Tag Archives: PS1

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 as 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 sound 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)

WWF War Zone (Nintendo 64, PlayStation 1 & Game Boy)

Developer(s) – Iguana West & Porbe Entertainment

Publisher(s) – Acclaim Sports

Producer(s) – Mike Archer

Designer(s) Tim Huntsman, Clark Westerman, Richard Raegan, Troy Leavitt, Jeff Robinson & James Daly

PEGI – 12 

Released in 1998 shortly after the beginning of the WWF Attitude era, WWF War Zone was the first 3D WWF game released after the transition from the fourth to fifth generations of gaming. It received critical acclaim upon release, having appealed to wrestling fans and non-wrestling fans alike. Although the game, according to many games of the younger generation, in particular, hasn’t aged well, I beg to differ; in my opinion, it still holds up as one of the better wrestling titles of the fifth generation and remains a pleasure to play through. 

Graphics – 7.5/10

Having been developed with various different techniques for all three ports, in respect of the graphics (as well as every other respect), the Nintendo 64 version is the best in terms of technical design in my opinion. In terms of conceptual design, the game is limited to only one kind of stage, which would be rectified in later WWF/WWE games, but poses a small issue in terms of visual diversity. However, all that being said, I remember being 9 years old at the time and being overwhelmed by the quality of the graphics and being able to see 3D ring entrances from each of the wrestlers. As I alluded to before, although many gamers may not think that this game has aged well over the years, the fact of the matter is that this level of visual quality was considered cutting edge at the time, and to me, still holds up relatively well today; bar facial textures. 

Gameplay – 7/10

The game has several different modes to choose from, which again relates to the fact that I would recommend the Nintendo 64 version over the PlayStation version, as the Nintendo 64 version also includes an additional Royal Rumble mode. The main mode being the career mode, whereby players can either play as a custom-made character, or classic wrestler of their choice, to compete for the WWF title. Among the roster are Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker, Kane, Mankind, The Rock, and Triple H. Surprisingly, Bret Hart and The British Bulldog were also included in the game despite the fact that at the time of the game’s release, their contracts with the WWF were terminated following the infamous Montreal Screwjob of 1997. There are a plethora of different fighters to choose from, including a few unlockable ones, which makes each career playthrough a different challenge every time. 

Controls – 9/10

For the most part, the controls are perfectly fine. The different moves for each character, as well as the finishing moves. are easy enough to learn how to do, and movement is fluid despite the fact the 3D gaming was in a somewhat preliminary stage at the time of release. The only issue I had with the control scheme was how climbing out of the steel cage works; it can be quite confusing at first and the solution isn’t as straightforward as what it perhaps should’ve been made to be. Besides which, the control scheme presents no further issues. 

Lifespan – 7/10

Completing the career mode with one character can take there about an hour and a half, depending on how well the player performs, but after that, there are, of course, additional gameplay modes that provide hours of entertainment for players. For an early 3D wrestling game, there is a great amount of variety that prolongs the game’s lifespan greatly. Previous WWE games had a decent amount of longevity to them owing to a lot of the same reasons, but in this game, it’s even more prevalent. 

Storyline –  N/A (10/10)

Of course, wrestling fans will take to this game much more effectively than those who never either followed wrestling at the or still may not follow wrestling, familiarity with the WWE will be irrelevant to the gamer’s enjoyment of the game. The commentary provided by both Vince McMahon and Jim Ross. by today’s standards, is laughingly bad and clearly done with heavily edited sound clips, but to me and a lot of other gamers, that will provide an additional comedic value to the game. 

Originality – 7/10

Offering a 3D wrestling game with a new perspective and style of play made it stand out from any other wrestling game before; it’s a by-product of the era in which this game was developed, and as such, it offered a very new experience for players to indulge in at the time. Although the idea of which would be expanded on immediately with the sequel WWF Attitude, as well as countless or wrestling to come after, but this game served as more than an adequate starting point for what would come next.

Happii

In summary, WWF War Zone snot only served as an appropriate basis for the standard of 3D wrestling games but is still an enjoyable experience that very much holds up to this day for me. It’s an entertaining title with classic wrestlers and hours of fun to be had. 

Score

47.5/60

7.5/10 (Good)

Sheep (PC, PlayStation & Game Boy Advance)

Developer(s) – Mind’s Eye Productions

Publisher(s) – Empire Interactive

Released back in 2000 and receiving mixed to positive reviews upon release (including a nomination back in 2005 from Computer Games Magazine for the best classic game of 2000), with most reviewers drawing comparisons to Lemmings, Sheep is a puzzle game whereby players must herd sheep from the start of stages to the end. I went in not expecting much of this game, since, on the face of it, it was cheap, primitive-looking upon the first inspection, and seemingly developed on a budget by a somewhat renowned company at the time. However, I wasn’t overly disappointed with the game since, though not without its faults, it was fairly enjoyable to play and challenging to boot. 

Graphics – 7/10

As I mentioned previously, Sheep has drawn comparison mostly to games like Lemmings and Worms as in terms of gameplay, it seems to be a game within the same strata. In terms of visuals. However, I began drawing comparisons to the original Blood Omen with its top-down view and pseudo-3D graphics; so much so that I wonder whether or not both games were made on the same engine in fact. The cartoonish aspect also reminded me uniquely of the Toy Story game released on fourth-generation hardware. Where the visuals are concerned, it does have a certain charm to be enjoyed that is comparable to Worm, between in-game graphics and the various different cutscenes throughout the game. 

Gameplay – 7/10

The concept of gameplay is to try and herd sheep from one end of each level to the other within the time limit allocated, with additional bonus points up for grabs depending on the time each level is completed in as well as gaining bonus points for herding sheep through additional obstacles across each level. I’d seen herding mechanics in games prior to playing this, such as in the original Jak and Daxter for example, but nothing anywhere near to this extent or to this level of challenge. Overall I was pleasantly surprised to find out how well this game plays out and how unique it is compared to most PC games released at the time. 

Controls – 9/10

The mechanics of the game are pretty well thought out and there is a minimalist amount of issues with the controls in conjunction with this. The only problem that I had with the control scheme is that it is a little difficult to get to grips with at first; especially since it’s not specified at first which buttons do what throughout the tutorial. But once figured out, it’s easy enough to get to grips with. The programming is a little bit questionable since sheep can sometimes veer away regardless of what commands the player gives, but these things aren’t enough to cause too much of an issue throughout playing. 

Lifespan – 4/10

The game can be made to last 3 to 4 hours overall, which is definitely the most disappointing aspect of this game since with a concept as unique as it is, it needs to be made to last as long as possible and I think it could’ve easily been made to last at least twice as long. It’s surprising to me that the developers chose not to release a sequel as it’s also a formula that could’ve also been extensively modified in terms of gameplay as well. It vaguely reminds me of what Hogs of War 2 may have been if it had seen the light of day. 

Storyline – 5/10

The general gist of the plot seems to be that the sheep that are to be herded throughout the game are in fact aliens from another planet and they must be herded in order to stop a mad scientist named Mr. Pear, but it’s not an aspect that adds a great deal to the game since throughout, it’s only vaguely touched upon and not ostensibly given any true clarify, so it’s much more difficult to get invested in than in other games. But ultimately it doesn’t mar down the overall experience too much as it’s not truly a game that played for its story. 

Originality – 7/10

As I said, Sheep was one of the more stand-out gaming experiences on PC at the time of its release, as what most of what was being released on PC at this time was RTS games or god games. Whilst I didn’t play it when it first came out, I can understand how many gamers who did so would’ve most likely seen it as a breath of fresh air compared to most other PC games whilst playing something more akin to what was being released on home consoles. Mind’s Eye Productions, throughout the company’s life cycle, would mostly develop games based on popular licenses such as Starsky & Hutch, Thomas the Tank Engine and Monopoly, so coming up with a unique concept like this would have felt like a breath of fresh air to them as well that they would have wanted to put as much effort in as possible and for the most part, that does show. 

Niiutral

To summarize, Sheep is a game that is enjoyable to play, especially those who are looking for a stern challenge among classic PC titles; though not without its flaws. It’s a fun game that the developers clearly had a lot of fun creating themselves and stands out as one of their better games before the company’s acquisition by Disney back in 2005. 

Score

39/60

6.5/10 (Above Average)

Space Invaders 99 (PC, PS1, Nintendo 64 & Game Boy Colour)

Developer(s) – Z-Axis & Activision

Publisher(s) – Taito

ELSPA – 3+

Paying homage to the original 1978 classic arcade title, the updated version of Space Invaders, released back in 1999, was far more than a simple remake; the developers rebuilt the game from the ground up, giving it a new lick of paint in terms of visuals and concept design and giving players much more to play for than a high score. Recently, I reviewed an example of how not to revive a classic arcade franchise in Dig Dug Deeper. But to counteract that, I thought I would write a review of an example whereby the developers got it right and Space Invaders 99 certainly got it right. Although I do have to say as a prerequisite that I did spend a lot of time playing this game when it was first released, it’s an experience that still holds up to this day. 

Graphics – 8/10

From a technical standpoint, Space Invaders 99 is more or less on par with most PC games released at the time, as well as what was being showcased on fifth-generation hardware; which makes it seem all the more disappointing to know that there was a canceled Dreamcast version. It makes me wonder how the graphics would’ve possibly been updated for early sixth-generation hardware. But nevertheless, it’s in the conceptual design where this game truly comes into its own. The developers redesigned everything from the player’s ship to the enemy ships and added new graphical features such as the selection of different levels to progress through, as well as a series of boss fights. The soundtrack that was composed for the game also fits the game’s atmosphere perfectly, sounding foreboding yet otherworldly at the same time. 

Gameplay – 8/10

Having the template of the original game to work with, the general formula is the same; players must destroy incoming alien ships before they reach the bottom of the screen. However, what makes this incarnation of the game stand out from the original version is the plethora of new gameplay features, including a variety of different weapons to use, boss fights at the end of each level and a surprising amount of unlockables, including a port of the original game thrown in for good measure. It also exemplifies how new gameplay features can coincide with new enemy designs, in that different weapons are accessible by killing four of one enemy type in a row. Players also have to strategize differently in accordance with each boss fought throughout the game. It’s a lot like Titan Attacks, only released over fifteen years earlier. 

Controls – 10/10

On console and PC and like the first game, the control scheme is easy to get to grips with, even for entry-level players, not coming with any unnecessary complications or the kind of silly oversights that came with the likes of Dig Dug Deeper. They’ve also been updated in accordance with the additional gameplay features available to be taken advantage of, which only makes this game all the more impressive. 

Lifespan – 10/10

Although the main game can take less than 2 hours to complete, depending on the difficulty settings, it’s a game like Star Fox 64, which although it can be rushed through, it can also be played and enjoyed on far more than one occasion and in a relatively short span of time. It is most definitely a game good enough for repeated playthroughs; add to that the fact that the original game can be unlocked, thus increasing the game’s longevity even further. Whilst most kids I knew at the time was playing Gran Turismo 2, I was hooked on this. 

Storyline – 6/10

The game’s story is simply a basic premise; Earth is under attack by alien invaders and a sole fighter pilot is tasked with repelling them. But what makes this game’s story excel beyond it being a simple basic premise is how it is portrayed. There’s a cutscene for both the start and the end of the game, which portray the player-characters struggles and triumphs, as well as a foreboding portent at the end. Of course, players ought not to be looking to play a game like this to immerse themselves in the story, it’s just a small tokenistic thing added to the game to give it that extra push over the line and it does make the experience all the more enjoyable for it. 

Originality – 7/10

Although this game largely copied a blueprint that had been around since 1978, this version of the classic arcade game didn’t simply copy the formula, but it reinvented it with the inclusion of the many new graphical and gameplay features it has. It was games like this that also would’ve been instrumental in setting the precedent for many indie developers to do the same, such as with Titan Attacks and Ultratron. It’s a shining example of how a team of developers doesn’t simply revamp a classic game for the sake of it, but also making the gameplay experience their own. 

Happii

Overall, Space Invaders 99 is a wonderfully crafted and highly recommended take on the original arcade version of the game. It’s a wonderfully innovative and charming labor of love that shows the developers all put 100% into making it, evidenced in every detail. 

Score

49/60

8/10 (Very Good)

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

Developer(s) – Team17

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

ELSPA – 3+

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

Graphics – 7/10

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

Gameplay – 7/10

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

Controls – 9/10

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

Lifespan – N/A (10/10)

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

Storyline – N/A (10/10)

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

Originality – 7/10

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

Happii

Happii

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

Score

50/60

8/10 (Very Good)

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

Developer(s) – Team17

Publisher(s) – Ocean Software

Designer – Andy Davidson

ELSPA – 3+

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

Graphics – 6.5/10

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

Gameplay – 6.5/10

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

Controls – 9/10

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

Lifespan – N/A (10/10)

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

Storyline – N/A (10/10)

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

Originality – 7/10

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

Happii

Happii

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

Score

49/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Wipeout (PlayStation)

Developer(s) – Psygnosis

Publisher(s) – Psygnosis

Director – John White

Producer – Dominic Mallinson

PEGI – 3

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

Graphics – 8/10

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

Gameplay – 7/10

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

Controls – 7/10

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

Originality – 10/10

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

Happii

Happii

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

Score

32/40

8/10 (Very good)

Tunguska: Legend of Faith (PC & PlayStation)

Developer – Exortus Software

Publisher – Take-Two Interactive

Graphic Director – Alexei Danikine

Producer – Lee Brown

ELSPA – 11+

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

Graphics – 5/10

Whilst the visual quality is fairly average for the time, and all things considered, has not aged well compared to other early PlayStation games, it’s also conceptually weak. All the corridors throughout the castle in the game look the same as one another. There is no one standout feature other than maybe some of the traps strewn across the place, and even they aren’t anything special to look at. The opening cutscene at the beginning of the game was fairly well done, but from there, it only gets far, far worse.

Gameplay – 1/10

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

Controls – 1/10

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

Lifespan – 1/10

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

Storyline – 0/10

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

Originality – 0/10

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

Furiious

Furiious

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

Score

8/60

1/10 (Farcical)

Theme Hospital (PC, PlayStation & PlayStation Network)

Developer(s) – Bullfrog Studios & Krisalis Software

Publisher(s) – EA

PEGI – 12

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

Graphics – 5/10

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

Gameplay – 8/10

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

Controls – 10/10

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

Lifespan – 3/10

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

Storyline – N/A (10/10)

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

Originality – 8/10

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

Happii

Happii

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

Score

45/60

7.5/10 (Good)