Category Archives: Gaming

PC, Console, Phone… Anywhere that games may exist really.

The Big Game

This is happening, it’s happening soon and I am totally ill prepared for it for these reasons:

  • My headset ‘may’ be failing. I’ve had reports that my mic cuts out. I can’t get this to replicate under labratory conditions though so maybe it’s my gaming partners ears that are cutting out.
  • My PC is not mobile friendly. It’s fucking huge for one but also I’ve never actually attached my SSD’s, they will just be flopping around inside the case, swinging by the sata cables and smashing into my tender circuitry. The case came with wheels, I didn’t attach them either.
  • I am slightly crippled. Due to my ongoing throacic outlet syndrom, gaming is currently quite an uncomfortable experience. My desk helps a little as I can pull out a section and use it for an arm rest, I won’t have this at The big game and have no idea what levels of excruciating pain I will end up subjecting myself to because of this.
  • I am unfamiliar with the preferred games. Obviously you can play what the hell you want (Isaac?) but it is pointless going to a lan party and not getting involved with the tournaments; namely: Dota 2, CS:GO, Trackmania and some others I’m not interested in. My best bet is CS:GO as I’m a CS ‘veteran’ but I haven’t played since the dark ages and I’ve played very little of CS:GO. I don’t think I can even remember how to buy ammo.

Still, I’ve commited. I must game.


The Ever Expanding Void of Unfinished Games

Some games need real commitment, be it because of the sheer size of the game or the amount of time you have to spend playing to hone your skills and further your progress. For example I have clocked up just under 100 hours on Skyrim and have yet to delve into the main quest, I have nearly 500 hours combined on Left 4 Dead 1&2 and Valve still persist in releasing more material to suck up my precious life. I remember Square boasting about how many game hours were in Final fantasy VII when it was released 15 years ago, these days that number seems small compared to how much time some games can take up.

“To begin with, FF7 is longer than every console RPG to date. The game takes place across 3 CDs. It took Next Generation Online, no stranger to RPGs, a total of 49 hours to complete the game…” Source: IGN

In some respects the sheer scale of games, particularly modern games, is good. But unless you are a jobless gamer with no commitments it is inevitable that you will start building up a backlog of games that you want to play but may not ever get the chance to, even more so if you are fond of classic games and still want to allocate time to them, and here in lies the purpose of this article.
I have put together a list of games that I want to complete but are rapidly disappearing from view as more and more titles leap relentlessly into our RSI afflicted arms. I have had to prioritise here as I would happily play all my games to completion but this would require an infinite amount of energy and time, similar to achieving light-speed only a lot less likely. I have stuck to games that I actually own and will comment on my progress so far (if any) and the probablity of completion ever being achieved.

End of game for Shinobi

The legendary end of game sequence for Shinobi on the Master System made it all worthwhile

Castle Quest
One of my first recollections of playing a true adventure game. At the time it seemed amazing to me that you could travel around and explore a realistic environment and were only restricted by the items you could find to help you access other areas, I would see glimpses of places I would be able to get to but had no idea how to do so and that thrilled me no end.

Castle Quest
Status: It took me long enough to work out exactly how to  use fire to coordinate the monkey men so I could pass the spider room so not too far in.
Probability of completion: High, I can’t ever let this one drop, too much dewy-eyed nostalgia is involved.

Beneath a Steel Sky
I didn’t  discover this DOS/Amiga treat until quite late via ScummVM, which is a shame because it is a fantastic game and you cannot call yourself a point and click adventure fan if you haven’t played this. I do not call myself a point and click adventure fan but i would love to reintroduce myself to its dystopian robo-guff.

Beneath a Steel Sky
Status: Played for quite a few hours but I couldn’t jump back in now as it’s been too long, I would have to restart to avoid perplexion.
Probability of completion: Fairly high, it could end up being my favourite point and click adventure.

Ultima IV
I first saw the Master System version of this for sale in WHSmiths in Poulton-le-Fylde while visiting my Nan many aeons ago. I remember begging my dad for the £39.99 it cost after I was seduced by it’s ‘Battery Back-up Memory’ which indicated that it was a proper RPG  unlike that pretender ‘Wonder Boy III‘ that I had been playing. Despite pleas and assurances that I would sell my worldly toys to pay him back he refused and I had to wait several years before I was financially reckless enough to buy it with my own money.

Ultima IV
Status: I turned the game on once, I may have even rolled a character.
Probability of completion: Low, I know I should but it’s just not cool.

Under Pressure
I had a demo of this on the ST and loved it so much that I just played that over and over again as I couldn’t afford the full game. I now have it for the Amiga but my PSU is buggered so still can’t indulge in it and to top things off it seems I copied over the ST demo when I was running low on floppy disks. Christ knows what I would have been saving on them, possibly some of my optical illusion art I thought was so wondrous at the time. I don’t think the game is that highly thought of but I would still like to give it a chance.

under Pressure

Status: One level, many many times, via demo.
Probability of completion: It’s possible, once I fix my Amiga problems, but not likely.

Another game that I discovered on the ST but now have on the Amiga though I never actually got to play this the first time around, it is just something I had seen through some ST magazine and was intrigued by the isometric view and apparent genetically engineered death-balls.

Status: I looked at the first couple of screens once via emulator but would prefer to play it using the original system.
Probability of completion: For some reason I am almost content in just having found the game but it may well become my new best thing if I ever get to try it properly.

Ys: The Vanished Omens
This may well have been my first ‘proper’ RPG and would have contributed to my need to procure Ultima IV. I liked the game and even enjoyed the bit of farming I had to do to increase my level, right up until I got stuck. I can’t remember the details but I think it was something to do with a mirror.

Status: In a prison and I can’t get the hell out.
Probability of completion: Low, though it has been said that the game is only a few hours long so you never know…

Phantasy Star
I did Phantasy Star all wrong, I played IV first, then moved in reverse order until reaching the Master System debut. Not that it matters, the first four Phantasy Star games remain one of my favorite RPG series and frankly I would love to see a new single player game. I have only completed IV and possibly II or III, I’m not really sure, but I would certainly like to give all of them a go again, in order this time.

Phantasy Star
Status: Several hours in, for the second time.
Probability of completion: Almost a certainty and the Phantasy Star world is definitely somewhere I want to live.

This isometric number is the best Batman game ever and considers Arkham City to be a sniveling little bitch. It doesn’t care for canon and brazenly fills the labyrinthine Batcave with patrolling wearbeasts, death-floors and roaming shark heads. My dad had it on some kind of IBM PC and I spent many hours sobbing in frustration at its intense difficulty. I have a speccy and CPC464 copy of it so I could give that a go or maybe the remake as it is done by the same guy who did the fantastically faithful Head over Heels one.


Status: Not very far at all.
Probability of completion: Extremely likely because fuck you, Rocksteady.

Magical Flying Hat Turbo Adventure
I saw a review for this game in a CG&G Complete Guide to Sega and wanted it real bad, unfortunately you could only get it through import and besides at the time I only had an Atari 2600 and they don’t take kindly to having Megadrive carts shoved in them. My need increased a few years later when I fell in love with the Master System predecessor Psycho Fox. Magical hat was given a facelift and a Western release as Decap Attack but it just didn’t feel right to me so I kept hunting until I got hold of a copy of the Japanese incarnation.

Magical Flying Hat Turbo Adventure
Status: Have just played a level.
Probability of completion: Moderate-High, I will most likely give it a good going over but whether it can stand up to that cute little fox and his unnaturally protruding arm remains to be seen.

Final Fantasy III
After playing Final Fantasy VII and VIII I knew I had to hunt for the previous games, this was made easier once I had a PC and was online and at some point I gave Final fantasy III (actually the US port of Final fantasy VI) a short go through an emulator. When the intro reached the point of Vicks, Wedge and an unknown bint walking over the land in their Magitek Armour accompanied by tingle-inducing music I knew I had to stop and wait until I got a proper copy before playing it.

Final Fantasy III
Status: Just after the intro.
Probability of completion: Very likely indeed.

Maniac Mansion
This was an excellent graphic adventure that I owned on the NES, the prequel to the famous ‘Day of the Tenticle’ and one of the few point and click games that didn’t end up frustrating me into a coma.

Maniac Mansion
Status: Absolutely no idea.
Probability of completion: I might but I think Beneath a Steel Sky will get priority if I have to choose a game of that ilk, if for nothing else than the ability to use a mouse.

Secret of Mana
I can’t recall if I actually completed this or not, I may have but it’s more likely that I played most of it then restarted so I could take advantage of the cooperative mutiplayer aspect. After a few false starts in this respect due to lack of commitment or interest from my fellow game players it sadly drifted into the past.

Secret of Mana
Status: If not complete then almost so and even if it is it deserves a revisit.
Probability of completion: Pretty high, even more so if someone wants to play it with me and STICK WITH IT.

Super Mario RPG
I first heard of Super Mario RPG in Game Zone Magazine and laughed my sceptical arse off, oh those crazy Japanese I thought whilst considering that it may even be demeted Game Zone trickery. A few years later I ate my words and thoughts after buying a copy and realising that it was actually pretty good. Granted people will be put off by the cutesy of it but it cannot be denied that the game contains all you need for a decent RPG.

Super Mario RPG
Status: Quite a way into it.
Probability of completion: As I bring it out every now and then it’s likely I may have it finished in a decade or two.

The Adventures of Alundra
A top down adventure, similar to the Legend of Zelda on the SNES, and a very good one at that. I’m not even sure how I came across the game, I didn’t involve myself in Playstation publications as they were all shit and I didn’t have or know of the internet at the time, no doubt it was a drunken second hand purchase.

Status: Approaching completion, I think.
Probability of completion: This one often slips my memory but I would really like to give it a go again so fairly high, if I can remember.

Paper Mario
The Paper Mario games are supposed to be excellent, this one was a fucker to get hold of unless I wanted to pay £60+ on Ebay (I got it for less than half that, most likely due to lack of photo). I refuse to play it until i complete Super Mario RPG.

Paper Mario
Status: The contents of the box have been checked and the cartridge has been tested.
Probability of completion: It all depends on Super Mario RPG.

Metroid Prime, MP: Echos, MP: Corruption & MP Hunters
Super Metroid on the SNES is a rare perfect game, I literally can’t think of any faults other than the fact that the box is ridiculously big. I was dubious about it changing to a FPS style game but Metroid Prime is indeed a great game. Shame I never bothered to kill the final boss as I am now so out of practice with using a controller for a FPS that I will probably fail miserably. Because I haven’t officially completed it I haven’t touched Echos or Corruption and have only had a brief go on Hunters, enough to get my ball.

Metroid Prime
Status: Metroid Prime = Fully completed up to the final boss-beast, Echoes & Corruption = Not yet touched, Metroid Prime: Hunters = Played about an hour and a bit of multiplayer.
Probability of completion: I’m sure I’ll slaughter the end boss of Metroid Prime at some point, I kind of want to skip Echos so I can go straight to Corruption but I can’t bring myself to do that just yet. I doubt Hunters will ever get a proper look in.

Something to do with a dog who could paint or was made of paint or something. I had a quick go at it but I think this was at a time when I was picking up lots of cheap games while the PS2 was on its way out but not ever actually getting a chance to play the bastards. Maybe I’ll just get the Wii version to spur me on, just like all my other Wii games that haven’t.

Status: Pretty much at the start.
Probability of completion: Low-ish

Oddworld: Strangers Wrath
I remember when Abes Oddysey first came out and there was talk of this being part of a pentology of games set in the same world. Abes oddysey was great and Exodus was even better, it took me a while to hunt down Munches Oddysey and Strangers Wrath, the former seemed good but didn’t really interest me due to my anti-3D plateformer views but I really enjoyed Strangers Wrath. Alas the X-Box I bought it for was actually my sons so rarely got to play it and then the dog ate the controllers hampering this even further. It has now been released on Steam, I just hope the graphics don’t look too dire on my crisp, sexy monitor.

Strangers Wrath
Status: I got an hour or so into it.
Probability of completion: Possibly, I’m looking forward to using a mouse instead of a controller but may wait until an HD version comes on the PC.

Elf was a fun little piece of platforming pie that I had on the ST, at first it seemed a bit of something and nothing and I certainly wasn’t keen on the constant barrage of spawning enemies, but once I had got the hang of it and progressed through a couple of levels it started to all make sense and was actually a deeply smashing game.

Status: Level 3 (that’s a complete guess but it feels… right).
Probability of completion: Fairly high, I often consider it I just think I may be shit as my skill tree has been reset to work on PC FPS games instead.

Magic Pockets
Another ST one, I picked up a copy when my mar was a brief member of one of those monthly game clubs (where you would be sent a game by force if you didn’t order one) but the disk stopped working. I never got a replacement and to this day I still own the redundant copy in the hope that it will be fixed by solar flares or something.

Magic Pockets
Status: No idea, not much though.
Probability of completion: Moderate, it’s one I think of fairly frequently and I’m a sucker for the olde platformers but I need to find a replacement copy first.

Already a classic game apparently but I some how missed playing it. I played the demo, presumably from some PC rag, and I always intended to purchase it but didn’t do so until it was on Steam and displayed the magic words ‘75% off’.

Status: Demo played and finished.
Probability of completion: I keep installing it then removing it, likelyhood will depend on peer pressure.

Jet Force Gemini
Ahhh this game started off brilliant and just got better the more I played it, it had the advantage that you could rescue or head-shot teddybears which looked a lot like ewoks. I must have got quite far but something distracted me, maybe Perfect Dark. I would love to play it again but it will take some time and I’m not sure how much I will tolerate joypad controls for fine sniper aiming.

Jet Force Gemini
Status: I got pretty damn far into the thing.
Probability of completion: Low.

So that’s that, the main games in my collection that I just can’t let go of and will possibly haunt me until I am released by the glorious freedom of death. This is just the start of a continually expanding list, there are already plenty of current and recent games that are rapidly heading in the same direction such as: Red Steel 2, Mafia 2, Chronicals of Riddick, Metro 2033, No More Heroes, S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call of Pripyat, Dragon Age: Origins…

My recent spate of un-working has demonstrated that it is a lot less likely than I ever realised that I will be able to give the many games I own the attention they deserve. The constantly increasing amount available and the dedication often required means there will always be a personal chasm of unplayed and unfinished games and  it is something that we, as gamers, have to come to terms with.

KOTOR 3 – Reports from The Old Republic

Let’s ignore the utter clusterfuck that was ordering “Star Wars: The Old Republic” from Tesco Entertainment in the first place. I’m going to give my first impressions of the game itself and do not wish my fuming bitterness from having received my early access code just five hours before the games official launch to have any bearing on my opinions of this brand new, sexy and highly anticipated MMORPG. Neither am I going to let my numerous unanswered calls and emails of complaint and dissatisfaction taint my feelings towards Biowares online opus.

Bored customer service rep

"He's going on about that bastard game again, shall I put him on hold?"

I find it quite hard to not compare The Old Republic to its predecessor, Star Wars Galaxies, I’m not sure why, possibly because they are both online role-playing games set in the Star Wars universe. I enjoyed Galaxies, I know it had its critics and from what I can tell, after visiting briefly a couple of years after I had stopped playing, introducing the New Game Enhancements was a poor decision. However I have many fond memories of my time there, as well as many folders of screenshots, naturally when I am playing The Old Republic I often think back to how it compares to my time in Galaxies.

So anyway. here are my initial thoughts following 17 levels of game time.

A single player MMORPG

Bioware promised a lot with The Old Republic (TOR) and on paper it is a very ambitious title but can they really change the face of online role-playing games? So far, I’m not so sure.
The Old Republic is a solid game at the core and it is certainly refreshing to have a lot more depth to the quests rather than the usual drivel of “kill 10 raving sloths” or “deliver a crate of fish to the Mountie”. Don’t get me wrong, these tasks are still there but the above average writing gives the impression that there is a point to them. All in all the single player experience, so far at least, seems to be thorough and enjoyable. However in my eyes the implementation of the single player experience is where the potential problem lies.

So far playing TOR feels like you are playing a single player RPG that just happens to have other people in it, rather than being a true group experience. I thought Bioware had cracked it, had found a way of having the type of depth and choice that KOTOR did within a MMO world but this is not the case and in fact it can limit the online experience. You have group missions, repeatable ones seemingly designed to allow people to type LFG in the general chat channel but other than that it can be quite hard to team up with others for the full experience of a standard quest. Level and class restrictions mean that you have to be quite meticulous in the coordination of when to do quests otherwise you will just have people tagging along for the fights, unable to be involved in the story and conversations, standard for an MMORPG I know but it kind impacts on one of  TORs unique selling points.

Shrunken worlds, expanded life

The worlds, so far, are well realised, they look the part but they just don’t seems as vast as I would hope. This may change as I visit more places but currently I am lacking a sense of scale, I was hoping to trek across great landscapes, occasionally fighting wild beasts then making camp to tend to our weary e-bodies. But everything in TOR is very contained and compact, it can still take a while to travel from one side of a map to the other but the sense of huge just isn’t there. It’s also far too populated, you can’t find a place where there isn’t another player, enemy or NPC, it’s just too damn busy. In Galaxies you would leave a bustling town or outpost knowing you would actually be heading into the wild, it really felt like an expedition and you certainly had to be prepared. No such risk in TOR thanks to the convenient taxi ranks and quick travel posts dotted around the place.

Camping in galaxies

Travelling in Galaxies formed bonds that would last a lifetime

Multiple personalities

It’s great to have a companion, someone to run errands for you, someone to cuddle up to in the corner of a cantina. What is not great is the pair of you running past another incarnation of your companion, either the original NPC you met before they joined you or as one of their many clones that appear to have latched onto other players. Why couldn’t they make you able to design the look of your companion as you would your own character? It seems like a simple solution to prevent these people spawning hundreds of copies of themselves across the galaxy. And while we’re on the subject of character design…

Fat Twi’leks

It is common knowledge that the best part of any RPG is designing your own character, I am sure I am not alone in spending many gleeful hours carefully adjusting my cheekbone height and forehead depth. So why have Bioware given us such lackluster character creation for TOR? There is no fine tuning, it is literally just presets, and sometimes presets with little sense. Why is there a setting for an extremely fat Twi’lek but humans only range from skinny to burly? Do humans in this galaxy have some kind of innate biological ability that prevents obesity?

A fat Twi'lek

Who would have thought force-eating 140 bantha burgers would do this?

Choose your destiny

TOR is a difficult one to judge, there are plenty of other criticisms such as the restriction of some races to specific classes, why can’t I be a Twi’lek imperial agent? Or the fact that you have to choose an allegiance at the start of the game, whatever happened to making decisions as the game naturally evolves? But there are a lot of positives too such as the overall mechanics of the game, which are solid if not standard, and it certainly feels like Star Wars. The voice acting is generally superb and varied, in particular the imperial officers have the expected snide, yet well spoken British tone about them, although I’m not sure that the occasional Welsh accent I have come across really fits, but then I suppose Obi-Wan was Scottish in his younger years. It is good fun to play and the single player experience could be a possible match for KOTOR, I’m just still not sure the multiplayer aspect hasn’t suffered from this and when the time comes I’m still not convinced I’ll be willing to pay £8 a month to play an online single player game.

Lods fate

The amount of quests available in Skyrim is absurd. I’m currently trying to clear some of the 40+ I currently have so my Journal doesn’t look so fat with the needs of others. This is verging on the impossible, I seem to be picking up at least one new quest for every one I complete just by accidentally speaking to the wrong person, and if it’s offered I’m afraid I can’t turn it down. I just need to stop talking to people.

Some times the game gods lend a helping hand, however. I recently arrived at a town trying to find someone called ‘Lod’ who I apparently need to speak to. As I approached him I heard the now familiar sound of a dragon nearby but none the less continued to try to initiate the conversation. Lod decided to ignore my chatter and take matters into his own hands, I turned just in time to see his face get roasted off by the dragon that had landed smack bang in the middle of the village. With the help of the other locals the dragon was soon dead, but so was my quest provider, he still even had his little white triangle floating above his lifeless frame and no amount of clicking would activate it.

It’s moments like this that make games like Skyrim special, the fact that there are quests or interactions that may never be seen purely due to an accidental event really adds to the depth of the experience and more than makes up for the silly things that try to do the opposite.

Having said that the quest marker is still there, floating over Lods stupid body, and therefore so is the quest. So this incident has not helped me at all in fact I now have a quest that can never be completed stuck forever in my Journal.


Dead Lod and Quest.

Lod, with my now impossible quest.