Thursday, 29 September 2016

Parasol Stars (TurboGrafx-16)

parasol stars title screen
Developer:Taito|Release Date:1991|Systems:PC Engine, Amiga, Atari ST, Game Boy, NES

This week on Super Adventures I've chosen the wrong game to play, because what can I say about Parasol Stars? You play a dude with an umbrella who keeps on beating up enemies and taking their lunch until you run out of credits, stages or patience. Unless you have a friend playing too, then there's two dudes with umbrellas, and matching dungarees.

I suppose I could mention that it's actually Bubble Bobble III, except it says that on the title screen above, so you already know that. Also this TurboGrafx version was published by rogue game localizers Working Designs, but I don't think there's much scope for them to inject their idiosyncratic humour into this one, seeing as there's probably like six words in the game and they're already in English.

There's a good reason why I'm playing the TurboGrafx version instead of the original arcade game, and that's because there isn't one. Unlike the first two games, this was for home systems from the start. I always used to play the Amiga version and I always used to suck at it, so I'm curious to see if I do any better on a two button controller instead of a one button joystick.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Dungeon Siege II (PC)

Dungeon Siege 2 title menu screen
Developer:Gas Powered Games|Release Date:2005|Systems:Windows

This week on Super Adventures, I'm playing the second Dungeon Siege! In the grand tradition of RPG sequels, and indeed sequels in general, they've taken the name and put a number after it to form the title Dungeon Siege II.

I've played and beaten this before, but just like with Dungeon Siege all I've retained from the experience is a vague memory of liking it. This is why you should always write down every aspect of the games you play to an internet blog, to save you the trouble of having to ever play them again. I am curious to see how this holds up though, as dragging Dungeon Siege 1 into the harsh light of 2016 revealed that it's not quite as fun as I once thought it was.

First thing I've noticed: it doesn't have Dungeon Siege's awesome animated menu screen, and that makes me sad.

(You can get the original sized screenshots by clicking on the tiny ones.)

Friday, 16 September 2016

Dinosaur Detective Agency (Amiga)

Dinosaur Detective Agency title screen
Developer:Maximum Effect|Release Date:1993|Systems:Amiga

This week on Super Adventures I had a sudden urge to play Dinosaur Detective Agency for the Amiga, and I'm as confused as anyone about it.

I'm surprised I even remember the game, as if you add up the number of minutes I've spent playing the game they'd be less than the number of years since I last booted it up. In fact I was expecting the hero to look more like Sam Spade than Sherlock Holmes. Naughty game, encouraging kids to smoke pipes.

Hang on, does that say "1993" down there? Wow, what are the chances of this coming out the same year as 'Jurassic Park'? To be fair dinosaurs were already plenty popular before the movie, so I wouldn't say this is cynically cashing in on a fad. Because if they were he'd be riding a skateboard like Radical Rex.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Star Trek: The Next Generation - A Final Unity (MS-DOS)

Star Trek: The Next Generation - A Final Unity title screen
Developer:Spectrum HoloByte|Release Date:1995|Systems:DOS, Mac

This week on Super Adventures I've been celebrating Star Trek's 50th anniversary by playing games that basically have nothing to do with the franchise, but that ends here with something a whole lot more relevant.

Sure it would've made more sense for me to play the Star Trek: 25th Anniversary adventure game, but I already have so that's put a wrench into that great idea. There is an entirely different 25th Anniversary on the NES, but I've played that too. So it comes down to this, and that's probably for the best as I've had this game sitting in my attic for so long that I've forgotten what it is or where it even came from. Have I even played it? Probably, once, but who knows?

All I know is that Spectrum HoloByte is a great name for a game developer, and it's a shame that this is one of the last games released with it on the box. They'd bought up MicroProse a couple of years before and by '96 all their games were released under that brand instead (including Trek games Birth of the Federation, Generations and Klingon Honor Guard). Then a few years later Hasbro bought Spectrum HoloByte (at this point known as MicroProse) and closed the studio, but they were in turn bought by Infogrames Entertainment, who acquired their assets and the Atari brand in the deal and renamed the company to Atari Interactive, before renaming themselves to Atari, SA. This shouldn't be confused with Atari, Inc. which is the name they gave to developer Infogrames, Inc. (formerly GT Interactive). There was also arcade game producer Atari Games, which formed when Atari, Inc. (the original one) split into two after the video game crash, but Infogrames never got its hands on that. It eventually ended up as Midway Games West until it was dissolved, with its IPs acquired by Warner Bros.

Game companies, man. It's starting to make sense to me why this never made it to Steam or GOG.

A Final Unity came out in 1995, a full year after 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' ended and about six months after the movie 'Star Trek: Generations', so it wasn't the most timely TV tie-in. Still it's nice that they waited until the game was finished, as quality's always better than synergy (for the player anyway).

The game isn't supported by ScummVM so I'm going to install it to a directory called "STFU" in DOSBox and cross my fingers. I'm sure it'll be fine though. In fact DOSBox is probably more likely to run the game than your average DOS PC, and with far less messing around with memory managers.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Consortium (PC)

Developer:Interdimensional Games|Release Date:2014|Systems:Windows

This week on Super Adventures I'm celebrating Star Trek's 50th anniversary by playing games with some connection to the series. Today I'm sharing screenshots from the first few hours of CONSORTIUM, a game that likes to SHOUT its name all over its Steam page. What does this have to do with 'Star Trek'? Well... I've read a few people say it's a bit like 'Star Trek: The Next Generation', except on a plane. And that's pretty much the only link.

Consortium's one of those Kickstarter success stories, though they didn't quite bring in millions. Or even hundreds of thousands. But what they got was apparently enough to finish an ambitious first person, guns and chats, RPG type of game, which is cool because that's one of my favourite genres.

This is a heavily story based game so I'm inevitably going to be spoiling a lot of things you might not want spoiled here. Though its description claims that "the story unfolds based largely on your actions," so if that's true I'm only spoiling one possible outcome! I won't give away the answer to the game's big mystery though, assuming I even manage to solve it.

(You can make screenshots moderately more visible by clicking on them.)

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Robotrek (SNES)

Robotrek title screen
Developer:Quintet/ANCIENT|Release Date:1994|Systems:Super Nintendo

Today on Super Adventures I'm still celebrating Star Trek's 50th anniversary by playing games with some tiny tiny link to the franchise. In this case it's just one word and I think you know which.

Well, half a word to be precise. There's just enough of a gap in the middle of that logo for doubt but I assure you that it's called Robotrek, and it's another JRPG! So this is going to take me a little longer to write about than Ice Trek a few days back, but I'm willing to make this sacrifice for you. In fact the game was requested a while back, but I never write down the dates so I don't know when. I've narrowed it down to some time between last week and 2011 though.

Of course the only way to fairly judge an RPG is to play it all the way through, learn how combat evolves and see if the story progresses through to a satisfying ending. So it's lucky for me I don't fairly judge games, because I've got other things to do this week! But I'll give it until the end of the first proper boss at least, to get a good idea about how it plays and show it off.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Stardew Valley (PC)

Stardew Valley title screen
Developer:ConcernedApe|Release Date:2016|Systems:Windows, Mac, Linux

This week on Super Adventures, my Star Trek 50th Anniversary Celebration drags on to day four with a game that's only one word away from being called Star Trek Valley. This was actually a surprise gift from a friend who was aware I was planning a 'Star Trek' week so there may be other secret connections to the venerable sci-fi franchise... but I doubt it.

I've never played Stardew Valley before, or read a review, or watched a Let's Play, but I do know a couple of things about it: first, it's very similar to the Harvest Moon games, which bored the crap out of me last time I tried one, and second, it's the first 2016 game on my site! I'm visiting the present day for the first time in a long while, though you wouldn't know it from its SNES-era pixelwork.

But unlike your typical SNES game this was put together by just one guy: a bloke called ConcernedApe (aka. Eric Barone) who did the programming, writing, art, music... basically everything. So hopefully the things he's good at make up for the things he's not. Unless he's good at everything, in which case I already hate him.

(Click the images to view them at their original resolution! They won't look much different though to be honest.)

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Ice Trek (Intellivision)

Developer:Imagic|Release Date:1983|Systems:Intellivision

This week on Super Adventures, my Star Trek 50th Anniversary Week continues with Ice Trek!

Chances of this having anything to do with 'Star Trek' aside from the name seem kind of slim, but it gave me an excuse to get an Intellivision game on my site at last. Now I get to make a new category for it on my 'Console Games' page!

The low detail nature of the game means that I can (and will) go crazy with the GIFs this time, but some of them might get a bit flickery. Game developers loved flickering back in the 80s. Just giving you a heads up.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Stargate (SNES/Mega Drive)

Stargate SNES title screen
Developer:Probe/Tantalus|Release Date:1995|Systems:SNES, Mega Drive/Genesis

This week on Super Adventures I'm still celebrating Star Trek's 50th anniversary by playing games that have some vague connection to the series. This one's got 'Star' in the title, it's set on another planet, and it's based on a long running movie/TV franchise, so it's ticking lots of boxes. In fact the 'Stargate' TV spin-offs were often the closest you can get to proper 'Star Trek' without getting sued by both CBS and Paramount.

But Stargate the game is an adaptation of the original 1994 movie that kicked the franchise off, released a year after the film for Super Nintendo and Genesis/Mega Drive consoles. That's the SNES title screen you're looking at up there, with its narrow resolution and extra colours, but I'll be getting around to the the Sega version as well eventually.

'Stargate' isn't a particularly great film, but it cheats by having an iconic theme by Bond composer David Arnold powerful enough to make scenes of extras walking across a desert outside of Yuma, Arizona feel like the most epic sci-fi adventure since 'Return of the Jedi'... which used the place for Tatooine now that I think about it. Anyway, if there's one thing that absolutely works about that movie it's the music, so of course the game drops it entirely, replacing it with a title theme that sounds like it's been borrowed from an Amiga game. It's not all that bad though really, here have a YouTube link if you're curious.

There'll be movie SPOILERS below this point, so stop reading here unless you've seen it or don't care.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Redshirt (PC)

Redshirt title screen
Developer:The Tiniest Shark|Release Date:2013|Systems:Win, Mac, Linux

This week on Super Adventures I'm celebrating the 50th anniversary of 'Star Trek' by playing a new Trek game each and every day! Or at least that was the plan, until I remembered that a: most of my readers don't want to see seven Star Trek games in a row, and b: I don't have seven Star Trek games I haven't played already. Also most Star Trek games are crap anyway!

So instead I'm playing seven games with a some kind of tenuous connection to the venerable sci-fi franchise, mostly just games with 'Star' or 'Trek' in the title to be honest, starting with recent indie game Redshirt by miniature microstudio The Tiniest Shark (aka. Dr Mitu Khandaker-Kokoris).

I know next to nothing about this game, but one thing I do know is that it's a sci-fi themed satire simulating Facebook... in space! So I'm not exactly the target audience, as I quit the site about the same time it started asking me what schools I went to. I ain't got no time for nosey websites. These days the closest I come to social networking is occasionally remembering to put site updates on Twitter (follow @RayHardgrit on Twitter for site updates!!)

I've seen a few of them 'Star Trek's though, so that's got to help.

(Click the screenshots to expand them to exciting new dimensions).

Semi-Random Game Box