Tag Archives: PS1

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.

 

Happii

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)

SG88 Rugrats: Search for Reptar Header

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. 

 

Happii

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. 

 

Happii

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)

SG88 Resident Evil Header

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. 

 

Niiutral

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)

SG88 Spyro 2 Header

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)

Scouse Gamer 88 Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver Header

Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver (PC, PlayStation & Dreamcast)

Developer(s) – Crystal Dynamics & Rixxes Software

Publisher(s) – Eidos Interactive

Director – Amy Hennig

Producer(s) – Amy Hennig, Andrew Bennett & Rosaura Sandoval

PEGI – 16

 

Developed and released by Crystal Dynamics following a lengthy legal battle with original creators of the Legacy of Kain series, Silicon Knights, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, like Blood Omen, was also met wide widespread critical acclaim in what was considered an ideal time, as it coincided with the release of several horror films, such as The Sixth Sense and The Blair Witch Project. It went on to be considered the best game in the series by most critics, and whilst I don’t agree with that assessment, (by far I think the best game in the series is Soul Reaver 2), the original Soul Reaver is still to me, a classic of the fifth generation and still an absolute joy to play through.

 

Graphics – 7/10

Soul Reaver easily has one the darkest approaches taken to conceptual design out of most games I’ve played throughout my lifetime. It takes the players back into the fictional dark fantasy land of Nosgoth, but in a post-apocalyptic state. There are new locations added to Nosgoth’s landscape, as well as the ruins of some of the previous locations found in Blood Omen, such as The Pillars of Nosgoth and Nupraptor’s Retreat. It also has the player alternating between the underworld and the physical world in order to gain access to new areas, or areas otherwise impassable in the opposite. Gamers may argue that in terms of the technical aspect of the game, it hasn’t aged particularly well, and with that, I would agree to a certain extent, but the conceptual design more than makes up for that in my opinion. For the best version of the game, I would recommend the Dreamcast port, which runs at 60 frames per second and has the most polish to it. The Dreamcast version actually makes it look far more like a sixth-generation game than a fifth.  Both planes of existence within the game are as dark as the other, with a wonderfully horrifying soundtrack to accompany the game. 

 

Gameplay – 7.5/10

Somewhat similar to Blood Omen, Soul Reaver plays out more like a 3D platformer than a top-down RPG, but combat is still at the heart of the game’s design, with players having to subdue abominable enemies throughout and being able to learn new abilities and increase their health and magic capacities to use these abilities more efficiently and frequently. Although the main combat system is not as diverse as Blood Omen, it does make up for that by challenging players to strategize in accordance with their surroundings, as the enemies are only killed in a handful of specific ways, at least in the physical world. The boss fights, though fewer, are also far more creative than in Blood Omen; again requiring specific actions to take in order to best each one. Like in Blood Omen, there is also a fast travel system and a plethora of hidden items and abilities to discover along the way.

 

Controls – 10/10

Even when 3D gaming was pretty much in its infancy during the fifth generation, there were some games like Crash Bandicoot and Spyro The Dragon that handled their control schemes extremely fluently; Soul Reaver is one such example; there are no issues with the controls whilst playing with a joypad, and it also handles stealth combat in a very fluent manner as well, which at the time, was a relatively new concept. 

One thing I would advise, however, is this; avoid the Steam version like the plague. Controller support is not officially part of it with players having to rely on keyboard commands, and keyboard mapping doesn’t currently work for some unknown reason. The same also goes for every other Legacy of Kain game ported to Steam. No one at Valve, Square Enix, or Crystal Dynamics has ever seen fit to rectify this, and it’s a great shame. Again, the best way to play this game is on the Dreamcast; in every respect.

 

Lifespan – 7/10

The game can be made to last for a total of around 25 hours, which was relatively impressive at the time. The one thing I would say is that, although there are a good few collectibles to obtain throughout the game, the game’s world is still a bit too bare for how big it is, and more could have been added to it, in turn, add to the substance of the game. Nevertheless, there is enough in it to make it last for a fairly impressive amount of time. 

 

Storyline – 10/10

The story continues over 100 years following the events of Blood Omen. Having condemned Nosgoth to an eternity of decay by refusing the sacrifice of his own life, Kain has since established his own vampiric empire out of his own contempt for humanity. However, things change after his first-born lieutenant, Raziel, surpasses Kain in terms of vampiric evolution by growing a pair of wings. In anger, Kain tears off Raziel’s wings and condemns him to death by throwing him into The Lake of the Dead. Burnt by the acidic touch of the lake’s waters, Raziel is then resurrected by a god-like entity, known only as The Elder God, as a wraith, endowed with the hunger for souls and other supernatural abilities, unlike any vampire. Raziel then resolves to destroy Kain and his vampiric brothers and consume their souls returning them to the wheel of fate. 

Like Blood Omen, the story of this game, as well as the dialogue were masterfully executed. The voice acting of Simon Templeman, Michael Bell, and Tony Jay help to truly bring this title to life in a story centered around the nature of death and immortality and the price of power. To me, The Legacy of Kain easily has the best story ever told in all of gaming, and it’s that more impressive considering how much of a strong note of finality there is to the original Blood Omen. To have picked up where Blood Omen left off and evolved the series into what it would become in terms of story, was truly an impressive feat of video game narrative and helped to establish Amy Hennig as one of the greatest storytellers in the medium, as she would later go on to establish the stories of Uncharted and Assassin’s Creed.

 

Originality – 9/10

In terms of gameplay, as well as the story, it’s also impressive to think of how the developers took the concept of Blood Omen, made something drastically different from the former, and make work and work well, is also extremely impressive; especially given how young the concept of 3D gaming was at the time and how risky it would have inevitably been to make that transition. Some people have even cited this as an early example of a 3D Metroidvania, predating Metroid Prime by a full three years, which although I don’t think you can consider it a 3D Metroidvania, as it plays out more like a 3D platformer than anything, it’s still interesting to think about, and it all still works to separate this title from most not only released at the time, but most games released since.

 

Happii

Overall, the original Soul Reaver remains a classic to this day, and if anyone can pick up a copy of it on either the original PlayStation or the Dreamcast, I’d highly recommend it. It’s a game with terrific combat, a plethora of gameplay variety, additional sidequests, and a level of storytelling, which in my opinion, has never been topped within the medium of gaming since. 

Score

50.5/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Couse Gamer 88 Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain Header

Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain (PC & PlayStation 1)

Developer(s) – Silicon Knights

Publisher(s) – Crystal Dynamics & Activision

Director – Denis Dyack

Producer(s) – Rick Goertz, Lyle Hall & Joshua Marks

PEGI – 18

 

Released in 1996 as the first installment of the Legacy of Kain series, Blood Omen was met with immense commercial success as well as critical acclaim. A top-down adventure RPG inspired by the likes of The Legend of Zelda series, it stands as one of the earlier examples of a game containing a cinematic story, influenced by such novels as Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the works of Shakespeare dealing with themes such as birth, death, rebirth and moral ambiguity. To me, everything about this game is every bit as unique and refreshing for the time as what the developers set out to accomplish and stands out for me as one of the best games ever released on the original PlayStation. 

 

Graphics – 7/10

Blood Omen, as well as the entirety of the Legacy of Kain series, is set in the 15th century inspired land of Nosgoth, where sit nine skyward pillars, which each govern nine different aspects of the world; time, death, balance, nature, conflict, states, dimensions, energy and the mind. The game’s conceptual design also marks one of the earliest examples of the portrayal of dark fantasy in gaming; everything about Nosgoth feels ominous and gritty, and the 16-BIT rendered pixel art used does extremely well to invoke these feelings with some disturbing character animations and deeply atmospheric locations such as Vorador’s mansion, Dark Eden and Nupraptor’s retreat. The game’s soundtrack does nothing but adds to its overall sadistic feel in addition; even in times where relevant safety is to be had in villages and towns etc. 

 

Gameplay – 8.5/10

The game is a traditional adventure RPG, heavy on combat across the vast open world of Nosgoth. Players must travel in accordance with the story objectives, through the land, air, and even time at one point. It is also one of the earliest games to feature a conventional fast travel system, predating the likes of The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, as Kain is able to transform into a flurry of bats in order to travel to different locations more quickly. But where the gameplay truly shines is in its amount of variety in combat. Different weapons are acquired to adopt different styles of fighting, as well as the player having access to a number of magic spells to strategize in accordance with what kind of enemies they are fighting. Having already been familiar with the series before playing Blood Omen for the first time, since I started with the original Soul Reaver, I was at first quite surprised to discover just how much variety there is to be had in gameplay; but pleasantly surprised. It’s a game whereby although its story is a huge part of it, it, to me, still doesn’t take precedence over the gameplay completely.

 

Controls – 9/10

The only gripe I would have with the game’s control scheme is that the command of attacking with melee weapons can be quite inconsistent at times. The way Kain’s sprite is animated doesn’t work well with trying to time each strike and can cause delays in doing so, it would seem. But apart from this one minor issue, there are no further major concerns with the controls to address. It’s as well the developers added a fast travel system since unless Kain is in lupine form, moving around can be quite slow. 

 

Lifespan – 7/10

To complete the game 100% can take there around 20 hours, which was fairly impressive for a game at the time, but it also gave players an insight early on into the direction whereby games were going at that point. Titles that last only a few hours at a time were no longer cutting it with players, and so developers seemed to start making longer games to accommodate for this; no longer was it just Squaresoft and Enix making games lasting hundreds of hours each, but developers like Konami, Silicon Knights, and Crystal Dynamics would also follow suit, and Blood Omen is simply an example of this increase in standards. 

 

Storyline – 10/10

The story of Blood Omen is morally complicated, tragic, and wonderfully dark. It follows the story of a nobleman named Kain, who is one night attacked and killed by a group of assassins. Finding himself in the underworld looking down at the abyss below, the necromancer Mortanius offers Kain a chance for revenge. Kain takes up the offer with the price being that he now walks the earth again as a vampire thirsty for human blood. However, his revenge against his killers turns out to be only a bit part of a far bigger plot embroiling Kain in an entangled nest of intrigue, death, manipulation, moral ambiguity, mental and physical pain, and loss. 

Blood Omen plays out very much a traditional Shakespearian tragedy, but with its mythology, settings, and set of shady and deceitful characters, it made for something very fresh in terms of storytelling at the time, which in all honesty, has never truly been replicated to this day. The story of The Legacy of Kain series, in general, would go on to become something even deeper and thematic, but the foundations laid down for all this with the first game were silently groundbreaking at the time.

 

Originality – 9/10

This game did a lot of things in terms of both gameplay and story that had not been seen before, and in terms of story at least, have rarely been seen since. Similar combat systems have been worked into many different games following the release of Blood Omen, and this game certainly had its influences in terms of gameplay, but regardless, it still stands as an experience unlike any other, and still mightily enjoyable to play today. To complete every quest and uncover every spec of expertly written dialogue and backstory is still a very rewarding gaming endeavor. 

 

Happii

Overall, Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain is a must-have for any fan of video games tackling the dark fantasy theme. It may never get the remaster it deserves, due to the legal issues between Crystal Dynamics and Silicon Knights, but this doesn’t take anything away from the original game; it’s a certified pleasure to play through every time. 

Score

50.5/60

8/10 (Very Good)

WWF Attitude (Nintendo 64, PlayStation 1, Dreamcast & Game Boy Colour)

Developer(s) – Acclaim Studios Salt Lake City

Publisher(s) – Acclaim Sports

PEGI – 12

Released following the success on WWF War Zone, and being the last WWE game overseen by Acclaim Sorts ending a 10-year association with the company, WWF Attitude was released to further commercial and critical acclaim, expanding on the ideas perpetuated by War Zone to ridiculous levels. I mentioned in my review of War Zone that I had a strong sense of nostalgia for that game and that it still holds up to this day; but as this game was a decisive improvement on War Zone in every way, and that I was at an age to appreciate it fully, this title hold even more nostalgic value to me, and holds up even better than War Zone. 

Graphics – 8.5/10

One of the most notable improvements in the game is in the technical aspect of the graphics, as the textures are infinitely more detailed than in War Zone and that this was done for a far bigger roster of WWE wrestlers; each wrestler’s own entrance sequence is also extended greatly, giving the game a far greater sense of variety than in the former. It also excels above War Zone in terms of conceptual design, as there are more types of arena to choose from relative to different WWE Pay Per View events; they, along with wrestlers, can even be customized in terms of the colour of the ropes, ring and even the designs of the metal frames either side of the titan tron. 

Gameplay – 8/10

The biggest improvement this game has on its predecessor, however, is in terms of gameplay. The game modes that were present in War Zone return, including an all-new career mode, which is structured far better, as well the additions of there now being a First Blood match and an I Quit Match option. As I said before, the main roster is also expanded largely compared to the limited amount of comparatively limited characters there were in War zone, but there are also a whole host of unlockable characters to obtain such as Chyna and Shawn Michaels.

Controls – 9/10

As the game most likely made on the same engine, the same control scheme applies as what it does in War Zone. In the cage matches, I still had the same trouble trying to climb out of cages, so the only disappointment I had with the controls scheme is that they didn’t address that issue. However, if born with, it doesn’t remain too much of a problem. On the other hand, however, the individual movesets and commands for which had been somewhat refined for Attitude and in that respect were yet another decisive improvement over War Zone. 

Lifespan – 8/10

Of course, that there are far more characters and far more game modes added to this game, it can inevitably be made to far a far longer amount of the time than its predecessor. The sheer amount of customization, gameplay options made available at the time made this one of the most, if not the most, expansive WWE experiences at the time, and consequently, it still holds up as a game that both fans of WWE and non-fans alike can spend hours upon hours investing in. 

Storyline – N/A (10/10)

The case with this game remains the same as what it was with War Zone. Wrestling fans will inevitably be enthralled in this game faster and to a greater extent than those who don’t follow, or never have followed wrestling, but overall, familiarity with the WWE universe; is not needed to enjoy it.. The commentary, however, is this time provided not by Vince McMahon and Jim Ross, but by Jerry Lawler and Shane McMahon, who unanimously make for a more comedic duo than the former. 

Originality – 7/10

At this juncture, where the WWE video game franchise was concerned, there had alway been limitations with games prior to this; most notably in the character rosters, as only a few characters were even chosen for each game compared to what they had on their rosters at the time. But this game did exceptionally well to blow every other WWE game out of the water at the time by expanding on the entire concept until it was splitting at the seams with ideas. It stands out among every other WWE game because it gave WWE fans at the time everything bigger than before, better than before and all at once. There would be better WWE games released after this, but this game was instrumental in setting many standards that every other WWE game would adhere to from thereon. 

Happii

Overall WWF Attitude is one of my favourite fifth generation wrestling games of all time, as well as it being one of my favourite Nintendo 64 games of all time. It gave wrestling fans everything they wanted, and added a few welcome additions in the process, and still remains a load of fun to play to this day. 

Score

50.5/60

8/10 (Very Good)