Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Amulets & Armor (MS-DOS) - Guest Post

This week on Super Adventures, guest poster mecha-neko is playing a DOS RPG from 1997! He rarely ever writes about RPGs, so this one must be something... special.

For a change, instead of playing something weird that I've never played before, I'm going to play something I'm very familiar with from my childhood.

Amulets and Armor title screen dos
Developer:United Software Artists|Release Date:January 1997
(re-released 26th April 2013)
|Systems:MS-DOS, Windows

This is Amulets & Armor. It's an RPG! Except it's not. It's an FPS! Except it's not. And it's multiplayer, except it's not. It's a little of everything.

I've been meaning to play and write about this game for years, but I've never felt like I'd be able to do it justice. When I was but a lad and loved playing shareware demos on the family PC (alright, I still do), I would play the one level demo of this a lot. I liked the ambience and the cartoons in Interpose, but Amulets & Armor is the game I actually played.

I only had the demo back then, but it was re-released in 2013 as a free full game for both MS-DOS and Windows, with the source code available for boffins as well. If you'd like to hear a little bit about why you've never heard of the game, click here, but I'll be focusing on just playing the full DOS version today.

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Landstalker: The Treasures of King Nole (Genesis/Mega Drive) - Replay

Landstalker title screen PAL
Developer:Climax|Release Date:1993 (1992 in Japan)|Systems:Mega Drive/Genesis

This week on Super Adventures I'm playing isometric action-adventure game Landstalker: The Treasures of King Nole! I've already written about it once before but now I'm playing it again.

This is the second game I've revisited recently, after Nox, so I guess it's finally happened: I've finally played through every single video game ever released on every console and computer and now all I can do is circle around and start replaying them all. Actually wait, I just thought of something else I could've played: isometric action-adventure game Equinox. Though after checking out Nox, AquaNox and Anachronox in a row I'm kind of 'nox'd out at the moment to be honest.

It's been almost ten years since I last played Landstalker and I remember very little about it... though that's probably because I saw very little of it. It seems that the game lost my interest right away and I only stuck with it long enough to find an enemy to hit. In my defence the site was only six days old at the time and Landstalker was my 74th article that week... wait, that's not a defence, that's an admission of insanity! What the hell was I thinking?

These days I try to at least see what a game plays like before turning it off. Plus sometimes I even do research! For this game I decided to research whether the original Japanese version also has a melted version of the Turrican II logo on its title screen, and it does. In fact it has the exact same logo, as the game is called Landstalker in Japan as well.

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Noctropolis (PC)

Noctropolis title screen
Developer:Flashpoint|Release Date:1994|Systems:DOS (EE version: Windows, Linux, macOS)

This week on Super Adventures, I'm playing my fourth PC game in a row! This one's from the mid 90s though, so I've escaped 2001 at least.

Noctropolis is an "adult graphic adventure", which is apparently a lot like a regular adventure, except a couple of hours in you get to see an actress's breasts for a few seconds. You won't find a screenshot of it here though, this site's safe for work (also I'll have stopped playing ages before then).

I own the game on Steam so that means I'm playing the Enhanced Edition released by Nightdive a few years back. It doesn't actually say that, it's listed in my game library as just 'Noctropolis', but it didn't boot up DOSBox when I started it so it must be the new version. Oh hang on, they mention it on the store page: "New Enhanced Edition for Steam!" So that's cleared that up.

Man, this music on the title screen sounds like it's going to break into a Batman theme at any moment. Not any particular Batman theme, just a Batman theme. That's probably a good sign, as the game's supposed to be going for a comic book tone. In fact they were originally going after a comic book licence, but they couldn't get hold of one and had to make up their own setting instead. They apparently tried to approach this problem from the other direction and get a comic book published based on the game, but their meeting with legendary artist Rob Liefeld at Image didn't lead to anything.

Before I start going through the game I feel like I should warn you that it gets a bit edgy at times. To put it bluntly, a main character gets raped off-screen and it's not dealt with all that tactfully.

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Anachronox (PC)

Anachronox logo
Developer:Ion Storm|Release Date:2001|Systems:Windows

Deus Ex-style spinning logo!

This week on Super Adventures, it's Ion Storm's fourth game (of six), Anachronox! It was supposed to come out much earlier than that, but then that was true of everything Ion Storm's Dallas studio worked on. Dominion: Storm over Gift 3 was supposed to be released in 1997 and came out a year later in 98, Daikatana was also supposed to hit shelves in 97 and was eventually finished three years later in 2000, and Anachronox was planned for 1998 and was finally released in 2001. It's not really a mystery why the Dallas studio was closed down the month after Anachronox's release, as even if the games had sold well (they hadn't) they must have been way way over budget.

The company's second studio in Austin had a lot more success with the legendary Deus Ex, and survived a few years longer to produce the considerably less legendary Deus Ex: Invisible War and a third Thief game, Deadly Shadows. Which means that during its life Ion Storm released Dominion, Daikatana, Deus Ex, Deus Ex 2, Deadly Shadows... and Anachronox. One of these titles doesn't match the pattern. They should've called this Danachronox, or Daikatanachronox.

Ion Storm was formed by John Romero and Tom Hall, who had both gotten pushed out of id Software due to creative differences. I haven't read Masters of Doom, but it seems like they wanted to be creative, while John Carmack wanted to get games finished. In fact Hall was technically lead designer on Doom, but the character-driven story he'd come up with was thrown out, because who even needs story in video games? To be fair, Doom did just fine without it, but Anachronox was Hall's project, and this time no one was going to stop him putting in all the story and characters and space adventure he wanted.

Hopefully that'll turn out to be a good thing.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

AquaNox (PC)

AquaNox title screen
Developer:Massive Development|Release Date:2001|Systems:Windows

This week on Super Adventures I'm still in the early 2000s and I'm still on PC, but I've jumped ahead by one year to play 2001 submarine shooter AquaNox.

I own this one on CD with a proper box and a proper manual, but I'm playing the Steam version instead because Windows 10 apparently wants nothing to do with its SafeDisc DRM. A lot of the games on my PC shelf have the same issue, which is a bit of a pain seeing as I didn't get them just so they could take up space! I got them so that they'd be there when I was ready to play them in a decade or two.

Speaking of the box, I got it out to have a look and there's no mention on it anywhere that this is actually a sequel to a 1996 game called Archimedean Dynasty. It apparently has "34 dangerous missions", an "atmospheric 3D soundtrack" and "an absorbing storyline that provides depth to the relentless action", but there's no hint that it's game #2.

There's actually three games in the AquaNox series, though AquaNox: Deep Descent is supposed to be out any day now, which will bring the number to four. There was going to be a PlayStation 2 game as well, AquaNox: The Angel's Tears, but that was outright cancelled for not passing Sony's software quality assurance test! I'm sure the developer could've fixed it, unfortunately they'd already been closed down by that point.

Anyway, it's been a long time since I played Archimedean Dynasty and I've never played this before so I'm not 100% sure what to expect here, but I'm optimistic. I like space shooters and some sky shooters, so I think I could find the fun in a sea shooter.

Semi-Random Game Box