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  • Novastorm (Revisted)

    This game, as a cinematic scifi loving experience is absolutely beautiful.

    You sweep over volcanic wastelands, alien desert plains, snow fields and industrial planet-scapes. My biggest regrets is that this game doesn't have a cheat that allows the pre-rendered scenery to just roll on buy. It's absolutely beautiful.

    The music, pretty hardcore techno sounds, fits the feel of the game well, which gives off that CyberPunk feeling the 1990s did so brilliantly.

    I was, if I'm honest, bang on the money with regards Psygnosis' Novastorm game play. It's a memory test shoot'em up, with sprites overlaid on pre-rendered back drops. It's not always easy to see what you're shooting at or what you are aiming at, or indeed how you are aiming. Great portions of the game have your craft, the Scavenger 4, pressed against either the side or the bottom of the screen avoiding seemingly unavoidable enemy fire.

    The controls aren't great, the power-ups are best described as meagre. They don't accumulate, don't appear very often and don't help much.

    The end of level bosses, while fitted with the 'shoot me here to kill me' imagery are imaginative and well realised and in some cases look stunning.

    So, as a game it's not up to much, as an experience and journey it's priceless.

    Medium rare - like my steaks!

    3DOKid.

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  • Alone in the Dark - revisited.

    The other day, I was on an Internet forum discussing a game, and someone actually lamented the training mission. Not the fact there was one, but the fact it wasn't good enough - sorry?

    There is, if I'm honest, a sixth-sense to playing games, you play games enough, you know, instinctively, what the designer meant. Of cause you do, you're a gamer. If you weren't a gamer and you were casual gamer, the type of person out for the one-off gaming experience, then the game maker thoughtfully provided you with a manual. Tutorial? That is there if you were retarded or from Mars or someones mother... and even then.

    Which brings me to my next topic. It is, as far as I can tell, some sort of text-speak gaming-chav chic to have played a game made between  1990 and 1995, pretending to all the world that you were actually there, and then lament some aspect of it because it doesn't measure up to modern gaming. Gex for example, on the 3DO, does not have a cover system. Super Mario World has no downloadable content. And, you will be amazed to hear, Alone in the Dark doesn't feature custom soundtracks.

    Now, while that news will horrify the average Halo worshiper, the rest of us will sit back and recognize that Alone in the Dark was one of the most beautiful, influential, intriguing and amazing games of it's time. That's not over selling - that's a fact.

    A choice of characters. 3D characters I hasten to add. And you get to roam a Haunted House in 3D. Step back for one minute. When I was kid, in say 1985, the Haunted House WAS the best ride at the fun fair. Okay, the rollercoaster was something, but the Haunted House? A league of it's own. Therefore, the opportunity to roam, at your leisure, around a proper haunted house with Zombies, pirates, and with H.P.Lovecraft monsters? Wait! Dawn of the dead was something, H.P.Lovecraft, in 3D, was something else. Alone in the Dark was an amazing proposition. You can't sit there and say, "Oh Resident Evil" or "Uh Silent Hill" because when Alone in the Dark was made there was nothing else. The anticipation surrounding Alone in the Dark was quite literally, unbearable. There had been nothing quite like it before. The belly-aches forget that. In the early nineties computers hadn't delivered believable horror environments before, and we had grown up in the horror imagination of movies like House, Fright Night, the Fog, Poltergeist and up until Alone in the Dark, no interactive experience had delivered on that imagination. Then came Alone in the Dark - initially just press releases and screenshots in magazines but that was enough.

    Today, Alone in the dark is mostly forgotten, in thanks part to it's lamentable sequels. And for that, Survival Horror is, according to our friend wanting the tutorial, the realm of Resident Evil 4, Doom 3 and perhaps, if were lucky, Wolfenstien. Although he may have read that on the web somewhere. Survival Horror is worse.

    Alone in the dark is not perfect but it's not perfect in the same way the Model T Ford wasn't perfect. Sure, the controls take a bit of getting used too, assuming of cause you are older model homo-sapien and you are fitted with a premotor cortex. A feature of the brain apparently being phased out in the next release.

    It's a bit slow going, there is no tutorial, the zombies are not immediately recognizable as zombies, but you get the idea as you are kicking them in head. The weapon use is quite literally hit and miss, there is no real targeting and the camera angle is not always brilliant. But it was the first time anyone had ever tried this, and with that in mind it's pretty good, in fact it's down right outstanding.

    As a haunted house? The house, the Louisiana mansion Derceto, created under the leadership Frederick Raynal is French. Sure, okay, I've been to France, and the French don't have black swirly patterns all over their walls, not the sane ones anyway, but there is no ignoring the fact that the house was developed by a French man. And the Mansion Derceto is all the better for it. It has a certain style and charm. If you look at AitDs contemporaries, Warps D and Dr Hauzer also on the 3DO and the mansion in the slightly later Resident Evil, the houses are somewhat bland. Even the house in AitD 2 doesn't really compare to the original. The house in Alone in the Dark compares itself well to houses found in movies. Amityville springs to immediately to mind. It's distinctive, real but still manages to be surreal. It's very impressive. Later levels of the game wander into the realm of platformer but only breifly. The house reveals itself before you and it's handled by the game in very clever and plausible way.

    As cinematic experience AitD is good. The camera angles and the occasional custom scene do a fantastic job of pitching this as an almost Boris Karloff horror movie, with Carnaby even sporting Boris' moustache. The creatures, although initially some are obscure, are actually reasonable interpretations of Cuthulian mythos. Yes, even that hopping green eyed flapping mole. Some scenes are also truly inspired. The ballroom for instance, it's amazingly creepy, but what really gives Alone in the Dark that edge is the sound effects. They are timed almost to perfection, to scare the living-daylights out of you.

    The lead character, Carnaby, would never make it into a modern game. He strikes you as slightly eccentric bumbling 1930s investigator. He's not Christian Slator, he's not some handsome Emo in need of a hair cut, and a flying jacket, and he's not some muscle bound swearing meat head, he's some red haired, supernatural investigator, with a big red mustache and an urge to investigate pianos. Another case of style equating to substance?

    The game is focused on exploration of the Mansion, adding, admittidly sometimes obscure items together to solve puzzles and fighting the monsters that turn up.  The house is laden with traps. Open the wrong door, touch the wrong thing, go into the wrong room with the wrong items and it will be curtains for you. You can save at any point, so, you can scream and shout but it won't stand up in court.

    To say Alone in the Dark is not flawed would be ridiculous. To say it's one of the most pivotal games ever made, and to say it's one of the most visually striking games ever made and to say it's one of the best games ever made - is under selling.

    Turn the lights out, put the headphones on, and play Alone in the Dark again.

    Anyone can buy this on eBay, it's not even remotely rare.

    3DOKid.

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  • Advanced Dungeons and Dragons: Deathkeep - revisted.

    I wasn't wrong about this game.

    On paper, this game is awesome. On paper, this game isn't only a Doom beater, it's a Doom annihilator. On paper, whatever Doom had, AD&D Deathkeep had in spades. Dungeons? Monsters? On-Screen action? Cerebal challenge? Maps? Polygons? This game, on paper, is pure perfection. Doom is for idiots. AD&D is for the hardcore. It is a gamers game.

    ...but only on paper.

    Take the first level: The game opens with a pre-rendered introduction. So what? After picking a character: Woman, man or dwarf, you are dumped in the lowest level of an evil tower on your quest for a talisman. You walk down a slope, yes a slope, amazing in it's self, (hey this 1996 slopes were amazing) and pick up some weaponry. A Sword, some armour, you walk on a little more and you come to a T-junction. Left or right? You move left but suddenly the controls are messed up. YOU'RE SLIDING! It's ice. Amazing. Your digital legs flail around and you scamper up another ramp only to be greeted by two trolls. You hit them with your sword and they die. You go back down the ramp. The walls, the textures, the flames, the ice on which you are standing look, for the year, amazing. The enemies, that as you progress, are increasingly more impressive. To behold them is simply delightful pleasure. It's an adventure. It's an adventure full of moments. Moments you can share with your friends. "I ran round the corner of this brown cave and there was a damned great big fire monster there!" - Awesome.

    And this brings me to another major gripe, that somehow has escaped everyone's attention in the current generation: Variety.

    How much 'variety' was their in Killzone 2? I'll tell you: Not much. How about Resident Evil 5? Scant I would say if I am honest. What about Uncharted? Limited would be my best answer. In 1995 these sort of games wouldn't cut the mustard. Deathkeep has more variety than you can wave a magic stick at, and the 3DOs now paltry 3Mb RAM shames the super consoles of today. Reason being is that modern gamers only care about online, DLC and custom sound tracks. Each level in AD&D Deathkeep features, at least one, two or maybe three new creatures you haven't seen before. And they are never boring and you never once feel the character creator turned up for work dreading another day at the monster making workstation. No indeed, they loved their work. And it showed. And it was awesome. Farastu? Vampires? Cornugon? Bone Golum? Pit Fiend? They sound awesome. Trust me, they look awesome.

    That said, the game designer, I suspect, loved Dungeons and Dragons. I'm not so sure they loved video gamers though mind you because despite the imagination, the execution and the delivery of the components of AD&D Deathkeep on the 3DO, it is, once you are off-of the paper, mind bendingly, pad crushingly, stand-up-and-swear-at-the-walls difficult. For some reason, it was decided that AD&D Deathkeep would be uber real. What that translates to is this: Yes, if you were to meet an real-life angry troll you would die very quickly. Now, a couple of points. Firstly, Trolls aren't real. This I believe was possibly something of a shock to the games designer. And secondly, dying quite so easily in a video game is not fun, and indeed, doesn't really add to the overall experience. That is unless you are a table-top AD&D player who enjoys the idea of video gamers dying - then I imagine it's enormously fun.

    Which is of cause is a great shame.

    It's not just the rapidity to the dying that makes it hard. There are other traps laid out to slay the innocent video gamer that stumbles into the Tolkien inspired digital universe. (Yes I spotted the similarities between the dwarf mines and the Lord of the Rings.) There were a few times where I thought, yes, this game really really hates me. Doors close behind you for a start. Not so bad in itself, but trying to remember where you have been and where you haven't been is something of a challenge when everywhere looks the same and the only indicator, an open door, is now closed. But it gets worse.

    I remember seeing my first Pit Fiend. Now, don't forget, I'm cheating. Invincibility on. And let's be honest, nobody on Earth would have seen this wonderfully digitally created beast if it wasn't for the cheat, so I spy it, and I run at it with my sword, only to be greeted by the message "You're weapon has no affect on the creature" and then to realise I can't back away because the bloody door closed behind me. LS+RS, then CABBAC to exit the level. Nice work Mr Designer.

    AD&D Deathkeep is a perfect five course meal. Laid out in exquisite surroundings, delivered to perfection, with style, class, hard-work and dedication of a true team of professionals. Then some git dropped a big dollop of donkey pooh in the middle and said 'Eat that!'

    Which kind of ruined it.

    The only way to progress is to cheat. Which for such a clever game, is stupid.

    It's not rare.

    3DOKid.

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  • Star Fighter - revisted.

    Oops. I accused this game way back on the 22nd April 2006 of being boring. Which, in retrospect, wasn't entirely accurate. What can I say? Will sorry do?

    Let me first explain why I thought it was boring. It's not an excuse, it's an explanation. Star fighter does have a number of failings, and this one is a big one, and it's this: It doesn't explain itself very well. Is it a flight sim? Well not really, the physics engine is sort of realistic but gravity isn't included, so no, no it's not a simulation. So, it's an arcade shooter then? No not really one of those either. It lacks the immediacy of an arcade shooter, it's nearest rival on the 3DO is Total Eclipse and Total Eclipse is a fast paced action shooter. Star Fighter really isn't. The physics engine is too realistic to be an arcade game, not real enough to be a sim, although there are hints of arcade influences in this. Not least of all the Lasso-weapon concept pinched whole-sale from Raiden II. To slow to be an arcade game, to unreal to be real.

    So, what is it? Well, after putting the mighty 3DOkid mind to work I figured out exactly what it is: It's a year 3000 Star Fighter sandbox game. Thank me later!

    The game gives you a well presented 3D world, a space craft immune to gravity, a series of sixty missions, and freedom to do things however you want. If you want to spend three hours powering up? Go ahead. If you want to blast your targets or your mother ship with lasers? The choice is yours. Do you want to spend your time skimming the outer atmosphere, or flying under bridges and admiring the third person perspective or seeing how close to the building you can get and completely ignoring the mission, or just carving away at mountains and blowing up trees? -- Well go ahead.

    After playing it for quite sometime, one thing is very transparent, Star Fighter is one of those games that is horribly under valued. In a way, it reminds me of Iron Soldier on the Atari Jaguar. (Whatever one of those is eh?) Technically it is a marvel, just like Iron Soldier. In regards game play it's very good, again like Iron Soldier.

    Forgotten or swept under the carpet? Ignored in the drive to lament these early super-generation consoles during the mid-nineties? These consoles, the Jag, the 3DO, the CD32, weren't the darlings of gaming very long, and people turned on them viciously towards the end of the tenure. People seem to prefer to forget what was great about these systems, what they achieved and prefer to just mindlessly whinge on about FMV games and their other failings. Studio 3DO released this game in 1995, and nobody at that time I guess wanted to hear about a good, deep, engrossing 3DO game. Especially when there was a mountain of tat and soul-less rubbish on the Playstation and Saturn waiting to played which was infinitely more sexy. Game reviewers being the worst kind of hypocrites often.

    This game also deserves another moniker: I would say it was the last great 16bit generation game. I better explain that too. Star Fighter was developed originally on the Acorn Archimedes which was a British answer to the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST. Star Fighter was a greatly enhanced, and then ported to the 3DO from the Archimedes. So it feels very much like it was from that generation of machine however. The graphics were next gen, by their quantity and quality that's undeniable, but the feeling, or aura of the game if you want, is that the game was last gen. And this probably didn't help it either. It feels like it's part of David Brabens Elite series in many ways too; You have to dock your space ship on a mother-ship. You can fly from the surface of the planet into space anytime you feel like it. The game has multiple viewing angles. If Elite owes a nod to the movie 2001, then Star Fighter owes a nod to Elite. There is also a hint of 16bit Demo Scene buried in Star Fighter. There is something eerily familiar about the way you enter your name for high scores: Spinning swirly 3D graphics style. Then there is the music which also feels like it needs a scrolling 'Greetz' bar to really compliment it.

    So in a way, Star Fighter didn't endear itself to a hungry next-gen 32bit world by being a super-amazing 16bit game. If you are callous enough to leave your last girlfriend because she was getting a bit old, the last thing you want to see is her looking a million dollars, and super sexy, and her showing up and looking better than your new bimbos. And perhaps there was a bit of that in Star Fighter. After all, it eclipses the original Air Combat on the Playstation in many many ways and is technically more competent than the original version of Virtua Fighter on the Saturn. Ouch. On the 3DO?

    The heart and soul: There is also a romance of Star Fighter. It is clear that Star Fighter was a labour of love. It's clearly very clever, made by very clever people who loved it. They loved making the game. They loved experimenting with it. Each new mission they created wasn't a bullet point on a list of objectives they had too meet, it was an exciting moment of friends sat around imagining what was possible. But it doesn't always feel like that cleverness and love was channelled always where it was needed or indeed in the right way. For example: Sweeping down through the mountains, strafing enemy gun placements, weaving between tower blocks is done perfectly. Plays great, feels great, looks great, is great. Game mechanics tied with human emotion at their best. All very very clever. The speed and the frame-rate are fantastic. But, and here it comes, once you do destroy your target a slightly ugly floating crystal emerges from the wreckage that jars badly with the pseudo-realism. It's like the magic is gone, the bubble burst. "I'm Star Fighter pilot! I'm Star Fighter pilot!", you cry, then BLAM!... "NO! I'm Super Mario". Doh! That said the crystal system is quite clever, you have to collect the crystals in the right order to create power-ups. If I was being picky, I'd say I would have wanted more power-ups, but the system is intriguing and clever but the execution with giant floating coloured blobs is debatable. There had to be a more delicate way of doing this than the one that was implemented.

    It's not, as I said, a pickup and play immediate game. To be a good Star Fighter pilot takes some practice, but the physics engine is well designed and very rewarding and there are sixty varied levels to keep you going. It does struggle in the story department - there is no cleverness in this department at all to be fair, and perhaps this is another failing. Maybe if Star Fighter had a story to rival Colony Wars on the Playstation this game would have been remembered more fondly.

    One other thing that will not have won Star Fighter many fans over the years is that the game is as hard as nails. It will mercilessly take you down, and when you are down, punch you in the face and then laugh. Since the demise of the 16bit generation and the rise of the toy consoles, most games have been dumbed down to interactive story books, if you are lucky that is, and the mighty reviewer lament of the 1990s was indeed difficulty. So Star Fighter probably suffered another blow: If you can't beat a game in a single three hour sitting, on your first go, well then naturally no-one is really interested. Me included I guess.

    Star Fighter is a beautiful game, that has flaws. None of which make it a bad game.

    It's also not rare.

    3DOKid.

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  • Escape from Monster Manor - revisited.

    There are a few guys now doing 3DO reviewing, which is a good thing. They aren't as good as me but then... who is? (Who could better the 3DOKid? Who?) Anyway, Traegorn over at Rising Stuff, did a good video review of Escape from Monster Manor at the tail end of last year, and while watching it, I did think to myself, I didn't like Escape from Monster Manor much either. However, that was back 2005 that I didn't like it, and since then, well? I have learnt to be more tolerant. Especially of FPS games - so I thought I would revisit Escape from Monster Manor.

    And you know what? I'm so glad I did.

    This game does represent one of my earliest memories of the 3DO way back in 1994 and it is singularly the most paradoxical game on the 3DO platform. When it's awesome, it's really awesome. For example: say what you want about Doom, my feelings remain the same, but Monster Manor completely and utterly eclipses it in the enemy graphics department. The stop-motion animated bad guys are fantastic. As they sort of hobble towards you, semi-transparent, they are nothing short of spectacular. There is something very 'next-gen' circa 1993 about them, and full credit to Electronic Arts they did well here. Also, the number of them at any one time is pretty amazing too. One room there has to be something like twenty to thirty bad guys on you at once. Which in its self is one hell of a technical achievement.

    The next piece of jaw-drop delivered by Escape is the audio. If you have this game, and have a 3DO hooked up to TV, start it up now. Use headphones. Now, race through the first level and once on to the second level pause and just listen. The amount, and the variety, and whether it's random timing or highly skilled timing the audio made me nervous. It's utterly brilliant. It really sets the tone of the whole game. The only other game that exploited this quite so well was Space Hulk on the 3DO, which was another EA game, but I honestly believe Escape surpasses it. The audio is quite an experience, especially in a world that now considers custom-sound tracks in games the be-all-and-end-all. It's not you Philistines.

    Another point, in my last review I criticised, without much thought, (shame on me) the controls. I wasn't wrong; turning through 180-degrees is painfully slow, but the motion engine is quite delicate. There is inertia. Start to turn left and release the pad and for a fraction of second the character continues to move. It makes the motion feel more organic and less jarring as found in other FPS of the era. Design? Possibly. Another hint of quality? Possibly. It's also let down by the pad. This game would benefit from being playable with a Xbox 360 style pad - but hey...

    So the graphics and the audio and the motion engine are five-star rated but then something is wrong. The objects littered around the house are wrong. The maps are great, the execution not so. The rooms don't vary much, neither do the objects around the house. The tailors dummy, the hanging man, the trunk, and so. The health packs and the keys and coins are clumsy and laid out in a way that almost insults the other areas of the game.

    Likewise, there is no compelling reason to explore. And that's fundamentally whats wrong with Escape with Monster Manor - it's not compelling. There is no story as such, the game engine is rock solid but it lacks variety and there isn't even a selection of weapons.

    And, today in 2009, thanks to Treagorn - I know why:

    EA rushed this game. It was given six months. On day one of the game, I think the developers were excited at the possibility of working with a machine as powerful as 3DO. They set out, perhaps, to change the world but they ran out of time. Which in hindsight is a travesty. This could have been the greatest game on the 3DO. The basics were there, the staff seemed talented if the 3D engine and the graphics and the audio are anything to go by, they seemed dedicated to the cause of making a quality game, it's just they lacked time.

    If this had been given another year, another eighteen months? Who knows? But yet, that's the story of 3DO at the end of the day. One more chance, just a bit longer, just a bit more - maybe, just maybe...

    Escape from Monster Manor is not rare, as a tech demo for the 3DO, it's up there with dinosaur heads in my humble opinion and is worth just having a look at, abd a listen too, today some 16 years after it's release.

    3DOKid.

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  • 3DO Fighting Games videos

    Part 1:

    Part 2:

  • Need for Speed - revisted.

    Need for Speed on the 3DO is to car games, as 3DO is to games consoles. It's like going to visit a friends family, everyone in the family is different, but they have the same eyes, the same hair, the same way of speaking. From granny to baby their is something common to them all. Likewise, playing 3DO Need for Speed, you realise that despite being considered second-fiddle to the likes of Ridge Racer and Daytona at the time, NFS contained the dominant gene still seen today in car games.

    Project Gotham Racing, Grid, Gran Turismo, the list is endless all contain within them, the basic genetic codes laid down by Need for Speed on the 3DO. Of cause no-one remembers the Need for Speed as iconic, those accolades are reserved for Namco's and Segas efforts despite their influence on the genre being fairly minimal.

    Before we start, don't confuse Need for Speed on the 3DO with it's shoddy PC, Saturn and PlayStation ports. They were inferior. The 3DO Multiplayer may have been bettered by it's polygon crunching nemesis' but it's use of memory and flexibility meant that from time-to-time Trips multimedia console could show them a clean set of heels. Just like in this instance.

    So what was so special about NFS 3DO? Need for Speed, in it's first outing, managed to get the recipe exactly right when combining arcade action and the holy grail of gaming in the past fifteen years: realism.

    A Porsche 911 will not, from a standing start, accelerate up a hill as quickly as it would down a hill. It's basic physics. Need for Speed 3DO knew this. Cars are heavy, and will not power-slide round corners as easily as some car games would have you believe. Need for Speed 3DO knew this. A Lamborghini Diablo will out accelerate a Mazda RX7 from a standing start. Need for Speed knew this. And significantly, 3DO NFS managed to make all this physics and modelling stuff fun.

    More over, NFS knew that each car has a different engine, a different photo-realistic dashboard, a different horn. This was something of novelty in 1994.

    The handling in NFS is, in so far as I am concerned, as close to real world car handling as any game has ever achieved. PGR feels good to play, don't get me wrong, as does GT and Grid, but they don't feel real. The hint of arcade in these games is too heavy. You don't, unlike the NFS 3DO, feel the weight of the car in the pad, you don't feel the 19" wheels turning into the corners, you don't feel the bulk of the vehicle as you wrestle with the steering. You don't feel the steering trying to snap back to centre, In NFS 3DO, all this is done extremely well.

    Likewise 3DO NFS is still the only game I play where I can honestly say the in-car view is the most comfortable view to play the game in. It's also the only car game I've played which has a compelling reason to use the manual gear settings: i.e. the car performs better and you get access to extra tracks. Hiding in automatic is for old ladies and Taxi drivers as far as NFS is concerned.

    At the time, 1994, NFS was accused of being boring when compared with it's arcade counterparts. And to be fair, it's not as instantly thrilling as Ridge or Daytona but that's not to say that Need for speed doesn't have it's moments.

    Say for example: when a cop is chasing you, and you clip an oncoming car during your escape, only to discover you are going up hill and the automatic gearbox won't kick-down to a lower gear, and the damn car won't pick-up speed -- all this will make you hold your breath. It does. I promise.

    Being tailgated by a horn beeping mad Toyota Supra while in your Honda NSX with a distant beep-beep-beep of a cop car on your scanner you just passed does pretty much the same.

    Swinging the heavy Lamborghini through the twists and turns of the country run and watching your opponent power off into the distance does have a spurring effect. trust me, close only counts in horse-shoes and hand grenades - you will want to win.

    On the arcade side of things you have mutlei-angle replays, a 70Mph head-on crash doesn't mean instant death, you can't over-rev an engine to death, there is no damage to the cars, although smoke will pour from the engine if you do manage to put the car on it's roof -- something Polyphony's efforts never managed! -- and the coppers only care if you're speeding; ramming them or other road users below 55Mph doesn't bother them at all.

    So okay, NFS isn't an arcade game, but it's not exactly dull either.

    Another key area is the graphics. NFS isn't as glitzy or as showy as say Sega Rally or Ridge Racer but watching the road snake off into the distance, or witnessing your car power underneath bridges or breezing past the balloons on the coast is delivered with a certain beauty.

    There are three courses, broken down into three sections. The courses contain plenty of variety. From chicanes, S-bends, long straights, with narrow and wide types of roads. On coming traffic mixes things up, blind bends, steep hills and sweeping motorways make the experience more entertaining as a journey than many games even today. From cities, to woods, to mountains and coastline NFS has plenty to look at.

    Add to that cops. In Surround-sound the cops follow you and their presence is betrayed by your cop-detector beeping away on the dash. The cops aren't psychotic, they won't ram you off the road, that's not to say it's not a none-contact sport, but most of the time being arrested is the result of your own poor driving as opposed to the aggressive polices AI routines.

    There are eight cars for you to race in.

    Lamborghini Diablo
    Ferrari
    Porsche 911 (993)
    Mazda RX7
    Honda NSX
    Toyota Supra
    Corvette ZR1
    Dodge Viper

    Which is a nice selection of cars, no one car has the upper hand and you find a challenging and varied race in each.

    One area, which is pretty contentious these days, is FMV. Sure, the car introductions, especially for the Porsche and the Lamborghini have a replay value like no other piece of video game full-motion-video in history but it's the X-Man where I'm going to draw a line in the sand. A chap called 'Brennan Baird'.

    He was cut from other versions and was the target of much bile when the game was initially released, no doubt resulting in his absence from the later ports, but in fairness, I believe he is by far the best actor in any FMV sequence, in any 3DO game, ever. Certainly the most natural. That makes him better than Tia Carrera, better than Dennis Hopper, Grace Jones and Stephanie Seymour and better than Mark Hamill. He was supposed to be an antognistic opponent, that challenges you enough to want to race, but not so irritating that you would refuse his beer in the local bar. With that in mind, Brennan quite frankly delivers an oscar winning performance. Watching him now, 15 years later, he is not bad, he's actually good. The lines he's given aren't great, but he performs them well.

    Electronic Arts Need for Speed started life as the 3DO raison d'etre. Arguably the best reason to own a 3DO. It's still a show-piece for the 3DO, it's still a great game, it's still an exhilarating ride and you can see 3DO NFS DNA in every car game since. Remember, Daytona USA and Ridge Racer changed the car game genre very little, and NFS is truly father to them all.

    Lucky for you it isn't even slightly rare. - play it today (Just not on Freedo as the replays don't work!)

    3DOKid.

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  • StarTrek The Next Generation: A World for all Seasons.

    This was to be one of the early releases for the 3DO back in 1993/94. Spectrum Holobyte were famous for Flight Sims during the 16bit era and had dabbled in 3DO with the casual title: CPU Bach. A sort of Bach simulator.

    Viacom signed with Holobyte in 1991 to produce Star Trek games and this was to be one of the fruits. Sadly, it never came to fruition. Although it was always 'just to be released'. Out there, some where, maybe, is a running demo. On maybe even the 3DO, as opposed a Macintosh because something was demoed at E3 in 1995.

    Below are some of the prototype screen play images I acquired now over two years ago.

    storyboard_05

    storyboard_04

    storyboard_03

    storyboard_01

    None of this tells what the game was about but none the less, it's interesting.

  • Armageddon

    "Come forward in succession little sized bomb".

    This is exactly the kind of pearl of wisdom you would expect from a far eastern game made in the mid-nineteen-nineties.
    for the 3DO. You've never heard of it right? Well only the true 3DO hardcore have and even fewer have played it.

    I am, and I have.

    And I'm grateful. Grateful to have played an excruciatingly rare Korean game for the 3DO, and grateful to the person I acquired it from. Which, if I'm honest, is going to make slagging it off somewhat hard.

    Whenever you are fortunate enough to get your hands on a rare game, there is part of you that has already decided it's going to be the best thing ever, even before you have seen it, let alone played it. This, in so far as 3DO is concerned, has wore a little thin with me. I wanted, oh-so desperately, all the little Warp rarities for the 3DO to be awesome - fact was they were a little ropey. I wanted Pyramid Wars to be amazing, it was, if I'm cold and honest, below par but then I have been lucky too. For every mouthful of rabbit dropping I stuffed in my eager 90s gamer mouth, I also found a couple of chocolate raisins. Dr Hauzer I enjoyed enormously, like wise Crayon Shin Chan, but the fact remains, i still have a gob full of rabbit plop.

    So, what's Armageddon? Rabbit Pooh? Or M&M? I'll start with the good things.

    Firstly it ticks a lot of boxes for me. Not least of all the music. Suitably heroic and quite good. I liked it. More cheese than the average diary farm but hey!

    Next we have the fully rendered intro. Now, I've seen a lot of these. An aweful lot. Pre-rendered space scenes, with spaceships came with every 3DO game ever made. Pinball game? No problem - needs some pre-rendered space though. Football game? More space. Space game? Needs lots and lots of space. Pre-rendered space with everything. I am, if I am nothing, an world expert on pre-rendered space full-motion-video in 3DO games. Now, Armageddon isn't obviously Wing Commander III quality, neither is it Space Hulk but then it's not Starcraft either. It's good solid pre-rendered space and I liked it. It owes a thanks or two to the beginning sequences of Return of the Jedi but that's not what's important, what's important is how good it is. And it's good.

    It also features Korean styled anime characters. Which ticked a big box. So that cheered me up.

    the finally big thing is the dodgy translation. Dodgy translations is a thing of yester-year. And frankly I miss them. Armageddon has loads of completely unintelligible translations. And I liked that too. It's like it hearing a rubbish old song from years back you never really liked. There is something of the familiar about it, and I liked it.

    So, once you've loaded it up, enjoyed the FMV, looked quizzically at the translations and tapped your foot to the heroic music what's the game like?

    Not good.

    Like most space games it focuses on dodging asteroids, which in the case of armageddon can be done by holding down left or indeed right. Shooting alien spaceships, which are quite hard to hit, exploding disaapointingly and don't look very good and finally weaving up and down to dodge plasma ray things and finally shooting an honest to goodness end-of level boss. Which is sadly just a pair of polygons glued to gether.

    The controls are tough, the targetting impossible and all told it's a bit deflating. It's hard to avoid the enemy bullets which is all well and good but the big crime is the end of level of bosses. I was expecting something appraoching impressive. If I am honest the game looks like it might have been shooting for impressive. missing horribly but still aiming but the end of level polygons are little heart breaking.

    And that's all I can say. I enjoyed the experience. And who wouldn't? This is a rare game on a rare platform but if I measure the game as a game - it isn't up to much.

    So finally? Is it rare? Very very very rare.

    3DOKid.

    a2a3a4a8a11a15a18a29a27a22

  • Policenauts Playthrough Act 1 part 1

    Thanks to a little in-house Japanese support I'm making some more progress in this. It can be confusing. The save menu's are a real test of memory. Get them wrong, assuming you don't read Kanji, and hours of game play can be lost. Which is precisely what happened to me. What I'm finding is that while the game is interesting, there is a lot of reading.

    p2p4p5p6p7

    So the Spaceship lands and you disembark at Beyond Coast.

    I went immediately, thanks to the FAQ, straight to the Beyond Coast police station.

    Where, i spoke to Bob. A Police desk clerk who needs to be asked everything twice.

    p9p10

    Once done with Bob I went to see my old buddy Ed.

    I was also introduced to two new people, although one of them wasn't all that new to me, or indeed anyone who has ever played Metal Gear Solid - Meryl Silverburg.  The other person is Dave Forrest. Something of a fan of the planet Earth despite having never been there.

    p13p14p18

    to be continued...

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