I recently completed Tomb Raider during a live stream. Fifteen brutal yet beautiful levels packed full of puzzles, wild animals, water, sand, oh and Pierre. Never before have I live streamed a game that stirred such strong feelings of nostalgia. This was something that I reflected on with my chat throughout every stream. What exactly was it that made the original Tomb Raider so special? Let’s take a Swan Dive in to the Core Design of Lara Croft’s Tomb Raider.
Solitary. That is how you / I start out on the very first level of Tomb Raider. After my Sherpa met an early death, I set out in the cold caves of somewhere in search of something. Even at this early stage of this beautiful work of art, Tomb Raider felt special. As I learnt the basic moves I felt confident in wanting to take my adventure further. The complex jumps across treacherous gaps still wreaked havoc with my vertigo but jump by jump I learnt to trust the process that Core Design had so perfectly built.
Tomb Raider introduced Lara Croft as their Ain protagonist. A female protagonist?! This was game changing back in the 90’s. More so, that Lara had a very pronounced triangle top half. Triangle tits became a slang phrase with my friends. Triangle tits? Did Core Design really do this? Was it on purpose? No matter what the intention, Lara’s breasts were a serious talking point that arguably helped to carry the Tomb Raider brand a long way.
Back in the 90’s we never left the UK. I did not travel abroad until I was an adult. Tomb Raider opened my mind up to the world, cultures and adventure. Jungles, tombs, sculptures, pyramids, waterfalls! Tomb Raider had it all. Some of my favourite memories are thinking back to playing Tomb Raider and feeling like I could escape and be in a foreign land.
I often hear a lot of Tomb Raider fans discuss how difficult the mechanics of swimming are. I found it to be a simple mechanic to pick up. I would go as far to say that Lara’s walking and jumping mechanics are much more difficult to master. I fell many times whilst trying to walk to the edge of a ledge (even whilst holding dow the walk button) and then there’s the moments when I jumped backwards and accidentally fell to my death. Swimming was the least of my problems. Back in 1996, we did not realise at just how blocky the controls were because there was nothing to compare it to. I am so tuned in to the fluidity of playing Shadow if the Tomb Raider that when I went back to Tomb Raider, I had to devolve my play style. Luckily, my muscle memory reverted back to my mid-90’s love affair with Tomb Raider. I was kicking ass!
Everybody has as least one memory from playing Tomb Raider on the PS1 or Sega Saturn. Or perhaps you played Tomb Raider on the PC? Back in the 90’s level five was my nemesis. I remembered the dreaded verticality and four doors. You had to unlock each of the four doors to progress to an area. At the end of the area you would obtain a key. During steam I was dreading this level but it turned out to be a breeze. I felt like I played through it seamlessly. My nightmare levels turned out to be, seven (Palace Midas), thirteen (Natla’s Mines), fourteen (Atlantis) and fifteen (The Great Pyramid). How did we manage to beat this game as kids? Natla’s mine had far too much fiery danger for my taste and an incredibly annoying mini boss that took me at least ten times to kill. Level fourteen felt like a level from Doom what with flying demons. I kept getting in to a new area and thinking “this has to be it. This has to be the end right?”. Nope. Level fourteen seemed to go on and on forever. Fortunately I had my live stream viewers to keep me company along the way.
Despite the difficult levels, there’s no denying the majestic nature of Tomb Raider and its long pasting legacy on my life. During my recent play through I could not help but think at how clever the level design was. Even more mind blowing was that Tomb Raider was created by six people from the original Core Design Team in Derby. Derby has a special place in my heart as it is my home city so I have often bragged that “me and Lara Croft were born in the same city”. As much as the game still resonates with gamers today, little can be said about the Core Design studios. Sadly is was closed and turned in to flats. Nothing is left of the original studio aesthetic.
The question is not about how much of an impact Tomb Raider had on me; it’s what would have been different if Tomb Raider had of never existed? Obviously I cannot give an exact answer. Perhaps Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series may never have existed? We certainly would not have had any Tomb Raider films. It was through the Tomb Raider films that I discovered Cambodia and the beautiful Temples of Angkor. Later in life I ventured to Cambodia to teach English. If the games had never been developed I wonder if I would have ever gone to Cambodia. Perhaps not. One thing can be said in all certainty, Tomb Raider is tremendous and I love it!
Blog post by: Gemma @ Juicy Game Reviews / TheGebs24
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.
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.
The PlayStation Classic has not had the best start. The console was launched 24 years after the original PlayStation released in Japan on December 3rd 1994. Over the last 24 years the PlayStation has been host to classic games (and franchises) like Tomb Raider, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro The Dragon, Ridge Racer, Gran Turismo and more. In fact many, many more PlayStation Games have entertained us for years. I remember being completely stuck at the end of the first disc of Metal Gear Solid. Back then I did not have the luxury of checking out a guide/walkthrough on YouTube. I had to run down to a friends house to ask about the code on the back of the case. That will teach me for playing copied PS1 games.
Fast forward to 2018 and we are over five years in to the PS4 Generation of gaming (and of later years; PS4 Pro). Not only that we were all at the peak of excitement when Sony announced we’d be getting a PlayStation Classic. In essence; a mini PS1. How many games did Sony confirm? At the time of announcing the PlayStation Classic only five games were announced; arguably the stronger five. Without beating a regurgitating information we eventually got the list of PS Classic games:
What would have been deemed impossible for both the anime and movie industry 20 years ago, a Hollywood adaption of Ghost in the Shell was released. Masamune Shirow’s original manga of nearly 30 years ago is philosophical, sociological, psychological and essential reading, a feat echoed by the 1995 anime classic. Following its success on both eastern and western shores, and with the Playstation in full flight, Sony released a Shirow-designed video game just 2 years later.
Ghost in the Shell is an action-packed yet simple first/third person shooter on the PS1 and a great entry for fans of the franchise as a whole. Retaining the excellent animation and voice acting from the English dubbing, the highlights of this now-collectable PS1 title are most definitely the original cut-scenes that give the impression of an interactive movie of sorts. You play as the ‘Rookie’, a new recruit to Public Security Section 9 alongside Major Kusanagi, Batou, etc., as a new terrorist threat, the Human Liberation Front, claims to be responsible for the bombing of the Megatech Body Corporation building, but all is not as it seems.
It took me a while to find a game that I became obsessed with in the PlayStation 1 days. My first PS1 experience was with Porsche Challenge, Crash Bandicoot and International Superstar Soccer 1997 which are all super solid video games so it comes as a surprise to know that ESPN Extreme Games was my guilty pleasure game. ESPN Extreme games on the Playstation 1 (later renamed to 1Xtreme when the ESPN license expired) is not well received by all gamers. In fact a lot of gamers claim that they had never heard of ESPN Extreme Games. If you are one of those people then I urge you to ignore that bad reviews online. Instead give this blog a read then go and find a copy here. ESPN Extreme Games was a launch titles in North America and later came to PAL regions in December 1995 (then hitting Japan in May 1996). It is a racing game with a difference. In the 90’s the racing genre was dominated by traditional and arcade style racers like Ridge Racer, Gran Turismo, Wipeout and the various iterations of Kart Racers. ESPN Extreme Games boasts a very different set of vehicles namely Skateboards, Street Luges, Inline Skates and Mountain Bikes.
Do you remember the first time you came in to contact with the first zombie in Resident Evil on the Playstation 1? Can you hear the squelching sound of flesh being torn from the victim along with the atmospheric music? Now visualise yourself trying to turn Jill or Chris (depending on whom you were playing with) around as quickly as possible to evade suffering the same fate. Resident Evil on the Playstation 1 seemed intensely frightening back in 1996 and it was one of my first experiences with the genre of horror. The echoes of the Mansion and the deadly silence of the some of the rooms had been pitched perfectly in to the Resident Evil experience. Resident Evil wasn’t always about escaping the zombies or mutated zombie dogs but it was about trying to evade the silence and loneliness that consumed the mansion. Finding out what happened to Team Bravo seemed to be the forgotten quest in Resident Evil and what followed turned in to the discovery of the Umbrella Corporation’s experiment’s. We all know the story behind Resident Evil by now. Capcom fronted the legendary Shinji Mikami, acclaimed director of other powerful horror games like The Evil Within, Resident Evil 4 and producer of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3.
By Gemma @Juicy Game Reviews
2015 has been a remarkable year for gaming. Alongside the plethora of Triple A titles rattling around store shelves, I've had the pleasure of getting to know Dan and Terry after they broke the story of their Nintendo Playstation Prototype (SNES CD). I've long dreamt about this machine and always joked with my friends "they'll be a box of them sitting in a factory in Japan somewhere". Never for one second did I think I'd be talking to the owner of one! Today, I immediately text Dan and Terry once the story broke and punched the air a few times in absolute elation from the update.
By now you should know the story of how the Nintendo Playstation or SNES CD or Playstation Super Disc came to light. Many sources across our community made a huge noise about the prototype, including me when I reached out to Dan and asked for a Skype Interview and later when I released a video to try and silence the doubters of the validity of the Nintendo Playstation. Both videos were met with the normal levels of hostility with people suggesting the prototype was "a fake". Some people will still argue "it's a mockup, it's not real" which I highly contested and rightly so. Why would anyone go to such lengths to make a 'fake?'
Guest Blog by Ken Ashton
Having formulated the idea to begin a gaming collection some time ago I spent a little time floundering in the wilderness looking for some sense of direction or inspiration of how to proceed. What becomes obvious very quickly is that there is no right or wrong way to proceed but having listened to ideas from much more experienced gamers/collectors here are some ideas which have worked for me and may prove of use to others.
By Gemma ~@Juicygamereviews
It’s hard to believe that Ridge Racer, on the Playstation 1 was one of my favourite games back in 1995. Yes, I said “games’ not ‘racers’. I’m going to explain exactly why, in this review but before I do it’s clear to say that Ridge Racer has not aged all that well. Playing Ridge Racer now feels slightly painful. With a very blocky control system, chunky polygons and a lack of tracks and cars, I wonder why I was so obsessed with Ridge Racer back in the day? Let's find out...
Retro Game Reviews. Mega Drive, Super Nintendo, Sega Dreamcast and more
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