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Review: Jill of the Jungle

October 22nd, 2020

Written by: Stoo

Hello everyone, hope you are well.

Today I have another review for you! I’m sure it will be the highlight of your day. Or maybe just something mildly interesting to read during a tea break. Or maybe you’ll think I’m talking nonsense. Anyway, here’s our review of Jill of the Jungle.

Discussion: Tacoma (spoilers!)

October 7th, 2020

Written by: Rik

Hello there. Hope you’re doing ok. Today we’re back with another spoiler-tastic discussion of a modern indie adventure game. At some point we’ll think of a good name for this series and link all the articles together with a tag, but for now we can just point you in the direction of previous chats about Firewatch, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, Gone Home and Her Story.

Today’s game is Tacoma, the second release from Gone Home developers The Fullbright Company. Set onboard the space station of the same name, you are Amy Ferrier, a contractor sent to the abandoned station to retrieve its AI module and any remaining data. Through use of an augmented reality (AR) system, you are able to access scenes and conversations featuring the now-departed crew (station administrator E.V. St James, operations manager Clive Siddiqi, botanist Andrew Dagyab, tech specialist Natali Kuroshenko, engineer Roberta Williams, doctor Sareh Hasmadi) and ODIN, the station AI.

Spoiler for the word spoiler ahead: a spoiler is something that reveals plot and story information in a manner that may *spoil* others’ enjoyment of it. And if you were happy to read that spoiler about the word spoiler, you’ll now know that if you haven’t played the game already then the discussion ahead may not be appropriate for you, unless you aren’t bothered about such things, or have no intention of playing the game.

That would be a shame, though, as we’d highly recommend Tacoma. Here’s a short trailer:

If it looks like your cup of tea, then by all means go ahead and give it a go: you’ll be welcome back here when you’re done.

Otherwise, here’s your ***final spoiler warning*** for the discussion ahead!

Discussion: Tacoma (spoilers!) continued »

Soundtracks/When I played…Need for Speed III

September 26th, 2020

Written by: Rik

Soundtracks is where we talk about licensed music in games. When I Played was a series from a few years ago, about significant games, and times, in my life.

Today we have a strange kind of hybrid/crossover piece, a one-off for a special occasion. Hope you don’t mind.

Nostalgia and happy (or, sometimes, less-than-happy) memories fuse things from different spaces and times together. As someone perennially (and increasingly) out of touch with what is current and modern, my associations are always odd, with decisions to belatedly experience an album, film or game associating them with more modern real-life moments.

For example, I will always associate one particular boozy and chilly Christmas, spent at home without the presence of immediate or extended family, with the game Mass Effect (2008), the album Playing The Angel (2005) by Depeche Mode and the first series of Nordic noir TV series The Bridge (2012). In my head, there’s common ground between them: the chilly climate of real-life Buckinghamshire, a series set in Norway and Sweden, and an ice planet in Bioware’s space-RPG. Or the synth music of Mass Effect and certain tracks on that Depeche Mode album. But I’m willing to accept that, to anyone else but me, it’s a stretch: these things are not related, and even though each one makes me think of the others, it’s because they’ve been thrown together by circumstance and bonded to each other in time by my brain.

Soundtracks/When I played…Need for Speed III continued »

Pirates and Robots

September 23rd, 2020

Written by: Stoo

Hi all, hope you are doing okay in these uncertain times.

Today I have a couple more second opinions for you. First up we have the The Curse of Monkey Island, the third entry in the classic adventure series.

Also have a read about Shogo: Mobile Armour Division, a late-90s first person shooter featuring big, heavily armed Mecha.

Hoping to have a few more proper reviews for you in the next month or two. Maybe I’ll finally make time to finish Might and Magic 6! (probably not).

Soundtracks: Pro Evolution Soccer 2010

September 6th, 2020

Written by: Rik

Soundtracks is where we take a look back at the use of licensed music in games. Go here if you want to know more.

Today’s game is Pro Evolution Soccer 2010, which is probably the last football game I bought with a sense of genuine expectation that I would devote hours to the career mode, and the first time that such an expectation was not realised. In some respects, it was the end of football games for me: I’ve dipped my toe into various modern(ish) instalments of PES and FIFA since, but that hardcore, multi-season enjoyment just hasn’t ever returned. It’s probably why I remember the largely-reviled 2008 entry of PES so fondly, as that was the last time I experienced it.

Soundtracks: Pro Evolution Soccer 2010 continued »

Review: NBA Live 95

August 23rd, 2020

Written by: Rik

Hi there.

Some time ago, The Last Dance on Netflix inspired me to play a couple of old basketball games.

Here’s a write-up of the second: NBA Live 95 from EA.

(I’ve since moved onto Friday Night Lights and Last Chance U, so I imagine I’ll end up writing about Front Page Sports Football while watching some kind of ice hockey documentary).

Review: The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition

August 15th, 2020

Written by: Rik

Hello there.

Hope you’re doing ok.

I’ve generously been given the title of this site’s main “review guy” based upon a blistering work rate that produces anywhere from 10-15 reviews per calendar year.

With such a reputation to maintain, I have another one for you today! It’s of a relatively modern remake of an all-time classic: The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition.

Review: Commander Keen in Keen Dreams

August 8th, 2020

Written by: Stoo

To be honest Rik is the main “review guy” here, I mostly just chip in with dumb blog posts about getting my ass kicked in RPGs. However, I would like to try and contribute a bit more regularly. So tonight I have another MS-DOS platform game for you. Let’s take a look at the “lost chapter” of the Commander Keen Series: Keen Dreams.

 

Discussion: Firewatch (spoilers!)

July 25th, 2020

Written by: Rik

Hello and welcome to the latest in our series of discussion reviews of modern indie adventure games (with spoilers).

That’s a sentence that neatly describes what we do each time, but in case you aren’t one of our legion of enthusiastic regular readers, previous instalments have seen us tackle The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, Gone Home and Her Story. Bear in mind the bit about spoilers though, before clicking on those links.

Today we’re looking at Firewatch, the 2016 adventure from developers Campo Santo. Set in 1989, you are Henry, a middle-aged man who takes a job as a lookout in the Shoshone National Forest in order to put some distance between himself and his problems.

That’s probably about as much as we want to say, unless you’ve played the game already. Here’s a short teaser trailer:

As with the other games we’ve covered in this series, Firewatch is pretty short and offers at best a gentle challenge. It also received quite a lot of critical acclaim, with which we’re both in accordance, so we’d definitely nudge you enthusiastically in its direction, if you’ve not played it already.

Otherwise, ***final spoiler warning*** for the discussion ahead!

Discussion: Firewatch (spoilers!) continued »

Moments in Gaming: Summit, Independence Pass

July 18th, 2020

Written by: Rik

Moments in Gaming is where we look back on gaming experiences that have left a particularly strong impression on us over the years: mainly for good reasons, but sometimes for bad ones.

The Rockies: the midway point of The Run, Need for Speed’s attempt at a cross-country race across America. Having battled the elements, AI opponents and police across four previous events, this section’s finale begins with our hero, Jack “Jack” Rourke, warming his hands and staring into space (and, thankfully, not talking), the road ahead blocked by a barrier. If you’re not paying full attention, the reason for the stop might pass you by, especially as the silence, and barrier, are soon destroyed by a fast-moving vehicle.

Jumping in to follow, you engage in a duel, a battle to the bottom of the mountain. No sooner have you caught up, a siren calls out, followed by a flash of flame in the sky, which confirms that those signs were indeed warning of controlled blasts being undertaken, and soon enough your battle is not just with your opponent, but with the environment, as falling ice and snow begin littering the path ahead. By the mid-point of the stage, huge black rocks are clunking onto the tarmac with the sense that your immediate surroundings are collapsing all around you.

It’s a visual feast, particularly for any gamer not fully versed in the tricks, choreography and big set-pieces of modern first-person shooters. The danger feels more real than it perhaps is, particularly at the start, although those black rocks will stop you in your tracks, and the gentle difficulty of the stage allows you to be carried along by events as if starring in a movie action sequence.

For those who remember these action sequences as realised by 90s laserdisc conversions or FMV titles, endlessly failing to remember a series of key presses or move your bobbing sprite away from a video of a closing bay door and watching ‘you died’ animations as a result, moments like this make you realise how far we’ve come.

Of course, it’s a trick that The Run doesn’t always repeat with the same level of success, and at other points there are sections that are very much in line with those experiences of the 90s as described above.

(It turns out this race was actually the one chosen for use in the demo, a move that I can’t quite understand, because it’s one of the best bits in the game, while also being a move that I can indeed understand, because it’s one of the best bits in the game.)

Still, while The Run may be a mixed bag overall, the good certainly outweighs the bad, and for those of us excited by the possibilities inferred by the original game, and Test Drive 2 prior to that, there’s an element of childhood dreams becoming reality.

(Video of your correspondent completing this event now follows:)