Let’s look at the list of L lettered leisure lovelies, and lesser (likely lacking) litter.
A game I remember that was universally panned at the time, was the western version of a Fist of the North Star game, called Last Battle over here. In many ways it was a lot like Altered Beast, with side scrolling punching and kicking, and shirt-ripping power-ups. You don’t turn into an animal though, and it’s a bigger and more involving game, but it’s still pants.
Film tie-ins to cross off the list include Last Action Hero, The Lost World: Jurassic Park and The Lawnmower Man. Mainly because they are film tie-ins, but also because they’re crap. Especially The Lawnmower Man.
The award for Most Boring Game Title goes to “Lakers Versus Celtics and the NBA Playoffs” which, sadly, is just a limited scope basketball game and not a graphic adventure game similar to that Indiana Jones one.
LHX Attack Chopper was never going to work well, as it’s a helicopter simulation game on a pretty underpowered-for-polygons console that also lacks enough buttons. The PC version needed half a keyboard, and EA thought three fire buttons was enough? That wasn’t quite sufficient for Desert Strike and that wasn’t a simulation!
Also off the short list are: The Legend of Galahad, (a competent platformer but hasn’t aged that well, as I found when I played it recently), The Lion King (16bit Disney platformer, so BZZZZT). Lemmings 2 (too fiddly with a controller and not as good as the original) and both Lethal Enforcers games (the graphics are too grainy).
That’s what’s not. But what’s not not?
The Lost Vikings is a platform puzzle game with a bit of a cult following. Each of your three vikings has a different skill, such as being able to jump, or fire arrows, and each level is based around using these skills to progress. It’s humourous and clever, although I never managed to find the solution to a late-game puzzle so it remains uncompleted!
Lemmings is, of course, Lemmings. Ported to every system under the sun, the Mega Drive version doesn’t differ much from other ports, although it does have a load of extra levels thanks to SunSoft who ported it. Unlike the sequel, using a controller rather than a mouse works just fine, and two player mode is incredible.
Light Crusader by Treasure, who are seemingly unable to do any wrong, is a Zelda-ish action role-playing game played out in isometric, just like Head Over Heels on the Speccy. Switch and laser puzzles mixed with NPC conversations and swording bad guys make it certainly unusual, if a little tricky to control with the isometric viewpoint.
And the Alphabest?
Thankfully, L threw up a generally better standard of game than some other recent letters, but the clear winner is Lemmings. Oft copied, and with many versions through the years, the original is still the best almost regardless of platform. Even the Game Boy version is excellent. Good as The Lost Vikings and Light Crusader are, Lemmings was a revelation at the time – a genuinely new genre of game and still the best example of that genre.
Last week, it was E3. In case you’re not aware of what E3 is, then think of it as the window for a once-a-year toyshop for manchildren. A peek into the games that will be supposedly out in the next year or so but in reality probably within the next two years or five years or never.
All the major companies in the games industry hold events showcasing their upcoming wares, and geeks around the world squeal at pixels and lose their minds over Manshooter XI and some boxes of electronics.
Most of last year’s big announcements still haven’t arrived in the shops yet, so it’s hard for me to get too excited about stuff that we might never even see in a Mad Max style post-Brexit Broken British Wasteland, but here are the main attractions E3 threw up, and some thoughts about them.
In Part 1, the Big Three.
Batman Arkham VR
I love the Rocksteady Batman games, but VR? No.
Battlefront VR Xwing Mission
Star Wars and VR? No.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered
More shootmans? No.
Crash Bandicoot Remastered
How did this character even get a second game, let alone this many? Terrible. No.
Looks interesting. Maybe.
Detroit Become Human
Halo-y VR. So no.
Final Fantasy VR Experience
VR. Again. No.
God of War
Never interested in the previous games. Actually interested in this. Yes.
Horizon Zero Dawn
Yes, but this was announced last year.
Lego Star Wars The Force Awakens
Lego, so obviously yes. Even though Star Wars.
Resident Evil 7
No. Still haven’t finished Giants and Swap Force is unopened.
If it’s at least as good as the Gamecube game, yes.
The Last Guardian
ICO and SOTC both left me meh. But… maybe?
Battlefield 1 Dead Rising 4 Final Fantasy XV Forza Horizons 3 Gears of War 4 Gwent: The Witcher Card Game Halo Wars 2 Inside Killer Instinct Recore Scalebound Sea of Thieves State of Decay 2 Tekken 7 We Happy Few
No intention of buying an Xbone, so all no. Even if I did intend buying an Xbone, or already had one, or there were PS4 versions, the only one that would interest me at all would be Forza Horizons 3.
Essentially only two games from Nintendo:
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild I’ve said before that I always lose interest in 3D Zelda games. But… this is different. This looks totally amazing. Yes.
This week I played some things which people who know me might not expect me to play at all.
Assassin’s Creed Unity (PS4)
I completed it this week, timing it so that I didn’t beat it just before bedtime then have to wait an hour while the credits scrolled, only to find that you can fast forward the credits. They still took ages, mind. After finishing the story I jumped straight back in and started mopping up icons on the map, which means the game must be doing something right or I wouldn’t bother.
Battlefield 4 (PS4)
Look, combined with Battlefield Hardline and some cheap PSN credit, this game set me back just £2.96. Why I actually started playing it though, I don’t know. It took a few hours to download and a few days to install (the wrong way round, surely), but I’m enjoying it enough to continue through it. Apparently the multiplayer mode is great. I don’t care: I won’t be playing it.
Table Top Racing: World Tour (PS4)
Meh. I’m playing through it but I don’t know why. It’s soulless, slow and not a patch on Micro Machines or Trackmania or Revolt.
HYRULE WARRIORS LEGENDS (3DS)
Still so good. I’ve a couple more characters to unlock on the first Adventure Mode map and then I can get back to the Wind Waker one to finish that off.
Kirby: Planet Robobot (3DS)
A surprise Father’s Day present. It’s a lot of fun – proper Dreamland level Kirbying, and the mech suit actually works well. It’s so colourful, and so Nintendo. It’s hard to stop playing but I had to before my battery died.
Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens Demo (PS4)
It’s Lego and Star Wars. The new feature seems to be building more than one object from the same set of bricks, which is novel if a little confusing. The flying section wasn’t great, though. Still, Lego innit.
Is No Man’s Sky (PS4) out yet? No? Boo. What about Lego Marvel Avengers (PS4)? It is? Should probably get round to buying that then.
Also, thanks to E3, I want The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. But do I want it for the Wii U, or should I wait for the NX? Hmm.
Hats, the weather, are dogs better than ostriches?, jam, why ask Jeeves is better than Google, FarmVille, jam again.
I covered Hats last time (which is odd because hats usually cover other things HAHAHAHAHjoke), so now:
England is a wonderful country for weather, because we get it all. Not only do we get it all, but it isn’t unheard of to get it all in a single week. Or even a single day. It’s rare that we get proper extremes of anything though.
The last winter disappointed me a little because we didn’t get any snow. Well, OK, we got a few days where there was a bit of snow on the ground for a while, but it was little more than a mere dusting. It’s been years since we’ve had real decent proper snow, the sort you can actually make snowmen out of by rolling it all up into a couple of huge balls, as even when we’ve had a substantial amount of snowfall it’s been – as the railways always lament – the wrong sort of snow. It’s too fine, too powdery. It needs to be big and clumpy and sticky.
Rain has caused massive flooding in parts of the country, but the worst I’ve even been exposed to was one day at high school when the playground burst its banks and water ran into the gym, the hall and some classrooms. We were sent home early, which actually resulted in us arriving home late because we had to walk from the school into town to get an alternative bus that didn’t show up for hours. Instead of sitting in the warm and dry at the school, we stood in the cold and rain for the entire afternoon.
When the bus finally arrived to take us home, it had to drive through a huge puddle, which flooded the bus to the point we had to pretty much stand on the seats. Horrible. On the plus side, the local branch of Woolworths ended up having their basement filled with water, meaning a few weeks later I bought some incredibly cheap dried out (but fully working) Mega Drive games.
The only weather that ever really bothers me is wind. I’m not scared of it or anything, but when it’s windy at night I simply can’t sleep. It’s mainly the noise, but also partly the worry my roof or fence might end up in another county. A section of our conservatory roof did blow away once. Duct tape for the win.
And for the record, I would rather be cold than be hot. It’s not that I can’t deal with heat, it’s just easier to keep warm than keep cool. I recall way back in about 1988 being in Iceland (the shop, not the country) and the freezers all went pop. They tried flogging off melted ice-cream for pennies.
As for the current weather, it’s rubbish, innit. Almost summer and it’s hot and cold and wet and everything.
Erugh. It’s pretty slim on the K front. Let’s hope there’s quality where there isn’t quantity, eh?
You know what block dropping puzzle games are good? Tetris. And Columns. And especially Puyo Puyo. And most of all an un-named game I pitched to Codemasters (on paper) when I was 14 that they lolled at and returned to me. You know what was never good but some people wrongly suggest is? Klax. Sure, being able to flick blocks back up for later is a great idea, but the game is boring.
King of the Monsters and it’s cleverly named sequel King of the Monsters 2 were ports of a not very good pair of Neo Geo games where giant Japanese B-movie monsters fight each other in slow motion while the surrounding area is levelled. They’re dire, so they’re binned off.
Kick Off 3 loses out because, once again, it’s a football game that isn’t Sensible Soccer, and Kawasaki SuperBike Challenge is yawn motorbikes. It’s basically the same game as F1, only with sprite changes.
That leaves… oh, just these two then:
Krusty’s Super Fun House is an excellent reverse-Lemmings platform puzzle game. The aim is to pick up blocks, fans and bits of pipe to direct rats into the waiting death machine operated by one of the Simpsons family. Although not a Simpsons licence to begin with, and licenced games (especially platformers) often coming under the “godawful” tag, having the cartoon plastered on the game did it no harm and it turned out just great. It’s still one of my favourite Mega Drive games.
Kid Chameleon is a massive platformer where the “hook” is different hats you find that give you different abilities. They let you fly, have a sword, smash blocks, fire lasers, jump higher, and so on. Some of the levels are a bit puzzley, others filled with pixel perfect jumps, and some have tricky foes or obstacles. I can’t stress how big it is though, as without warp cheats it’s hours long, with no passwords or save points. And it’s hard.
And the Alphabest?
Although K was a little short of games, both those I’ve shortlisted are truly excellent titles. However, the better of the two is Krusty’s Super Fun House. The only real negative for Kid Chameleon is the length of the game with no way of saving progress (not an issue for emulators now, of course), and although Krusty’s Super Fun House is also pretty big, it has a password system.
In the 80s, Firebird were a massive publisher of 8bit computer games. They created an off-shoot company to release budget (£1.99 and later £2.99) titles, called Silverbird. Silverbird games were popular with kids like me because they were affordable with our meagre pocket money, and I remember saving the 20 pees my Nan would give me to periodically buy a game from a video rental shop in Aughton.
In the inlay for some of the Silverbird games there was an advert to join the Silverbird Club. For a one-off £1.99 payment, you’d get a newsletter every so often (every month or two, I think) with news on games, some puzzles, and of course, a catalogue for you to order other games. With your first newsletter you also got a copy of a game, so the club was essentially free.
I pestered my mum incessantly about joining, and one day she eventually gave in unexpectedly and started filling in the application form right away. “So which of these games do you want then?” she asked, and because I was unprepared, I went blank. “Come on, if you want this you need to tell me now!”. I panicked and said the only game I could remember from the list – Bombscare. I didn’t want Bombscare. I didn’t know anything about it. I actually wanted Olli and Lissa, or I, Ball or Mad Nurse, but I couldn’t remember them at the time. Bombscare it was.
It arrived a few weeks later and I gave it a go. It wasn’t great. I couldn’t deal with the controls, the way you rotate your droid rather than just go in the direction you press (which scuppered me for other isometric games with the same control scheme), and the slipperiness made it impossible. I was gutted.
And now you can be gutted too. Yay! The aim of the game is… I can’t remember. I’ve never got very far in. Defusing bombs or something, probably.
Games you rinsed as a kid even though they were definitely s*** 1.
I have mentioned before that as a child I had a Sinclair ZX Spectrum+. It loved it very much and had many hundreds of games, mainly from magazine cover cassettes, car boot sales, and Dirty Pirate C60 Tapes. As a result of an abundance of games, and the twin facts of 1) games were hard back then, and 2) I was rubbish at games back then, very few were ever completed. Also, really bad games were simply ignored after a couple of goes because I had other far better games to play.
What I’m saying is, that there were few games I “rinsed” and none of them were terrible.
Moving on a bit, to my early teens, I got a Sega Mega Drive. I loved it very much too, but although I now have many hundreds of games for it, back then games were too expensive to buy frequently and/or on a whim and piracy was impossible. Every game purchase had to be considered carefully so crap games rarely found their way into my possession.
Apart from, of course, Altered Beast.
As we all know, Altered Beast was the worst possible pack-in game Sega could have included with the Mega Drive when it was released in Europe. Apart from, perhaps, the very similar but maybe even worse Last Battle, so I suppose we dodged a bullet there. Only to be hit by another one, or something.
Altered Beast was never even that good in the arcade. It had nice big chunky sprites and impressive sound samples and was incredibly loud. In the early 90s you could hear “POWER UP!” and “ROARRRRRRRRRAWOOOWWWWW!” over the top of virtually every other machine in the arcade, except perhaps “WE! ARE! COSMO GANG!” and “PLACE YOUR BETS NOW PLEASE!”.
Despite all this impressiveness, it was awful. Boring, slow, repetitive. The mechanic of killing white flashing wolves to get power ups is flawed, because in order to do so you normally need to know where they’re going to appear before they do, and when you do, a nudge from a baddie can mean you miss your chance to collect it. Also, missing it extends the length of the level as you only reach the boss after collecting three of them (and so can turn into your beast form) unless you miss so many you end up almost powerless when the boss turns up anyway.
The Mega Drive version is almost the same game, only all the good bits (the sprites, the sounds) are watered down and the bad bits (the slowness) are exacerbated. It isn’t a bad conversion really, but there wasn’t much good to begin with.
However, I only had two games for my Mega Drive for a long time. Sonic the Hedgehog and Altered Beast, and although Sonic was played (and boy did I rinse that) a great deal, Altered Beast also got hammered. As it turned out, that only took a day – I received the console and game for Christmas, and on Boxing Day it’d been completed. Thankfully, I’d not spent £35 on it.
Over the following weeks and months, I tried to get as much out of it I could. There’s a cheat that lets you change which beast form is assigned to each level, so that added variety for a while. I seem to remember one of the levels is near impossible with the bear, but I managed it anyway. I’d play through the game avoiding power-ups just to make it last longer. I tried to finish it on a single life, which I was never able to do, but did complete a few levels that way. I eked every bit of possible fun from the game, and then some, but it remained terrible.
Luckily, I had Sonic. Lovely, glorious Sonic. Phew.