Welcome to Retro Game On!

Everything retro - big and small! Live from Perth, Australia!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

RGO Checks out the Perth Games Festival 2016

Being one who plays games (both new and old) and also one who once held the ambition to make games (long ago, with a diploma long unused) the concept of a festival all about the independent games scene in Perth enticed me.
The Perth Games Festival was a few weekends ago, and since the entry was free and I had nothing better to do (let's pretend I don't have my final set of exams in one month) I headed on down, camera in tow, to see what the good word was.

Sadly, I must stress (and get out of the way) that I did not play anything while there. I know that goes against the whole idea of attending and covering a games festival - but one of the oldest buildings in the Perth CBD was completely packed that day. It was difficult to even get near displays to take photos.
I thought rocking up at about 2.30pm would mean things would have quieted down a bit, but I guess everyone else had the same idea. That is also half the reason why it's taken me so long to get this post out. The actual festival its self was on the 1st of October, and I've been umming and arring ever since if I should post anything or not.

VR was on display, which was cool. Out of everything, this is what I would have liked to try since I'm yet to experience VR personally.
Luckily for me, though, a few of the games I took photos of are available to play right now. So because of those, I'm going to share my photos of the event and also my thoughts on a few of the games. It's still a bit of a lame effort on my behalf, I know - but there were 52 games on showcase overall. I don't think I'm even capable of writing about that much - so instead, I'm covering... two.
Better than no post at all, right? I'll try better next year, I promise.

First off, Blunder Down Under looks awesome. The premise is that you're stuck in the Australian outback and have to fend off drop-bears, boxing kangaroos and who knows what else. If fighting the wildlife with (what looks like) uzi's isn't Australian, then I don't know what is. Sadly, Concrete Games (check out their Facebook page here) hasn't made this game public yet so I can't try it for myself, but their other game, Corporate Combat luckily is (download it from here).

Corporate Combat is an arcade fighting game in the same vein of Street Fighter or something similar but is all about fighting you boss or your co-workers. The graphics are pretty slick and there are plenty of funny elements scattered around that gives this game a good vibe.
It's still in an early release at the moment, but coming soon are extra features like combos, special attacks and the ability to jump. It is two players only, though, so if you're like me and have no friends then playing this might feel a bit lonely. But the main game is there, and well worth it if you're into that type of thing!

Take that, defenseless blue man.
Next up, we have a smartphone game called Last Driverz.

Set in the zombie apocalypse, Last Driverz is an endless runner title with a few twists.
You control a vehicle down (what I assume) is a randomly generated road where you use left and right on-screen buttons to avoid crashing into debris. That's not all, though, as there will be certain locations along the road where you can pull over and loot for supplies. From this point, it turns into a third person shooting mini-game where you take down zombies while waiting for your partner to find goodies. The reticle jumps around the place but automatically aims at the closest zombie - so it's a case of waiting for the reticle to move over their big stupid head and then pulling the trigger.
There's also upgrades up for grabs the longer you play but I haven't really played enough to talk much about those at this point in time.

It's for the most part quite fun, but as it is in beta there are still some straggling issues that I hope get fixed. For one, the debris that spawns on the road is sometimes too close together. I know this sounds like I'm complaining about it being too hard, but there were a few occasions where they were so close together that I would have never been able to dodge them in time even if I was good at games. Besides from that, though, the core mechanics are quite well established and I did enjoy giving Last Driverz a go. The graphics are fun, the soundtrack is pleasant and the added twist of the looting sections are a nice addition to the tried and true endless runner genre.
Check out the games website here.

Very cool to see Nostalgia Box there.
So all in all, there were some great games on display. It's great to see that Perth's local games industry is so healthy at the moment - nothing like this existed at all when I finished my Diploma of Game Development all the way back in 2012. Back then, indie development was gaining the momentum to be the fully fledged industry it is today, however, traditional AAA studio jobs were all but gone in Perth by that point (thanks, 2008).

Does this make me want to get back into games development again? Hell yeah, it does.
I did create a small, basic stealth game using the Construct 2 engine earlier this year after all, but the project remains unfinished thanks to current study obligations. I did get the core mechanics of the game working after all - all I need to do is finish the art assets and then design all the levels. The fun part, really.
After that, maybe I'll give the Unity Engine a crack again. What I saw at the festival seemed to be mostly developed using that, so it will be interesting to see how far it's come since I last used it.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Micro Review: Driver: Renegade 3D for Nintendo 3DS

I love my pink 3DS and so should you.
 For? Nintendo 3DS    Who? Ubisoft    Year? 2011

Welcome to Micro Reviews - a new section of this blog where I briefly summarise and critique whatever I happen to be playing in the moment. No video, no recording software, no flashy lighting - just pure reviewing goodness.    

I've always been a fan of the Driver series ever since I first played Driver 1 and 2 years ago on the PSone - and even though it has been a bit hit and miss since then, my love of the first two always means that I will give a newer release a chance. Driver: San Francisco on the PS3 was quite an enjoyable game for instance, which was completely under my radar until I picked it up secondhand.

It's for that reason I felt compelled to give Renegade 3D a whirl - my childhood basically demands it at this point. Set in the modern day, Renegade 3D has you again playing as Tanner, but this time, he's left the police force because of his arsehole boss and general office politics. Wanting to still make a difference and take down the scum which plagues New York city, Tanner teams up with a Senator with the same ideals who protects him - gradually taking down each main crime figurehead in the laid-out story missions.
Unfortunately, the game foregoes an open-world level layout instead letting you choose each of the included 20 story missions from a menu. This is a little bit disappointing considering a reasonably large map of the city is included in-game (for a handheld release, anyway), but a more linear approach is what this game goes for.
There is no shooting or running around on foot in this entry to the series either, with all missions solely based around driving - much like in the first two Drivers. This isn't exactly a bad thing as it feels like it's going back to its roots somewhat - but you can't get out of your car. Instead, there are service stations scattered around the play area that will fix your vehicle if driven through.

The bottom screen is used as a map, which is handy to keep on eye on if you need to visit a service station.
The missions themselves are fairly bog-standard. In some, you must keep up with a foe (who are usually surrounded by guards who'd like nothing more than you to drive into a wall) while in other missions you must destroy either a main target or a bunch of smaller targets. This is achieved by either ramming straight into them - or by using a mechanic called The Rage Guage. This is filled up by running over objects or performing jumps - and allows a meter to fill up that allows you to either give your vehicle a temporary speed boost or smash into opponents on either side by using the back triggers.
It's a bit gimmicky but doesn't subtract much from the main gameplay. In fact, it even adds a bit of jest considering the missions are fairly bland anyway. 
I completed them all quite quickly. It was easy even on the hard setting, and I suck at games. The advantage of finishing a level on hard is that it unlocks vehicles to be used in the Career Mode. However, if you're finding a particular mission tough (you won't) you can switch the gameplay to easy at any time.
The Career mode is the other half of the game, and I recommend tackling this after the Story Mode so you have full access to the more powerful vehicles. These missions are more or less the same as the Story Mode. They have you completing missions like races, time trials and missions where you destroy stuff in a specified limit. To be fair it's nice they're included them to add a bit of longevity to the game - but they're kind of mindless and you won't be missing out on much if you decide to skip them.
Also tacked-on is a feature that allows your best times and whatever else to be transferred to other players via Street Pass. An okay idea in theory, but then again how likely is it that you'll walk past someone on the street who has this game in their pocket. In fact, does anyone even carry around their 3DS with them everywhere they go anymore? Hm. Probably not.

An example of a Career Mode mission
While the overall gameplay is sadly a bit dull, the visual presentation is actually of a reasonably high standard. Between each mission, you'll be treated to cutscenes. These are presented like an animated comic strip - much like what you'd see in the original Max Payne games. Even though the storyline is a bit generic - I still found the cutscenes enjoyable enough to not skip.
The actual graphics in-game are quite decent too and I found myself pleasantly surprised. The in-game world is lacking a bit of character, though, with there being no civilians wondering around and barely any traffic. The sections of the map don't differ that much either - you'll barely recognise that you're in a specific borough of New York, but what is there looks functional enough. The main highlight is the lighting engine - which makes the difference in some instances between plain and acceptable. 
As for the 3D effect the 3DS offers, I can't really add much. I'm one of the poor saps that get stupid headaches if I leave it on for too long. Sucks for me I guess, but on the upside, I save a lot of battery keeping it turned off.
The sound design isn't too average either, although sometimes the dialogue felt a bit forced. I must stress that it wasn't bad, though, and sometimes the game did extract a chuckle from me. The overall humour can be a bit lame a fair chunk of the time, however. For example, it's the type that throws in naughty words for shock value. It might appeal to some, but I saw it as a bit weak.

The cutscenes are worth not skipping - even if the dialogue can be a bit tiresome.
To conclude, Driver Renegade 3D isn't a totally terrible game but it's quite short and isn't exactly enthralling. It as its moments, but most of the time I felt a bit bored while playing. It is a Driver game, but it's missing the magic that some of the stronger entries in the series offer. 
If you're a diehard fan of Driver like myself then you'll probably feel compelled to try it. This is okay since it's not the worst thing ever, but I'd only pick it up if you can find it cheap and secondhand - which shouldn't be too much of an issue considering it's now five years old.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Video: The SEGA Channel: Wonders of the Retro Gaming World

It's time for another episode of Wonders of the Retro Gaming World, and after checking out the Satellaview and the Net Yaroze, today we're taking a look at the SEGA Channel. Released in 1994, this service allowed SEGA's Genesis to hook up to cable networks and temporarily download games to played at a moment notice. So yes, basically a game streaming service like PlayStation Now - but in the mid-nineties!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Video: Rescuing a Windows 98 Gaming Computer

Found last week on the side of the road in several pieces, this video follows the journey of myself getting it running back to 100%!

Friday, September 16, 2016

A Simple Fix to an Annoying Problem in the Games Room

The cabinet I use to store and display my games isn't exactly ideal. The shelves are nice and wide, but they're also quite high. Before my games collection slowly overtook 2/3 of the cabinet, it was used for books. It's not ideal for those either, though - so you have to wonder what it's originally meant for.

Stacking the games vertically has its problems. I've put up with them for the whole span of my collecting career, as removing a game lower down can cause the ones above (which were held up by the very game I just removed) to fall. As can be seen in the photos, though, I'd like to think that I've fixed this issue with planks of wood cut to size which act as dividers of sorts.

I had a ball of a time measuring up and cutting those pieces of wood to size - essentially creating mini shelves within shelves. I even cleared an old woodworking bench in my garage (once owned by my Grandfather) to carry out the deed - which made it quite a simple and fun exercise. I wish I used that when I attempted (and failed) to create a console shelf years ago. I probably would have finished the damn thing.

Talking about that shelf, I actually used the wood from that failed venture for these dividers. I got a real kick out of actually using that wood for my little retro gaming world - even if it wasn't its original intended purpose. Next on the list will be to varnish it up to somewhat match the finish of the cabinet. At least, I'll attempt to anyway. I've never done anything like that before - but hey, I'm sure Google will point me in the right direction. That and the 1960's book on woodworking I bought from an op-shop recently, anyway.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Video: Carmageddon for PC Review

Ever see the movie Death Race 2000? If so, then this might be the game for you. Do you also enjoy running over pedestrians and cows? If that's the case, then you're a sadist - but this also might be the game for you.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Retro Scan: Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare (PSone, PC, DC, GBC)

A slightly crumpled scan today as it comes from the back page of a Prima branded Driver 2 strategy guide (a well-used one at that, too). Regardless as to what you think about Prima today and the price they expect for their products (when online playthroughs are free and so readily available) Prima certainly had its day in the sun once upon a time. I should add that I only played a dollar for that guide too – so there’s that.

I certainly got my money’s worth for a dollar since I’ve probably played Driver 2 three or four times, but even more so now since I realised the other day it has useable retro scan material within.
This scan is for Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare (also known as Alone in the Dark 4) which was released in 2001. The PSone box is prominent in the advert, but it was also released on the Dreamcast, PC and even the Game Boy Color. Later on, it was also exclusively released on the PS2 in Europe.