

The story follows Captain Blasto, voiced by the late Phil Hartman, who is assigned a mission to stop the alien tyrant Bosc from Invading the planet Uranus, thus putting down a galactic invasion before it begins. The name Uranus is naturally played for laughs at certain points in the game, which was hilarious back in the late 90s, but has since long outworn its welcome; unless played more subtly. But the best thing about the story is the energy that Phil Hartman brought to his role as Blasto, with funny quotes to listen to throughout gameplay. Phil Hartman was a consummate professional who was exceptional at what he did and he worked to his best within the confines of a very generic plot.

 

Originality – 6/10

Although the game may be one of the earlier examples of a 3D platformer at the time of its release, there had already been many other games in the genre that did more unique things than in this title. Compared to many of them, it still seemed generic even back in 1998. The only things stopping it from being even more generic were Phil Hartman’s performance and the conceptual design, but there was nowhere near enough to make this game stand with the best of the era in any respect. 

 

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In summation, Blasto was disappointing back in the day and has not stood the test of time. It has a couple of redeeming values, but nothing for it to be considered a classic. 

Score

37/60

6/10 (Average)

SG88 Tekken Header

Tekken (PlayStation)

Developer(s) – Namco

Publisher(s) – Namco & Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

Director(s) – Seiichi Ishii

Producer(s) – Hajime Nakatani

PEGI – 12

 

Beginning as an internal experiment at Namco for modeling 3D characters, and later going on to become an early break-out hit on the original PlayStation as well as tearing up arcades everywhere, Tekken was Namco’s answer to the greatest fighting game series at the time such as Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and Virtua Fighter (indeed, with many of the original Virtua Fighter team going to design This game). I wrote a more in-depth article going into the facts about the development of the original game, as well as the Tekken series in general for ActionAGoGo a while back in my 10-Hit Combo series:

https://actionagogo.com/2016/05/30/10-hit-combo-volume-v-tekken/

But as far as I’m concerned, although the best of the original Tekken trilogy would be yet to come, the first game in the series remains a favorite among fans of the original PlayStation, and for good reason. 

 

Graphics – 7/10

For what started out as a simple experiment, It’s amazing to see what the game would later go on to be in every aspect. In terms of the visuals, it features a memorable cast of characters with stages set in real-life places, such as Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the countryside of Windemere, England, and the landscape of Athens complete with the backdrop of the Acropolis. The scenery would go on to become more diverse with later installments, but each area is represented well for the time on a system with limited graphics by today’s standards.

 

Gameplay – 7/10

The game centers around the player characters competing in the King of the Iron Fist tournament for global supremacy in the field of martial arts. Playing out much differently from a traditional fighting game, and not making as much prevalent use of combos as many other fighting games at the time, it provided players with a very different experience to what they would have been used to at the time. The style of play has gone on to be modified and perfected throughout the rest of the series, but for the starting point, it plays out much more fluently than Virtua Fighter. There is also a host of unlockable characters to acquire in the home console version, giving it that much replay value. 

 

Controls – 10/10

Again, for what was to become the introduction to a beloved series, it’s surprising how well the controls were handled considering the fact that the same developers had previously worked on a fighting game that had arguably worse controls on a system that was comparable in power to the original PlayStation in the Sega Saturn. The fact that it runs on 80 frames per second really helped to achieve the desired effect, but although it may have seemed, even at the time, a step back where fighting games were concerned due to the lack of a defined combo system, the developers handled the control scheme as well as what could have been expected within its confines. 

 

Originality – 7/10

The aspect in which this game stands out above all else is in its unique cast of characters compared to most other fighting games. Compared to Virtua Fighter, introducing fantasy and science fiction elements also helped to distinguish it from the former in infinitely significant ways. Characters from the Tekken series have gone on to become iconic video game characters, such as Yoshimitsu, Heihachi, and King; and this is where it all started.

 

Happii

Overall, the original Tekken, whilst not being my personal favorite from the first three games (my favorite being Tekken 2), was nevertheless the ideal starting point and a gaming experience that still very much holds up. Its quirky characters, excellent game design, and somewhat stern level of challenge have had fighting game fans revisiting it for over 20 years, and will also do well to entertain players for generations to come. 

Score

31/40

7.5/10 (Good)

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Spyro 2: Gateway to Glimmer (PlayStation)

Developer(s) – Insomniac Games

Publisher(s) – Sony Computer Entertainment

Artist – Charles Zembillas

Producer(s) – Grady Hunt

PEGI – 7

 

Developed as the sequel to the immensely successful Spyro The Dragon, Spyro 2: Gateway To Glimmer, or Ripto’s Rage as it was known across the pond, was like its predecessor, released to universal acclaim by critics and gamer alike selling over 200,000 copies in the UK alone at the time. To me, though I have since re-assessed my opinion of which game is the best in the original Spyro trilogy, Spyro 2 remains a decisive improvement over the first game for many reasons, and still remains a classic of the original PlayStation. 

 

Graphics – 8/10

In terms of the technical side of the graphics, there hadn’t been a great deal of improvement made over the first; the textures and sprite for Spyro remain pretty much the same. However, in terms of the conceptual design, there were massive improvements made. The game is set in a number of diverse different areas governed by different species across each of the hub worlds. It also breaks away from the first game in the respect that it’s no longer confined to the medieval fantasy setting, but there is also scenery reminiscent of science fiction, the Scottish highlands, and Polynesian culture. 

 

Gameplay – 9.5/10

The most notable improvement between the first and second games, however, is undoubtedly in the gameplay. Boasting more side quests and more to explore across each level throughout, gave the game a lot more of a sense of purpose and enjoyment. Though there may be fewer bosses than in the previous game, the challenge that comes with them, especially the second boss Gulp, had been improved considerably. The game also introduces us to Moneybags; a rich devious bear who Spyro must pay at certain points to progress through levels, giving the idea of collecting treasure that much more meaning. The concept also leads to a very satisfying outcome at the end of the game. 

 

Controls – 10/10

The game’s control scheme is identical to that of the first game, playing out like the type of hones 3D platformer the likes of Croc, Tomb Raider, and Blasto should’ve been made to play out like. The one massive improvement the developers made to the controls, however, was the ability to hover during a flight in order to gain a touch more momentum at the end of a glide to reach far away ledges. It’s similar to how Insomniac games would add the sideways jump mechanics to the Ratchet & Clank; it’s a simple mechanic that provides a significant improvement over the previous game.

 

Lifespan – 8/10

The average time it takes to beat the game 100% is 8 hours, which was higher than the average back when the 3D platformer genre was still in its relative infancy. It lasts there around the same amount of time as the first game, something which would eventually be improved slightly with the third game, but overall, it provides a satisfyingly long gaming experience. 

 

Storyline – 7/10

In the sequel, Spyro, looking to go on holiday to Dragon Shores, is instead transported to the world of Avalar by three of its inhabitants; The professor, a fawn named Elora, and a cheetah named Hunter. They brought him into Avalar to fight Ripto; an evil tyrant who has invaded Avalar and brought evil and destruction throughout the land. Spyro resolves to defeat Ripto and bring peace back to Avalar. With more characters involved this time around, it definitely adds more to the story in terms of depth, but Spyro was also given a lot more of an impulsive attitude as well, which helped to add to the humor and make him more of a likable hero; especially when he shows his compassionate side to characters like Elora. Of course, Moneybags also adds to the story in multiple ways as well; mostly for the better. 

 

Originality – 8/10

The most original element of this game is its diversity in scenery design; it’s the aspect that truly helped to break the mold early on and give the world of Spyro The Dragon a lot more depth than what was established in the first game. Even more so than the gameplay improvement because again, more or less the same gameplay principles apply as what they did in the original Spyro; travel and collect items to advance the game. Although gameplay elements would be expanded on even further with the third game, the diversity in level design would remain intact in Spyro 3, but the second is where that would stem from. 

 

Happii

Overall, Spyro 2, whilst not my favorite of the original trilogy, is still every bit as fun to play today as it was to play back in 1999. It provides one of the most memorable gameplay experiences of the fifth generation, and I’m personally happy that it got the remaster it deserved because it needed to be brought to a more modern audience. 

Score

50.5/60

8/10 (Very Good)