Saturday, November 29, 2014

#129: Cal Ripken Jr. Baseball

Junior Baseball?
Well, it's pretty obvious what we're going to run into here. A baseball game with Cal Ripken Jr's endorsement. I'm not a terribly big fan of baseball games now, but I used to like them a lot back when I was a kid. Is this a game I would have liked back then?

This game has some high points, and some low points. The high points include the really great music and sound effects. It has an organ playing a pretty good rendition of the US National Anthem, for example. And it said "Play Ball!" at the end of it just like it felt like it should. I like those little details in a game. The low points involve fake rosters (except for Cal Ripkin), horrendous pitching, and terrible fielding. The batting wasn't great either. And I can't talk about the baserunning since the only time I didn't get out was when I hit a homerun.

Watch live video from TheGreatZiggyny on Twitch

I streamed my experience playing this game. Mostly as a test of my ability to stream through an emulator, but it worked well enough I'll probably do it again next week.

Anyway... I don't think young Nick would have enjoyed this game very much at all. But it is a functional game, I have to give it that. And the sweet music is enough to earn it a plus.

Rating: D+

Sunday, November 23, 2014

#128: Bulls vs Blazers and the NBA Playoffs

Go Raptors?
I was sad that yesterday's game was a Super Scope only game, and I did skip a week when I moved last month, so I figured I'd double up on SNES games this weekend. While I had never played this particular game before I had a really good idea what I was getting myself into with the very descriptive name. Go basketball!?!

Jordan? YAUS!
The game is named Bulls vs Blazers, so I had to play a game with those teams. They had a list of 16 teams to pick from. Which is weird, since the NBA had 27 teams that season. And since they had actual team and player names they had to have had a deal with the NBA and the NBAPA... So why leave 11 teams out of the game? The Raptors weren't even in the league at this point, so I can't be bitter that they didn't include them in this game.

I don't think he's going to block this shot...
Unfortunately when it comes to sports basketball may be the only one I find truly boring. I can't get into it at the best of times, and this game is not the best of times. I figured it would be a good plan to pass the ball to Jordan and have him hit 3 pointers. He missed every single one. So then I tried giving the ball to Jordan and having him rush the net and shoot layups. He misses every single one of those. So in frustration I took a shot from my own 3 point line with a random guy. Of course it went in. And on that note I turned the game off... Well, first I went into instant replay (a sweet feature, I must say) to get the screenshot.

Rating: C

Saturday, November 22, 2014

#127: X-Zone

I had never heard of the game X-Zone. In my mind that word is only associated with the SNES Final Fantasy games as an instant death spell I never really used. The game started with a neat intro explaining the story... Something went wrong with the biocomputer controlling some country's defenses and it's about to start a war that will end the world. I need to go in and stop it! It looks like I'm riding in a jetpack so this is probably a platformer or a scrolling shooter...

Super Scope it is...
And then I got to the title screen, and it showed the Super Scope, and I knew I was screwed. But maybe, just maybe, this would be a game that had a controller input option? Nope. I couldn't even get into the game to die... I had to select my difficulty by shooting the screen first, and I sure couldn't do that.

And so, there's not much to say about this game. The internet tells me it's one of the rarest games for the SNES because it was only ever released in Scandinavia? And it wasn't any good.

Rating: INC

Saturday, November 15, 2014

#126: Wordtris

Nice flipped 'R'!
I'd never heard of the game Wordtris, but just from the name I was envisioning some sort of cross between Scrabble and Tetris. Turns out that's pretty much exactly what it is. Instead of Tetris blocks you're dropping squares with a single letter on them. Form a word horizontally or vertically and score points. The bigger the word, the more points you get. Seems simple enough...

Tasty fire?!?
The twist comes with the mechanic in the middle of the screen, which is basically like quicksand. A single block will float on the surface. Add a block on top of that one and it'll push the previous block down. But only until it hits the bottom at which point it will start stacking up. It made working out what was going to happen a little tricky, but in a cool way.

I lose. 8(
After you complete a few words it advances to the next 'level' which causes the blocks to fall faster and faster. They were falling so fast that I couldn't actually figure out where I wanted to put a block. The best I could do was try to see if it was a vowel coming down and throw those into specific columns and hope words got formed. They often did, but it wasn't much fun since I didn't really feel like I could make decisions. Tetris works the same way I guess, but in that game you only have something like 7 possible options so it's easier to glance up and parse what's coming next and make a plan. Here with the blocks sinking and 29 possible options (a bomb, a dynamite, and a ?) it just wasn't feasible to play more than a few levels. (I died on level H, or 8.)

And I have no idea what's going on with the circus themed pictures on the right hand side of the screen.

This felt like it could have been a pretty cool idea for a game. But the blocks need to fall a lot slower, or possible not fall at all until the user drops them. You could have the points scale according to how long it took you, but then you could still take the time to work out a combo or whatever.

Rating: C

Saturday, November 8, 2014

#125: Wing Commander

Wing Commander opens with a credits screen where it starts off with the 3 writer/directors. Considering most of the games I've played in this adventure have felt like the plot could have come off the back of a cereal box that's really encouraging. Now, I played a lot of this game as a kid (my friend Robin owned it and lent it to us every now and then), so I remembered it as being pretty sweet as far as story goes. You go on a bunch of space combat missions with a variety of goals and the story changes based on how good you do on those goals. You can lead humanity to victory or you can actually be forced to run away from the bad guys.

The game opens with what feels like an old Sierra point and click game. I move the cursor around and click to interact with the people and things on the screen. There's a training simulator, a bartender, some fellow pilots with advice, a scoreboard, and an exit. The whole time there's some pretty great background music playing.

This game really went all out on the cutscenes. When I go for my first mission it has lots of little videos with people standing up, and running, and it all looks really awesome. I was doing pretty good on my first mission (I killed 3 enemies!) but then I flew into an asteroid and died. It did a death replay video, and then it went to a memorial cutscene where they gave me a eulogy and then sent my body off into space. I hope I land on the Genesis planet!

I did some reading and apparently this game was first released on PC and was ported to the SNES two years later. It spawned an entire genre of games, including one of my favourite PC games in high school, Tie Fighter. It was well received at the time, and it was still pretty fun now. The graphics and the music and the sound are all top notch. Having a real, coherent plot that changes based on your actions is mind blowing. And then to actually have a pretty good space combat game on top of that? I'm flabbergasted.

Rating: S

Saturday, November 1, 2014

#124: Super Star Wars

Use the force, Luke!
Super Star Wars opens with music from Star Wars and a pretty detailed title screen for a SNES game. I hadn't played the game before, but I have watched plenty of speed runs for the entire series of games, so I knew what to expect. A variety of stages using a variety of characters as you play through the plot of the original Star Wars trilogy.

Or maybe use a blaster?
Well, as you loosely play through the plot, anyway. I'm pretty sure the movies open with Luke being emo about having to do chores on a farm, not having to jump around shooting scorpions and a Sarlacc Pit Monster with a blaster.

Your droid is in another castle!
I sure don't remember this scene from the movie... I was able to beat the fly around in a speeder level but then the platforming in the Jawa sandcrawler was too much for me. I kept missing a jump and having to start the level over because it's one big climbing level.

The game controlled reasonably well, so I can't really say I failed because the game is bad. Partly I want to blame my hand going numb and partly I want to just say I'm bad at platformers now. I do think this game would have been fun as a kid, even with the creative licenses taken to fit the plot into a sequence of platformer levels.

Rating: B+