Guest Blog Post by Jack @ThePnutbean
Remember the hype? The real genuine hype, not this meme hype of today. Hype like people buying Zone of the Enders mainly for the Metal Gear Solid 2 Demo? The hype around Tomb Raider and how channel 4 did a show during the release of ‘Last Revelation’ of Lara’s history? Remember that hype?
The cynicism behind todays marketing feels more like Stockholm syndrome than real, honest hype. As the hundreds of suites with a default face pound on my door, telling me “You like this game, buy this game, you like it”. Or maybe it is I, who is cynical, looking for something to connect me to my past, to simpler times, to fell once more.
One game always stood out during those times, a game every magazine publication could not stop talking about well after its release. That game was Resident Evil 2. A game today still loved by many.
Naturally, in today’s climate, such a classic cannot remain in its original form, and a remake was inevitable.
Most people will already know of the Capcom Resident Evil 2 Remake that garnered critical and commercial success.
But there was a second remake some gamers may not know about, more akin to the classic- SteamForge’s Resident Evil 2 The Board Game.
Upon opening the box, you are greeted with ‘This game contains scenes of explicit violence and gore’, the exact frame from the original Resident Evil 2; a fine detail any fan would admire.
Inside the box you will find over 20 tile pieces designed with Racoon city and Police Department. Over 30 pieces to create the terrain elements such as walls, stairwells, doors, corpses, typewriter and item box. 30 sustained effects and gameplay tokens such as item tokens and wound tokens. Then miscellaneous tokens such as the weapon dials to count your ammo, boss health dial, health/poison condition marker, ink ribbons, side pack, and your health tracker.
After the tiles, you will find various cards, 50 item cards (item deck A and item deck B) with explanation of items use- like handgun ammo giving you 8 bullets.
Weapon cards display more information- such as the weapons range, how many and/or what attack dice are needed.
Each character has a specific character card that indicate what weapons they can use along with a evade counter (number of evade dice the player uses), and how many items they can carry. The card also displays the characters special ability, a once a turn or round ability to aid the team’s survival. But mindful, enemies have their own reference card with special traits too.
Last set of cards is the tension deck, a card where after each player turn that alter the game world; some cards do nothing, others spawn enemies or other various effects that can foil your plan. Later scenarios will see you replenishing the cards with ink ribbons and typewriters, otherwise it’s game over.
And what is a boardgame without dice?
Resident Evil 2 has 5 attack dice- 3 blue dice for standard weapons and power weapons use 2 red dice. If that is not enough, when a player enters a new room you must also roll the encounter dice; maybe you’ll roll and its safe, or maybe you’ll roll and spawn a licker.
You like miniatures? Of course, you do, you dweeb. How about 4 playable characters, 12 zombies (with 3 variants), 2 lickers, 4 zombie dogs, a G-mutant, and a Birkin stage 3; all highly detailed, ready for you to paint them up like a quarantined Henry Cavill.
I know what you are thinking, ‘Jack, that is a hell of a lot of pieces’, and you are correct. The game is extremely bitty and for someone who is not akin to this style of boardgame, could seem overwhelming. However, don’t let this clutter discourage you, at the heart of Resident Evil 2, is a remarkably simple dungeon crawler.
A 1-4 player cooperative game tasks the team to complete and end in a certain area to complete objectives- occasionally scenarios will feature priority items that must be collected.
Each scenario has two points player 1 or player 2 to start; if you have more than 2 players, they will team up with either and/or both.
The 4 character to choose from are Leon, Claire, Ada and “oh, sorry about that, I thought you was one of them” Kendo.
Each player has 4 actions determined by the following: move (one square= one action), opening and closing a door (both take an action each), pick up or use item, trade and attack.
Attacks are performed by using the attack dice. What weapon you choose to attack with will display what and how many dice you use, followed by the affects. Example, the handgun uses one blue dice and uses one bullet. If you roll one bullet hole mark symbol; you push an enemy back one square. If you get the two-bullet hole symbol, that does one damage. Though some weapons have special affects too, like the handguns rapid fire ability will allow you to roll 3 dice using 3 bullets so you have better odd.
The game’s handy ammo wheel tracker makes keeping track of how many bullets you have used effortless and every weapon in the game has their own wheel for further ease.
After the action phase you have the reaction phase, were enemies within the same tile will move towards you. Though, leaving a door open means the tiles are linked, causing enemies on linked tiles to move towards you too. What an enemy can move is displayed on the enemy reference card, along with their health and damage they deal, plus any special traits- such as the Licker Scuttler move, allowing Lickers to react to movement in a players action phase.
If an enemy makes a basic attack, the player gets to make an evade roll. The same blue dice to attack are used for evading, however you must get the evade symbols. There are 3 different evade symbols that correspond with the size of enemy and if the evade is successful they push the enemy back. A zombie is a small enemy, any evade symbol is fine; yet a larger foe like a Licker, will need the evade second evade symbol or above. If the evade symbol is unsuccessful then the player takes damage and the enemy remains.
There are out-of-sequence reactions enemies make too, like making an attack will allow any other enemy within that or linked tile (besides the one you have attacked) move one space. Or if an enemy is in the same square, and the player is making an action other than attack- before the action is resolved the highest threat enemy will make a basic attack which the player must successfully evade; If that evade roll is unsuccessful the player suffers the effects of that attack, pushes enemy back, and the action is not resolved, yet still counts as a player action.
It’s after the reaction phase, a player picks up the Tension Phase.
Resident Evil 2 The Board Game manages to capture the spirit of the game extremely well. Rolling the encounter dice when stepping into a new room feels like playing the video game; waiting for the door animation to finish and finding what terror awaits.
The inclusion of ink ribbons and typewriters being a mechanic to replenish the tension deck really adds a level of urgency and strategy; like the video game before it, how you move is just important as where you move.
Knowing the original RPD building very well, looking at the scenario map SteamForge have done a tremendous job of recreating it. Though some sections cannot be recreated like-for-like, you’ll see the map and go ‘oh that’s there’ or ‘they have put that item in that room like the game’. A detail that not all will realise, though the fact they put that effort in goes to show they did not take this opportunity for granted.
It’s just a shame the game fails in the tile design. The tiles are extremely dark and hard to see what is displayed on them. The same is said of the door tiles too, especially the wooden doors; you can barely see if they are open or closed. There are plastic doors you can buy but at an unreasonable price, it feels like paying for a patch.
A lot of the time with the game will be setting. Ideally, you need people chipping in when setting up because there is just so many pieces and bits.
A shout out goes to the miniature design, well executed, with enemy variation giving it a little change and the detail, WOW. These miniatures look incredible, the rip clothes, the bits of ribs sticking out or the texture of a mutation- they just look outstanding.
The base game provides you with 8 scenarios with a play time of anywhere between 45 minutes to 2 hours and 30 minutes. A lot of content with the base game only, around £80, you do get your money’s worth. If you want to add on, you can, with the ton of expansions with a scenario B, Hunk… A lot of expansions just check them out.
I love how the game drip feeds the mechanics; allowing you to understand the games basic rules in the first few scenarios, then expanding in more in each scenario so it doesn’t become overwhelming.
As the game takes a little bit of that legacy style of board gaming, you will need a dedicated group to keep playing with you.
Resident Evil 2 the Board game is a good, solid and enjoyable dungeon crawler. Yes, it has its flaws, but mechanically the game is sound; it all works, and it all feels very Resi. The risk and reward, the character movement, the character placement, the encounter dice; SteamForge have translated the video game to board feels effortless; creating a new experience that feels familiar. Not only that, it’s just a lot of fun, rolling dice, killing zombies, working as a team, your plan being fumbled due to picking up a bad tension card; the game has enough challenge to not be boring but light enough to have fun… Just like the game. Board game fans will know this is a basic dungeon crawler but will have fun. Fans of the video game will like that translation to board.
If you’ve dabbled in board gaming, this is a great game because it’s simple and it drip feeds. If you don’t play board gaming but you like the video games and interested, I recommend picking it too; it’s a good level for new comers… just mind the bits. For me, this is the best Resident Evil 2 Remake.
Guest Blog Post by Jack @ThePnutbean
Die Hard Trilogy is much more than a game. It is an experience that many of us gamers smile about even in to 2020. I’m making specific reference to the Nakatomi Plaza campaign or rather the Die Hard campaign which sees John McClain jostle upwards through nineteen levels of terrorist action. Die Hard 2: Die Harder and Die Hard with a Vengence both add some fun play time but nothing quite compares to the forty of Die Hard.
We start out in the basement of the Nakatomi Plaza. The goal is clear, kill the terrorists and reduce the hostages which sounds simple but it’s not. Using the mini map is crucial to survival as it reveals both hostages and terrorists. It is possible to complete a level without rescuing all of the hostages (as I accidentally killed many) but you must wipe out every terrorist At this point a thirty second timer ticks over the screen and we must quickly scramble to the designated lift exit. Some of the larger levels make for an adrenaline fuelled, intense scramble to the lift. The relief you feel when you jump in to the lift and make your way to the next floor is explosive.
There’s a decent array of weapons to find on every level ranging from a pistol to an Uzi to a hand grenade and more. Be careful though as letting go of a hand grenade in a tight space will cause you serious damage if not death! Sadly I did this too many times on my Die Hard live streams. When you can land some shots on the enemies they go down fairly easily.
Zombies or Zombies Ate My Neighbours as it is known in North America is available to play in a beautiful first person mode, well almost. A clever video game modder by the name of Dude 27th recreated the first three levels of the famed Super Nintendo / Sega Mega Drive title; Zombies. Inspired by the classic FPS; DOOM, Dude 27th serves up some phenomenal gameplay of his 16bit crossover. I learnt about this mod today but it's been around since the middle of 2019. As Dude 27th points out in his last YouTube update both Zeke and Julie are playable characters and eight of the familiar weapons have been recreated such as the water pistol, WeedWacker, soda cans and more. To add icing on the cake the original soundtrack and sound effects. Levels also match the exact original game layout. More details on the mod can be found here but also take a look at some of these official screenshots.
Guest blog post by Ben Rai @BenRai
Gamers let's dive head first in to the tale of the ReBirth trilogy, created by Konami for the now extinct Wiiware service on the Nintendo Wii's WiiShop channel. The series of games launched in 2008, starting with Gradius Rebirth, followed by Castlevania Rebirth and Contra Rebirth in 2009.
I downloaded all three of these titles, each averaging about £10. I was a big supporter of Wiiware and really encouraged the idea of developers contributing to the market with smaller ,shorter and relatively cheap games that were at least on par with the 16-bit Sega Megadrive or SNES era.
As consoles evolved, games had, and still continue, to become longer, much more complex, and time-consuming. Side-scrollers had basically become a thing of the past on mainstream consoles. This is changing somewhat now there are more indie game developers in the market, thankfully. However in the early 2000s, most of these smaller game developers were yet to exist.
I do believe that actually, despite some really enjoyable and well crafted Wiiware titles, that overall, the medium did not live up to its full potential. Far too many remote-waggling and silly party games existed in the library. I feel that Nintendo could have contributed to Wiiware a lot more too.
Why not produce a true Super Mario World sequel on the Wiiware shop to tide fans over until Super Mario Galaxy 2? It would have been simple to make, heck even fans make constant ROM hack versions online. Nintendo have said as much that they are afraid to produce a fully fledged F-Zero mainline game - so why did they not produce a Wiiware F-Zero game that basically looked like the popular SNES version, but with new tracks and cars? It would have been a very cheap endeavor and it would not only have given us a fresh take on a beloved SNES era game, but given Ninendo a gauge of interest in a potential bigger production. Nintendo dabbled in Wiiware with "NES Remix" 1 and 2, altering NES games - so why not do more with the SNES games?
That however is a whole other topic, but I am thankful that Konami made an effort in this case. While Contra as a series had been fairly quiet for a while, Castlevania had been mostly focused on its RPG style Metroidvania games. Konami also released Castlevania Lords of Shadow around this time period too. which personally, I am not a huge fan of. I like my Castlevania a bit more linear. I wanted to feel like I was playing a new version of Super Castlevania IV, or a new Contra 3. I got my wish with the ReBirth games. Now, let us take a look at the 3 Rebirth games.
First up, Gradius Rebirth. Now I will admit, I am not a huge Gradius fan. It is a series I have given very little attention to, and I am mostly aware of it due to the fact that you can play the first stage of one of the Gradius games as a mini game in "The Legend of the Mystical Ninja" for the SNES. However what I can say about Gradius Rebirth is that it is a solid and challenging game. By challenging I mean it is actually brutally hard in places.
Gradius Rebirth offers you a score mode on the main menu which hands you one life to get as far as you can. Highscores would go on to a leader board. Then you get the standard game mode with unlimited credits. You are able to select your ideal craft from a selection of 5 with their basic weaponry. Then you are launched into space to begin the adventure. Flying from left to right you will shoot enemies flying towards you while avoiding bullets and collecting power ups.
The first quarter of each stage begins with you flying through the vastness of space before smoothly transitioning into a new area, such as the insides of a spaceship or sand themed desert planet. The game consists of about 5 stages, with my favourite being the second, which is set in a classic shoot 'em up trope environment. The good old experiment ship full of pulsating pink brains, tubes with experiments floating inside them, barriers of flesh trying to trap you and floating alien bubbles. Topped off with a giant pinser clawed alien insect constructed of bones, pink slime and a big eye in the middle that is practically screaming "I am the weak spot!"
The game is constructed from varying remixed music and stages of past Gradius games, though it has some original bosses.Some stage salso have secret warp points that can allow you to skip an entire area and boss - but they are very difficult to locate. There is a very brief story, that is kind of placed into the game via text and images but it is nothing of real value, unless you are perhaps a hardcore Gradius fan who loves the series. And even then, I doubt you will care much, because this game and series is obviously about the fast paced, arcade shoot em up action - and the vibrant arcade styled music sure let's you know it.
Gradius Rebirth garnered mixed scores, averaging middle of the road to positive, due to a lack of multiplayer option, which would have been nice, and due to the issue of the game being very tough.
Silent Hill: Homecoming tends to be the forgotten game of the Silent Hill series. During recent live streams of Homecoming some of my viewers commented that they had never played it. Luckily there remains a core group of fans of Silent Hill: Homecoming, that have cemented its position alongside the likes of Silent Hill 2 and the original. Admittedly, Silent Hill: Homecoming is not as enthralling as Silent Hill 2 but perhaps that’s because Silent Hill 2 came out first? I guess you never forget those early loves and let’s face it, the creepy roads, apartment blocks, hospitals and schools of Silent Hill and Silent Hill 2 were difficult benchmarks to follow with the proceeding games. That is, until, Silent Hill: Homecoming released in 2008. Of course all of this is my opinion and if you’ve played Homecoming and dislike the game I suggest you stop reading now. If you are looking for an intriguing horror game that is reminiscent of the first two Silent Hill games; please read on. Silent Hill: Homecoming released on the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.
Silent Hill: Homecoming sees our main guy, Alex return to his home town of Shepherds Glen. His brother and father are missing. Alex’s mother is present in body but seems to lack in maternal lust for Alex. Her catatonic like state and distress over her missing son pretty much sums up her role in Silent Hill: Homecoming. The general look of Shepherds Glen reminds me of Silent Hill and Silent Hill 2. It’s foggy, it’s empty, there’s zero draw distance, broken roads and enemies with legs for arms and arms for legs, patrol the streets. Alex’s main objective is to find out what happened to Josh. At various points in the game Alex witnesses apparitions of Josh running in to various buildings. As you can imagine these buildings are often overrun with enemies and puzzles. I had a lot of help on stream in order to solve the puzzles but if you play alone I would say that the puzzles are a lot simpler that Silent Hill and Silent Hill 2. Ultimately if you are familiar with those games there will not be too many surprises in Homecoming.
The Sony PSX is rarely mentioned in the gaming world and that could be for many reasons. One of the most notable reasons for this was its inherent failure rate and due to very low sales numbers in the Sony PSX life cycle, the machine was never released outside of Japan. Now you might ask ‘how could a console made by Sony, at a time when Sony consoles were dominating; fail?’ The Sony PSX was a console secondary to being a Digital Video Recorder (DVR). The hard drive was encrypted to the console which made it very difficult for the hard drives to be replaced one the PSX had broken. The DVR function was Sony’s efforts at penetrating in to broader markets that stemmed beyond the games room what with the DVR being able to record TV shows and more.
The Sony PSX plays PS1 and PS2 games (Japanese NTSC region titles). From a gamers perspective the Sony PSX is an attractive piece of kit. The downsides being that it weighs in at 13lbs, has blocky ergonomics and overheats very easily. You’d be very lucky to find a PSX in working order but it is possible. In 2005 the Sony PSX was discontinued and never left Japan commercially. When compared to the PS1 and PS2 consoles alike; both are much smaller, more reliable and run cooler. So why bother owning a Sony PSX at all?
Guest blog post by Ben Rai @BenRai
Sometimes you just need an adventure in life. Sometimes this urge for adventure can be fulfilled with a good video game. Graphics are becoming increasingly more life like and the worlds are open and seemingly never ending. The problem is not all of these modern games appeal, and we don't always have the time to explore these gigantic worlds due to the realities of life. This is where retro games come in handy. They provide an escape and can often be experienced in full within anything between 30 minutes to a couple of hours.
Though as much as I do love retro games, sometimes I feel as if I am living in the past, completing the same retro games I am comfortable with over and over. This is a feeling you can easily experience with your personal life too. I wanted to look forward and escape my zone of comfort while simultaneously taking solace in something somewhat nostalgic. The truth is this 'adventure' that I had planned was something more than just simply wanting to play a game I had never played.
Ultimately playing a game is for fun, but the competitive side of me wanted to dedicate time to learning, mastering and conquering something within a month. I wasn't content just playing a game for fun I required a test of fortitude. I pondered what this could be for a short time.
Flicking on my brother's SNES mini while visiting his house I scrolled the games on offer. Contra 3. Finished it on hard mode. Super Mario World. Finished it 100% more times than I could ever count. Super Castlevania IV? Already played it this year. Super Ghouls 'N' Ghosts...never dared to play it. So that is what I decided to do, without any real thought. I wasn't really looking for it, but I had found it. I had a very limited experience with this game. I was just aware that it was notoriously hard and I had witnessed my brother die an unrelenting amount of times on it back in the 90s. A fire in my stomach erupted - I am going to do this.
I opened the options menu to see what the deal was — an otherwise simple black option menu with an obscurely over elaborate and majestic blue winding vine design with red gems adorning the screen's edges. Strangely beautiful for a game which is so willing to chew you up and spit you out even on it's "Normal" difficulty setting. Almost like an alluring treasure which once taken would trigger a hellish trap. The default difficulty setting alone is what gives a majority of people grief.
So to my surprise there was a hard and professional difficulty too. What maniac would ever try that? Isn't the punishing normal difficulty enough? Apparently it wouldn't be for me, and so the journey begins — on normal difficulty anyway.
The game (infamous for sending you right back to the beginning in order to complete it for a second time to get the true ending) begins in the classic Ghouls N Ghosts graveyard stage. You know — the stage 90% of people attempting to play this game give up on.
Despite it being one of the earliest games by Capcom on the SNES the pixel art looks fantastic and the music is absolutely haunting. In fact, it was composed by a female composer called Mari Yamaguchi, she also did the soundtrack for Mickey Mouse's Magical Quest. Strangely, as different as the games may be they share a very distinct sound and I came to the conclusion long ago that the same composer must have been involved. Mari has a way of painting the haunting landscapes of the frozen forests and stormy seas with sweeping mysterious melodies, while conjuring up a sense of dark menacing evil and urgency in the third stage's fire dungeon full of flames and bloodied spikes. There is always a sense of something foreboding or mystical.The soundtrack is one that did not hit me as immediately as other games. However the soundtrack began to really become highlighted during the trials and tribulations of completing the game. Remember, we were going to die a lot of playing this game — so we needed music that would be cast upon our minds in a residual way, as opposed to be a quick fast jingle which could become increasingly annoying with each restart.
To cut a long story shorter — I completed both loops of Ghouls N Ghosts. That means that I finished each of the 7 stages twice back-to-back and killed the final enemy with the coveted "Princess bracelet". The bracelet is an absolute requirement for finishing the game in its truest sense and the main reason you are sent back to the start in order for the weapon to spawn. It will not appear in playthrough one.
I had finally finished this tough game which I previously knew not a lot about. The problem is I had cheated. I had used multiple save states. From start to finish. The vaguest sign of danger I pressed that save state button. I felt not an ounce of accomplishment and had essentially learned nothing about the
inner workings of the game. I needed to go back and this time do it "for real", and do so with a mind of knowledge towards the game.
At this point I no longer had access to the SNES mini, so I had to download an emulator for my laptop which is far from a gaming laptop.In fact I had never played single game on it before. I had to borrow a faulty Xbox 360 controller from a friend in order to be able to play, as there was no chance I'd attempt this using keyboard controls. I was dedicated to this gaming experience and the game was on. My first step was to watch a couple of speed runs of the game to hear any potential commentary tips to provide assistance in understanding how this game actually worked mechanics wise. Nail the mechanics and you will nail the game. I studied how to get various treasure chests to spawn. Some chests require the player, the grey armour clad knight Arthur, to jump into some precarious locations in order to make them appear. A concept I had no idea about.
The chests are vital to your success and there is a specific cycle of which weapons, armour and traps spawn from them. I found this to be a large part of the battle and once you had this concept under wraps the game became a lot more manageable. Arthur can acquire two armour power ups. The first being the bronze green armour which will upgrade your current weapons firepower. The second is the golden armour which allow you to hold the button in order to charge your weapon, unleashing a unique special
ability per weapon. With that said here is a tip for you all, the dagger with the golden armour is the absolute best weapon in the game and the speed runners imperative choice.
Charging it up will unleash a flying dragon of pure blue fire which will scour the screen. Lining up the screen so that the enemy is on the right will mean that they are in line of the dragon's path, killing them quickly. You also gain valuable invincibility frames briefly during casting the spell, so exploiting this charge up feature is fantastic for survival.
The second weapon of use is the crossbow upgraded to at least the green armour, which is ideal for any casual player just wanting to achieve victory. When in gold armour the charge up function for this weapon will make any hidden treasure chests on the screen appear. The rest of the weapons are essentially garbage.
The jumping in this game is also a mechanic that needs some practice. Once you commit to a jump your character is locked going in that direction for the duration of it. Thankfully, Arthur has access to a double jump. Pressing another direction as you perform this will allow you to manoeuvre elsewhere, though you will also be committed to this jump too. Here is a secret for you. If you press the attack button at the peak of your double jump you will actually fire out a slightly stronger projectile. Useful for boss killing. So lots of quick double jumps and dagger/crossbow spamming is ideal
Now that the table is set on how the game mechanics work, I dived back in on normal mode and decided I would complete the game but only allow myself to save state at the start of each level. I completed both loops of the game using this method as a practice. Still, no sense of achievement, but a wave of confidence had been born. I no longer felt the need to save between each stage. I was finally prepared to play this the real way. With my newfound knowledge of the treasure chest spawns and confidence it was time to complete the game on normal mode with no save states. So off I went again, collecting as many money bags as I could along the way, as they provide you with a extra continue should you collect enough. Oh yes. Continues are limited!
The giant flying beaked monster of the first stage went down without a fight. I endured the 4-minute side scrolling perils of the second stage's stormy haunted ship graveyard as my raft wavered over the thundering rotten seas. I hesitantly made my way through the callous and menacing jumps across lava pits on to spindly platforms only to be greeted by the Mongolian Death Worm's 3rd cousin at the end of stage 3. I survived the slime covered convulsing, winding and rotating mode-7 guts of a giant beast in stage 4.
Then I hiked a majestic avalanche filled frozen forest full of pulsating purple fruits. All that, before arriving at the final castle and entering its most inner sanctum. Then of course I had to do it all over again to reach the ultimate final boss. After having conquered this final boss, I had finally completed the game as it was intended, with no save stating along the way. It was a challenge and there was indeed a learning curve. However with all this acquired skill, I felt at a loss yet again. "Isn't there a professional mode?", I reminded myself. I had a passion with this new ability to complete the game the real way, and now I wanted to test myself to the maximum.
As a side note, despite the whole game being quite taxing, I would like to shine a special spotlight on to stage 4, "The Ghoul's Stomach". Standing on a sidescrolling platform as obnoxious geysers of ghoul stomach gases try to knock you off to your death down a bottomless pit can be brutal. In fact I'd say this is the most daunting stage. The 3rd stage 'The Crucible of Flame',which begins in the fire dungeon is a close runner up. The frozen forest, stage 5, while not without its trials, is almost like a lovely treat and a walk in the park compared to the stage 4. The game can be finished by a skilled casual player within a hour or two. Speedrunners can finish both playthroughs within 45 minutes.
After a brief break the urge to complete professional mode became too much. Arthur once again pulled his armour on over his boxer shorts, giving me those 2 vital hit points on my health bar, and so the quest began again. I went directly to professional mode, thus skipping "hard" mode. The bosses take more damage and some of the enemies walk a bit faster...and honestly.that was about it. With either the crossbow or dagger in hand I conquered the first loop on pro mode. It honestly was not bad at all. I think the truest challenge exists on pro mode at the end of the 7th stage on the second loop/playthrough. You must get through the stage and reach the final boss, of which there are 2, with the gold armour and goddess bracelet. Though powerful, the bracelet is only of use if you are in possession of it while suited up in gold as it maximizes its range. This one aspect, range, is what is going to decide if you will get through the final 2 boss fights before being given access to the final true boss -demon emperor Sardius.
During loop 2, if you lose the gold armour at any point during stage 7 before the two bosses are killed you may as well sacrifice yourself and begin the stage again. The game consumed an uncountable amount of lives from me, as well as sapped my continues slowly. Though through dedication and patience I finally thwarted the enemies while adorned in the gold armour. I felt great, and let out a huge sigh of relief.Probably punched the air too. Even though I still had one final boss on stage 8 to defeat, I had no fear. The final boss is excruciatingly easy even on pro, possibly a reward for all the sweat and blood it takes to get there. As Arthur and the princess
trotted off on the horse together during the end credits, my quest to master this game also came to a close.
I had finished a game that so many other people give up on, even if they feel fondness towards it. It had been a great month of putting myself through something "new", and now I could say that Super Ghouls N Ghosts was one of my favourite SNES games, as opposed to just being "That hard SNES game that's good but I've never really played". Now this game is up there for me along with Castlevania IV and Contra 3.
To me this was more than just finishing a game, it was an additional little exercise in perseverance and motivation. The thrill of slowly but surely progressing and applying what I had learned from studying of the game's mechanics and then putting the brain power to physical dexterity with my hands was something I thoroughly enjoyed. The sense of accomplishment was amazing. I genuinely believe that overall this game is not as hard as people claim, they just need to spend more time with it and face the fear of it. I am highly convinced I could coach a moderate gamer through this game at least on default difficulty at this point. Something I could certainly offer no information or advice about at the start of the year.
There is actually a Gameboy Advance port of this game with 4 additional stages added. I have not played this, but the extra stages which I saw via Youtube videos actually fit the atmosphere of this game pretty well, and the visuals look vibrant and glorious. I might try playing this in future, but for now I am content with completing this version. It is time to move forward and look for something new.
You can try Super Ghouls 'N' Ghosts yourself on Nintendo Switch's subscription service. I highly encourage you to finally sit down, concentrate and stop letting the ghouls and ghosts scaring you away. My advice to anyone interesting in taking this game on, in brief.
Set your lives to 7 in the options menu. Use the dagger or the crossbow. Learn the chest locations/use the crossbow with gold armour to discover their locations..Collect the money bags to gain continues, but don't go for risky ones. Play through the game first time using save states as you progress. Reload sections to learn them.Once you are better at the game then play the game from start to finish without save states. if you do not have time to sit and do 2 playthroughs back to back for the real ending then save state at the start of loop 2. I consider this only being like pausing the game and returning to it later. This way it just saves on the electricity bill. Or perhaps you are just content completing one cycle - well, the same advice applies.
In addition, I wanted to get a tattoo for a long time but I could never decide what of. As a result of this little journey I decided to get a Super Ghouls 'n' Ghosts inspired tattoo. If you'd have told me in 2019 I'd cast aside modern games for a good portion of the year and focus on this game and complete it on the hardest mode AND get a tattoo about this game I'd not have believed you. It just goes to sometimes show things can just pop up when you least expect it and entertain you. From this experience I unearthed something old and crafted something new. While I was sitting getting the tattoo done, the artist actually said that it looked like something from a retro game. "It is, from Ghouls and Ghosts" I replied. "I used to play that!" he said.
Some Retro Games suck! That's right, there are some video games that completely missed the mark when it came to impressing gamers. This is not a good thing clearly. I want to be fully immersed in a game if I pop a cartridge in my Super Nintendo. I don't want to be struggling to get to even ten minutes of gameplay. Sometimes we have to admit defeat: some retro games suck. Here are five retro games that I feel are not worth your hard earned cash or valuable play time.
Shaq Fu (1994)
Imagine a famous basketball player becoming a character in Street Fighter 2. Now imagine that game game being absolutely awful in every way. Back in 1994 Shaquille O'Neal appeared in his very own 2D fighting game on the Sega Mega Drive and Super Nintendo. If this wasn't torture enough Shaq Fu also found its way on the Sega Game Gear, Amiga and Nintendo Game Boy in 1995.
What makes Shaq Fu such a terrible game? Not only is the idea of Shaquille O'Neal becoming a legendary fighter a terrible one the gameplay is simply awful. The moves were very difficult to execute making gameplay feel more like a button mashing contest than a game based on skill. Not only that the punch and kick sound effects were incredibly dull. Multiply the button mashing with the dull, out of context sounds of kicks and punches and you pretty much have Shaq Fu. The music is also very painful and does nothing to heighten the experience of this wannabe fighting game. Luckily Shaq Fu does not grace my very own retro game collection, it would only serve to taint it.
The dust has finally settled. Not only are we getting a Sega Mega-Drive Mini (Genesis mini in the US) in just over 3 months’ time, we now already know all of the games that come with it. 42 titles, 13 of which are exclusive to the west.
As good news as this all is so far, there are reasons why the Sega Mega Drive Mini is both essential and, er, not. Starting with the good; Sega really seem to be aiming to get things right. M2 are handling the conversions, and given their expertise in that field it’s a sure-fire sign Sega aim to knock Sony’s lacklustre Playstation Classic out of the park.
The choice of games also heralds quite a few tasty surprises. Castlevania: Bloodlines, Mega Man: The Wily Wars and Contra: Hard Corps are among the rarer and desirable classics on offer, as well as a very welcome return of Road Rash 2. Who knew Sega and EA even still talked?
The console itself, at 55% the size of the original classic, certainly looks the part. Much like Nintendo’s mini editions, Sega’s effort looks aesthetically pleasing on the eye. It will come bundled with the traditional three-button controller, with support for the Retro-Bit six-button option, but hopefully Sega will listen and include a six-button as standard. Some of the games of course will demand one anyway.
On the downside, many of the titles are a case of same old, same old. Sega have been releasing various Genesis/Mega Drive collections since the PS2 era, with the latest edition only being made available on Switch last December. No less than 24 titles (57% no less) make a reappearance on the Mega Drive Mini.
But no one can argue that regardless of how many times they are released, many of these titles were key to the Mega Drive being a success. From Alex Kidd to World of Illusion, The Mega Drive Mini certainly looks to be worthy of our money and time. And so, in no particular order, here are the five inclusions I’m looking forward to the most.
Protests of the Extinction Rebellion across London to tackle climate change, something I personally feel strongly about because you know, it’s just the survival of all life on this planet. What a better way to celebrate humanity, when it comes to climate change then playing a game involving an earthquakes and tidal waves?
Ladies and gentlelads, I give you the PlayStation 2 cult classic, SOS: The Final Escape, also know Disaster Report for the folks across the pond and in Japan it is known as Zettai Zetsumei Toshi (絶体絶命都市 The Desperate City).
In SOS: The Final Escape, you play as journalist Keith Helm, an everyday kind of man as displayed by his first name (Keith!), who’s just on the way to his first day at work. An earthquake strikes Stiver Island -the games location- and truly wrecks the place. You wake up after being knocked out, trying to survive the rough terrain, you must find an exit but a long the way you will meet other various survivors and maybe there is more to this disaster than you think? Woooohoooooo.
A low budget and an early PlayStation 2 title, SOS looks pretty rough. It has that very square, bland texture look when developers where just starting to handle 3D environments. Though the game makes good use of it’s limitations by using some good camera angles by really capturing the set pieces cinematically and building the tension.
Throughout the game you will see Keith’s clothes get more and more haggard, a small touch that was starting to be introduced more in videogame from this era. However, it does add the sense of desperation within the characters and a sense of exhaustion.
Retro Game Reviews. Mega Drive, Super Nintendo, Sega Dreamcast and more
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