Sunday, 30 November 2014

Unreal (Amiga)

Unreal Title Screen Amiga Ubisoft
Whoa, look at the size of that title screen! That ain't normal for a 16-bit game man; you could fit six SNES title screens into that thing with room to spare.

Today on Super Adventures, I'm putting an hour or so into classic Amiga game Unreal, published by Ubisoft in 1990, eight years before Epic and Digital Extremes would borrow the title for their first person shooter and the infamous engine it runs on. I don't actually know much of anything about this Unreal though, except that it was ported across to the PC and Atari ST a year after the Amiga version, and the title screen is insane. It's a hand-pixelled reproduction of the cover to the 1979 edition of the Michael Moorcock novel 'Lord of the Spiders', which makes more sense when you know that the painting was also used for the game's box art. I guess someone at Ubisoft was a fan.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Half-Life: Uplink (Demo) (PC)

Half-Life Uplink title screen
That's a nice effect, but if you stare at the 'H A L F - L I F E' text bouncing from left and right in the background long enough it starts looking kinda dopey. It's so weird seeing the original, un-Steamed title screen again though after all these years.

Hello and welcome to Super Adventures in Gaming, the site that just can't stop putting up articles about Half-Life. My friend mecha-neko wrote up his opinions on the authentic original version of Half-Life a couple of years back, and then I took a look at the fan made remake Black Mesa a few months later, but there's Half-Life content that neither of us have looked at yet... like Opposing Force, Blue Shift, Decay...

But there's also Half-Life: Uplink, a demo released in early 1999 featuring a modified version of levels cut from the actual game, which happens to be the first Half-Life content I ever played. It's also the first Valve developed content I ever played, which is fitting because today is the 10th anniversary of my Steam account!

Don't bother looking for Uplink on Steam though, it isn't there (though you can apparently download it as a mod for Half-Life).

(Click the screenshots to expand them into dimensions unimagined by gamers in 1998... except not really, as 1280x960 was already in the resolution list for me to choose from.)

Oh by the way, did you know that Half-Life was PC Gamer's Game of the Year 1998? Well okay you probably have an idea seeing as there's a badge right there on the title screen, but did you know that it was literally figuratively every other magazine's Game of the Year too?

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Tomb Raider (PC)

Today on Super Adventures, I'm putting a few hours into the original Tomb Raider! Uh, I mean I'm playing the original version of the 2013 reboot/prequel instead of the 2014 'Definitive Edition' of the 2013 game, I'm not playing the original ORIGINAL Tomb Raider. Oh fuck it, I'm calling this Lara Croft's Tropical Torture Island Vacation.

I suppose I could also call it Tomb Raider 9, though they got bored of numbering the games somewhere back around 3, and that doesn't include things like the Game Boy games and the isometric Lara Croft series. Or the remake of Tomb Raider 1 that came out a few years back called Tomb Raider Anniversary. Man there's a lot of Tomb Raider games in the world right now, and I've barely played any of them. I was scared off years ago when the reviews for each new game reported that it was more of the same, except worse.

Tomb Raider 2013 isn't more of the same though, and while that may have worried the faithful (especially after the early trailers), it caught my interest. I'm the asshole who liked Resident Evil 5 more than Resident Evil 2, and Fallout 3 more than Fallout 2 you see, so there's reason for me to approach this with a bit of optimism... though to be honest I actually kind of played and finished the entire game a year ago, so I won't be coming in blind and utterly clueless like I usually do. Sorry.

(Click the screenshots to open them up into a slightly less pathetic 1280x720 resolution. You should be grateful for that much, seeing as the game was far more interested in giving me a completely unacceptable 1272x720!)

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Toonstruck (MS-DOS)

Toonstruck title screen
Today on Super Adventures I'll be giving an hour or so to Toonstruck, a game that has surprisingly little to do with that clown up there. Sure he's in it, eventually, but I almost guarantee you won't be seeing him again here.

I feel like I should seen this game mentioned more often, considering it stars Christopher Lloyd, Homer Simpson and half the cast of half the cartoons from the 90s, but it seems almost forgotten these days. I've no idea how well known it actually is, but I do know that it didn't sell enough to get a sequel... which in this case would've actually been the second half of the game, seeing as it wasn't exactly finished when they put it out on shelves.

I'm sure I've reached the semi-cliffhanger ending before, or at least watched someone else complete it, but my only strong memory of this game is that clown up there yelling "BALLOOOOOOON?" I've got absolutely zero recollection of the story or any of the puzzles, so I get to work them all out again from scratch.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Tomb Raider (MS-DOS) - Part 2

Dare you revisit part one?

Tomb Raider (MS-DOS) - Part 1

Tomb Raider title screen pc
Today I'm having a look at Core Design's original Tomb Raider. I have to call it that, because Crystal Dynamics decided to go and reuse the name in 2013 for a prequel, demonstrating a fundamental lack of understanding about what names are actually for (hint: they're an identifier to allow people to refer to specific things without ambiguity or confusion).

Here, you can load the surprisingly mellow Tomb Raider theme up in youtube and have it playing it in the background while I humorously note that the game is actually a sort of successor to Core Design's earlier Rick Dangerous series. In fact Core made a fair number of the games I've featured on the site, like Bubba 'n' Stix, Curse of Enchantia and, uh, Blam! Machine Head; but after Tomb Raider caught on they were doomed to crank out sequel after sequel, one a year until the series and developer finally lost everyone's respect entirely.

Tomb Raider was actually released first on the Sega Saturn, with the PC version coming soon after (and the N-Gage version just 7 years after that), but most of my fuzzy semi-fond memories of the game come from when a friend and I rented the PlayStation version. We didn't get anywhere though and he did most of the playing, so I'm not really all that sure what to expect from the game. Very very dated controls mostly.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Toejam & Earl (Genesis/Mega Drive)

ToeJam & Earl title screen
Today on Super Adventures I'm inflicting my first impressions of ToeJam & Earl upon the world, though I get the feeling that the world probably has a much better idea of what this is than I do. I've never played it, I've never really seen it, and all I know about it is that it's described as being a roguelike, and that people apparently bought enough copies of it at the time for it to get a couple of sequels.

One thing I'm certain of is that it's not based on a cartoon, though that title screen made me double check. Nope, these two debuted exclusively on the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, and pretty much stayed there until the third game in the ToeJam Trilogy ended up landing on Xbox a decade later. I guess the developers determined that the SNES just wasn't sufficiently funky.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Squirt's Adventure (PC)

Today Super Adventures takes a look at Squirt's Adventure. Don't get your hopes up though, this is a port of a touch-screen iPhone pirate-themed edutainment game made for five year olds to help acquaint them with the alphabet. I got this as a gift from a generous friend, who apparently thinks I need practice matching up letters with words.

To be fair I can see why he'd be concerned; my site's gimmick this year is that I have to play games in roughly alphabetical order: a set of games starting with 'A', a set of 'B' games, then a set of 'C' games etc. But somehow Deus Ex 3 ended up as a 'H' game, Max Payne 2 got filed under 'F' and Elder Scrolls Online was thrown in with the 'B' games. You don't even want to know what I've got planned for the 'X' games.

Of course he could be honestly curious about how it plays! Far be it from me to judge him for his taste in video games. I suppose there's a possibility though that it was just really cheap one day and he thought it'd be a laugh to watch me suffer. Either way, the game was inflicted on me, so now I'm inflicting it on you.

(Click screenshots to open them up a little bigger.)

Friday, 7 November 2014

Sleeping Dogs (PC)

Sleeping Dogs title screen logo
Super Adventures' run of spectacular semi-recent story-driven sandbox games starting with 'S' concludes at last with Sleeping Dogs! Here, you can listen to the theme while you read: youtube link.

The game didn't used to start with an 'S', that only happened relatively late in development. It actually began life as a new IP with title Black Lotus (no relation to the Lotus Turbo Challenge games), but publisher Activision decided they'd like to revive their True Crime franchise and relabelled it 'True Crime: Hong Kong' instead. Then three and a half years into development they decided that they'd rather cancel the whole thing altogether, and that was the end of it... until Square Enix stepped in like a big damn hero and saved the day, in a similar way to how Deep Silver saved Saints Row IV. They then retitled it to Sleeping Dogs, which is a decent enough name I guess, though personally I think they should've gone with 'Final Fantasy XV' just to see the reaction they got.

(Click the pictures to view them in an epic screen-filling 1280x720 resolution... well, screen-filling if you've got a tiny little monitor like I do.)

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

The Saboteur (PC)

The Saboteur title screen pc
My selfish stylish sexy sandbox shooter starting with an 'S' series stretches on to its third game: Pandemic's swan song The Saboteur. Yep, this was the final game ever made by Pandemic Studios, which kind of sucks as I love everything I've played by them. Mercenaries was one of the best open world sandbox games to follow Grand Theft Auto 3's lead, and I had some good times playing the Star Wars: Battlefront games in multiplayer. So I've got unreasonably high hopes for this one, and if it lets me down at all I'll be distraught.

The game came out for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, but I'm playing the Windows version because... well, it's a lot easier to get screenshots out of it. I've heard that this is a bit of a bad port, especially on PCs with modern processors and an ATI graphics card like mine, but I made it through the dodgy PC version of Saints Row 2 so I'm sure I can handle it.

(Click any screenshot to open up a 1280x1024 resolution version. Yeah yeah I know it's not exactly what you'd find on deadendthrills.com.)

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Saints Row 2 (PC)

Saints Row 2 logo
Surprise! Today I'm playing a second story-driven sandbox shooter starting with an 'S', and it's another one of those Saints Row games. But it's an earlier one without sci-fi jet fighters, spaceships or super powers. It's Volition's 2008 crime 'em up sequel Saints Row 2!

But is such a game even playable anymore to someone who has recently leapt between skyscrapers shooting fireballs out of their hands in Saints Row 4? If you're a PC owner, then the answer is likely to be... no. Well not without a bit of work anyway, as this got a famously terrible port that can run in fast forward if you're playing it on a Windows 7 machine with a CPU clock speed different to the Xbox 360's processor. Windows 8 users are apparently safe from this, in a rare case of a new operating system actually FIXING an old game. That is a pretty amazing bug all on its own, but the game apparently also has problems with prefetching memory that can cause frame rate issues even on powerful PCs. It definitely seems like either the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 version may be a better choice for this one, because damn.

Fortunately I've been assured that the fast forward issue is a fixable problem, thanks to IdolNinja's Saints Row 2 Powertools Mod, so I'm hopeful it'll hammer this into a more acceptable shape for me.

(Click the images to view them at twice the resolution.)

Semi-Random Game Box