Tag Archives: Sega

Fur Fighters SG88 Header

Fur Fighters (PC, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2 & iOS)

Developer(s) – Bizarre Creations

Publisher(s) – Acclaim Games

Designer(s) – Jeff Lewis

Producer(s) – Brian Woodhouse

ELSPA – 11+

 

Released originally on the Sega Dreamcast, and subsequently re-released on the PlayStation 2 as the Viggo’s Revenge edition, Fur Fighters is a third-person shooter 3D platformer hybrid brought to consoles by Liverpool-based developer Bizarre Creations, and whilst not performing particularly well financially, was universally praised by critics at the time of it’s released and has since gained somewhat of a cult following as one of the most overlooked games of the sixth generation. In my opinion, the praise was well-deserved. I remember watching video reviews of the game at the time, but I never got round to picking up a copy at the time of its release. But after finally getting my hands on it and finishing it in full, I wasn’t disappointed. 

 

Graphics – 7.5/10

The game makes use of cel-shading, which was still in relevant infancy at the time with games such as Jet Set Radio, XIII, and the original Sly Cooper making waves in the early 2000s. The environments are quite varied and the character design is just as so to match. In terms of technical quality, it is about on par with most of what players can come to expect from a late fifth generation or early sixth generation game. Being cel-shaded, it didn’t stand out in terms of a technical marvel, but it comes with its own unique conceptual design, which brings a strong sense of charm to the title. 

 

Gameplay – 8/10

A third-person shooting 3D platformer, the objective is to traverse through various different levels and hub worlds shooting enemies and procuring collectibles scattered throughout the game, including tokens and rescuable baby animals. It has an element of Donkey Kong 64 to it, in that the player can take control of several different playable characters, whose abilities must be utilized to progress through certain areas of the game; for example, the dragon character Tweek can glide to reach otherwise impassable ledges, and the penguin character Rico can swim through bodies of water to reach different areas. There is a fair amount of variety to be had in this game, and whilst it doesn’t quite measure up to some of the best 3D platformers ever released, such as Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie, does relatively well to stand on its own two feet. 

 

Controls – 10/10

The game’s control scheme is faultless, provided the player picks the right control scheme; particularly in the Viggo’s Revenge edition. The default control scheme almost makes the game unplayable, however, with the movement controls being nigh-on impossible to get to grips with. It made me thankful that there was mercifully an auto-aim system for when enemies attack. In my opinion, the best control scheme to go with is the Beginner 2 control scheme; it makes life ten times easier whilst playing. I found it confusing, however, that the developers chose to associate the control scheme with the game’s difficulty because to me, a bad control scheme shouldn’t exist for the sake of adding to the difficulty, simply because it doesn’t; it just adds to the game’s frustration. 

 

Lifespan – 8/10

Lasting around 30 hours, more intrepid players looking to collect everything within the game will not be disappointed. There is plenty on offer for players who want to make the experience last as long as possible, and I was pleasantly surprised myself that there was more to play for in this game than meets the eye. I went in expecting this to be a much more generic gaming experience than what I eventually got, and the game’s surprisingly long lifespan is the main reason why. 

 

Storyline – 6/10

What isn’t so great about this game is that the plot is pretty typical. The evil General Viggo has kidnapped the families of the Fur Fighters and the team resolves to defeat Viggo and get them back. Given that each of the Fur Fighters has his/her own personalities and traits, I would’ve thought the developers would’ve found a lot more room for characterization and plot than what was ultimately included, but I was unfortunately wrong. Luckily, the added voice acting in Viggo’s revenge edition and the fact in and of itself that the different characters do have outstanding personalities and traits keep the story from being overly terrible, but there was definitely room for elaboration in this respect. 

 

Originality – 7/10

The game stands out to a fair enough extent, but the main reason why it doesn’t stand with the best of the best 3D platformers is that it doesn’t do enough to stand out; maybe this is the main thing that hurt sales of the game at the time since it’s easy to make the assumption that this game is a lot less than what it actually is. It’s unfortunate, but to play devil’s advocate, there are also reasons why this game remains a beloved diamond in the rough in the eyes of many other gamers. It’s not a completely generic game, but there are a fair few things that could’ve been worked on to give the extra push it needed at the time in my opinion. 

 

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However, that being said, Fur Fighters is still a very worthwhile title. It has great gameplay elements, it’s conceptual design is just about better than good, and I would recommend at least one playthrough of it. 

 

Score

46.5/60

7.5/10 (Good)

SG88 The Addams Family Header

The Addams Family (Super NES & Mega Drive)

Developer(s) – Ocean Software

Publisher(s) – Ocean Software & Flying Edge

Designer(s) – Warren Lancashire

PEGI – N/A (Suitable for all ages)

 

Initially released in 1992 by Software for fourth-generation hardware, The Addams Family game, based on the 1991 movie starring Raul Julia, Angelica Huston, and Christopher Lloyd, received mixed reviews when it came out, (much like the film), is described as a boring Mario clone, or Mega Magazine even advising players to either “watch a tree, or grow something instead”. Versions for older consoles, such as the NES, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, and even handheld consoles were also developed, but each of these versions is like their own games in and of themselves. 

With the original port, however, it’s interesting to me how the perception of an old game can potentially change over time. If I’d been reviewing back in the time of the Super NES, I may very well have had similar concerns to the likes of Mega Magazine, but even still, my overall opinion would have been very different, since not only do I enjoy this game a lot today, but I also played the hell out of it back when it was released. I enjoyed it thoroughly back then, and I still enjoy playing it now. 

 

Graphics – 8/10

The visuals differ slightly between both the Super NES and the Mega Drive version, but both versions do exceptionally well to capture the feel of not only the 1991 film but the franchise in general. It’s one of those games based on a license that tries to celebrate the license as much as possible, and I always enjoy a licensed game for that reason. The game takes place in and around the Addams residence, which is plagued by creatures of the night that Gomez Addams must contend with. Each area of the house is uniquely designed and differentiated from one another, giving it a strong vibe of classic Castlevania games. In particular, the portraits on the walls of the portrait gallery are excellently detailed in terms of technical performance, with the characters bearing striking resemblances to the real-life actors; not only that of Raul Julia as Gomez, Angelica Huston as Morticia, and Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Fester but also of Christina Ricci as Wednesday and Jimmy Workman as Pugsley. 

 

Gameplay – 8.5/10

Not quite a traditional 2D side scroller, the player has the option to come and go as they please throughout the Addams residence, giving it far more of a Metroidvania feel. The objective is to navigate the Addams residence and rescue each of the other family members; Wednesday, Pugsley, Grandma Addams, Uncle Fester, and finally Morticia. Throughout the game, there are several secret areas to uncover along the way, as well as different power-ups to use in order to reach otherwise impassable areas or to give the player an edge in combat. There’s also a series of pretty challenging boss fights to contend with at the end of each area; and challenging is the right word for this game, as there are also many different platforming sequences that will test even the most hardened of platformer fans. 

 

Controls – 10/10

The game’s controls are also as fluent as any good platformer was at the time. Featuring other items to use throughout, it’s actually given more variety in terms of gameplay than the average side scroller, and therefore, more functionality in terms of controls than in other games of the same ilk. There’s so much in this game to differentiate it from others in terms of controls alone that it made me wonder how even reviewers at the time couldn’t recognize that back then. 

 

Lifespan – 8.5/10

The lifespan is even longer than the average platformer, clocking in at around an hour and a half to two hours, depending on whether or not the player decides to complete it to 100%. Of course, there would be other games in other genres that would blow this amount of time out of the water, and would only continue to do so going into the fifth generation of gaming, but there’s a lot to be said for a game like this that dared to defy convention, even if it went pretty much unnoticed at the time. 

 

Storyline – 7/10

The plot of the story follows the second half of the films quite closely, Tully Alford, the Addams Family lawyer, has taken over the Addams estate and captured the remaining Addams family members, and Gomez resolves to rescue them. The plot element of the film concerning Uncle Fester is also present, as he has amnesia and he is cured of it once Gomez releases him. The plot is presented nowhere near as well as what it is in the original film, but it does a good enough job setting up the premise of gameplay.

 

Originality – 8/10

It’s very easy to overlook how quietly innovative this game was back in its time. It perpetuated a lot of the same ideas that the likes of Super Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night did birthing the entire Metroidvania genre a full two years before the release of Super Metroid. It was even quite easy for me to take it for granted back in the day since I was unfamiliar with the concepts of gaming history and even the differentiation of gaming genres at the time, but as I’ve grown older and learned far more than I knew about games since, It’s made me appreciate truly how innovative this title was. 

 

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Overall The Addams Family remains every bit as much of a joy to play today as what it was back when it was released. I highly recommend this game to any side-scrolling fan who may be either looking for a challenge or looking to try a silently original game that unfortunately fell through the cracks at the time of its release. 

Score

49/60

8/10 (Very Good)

SG88 World of Illusion Header

World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse & Donald Duck (Sega Genesis/Mega Drive)

Developer(s) – SEGA AM7

Publisher(s) – SEGA

Director(s) – Emiko Yamamoto

Producer(s) – Patrick Gilmore

PEGI – 3

 

Released as a Sega Genesis exclusive, unlike its predecessors Castle of Illusion and Land Illusion, World of Illusion is the third game in the series, which puts players in the shoes of not only Mickey Mouse but also his companion Donald Duck, offering two different experiences depending on which character the player chooses at the start. It was released to rave reviews back in 1992 with critics praising the graphics and multiplayer, but it also had one or two detractors in addition, which some labeled the single-player mode as dull or bland. 

Growing up, World of Illusion was the Illusion game I spent the most time on, and as a prerequisite, I enjoyed it very much back in the day. Nostalgia aside, I still enjoy playing it. In terms of quality, I put it in between the original two; it’s quite as good as Land of Illusion, but it’s slightly better than Castle of Illusion in my opinion.

 

Graphics – 8/10

The first thing to notice right off the bat compared to the other two Illusion games is that the graphics outstrip both of them on the technical side. Everything from the environments to the characters looks better than they ever had done before, showcasing in spectacular fashion what the Sega Mega Drive was capable of as the fourth generation was well and truly established. On the conceptual level, it still impresses, having been influenced by a number of Disney films such as Fantasia, Alice in Wonderland, and Sleeping Beauty to name but a few; similar to how Castle of Illusion was put together, but on a greater scale.

 

Gameplay – 9/10

The gameplay also follows a very similar formula to that of Castle of Illusion, being a traditional 2D sidescroller offering two different adventures; one as Mickey Mouse and the other as Donald Duck. It’s nowhere near as open-ended as Land of Illusion is, but both playthroughs offer a very different experience to one another, as Donald Duck is forced to find alternative paths across each level due to him having different capabilities to Mickey Mouse. The multiplayer is also an outstanding experience to indulge in as it requires slightly more cooperation to progress through than in other side scrollers of the time. 

 

Controls – 9.5/10

The only minor fault I found with the controls, as I discussed in my review of Castle of Illusion, was the crawling mechanics. Whenever the player character crawls, it seems way too dragged on and nowhere near as fluent as a normal movement. But as I said, it’s only a nitpick; it doesn’t hinder gameplay to the point of it being unplayable, and regular movement is as fluent as it is in any of the best platformers released at the time. 

 

Lifespan – 7.5/10

Clocking in at around an hour, World of Illusion lasts about the same time as Land of Illusion despite its linearity, which for the time is pretty impressive in all fairness, especially compared to what is essentially a Metroidvania. It racks up around the average lifespan of a game back in its time, so it may seem like nothing compared to what gamers will be used to in this day and age, but for the time, it’s impossible to complain about too much. 

 

Storyline – 7/10

The story of World of Illusion is almost identical to that of Land of Illusion. It involves Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck being swept away on yet another adventure, as they are taken by an evil magician in the form of Mickey’s long-standing arch-nemesis Pete. Again, like in the previous Illusion games, the cutscenes do as good a job as what could’ve been expected to tell the story as effectively as possible, but in the respect of the game’s story, it falls a little short in terms of uniqueness.

 

Originality – 7.5/10

The aspects in which this game doesn’t fall short of in terms of uniqueness, however, are in both the graphics and the gameplay. The conceptual design, despite the fact they were inspired by several different Disney films, still feels like it’s its own cohesive idea as opposed to it feeling like a mish-mash of different previously conceived elements. And although the game isn’t quite on par with Land of Illusion in terms of gameplay, it’s necessary to appreciate the fact that the developers tried something new instead of simply giving the players the same experience all over again.

 

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In summation, World of Illusion holds a lot of nostalgic value to me personally, but in the grander scheme of things, it’s still a great game to play. The multiplayer is immersing, the graphics look great, and whilst the story isn’t very original, especially by Disney’s own lofty standards, there’s more than enough here on offer to make up for it.

Score

48.5/60

8/10 (Very Good)

SG88 Land of Illusion Header

Land of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse (Master System & Game Gear)

Developer(s) – Sega

Publisher(s) –  Sega

Director(s) – Yoshio Yoshida

Producer(s) – Patrick Gilmore

PEGI – 3

Released on third-generation hardware well into the fourth generation, Land of Illusion was brought out following the immense success of the previous Mickey Mouse game developed by Sega, Castle of Illusion, and for the most part, received the same level of critical acclaim being considered an adored classic by most who played it. Out of the original Illusion trilogy, Land of Illusion was the one entry that I never got to play, as, at this time, I was firmly immersed in fourth-generation hardware, such as the Super NES and the Mega Drive; and it’s a shame that this game never saw a release on the Mega Drive, because a multitude of reasons, it is the best in the Illusion trilogy in my opinion; superior to both Castle of Illusion and World of Illusion.

 

Graphics – 8.5/10

Where the technical side of things is concerned, the game kind of looks like a mixture of both 8-BIT and 16-BIT visuals, seemingly going above and beyond what many gamers may have thought the Sega Master System was capable of. People who have never played this game would most probably take a cursory look at it and maybe too hasty to write it off immediately as a game that seemingly came to a generation too late. But the fact of the matter is Land of Illusion looks too good to be a third-generation title. The conceptual design is also even more of an improvement on what the developers did with Castle of Illusion to me, as it borrows elements from much darker Disney films than that of its predecessor; most notably The Black Cauldron, as the antagonist is The Horned King under the guise of a new villain, The Phantom. There are certain elements of certain levels that also look to be inspired by previous third-generation classics, such as Super Mario Bros 3 and Castlevania.

 

Gameplay – 9/10

Perpetuating many of the same gameplay elements as seen in Castle of Illusion, Land of Illusion is another 2D side scroller whereby the player must traverse, explore, defeat bosses and take on the game’s end boss. What separates this game from Castle of Illusion, however, is that there’s a small Metroidvania element to it, allowing for players to backtrack to an extent with newly acquired abilities to reach otherwise impassable areas. There’s even a sidequest whereby there are a number of stars to collect throughout, giving the game slightly more replay value than the average side scroller. The boss fights throughout also provide a nice balance of challenge for players. 

 

Controls – 9/10

The biggest problem I had with the game is only a minor one, which is that the jump mechanics can seem a little inconsistent, and as a result, gameplay can be hindered to a small extent unnecessarily. The same problem exists in the next game in the series, World of Illusion, but to a lesser extent. However, the jump mechanics are nowhere near as bad enough to be able to call the game unplayable by any means. Like the last game, the controls are as fluent as what is needed to be for the most part. 

 

Lifespan – 7.5/10

Land of Illusion can be made to last around an hour, which though was the average lifespan for a game in the fourth generation, is actually quite impressive compared to other third-generation titles. The amount of backtracking the game warrants makes it slightly longer than the average 2D side scroller that was a mainstay in the industry at this time, and it does fairly well to stand out on its own as a result. Of course, other games have been released by this time that lasted considerably longer like A Link to the Past and the Final Fantasy games, but for what is a very retroactive experience, it succeeds to deliver.

 

Storyline – 8/10

The plot of Land of Illusion is extremely similar to that of Super Mario Bros 2. Mickey is reading a book one day only to fall asleep and awake again in an unfamiliar and fantastical land whereby he must recover a stolen magic crystal in order to help the inhabitants of a small village protect themselves from an entity known as The Phantom. Along the way, the player encounters several classic Disney characters to rescue, and along the way providing a greater deal of substance in the story and more memorable moments than Castle of Illusion. 

 

Originality – 8/10

Although it was released arguably three years too late, the fact of the matter is the game stands out for all the right reasons regardless of its late arrival on the Sega Master System, and for a game that at first glance would seem completely outdated, is immensely impressive. It’s amazing what developers have been able to do with basing games off of a pre-existing license before and after Land of Illusion, but very few developers took that concept to the heights that Sega took many Disney franchises in the realm of games, and this game stands out as yet another shining example of that.

 

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Overall, I was surprised to find out that I would end up enjoying Land of Illusion more than any of the other Illusion games. It’s got a great deal to play for, for its time, the story is much more involved than in previous game, and although it seems to be Castle of Illusion that seems to get the accolade of the classic Mickey Mouse game, the fact of the matter is that Land of Illusion is in many ways superior. 

Score

50/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Scouse Gamer 88 Mickey Mania Header

Mickey Mania/Mickey’s Wild Adventure (SNES, Mega Drive, Sega CD & PlayStation)

Developer(s) – Traveller’s Tales

Publisher(s) – Sony Imagesoft & Walt Disney Computer Software

Designer(s) – Jon Burton, Andy Ingram, Mike Glam & David Jaffe

ELSPA – 3+

 

Released across two generations on various consoles, and being the developmental debut of Twisted Metal creator and God of War alumni David Jaffe, Mickey Mania was originally envisioned to coincide with Mickey’s 65th anniversary. However, it was pulled back to allow for more development time. What followed was a critical and commercial success of a game, praised to extent that it was considered a must-have for any fourth-generation gamer at the time. I feel very much the same having played it profusely when it first came out, and for any fans of the 2D sides rolling genre, it has very much stood the test of time. 

 

Graphics – 8/10

The game is set across several classic Mickey Mouse cartoons from 1928’s Steamboat Willy to that character’s 1990 take on The Prince and the Pauper, and each level in the game captures the feel of the original features flawlessly. It’s one of those games that as one based on a preexisting license with a predetermined visual style, it stands the test of time in terms of graphics because of it. It was also one of the earliest instances I can remember whereby I was introduced to at least pseudo-3D Graphics on a console game, and I remember being blown away by it at the time. 

 

Gameplay – 8/10

The game is a traditional 2D side scroller quite typical of the fourth generation of gaming, and typical of what games were resulting from the Disney license at the time along with Duck Tales, Aladdin, Toy Story, and others. There’s is also a light puzzle-solving element in certain levels as well, but it mainly revolves around getting from A to B. There is also a couple of memorable boss fight, including that with The Mad Doctor and Pete’s Prince and the Pauper incarnation. The pseudo-3D gameplay sequences have the player running away from impending danger, which provides a welcome challenge to break up the traditional platforming sequences and keep players firmly on their toes. 

 

Controls – 10/10

As a standard sides roller perpetuating industry standards set at the time, there are no issues with the controls. The way the control scheme is implemented during the 2.5D sequences is handled quite well in addition, especially considering that the idea was relatively new at the time and would’ve taken a certain degree of innovative thinking to effectively manage it. 

 

Lifespan – 6/10

Just about meeting the standard of Lifespan set at the time, the game can be made to last a maximum of 2 hours. The definitive way to play this game, in every aspect in addition to lifespan, is through the PlayStation version entitled Mickey’s Wild Adventure. It contains every level designed for the game, as well as a few new added features, whereby the Super NES and Mega Drive versions were missing certain levels and sequences. 

 

Storyline – 7/10

The game’s story is simply a retelling of several classic Mickey Mouse cartoons in video game form. Throughout, each level perpetuates elements of what made the original cartoons captivating and portrays an early example of how video games can be capable of telling a story without the player having to consult the manual. Again, it’s another reason why Mickey’s Wild Adventure is the definitive way to play it since it also included voice acting

 

Originality – 8/10

In some respects, such as lifespan, the game just about met industry standards and failed to stand out as a result. But in many other respects, including graphic design and gameplay, it stands out among a plethora of 2D sidescrollers that were being released at the time. It almost served as a precursor to what would eventually be released by Sony with the advent of the PlayStation following the deal between them and Nintendo falling through. It seemed like a particularly historical game in that respect the more I’ve thought about it since, and it makes me wonder what the landscape of gaming may have been if history had gone another way. 

 

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In summation, Mickey Mania was a quietly innovative game that has since stood the test of time with the enjoyable experience it provides. It’s a licensed game that surpassed expectations at the time, and I would still highly recommend it be played today. 

Score

49/60

8/10 (Very Good)

SG88 Sonic Adventure 2 Header

Sonic Adventure 2 (Dreamcast)

Developer(s) – Sonic Team USA

Publisher(s) – Sega

Director(s) – Takashi Lizuka

Producer(s) – Yuji Naka

PEGI – 7

 

Released to a generally favorable response from critics at the time, Sonic Adventure 2 delivered a much different Gameplay experience from the original Sonic Adventure with a more linear play progression, a side quest beloved by many Sonic fans, and the introduction of new characters such as Shadow the Hedgehog and Rouge the Bat. Although I did spend a great deal of time playing through this game multiple times when I was a kid, going back into it with an entirely new perspective, I’ve come to the conclusion that I prefer the original game for a number of reasons. 

 

Graphics – 9/10

The main thing Sonic Adventure 2 improves on its predecessor, however, is the quality of the visuals on the technical level. Some cutscenes are even presented at 60 frames per second unlike the first, which was presented entirely at 30 frames per second throughout. From a conceptual standpoint, it’s just as wonderfully varied as the first game was taking place in vibrant cities, deep jungles, space stations, and even pyramids. As far as graphics go, it was most definitely one of the best-looking games on the Dreamcast. 

 

Gameplay – 8/10

The gameplay is structured much differently than the original too. As opposed to having six different overlapping scenarios, there are two scenarios to play between the heroes of the game and the villains, with Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles making up the heroes, and Dr. Robotnik, Shadow the Hedgehog, and Rouge the Bat making up the villains. The gameplay structure is far less open-ended than the original with merely two predetermined paths with the added side quest of Chao raising, which is like raising a farm of Tamagotchis; some players even think that the Chao raising is the best aspect of the game. But to me, in comparison to the first, it falls below par; the gameplay concept of the original game needed to be expanded upon the right way, and the developers didn’t do that, making for a more than decent gameplay experience, but just not the experience it could’ve been. 

 

Controls – 7.5/10

The control scheme is as varied as in the original game, with both Tails and Robotnik in mobile robots this time round, differing from how Tails handled in the first game. But the problem. Being is that Sonic’s control scheme, along with Shadow’s, is the same as what in the first Sonic Adventure, and as such, it still presents the same problems. If anything, they actually seem more prevalent as there are fewer open locations than there were in the first game. So although there are positives in regards to the controls, there are enough negatives to keep it seems as lacking in fluency as the first game. 

 

Lifespan – 4/10

The biggest downgrade compared to the first game, however, is in regards to the Lifespan. The first game lasted an underwhelmingly short amount of time anyway at 8 hours, but the second game can only be made to last about half that time, which for a game in a series as popular as Sonic is unacceptable. The point of a sequel is to build on the ideas perpetuated by the first in an attempt to create a better game, and having the second last less time than the first is not building on the first in a positive way. 

 

Storyline – 8/10

One aspect in which there have been improvements made, however, is in the story and the dialogue. The six characters involved are in the search for the seven chaos emeralds again, but this time, Dr. Robotnik enlists the help of Shadow The Hedgehog and Rouge the Bat to find the emeralds to activate a weapon capable of destroying planets to ensure his dominance over the world. Although there are serious Star Wars vibes, almost to the point of self-parody in fact, the element that makes this game’s story much more interesting than the last is Shadow; on the surface, he seems no better than the likes of Robotnik, but after slowly learning his back story, the player can come to empathize, or maybe even sympathize with him like I ended up doing. 

 

Originality – 5/10

The game stands out from the original but in many of the wrong ways. Although the overall experience isn’t bad by any means, it’s just not the game it could’ve been developed into in my opinion, and it left me wanting so much more than what is offered. It’s an exceptional example of how not to build on a successful game, giving players a somewhat watered-down experience. In the end, I found myself asking a lot of what-if questions about this game, and to me, it’s always a bad sign when I find myself doing so because it’s a clear indication of the game falling short in comparison to what it could’ve been given a little more development time. 

 

Happii

However, for as much as I have criticized this game, Sonic Adventure 2 is still an enjoyable gaming experience with a fair bit to offer for the short time it lasts. Although it’s nowhere near the quality of the game it had the potential to be, it just about does enough to be considered a worthwhile sequel. 

Score

42/60

7/10 (Fair)

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)

SG88 SoulCalibur Header

SoulCalibur (Dreamcast & Xbox 360)

Developer(s) – Project Soul

Publisher(s) – Namco

Director(s) – Jin Okubo & Yoshitaka Tezuka

Producer(s) – Yasuhiro Noguchi & Hiroaki Yotoriyama

PEGI – 16

 

Released back in 1998 to widespread acclaim, to the point where it would be regarded as the second most critically acclaimed game of all time after The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, SoulCalibur was a fighting game series that spun off from the PlayStation game Soul Edge, improving on the former game in significant ways, and later going on to become one of the most recognizable fighting franchises in all of gaming. As a child, I spent an ungodly amount of time playing this game trying to unlock all the extras and secret characters, and to me, it still stands as one of the best games on the Dreamcast and one of the most definitive fighting games of all time. 

 

Graphics – 9/10

Seeing the game’s sixth-generation graphics on the Dreamcast whilst at around the half-way point of the fifth generation, the game in this respect was years ahead of its time. Everything from the character sprites to the stages is wonderfully polished and beautifully rendered; the attention to detail in this respect is staggering. It’s evident that this was as much of a labor of love as many of the best games released in 1998, such as Banjo Kazooie, Tekken 3, and Crash Bandicoot 3. The soundtrack to the first SoulCalibur may also be my favorite soundtrack to a fighting game ever; the intro to the game makes the very clear statement that all these characters have a purpose and that this is a fighting game unlike any other, and it certainly delivers.

 

Gameplay – 8/10

Although it wasn’t the first fighting game to do this, SoulCalibur’s appeal is the ability to use weapons in combat as opposed to bare fist fighting as what is perpetuated in most fighting games. It also has a ton of unlockable content; the game is comparable to Super Smash Bros Melee in this respect. It has a load of characters and alternative costumes to unlock as well as artwork and beautifully told backstory, which whilst playing this game as a kid, did exceptionally well to endear me to this series to a greater extent than what I could’ve possibly imagined after having p[layed the like of Mortal Kombat and Tekken. 

 

Controls – 10/10

As well as there is no problems with this game in any other respect, the game’s control scheme is also flawless. Playing this game, was the first time I found myself being able to string proper moves together instead of merely button-bashing, which is what I’m normally used to doing whilst playing a fighting game. It made me feel like I had genuine skill playing it, and there’s never been another fighting game that’s made me feel that way since truth be told. 

 

Originality – 7/10

Though it did definitely perpetuate many ideas that had been adopted in fighting games long before it’s release, the developers took these elements and made it into their own fully cohesive concept in the respect of every element down to the fighters, the combat style, the range of locations and the mythology behind it all. It lay the foundations beautifully for what was to come, whilst also still holding up as an enjoyable game to play even after all these years.

 

Happii

Overall, the original SoulCalibur remains to me, one of the best fighting games I’ve ever played. There are other genres of gaming that I’ve taken to better than fighting games, but I still revisit certain titles within it including Tekken 2, Dead or Alive 4, Ready 2 Rumble, and my favorite game in the series, SoulCalibur IV; the first SoulCalibur still fits into that category for me. 

Score

34/40

8/10 (Very Good)

SG88 Toy Story Header

Toy Story (PC, Super Nintendo, Game Boy & Mega Drive)

Developer(s) – Traveller’s Tales, Psygnosis & Tiertex Design Studios

Publisher(s) – Disney Interactive, Sega, Nintendo Australia, Capcom & Black Pearl Software

Producer(s) – Craig Annis & Steve Riding

Designer(s) – John burton & Andy Ingram

ELSPA – All Ages

 

Released to coincide with the hit Disney film of the same name, Toy Story was developed for several different systems and was released to critical and commercial success despite having been at the back end of the fourth generation with the transition into the fifth generation looming around the corner. To me, this game is another one of the more impressive licensed titles released before they were further popularized during the seventh generation and still holds up as one of the most varied 2D side scrollers of the era. 

 

Graphics – 8/10

The graphical style is extremely similar to that of Donkey Kong Country, implementing 2.5 graphical sprites provided to Traveller’s Tales by Disney themselves (albeit Traveller’s Tales has their own sprites on standby in the event of time constraints), portraying all the central characters in the film, as well as several minor ones, and featuring a massively varied range of level designs; some of which add to locations found in the original movie. The game’s soundtrack also features a collection of pretty catchy soundtracks that sound like they would’ve fit flawlessly if they were again included in the film as well. As far as fourth-generation games go, this is one of the best-looking titles of that era in my opinion; the visuals are both colorfully vibrant and wonderfully dark wherever needed, and the character sprites are wonderfully animated in addition. 

 

Gameplay – 8/10

For what is primarily a 2D side scroller, the gameplay in Toy Story is surprisingly varied for a game from this era. Not only does it feature side-scrolling sequences, but it also features light puzzle elements, car driving sequences, and even a first-person sequence very similar to Doom. But to experience all of these different styles of play, I would recommend playing the Mega Drive/Genesis version; as this version was dubbed the lead version by Disney, it is the only port to feature all 18 levels created for it; the Super NES version is missing the first RC sequence towards the end and the PC version only has 10 of the original 18 levels. The game also features situations that are unique to the franchise and that don’t appear in the actual film, such as Woody navigating his way through the interior of the claw machine, whereas in the film, he and Buzz simply slip in among the toy aliens instantly. The designers of this game made something very unique to the original film, and it really shows in every respect. 

 

Controls – 10/10

Regardless of having cramped in a huge amount of different play styles, I was amazed to find that there were no problems with the controls after replaying Toy Story. I had to go over it again, as although I’d spent a great deal of time playing this when I was a kid, I realized that I’d forgotten just how good a game this was going into it again with a much more subjective viewpoint. The only minor issue I have with the controls is that during the first-person sequence inside the claw machine, turning can be a bit wooden, but that’s just semantics, as it’s only for one level. It may have posed more of a problem if there were more sequences like it, but besides which, there are no other issues with the controls at all. 

 

Lifespan – 6/10

To complete the game will take about the average lifespan for a game of this kind, which is around an hour. I found myself not being able to give the game too much flack in this respect because it was after all perpetuating the source material of an 80-minute film; in fact, if the player explores enough, they can potentially make the game last slightly longer than the film. My initial thought was that if the game could incorporate so many different play styles that the developers may have been able to make it last a lot longer than what it does, but there are too many different factors to consider for me to criticize it too much in this respect, such as the time frame they would have needed to work to in order to get it out at the same period as the film. Regardless, for a game of its generation, it lasts a fair amount of time. 

 

Storyline – 7/10

The game is simply a retelling of the events of the film; two anthropomorphic action figures, the cowboy Woody and space ranger Buzz Lightyear, become separated from their owner Andy and must find a way back before the family is due to move house. The game does well enough to portray these events in its own way without much of the classic dialogue of the film and the soundtrack does particularly well to add to the game’s atmosphere further aiding in the portrayal of the story; especially in unique sequences not present in the original film.

 

Originality – 7/10

Especially as 2D side-scrolling was the most prevalent genre within the industry at the game, this game does extremely well to stand out among a vast majority of others with the sheer amount of different play styles it incorporates throughout. It was rare for a game of this genre within the fourth generation to offer so much variety in gameplay and especially for a licensed game, which back then was much more of a niche interested among gamers than what it is now, is particularly impressive indeed. 

 

Happii

Overall, Toy Story, to me, frankly remains one of the better 2D side scrollers of the fourth generation of gaming; certainly among the best of early Disney games. It offers players an unprecedented amount of variety for the time that it lasts and portrays the film in a very satisfying way, not only using the license but celebrating it in an appropriate manner. 

Score

46/60

7.5/10 (Good)

Scouse Gamer 88 Jet Set Radio Header

Jet Set Radio (Dreamcast, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation Vita, Android & iOS)

Developer(s) – Smilebit & Blitworks

Publisher(s) – Sega

Director – Masayoshi Kikuchi

Producer – Kawagoe Takayuki

PEGI – 12

 

Originally developed as a Dreamcast exclusive back in 2000, Jet Set Radio is a skating game and was the first game in history to make use of cel-shaded visuals, which have since been popularized by developers all over the mainstream being used within the likes of the Legend of Zelda series and being the staple visual style of franchises like Borderlands and No More Heroes. Though I was able to appreciate the origins of this now iconic graphical style, I was, however, a lot more disappointed with how this game plays out than what I was expecting having seen just how highly regarded it is. For how much innovation there was in terms of visuals, it’s quite flawed in terms of its style of play; especially compared to other games of its kind.  

 

Graphics – 8/10

In terms of visual style, this game was groundbreaking at the time and would go on to influence the visual style of countless other games to come, such as XIII, Sly Cooper & the Thievius Raccoonus, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The character design is also very diverse with inspiration from street culture and hip hop music; it’s like if the movie The Warriors was set in the early 2000s. There are flaws with the technical aspects of the cel-shaded visuals, but this was to have been expected from the first game to use them.

 

Gameplay – 6/10

The gameplay, however, is not very satisfactory in my opinion. The story mode involves progressing through a series of courses whereby the player must rewrite graffiti spots to mark the gang’s territory; the scenario is completed when all the graffiti points have been marked. It’s really as simple as that; there is a scoring system for completing stunts (the logistics of which I will cover later on in this review), but the scoring system is only about as significant as the scoring system found in any old-school adventure game like the original Super Mario Bros or even Sonic Adventure to draw a closer comparison, as both that game and Jet Set Radio were released on the Dreamcast originally. There are additional characters to unlock, which give the game a little bit of additional incentive to play, but to me at least, it wasn’t enough to hold my attention for the full lifespan of the game. 

 

Controls – 6/10

The true dealbreaker for me where this game is concerned, however, was the control scheme. Games with similar mechanics have frustrated me throughout the years, such as Sunset Overdrive, but this game takes that disappointment to a whole new level. I’ve read reviews whereby people have said the controls weren’t enough to hamper their experience of the game to too great an extent, but to me, the controls make this game almost unplayable at times. The layout of each scenario seemed paramount for me to be able to draw any pleasure from playing this game; they can range from simplistic to overly complicated with each level, and if you’re enough of a stickler where the controls are concerned, it can become a very serious issue. 

 

Lifespan – 6/10

For those who are able to get past this game’s many flaws, it can be made to last there around 18 hours in total, which for a game of its kind, isn’t too bad a lifespan. But to my way of thinking, I don’t understand how a vast majority of games, especially newcomers, will be able to bear with it for any more than one hour. Short of what I’ve already described, there’s not a great deal more to do in this game and more content and objectives could’ve been added to hold the gamer’s attention better. 

 

Storyline – 5/10

Although in terms of conceptual style I compared this game to the movie The Warriors, the plot is considerably more simple than that. It centers around a street gang named the GGs, who battle for street territory and credibility against various other gang members of the same ilk, all the while trying to avoid the police, who go to increasingly unnecessary lengths to apprehend them; all whilst under the commentary of a quirky DJ named Professor K. And when I say the police to ridiculous measures, I mean it; throughout the first level, they try to shoot the player with guns and use tear gas against them. But later on, they then make use of attack dogs as well as missile-mounted helicopters, all to try and catch a few kids on skates. I realize the developers did this as either comic relief or the purposes of gameplay mechanics (I’m not so dense as to not realize that), but it just doesn’t lend a great deal of integrity to the plot. 

 

Originality – 7/10

Although this game disappointed me overall, the fact of the matter is that its visual style has gone on to become one of the most popularly utilized throughout the industry since the turn of the century. Many games have come and gone that have not only made use of cel-shading but have built on the idea of it exponentially, making for some of the most visually stunning games of all time. But this game provided the original template by which all cel-shaded games have followed since. That being said, there have been more influential skating games to have come and gone, such as those in the Tony Hawk series, and it’s in that respect whereby this game failed to show as much innovation as it should’ve done. 

 

Niiutral

Overall, Jet Set Radio, whilst having gone on to influence a plethora of games since its release, was not the great game that I was expecting it to be; the controls are sketchy at best and the gameplay left a lot to be desired in my personal opinion. 

Score

38/60

6/10 (Average)