Sunday 26 November 2023

Neptune - Farewell and Liftoff

 Well, folks, that's all for me. I really don't know how many of you truly read my articles and I don't know if anyone will read this one, but it's worth it. I love the Sega Saturn and I love gaming. That much is certain. What I don't love is putting in a lot of effort for... basically nothing. So, I know I like to type long posts and it's all in good fun, but I'm keeping this short. I've put in my hours and that's fine enough. Thank you, FatherKrishna, for letting me in. It was fun for a while. 

Enjoy the holiday season posts. My final post is scheduled for January 5th. Hope you enjoy it until then. Have a good one.

Thursday 23 November 2023

Doom Gorefest #8 - Doom 2 for the Saturn

So, not sure if you're aware of this, but there is a Doom 2 port inside the Saturn port. Yes, it does not have all of Doom 2's maps, but it does start after the first iteration of Doom and you can skip to the Doom 2 levels if you so please. You can skip to the Doom 2 levels with full armaments and keys if you so chose with the cheating system. It's a pretty nifty little port, if I do say so myself.

Now, is it perfect? Of course not, it's the Saturn port, and it's in the later levels. The later levels were not very well optimized for the system at all! So, what do you get? Lot's more lag and lot's more problems with the controls. The problem with Doom 2 is that it did not translate to the system well at all because of Sandy Peterson's level design, first and foremost. 

Peterson put in his work, especially for the new kid on the block. I would say his levels and American McGee's levels are really the big issue when it comes to Doom 2, they are just all over the place. I know what level we're all thinking about and yes, The Crusher is a huuuuuuuge problem! Do I think this level should have been left off the Saturn port? Oh, most certainly, but here we are. Then there's Perfect Hatred, that level should be left off ANY iteration of Doom! That much is for certain.

Still, you can't not love a port where you can bring the Super Shotgun into any level of the first Doom, while the first Super Shotgun only exists on the second level of Doom 2. It is glorious to wield this amazing weapon against Barons of Hell, and any enemy that comes your way in any of the original levels! Do I love this weapon? Most assuredly. 

Then there's the fact that The Chasm and the Icon of Sin are noticeably absent from this port. While I know that the Icon of Sin is a bit of a bluster, it is not great that we don't have him as a final boss battle, as not great as he was in this game. The Chasm is a welcome absence, on the other hand. There are some other missing levels, but Dead Simple and Tricks and Traps are still very relevant. 

Throughout my entire playthrough of the Doom 2 game in Sega Saturn, once again I found myself enjoying myself and cutting down demons with the greatest of ease. I still do not get this whole stipulation of "if it's not as good, then it's not worth it". This port is worth owning and playing if you are a Doom fan and a Sega Saturn fan. I am living proof and there are others who love this port. Whether you come over to this side or not is your thing. Doom shall rip and tear either way. Virtua Splatter!

Tuesday 21 November 2023

FPS Culture - Wolfenstein (2009) - Dose of Killing Power

 There are many great games that go unnoticed, and that is what I feel happened to this game. It's very hard to see why this game never found its audience. It is not a bad game all around. It has a few slow paced portions and a few problems with balance, but overall, it is a First Person Shooter game that goes along with the themes and ideas of Wolfenstein as a series. It was critisized for its use of supernatural elements but that seems unfair, seems how supernatural elements have existed in this since Wolfenstein 3D in the form of mech technology and zombie science. 

While it is true that you did not possess any direct supernatural powers in Return to Castle Wolfenstein, you were still fighting monstrosities and zombies in mummy tombs. The point can be made that once you've upgraded all of your weapons to their fullest amount and obtained all of the powers for your talisman, the difficulty does take quite a hit. This isn't quite so bad, though, as there are bosses and super powered normal enemies that you actually NEED to use certain powers on and some of them are quite the bullet sponges. Not to mention, some of them you can only shoot in certain weak points.

Aside from the supernatural elements, though, the game is very spot on when it comes to Wolfenstein in many areas. The Leichenfaust 44 gun is also a super charged weapon, but it is not wielded by any of the enemies. This is probably because the power or "veil energy" that it emits killed anyone who used it. This is different for our BJ Blazkowicz, as he possesses the amulet and is immune to its random effects unless directly used against him. 

These powers are actually quite potent, but there is no denying that they are a lot of fun to use. The criticism that this game is bland and unoriginal seems completely unfair because using these powers really gives it a nice flavor. How can you not feel powerful when you super charge your machinegun to blast directly through someone's armor? You can slow down time and run around someone faster than they can turn. Then there's also a shield that you can put up and fire as you walk. Regular enemies are quite numerous and there are a lot of times that they are intermixed with powered enemies. This can definitely take you by surprise a lot of the time. Is this a problem sometimes? Oh, yes, very much so, in fact. Some of them teleport and that is a VERY bad problem at times. 

One other memorable element, as far as this review is concerned, are the bosses. These are a flavor that this game thrives at. Some of them require you use your powers to kill them. Some of them have weak spots, but all of them have some sort of good challenge that isn't overly cumbersome to the gameplay. Check them out for yourself, I will not spoil them here. 

Wolfenstein as a series has had its ups and downs, especially later on, but this is actually where a good solid stability comes to a close. While Spear of Destiny wasn't seen as a high point, it wasn't as disappointing as The New Colossus or Young Blood. Still, there have been some great high points up until now and The New Order was a great return to form. Many have overlooked Wolfenstein (2009) as a happless grind and an inferior game to its predecessor, Return to Castle Wolfenstein. I heartily disagree and urge all of you to give it a try if you ever get the chance. If not, try another Wolfenstein title. They've all got something to offer. Well, except Young Blood, but that's hardly considered Wolfenstein to begin with. Maybe next time they'll make a premise that makes sense. Keep trying, maties! 

Tuesday 14 November 2023

FPS Culture - Return to Castle Wolfenstein - Return to Fun

 One game that has thankfully garnered a cult following over the years, was Return to Castle Wolfenstein. After the breakout success of Castle Wolfenstein in 1981, Id Software got their eye on the franchise and wanted to find out how they could make Wolfenstein into a new game. Thankfully, they let the copyright for the title lapse, so they were given the opportunity to make their dream game! Wolfenstein 3D started a revolution and while we know all about Doom by now, Return to Castle Wolfenstein is a bit of its own entity. 

This fully rendered 3D game could have been a banger Dreamcast title. Honestly, it should have been. Released in 2001, RtCW gave us a new outlook of the castle we were escaping from and let us go off into new environments full of Nazis and very strange creatures of the occult. Gray Matter Studios did what they could to bring about an amazing feel for the World War 2 era shooter, one that would be among some of the best in the genre. It was not only accurate in some respects, but it gave us very strange elements along with it. 

The weapons became far more advanced than historically accurate and that's a staple of the genre to this day. This was not only well implimented here, but also the 2009 underrated FPS classic, Wolfenstein, but that's another story for another day. This time, you've got gas masked men in armor, freaks and horrors beyond terrifyingly imaginable and Nazi guards with guns. This game has everything! 

Among the weapons that we get to use far outside the normal was the flamethrower. While this is commonplace today, this was not the case for 2001 games and before. If you really wanted to see your enemies cook, this was an effective tool to do so. This weapon is very easy to screw up by making it either ineffective or way overpowered. What they did was make it very powerful, but also a necessary weapon against some of the larger enemies.

This was also the case for the Tesla Gun and the Venom Chainguns. While one is very powerful but also dangerous against yourself, the Chainguns eat ammo very, very quickly. The Lightning gun is probably the most overpowered in the game, but there are also enemies with this weapon, so there's your double edge. 

The enemies were very much hyped to great levels this time around. With monsters with no legs and the undead corpses coming out, there's also mechanized soldiers with terrifyingly effective weapons. The mechanized opponents are very much an homage to Wolfenstein 3D's epic final boss fight of Mecha Hitler. Thankfully, these soldiers do not have four chainguns. Unfortunately, they are still able to kill you very quickly if you do not find cover very quickly or kill them first. Either way, they are dangerous!

If you were looking for a time capsule of 2001 gaming, this is quintessential. The backgrounds, the character models, the artillery, just about every single bit of this game is sketched to polygon perfection and the gameplay is something you could ogle for hours while you mow down castle guards with an MP40. Sadly, Tommy Gun ammo is rather rare, and you get the gun rather late in the game. 

This game is not perfect by any means, as fun as it is. There are segments in this game where they take certain concepts way too far. The worst of these concepts? Stealth! The first full stealth segment of the game came with an awesome silenced steam powered submachine gun. That gun has become something of an icon of this game, but so has this level, and the latter is not in a good way. One single look from one single angle in some single way and the alarm goes off, you start over. You need to follow a certain path and shoot certain guards at certain times, or you will set off the alarm. 

Then, there are the snipers. Something that a lot of games get wrong are the snipers. Sniper rifles are made entirely too powerful and getting accurately hit from a long distance can be very difficult to see coming. Can you snipe the sniper first or hide from their view? Yes, you can, but to say that this was a very delicate operation is no joke at all. One hair out of line and you are going to get your brains splattered across several screens. 

No, it is not perfect, obviously, and not all of the elements aged well. Of course, we will not hold that against it. This game is nostalgia in three dimensions. If you love First Person Shooters, we got this in spades right here! You can find this game on Steam and if you can find a working copy, do not hesitate to do so! Their blood shall flow and our knife shall stab! 

Saturday 11 November 2023

Neptune - Weirdest FPS Games on the Sega Saturn

 The FPS Genre is something to behold when it comes to how it shaped the gaming world as a whole. Its existence on the PC is undeniable and it seems like that goes without saying. However, when it comes to console FPS games, this gets a little tricky. The Sega Saturn had no shortage of good games when it came to the genre. Though Doom didn't turn out quite as well as we had hoped, we got a wonderful port of Quake and Duke Nukem 3D so it's not like we were starving. If you wanted to count railshooters, the Saturn had those in droves as well. 

This was not to be for all of the games, though. First Person Shooters are very hard to pull off well on a console, especially back in the days when joysticks were not standard. The Saturn pulled them off well enough with the d-pad and the button systems, but that's not to say it was always a tiptoe through the gory tulips. 

After revisiting these games for myself, though, it became very clear that their quality didn't exactly lie in their appeal as games. It was more their appeal as experiences that draws in a crowd to these misfits. This is a very specific and very inspired genre of games that give you something that's not good as we like to call it in the business. These are very, very interesting for more reasons than one. Let's have a look?


If you're in the mood for a lot of long, long hallways, here's your baby. This sucker can hold so many machine guns. For real, though, this is a very strange one, but also quite boring. There are enemies, but the corridors you need to go through can get somewhat mesmerizing if you keep playing it for too long. There's no soundtrack and with the very light sounds it makes, you can bet that at some point, you're going to catch some Z's. The real draw to this game, though, is the free-roam effect that it gives you, as well as the wondrous polygonal Sega Saturn view that we all know and love. Still, not great.

Space Hulk: Vengence of the Blood Angel

If you're in the mood for Load Times, this is your baby. Who here has never played Warhammer 40k? Well, if you haven't, you probably still have some money in the bank somewhere. This boardgame system will cost you a fortune, so you can forgo it by getting it on video games. Here you go! Space Hulk: The Really Long Subtitle, has nothing but old timey charm going for it. To its credit, though, it has a lot of that going for it. If you love some golden age 40K experience, then, this is your baby and all of your dreams have come true. Now, not your graphical dreams, maybe. Not unless you REALLY love the 32-bit sketchy look. Then, yes, all of your dreams and Christmases and Hanukkahs have come true.  

Congo The Movie: The City of Zinj

Full Motion Video territory is not the territory we want to be in. Ape Territory isn't great either, but I'll take what I can get. The problem with this? Ape territory is scarce. No, I don't mean like it's only half the game, it's almost none of the game. You get spiders, there's actually quite a lot of those and there are a lot of nothing. Actually, there's a whole lot of nothing here. By far, this can be counted as the worst game on this list, but it's also so weird and funny with the FMV cut scenes. This guy tries to cut himself into the Congo movie, and that movie is terrible to begin with. His acting is on par with just about any run-of-the-mill FMV and he can be pretty entertaining to watch.

Krazy Ivan

Yeah, we're not going to talk about Russia or anything political here. Let's focus on the game. This game is extremely racist and stereotypical. I know, great start, right? Seriously, the accents and acting, it's all FMV cut scenes and wow, is it some kind of horrible. Does it fall into so-bad-it's-good? Yes, but it is also quite offensive, so we'll go half and half with it. Obviously, different times and whatnot, but at least it should be somewhat serviceable. Even for the time, this was bad.

When we're talking about the game. You're a tank and you roll around to shoot other tanks. Your weapons are terrible and you blow up a lot. This game drones, so, yeah, even its best features are some bad features. We'll call it second worst to Congo.

Magic Carpet

It wasn't until I started playing this again that I realized that I've actually played this before in my childhood. Where did I get this game? Whose was it? It wasn't from Blockbuster, I will tell you that much. This was a weird, amazingly strange, amazingly... WEIRD title. It's basically just free-roaming on a magic carpet with an engine sound. I don't know what else to tell you. There are people in deserts with turbins and some tents and whatnot but as for gameplay, there's really not much to speak of. Can you do stuff? Yes. Do I understand it or will I attempt to? No. You can fly around and collect vases and fire off a spark thing, but other than that, it's vast open fields with minor loops of gameplay. Do I want to keep playing it? Yes, very much so.

Ghen War

Rounding out this list is an extremely mediocre title. The mech suit genre was no stranger to the gaming world, but very seldom have they been pulled off really well. This was one of those titles that wasn't pulled off well at all. The foot sounds from your machine, the gun sounds and the overall gameplay is a bit grating. However, the graphics and the free-roam, once again, save this title because it is actually quite fun to just go around and shoot things. Does it get old after a while? Yes, and you will need to find a way to go through the actual gameplay if you want to keep doing it. Still, this title is a big half-and-half of an FPS, so why not give it a shot?

The best first person shooters are always fun to play, but sometimes, you should really indulge in some weird titles. Are they always to your liking? Oh, no, absolutely not. They are subjective and experiences in these titles vary so much that putting forth a real concrete review of many of these titles is very difficult. The AI, the gameplay, the enemies, all of them act so differently as a result of free roaming mechanics and gameplay. 

Some of these titles you will put down in five minutes. Some of them you will pick up and put down at around three or four in the morning because you forgot what time it was. 

Thursday 9 November 2023

FPS Culture - Wolfenstein 3D - Therapy with a Chaingun


For old school gamers, this game was a Godsend of its time. It's not quite the original First Person Shooter, but it was the most easily obtained of its time. Not to mention, the learning curve makes it to where you can just pick it up and play it, no questions asked. ID Software had some success in their earlier titles, but Wolfenstein put them directly on the map. They weren't a household name until Doom came out, but we've covered Doom.

Right now, we're going to dive into one of the most glorified ways to kill Nazi's in gaming. Wolfenstein gives you a luger and tells you to go to town. While the first episode never really gets to nailbiting difficulty, do not let that lull you into a false sense of security. This game gets hard. You are William J Blazkowicz (Or BJ for short) and you are a prisoner in Castle Wolfenstein, captured by the Nazi's. You are able to overpower your guard and take his gun and that sets you off on a journey to take down the entire Third Reich. And no, I'm not kidding.

You pretty much go from level to level, collecting bullets for three weapons: The pistol, the MP-40 submachinegun and the chaingun. Your objective is to collect as much treasure as you can and take down the enemy forces using any means necessary. Guards, SS troops and killer dogs are all over the first episode. There are rooms that house at least ten or twelve of these guys and taking them down can be something of a trick. 

Another thing this game is best known for is its secrets. There are some very obscure secrets on random walls that sometimes do not differential themselves from other walls. It's not like in Doom where it could be a different color or slightly off angled in its decorations. These walls make it to where, if you want to 100% the game, you'll be pressing the use button and rubbing your face up against a lot of walls. 

The more you look at this game, the more you start to realize that a lot of what you love about FPS's got its start. Hit scanning enemies also got their start and if you don't know what that is, allow me to explain. Hit scanners will fire their weapons and through a random number generator, it's a coin flip whether or not they hit you. You can't dodge and you can't get out of their way to avoid them, you have to hide behind cover. Your weapons are also hit scanners, so there's a part of it that evens out.

Final levels in each episode have a boss battle attached to them. If you started out with the Shareware version, you would have run into Hans Grosse. This big bastard holds two chainguns and he will mow you down within seconds if you stand in his way for too long. Think two chainguns is too much? Well, Adolf Hitler runs around in mech armor that holds four chainguns and once you break his toy, he still runs around with two of them. Still, the fact of the matter is that you can kill Hitler with nothing but your will and your bullets. That is enough for celebration by itself. 

The real difficulty of this game stems from a lot of the level designs. This game is far from perfect. It is long and there are times when you will get lost in a level, only to be gunned down by a wandering guard that caught you unaware. Sometimes, the game developers took the idea of a maze entirely too seriously and decided to make a secret maze that you can screw up if you push the wrong wall in the wrong place. 

Despite its flaws, it is still a solid, beautiful game that pushed the boundaries of what we know as gaming. Because of it, Doom was an enormous success and ID obviously had fun making it. If you were wondering what to play after the Doom Classic games are beaten, then give this a try. Destroying the Third Reich as a one man army has never been so simplistic and fun. Just remember to know when to use the machine gun rather than the chaingun. Save some ammo and kill the Fuhrer! 

Tuesday 7 November 2023

FPS Culture - Id Strikes in Three Dimensions

Quake became a name synonymous with gaming at one point. This was a game that no one thought could ever exist. Similar things had been attempted and done rather well, but no one had ever gone in and created an entire three dimensional world of polygons from the ground up. John Carmack and Michael Abrash worked their fingers to dust in order to bring this world to life and Quake spawned a new era of gaming. 

At this point, the world had become even larger than before and new giants of the era began to arrise. Unreal and Half-life emerged and became some of the most legendary games in the genre. Unreal brought Arena fighting to a whole new level and joined Quake as one of the most beloved 3D First Person Shooters ever created. Unreal Tournament in both its 2004 and 2009 editions were ported to not only PC but consoles as well and are still played in small tournaments to this day. Unreal Gold was released as a full package of the game and it's still amazing. 

First Person Shooters had some trouble, though not devoid of success, with the console scene. Doom had been ported well to consoles, for the most part, but by and large, consoles were not the greatest medium for the genre. The controllers on the consoles seldom could do them justice without either a great deal more buttons or, as the future proved, a way to both move forward and aim proficiently. Even before this was very well implimented, we still had the Nintendo 64 with two titles to add with the Turok series and 007: GoldenEye. 

GoldenEye should have never worked in the first place, according to the developers. This game was lightning in a bottle and all of them knew it when they found out it became one of the more successful titles of the console. Thanks to the semi-smooth multiplayer elements of the game, players were able to customize their own death battle experiences and it became common place to find this played in many circles. While it was one that did not age well at all, many will stick by this game no matter what.

Half-life, on the other hand, exploded far BIGGER than Unreal, even if it never had a promised third installment. Ironically enough, Valve created Half-life and Steam. It is because of Steam that you can play the majority of the titles in these FPS articles and even some Sega Saturn titles. It is also because of Steam that we never got a proper Half-life 3. Half-life 2, Team Fortress Classics and 2 and Counter-Strike, Left 4 Dead 1 & 2 are still played to this day as well. Sven's Coop and Garry's Mod are ways for you to even customize your own content and levels. All of these games' DNA can be traced back to Half-life. This game is a mega hit in its own right, it's just a shame we never got answers on its main character, Gordan Freeman's ultimate fate. We can still play a barrage of amazing games as a result, though. 

One title that had a very welcome return to form with its greatest title was Wolfenstein! Return to Castle Wolfenstein was released in 2001 to grand displays of both gameplay and graphics of the time. It used the Quake 3 Engine and brought back so many large staples of the genre! It is still popularly considered the highest point in the series to this day, although, The New Order is also a contender for that title. RtCW brought about much more of the occult to the Wolfenstein series, even going so far as to add a flamethrower, dual wielding chainguns and a Tesla Gun for lightning effects. While it does have some unwielding stealth sections that people consider a lowpoint in the title, this is still a solid First Person Shooter.

Quake had an amazing release, but its sequels are seen as lesser titles for more than one reason. Quake 2 was not even supposed to be Quake 2 in the first place, but in loo of a better idea and because John Romero no longer on the creative team, they just stuck with it. It was seen as much more mundane and flavorless. Quake 3 Arena just went and skipped all of the storylines altogether and smashed the entire "Doom-verse" together. Doomguy, Quake's Ranger and Quake 2's Bitterman were now all in one game. 

When you talk about the First Person Shooter genre and Quake, unfortunately, you must also inevitably talk about DaiKatana. Marred with bad AI, bad decisions and poorly planned levels, John Romero wanted to make his masterpiece akin to Doom. What he created was one of the largest falls from grace in gaming history. It joined the many failed Quake clones out there. Yes, they're Quake Clones now. This nickname didn't stick as the name "First Person Shooter" had actually been coined around by then.

Friends could now LAN party it up with an entire army of titles that came from so many sources. Even the Half-life vanilla Death Match servers were active for a good while. Tournaments sparked off in the 90's but they were so commonplace by the end of the 90's that, by the 2000's, you could literally go to any major city and the chances were that there was going to be a Gamer Party to some capacity. With the advent of the internet, Death Matching went world wide. 

We could go straight into Halo, as it slammed into the Xbox scene and we could go into FarCry, Metroid Prime, Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, Bioshock, Painkiller, TimeSplitters, and any number of other First Person Shooters that shifted the tide of the run-and-gun shooters. However, we're going to focus our energies on some of the most awesome FPS series and most recognizable of the genre. This is a wide category of the gaming world, so stay tuned!

Sunday 5 November 2023

FPS Culture - Id Came From Nowhere

If you were a gamer in the 90's, there is a very good chance that you beared witness to the start of the First Person Shooter genre. In 1991, Wolfenstein 3D gave us something to practice with. While it may not have been the absolute first of its kind, it was the one that set the standard of its time. Id Software had already created Hovertank 3D, and that was an interesting precursor John Carmack attempted. It did fairly well but it was not the three dimensional experience that he wanted. He wanted something much more akin to Virtual Reality as a concept. Games such as Maze from 1973, or Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss also dabbled with the concept, but Wolfenstein 3D was the one that truly stood the test of time by comparison.

Doom, however, is the one a lot of people will point at when you say the first FPS game. Whether they know it's true or not. Doom came in 1993 with the Shareware version, Knee Deep in the Dead and it literally changed the game scene for everyone. Wolfenstein had already done some amazing damage, but Doom broke its spine and rebuilt it from the ground up. There's plenty of information on the Saturn Junkyard when it comes to Doom. Then came an upsurge of First Person Shooters (or "Doom Clones" as they were called at the time) and they were bloody and gory because Doom did it. 

Mortal Kombat brought plenty of blood to the fighting game scene and there came plenty of knockoffs. Doom, strangely, had a lot of successful knockoffs by comparison to MK. Many will tell you that there are plenty of terrible Doom knockoffs that came very soon after its release. Heretic, which was under the productive eye of John Romero himself, was a lot of fun, as was Hexen. It brought about a lot of great fantastic elements, while also having a headache-inducing portal/switch mechanic that should not have seen the light of day. 

Then came Rise of the Triad in 1995 and Duke Nukem 3D in 1996, from Apogee, who renamed themselves between games to 3D Realms. Both of them were super violent, both of them had a wide array of weapons and were episodic along with being chocked full of tongue-in-cheek humor. Duke Nukem, however, was given a lot of flak for its humor because of the very dark elements it also employed. We will not discuss those here in great detail. Suffice to say, both games were successful and even included many elements that both Wolfenstein and Doom did not. Mechanics like dual wielding pistols, pipe bombs, highly interactive level decorations and many other elements put these games on the map, though, their current status in the genre has been tarnished to the point of extinction. 

Blood is, by far, one of the greatest underground successes when it comes to First Person Shooters. It is exceedingly difficult, but also brings about a theme of the macabre that was never seen before. The elements it employs for such creative level designs as a moving train or a carnival of demons and corpses really spiced up the game and its beautiful array of very hard and fast moving monster pits. Duke Nukem and Rise of the Triad are available in their entirety now, and this has had a remastering in the form of Fresh Supply. All three of these collections are a treasure trove of First Person Goodness and they are all highly recommended. 

Then there's Doom 2, but that was just more of a good thing and is quite devisive among Doom fans. This was also just a precursor to the company's development of their brand new game. This also came alongside the release of Ultimate Doom, which was a retail packaging of Doom's first three episodes with the inclusion of Thy Flesh Consumed. In the flood of "Doom Clones", Id decided to add to it, along with the ability of fans to create their own Doom maps and levels. By this point, gamers were swimming in digital blood and guts. 

If you want to see some really terrible FPS games, they exist in droves, but the highest concentration can be found with Capstone. Tekwar, Operation Body Count, Corridor 7: Alien Invasion, and Witchaven can all be viewed in something of a conga line of awful games that tried to cash in on Doom's success. They clearly had no idea what made them popular and have been largely ignored outside of some very entertaining game reviews throughout the internet. 

There were plenty more when it came to First Person Shooters, but all of it came to a standstill when Id Software created Quake. This brought a halt to the FPS Genre in a way that shook the gaming community once again and forced it into the 3D era for real this time. This era brought about a legendary stock of titles that can be played and enjoyed today. Join me next time as we take a look at what came when John Carmack created an engine that let you see an entire new world.  

Tuesday 31 October 2023

FPS/Sega Saturn 2 - Half-life - The Headcrab that could have Been

Happy Halloween, Saturnheads! Here's the final article in our 2023 Saturn SPEWWWWWWWWWmewmewmewmew! For our main feature, here is a legend among legendary games! If you were wanting another healthy helping of the Month of SPEWWWW--cough cough okay gotta stop now, then look no further! This is a precursor to a new segment and feature on the Junkyard and it's a great way to recgnize a great game that could have joined a great system.

 Many gamers, even many Half-life fans are not aware that Half-life was supposed to make an appearance on the Sega Dreamcast. Why these two legendary entities never met is between life and the fates, but one can only wonder what could have been. The port was marred with delays and the Dreamcast wasn't doing well in the market, but apparently the whole thing was cancelled despite the fact that it was ready to ship. Yes, Half-life made an appearance on the PS2, but the Dreamcast copy would have been a marrying of the centuries. Half-life is a milestone in gaming history and it needs to be celebrated to its utmost. 

The worst part about this is that such a sight would have been something of a novelty, both the true coverart and the fact that it was supposed to be the exclusive release of the expansion pack, Blue Shift. Now, do I care that it was not exclusive to the Dreamcast? No, and I am also not the biggest fan of the Blue Shift expansion anyway. Either way, I am a huge fan of Half-life and I played it for hours and finally beat it after almost a month. 

This was mostly because I had a hell of a time figuring out some of it and some of it was really hard for my poor 12 year old brain. However, it was magnificent! It scared the pants off of me with the head crabs and the huge enormous water creatures that charged you when you went under. There are miles and miles of story and gameplay in this and it is really hard to determine where to start. 

The graphics, for the time, were phenomenal. They weren't so great when it came to the Blueshift upgrade, but often times I find myself switching the graphics very quickly back to the original. That's what feels natural. That's when you start the whole game on the trolley ride that so many people have either dreaded or found absolutely iconic. Count me in the latter. It was worth seeing all of the new graphics, the upgraded Quake engine that made the 3D environments look so premitive and crude by today's standards but these were graphics that defined an age. 

Storywise, this is about as raw and natural as it gets. You are told where to go and what to do, but that's because you're going to work and you're late. The scientists need to get to the experiment and it needs to start on schedule. You have to get your equipment and you need to get to the lab, pronto! Of course, everything goes wrong, and you need to get through obstacles to survive a dying underground facility. Dying in both it's falling apart and its being invaded by monsters and they're killing the scientists. Then the military comes in. Then there are ninja spies. Look, it gets a little crazy, and there's a ton of stuff to go over. 

The aliens are horrifying, if that was not made clear earlier. Headcrabs will attack you out of nowhere. The whole "if it were a snake, it'd have bitten me", these things are the prime example of jumping out and attacking you! They latch onto deadbodies and act as their heads as they zombify them, which only adds to their terrorizing characteristics! These things are vile! 

All of the encounters with the inhabitants of Xen are not exactly pleasant, mind you. Some of them can get as tall as oak trees and that is no joke. We don't even know how long those green blind worm things truly are. We just know that if we make too much noise and are too slow, they will kill us in about three swipes or less. There are all kinds of obstacles to go around already and you have to contend with aliens that teleport into the room and shoot lightning at you. This occurs on a stiflingly regular basis. 

Working your way through Black Mesa and fighting off increasingly more difficult challenges has never felt more satisfying. There is a linear path, but it feels like you're being pulled toward it and you have to keep your guns blazing if you want to stay alive. 

The weapons, by the way, are amazing. From the lowliest crowbar that comes when you need it most, to the explosive laser zapper that makes your enemies into giblets, these are awesome. My personal favorites of the arsenal are the Colt Python .357 Magnum sixshooter and the Black Mesa Crossbow. Believe me, in some of those stealth sections, you will fall in love with the crossbow. Do not underestimate it as it is often a one-hit kill to normal enemies.

Some of these sections can be a little hard to figure out as some of the jump and crouch mechanics can be a little cryptic. Jump-crouching is a must for some sections and you'll need to know which ones to continue. Some of the jump sections over high cliffs can come with either a helicopter or several enemies firing at you. This sort of thing can happen. There are also sniper sections, which no one usually likes. That section is best treated with the Rocket-Propelled Grenade Launcher. 

This game remains a legend to this day and it is lauded as one of the greatest of its kind still. Even after Half-life 2 came out, this was very hard to outshine. However, it did come with some very long puzzle sections and there are some platforming sections that should never have made it to an FPS. Xen, as many will attest, is one of the longest, most boring sections and that is no joke. There are times the challenges can become very, very frustrating and it is in those moments when you need to reach deep down and try not to cheat. Or, to make yourself feel better, make an extra save file for cheating. That's fun too. 

Blue Shift was far outshined by its only other expansion pack, Opposing Force. That expansion was far longer, better planned out and had a much more solid challenge to it. Blue Shift was a blink-and-you-miss it kind of game. This was because it only lasted maybe two hours and the contents within are quite forgettable. There's really no way around one single fact: You can play both of them and all of Half-life and you will get a good solid 20+ hours of gameplay. One short expansion certainly didn't spoil the experience.  

This game is still very available on several platforms, along with its sequel and a VR game that released as well. Sadly, it was never concluded with a true third installment, but here's hoping that changes soon enough. Until then, there's so many hours of great games that came from Half-life, on top of the first game itself. If you haven't tried any of these titles, do not hesitate to do so if you want an awesome FPS experience either with friends or in a single-player. What's stopping you? It's not like games today are getting any better. VIRTUA BURN!!!!

Happy Halloween from all of us at the Saturn Junkyard!

Thursday 26 October 2023

Neptune - The Horror Genre - Survival Checklist of Death (Pt 3)

 Happy Halloween, Saturnheads!!!!! We're almost to the finish line, so here's  the finish of this particular feature on Horror in gaming. I hope you're ready for the season to come to a head, because The Saturn SPEWWWWWWWWWWWWWKINESS is gonna keep on keeping on!

The tropes we know and love/hate from the horror we love/hate have been used and abused to great and terrible effect. What you do and what you don't do can be very situational and very fickle. A lot of things work off of something else. 


If you have a gun, being able to shoot every single enemy once CAN make the game boring. How do you fix this? Left 4 Dead made their one-hit zombies extremely plentiful and added very tough zombies sprinkled in among them. That brings about satisfying gameplay as you mow down the small-fries while also filling a Tank Zombie full of bullets to bring it down like a mammoth. It's satisfaction and it's of the good kind. 

Giving the shotgun a good, heavy sound and damage output will make your player happy. The melee chopping and hitting hard with good reaction will make them okay with low ammunition. Making your main character Doom Guy and equipping him to the teeth will require many demons of different types and stages keeping you guessing and looking for secrets. Interesting gameplay and scary strong monsters make awesome guns okay. 

Setting up the Scares

What made PT so amazing was the scare factors and the visuals. You literally have no defenses against these things. If you do one thing wrong at the wrong time, something will kill you and you may get lost and need to backtrack. All of this evokes fear, along with the setting, which grew steadily darker the more you went. Setting off with jump scares from the start is annoying. Waiting it out, keeping the setting dark, foreboding and unsettling, then unleashing the jump scares and other scares will keep your customers happy. 

Throwing a monster and/or body horror guy straight from the first scene is robbing your audience. You are trying to jingle keys in front of their face and it is insulting. This can't be done at the very start, in broad daylight, it simply kills it from the very start. If you start at 10 and keep it at 10, how am I supposed to feel unsettled? Agony had nothing but blood and guts and spurting red stuff everywhere from start to finish. Just because we don't live in that in real life does not mean it is interesting!

Breaking the Tension

Comedy and romance can work in a horror story. In fact, it is good to keep a bit of every genre in your story. The problem is, you need to stick to it and not derail the main draw, which is horror! If you cut the tension with a joke or some sudden girl wanting to be kissed, it kills the suspense completely! Having the horrible creature jump out and juggle eyeballs, without proper context and character concept, is jarring and assassinates any chance of being scared of your horrible creature.

By the same concept, seeing your horrible creature in full view while also cutting and stabbing with gore had better also have some good build up. If we see the creature kill a bunch of people, little by little, come out of the shadows and stare your character down while also attempting to kill them, builds fear of the creature. Nemesis did this to tremendous effect in Resident Evil 3 while Alien: Colonial Marine glitches the Alien Queen while also killing the gameplay by not having the proper gameplay to begin with? What? Build up your villains, get me scared! Stick to your mechanics! It's not a hard concept.


How much do you starve your player of health, ammunition and other items? What is too much or too little? Some games will get it so right that you will naturally conserve your resources while keeping a steady flow of death. Other games, if you shoot one bullet out of line, you have already used too much and you need to backtrack to get the bullet back into your gun. Deep Fear took this concept and said, "no, I'll just put a place where you can replenish health and ammunition infinitely", this broke the tension as a whole. 

This concept needs to work throughout the entire game the same way each time, or it will not work. This is a very delicate game mechanic, but it can be so beautifully pulled off as to make your game one where the player will return time and time again. 

The Ending

Yes, your game needs an END. It does not need to keep going for decades upon decades upon however long as a series/loosely strung together bunch of games. D took a good way about this, in that each game was a separate concept. The problem there is that some of the games could have benefitted from taking more of the first game's idea. When games have endings, with stories today, you can bet they're either going to retcon the last ending to continue the series or just ignore the lore and continue regardless. Neither of these are a good idea, but happens so wearily often! 

The story is one of the hardest parts to get right. Resident Evil 7 did this concept a lot of justice all the way up until it gave you a choice between saving two ladies. One breaks the story entirely, the other only breaks the story a little bit. The choice should have never been in the game, as the story was already a little convoluted, but that's just how it goes. 

This is also a good place to draw this Saturn SPEWWWWKIES!!!! 2023 feature to a close. It is a lot of fun to explore but it is vast and there is so much to talk about. Halloween is fun to celebrate and fighting off horrific creatures is a fantastic way to spend the holiday. Invite over some friends and play some local multiplayer or LANs. Share some scares this season and remember to jump out when they least expect it! VirtuaAAAAHHHHH!!!!!

Saturday 21 October 2023

The House of the Dead Remake - Digital Zombie Fluff

Next in the Saturn month of Saturn SPEEEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWKIESATURN! This time we have something new and horribly gory! Please enjoy!

Over the years of posting reviews on this site, there has been one title that has gotten a constant mention throughout. This was not on purpose, but on a small glance at my past articles for the Junkyard, it has shown up on multiple top 10 lists and gotten held up as one of the examples of railshooters done correctly. It has been compared to many of its genre and come out looking very favorable, at least in this subjective reviewer's opinion. This subjective reviewer's opinion also seems to gravitate toward keeping the graphics blocky, sketchy and blurry as they were upon their implimentation to the Saturn or Arcade cabinets. 

Guess what, sports fans, this is a very good example of just that. The House of the Dead was remade for modern consoles in April of 2022 and you can count it among the remakes that did its best. It is by no means a terrible remake, nor does it look "bad". The graphics actually look quite detailed, but there is something wrong with them. The movements of the zombies and something about the movements of the screen seem so unattached. It's like they tried to keep the blocky, slow movements of the original port while implimenting them with new, polished graphics and the mixture is like a 1970's movie played on Bluray. It looks off

That's pretty much all there is to say about what is really wrong with this port. It seems so out of place. Like they told every single original actor of a movie to wear a full body suit of themselves, with new cameras and equipment. It doesn't wholly affect the gameplay, though. You can shoot zombies and have fun, and there are some nice darker tones to the game. 

There are good things here. I found myself really enjoying shooting things in the background and either finding a secret or just destroying something randomly. They did a very good job detailing the game with breakable stuff. That enhances the game and gives you a good sense of satisfaction. They also added a few more little items that improve the difficulty. Like, with the first villain, the Hangedman. He's also known as "That annoying bat dude that flies around and maybe sics a giant headless armor suit on you". A long title, I know. Instead of just shooting him in this version, though, he has a weakspot on his chest. Since he's slightly larger and more detailed, this actually worked. 

There were little tidbits here and there that made this game more fun. I loved how they made the blade jumper guys much darker and blend in more with the shadows. It made me feel observant when I spotted them and attacked them very early. There's good, grotesque violence to be had here and the game is far more accessible than it was. 

Is this game worth buying now? Yes, very much so. It is not a bad port at all, it simply has its off points and, as always, I am of a mind that the original is just a more fulfilling experience. That being said, the ambience, the higher graphics and the gameplay all have their ups and downs, but overall, it comes out ahead. What would have made this game far more edible is if, like in Nights Into Dreams Remake, they included the original game in its entirety. They didn't do that, but they did add a whole bunch of extra game features. 

The problem I had with these extra features was that Horde Mode could not be played without erasing your save game. That was a very strange decision on their part because it meant I had to beat the entire game to actually test it out. If that were the case, they may as well have made it an unlockable feature. Either way, it's your standard basic affair of minigames and none of them are especially noteworthy. They're not great, but good for a distraction. 

It's easier, obviously, because it doesn't have limited continues. That is actually a good thing, because the finite deaths did limit the original game in many ways. This is especially true whenever they were not getting paid for their labors in our hard earned quarters. Either way, this game is worth getting, playing and enjoying but it is not exactly worth celebrating. If this is your only way to play this game, you could do far worse. It is a game they built from the ground up. Though I question the use of Unity, I will not get into that. Just know that it is a new game from the Saturn and we should be grateful that we're still getting some classics to this day from our old friend of yesterday. Kill zombies, but play nice and drink water.

Monday 16 October 2023

Neptune - The Horror Genre - Try Not to Die (Pt 2)

The Horror Genre Article continues in the Saturn Month of Horror SPEEWWWKAAAAA!!! Now we're talking about the games that got it wrong and a deeper look at what makes and breaks the concept! Try to keep your brains! 

As amazing a concept as it can be, there can be plenty that can go wrong with Survival Horror at its very core. There are games that get their weapons and the feeling of shooting completely wrong. Sometimes, the targetting system can be awkward on purpose to enhance the scare effect of helplessness. Some games take this to mean they can make the targetting system as rubbish as possible and that will work. No, do not do that.

Where Alien Isolation got this concept to a near perfect, if somewhat languid experience, Agony took the concept of running and hiding and shat it right out. You need to be able to hide. Agony glitches so badly, hiding is utterly useless more often than not. When you are running and hiding from the farmer guy, Jack Baker in RE7, you feel the horror! If you have a knife against his shovel, you feel raw terror when you see him bust through a wall saying "There you are!" That sort of real feeling of helplessness is what you need and it goes so far when you can do nothing but run and hide. If you can't even run and hide, however, what can you do? Die! That's what! Then you'll probably turn off the game!

Running and hiding was a concept that put Five Nights at Freddy's on the map. While it dropped the ball on the concept of jump scares that aren't annoying as all hell, it still garnered a following from sheer gameplay and building challenge. That, plus the lore and the characters. 

There we come to a core that can also make or break a game. The story and the characters can bring your game from good to LEGENDARY and that is no exaggeration. FNAF has a great lore when it's not walking all over itself and forgetting whole chapters. Cut out your own square of Silent Hill's story, if you'd like, because it also gets choppy after the first few games, but what is there is very well crafted with subjects of psyche and the subconscious. 

Even if the story and the characters only work in one game, that can catapult that game into the stars. Doom had the most minimal story and character, but somehow brought Doomguy to the mainstream in a way that cements him there still today. Dead Space, the first and only the first game, has a pretty decent story to pull you along the haunted space corridors to fight space monsters with a space spinal suit. It and Half-life brought about an amazing use of the silent hero because he is you and you are looking for a way out and a way to survive. 

Then there are plenty of games that dropped the ball on Resident Evil. Yes, Resident Evil was a genre all its own, basically, because no one remembers Resident Evil Survivor everyone needed tank controls, slow moving enemies, scarce resources and stupid dialogue. They took all of these elements of the game and spilled them over the pavement. This, plus the fact that there were SO MANY of them! Just look at my Worst Games of the Sega Saturn 2 you will see plenty of them. Not all of them are the worst examples, but there are some very horrible ones (not in a good way). Then there's Countdown: Vampires, Deep Fear, and I could go on for days listing them. Trust me. There are a lot. 

There are so many concepts that go into Horror in gaming, as stated before. I've scratched the surface of games that do this well and not well, but these gameplay mechanics and visual style cannot be overstated. So, let's keep this going and keep these articles from being novels! Virtua SPEEEWWWWW!!!!