Thursday, July 29, 2010

WipeOut 2097

Wipeout 2097 had me completely fooled. I was totally convinced that it was released for the PS2 but it was in fact a PSOne title. I was searching for the original Wipeout on the PSOne but kept coming across listings for 2097 on the PS1. There must have been a fair number of years between 2097 and Wipeout Fusion on the PS2. Thinking about it more know I can't remember a whole lot about the game itself. Did I like it? Of course, it is a Wipeout game after all. I wonder what tracks originated in this version that have made it into Wipeout Pulse / Pure / HD?

Looking at the images on the back of the box it looks as though the developers, Psygnosis, have improved the graphics and I do remember it having some notable music on the soundtrack. I think Firestarter from the Prodigy is included. Not that I'm a fan of the band but it does get the adrenaline flowing when racing along in the Venom speed class. So not much to say about Wipeout 2097 other than its a good game and one that certainly improves my collection. There are still a couple of games from the series that I have yet to get, the original and Wipeout Fusion. The latter was most definitely a PS2 release.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Assassin's Creed 2 - Platinum Trophy Unlocked


Until recently I wasn't that bothered collecting Trophies in PS3 games. On top of that I also wasn't that interested in playing Assassin's Creed 2 (AC2) either. I had played the first one but only for an hour before I was so bored by it that I stopped playing it, for good. However, I do like a good bargain and I picked up AC2 cheaply in the US back in May.

When I started playing it a few weeks ago, it immediately sucked me right in. I enjoyed the story, the missions, the environments and the fighting system. Everything about the game was polished and very, very enjoyable. As a bonus the Trophies keep unlocking without me aiming to get them specifically. By the time I beat the game I had 92% of the available Trophies

It was only the last two that I had to actually grind out but I wasn't going to leave the game that close to 100%. It didn't take long to get the remaining Trophies and that 100% looks so good on the Trophy list. Now that I've done that I feel like I want to go and earn more Trophies. I started a few games in the last day or so - Ghostbusters, Super Street Fighter IV and Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time. I think it will be the latter that I will stay with to get some Trophies. And enjoy the game.

Actua Soccer

The next game I added to the collection another football game, Actua Soccer. I think I'm right in saying that this was the first football game that I bought for the PSOne. I suspect that is the reason why I enjoyed it so much. With no football game like International Superstar Soccer to play any half-decent football game to come along would do, for a while at least. 

It was the first 3D football game I'd played and after I'd gotten used to some strange camera angles it became second nature. I thought at the time that it looked pretty amazing graphically, although it has dated horribly. The same goes for the sound design. 

The strange thing I remember about Actua Soccer is that I used to play as S. Korea all the time. I would implement a 3-6-1 formation, which sounds insane but was amazingly effective. I can't remember the name of the Korean striker but he used to rack up the goals for me. Just like the other PSOne games I've written about, I want to fire it up on the PS3 to see how they play today.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Despite the fact that I found it difficult to recall all of the PSOne games that used to be in my collection, there was one game I could never forget - International Superstar Soccer Pro (ISS Pro). At the time I had to wait a good while before an ISS game was available on the PSOne and in the meantime had to make do with games like Actua Soccer or Adidas Power Soccer. You see, I had grown up playing the original ISS and the sequel ISS Deluxe on the SNES and so its arrival on the PSOne was a big deal. It would, I had hoped in some way validate my decision to move from the Mega Drive to the next generation of consoles.

I'm pretty sure that my initial feelings were one of mild disappointment that the game was not as big a leap as I had hoped, a feeling that would return with PES 6 on the Xbox 360. There a few things about the game that stick out in my mind about this game. Firstly, the pace of the game was a good deal slower than the earlier versions on the SNES which was not entirely a bad thing as it helped to develop a more style of play with more emphasis on passing. It was also a harder game to score in. The old trick of taking it around the keeper to slot into an empty net every time was no longer an option. This made for a better experience as you could no longer fall back into that lazy, cheap way to get a quick goal. The funny thing I remember about this game is that I used to select Norway quite a lot. I'm thinking about it now to understand why Norway would have been my default team choice. I suppose back then the team had a high profile for a time plus there was also the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer factor. In the game itself the team probably had a default formation that suited me and they had a striker called Flink (I think that was the name) that was a bit of a goal machine. I must put it on the PS3 and pick Norway to see if my memory has been playing tricks on me.

The copy that I've acquired was sourced from eBay and is in very good condition, despite the ubiquitous crack on the PSOne jewel case. At the time of writing this I have just realised that I still have to track down the other PSOne entries in the ISS Pro catalogue.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

PES, filling in the blanks

I mentioned in a previous post that I got a super bargain of Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) 1, 3, 4 and 5 for only €3.96. Maths fans will notice that that left me with a couple of blanks to fill - PES 2 and PES 6. I found a copy of PES 2 in Game on Dawson Street for a couple of Euro and it is in pretty good condition. Nothing much to say about that other than it was yet another great game in the series and an excellent example of Konami improving upon the previous game. On the other hand there is plenty to say about PES 6.

PES 6 is unique because it was the first PES game that I owned in this current console generation, the Xbox 360. I remember popping down to Xtra-Vision on Stephen's Day 2006 to grab a copy, having failed to receive it as a Christmas present. After the intial disappointment that the graphics didn't look light years ahead of PES 5 on the PS2 I began to really enjoy PES 6. It was the first PES game that I had to play using the analogue stick on a controller. With all the PS2 versions I'd used the d-pad but as anyone who has played a 360 will know the d-pad leaves a lot to be desired. It took me a while to get used to the analogue stick but now I couldn't use anything else.

The best thing for me about PES 6 was the online component. I had played PES 5 online with the PC version and while that was pretty good it doesn't compare favourably to the experience of PES 6 on Xbox Live. Simply because it was on Xbox Live the match-making was so much better than the ad-hoc implementation of the PC version. Over the course of the next year I played in hundreds of online matches and by the time I quit I was in the top 2% on the Xbox Live leader boards. Quite an achievement I'd say. I think I signed off with a 34 match unbeaten run. Looking back on the series as a whole I think PES 6 provided me with the most fun, due to the online play. Later versions of PES have improved the offline modes drastically but none have come close to providing an equal online experience.

So how does this all fit into my collection? About two years ago I traded in the 360 and all the games to get a PS3 which left me needing to buy PES 6 again for my collection. I felt there was no need to get the 360 version of the game as I'd have nothing to play it on, if I felt the urge. I suppose I could get another 360 but I can only imagine my wife's reaction to that. In the end I picked up a copy of PES 6 for €0.99 on the PS2 in GameStopProblem solved, at a bargain basement price.

Destruction Derby 2

Sitting down to write a list of PSOne games that I used to own one of the first to spring to mind was Destruction Derby. It might not have been the first game I had for the system but it could have been the second. When I was searching eBay for a listing at a reasonable price, I kept seeing the sequel for sale. I instantly recognised the box art but I can't say for sure whether I owned the game or not. I know that I did play it so there is a chance it was rented, or a loan or perhaps I did own it. Having thought about it some more I have decided that I did own it, therefore I put it on my collection list.

I managed to get a copy in extremely good condition, even the jewel case isn't cracked. It comes in the strange double CD case that was common to a good many PSOne games. I wish I knew why they were released in double cases as the games only ever had one DVD. As for the game itself, I don't remember much about the gameplay in Destruction Derby 2. I seem to recall the design of the race courses being a lot better than it's predecessor, making them more fun but I'm not sure. The funny thing is I've just recently played the first game. I got it as a free download after setting up a subscription to the PSN+ service. So technically it wasn't free but that is what they would have you believe. Surprisingly enough the game has held up pretty well so I really must put Destruction Derby 2 into the PS3 and see what it is like.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Simpson's: Hit & Run

A short note on a small addition to my resurrected game collection that I picked up in GameStop in St. Stephen's Green shopping centre. I found The Simpson's: Hit & Run in perfect condition for EUR3.99. It is memorable to me for two reasons. Firstly, it was a Christmas present from my then girlfriend (now wife) back in December 2003. Secondly, it was one of the final games that I got for the PS2. After that the only games I picked up were the new Pro Evolution Soccer games and GTA: San Andreas nearly two years after it's release. It is hard to believe that it was seven years ago, I just had to check wikipedia there to be sure. When the game was released it was accompanied by a very good TV advertisement, which must have been the reason I got it as a present. I remember commenting on it to my wife, saying that it would be cool to run and drive around Springfield. As for the game itself, I found it to be enjoyable but also rather difficult. The later driving missions with tough time limits were particularly frustrating and the camera system was not the friendliest either. That being said it is a game I'd like to revisit to see how it has held up.

Note: It is the Platinum re-issue that I bought, not the original release version.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Stay frosty people

One of the first PSOne games I got around to replacing in my collection was Alien Trilogy, managing to snag a fully boxed and complete copy on eBay. The game is in quite good condition but the case is cracked, which seems to be the norm for PSOne games. Thinking back now even when it was my current console the cases would crack quite easily. As for the game itself Alien Trilogy should have been great, based as it is on a terrific movie licence. Even forgetting about the first and third movies, which might not translate particularly well to video game format, the second movie should provide more than enough ideas for an excellent shooter. Unfortunately, this didn't turn out to be the case. Right now I can't remember whether it was the poor gameplay or the motion sickness it gave me but either way I didn't get too far into the game. I also recall the game being fairly dark, probably to provide cover for poor in-game graphics.

On the plus side it had an excellent introductory cut-scene of the Colonial Marines landing on LV-426 and infiltrating the colonists compound. At the time this scene was simply incredible, something that the in-game graphics simply could not live up to. It also had some choice quotes from the movies, 'Stay frosty people!' is a particular favourite but it also had the famous 'That's it man, game over man, game over!' line. I'm just thinking now that Bill Paxton has a decent repository of one-liners throughout his movie career. There are the two aforementioned quotes, plus the classic, 'It's finger lick' in good.' from Before Dark (what do you mean you haven't seen it?).

I must try out Alien Trilogy again, even just to watch the intro again. Should be pretty easy to get it going as I only found out at the weekend that the PS3 will still play PSOne games regardless of the model. How did I not know that before now?

Dead Space added to collection

It was bound to happen while looking at all the listings on eBay that I would see a few bargains here and there. It started with Dead Space when I found a cheap copy and the auction was nearly at an end. I put in my bid of €6 expecting the bid to be sniped at the end. It wasn't and I had myself a nice little bargain. This was the first instance of me going back to games from this generation that I've missed for one reason or another. I decided that if I can fill the gaps of my collection at a reasonable price then I will.

The game is in mint condition and is regarded by many people as a very good game. I have played the opening half hour of the game and agree with the reviews that it does a very good job of establishing a very foreboding atmosphere. However, I don't have any immediate plans to return to Dead Space as I have more attractive options in my backlog but I do like a bargain and at €6 this definitely qualifies as such.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Replacing the PSOne slim

This is the second of two quick notes on some hardware additions to the collection.

I was aware that I still had my original PSOne in the attic. Although to be precise it wasn't actually my original PSOne console. It is the slim-line version that I picked up in Heathrow airport in London. My original phat version had died some months earlier so I decided to replace it on a spur of the moment decision. The only problem with this console is that it doesn't actually work but on the plus side I do have it in the original box, in good condition too. Turns out that replacing the console was no problem, as I just got one on eBay for a miserly €5. It was listed without any cables or boxes, which was fine as I have all that myself. 

It had been a long time since I'd held the PSOne. If you haven't seen one in a long time you will be surprised at just how small it is, particularly this slim model. Placing it beside the PS3 is almost comical. 

CG controller arrives. Looks weird.

This is the first of two quick notes on new hardware additions to the collection.

The GameCube (GC) is a system that I missed out on totally. According to people who had one there are plenty of sensational games for it. Thankfully, Nintendo know how to do backwards compatibility correctly and I can play GC games on my Wii. The first one I bought was Super Mario Sunshine nearly 18 months ago. I never did find the time to turn it on though. That is until I started rebuilding my collection.

I decided to play Super Mario Sunshine a couple of months ago now and popped it into the Wii. It took a few minutes before I realised that the Wii Remote is not compatible with GC games. I had just assumed it would be but having now seen a GC controller I can see the vast difference. I found a GC controller on eBay and it arrived shortly after. It certainly is a weird looking controller, building on the N64's legacy of strange controller configuration. I find it comfortable to hold and the button configuration is nicely laid out. The trigger button has a pretty cool double mechanic of being squishy or pressing it harder allows for it to click in. It is something I've yet to see on another controller.

With the new controller I thought I was ready to tackle Super Mario Sunshine. After putting in an hour or so I then realised I needed a GC memory card to save. That will be another post for another day though.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Can Inception save film in 2010?

I haven't posted anything about film on here since I started writing again. Photography and gaming posts have been the main focus recently. Truthfully, there hasn't been that much to write about as 2010 has proven to be a fairly poor year for film thus far. One suspects that we are now seeing the effect of the writers strike from 2008. Below is the list of movies that I have been to see at the cinema this year. Two things immediately strike me about the list. Firstly, it is shorter than it normally would be at this point in the year and secondly, only two films really stand out - Kick-Ass and The Road.

  • Daybreakers
  • The Road
  • Brothers
  • The Lovely Bones
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Greenzone
  • Kick-Ass
  • Clash of the Titans
  • Iron Man 2
  • Robin Hood

The last film on the list was out about eight weeks ago. A very long time, for me at least, not to have been to the cinema. Now that the World Cup is over it frees up much more time but it wasn't just a time constraint that has kept me from seeing new films. It has been the lack of any film worthy of making the time to see it. Things might be about to change though, with the imminent arrival of Inception, the latest film from the superbly talented Christopher Nolan. If any one film can save this year from going down as the poorest in many, many years it is this film. The 16th of July can't arrive soon enough. In the meantime, I am going to take in Predators. Not likely to be a classic but I'm hopeful that it will be fun at least.

Best Pro Evo bargain ever?

While trying to rebuild my gaming collection it is important that I acquire the games at a good price. I don't want to be getting games for the Mega Drive for example at prices equal to current PS3 games. So far this has proven to be the case, apart from GameCube (GC) games which appear to have held their value pretty well. It must be due to the backwards compatibility of the Wii that is keeping the GC games relevant. 

So speaking of value for money, how about this - four Pro Evolution Soccer games for the PS2 for €3.96. Total. The games were:

  • Pro Evolution Soccer
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 3
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 4
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 5
Now if you look through other posts on this blog you will see that Pro Evolution Soccer is my favourite ever series of games. The remarkable thing about the four games here is that each one gets progressively better, not something that you can always say about sequels. 

I remember being amazed by the first Pro Evo game. I had been playing the International Superstar Soccer series up to that point and they were the pinnacle of console football games. At least they were until Pro Evo came on the scene. I would hate to add up the number of hours I've spent on the Master League in total between these four games. I'm pretty sure it would be a scary figure. Included in these four games is probably the best Pro Evo game of the lot, Pro Evolution Soccer 5.

It was so good I actually owned it twice. One copy for the PS2 and another on the PC. I used the PC version to play online, the first game that I put any time into online multi-player. I used the PS2 version far more though for my fix of Master League action. PES 5 has proven to be an extremely difficult game for the developers to improve upon as subsequent games on the new generation of consoles have proven. Perhaps they've finally cracked it with the forthcoming PES 2011.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Night shots

One aspect of photography that I particularly like are night shots, they can look particularly striking if taken just right. The fact that they are hard to take without the right equipment makes them all the more satisfying if you manage to capture an image satisfactorily. Well in my recent trip to the US I took both my Canon 400D and Canon Ixus 75 but forgot my tripod. 

Regardless, I attempted several night shots during my time there and below is a selection of my favourites.

The first shot is from the bottom of the Magnificent Mile in Chicago.
This next shot is also on the Magnificent Mile. It is a small church opposite the John Hankcock Building.

This photograph is of Copley Square in Boston.

The next two shots are from the 34th floor of the Residence Inn in New York City.


Just to wrap up the short series of posts about Nintendo plushies, here is Link. Not Zelda as many people seem to think. 

Friday, July 9, 2010

Don't jump!

A quick post to show one of my favourite photographs from a recent trip to New York City. This is taken from the 34th floor of the Residence Inn Manahattan.

The Mushroom Kingdom

Look what is growing out in my backgarden!

My wife and I had planned on buying some Mario mushrooms plushies when we were in the Nintendo World Store in New York City. Unfortunately, they weren't selling them at the time but we did manage to get a couple of pretty cool plushies nonetheless. I'll post about them later. 

Micro Mario and Zelda

This is a short follow up on the previous post about the Game Boy Micro (GBM). You may have noticed that I didn't talk about any games that I may have gotten for the device. So lets talk about some GBM games, after all what good is a game system without something to play on it? Like anyone who gets a new system you immediately look up the top rated games on the platform. Didn't take me long to spot three all time classics that were available - Super Mario World, Super Mario Bros. 2 and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Both the Mario games have been re-branded for the Game Boy platform as Super Mario Advance 2 and Super Mario Advance respectively. There isn't really anything new that I can say about these games that hasn't already been said before and in more elegant prose than I can muster. I will say that Super Mario World in particular holds up extremely well and looks particularly impressive on the GBM's high resolution screen.

Super Mario Bros. 2 is an interesting game to me because the first time around I found it was just too different to the original for me to properly enjoy it. When I got to play it years later in the Mario All-Stars Collection I found it to be the weakest of the games so of course it got the least play. Now with the GBM this is my third time around to play it and another chance to finally complete it. I'm currently further in the game than I've gone before, which is good but the last time I played it was two months ago.

My experience with The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on the GBM though was, whisper it, disappointing. It isn't that the port isn't good, it is probably spot-on but rather the game has failed to stand the test of time like Mario. Maybe it is just that the RPG genre was never my favourite or perhaps I'm being too shallow that I'm allowing the dated graphics to get me down but I won't be playing through this game again. I think it would be best served leaving it in the past and those glorious memories of completing it in tandem with my friend on the SNES.

Nintendo Game Boy Micro - The Undiscovered Country

A curious thing happened while I was searching eBay for games that used to be in my collection. I came across a handheld system that I never knew existed. This wasn't just any random system from some obscure manufacture but a Nintendo handheld, the Game Boy Micro (GBM). It left me thinking how did I miss that whole scene? I guess there was a good number of years when I wasn't really following what was going on in the gaming space. I was content with my PS2 and found myself in a routine of simply buying the latest Pro Evolution Soccer came every Fall. It would come around like clockwork and I'd be there launch day ready to get stuck into another Master League season. Besides Pro Evo, or the odd random purchase (Wipeout Fusion) and some slight dabbling into PC gaming (Unreal Tournament) I wouldn't have considered myself that much of a gamer. I'd stopped buying Computer & Video Games magazine years earlier and with no broadband I didn't read any online press. It wasn't until Christmas 2006 that I entered the 'next' generation with the Xbox 360. So I guess it is no surprise that I didn't notice the GBM, especially considering it only seems to have attracted a small but enthusiastic following. At least that is what posts on NeoGAF would have me believe.

Anyway, I saw the listing for the GBM on eBay and it instantly struck me as a very charming little device. So apart from the simply wanting something for the collection that I didn't have what other reasons could I use to justify the purchase. Only one was needed really, the ability to play perfect ports of SNES classics like Super Mario World on the go. The original listing wasn't quite right but I did find another one that was in better condition, fully boxed and complete. Most importantly it was available for a very reasonable price. It is only when you are holding the GBM in your hand that you can fully appreciate just how small this device is. Micro truly is an apt name and obviously the screen itself is even smaller. Contrary to what you might think this is not really an issue. The screen on the device is simply awesome, vividly bright colours and a very high resolution provides you with a perfectly good viewing experience. Certainly far better than a screen of it's size would be expected to provide. The one real issue with the GBM is something that will be familiar to DS or PSP owners. The dreaded hand cramp. With the dimensions so small you really have to curl your hands into an extreme crab like position to play the device and after too short a time this becomes uncomfortable. To be honest this has put me off playing it for any great length of time, so beating Super Mario Bros. 2 is going to have to wait. Again.

The GBM is one of those items that is nice to have in the collection but is unlikely to get that much use. Just having it there is good enough for me. There is no real rationale for that statement, it just is. Getting the GBM was also the point at which the original idea of rebuilding my original collection went slightly askew. It wasn't something I'd owned before so that broke the basic premise of the idea but I feel it adds to the overall quality of the collection. Sure, who doesn't think the GBM is the coolest, tiniest handheld around?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The sole Mega Drive survivors

I had a nice stroke of luck at the very beginning of my quest to rebuild my video game collection. In the attic of my childhood home there lay a bag containing no less than five Mega Drive games. As is the case with practically everything I own the condition of these items was near perfect, apart from a healthy coating of dust. So what gems you ask were in included in this little haul? Well I had Road RashDesert StrikePGA Tour Golf IIIFlashback and Ballz. My delight at finding these five was somewhat tempered by the fact that the real stars of my collection like Streets of Rage 2 or NBA Jam were not among them. Just were did they go I wonder.

So what do I make of this collection of Mega Drive games that shall form the beginnings of this new collection?

Road Rash 

Of the five it is Road Rash that had the most play time back in the day. Who can forget flying along the road hitting your opponents with a chain or a nice forearm smash before ploughing headlong into an oncoming car. You'd get that sinking feeling that the race was lost as you ran back to your bike and saw the other contestants fly past racing towards the finish. I'm positive that I wasn't the only one that wished you could actually enter the houses along the road that you'd encounter while looking for your bike. Little did we know we'd have to wait the best part of a decade for GTA III to arrive to fulfil that little wish. As I write this I'm beginning to wonder if I owned Road Rash 2 (RR2).

[Returns back from Wikipedia] It appears that I might also have owned the sequel. The box art doesn't look that familiar but the chain weapon is actually in RR2 not the first game as I originally thought. It is possible that I just had a loan of RR2 which means I'll have to put it on the list of
wanted items.

Desert Strike 

Desert Strike is a game that I got with the Mega Drive. It didn't come  bundled with the console, I think my mother bought it at the same time but I could be wrong. It was an enjoyable game even though I didn't manage to experience that much of it. You see, I found the game impossibly hard. If it wasn't the eagle-eyed enemies swatting me from the air it was the gas guzzling helicopter that would fall from the sky, out of gas yet again. I also think that I never quite got the hang of the controls, I was just never precise enough for the more delicate manoeuvres. If memory serves I never did get past the first level. Was there even a next level? Even now I'm unsure. I remember going back to the game time and again determined to crack that level once and for all. Perhaps when I get a Mega Drive up and running again I will attempt it one final time.

PGA Tour Golf III

I guess everyone has a golf game in their collection somewhere even if they aren't a fan of the sport. They always seem like a good idea at the time as they tend to be highly addictive and fun at the beginning but that, for me at least, only lasts a short time. Perhaps it is the repetitive nature of the control scheme - press A, followed by A and press A again. PGA Tour Golf III as no different. Then again not being a golf aficionado it is possible that I am missing out on the little nuances that would have made the game more fun in the long run. Thinking about it now I thought the graphics at the time were very impressive, the player models trying to achieve a very realistic look. Quite impressive at the time but one suspects if I were to play it now the graphics wouldn't hold up at all. Another memory associated with this title is the fact that it remains the only game that I have played with my dad. Having said all that I did fall into the golf game trap only last year with Tiger Woods 10 on the Wii. Yes, it was fun at the start, especially with Wii Motion Plus but I haven't even completed one tournament yet. I really must go back and try again.


Flashback was an interesting game. At the time I remember having saved enough for a new game and thought that the screen shots of the game in C&VG magazine were awesome. Perhaps I didn't know what type of game it was or was just sucked by the amazing visuals but I picked up the game regardless in Artane Castle. There must have been a toy store there back then, I don't recall exactly. What followed was one of the more embarrassing episodes of my gaming life. The game opens with the main character, Conrad lying on the ground. Control is passed to me and I walk him to the side of the screen to continue. Nothing happens. The screen doesn't scroll. Nor does a new screen load. It appears I'm stuck on the opening screen. I try everything I can think of to make some progress but fail spectacularly. I'm not sure how much time goes by but I eventually try to return the game. They guy in the shop puts the game on and of course doesn't see anything wrong. The game turns on and looks fine from his point of view. I have no idea what I tried to argue. Did I suggest the rest of the game was missing? Anyway, I returned home defeated with the same copy of Flashback in my hand.

I'm not sure how long after that episode I figured out what I was doing wrong. Perhaps I just read the manual. But a simple press of 'up' on the d-pad would have solved all my problems as Conrad reaches up and pulls himself to a new part of the screen. Progress. Finally. I never did get that much further. The game was extremely difficult, at least I found it so. I loaned it to a friend once and found out that he had gotten much further than I had. How annoying is that? Despite never having that much fun with the game I still remember it fondly and actually ended up owning the sequel Fade to Black on the PSOne. One more thing about Flashback was the awesome box art. Looking at it now it has a definite iconic quality. I'm sure most gamers my age would recognise it.


The last of the games contained in the bag was Ballz. Or Ballz 3D: The Battle of the Balls to give it it's full title. I'm pretty sure that I picked this up towards the end of the Mega Drive era. I think I got it cheap enough in the old Electronic Boutique store on Dawson Street. I miss that shop actually. There isn't much of this title that sticks in the memory, in fact I had to resort to Wikipedia just there for a refresher. I guess the game was a bit of a laugh but with Mortal Kombat II in the collection and Super Street Fighter II on my friends SNES to play I really don't see why I bothered with such an inferior fighter. On the plus side I don't have to try to track down a copy of it now.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Backlog a new and growing concern

An unintended consequence of trying to increase my video game library has been the creation of a backlog. This idea of a backlog is new to me as I've never really had more than one game I've wanted to play at a time. When I say play, I don't mean to completion in most cases. Generally I'll finish with a game once I've stopped having fun and feel that I've had value for money from my purchase. I have found that in this generation especially the ratio of games completed to played has fallen substantially. Take for instance Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and it's sequel. I barely scratched the surface of either game's single player campaign, yet feel that I got excellent value from all the time spent in online multi-player. So I think it is fair to say I'm not a completionist. So my backlog is games I've yet to even play, rather than fully complete.

At the moment I'm really enjoying Assassin's Creed 2, while the following games languish in the backlog.

  • Darksiders
  • Dead Space
  • Ghostbusters
  • Luigi's Mansion
  • Mario Kart Double Dash
  • ModNation Racers
  • Motorstorm: Pacific Rift
  • Muramasa: The Demon Blade
  • Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time
  • Ratchet & Clank: Quest for Bounty
  • Red Dead Redemption
  • Saints Row 2
  • Split / Second
  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
  • Super Mario Galaxy 2
  • Super Mario Sunshine
  • Super Street Fighter IV
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker Limited Edition
  • Transformers War for Cybertron

Of those games Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the one that I want to tackle next, while Dead Space is most likely to remain unplayed I'd say.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Writing lists and setting rules

Now that I had decided to rebuild my collection of video games I had to actually try and remember what games I did own at one point or another. This is not as easy as you might think. The best place to start as in most cases is the beginning. I did own a C64 but for one reason or another I have decided not to pursue this part of my collection. So that brings me onto the Sega Mega Drive, probably the best console I've ever owned but that could be the nostalgia talking.

I know that towards the end of the Mega Drive era I had amassed quite a collection of games but I couldn't remember them all when I sat down to write a list. Sure, I remembered the classics that I owned like Sonic the Hedgehog, Streets of Rage II and NBA Jam. Other games that sprung to mind were Desert Strike, Mortal Kombat 2, Road Rash and Flashback. That made seven games, but surely I had more than that. A little more thought and I remembered some more but I resorted to Wikipedia to look up popular Mega Drive games to ignite a spark of recognition. Games that I found that had to be added to my list were Ballz, Micro Machines, Tazmania and several others.

The situation was the same with my PSOne collection of titles. I knew a couple, like International Superstar Soccer Pro and Wipeout but it took some looking to figure out what else I had. I didn't have as much of a problem when it came to the PS2 as I was still playing that machine up until a few years ago. Still one thing did strike me about my PS2 collection - it was very small. That was my primary console for five years and yet I rarely seemed to buy any games for it, apart from my annual fix of Pro Evolution Soccer. The Nintendo Game Boy is another console that I've owned in my time but that part of my collection is on the back burner. It is not forgotten but it will have to wait. There are also a handful of PS3 games that I've traded in that I now want back, at the right price of course.

Price. A very important consideration in all this. In order to control the cost, rules were needed. Do I buy only games that I've owned? What about games I loved but didn't own, that I had gotten a loan of. Ah yes, loaning games in school, great way to play plenty of games without paying for them. How about games that I might have owned or rented, like Aladdin. What about games that I could come across that would be great in any collection but I've never played? Finally, it turns out that although the majority of retro games are very cheap, some are surprisingly expensive. Raise your hands (or clenched fist) Streets of Rage 3!

In the end there is no set rule really. If I think it would be good for the collection and at a reasonable price, preferably low, I will try to get it. So when I'm finished it won't be my original collection per se but it will be quite a collection.

Back, with a new challenge.

It has been quite some time since I last updated this blog. It is funny looking back at it after this time and seeing that I was updating the site on an almost daily basis for a while. Then it suddenly stopped. No winding down, just a sudden end. No big deal as I doubt that anyone had even come across this site, let alone read any of the entries. I suppose the main reason for the lack of activity was because my spare time was taken over with development of software for the iPhone platform. I got quite caught up in that for a period of about nine months to a year. Now that that interest is winding down I'm back with a new interest, rebuilding my lost video game collection.

Over the years I have owned quite a number of video games and consoles. These have mostly been lost over time. The PSOne and PS2 collection having been traded in, while what happened my Mega Drive collection remains a mystery. A few months back I suddenly had the idea of trying to recreate my original collection. I can't think of a rational explanation as to why I want to do this, I just do.

As I mentioned this started a few months back so I will be making several posts about my progress so far and how it has differed slightly from how I envisaged it originally.