Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Body Harvest (N64)

Body Harvest N64 title screen PAL
Developer: DMA Design | Release Date: 1998 | Systems: N64

I've always wondered why this space station has a skull painted on it. Up there at the top, next to the dish.

Anyway it's Super Adventures' 12th birthday today yesterday, so I figured I should write about a video game or something to celebrate. It has to be something a little bit special though, so I'm checking out DMA Design's notorious time-travelling alien-slaying action-adventure Body Harvest, on the Nintendo 64.

One thing I like about this era is that console designers were all making the leap to full 3D using different approaches, so you can tell an N64 game from a PlayStation game instantly just by looking at a screenshot. Even multiplatform games look different on each system. Body Harvest is a true N64 exclusive though. In fact it was supposed to be a launch title for the console, but original publisher Nintendo wasn't impressed with what DMA were coming up with. It didn't make it onto the system until two years later, when Gremlin Interactive bought DMA and published it themselves in the EU.

In fact it ended up getting released a month or so before DMA Design's other N64 game Space Station Silicon Valley. Except in America, where the two games were released a day apart! This was a bit of a problem as it meant they both came out right before The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and Nintendo fans were saving their pennies for what was certainly going to be the safer bet. Then a year later DMA released Grand Theft Auto 2, which was the beginning of the company's 'making nothing but GTA games for the rest of all eternity' era. Well okay they released Manhunt in 2003 shortly after becoming Rockstar North, but aside from that it's been all GTA as far as the eye can see.

Okay I'm going to do what I always do: try the game for an hour or so, type my reactions under screenshots, and then write a long review at the end with an unearned tone of authority, as if experiencing an hour of gameplay is enough to really get what a game is like.

Saturday, 31 December 2022

Super AiG Screenshots of the Year: 2022


It's that time of year where people look back over what they've been up to over the last year and post about it on the internet. Even Steam's doing it now with their new Steam Replay feature. But I've been revisiting the last 12 months of screenshots at the end of the year since 2011, so you're probably not surprised to be reading yet another Super Adventures Screenshots of the Year!

I've gone through every post this year, skimmed through 700 images and picked out the shiny ones that caught my eye. There'll be nothing new here if you've been keeping up, but the screenshots are the best part of my site and this time there'll be fewer words underneath to distract from them. Though if you do want to go back and read the full write up, you can click the game's name to be teleported over there.

Wednesday, 28 December 2022

Oni (PC)

Oni PC splash screen
Developer: Bungie | Release Date: 2001
| Systems: PC, PS2, Mac

This week on Super Adventures, I'm playing third person action game Oni, by Bungie, the developers of the Marathon, Halo and Destiny franchises! You can tell they're the ones who made it as their name is right there in the corner underneath the title.

Though hang on, it says 'developed by Rockstar' all over every copy I own, and there's no one from Bungie credited in the manual. So that's kind of weird.

It was ported to the PlayStation 2 by Rockstar Canada, so it makes sense that the logo would be on that version, but I'm not sure why it's on the PC game. I get that the credits were complicated by Take-Two acquiring the rights and Microsoft acquiring the company, but that doesn't mean it was retroactively developed by someone else! It might explain why it never made it to digital stores though.

Unfortunately Windows 10 didn't want to install it off the CD, so I ended up having to use Universal Extractor to get the files out of the installer and then run it with the fan-made Anniversary Edition. The thing includes a bunch of fixes and a huge list of mods to install, so it seems like the game has had a lot of support from its fans over the years. But it also stuck the words "Anniversary Edition" on my title screen, so I switched to playing the OniX rebuild instead. They both seem pretty authentic though from what I can tell.

I wish I could warn you about SPOILERS, though I don't think I'm going to make it that far to be honest. I remember the game having some serious difficulty spikes, mostly involving lasers. I also remember it looking kind of bad for its time, though that's maybe less of an issue 20 years later.

Monday, 28 November 2022

Operation GII (Demo) (Amiga) - Guest Post

The week on Super Adventures, guest reviewer mecha-neko has dug up something properly obscure for you. It's the demo for a cancelled Amiga first person shooter called Operation Gii! Uh, Operation G2 sorry.

All these Alien Breed games Ray has been playing has inspired me some! I'm going to play a sci-fi shooty survival game of my own.

Operation G2 Operation GII Amiga Demo Psygnosis title screen
Developer:Psygnosis|Release Date:August 1994 (Demo)|Systems:Amiga

"Are you ready to battle with rogue robots on a radio-active spaceship in our fab Coverdisk demo?"

You bet I am, Amiga Format!

Monday, 14 November 2022

Black (Xbox)

Black Criterion title screen Xbox One
Developer:Criterion|Release Date:2006|Systems:Xbox, PS2

This week on Super Adventures, I'm playing a first person shooter from the dark times of PC gaming, where first person shooters had migrated to consoles and didn't always get ported back (I'm still waiting on The Darkness and the TimeSplitters games to suddenly appear on Steam). 

Black
is exclusive to the Xbox and PlayStation 2, which means it never got a release that featured mouse controls and quicksaves. The game did make it onto Microsoft's backward compatibility list though, meaning that I can play it on the Xbox One with an increased resolution and presumably a more stable framerate! So that's what I'm going to do.

The game was developed by Criterion, who are more famous for racing games like Burnout Paradise and Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012). They decided to use their own engine for it, RenderWare, which was practically the Unreal Engine of the PS2-era, allowing developers to make cross-platform games without knowing all the dark arcane secrets of the hardware. In fact it was used in almost 300 games before EA decided they wanted out of the engine licensing business. It turned up in some pretty big name titles as well, like Grand Theft Auto 3, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3, Suikoden 3, Broken Sword 3 and Max Payne 2.

I'm sure I've played Black before, many years ago, but I only got about halfway through and my memories are really fuzzy. I remember that it had a forest level, a church level and a factory level, but that's about it. I feel like I was impressed by it somehow though. Hopefully there'll be something special about it that'll make it worth showing off, otherwise this is going to be a bit of a disappointment.

Monday, 31 October 2022

Alone in the Dark (MS-DOS) - Part 2

Today on Super Adventures, I'm going to try to beat the original Alone in the Dark!

This is the second and final part of my two-part article, so you'll probably want to check out PART ONE first. I wrote all about all kinds of stuff, even mentioned Resident Evil a couple of times.

One thing I didn't talk about though, and it's fairly important, is that the game came out in late 1992... so this is its 30th anniversary! It's getting a remake soon to celebrate and from what I can tell it's the kind of reimagining where they take all the stuff from the original game and put it to one side so they can make up a bunch of other stuff instead. I feel like it'll probably have better combat though.

Okay this is the last part of my Alone in the Dark playthrough and I'm playing this with the intent to finally finish it, so beyond this point the SPOILERS will be extensive. With any luck. I mean I can't make any promises here, you can count the number of true survival horror games I've completed on one hand, with all the fingers severed, but maybe this will be the first!

Alone in the Dark (MS-DOS) - Part 1

Alone in the Dark title screen 1992
Developer: Infogrames
| Release Date: 1992 (CD version 1993)
| Systems: DOS, PC-98, FM Towns, 3DO, Mac, Archimedes

This week on Super Adventures, I'm playing the Guinness World Record holder for "First 3D survival-horror videogame": Alone in the Dark! I mean the original one, obviously. A sequel tried to steal its name in 2008, but the original proved too powerful and the PS3 release renamed it to Alone in the Dark: Inferno, so as far as I'm concerned this is the only true Alone in the Dark.

Well, except for the classic Uwe Boll movie I mean.

I know everyone that talks about Alone in the Dark also has to mention Resident Evil, but I think it's funny how the series both started off as critically-acclaimed genre pioneers and then suffered very different fates. Resident Evil has had seven million sequels and remakes, many of them pretty great, while the Alone in the Dark games have been racing to catch up to their own movie series down at the bottom of Metacritic. There's a bit of a disparity in how the two franchises are regarded these days, and it'd take a lot more than a terrible Netflix series to change that.

But I still remember how blown away I was when I saw the first Alone in the Dark previewed on the TV series Bad Influence! back when I was a tiny baby. It looked so much more advanced than anything I'd played on the Amiga, SNES or Mega Drive. I didn't know much about PC's at that point, but I was sold, I wanted one.

Then a few years later my family actually got a PC! I loaded up Alone in the Dark on it, pushed some furniture around, got killed by a monster, and turned it off to play Theme Hospital or Sam and Max or something instead. (I'm not a big fan of horror games to be honest). So I have played through first few rooms before, I'm very familiar with them, but otherwise I'm going into the game blind. I don't know what happens next or anything about the story.

Okay, I'm going to be playing the version I just bought off GOG (which I believe is just the 1993 DOS CD version), and I'm going to be writing about it in two parts. This first part is going to be a regular Super Adventures article where I stick with it for an hour and whine about how hard it is, but in the second part I am going to try to finish it. I want to see what this game actually is! So there will be moderate SPOILERS in the first part and hopefully some extreme spoilers in the second.

Semi-Random Game Box