The Hitchhiker’s Guide To Video Games 03.16.04

Greetings, one and all. It’s time, yet again, for the Hitchhiker’s Guide. Misha and Marvin we are, your regular hosts.
*Oh. Hello, I suppose
This week’s lineup? Some commentary, which some of you may have guessed the subject of from the tagline. News, of course… along with our semi-affectionate MSTing. So, let us begin…

News

FF12: ‘Nuff said

Famitsu magazine recently released a DVD which contained, amongst other things, a movie of Final Fantasy 12, whih has found its way online. The movie can be viewed here, courtesy of gametrailers.com.

Misha: Looks like the FFX graphical style is here to stay, then… For better or worse.

Konami brings XBox Evolution

It has been announced that Konami, the codehouse behind the widely-loved Pro Evolution soccer series, will be releasing a version of the series on the XBox. The best reports seem to indicate that the game will not be a port of the current PS2 version, (number 3 in the series) but a completely new game, set to release alongside PES4. One Microsoft PR bod described the news as “one of the greaters transfers of all time”. The game is set for an Autumn release.

Misha: Well, all smart money is on this game to be the best football game ever, that’s for sure… Shame I don’t really worry about football…

Encore du Tekken

As you’ll have no doubt seen elsewhere on the site, latest reports suggest that Namco will be unveiling the newest instalment of the Tekken series at E3. The expectation is that online play will be available, though firm details on any changes have yet to emerge. Current rumours suggest a released in coin-op form first, with PS2 and X-Box ports arriving at the end of the year.

Marvin: And so it continues… It should be a good enough game. But I’m still bitter that Tekken beat out Toshinden as the flagship Playstation Beat-‘Em-Up

credit: nowhere (public domain news)

Harry Potter goes Optical

Electronic Arts have confirmed that the PS” version of the next game in their Harry Potter franchise (for those keeping track, that’s “Prisoner of Azkaban”) will include compatability with Sony’s Eye Toy perpiheral. The compatability will take the form of a selection of multiplayer minigames, including Seeker Practise (can you catch the Golden Snitch?) Additionally, it has been revealed that this time around, there will be the option to play as Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger in addition to the titular hero.

Misha: Nice to see somebody other than Sony doing something with the Eye Toy. No idea how it’ll work out, but at least EA are trying…

credit: gamesradar.co.uk

DS prototypes… Allegedly

Two magazines from the UK company Future Publishing have decided, in the absence of any actual information, to come up with what THEY think the Nintendo DS might look like. You can see their offerings here

Misha: Well, even if the ideas aren’t the most original, it’s certainly fuel for thought…

credit: gamesradar.co.uk

SF on PS2: Strike 3 pics

Capcom have recently released some (very small) shots of the PS2 version of Streetfighter III: Third Strike. Take your magnifying class to see them here, courtesy of spong.com

Misha: Well, the Dreamcast classic is finally spreading its wings to other platforms. It’ll be very interesting to see how the game plays on a PS2 pad…
Marvin: I think it’ll be unplayable. Not that I care, or course…

credit: spong.com

Commentary

It doesn’t take a genius o realise the we here at 411 Games are a bit keen on RPGs (some more so than other, though, eh, Alex??). Living in the UK as I do, however, means the short end of the stick when it comes to getting the good stuff (we’ve only just has a publisher pick up the PAL rights to Drakengard… And we’ve not had Disgeae either..). However, there is one aspect of the RPG where the UK is without equal. And all because some time during the late 1980s, Anglia Television decided to take things to the next level. So… Enter, Stranger… the realm of Knightmare.

The show was the brainchild of Anglia Television’s Tim Childs, who saw the rise of computer RPGS (on formats like the Spectrum and Commodore), and in 1985, set up a company to develop a children’s TV show based along similar lines The concept of the show itself was simple: A tream of three schoolchildren (“players”, if you will) had to guide a fourth child, the Dungeoneer, through a computer-created, randomly-generated dungeon, solving puzzles, collecting items and spells, defeating enemies, and ultimately reclaiming a Great Treasure, all overseen my The Dungeon Master, Tregard Dunshelm (Hugo Myatt). Although that may sound silly for the Dungeoneer,
the reverse is true; although the entire game took place in a big
warehouse-like studio, the Dungeoneer wore The Helmet Of Truth, which prevented them from seeing anything except that which was directly below them. So they had no idea where they were going, and were totally dependent on their advisors who, of course, could see their friend on the Scrying Screen
, along with the CG surroundings.

What made Knightmare so good? Part of it has to be the technology. Sure, look at it now, it’s nothing special: but back then, it was absolutely top-of-the-line. If you made Knightmare today, with modern technology, it would look like something out of The Matrix; pretty, but it’s all been done before. Knightmare broke the mould: you could really believe
there was a whole other world underneath the castle. Tied into that was the cast of recurring characters; every “phase of the dungeon” (season) brought new characters, but kept the old ones. Tregard, his Elvish assissant Pickle, Gundrada the Swordmistress, Motley the Jester, and the host of other recurring ‘NPCs’
helped give the impression of the real world existing somewhere in a parallell reality
, just out of synch with our own. And let’s not forget the foes: From the early series’ ogre, Fatilla The Hun, through Ariadne (Spider-Queen of the forest), all the way up to the evil mastermind Lord Fear and his henchmen, you had a rich cast of regular threats, all too eager to end a would-be Champion’s quest.

Another thing that made Knightmare so compelling was its difficulty. The game was HARD. There was no “Everyone’s A Winner” mentality in the dungeon, and the programme makers has no qualms about letting players get clubbed to death by goblins, sliced by sawblades whirling down a moving corridor, eaten by Ariadne, zapped by an unfriendly spellcaster, falling from a ledge into the Deep Void, or simply running out of Life Force because they took too long on a puzzle. To beat the dungeon took skill and luck (in compious amounts), and very few managed it. But that was the beauty of it: you would always keep watching because you knew they MIGHT just succeed. And when they did, you cheered for them.

As is usual, I’ll end with a referral site, from where you can find out more. This week, it’s Knightmare.com. FAQs, pictures, episode synopses… Everything you could ever want to know is there. As i write, they’re suffering hosting problems, so a good alternate is The Knightmare Exchange Additionally, it should be noted that even though the show is long-dead, its fans still work for a revival. If you remember Knightmare, or find the concept intriguing, please take 45 seconds out of your day to sign the “Bring Back Knightmare” petition.
Bring Back Knightmare!

Thank you.

Plugs like a 125 Amp power distro

Disappointingly, nobody got the Dr Who reference at the end of last week’s column (though I thought perhaps Eric S might have has a chance), so the SUPERPLUG goes instead to my friend Becky, who gave me the idea.

Chuck has some serious stuff to say. You might say it explains some things…

Cory has a confession to make. But he still soldiers on with the news. What a trooper.

Bryan is once again into the analysis, as he looks at the repercussions of the “Viewtiful Joe to PS2” news.

Alex Williams is back in business; having sorted his life out, he can return to what he does best (playing DDR)

Lee is your source for Growlanser, game release dates, Rurouni Kenshin, and more.

And with that lot sorted, we’re off again. See you on the flipside…