Monday, 26 December 2022

Doom Gorefest #6 - Top 10 Doom Games of Doom!

What can be said about this franchise that hasn't already been stated a million billion times in the past? Doom was not the first FPS, nor was it all that original of a concept to begin with, but it modernized the genre for its time and inspired many, many developers from its release and onward.

ID software developers, John Carmack, John Romero, Sandy Peterson and Adrian Carmack (no relation) created a game with a simple concept. A portal to Hell is opened up and a lost Marine who was the sole survivor on a base in Phobos has to fight his way through a legion of its minions.

Thus, Doom was created. They took the name from a line in a Tom Cruise movie back in the 80's and thus changed gaming as a whole. It was 3D without actually being 3D. It was a 2D overhead with a different view point, much like they did with Wolfenstein 3D. This one, however, had different levels of detail, and you were able to climb stairs as well as fall down wells into acid pits. The whole thing was given a layer of depth that had never been seen before. It became a phenomenon that still thrives decades after its original release.

Since then, where other, very popular games have failed, Doom has succeeded in spades! While Duke Nukem Forever killed its franchise, Wolfenstein has had a decline in quality, Hexen and Heretic has had a spiritual successor but no official, recent games, Doom has endured because of a standard of quality that has not been sullied. Say what you will about some of these games, they have never reached the level of "terrible".

So, that's where we're at now. At the time of writing this, Doom Eternal is the most recent title in the series and now there's enough material to make a top 10! This will include all of the official releases. Although, of the multitudes of mods, there are some gems that deserve to be on this list. Still, that's a lot of games to go through, so we'll keep it Dead Simple (hoho!). Disagree with this list all you want. If you have qualms with my choices, by all means, make your own top 10 in the comments! Let's rip this list a new one!

#10 Plutonia Experiment

Many have said that this game just isn't worth the effort. It is entirely too hard to get good at and the frustration levels reach unnerving heights. While there is a bit of truth to this, that doesn't mean this game is without its own merits. I have never beaten this entire game, but I have definitely gotten lost in its levels and journeyed through its ridiculous amounts of Revenants and Mancubi. It really just takes practice, circle strafing and knowing when to let the monsters infight to even make a dent in its long list of levels. It's by no means a big favorite, but it is one that I am more than happy to get into on occasion.

#9 Doom 2 Master Levels

While some of these maps are extremely cryptic and very light on weapons and ammo, sometimes it's just so satisfying when you finally figure it out. The death traps in this level pack are some of the most horrific in the entire franchise, that includes Plutonia. Both are strong contenders against one another for the hardest pack of levels. Master Levels of Doom 2 is just another official mod that played around with the Doom Engine and it's just fun to see what they come up with. There aren't any real memorable maps other than Bad Dream and a couple of others, but you can just tell the modders were having a great time making it. 

#8 Sigil

By the one and only John Romero. After decades of lying dormant with the series, aside from some interviews and playing the games he created for the public, Romero comes out of nowhere and makes a whole new pack of maps for all of us to enjoy for free! The maps work far different from your normal fare. He took a lot of concepts and expanded upon them like platforms you activated by shooting the panels. The maps are a bit more monster heavy and stretches the concept in ways that a lot of modders never thought of. The maps are inventive and open up all new possibilities for gameplay. If you have not tried Sigil (or Si6il if you're L337), you are depriving yourself of a good time!

#7 Doom 3

Whatever your thoughts on Doom 3, you have to admit that it was a decent idea to begin with. Adding a brand new survival horror feel, dark spaces, and concepts that still live on to this day, Doom 3 was a mixed bag that was a lot of fun to explore. It pushed the boundaries of gaming graphics and made a lot of the computers of the time strain under its weight, being the first 3D Doom title. Now, with modern computers, that's not really an issue. Later modifications, i.e. the BFG edition, removed the flashlight mechanic and made the overall game easier while also giving you more ammo to work with. Whether you enjoyed it for its challenge, or simply loved the new horror views, it's just a fun game to engross yourself with. 

#6 Doom 64

This was a game that took some getting use to. Many people never even tried it because they thought that it was just another Doom port for the N64. When you played it, however, you'd probably be surprised to realize that it is a different game entirely when it comes to new skins, new maps, and the game mechanics that have been turned on their heads. It is, at its core, Doom! Once you get past the new look and feel of the game, you'll probably even start to like it better than some of the common titles. The maps have some more cryptic puzzles and the monsters work a bit differently but it is still very much the Doom we know and love in a nice, dark package.

#5 Doom Eternal

The one and only, Doom Eternal. At the time of writing this, Eternal is the latest in the series and what an installment it is! Brand new monsters, along with many callbacks and fanservice for just about every Doom fan to enjoy while they tore through ranks of demons! The graphics are stellar, the action is high octane and the difficulty is RIDICULOUS! With the collectibles, the replay value is beyond expectations and secrets upon secrets will have you coming back for more even after your first playthrough. The things that really keep this game from being higher than #5 for me is the fact that the platforming has become something of a hindrance with how much they used it, not to mention the ammo limitation that never gets a lot better throughout its playtime. Some levels are just a slog to get through because you need to be on point with your jumps and charges. Still, any Doom fan should play this, if nothing else than for the final boss which is so satisfying. You may just want to beat him again for good measure.

#4 Ultimate Doom

The culmination of all things Doom and a collection of the original games that took the gaming world by storm! The first episode is iconic and irreplaceable in the eyes of true Doomsters. If you have not played this game and you consider yourself a fan, then that title should be called into question. This game has aged like fine wine and should be revisited on every occasion you feel like you need to let some steam off on hell's minions. What puts this game at #4, however, is the third and fourth episodes. While they are not without their charm, they tend to be something of a frustrating mess. This was when the developers started to throw stuff at a wall to get the maps finished. Thy Flesh Consumed has to be the real low point, in this very subjective top 10 list, for Ultimate Doom. Still, this is the game that started it all and the welcome memories will always come flying back for all old school Doom fans who truly experienced its hayday.

#3 Doom 2016

A return to form that propelled the series into the hearts and minds of a whole new generation. It also gave old school fans everything they wanted and more. Despite a questionable multiplayer mode, Doom 4 killed all naysayers' opinions and brought us to a beautiful new level of ripping and tearing! Having awoken from a long slumber, the Doomguy, now known as The Doom Slayer, broke himself from the chains that bound him and began breaking Hell's legions into gibs and gore once again! From Mars all the way to Hell, you blast through the opposition with all of those glorious guns and weapons of death that you know and love, including the infamous Super Shotgun. Infamous to Hell's minions, that is, because its sinister blast has brought them down to size in more ways than one. After a long, long time of nothing in this franchise, Doom 4 gave us a nice long drink of water when we needed it most. Without any doubts, this is my favorite in the current franchise thus far.

#2 Doom 2 

While many will disagree, Doom 2 brought about a sequel that didn't change a whole lot, but what it did change was new weapons and new demons while bringing about all new places to kill them in. What brings this game to new heights of wonder, again, in this highly subjective list, is the birth of the Super Shotgun. In its debut appearance, it showed us brand new ways to cut down even the most annoying enemies without having the blowback that the rocket launcher had. Doom 2 was not especially stellar in its level design, but really, once you make it through to the end, you tend to remember all of the great parts. The final boss is disappointing, that much is certain, but the Icon of Sin did bring about some very inventive imagery in our own imaginations. Not to mention one of the best parts of Doom Eternal. This title made Classic Doom games whole and became the cornerstone of Doom Mods ever since. That gives it every right to reach #2, that's for sure.

#1 Knee Deep in the Dead

Yes, I cheated, and for good reason. When I said that Ultimate Doom started it all, I wasn't exactly lying, but it also wasn't the whole truth. This is the zenith, the alpha and the primordial entity that is Doom. The game came out as what we Classic Gamers know as a "shareware" version of the game on two 3 1/2 inch floppy discs, only requiring 8 megs of ram to run on those old computers that no longer seem to exist. Knee Deep in the Dead gave us a taste of Doom and whetted our appetites for more! From the Hangar, all the way to the Bruiser Brother Barons of Hell, this was the start of a long, gory and beautiful road. It takes no time to clear these levels but they are so simplistic and beautiful, you never need change perfection. The first episode of Doom is where the team really focused their efforts and gave us a demonstration of what was to come. From here, it's all downhill; straight down into Hell where none shall escape your vengeful wrath!

ID software had no idea that this game would literally build the foundations of their careers and catapult them into gaming legends. While the company is nothing like it use to be, they still know the importance of the big bloody D and obviously put their hearts and souls into keeping its legacy alive and kicking. Now take this shotgun and go have a bloody ball!

Sunday, 25 December 2022

Christmas Nights Into Dreams - Life is a Gift


This Christmas, we're going to look at one of the more obscure titles on the Saturn. Even with its obscurity, more and more attention is starting to arise for this game. That's a wonderful thing, because this game is so simple, yet so complicated at the same time. It has so many different features attached to it according to the days that you play it. If you play it on Christmas, you get an even better feature that I will not spoil for you. 

This game only has one level and one boss, but that's because it was a special feature made for a magazine promotion. It's a reskin of Nights, but they obviously put their hearts and souls into it and made it absolutely gorgeous. Even the story mode behind it is exceedingly simple. There's a huge Christmas tree in the city, but it has no star. So, you beat the level with both characters to get the star. That's it. It goes out of its way to just show you how beautiful it is with Jingle Bells playing in the background and all of the wonderful decorations it put up throughout the level. 

What I would like to draw attention to, aside from the many features and secrets, aside from the gameplay and the rarity of this title, is the message it conveys. The people in Twin Seeds are all distressed and rushing through the holiday season. They are not happy, they are busy buying toys and scurrying through the streets to get where they are going. Claris and Elliot look on this in distress and notice that the star is missing atop the giant Christmas tree. 

Once they find the star, people seem much happier and able to enjoy the time of year. They seem to bring happiness to the citizens of Twin Seeds and let people slow down and take their time. That's the message we need to listen to, folks. No matter if you celebrate Christmas, no matter what you celebrate, as long as you are happy and those around you are happy along with you. Make sure you are able to enjoy this time of year, even if it seems to bring a lot of stress along with it. Simmer down, breathe, and find someone to share it with. The holiday season was not put here to bring you misery, even if some people seem to think otherwise. 

Obviously, putting a big star on top of a giant Christmas tree is not going to instantly fix everyone's problems here in this plane of existence. The message here is that you need to bring about your own joy and share it with others. There's always someone out there looking for someone else to share their experiences with and we here on Planet Virtua want you to help bring that joy to life. So, from all of us here at the Saturn Junkyard, we wish you a Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and a joyful New Year. Singing those Virtua Dreams.

Thursday, 22 December 2022

Doom Gorefest #5 - Evil and Tools to Kill it!

Two pieces of Doom that pull the whole game together are the demons and the weapons with which to kill them. Some of these creatures are so recognized that even non-doom players will see them and immediately know where they're from. I'm not going to set up and name every monster and weapon, but there are so many standouts, it'll seem like it.

The Imp is one of the most recognized small demons in the game. They throw fireballs that do a lot of damage compared to most of the weaker enemies. They can be dangerous in groups but they also aren't the tankiest of the bunch. Shotguns do a good job of taking them down. If there's a group, a super shotgun is a good answer.

The pinky is officially just named "Demon" but retroactively are just called "pinky", thanks to the standard culture. They only do melee attacks to bite you but they do have a translucent twin called the Spectre. Thanks to their close ranged nature, they are generally taken down with the chainsaw rather easily.

The Cacodemon is arguably the most recognized demons in the entire game. Their red blobbish nature and quick attack missiles make them very noticeable. A super shotgun and chaingun are good ways to take them down. 

The Barons of Hell were first seen in the last level of Knee Deep in the Dead and have since been considered a staple of Doom lore. Barons hit hard and can take a lot of punishment. The best answer to them, especially multiples of them, is the plasma rifle. If you run out of plasma rounds, get them with the Super Shotgun and/or the rocket launcher if you're at a safe distance.

The last of the demon minions is the Archvile. Making their debut in Doom 2, they are obviously in the game to drastically increase difficulty. They tank about as much as a mancubus, deal more damage overall and bring monster bodies back to life. They are priority targets and deserve your top plasma ammunition from either the plasma gun or the BFG 9000.

The BFG 9000 has been one of the iconic weapons in this entire franchise. One shot can take a multitude of small demons down while also doing tremendous damage to larger targets. If you have this gun, many of your problems will be dealt with by melting them into sludge. The big drawback is that it's slow to fire and takes up 40 plasma cells per blast. Use it when you absolutely need to.

The boss demons, namely the Cyberdemon and Spider Mastermind are prime BFG 9000 targets. The Cyberdemon can easily down you in one to two hits with his rocket attack. The Spider Mastermind fires a chaingun and each shot is the damage equivalent to a shotgun shell. Overall, the Cyberdemon is the more challenging but the Mastermind can also drain your life very quickly if you are not careful. Your best bet on both of them is to use your big guns and hide behind cover to avoid their wrath!

Last but most certainly not least, a weapon you can use on anything up close, the Super Shotgun. This is the king of shotguns. I don't care what anyone else says about other shotguns from other games, this gun gets it done! If all else fails, if you have two shells you can shoot, this could take care of whatever is after you. The spread is huge and very concentrated. You could take down three or four smaller opponents in one shot if they're close enough together. It is a gun that lives up to the name and sets the bar high for any other shotgun. 

Thursday, 15 December 2022

Doom Gorefest #4 - Neptune Origins

My father got us the shareware of Wolfenstein 3D back in '91. I need to say that I played it on an ancient computer and it still ran like a champ. We played it for hours and loved mowing down the Third Reich. We did a 100% run on I am Death Incarnate through out all of the episodes. It took a long time, I think around a year, and that was my introduction to the FPS genre. So, ID wowed me with their new game because there really was nothing like it at the time. We had a NES, but now this was the game we focused on. 

Then he got us the shareware for Doom. It was on two 3 1/2 floppy disks and required everything in our current computer at the time. Our computer was a real clunker and only had 6 megs of RAM. My dad went out of his way to get two more megs so we could play.

I remember, when we got Doom working, it was just like Wolf 3D, only different in its capability. Where everything was well lit in Wolf 3D, Doom was dark and gothic. I remember being in awe of being able to go up stairs and being terrified of the pinky demons when I first saw them.

Then there came the time I first made it to Phobos Anamoly and met the Bruiser Brothers. Their little entry points and their strength wowed me to no end. It seemed like I was emptying my chaingun on them and couldn't bring them down. I finally beat them with the rocket launcher and I was mesmerized by the terrible ending. I found myself playing the shareware version over and over again. I didn't memorize levels or secrets, I just loved playing the game so much that I would try out weapons in certain situations and find out ways to kill things faster. 

It took us a while to get Ultimate Doom, even though we got the shareware very soon after it came out. My dad was very triumphant when he brought those suckers home. It opened up yet another gate of gaming for me to enter and I had no idea at the time.

As a kid, I only rented the Sega Saturn Doom when I had my original gen 2 system because it was only at the neighborhood Blockbuster for a very short time. My brother and I played it over the weekend. I personally enjoyed it at the time because I simply loved Doom. I didn't notice things like framerates, I just accepted graphics like that because I started out when the SNES was just hitting its stride. I played the NES when I was five so these sort of graphics didn't really bother me. I had already played the Doom shareware and that one didn't run well on our old computer. 

I remember playing Doom 2 very near after playing Ultimate. One of my biggest memories was my first bout with the Cyberdemon. Trying to fight him with the rocket launcher was a pain! I didn't know at the time that the plasma gun was far more effective. Still, he's so awesome, it hardly mattered. To be honest, I did hit a few of those stupid Lost Souls up close with the rocket launcher. It was the weapon of choice, of course those little gremlins are going to fly into you. The programmers knew that! 

Since then, I've played all of the main titles aside from the mobile games. I have so many Doom ports, it's gotten a little comical at this point. The best levels were in their shareware version and it remains my favorite iteration of Doom to this day for its amazing enginuity and creativity with such limited power and resources. Doom became one of the pillars of gaming itself, along with Wolfenstein. So few franchises affected my gaming quite like Doom and it still remains one of my alltime favorites. Virtua Death!

Tuesday, 6 December 2022

Doom Gorefest #3 - Doom Creators

Thanks to John Carmack and John Romero, Doom was made to last. One community that Carmack respected and loved was the hackers. To that end, he made Doom into an easily hackable game where they can change everything about the outlook and mechanics, swapping out content to make it customized to however you want.

Even if you can't modify the game mechanics, you can still create your own maps using Doom's own components. The only limit is your imagination and thanks to the enginuity of many modders and mappers, Doom has stood the test of time and still remains one of the strongest and longest lasting game fandoms. Doom WADs (or Doom "Where's All the Data" files) can be tampered with, edited and changed to your liking. Just remember to get the creator's permission before you start messing with their maps.

Doom mods like Brutal Doom, Project Brutality, Doom Zero and No Rest for the Living, created their own entities of Doom and freshened up its concept many times over. People hold Doom Mapping contests all the time and one trip through the community will put countless Doom maps and mods at your disposal and enjoyment at no extra cost.

If Doom is your game, you owe it to yourself to try out these different mods. To get into the community, get GZDoom and start looking for commuities with maps and mods. The space taken up in a more modern computer will be minimal compared to the enjoyment you'll get. 

Mods like Brutal Doom and Project Brutality up the violence factor, add new and awesome weapons and different game mechanics to the whole thing. It ups the difficulty and also makes blood paint the walls with every shotgun blast. These have breathed new life into the franchise and people have started testing maps on them just to see how they hold up as opposed to just the "vanilla" Doom WADs.

Doom Mapping has become so inclusive that even I have gotten in on the action. I've been Doom mapping for over a year now and I'm still mediocre, but I can make as many levels as I want and play as much as I want as a result. If you're curious as to how my Doom levels are, here's a link to my Doom World post. That's a forum where many Doom creators congregate and show off their stuff. Give them all a look and happy killing.

There are mods that change the game entirely and in just about every way you can imagine. The possibilities are endless. However deep you want to go into the Doom fandom, just be careful, because like any community, there are some dark events and unsettling lore set around the community. Just be sure to check your sources and make sure you know the truth about a lot of it. Rumors and myths have run rampant dating back to its very inception. A good place to start would be the ID biography, Masters of Doom by David Kushner. That will get you started. The rest is up to you. Just try not to go too far down the gory rabbit hole and try to remember to consume the water labeled "Drink Me".

Wednesday, 30 November 2022

Doom Gorefest #2 - The Mid Doom

While the first two titles of Doom can be considered the greatest start, Doom 3 and Doom 64 are often considered the black sheep of the franchise. Doom 64 was created by Midway San Diego and was a different look at Doom as a whole. 

Rather than just port the same game for the Nintendo 64, to further fill out its capabilities, the game was reformed and redesigned. It had different designs on literally everything, even if the change was more subtle. Rather than focusing on just killing demons, it also has a more developed map system with more advanced puzzles. While the weapons are the same in concept, it even included a new ultimate weapon above that of the BFG 9000, retroactively titled The Unmaker.

It has the gameplay and it has the demon hordes, but what was wrong? The drastic change in graphics put off a lot of Doom fans, first and foremost. Another, even larger problem was that people had no idea this was a totally different game. It was seen as just a port of Doom for the N64 and many overlooked it as such.

It really is a good game, one severe, crippling handicap, though, was the N64 controller. Seriously, people had enough trouble controlling Goldeneye with those weird things. This Doom game had a lot working against it.

Doom 64 was not very well thought of at the time, but since its creation, has grown a fairly large sized fanbase. It was about the same story for Doom 3.

The third entry in the franchise came about after Quake 2, when ID was commonly known and was at the end of their legendary run of games. Doom 3's graphics made so many computers heave and cry due to the sheer weight it put on the system. For its time, it was at the forefront.

The problem was that it was darker, slower and more story driven than Doom ever was. It has many of the demons we know already, adds in a few more and changes up the formula. You're still gunning down hell spawns but you're also finding your way around the under levels of a base in gameplay more akin to Halflife.

For what it was, Doom 3 worked and was fun to play. What put people off was it was not what many called a Doom game. It took a few years to get out of the mentality and allow people to appreciate on its own merits. Today, Doom 3 is highly regarded as a survival horror-esque game that resembles Doom. My real problems with the game involve Spoilers for it, so skip the next paragraph if you don't want that.

(Spoiler Warning!)
Doom 3 is fun to sneak around and fun to shoot with. The real problem is the battle with the Cyberdemon in the game's climax. The Soul Cube was a questionable weapon to begin with and having it be the key element against the final boss was not the greatest move. By then, you've used it so much that killing the boss with it was like rolling off a log.

While these two games are plagued with problems, they are still good. They possess the action Doomers crave and bring something new to the table in terms of gameplay and aesthetics. With how long it took for there to be a Doom 4, these games were good placeholders. Waiting so long for the next big Doom game probably helped us grow more appreciation for these titles. That's a good thing, because waiting over twenty years without them would have been a lot worse. Virtua Hellscape!

Saturday, 26 November 2022

Doom Gorefest #1 - Calling the Demons

Yes, there has already been a review, done by me, on Doom. That doesn't mean that I am done with this franchise. This series of articles will be covering one game. There is a lot to talk about and I am passionate about the subject because I have been following it for its near 30 year run. The Doom community is still very much alive. Not only are the Doom mods and Doom maps still being created to this day, but Doom is still widely accessible in Classic Collections, Steam and modern console stores all over the place. Doom is still very relevant, and while the Saturn had one of the more unfavorable ports to its name, that doesn't mean Planet Virtua needs to keep the Doomer side secret! Doom has come to this site and let's keep the ball rolling!

One of the great things about this game is the feeling of taking on entire hordes of demons by yourself and having to prove your mettle to pull off this feat. It doesn't matter how many there are, the game can give you the tools to beat however many.

The trick is to know which gun should be used to defeat which demon. Sometimes this can mean the difference between victory and defeat. Using the starting pistol to take down zombie men and former sergeants is wise for conserving ammo and still killing them. Using the starting pistol on a cacodemon is a good way to waste your time and get you killed.

You can use the rocket launcher on a cacodemon but never use the rockets on a lost soul. One up close shot to them is a good way to take backfire. 

People don't give Doom enough credit, saying it's just a game where you shoot demons. While that is true, there's a depth in both exploring the levels and strategizing how much ammo and weaponry to take down however many number of enemies. Being able to dodge projectiles and knowing when to fall back are also very important.

The demons are also a great deal of variety and each one are very easy to recognize. Once you see an imp, you have a pretty good strategy of what you want to do. That is not a strategy that is easily used against an archvile, though. Their different hit points and abilities will have you improvising a tactic on the fly. This is where that adrenaline kicks in.

If you were to wonder where to start, you should wisely start from the beginning. Ultimate Doom begins with Knee Deep in the Dead, and it would behoove you to start with it and pay close attention. These are the levels where they brought their A game. The levels start simple and have a good progression when they grow harder. John Romero, Tom Hall and Sandy Peterson made these maps to varying degrees, thanks to some creative differences with Hall and his departure from ID soon after.

Knee Deep in the Dead shows off the greatest in Ultimate Doom's level design. Doom 2 are some of their other greatest levels. This time, it was Romero, Peterson and American McGee, who was new to the company. Doom 2 also brought about a myriad of new demons, along with its new weapon, the Super Shotgun.

The Super Shotgun is, bar none, my favorite weapon in the games, classic and current Doom included. It uses two shotgun shells and does more than twice the shotgun's damage. It is the shotgun every other shotgun wishes they could be. It kills everything with efficiency aside from the boss demons, the Spider Mastermind and the Cyberdemon.

The Hell Knight is a fun opponent, although it is just a recolor of the Baron of Hell. It's weaker and softer but it works on the level of filling out demon hordes with dangerous enemies. The Hell Knight is still better than some of their other Doom 2 additions. Who thought that taking one of Doom's most hated enemies, the Lost Souls, and giving them a spawn point was a good idea? 

The Pain Elemental is about as strong and floaty as a cacodemon but spits out ridiculous amounts of Lost Souls if they are not killed quickly.

Chaingunners about as well loved. Their high speeding shots make them a dangerous opponent. Killing them is easy, though, and they drop chainguns for your troubles.

The aforementioned archviles are both loved and hated by the community. If you are in their line of sight, they can use flames to blind you and use it as a slow charge attack that takes off ridiculous amounts of hp. They are also hard to kill with their high hp and can even resurrect all other monsters aside from boss monsters,  monsters with no corpses, or other archviles. If you want to make a demon horde really hard, include one or two of these.

Doom can never be understated in its greatness. The game has stood the test of time thanks to ID's hard work and dedication to greatness. John Carmack created an exemplary game engine and John Romero and the rest of the team formed it into a game that still has the gaming world captivated to this very day.

I love this series so much that, like the Virtua Sonic featurettes, I decided to talk about this franchise a little more indepth. Even if the Doom port for Saturn wasn't up to par, it still was an introduction into the world of Doom and there is always room for more. Let the Gorefest begin!

Friday, 18 November 2022

Sonic 3D Blast - Sonic Snail

If you really need an introduction to the blue blur, there are so many places on this site to get it. Links down below. The basic premise to look at is that he is fast. He loves to go fast. Jaleel White's rendition of Sonic had him saying "Gotta juice!" as a catchphrase. Sega Genesis had a made up feature called "Blast Processer" for the sole purpose of telling how fast Sonic could go! The original Sonic games allowed you to go fast enough to make the background stream by as you spin dash and go through the loops and jumps. It was the biggest selling point. 

Sonic 3D Blast is not fast. There, I said it. I'd say it again if I had to. This game has certain elements in it that can be a little speedy, but overall, you are in a completely different world of graphics, movement and style. While this could possibly work, in here, it is clumsy. You are in an isometric view point in a three dimensional environment and while you can go at a decently fast pace, the game thoroughly keeps you from doing so. This is because the obstacles you face are very close together, and the platforms extend into tight straight aways. One single wrong move and you will either miss the narrow walkway or you will run into a bed of spikes or get shot by a cannon. 

The lack of speed is not the only problem with this game either. The gameplay centers around destroying enemies and taking small birds and animals to a ring to rescue. You get a certain amount of these little things that follow you around and you are able to continue to the next segment of the level. It is not bad as gameplay goes, but it is your lot in life as Sonic. If you are into this sort of thing, then you may actually enjoy it. However, it gets retitive and the game does very little to deviate from this gameplay. 

The ice level, because of course there's an ice level, has you in the clutches of slip-and-slide mechanics. This is especially annoying with the abundance of spikes, cannons and snowmen all around you. The powerups help but you're still sliding all over the place and hoping that you don't run into the many close together obstacles. You need to save these birds!

Is the game devoid of charm? Absolutely not. It has its high points. It does have the 3D run bonus levels from Sonic The Hedgehog 2. With the upgraded graphics and the little extra challenge added to it, it actually does very well. These segments come up rarely, but they are a lot of fun. Then, there's the boss battles with Dr. Robotnik. The isometric angle actually compliments these boss battles quite a bit. 

This game was really not fun the first time I played it, but that was mostly because I was expecting it to be like the first three games. After a recent playthrough, though, I have grown more accustomed to its gamestyle. Does that make it a good game? No, not really, that just makes it more tolerable and easier for me to play through for this review. It still stands that I would rather play any number of other games in the Sonic franchise (See Top 10 Sonic Games) than deal with this vast departure from the tried and true Sonic titles. In a vacuum, it's not terrible, though and you could do worse than give it a try. Oh, I'm sorry, I'm not being hyperbolic enough. Don't play this! It's the WORST SONIC TITLE EVEEERRRR!!!!! Gotta Juice!!!

Virtua Sonic #1

Sonic Jam

Saturday, 12 November 2022

DragonHeart: Fire and Steel - Barf of the Dragon

 If you are an original fan of the Saturn, you may remember a little title known as DragonHeart, starring Dennis Quaid and the late Sean Connery. It was a pretty good film. Not great, not spectacular, but it was entertaining and not a bad watch if you were in the mood for some good old fashioned fantasy. It did well enough to deserve some knockoffs and some film sequels that have actually continued to come out until fairly recently. Yeah, for some reason, the first film came out in 1996 but the latest sequel came out in 2020, go figure. Well, the first film was pretty popular and still has a cult following to this day. That, unfortunately, means it also had a video game that came out for the Saturn, PC and Playstation (it had a Gameboy title too but let's not get too caught up in details). 

This game is a hack and slash platformer that controls like it has rheumatism. Your knight warrior guy walks in a leisurely stroll speed and getting used to this is rather difficult because throughout the levels, you also need to avoid traps. Good luck with that, is all I can say. It's not impossible, but it also demands precise timing that gets to annoyance levels that you may as well not bother with. 

I won't go telling you that the game is outright terrible in all of its mechanics. The hacking and slashing are decent at the very least. The enemies are mundane and basically clones of one another but that can pass as there's obviously a limit with how many people they can photo into the game. There's even some cool elements with the combat like flaming arrows you can shoot at people and light them on fire. 

The problem with this game, though, is the pacing. You slash, block, slash, shoot and repeat. You need to be careful though, because you have an endurance meter. Yes, this endurance meter is probably one of the worst things about this game. The pacing was already bad enough with the walking and blocking mechanics, but then they have to go and limit your attacks by making you run out of stamina.

Presentation is key when it comes to some games, and this one missed the mark. It's not downright ugly to look at but it's just so plain. The photo generated characters clash a bit with the background and it throws off the overall look. The backgrounds are actually quite good, if a bit generic in some places. If they'd maybe replaced the photo realistic people with more Sega Saturn-esque characters, it would have been much more appealing to the eye. As it is now, the two just don't really fit together. It kind of looks like they used a green screen and the keying was just flatout not attempted. 

Yes, I was rather harsh on the game in my Top 20 Worst list, but that's kind of how it goes. If it's taken in spoonfuls, this game really isn't all that bad. On longer playthroughs, though, it drags pretty hard. The slow walking and limited slashing shot the pacing. If you don't slash and block, you'll die pretty quickly, so you need to take everything slow. It's just not a good enough game to merit all of the stalling. The backgrounds are pretty to look at, but that's doesn't really help its case in the slightest. The fact that dragons are scarce is understandable as that's how the movie went as well, but I feel like maybe scattering a few more in for flavor would have helped this game a lot. As it stands, it's just fighting a bunch of guys that look eerily similar and the appeal just isn't there. Virtua Fire Water.

Saturday, 5 November 2022

Neptune - Gaming Graphics - The Taste You Can See


There has been a lot of speculation when it comes to gaming graphics and their importance to gaming in general. More and more, graphics have increased in complexity and detail to the point where even the most minute water droplet is depicted to crisp perfection. That's all well and good, but why? Why are graphics so important to some people? Since when has the book's cover become a means for such harsh criticism?

It's become something of a stigma that each generation of video gaming requires a drastic hike in graphics and creating a game has become so convoluted that it requires at least 10 years to fully finish a large scale product, keep it within budget and prevent developers from growing exhausted and/or burned out. That is the kind of time publishers don't have. To stay afloat and to keep the big wigs fat and happy, they need to meet an annual quota and that means they will cut as many corners as is necessary. This means pressuring developers, cutting game mechanics and features, compromising quality assurance and any other number of troublesome trends we've been seeing in the past decade.

This is all due to the fact that graphics need to be pristine, even immaculately implimented. This is overtly stupid and nonsensical, especially when you stop and think about how the decade of the 2000's are seen as the best games ever created. The era that brought us the Sega Dreamcast, N64, Gamecube and PS3 are cited as the most remade and referenced games from then on. 

They did not need the shiniest graphics to make that happen. Skyrim was marred with glitches, but given the game's nature and fan reaction, it is still being rereleased to this very day. Minecraft's graphics are laughable and yet people still spend a collective millions upon millions of hours playing it every year since its release.

I still play the Sega Saturn, Dreamcast and Nintendo Gamecube to this day. What is the hang-up? These graphics do what they set out to do and they do so unrelentingly, no matter how much they age.

Downplaying the importance of graphics is probably the best thing you could do to help the gaming community. It does not need to be pixelated or polygonal to the very core, it simply needs to look good enough to serve its purpose and get on with the rest of the game features. Cutting graphics to save the rest of the game is preferable to cutting out its singleplayer mode or even entire levels. And yes, this has happened more than once. Games have been straight up shortened to a massive degree, entire online features trashed and huge sections like sandbox features have been left out in order to make way for shinier, more detailed graphics. Was it truly worth it?

There are going to be nay sayers. There are going to be people who cannot live without water reflections and Raycasting in their lives. If you need to see the pores in your character's skin or the sheen in your character's gun metal, then maybe it's time you start questioning how much you actually like gaming. If eye candy is worth sacrificing entire environments in a map, maybe it's time to take up game design and graphical classes to see just how difficult these things can be.

These developers work their fingers to the bone to appease brutal, unrealistic demands and deadlines. Game development has become so unsustainable, publishers are having to set aside five or six years toward a single game's development and that could still end in crunch time for designers depending on the progress. Some of it has to do with a game's complex mechanics but you can surely bet that a great deal of it is for the graphics and the polishing thereof.

Why not go back to 32-bits or 64-bits and create better, more glitch-free games at a fraction of the time and cost? You could work on three or four at a time with the size of the team and money you're spending now and retro gamers would eat that up. Hell, modern gamers would more than likely join in the fun, considering the game dry spell that seems to be getting longer every year. 

Reaching a point in graphics where we can say enough is enough seems like a simple matter. There would be some backlash but let's face it, would it be as bad as the backlash from Cyberpunk 2077 or Battlefield 4 upon their initial releases? Simplifying these things and getting the gaming community back to a creative, more maintainable medium seems far more paramount than seeing each individual strand of hair on a character's head. 

Is it this simple? No, nothing this big ever is. This is merely a suggestion and words of wisdom from someone on the outside, looking in. I am seeing smaller developers begin to thrive with retro style shooters and less graphically inclined games. This is not new. If AAA gaming companies hopped on the trend, it would make a lot of people happier and pull us out of this stigma of releasing half-finished games at full price. Sometimes, less is more and the higher we go, the more room we have to fall. Let's hope someone listens, or at least puts out a pool so we can fall into some water.

Monday, 31 October 2022

Neptune - 7 Lesser Spoooooky Saturn Games

 Happy Halloween, Saturn heads! On this final installment of the Month of Spooky Spooks, we're going to take a look at games that are not getting any real recommendations. Either the game's quality is rather subpar or their attempts at being scary fall flat. Either way, they're Saturn titles, so they at least get the minimum recommendation.

                                                                Deep Fear

Of course, we would see at least one Resident Evil clone on this list. There are those who enjoy this title and you can roll with that as far as it will go. I never found its creatures all that scary, nor did I ever feel any real atmospehere radiating from this title. The voice acting and glitchy graphics pretty much killed my immersion on that front.

                                                            Battle Monsters

If you told me that I could dress up in a Halloween costume and becone immortalized in video game form, I would be 100% on board! So, there's no judgment to the people posing as characters in this title. The game itself, oh yeah, plenty of judgment. The monsters aren't scary, the controls are horrific and you can win once you find that perfect spam attack. Go nuts.

                                                            Death Crimson

Probably the worst railshooter on the system, and probably worse than a lot of other genres on top of that. This game is notorious among old school gamers for some of the most terrifying graphics, atrocious hit detection and all around nauseating gameplay. So, if you looking for a bad game for Halloween, it's worth a look.

                                                            Alien Trilogy

Probably one of the least bad games on the list but still not really striking that horror chord. Alien simply made some levels, put aliens in it with some guns and called it a day. Okay, that's pretty harsh, but this title invokes more boredom than it does terror. It's an alright title, it just needed a bit more spice.

                                                                Horror Tour

You've probably never heard of this title and there are many reasons for that. For one thing, it was released only in Japan. For another, it can hardly be considered a game because there's really no gameplay to speak of. Like the name suggests, it's more of a point and click site seeing tour around a gothic castle. There's some talking paintings, some big spiders here and there and there's a witch that speaks Japanese. Beyond that, there's not much. But it's SPOOOOOOOKYYYYY!

                                                Alone in the Dark 2: Jack is Back

A recent addition to my entourage of games. This one is just bad. I dare say you pretty much need to learn fire is hot by getting constantly burned here. You die in pretty much every scene because without knowing what's happening, things can kill you from off screen because of the sluggish tank controls and slow movements in general. The game is boring, but as stated earlier, giving zombies tommy guns is quite the novelty.


Movie tie-in games are thankfully a thing of the past but they did have their gems. This was not one of them. It is immensely boring. Floating around the house as a ghost who can't fly through walls, you will be hard pressed to figure out the control scheme and apply it in an effective manner. The ghostly trio lack any of their jerk charms from the movie and Casper is just as dull as ever. Good luck getting a remake.

So, there you have it. Halloween is here at the time of writing but it is time now to wait for next year's Month of Saturn Spookiness. No matter what day it is, it is time to plan for the next year. Halloween is the best time of the year for a lot of reasons and this is no exception. Remember to stay safe, enjoy the season, stay with family and friends and drink zombies.