It’s been a while, readers. But I’m back. That’s right, the PhD is over. Submitted and awaiting viva! Throughout these past few months, I haven’t stopped playing games entirely. Still, my enjoyment of life in general has increased dramatically now, and that extends to games too. After listening to a recent Retronauts episode about the Gradius series, I decided to dust off my copy of the expansively named Salamander Deluxe Pack Plus for the trusty Sega Saturn. I’d always been curious, so why not try these spin-offs of a beloved series?
Salamander Deluxe Pack Plus is a collection of three arcade games, namely Salamander, Life Force, and Salamander 2. The former two, which I’ll cover first, are variations on the same basic game released within a year of one another in 1986-7. Salamander 2, by comparison, released almost ten years later in 1996, and is a more modern iteration on the series formula. These games all riff on similar level themes, bosses and structure, many of these themselves nabbed from the Gradius series. For instance, every game alternates between horizontal and vertical scrolling stages, and contains a mix of biological and sci-fi themed stages. Continue reading
A good horror experience will ask the important questions: what is the nature of evil? Is death ever truly final? What kind of hospital needs a zodiac sign puzzle-operated door? Amongst the various preoccupations of the horror genre is a longstanding fasination with children. Children are scary precisely because we expect purity and innocence from them, and yet they exhibit many of our worst traits unfiltered (cruelty, jealousy, narcisscism, idleness, fickleness…). I didn’t know I had been waiting for a game that explored the psychological dimensions of young girls’ friendships… until I played Rule of Rose. Continue reading
Filthy. Casuals. Two words that are put together far too often when discussing videogames on the internet. Well, fact is, everyone has to start somewhere! And while the influx of so-called “casual” and “lapsed” gamers during the Wii generation is oft-discussed (not least on this very blog), the original PlayStation’s appeal to a new, older audience doesn’t get nearly the same level of attention. But if we turn our eyes to the late nineties, the figures don’t lie. The 32-bit generation of consoles – PlayStation, N64 and Saturn combined expanded the videogame market enormously, with approx. 144 million consoles sold in total versus approx. 80 million between Super Nintendo and the Megadrive/Genesis in the previous generation. That’s a whole lot of new gamers.
Now I have to admit I have this slightly weird, anthropological fascination with the topic because over the years I’ve met several adults who were first drawn to gaming during the PlayStation era. Maybe they’d played games before, but not to this extent and certainly never buying a console. I’d like to share anecdotes of a few people I know personally before giving some context for the gaming industry’s attempts to attract an older crowd to gaming. Continue reading
Today’s post by Maya looks at Another Code: R for the Wii, and continues a recent trend on here of using average or mediocre games to think through what distinguishes the gaming wheat from the chaff when it comes to narrative in games.
Oh, wait, I’m having a flashback…Eike, protagonist of Shadow of Memories (aka Shadow of Destiny)? What are you doing here? No – this is all wrong. I’m meant to be writing a piece on Another Code: R… So, why is Homunculus here? Why are Eike and Homunculus holding hands?! What is going on?!
Is my flashback an accurate recalling of a narrative sequence? Or is it an elaborate ploy in which to make several interrelated points on the problem of translation in narrative-heavy games and story order? Or did I simply want you to have a bizarre image in mind when reading this post? Whatever the case, flashbacks are an important element to the argument of this blog post, a conceit used in many games, but especially important in story driven games. And so I’d like to explore why Cing’s Code: R is a disappointing game compared with Shadow of Memories and other story-driven games, because of its failure to utilise the full potential of the gaming medium. Continue reading
If it isn’t Baroque, don’t fix it. That is, unless it is Baroque. Continue reading