Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

It does not get any better than this.  Okay, maybe it does but Ocarina of Time is as close to gaming perfection as you're likely to find anywhere else.

Ganon is once again up to his old tricks, and Princess Zelda, as well as the Great Deku Tree ask for Links help. To guide him, a young fairy called Navi shows him the tricks of the trade. You begin the adventure with the task of collecting your sword and shield, and then saving the Deku Tree from the evil that has attacked. From there, you travel to Hyrule, and the many worlds that stem from Hyrule Field.

There are many, many new things in this Zelda compared to past versions, including the use of time travel and the two different Links on each side (young Link, who you start the adventure with, and teen Link, who you must turn into to complete certain areas of the game). Weapons are also a key feature, with bombs, swords and other nifty gadgets available to help you in your quest. 

Being one of the most popular games for the Nintendo 64, this game emulates perfectly using almost any N64 emulator.  Of course, if you have your hands on a 3DS system, you may want to wait till you can play the enhanced version in 3D.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Dreamfall: The Longest Journey

If you have any desire to play a great adventure game, you can't go wrong with Dreamfall.  From its captivating main character to its wonderfully detailed worlds, the game keeps you entertained from start to finish.

Dreamfall is the sequel to The Longest Journey and is a 3rd person adventure game with some action episodes.

The game begins in Casablanca, 2219. Zoë Castillo is about to get involved in a conspiracy that involves two worlds, one in magic and the other in technology. There has been static interference that is disrupting technology, and it seems to be linked to a little girl seen only by Zoë. As Zoë begins her search for a lost friend, she discovers the truth about the two worlds and the search is now on for the one person who may help Zoë unravel the dangerous web she has become entangled in: April Ryan.

Dreamfall puts you in control of three playable characters. It also introduces the focus field feature which bridges the gap between the classic point and click adventure game, where you could click on any given point at the screen, and the action adventure. This allows you to scan your entire visible environment as seen by the characters and also use it to eavesdrop into other people's conversations. The game also presents you with a number of ways to solve a confrontation, you can sneak, fight, or talk your way out of the problem. The game spans 13 chapters and like the previous game Zoë keeps a diary of all the events that occur in the game.

You might be able to find this game in the discount bin still.  If not, there's some used copied going for less than $5.00 at Amazon.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Rush 2049

I'm still waiting for a true successor to this game.  I think I'm mature enough now to admit I really like arcade racers over their sim counterparts.  I like the sim racing games as well but they don't hold my attention for hours the way an old-school arcade racer like Rush 2049 could.

This game got everything right.  Once you got a handle on the physics being used, you could make your car do just about anything.  It helps when a button pops out wings and allows you to do flips and spirals.

The racing is certainly the meat of the game.  This mode not only had a fairly challenging "career" mode in which you unlocked other exciting tracks but also had collection objectives where you would have to hit a ramp at just the right angle or discover some secret alleyway to find all the coins.  The coins then unlocked cars and upgrades.

And these tracks had a lot of shortcuts.  Similar in feel to SSX, where you could race through the main course, and probably win, but you could also find several unique lines through a course by knowing where the proper shortcuts are and give yourself a completely unfair advantage.  I loved it.  These shortcuts, for the most part, were fun and required nearly expert timing in order to succeed in a jump that would clear a dozen buildings or something spectacularly similar.

Rush 2049 also boasts an impressive stunt mode.  Earning high scores in one of the stunt arenas would unlock other arenas.  There's nothing like the feeling if hitting some obstacle at full speed, performing a dozen stomach churning flips and spins, and landing the move without using your wings.  Awesome.

And last but not least, is the battle mode.  I think, when this game came out on the N64, me and my friends played the battle mode nearly as much as we did Goldeneye or the battle mode in Starfox 64.  The levels were well designed and the weapons were fun to use.  Hitting something with the sonic detonator (giant speakers on top of your car) as they drove by at one hundred miles an hour still puts a smile on my face.

Maybe now that some of my other favorite games from this era are getting remakes, someone will make a decent sequel to the Rush franchise, one with the same quality of courses, shortcuts, stunt mode, and battle mode.  Yeah, a guy can dream.

Good news, both the N64 version and the Dreamcast version emulate great these days.  Though I played the N64 version in the day, I recommend the Dreamcast version now if your system can handle nullDC.  The graphics are better.  If you have a lower end system. the N64 version is awesome as well and emulates great using Project64.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Confession time.  I only just started playing Shenmue.  I did not have a Dreamcast back in the day and I was only recently able to get my Dreamcast emulator working to a sufficient level to play the game without distraction.

Shenmue rocks!  It does as good a job as any modern game (like Alan Wake) at creating an atmosphere.  If it wasn't for the dated graphics, this game could come out today and still be groundbreaking.  The characters feel real mostly due to their subtle and emotional reactions to events.  I'm only six or seven hours in and I've only encountered a couple of over-the-top stereotypes.  The rest of the characters are drawn as well as a modern Oscar worthy film.

The gameplay reminds me mostly of an old-school Adventure game.  Talk to people, sometimes fight people, and play "minigames" between adventures.  For me, the fighting is probably the weakest part of the game but its not terrible and the rest of the game more than makes up for any perceived weakness on my part.

The game feels open world though I'm definitely being guided down a certain path. But the world is so interactive and fully realized, it feels more open world than anything released at the same time.  If you like Red Dead Redemption and any of the LucasArts Scumm games, this is like a combination of the two.  You owe it to yourself to get this game working and give it a try.

This game runs great using the nullDC emulator though you may need to do a lot of tweaking to get it working correctly and it make take a slightly higher end system to run at speed.   


Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Goonies II

Make no mistake, Goonies II was one of the best games for the NES.  I would place it on the same tier with the original Zelda and Super Mario World.  Definitely a top ten for the system.

The progression of upgrades throughout the game was Zelda like.  You always felt like the next thing you needed to open a whole new aspect of the game, was just around the corner.  Most of these upgrades were acquired in Goonies II's adventure mode.  You would walk through rooms, smashing walls, searching for secrets.  This was thern combines with the platform areas.  There were plenty of platformers at the time but Goonies II did it right.  The enemies were challenging and just a little frustrating.  Hard enough to where I felt good taking them down successfully.

Combine that with the music and the length of the game and you have what would retrospectively be known as one of the few examples of a good game made from a film, or at least the premise of a film.   You could have honestly slapped any film's title on this game and it still would have worked.

I highly recommend hunting down this game and giving it a try.  It takes a couple of hours of gameplay to really get into it and understand how great the game is so make sure you have some time when you do.  It will run using just about any NES emulator on any modern system but I'm partial to VirtuaNES myself.


Friday, April 15, 2011


To prepare for the Portal 2 release, I played through the first Portal.  It's still fun.  Yes, figuring out the puzzles to get through each locked room is a great challenge but just playing with the portals gives a lot of enjoyment as well.

I don't want to give away too much for anyone who has yet to experience Portal but there are moments when playing the game when you realize how Portals work, how the physics through Portals work, and how moving through Portals works.  Each of those moments is a wonderful "Aha!" feeling.

And then there is the antagonist.  Your foe in Portal is both unique and entertaining.  Not really that challenging but the difficulty level can be forgiven with the cleverness given to the rest of the game and the good amount of dialogue spoken by the big bad throughout the game.

If you have not played Portal the game only takes (at most) four or five hours to complete so you don't have to invest a lot of time.  I recommend the game on PC as the mouse control really helps but, from what I have heard, the game plays great on consoles as well.  The sequel will most likely offer the same fun, puzzle solving, and experimentation offered in the original.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

PilotWings 64


This is another game where they captured the feel just right.  Along with that, PilotWings 64 had, for me, one of the best carrot-stick relationships of any game at the time.  I kept wanting to open up one more level or bonus stage regardless of how difficult the current level was.  And make no mistake some of those levels were very difficult.  Sure, you could pass most levels pretty easily but getting the top score was usually a worthy challenge.

One of the best aspects of PilotWings 64 were the different vehicles.  Controlling the gyro-copter was fairly standard arcade flight simulator but the hang glider was something entirely new.  Aiming for thermals and trying to give yourself just enough height for the perfect landing was fun and difficult.  The jetpack brought back memories of playing Moon Landing or Scramble, using physics to fit your character through tight spaces.

And the mini-game bonus stages were perhaps the best part.  Along with Monkey Ball and Mario Party, these were great group games.  I still have fond memories of a house full of people attempting to fire a gangly character at the side of a mountain.

Good news - PilotWings 64 emulates nearly perfectly.  Either using Project64 and 1964 and a comfortable gamepad controller and you can have a wonderful PilotWings 64 experience on just about any modern desktop computer.  Of course, you will need to download the rom somewhere but I can not help you with that here.