My Dreamcast Top 10

Well let’s get this out of the way straight away, I loved the Dreamcast. Having a mispent childhood stood in seaside arcades, the chance to play these great arcade games at home was irresitable.

But the Dreamcast was far more than arcade perfect conversions, as fun as they were. It had some great sports, epic RPG and hard-core shoot em ups.

But one of the things that made the DC great were the truly original and quirky games available.

The built in modem allowed for playing multiplayer games over the net, including some MMO games, a thing not seen on consoles at the time.  One of the unique things about the modem, was the ability to play games like Quake 3 against people playing the games on a PC.

Other peripherals available for the Dreamcast included a fishing rod controller, a camera, keyboard, mouse and maracas!

So here goes my top 10 Dreamcast games (Not in order).

1) Soul caliber

A brilliant fighter with graphics that showed the power of the DC off compared to PSX / N64. The animation was super-smooth. What really kept me engaged was the variety of game modes and the amount of trophies and unlockable content, which again was unusual for the time.

2) Virtual Tennis 1 & 2

I loved these games, the graphics seemed amazing at the time and the gameplay while simple was engaging. What extended the lifetime of the game was the career mode, and the associated training mini games.

3. Jet Set Radio

Mainly remembered for its then grounbreaking cell shades graphics, but ithad brilliant gameplay too. 

A cell shaded, skating / graffiti simulator, with funky music. Nuff said.

4. Skies of Arcadia

A pirate themed RPG  set on flying ships, what more do you want. A great game on a system that had only a few (but quality) RPGs. 

5. Marvel Vs Capcom 1 & 2

6. Powerstone 1 & 2

A frantic 4 person beat Em, where the scenery is destroyable, places can access all sorts of cool weapons and power ups.

7. Metropolis Street Racer

Gorgeous looking racing game. Race real cars through the streets of real cities. Unlocking cars to store in your garage, a kudos system that gave points forcstylish dtiving, over 250 courses set in recreations of real cities, multiple radio stations, real cars and damage. This game was well ahead of its time and rivals.

8. Crazy Taxi 1 & 2

Surely everyone knows crazy taxi, an arcade perfect port of a fun racing game. Known for its punk soundtrack and arcade frenetic action. 

9. Resident Evil: Code Veronica

A Dreamcast ‘exclusive ‘  that was later released on other systems. The first resident evil game to not use pre rendered backgrounds. Veronica had real time 3d rendered backgrounds and a dynamic camera. 

10. Headhunter

You play a bounty hunter suffering from amnesia. A story driven 3rd person shooter. Some driving sections involve driving to different sections of the city on your trusty motorbike.

A classy game with good visuals, engaging cut scenes and a specially commissioned soundtrack recorded at Abbey road studios with an orchestra.

11. Shenmue 1 & 2

Sega’ s open world masterpiece. A Chinese cinema inspired revenge, action adventure game. With mini games, real life simulator elements and brawling martial arts sections. Go into an arcade and play classic arcade games, get a job as a fork lift truck driver or go gambling. This game provided a level of detail and freedom that hadn’t been seen before, with day and night cycles and people who went about their daily routines. 

I’m back!

Of all the most life changing experiences of my life, the one I remember most happened when I was a small boy.

When I was a school boy, girls did home economics, a code for cooking and boys did cdt, a code for spending an hour with various sharp tools while hoping not to injure yourself with them.
These lessons were the first time in my life I got to actually experience making stuff with my hands, whether it was a small useful utensil or piece of avant-garde object d’art. And by object d’art I mean wood work projects I messed up so bad you couldn’t tell what they were supposed to be.

Things were different back then, the summer holidays seemed to last for ever and merge into one long session of building dens, playing football and generally just hanging around in ‘the backs’ or local parks. If you were lucky enough to actually go abroad you were considered posh even if the holiday consisted of stopping in a caravan in Spain trying to avoid the torrential rain, while complaining about the local food. You would still be able to go back to school and regale your chums with tales of sunshine, strange customs and holiday romances. Usually holiday romances meant meeting a girl in the hotel pool who didn’t ignore you all the time.

How times have changed. Now  children have an abundance of options for home entertainment. From games consoles with realistic graphics to tablets constantly connected to the internet. We’ve entered an age when everyone is constantly connected to each other, and people can let the world know what they’re doing every BLOODY SECOND OF THE DAY!  AND ARE WE BETTER OFF FOR IT?! Yes I think so, otherwise how would I be able to cyber-stalk old girlfriends and correct people I barley know talking about subjects I know nothing about,  thanks Wikipedia.  Also you wonderful people wouldn’t be able to read this amazing blog. Welcome back, it’s been a while.

Modern Boardgames 101: A useful guide to modern boardgames through the medium of comparison to classic games

I would like,  if I may, to gently take your hand and lead you on a journey of discovery. While I admit to being no expert, I have gained enough knowledge and game time to help point gaming novices, on the rocky road of boardgame discovery, in the right direction.

Welcome to the golden age of boardgames. Boardgames are having a bit of a renaissance at the moment, the games are better designed, better made and are selling a lot better, so here is my guide to modern boardgames. I think the easiest way to introduce new players to modern games is to find what type of games interest them. So what I plan to do is list some classic games and then suggest games along similar themes,  best I can. All the suggestions have similar mechanics and most improve on the original in some way. Although i might have taken a few liberties with the poker ones


Monopoly

Suggestions: Lords of Vegas, Alhambra, Ticket to Ride

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Lords of Vegas

Spotlight: take on the role of a Casino developer in LORDS OF VEGAS, buy lots on the strip, build casinos, hire casino managers, try to buy or trade for other players lots or just gamble in casinos.


Yatzee

Suggestions: King of Tokyo, King of New York, Zombie Dice

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King Of Tokyo

Spotlight: Become the monster fighting for control of Tokyo in your very on Kaiju movie. If you’re a fan of Godzilla, King Kong or any of those classic monster movies you’ll love this game. At it’s heart KING OF TOKYO is a simple ‘push your luck’ dice game, where each player rolls the dice to earn victory points, heal or attack other players.  At the start of each turn, you roll six dice. The dice show the following six symbols: 1, 2, or 3 Victory Points, Energy, Heal, and Attack. Over three successive throws, choose whether to keep or discard each die in order to win victory points, gain energy, restore health, or attack other players into understanding that Tokyo is YOUR territory.


Cluedo

Suggestions: Betrayal At House On The Hill, Mystery Of The Abbey

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Betrayal At House On The Hill

Spotlight: While mystery of the abbey might have more things in common with Cluedo, I’m going to recommend BETRAYAL AT HOUSE ON THE HILL,
Choose a character, explore an haunted house, collect items, don’t die. See the full review i’ve done on this game previously.


Poker

Suggestions: Coup, Werewolf, Cash & Guns

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Coup

Spotlight: COUP is a game of bluffing. Each player as two cards, each card represents a character which gives the player a special power. There are 5 different characters and each character is on 3 cards, making 15 cards in total. Each turn a player may use one of the powers on his two cards, or take two coins or trade 7 coins to get rid of one of your opponents cards. Fun part is no one knows what cards you have, and you don’t have to show your card when you use them, meaning you could pretend to have any card. If someone calls your bluff and you don’t have the card you said you lose that card, but if you do have the card your opponent loses one of his cards and you exchange your card for a new one. Lose both your cards and your out of the game.


Risk

Suggestions: Small World, Memoir 44

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Memoir 44

Mousetrap

Suggestions: Terror in Meeple City

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Terror In Meeple City

Heroquest

Suggestions: Descent, Mice And Mystics

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Descent

Mmm that’s Some Sweet Tasting PI

So today I received my Raspberry Pi, very excited by this. I’ve been meaning to get one since they came out and with the release of the new model 2 (6 times faster) I decided to take the plunge, and I’m very happy.

For those that don’t know a raspberry Pi is a credit card sized computer that has caught the collective geek imagination, they have been used for everything from media centres to controllers for robots. So at fo less than £30 I decided to invest in one.

Raspbian, the Raspberry Pi version of the Linux operating system Debian, runs very fast on the  quad core processor.

My first experiment is turn the little computer that could into a emulation box, I’ll let you know how I get on, and include step by step instructions once I’ve got it figured. Ciao.

Retro Reviews – Defender of The Crown

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I remember this game fondly, but one of the stand out memories I have is playing it on the C64 being awed by the graphics, then looking at the back of the box and seeing screen shots of the Atari ST version. All I can say is my mind was blown. So  a few years later down the track I managed to get hold of the Amiga version, and lets just say my buckles were swashed and all my Hoods were Robined… I realise that last part doesn’t make sense but you get what I mean.

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Defender of The Crown styled it’s self, like many of the Cinemaware games, as a interactive movie. I’d describe it as a “Errol Flynn Em Up”, mainly made up of a light strategy game with some cool arcade-y parts.

I’m going to cover several different formats in this review, so if you missed the game the first time round you can decide which version of the game is worth seeking out to play.

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C64 – Does a good job of bringing DOTC to the 8 bit platform
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Atari ST- better than C64, but not as noticeable until you get into actual game play,

Defender of The Crown was released on lots of formats including PC, Amstrad, C64, Atari St, Amiga, Nes, Mac and Gameboy.  Some versions did a better job of representing the game than others. Two versions in particular are notorious for their bad visuals, all of which I’ll get to later.

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Atari ST Map

First an overview of the game. The year is 1149, the king returns from the holy land and grants six of knights land, wealth and power. Not long after the king is assassinated, sending the kingdom in to chaos. It’s your job to raise an army and return peace to the kingdom, with a little help from Robin Hood! The main game screen is a map of England split into territories, to win the game you must own all the territories. The player must amass armies and fight for control of opponents’ castles. The player may engage enemy armies in battle, loot or lay siege to opposing castles. Territories can also be won in the periodic jousting contests. From time to time the player may attempt to rescue a damsel in distress and can appeal for help from the legendary bandit Robin Hood.

The most fun part of the game was the mini games though, the most  fun of which was holding a tournament, the graphics on the Amiga version, which was the original version, were jaw dropping for the time.

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Amiga jousting

At this point if worth noting that not all the versions had such lush graphics, two versions in particular were noted for their less attractive graphics.

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NES

The NES version struggled technically to run the game and while the chunky graphics had a charm they failed to capture the cinematic atmosphere of the original.

The Commodore 64 version was the version to have on the 8bit platforms.

The other version often derided for having the worst graphics was the PC version. This was a time when PC’s ran DOS instead of windows and although they had much more raw processing power and much more memory than the Amiga, they couldn’t compete with the Amigas slick graphics and presentation, This would change over time, and it’s worth pointing out that a much updated Windows CD version came out 17 years later.

PC
PC Version

So we know the Amiga version was the original, and technically and graphically the best but what of the other versions. Well when the game got converted to other formats, namely the Atari ST, extra game play elements were added that improved the game.

Flaming balls for the catapult, more varied castles and locations, better fighting scenes and battlefield scenes were all added to the game.

Before I wrap up, I must point out that although the game had beautiful graphics, the sound was a primitive even for the time, while it had adequate music I just expected a bit more especially  on the Amiga and ST versions.

I’ll include a few screenshots of the various versions so you can start to make your own mind up. For me it’s hard to beat the Amiga version, but the Atari ST version does a good job of replicating the Amigas graphics while adding deeper game play.

Amiga
Amiga
Amiga
Amiga
Amiga
Amiga
C64
C64
C64
C64
AMSTRAD
AMSTRAD
NES
NES
PC
PC
PC
PC
ST
ST
ST
ST
ST
ST

Coming Soon

When I was a small boy I had a pet rock, one day I accidentally killed the rock and blamed it on my dad

Just a quick blog to give you some ideas of what’s coming up:

A blog on Commodore 64 SID chip music

Ticket To Ride Review

Top 10 Dreamcast Games

The Amiga / Atari ST Demo scene

Loot Crate Review

Music & Festival reviews

A look at Terry Pratchetts Discworld

Top 10 Commodore 64 Games (C64)

Commodore’s mighty 8 bit powerhouse is one of my favourite computers of all time, but lets face it,  it was a gaming machine first and foremost. No matter how much 80’s kids told their parents it would help with their school work, they were secretly coveting the thoughts of playing games like Defender of The Crown (wow those graphics) or thoughts of piloting a state of the art spaceship defending the earth in Slapfight, or maybe there dream was to play a baby dragon that breathed out bubbles…

The C64 is over 30 years old but a healthy community of fans still lives on, the most interesting aspect of the fandom is the SID music enthusiasts. The C64 music chip was called the SID chip and more so than any of its revivals, it could produce some pretty impressive sounds for the time. Today SID music players are available free to download so you can relive your youth listening to the tunes of your favourite games, and there’s people even creating new music with the chips.

Below I list my 10 favourite Commodore 64 games, in no particular order:

1) International Karate +

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Simple but incredibly fun Karate styled beat em up. Noted for 3 fighters all fighting at once and the super fun mini games.

2) Creatures 2

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One of a number of awesome platform games that came out towards end of the c64’s life.Creatures two was a platform – puzzle game, in which the player had to rescue Creatures from a torture room (think James bond) the graphics were very cute and the death scenes bloody and funny.

3) Retrograde

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Great shoot em up

4) Mayhem in Monsterland

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This game was lauded as the commodore 64’s alternative to Mario and Sonic. It did a pretty good job, the scrolling was smooth and very fast, the graphics were colourful and bright.

5) California Games

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A strange game, with some strange events in it, but it was just loads of fun.

6) The Sentinel

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Yeah the humble C64 can even do 3D games!

7) Bubble Bobble

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Perhaps the C64’s definitive platform game. 100 levels of bubble blowing, fruit collecting goodness.

8) Zak McKracken & The Alien Mindbenders

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An early LucasArts point and click, graphic adventure game. Great humour, decent graphics and a awesome plot.

9) Defender of The Crown

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Like being in an adventure film from the golden era of cinema. A strategy game with great graphics and cool arcade and action segments. Whether you’re jousting, fencing, swinging on chandeliers, wooing a princess or even asking for robin hoods help you’ll have a great time

10)The Bards Tale

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First person role playing game, heavily influenced by dungeons and dragons. Build a team of adventures and get adventuring