The Hitchhiker’s Guide To Video Games 02.24.04

*And so it continues… The eternal grind of week upon week… And before you know it, it’s Tuesday again…
Hey! Hold it right there!
*And why do you care, anyway?
Look, this is suposed to be a CHEERFUL opener. THAT was the agreement remember? People are back at work, and the only thing good that’s happened to them in the past 24 hours is Cory’s news report. So be a little but more upbeat, OK?
*Oh, alright. Welcome everybody, to the Hitchhiker’s Guide To Video Games. I’m your host, Marvin, and over here, we have Misha

Yes indeed. It’s Tuesday once again, and it’s another helping of vaguely Euro-flavoured news. My introduction skills are tapped out at the moment (hence Marvin’s fill-in), so let’s get straight down to business.

News

New Hitman: Contracts shots

Agent 47 is back, and looking better than ever. The current screens are from the Romania level, which introduced some highly sordid characters who seem to have an unhealthy fasiontion with slaughterhouses. Hopefully not to the Odin Quincannon level of things…

The shots themselves can be found here, courtesy of gamesradar.co.uk

Marvin: Killing, killing, and more killing… And with style. Now this is a game I can get interested in…

credit: gamesradar.co.uk

Get Spooked!

Fans of the BBC series Spooks rejoice! At last, a game is being made of the series! for those who don’t know, the series centers on a division of MI5, the British Secret Service department with responsibility for Internal Affairs (james Bond works for MI6, who specialise in Overseas OPerations). The game is being developed by the BBC’s in-house coding team, and will reportedly feature all the thrills, spills and spycraft seen in the show as various sinister plots unfold.

Misha: This will mean nothing to the Americans out there, but anyone who’s seen the show in the UK will know what I’m talking about, and why I’m so excited. Hoever, let us all hope that this doesn’t lead to Eastenders: The Video Game.

credit: gamesradar.co.uk

Spyro to Crash on GBA

Vivendi Universal have announced plans to bring two of their flahsip characters, Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon, to the GBA. From the early reports, it seems the games will feature interconnectivity, with the two games taking different yet interconnected paths. A hideous accident with underground portals has allowed the baddies from both games to team up in a plot to wereak havoc on the world, and only by working together can Crash and Spyro save the day. Details on the exact nature of the linkup options are currently sketchy, but top of the expected list are multi-player mini-games (both co-operative and competitive) and a card trading mode. Release date is somewhere in Summer this year.

Misha: This sounds promising. Can’t say I’m waiting with baited breath, but both series have a lot of fans, and if the connectivity aspect can be pulled off, it’ll be a beautiful thing to behold.

Yeah, slow news this week. Nothing I can do about it, sadly.

Commentary

Last Saturday, I did something I’ve not done in a long while. I met up with some like-minded people (all of whom, coincidentally, happen to be members of the Sheffield University Star Trek Society, and we played retro video games all day. Our host is something of a retro-console obsessive, and has a collection that outstrips anyone I know (except Lucard, I think). So I decided this week that, since Retrograding has gone all RPG, I’d steal Alex’s concept a bit, and take a wander through some of the games we played that day.

DISCLAIMER: This is based entirely on caffeine-fueled recollections of an evening that couldn’t have been more insane if Nyarlothep himself had turned up in the middle of it. So if anyone who was actually there is reading this, just sent the flame and be done with it; don’t take it any further.

First, the cast of characters:

Misha: Supreme Overlord of all Geeks. Maliciously infects other people’s brains with memetic Flash movies.
Likes: Geeky things, making sarcastic and witty remarks
Hates: Losing
Chris (GC): Owner of most of the consoles, including an Amstrad GX4000.
Likes: Dr Who, Amigas
Hates: RPGs, Windows
Mike (Spike): Chris’ housemate. Regularly dresses like Joss Whedon’s Other Famous Vampire.
Likes: His hair, Live-Action “Sailor Moon”
Hates: People who react faster then him when somebody says something that demands a witty retort.
Liz: Society President. Insane
Likes: Yoshi the dinosaur
Hates: Not being very good at games
Rich: Society Secretary. Refuses to embrace his True Geekiness.
Likes: Sega Master System, English literature (especially Lovecraft, Rochester, and the Marquis De Sade)
Hates: People being too geeky
Vikki: Studies Japanese. My ex-girlfriend.
Likes: Gundam Wing, Final Fantasy
Hates: People who mope around feeling sorry for themselves
Tom: New member of the society.
Likes: Vikki (probably)
Hates: Unknown
Becky: Perky Goth. Writes Fanfic.
Likes: Babylon 5, Transformers, Knight Rider
Hates: The Cold, living in Rotherham

Mortal Kombat I & II

For whatever reason, GC prefers Mortal Kombat to Street Fighter in terms of series. Quite why, I don’t know, but then, this is the man who owns a every Sega system EVER (except a Game Gear) and STILL HAS NO RPGS!!! Anyway, it was decided that MK would be a good place to start off, comparing the various versions we had available. Rich demanded to play the Master System version (but was shouted down), so the Mega Drive (Genesis) version was loaded up. After a bit of trouble getting the 6-button pads working properly, things settled down into a rythm, with wins being traded fairly regularly. GC had the upper hand, on accound of being the only one who could remember any finishing moves. After everyone got fed up of that, we switched to MK II, and… well, it was pretty much more of the same. Best winning streak belonged to Vikki, despite her claims of “not being able to play”. As ever, I found the Mega Drive control pad totally unsuited to the game (SNES pad=definitive. 4 attack buttons on the front, shoulder buttons to block) but it was fun enough. Later in the evening, once people had vanished to watch Live-Action Sailor Moon (shudder), Chris and I sat down to play the CD version of MK I. This, I admit, is probably the definitive version of the game… Though it does show the tendency of Mega CD coders to throw extra-long intos into their games just because they can.

Mega Bomberman

Now THIS is my sort of game. I used to be World-Class at the SNES version, and though the inclusion of Looie kangaroo-things was not to my taste, true skill eventually won out. Pincer movements, carefully-aimed kicks, classic Pressure Plays (where the bombs deployment isn’t designed to kill, but to keep the opponent pinned down while the walls close in)… It’s all good. Bomberman is one of the finest multi-player games EVER. It has many forms, some better than others, but always it rocks.

Super Mario World

Liz insisted she would only come if Yoshi did. Which meant I would be bringing my slightly-wonky SNES (BTW, if anyone reading this knows the name of the special screwdriver needed to open up a SNES, please let me know). We sat her down in front of it, and she was happy as could be. Eventually, I even had a quick go myself, and was reminded of a simpler time… Before I knew it, I was in flashback central. Wonderful.

Streets Of Rage 2

Having set up my SNES, I retired to the other room, and suggested a different style of beat ’em up. Becky agreed to join my two-players, and so Axel and Blaze set out to clean up the streets. We did pretty well for our first times playing (despite not quite getting the hang of the team-up attacks OR the fact that PvP is permanently active). A fun little game it is, worthy of inclusion in anyone’s Top 10 Scrolling Beat ‘Em Up list…

Eternal Champions CD

Another classic Beat ‘Em Up (which again shows the Mega CD as the Intro Sequence Overkill machine….,) which even has a nice Time-Displacement storyline for the benefit of all the Sci-Fi fans out there. It was agreed that, for sporting reasons, nobody would read the movelists in the manual, so most games descended into button-mashing. I wound up with a liking for Larcen with his “Hang from the ceiling” special move, but nobody seemed able to really get a handle on things. Tom and I went two-all in our Test Series, before other people wanted a go. A planned tournament was abandoned when people got bored.

Worms Word Party

Ah, the classic. 4 players, all sorts of fun. I’ve always been a wormaholic, and to get back behind the controls was great. My noble Team Kliq did their commander pround (Lucard was repeatly voted Most Darkside, but got some pretty funky multi-kills, while Chuck was the born survivor, eventually dealiing the decisive blow to GC’s last remaining worm. I need to get back into Worms again…

Trivial Pursuit

Now THIS was where it got surreal. I still have no idea whose stupid idea it was to put “Triv” on a console, but there it was. I refused to play, as did Vikki, but everybody else seemed keen. And so it started. For the first game, Rich’s insistence finally won out, and the Master System version was loaded up. It ran for a while, before crashing horribly. so the switch to the Amiga CD32 version was made. The most notable thing about this version is the presence of the most annoying dice-roll sample EVER. It just goes BANG BANG BANG totally tunelessly.

Since I wasn’t playing, I only played passing attention for the first two hours. However, as the third hour drew in, people started acting a little… odd. Suddenly, brains were not working at optimum capacity. Even little, pointless, random things became stupidly amusing. The effect was almost hypnotic. Eventually, the game was brought to a stop half-complete after 4 hours or so. But the madness continued. It got to the sort of manic stage that is normally only reached after watching two full seasons of Ranma 1/2 back-to-back (don’t ask…) People were VOLUNTARILY watching Live-Action Sailor Moon. It was proper Wonderland “I’m-mad-you’re-mad-we’re-all-mad” stuff.

After that, things get a little hazy… I remember getting back home, and conversations had, but that’s about it. And that’s Just Another Saturday in Sheffield.

Plugging in

Bryan continues his Reuters theme, with further business analysis of Nintendo. If you want to know what Iwata’s REALLY thinking, forget the Wall street Journal or the Financial Times; Bryan knows best.

Lee is hard at work, and slips a review in amongst the usual Gaming and Anime content. And he thought we wouldn’t notice… Sneaky…

Matt Yeager has been pulling out all the stops reviews-wise, and not getting the credit he deserves. So go check out SOCOM II and Rainbow Six 3

Williams has a sister who’s going to college/Uni. And he’s been breaking DDR news like it’s going out of style. So swing by the hangout of 411’s Norwegian Athlete.

Chuck is back on Solid Ground this week. Though he’s promised me that the Director’s Cut of his Cure-induced hallucination will be coming soon… For that, I’m sending him Ork stuff.

I would pimp Cory, but as I write this, he’s not posted. International time-zones can be a pain sometimes.

Lucard is doing what he does best (writing about RPGs, and shamelessly shilling Atlus) this week, has he hits the upper-twenties of his count-up.

I think I disagree with LiquidCross this week. I have a lot of time for connectivity. Of course, I may change my mind once I get *my* copy of Crystal Chronicles…

And with that, the madness is returning. So I’m going to drink it away. I’ll see you all on the flipside.