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
What is Deep Fear, in a nutshell? It’s a Resident Evil knock-off released in Japan and Europe in 1998, and actually the final Sega Saturn game to be released here in Europe before Sega shut up shop. Set in an underwater military base, the core gameplay is extremely Resi-like – using tank controls you navigate complex environments, fend off monsters, manage your ammo and solve arcane puzzles. Deep Fear’s one unique twist is an oxygen meter which requires you to find computer terminals to re-oxygenate areas where the oxygen is low. It’s a simple but effective mechanic which adds extra tension to exploring.
I have a soft spot for horror games of the tank-control-survival variety, and Deep Fear is very good at what it does. It’s not the most riveting game; I picked up the game about a year ago and put in a few hours with it before getting distracted and moving on. But despite having played for a short time, and the game being rather generic, there are two specific aspects of Deep Fear that make it extremely memorable and almost endlessly fascinating (to me anyway). First is the beautifully produced and composed music, while the second is the utterly abominable voice acting. Continue reading
Context is important to video game music, but what happens when you switch off the system and the music continues playing? I have been listening to a lot of game music recently, independently of gaming. It’s the first time I’ve seriously dabbled in music from games, much of it from games I’ve known for many years. Other game soundtracks are recent discoveries, while some soundtracks are from games I’ve never even heard of, let alone played. This has made me reflect on the role of music in games and the impact of listening to videogame music independently of games. Continue reading
Recently my music habits have changed. It used to be that I rarely listened to videogame music outside of playing games. For a long time the only game music I had on my iPod were a few select tracks from the original Cho Aniki game. (That’s no joke by the way – that’s a really good soundtrack!) These days though, I’m finding videogame music dominating my listening time in way it never has before. Rather than speculate on the reasons behind this shift I thought it a good idea to capitalise on it by spotlighting some of my favourite Nintendo composers and ranking them by impact! I had to limit myself to talking about Nintendo just to set myself some boundaries, otherwise this list would go on and on and on and on… as if it isn’t going to do that already. Ahem. Continue reading
Welcome to a very special NiGHTS into Dreams themed episode, wherein we plumb the depths of this unique 2D/3D hybrid flight-based racing/platforming/action game! Buckle up for nostalgia…
Episode 10: Nostalgic NiGHTS
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