Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Super Adventures in Pinball

This week on Super Adventures, I felt like writing about pinball games. A whole lot of pinball games.

Actually all I really wanted to do was stitch some screenshots together and show off lots of giant-sized images of virtual pinball tables, but I really have to write something underneath them. It's a bit awkward though, as I don't really know anything about pinball, plus I suck at it. I don't even know what I'm going to type for all these games, seeing as every single one of them is going to be about using flippers to smack a ball into targets. But I can at least tell whether or not I'm enjoying something and sometimes I can even pin down why that is.

I'll be writing about 23 pinball games in total, spanning 1980 to 1997 (to be honest I was aiming for 15 and missed), and they'll arranged in chronological order so they'll get prettier as you scroll down... theoretically. They certainly won't look any worse than the first game does.

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Dragon Warrior VII / Dragon Quest VII (PSX) - Part 2

This week on Super Adventures, I'm still playing Dragon Warrior VII, a game that never actually starts.

It'd better give me some gameplay soon though, because there's not going to be a part three to this. There's countless other shiny things competing for my attention and I'm sure your patience isn't infinite either.

(If you want to jump back to part one click any of these words.)

Dragon Warrior VII / Dragon Quest VII (PSX) - Part 1

Developer: Heartbeat | Release Date: 2001 NA (2000 JP)
| Systems: PSX, 3DS, iOS, Android

This week on Super Adventures, it's Dragon Quest VII! Or Dragon Warrior VII if you're in the US (even though it was the fifth game released there).

If you're in Europe it's... nothing at all, because it just didn't come out here. We had to wait until until the 3DS remake was released 16 years later (with the new subtitle Fragments of the Forgotten Past). Enix basically ignored Europe so Dragon Quest wasn't a thing over here and I have absolutely zero knowledge about this game. Well, except for what I've just read on Wikipedia. It's apparently number 20th on the PlayStation's all-time best selling games list with 4.1 million sales!

The thing is, it was only sold in Japan and the US, and in America it sold just 200,000 copies over its lifetime, so that means 95% of those 4.1 million sales were in Japan alone. For comparison, Final Fantasy VII sold 330,000 copies in the US in its first weekend and it's currently up to 12.8 million sales worldwide (it's number 2 on the PlayStation all-time list). That one did come out in Europe btw.

I did another five minutes of research and learned that this was the last of the two Dragon Quest games made by Heartbeat, as they took a break afterwards and then never came back. I guess making a game this huge takes it out of you, especially when you're fully aware how massive the fanbase is. This was also the final main series Dragon Quest game to be published by Enix... because they merged with their nemesis Square in 2003. On the other hand, it's the first of the series to be released on the PlayStation, and it somehow came out after Final Fantasy VII, VIII and IX. In fact the US version was released just six weeks before Final Fantasy X arrived there on the PS2!

Of course none of these games came out on the Nintendo 64, because Nintendo had pretty much opted out of JRPGs for that generation by opting to use low capacity cartridges instead of CDs. Though the game was originally announced for the N64DD!

I feel like I'm forgetting something. Oh right, this year I'm playing games that made it onto someone's 'top 10' list for whatever reason, and Dragon Quest VII was voted the 9th best game ever made on the 2006 Famitsu reader's poll. I'm going to give it an hour or so and see if I agree.

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Loom (MS-DOS)

Developer: Lucasfilm Games | Release Date: 1990 | Systems: PC, Mac, Amiga, Atari ST, TurboGrafx-CD, FM Towns

This week on Super Adventures, I'm writing about Loom, one of the final point and click adventures by Lucasfilm Games (because they became LucasArts later on that year). Lucasfilm Games was actually revived this January, but only as a brand to stick on licenced third-party games, so that's not much to cheer about.

My gimmick for Super Adventures this year is that I'm playing games that have appeared in someone's top ten list, and Loom made it to #8 in IGN's Top 10 LucasArts Adventure Games list (it could've possibly made it higher, but they were listed in chronological order). You might be wondering if LucasArts even released more than 10 adventure games, and they actually did! But only barely. (Spoilers: Zak McKracken and Escape from Monkey Island didn't make their list.)

Loom's maybe not LucasArts' most famous adventure game, in fact I imagine a lot of people only know about it because of the dude with the 'Ask Me About Loom' badge in Monkey Island, but I believe it's fairly well liked. Personally though I don't have an opinion on the game, because I remember almost nothing about it. I've definitely finished it before, played through the whole thing, but I have zero memory of it past the first 10 minutes. Possibly not a good sign, but at least it'll be new to me!

As usual I'm planning to play the first hour or so of the game and then quit so I don't ruin the whole damn thing for people, but I promise you'll get more than your recommended daily amount of screenshots.

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Handkerchief. (Demo) (PC) - Guest Post

This week on Super Adventures, rogue guest reviewer mecha-neko has returned to dredge up a forgotten piece of PC history. And this time he's even found an ancient demo of it so you can try it for yourself!

Handkerchief doesn't exactly fit in with my 'games from a top 10 list' theme I've been going with this year, as it's so obscure that even the people making 'Top 10 Most Obscure PC Games' lists apparently haven't heard about it. But whenever mecha-neko plays a game I get a week off, so I'm giving the theme a week off as well.

Handkerchief Demo PC Windows title screen
Developer:Opus Corp.|Release Date:22nd September 2000 (Full game)|Systems:Windows

Hello everyone! It's my tenth anniversary of writing for Super Adventures! It seems like just yesterday that I was rummaging through mouldy disks and finding gems like David Wolf: Secret Agent, and doing foolish things like trying out sports games.

To mark the occasion, I'm playing a much-loved game from my secret past. It's one that doesn't appear on any Top Ten lists that I can find, sorry Ray. This is Handkerchief., a demo that I used to play endlessly back in 2000, over twenty years ago!

Let's go!

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Drakengard (PS2)

Drakengard title screen
Developer:Cavia|Release Date:2004 (2003 JP)|Systems:PlayStation 2

Love. Crimson blood. Poison. Eternity. Revenge. Two. Sacrifice. Mother. Ritual. Scarlet. Prayers. Heresy. Hell. Solitude. Clouded skies. Madness. Goddess. The World. Watchers. Adore. Us.
That's what a voice says if you leave the title screen on too long... so that's different. And a little creepy. I don't know what any of it means, but then I don't know anything about this game. Except that it made it onto thegamer.com's 10 Great Games With Storylines That Didn't Make Sense list.

Oh, this week on Super Adventures, I'm playing Drakengard, or Drag-On Dragoon as it's known in Japan. The original title was considered to be wrong for a western audience, and I think they made the right call there.

The game's by defunct developer Cavia, who made an impressive number of anime games seeing as they were only around for 10 years. I mean games based on an anime or manga, like One Piece: Nanatsu Shima no Daihihō, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Dragon Ball Z: Supersonic Warriors etc. They also made two Resident Evil rail shooters and the original Nier, which is actually a Drakengard spin-off.

Here's a fun Drakengard fact for you: there's apparently a model of Neo from The Matrix hidden in the game's files (Twitter link). Some more incredible trivia: a voice says "Square Enix" when the game starts up. It's not up to the standards of the 'say-gah' jingle from Sonic the Hedgehog, but it's handy if you're not sure how to pronounce the publisher's name (it's pronounced Eh-nix, not Eee-nix).

Oh, also it's the PlayStation 2's 21st birthday today, which I only just found out now. It's honestly a coincidence that I had this scheduled to be published on this exact day. A creepy coincidence.

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Micro Machines (Amiga)

Developer: Codemasters | Release Date: 1993 (Amiga)
| Systems: Amiga, NES, SNES, SMS, SMD, GG, CD-i, GB, GBC, DOS

This week on Super Adventures, I'm playing classic overhead racing game Micro Machines! It looks like it's called MicroMachines, but there is apparently a tiny imperceptible space between the words.

It seems a bit redundant to tell you it's a racing game seeing as I've already written up there that it's by Codemasters, but this was from way back in their early days when they were still allowed to dream of other genres. The title Micro Machines also seems like a bit of a giveaway, but I bet they could've found a way to turn it into a platformer if they'd wanted to. It wouldn't have been the first car platformer I've played.

Though hang on, is this actually the first Codemasters developed game I've played for Super Adventures? It doesn't seem likely, but the only other Codemasters game I can think of is Fantasy World Dizzy and that was developed by the Oliver Twins. Wow, 10 years and there's still veteran AAA developers I haven't played anything by. Though they were more of a B game dev before this came out.

My gimmick this year is that I'm only playing games that I've found on top ten lists, and Micro Machines was #6 in 1995s Amiga Power All-Time Top 100 list. Weirdly it started off down at #17 the year before but I guess it grew on them. The game started life on the NES a couple of years earlier, in 1991, but Codemasters didn't exactly have a licence from Nintendo, so they teamed up with Camerica to come up with sneaky ways to get around the lock out chip with their unlicensed cartridges. My favourite is the pass-through cart that comes with a handle to get it back out of your NES, because it's so distinctive looking. No handles on the Amiga disks though, sadly.

The NES game didn't go through quality assurance either, which made things a bit awkward when they found a bug after they'd started producing ROM chips. I don't know how many console games got a hardware patch, but this is apparently one of them as they stuck a device inside to correct the code. No chips soldered onto the Amiga disks though, sadly.

In fact the Amiga game's been a real let down so far and I haven't even turned it on yet.

Semi-Random Game Box