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Blizzard rejuvenate their orcs and demons

March 18th, 2019

Written by: Stoo

A few pieces of belated Blizzard-related news came to my attention recently. Let’s start with the item that everyone else has known for months: they are working on a new, comprehensively updated release of Warcraft 3.

For the hoooorde! Pic plundered from blizzard.

This has me quite excited, ready to lead armies of orcs and trolls once again. WC3 features some excellent story driven campaigns, set in a richly detailed fantasy world. If you’re a World of Warcraft fan but never played the realtime strategy games that preceeded it, this basically establishes the state of Azeroth as we saw it when WoW first launched. So we see the tragedy of Arthas, the noble paladin who’s desire for vengeance drove him irrevocably into darkness. Then there’s Thrall, the idealistic young orc leader thrall trying to find a better life for his people away from demonic corruption. You’ll also see the awakening of the night elves, after centuries of seclusion.

The main characters all appear in games has “hero” units that grow more powerful as they gain experience. This adds a slightly RPG-style aspect. Armies are relatively small compared to some other RTS games; if I remember right it’s rare to have more than 25-30 units total in a map. So it’s more about the Hero and their personal warband than a huge legion. That doesn’t mean battles are necessarily simple though, as there’s a lot of micromanaging of some units with special powers, an area where skilled players can gain an edge. Druids turn into animals, necromancers raise skeletons, priests cast healing spells and so on.

There’s quite a variety of missions, so it’s not all just about building a base, smashing enemy base and repeating. You may have to rescue beleaguered allies, or fight off repeated waves of enemies for a certain amount of time. Sometime you get “task force” type missions with more of a focus on keeping limited number of units standing.

That’s the hasty summary, anyway. It’s one of my favourite RTS games, and strongly recommended. Looking to this remake, titled “Reforged”, the screenshots all look quite promising. Units are now made of more than about seven polygons, but they’ve kept the bold, and stylised aesthetics we associate with Warcraft. It wouldn’t feel right without cute little pine trees (all about to be razed in the pursuit of resources) and bright blue slate roofs on the alliance buildings.

Other improvements include re balancing of units, and modern multiplayer features. I completely don’t care about the latter feature, but then I am more solitary than a lot of gamers. A few years back I did actually try WC3 multiplayer, battling alongside a friend, against random internet people. We lost… a lot.

One grumble: I noticed a line on the blizzard website about “internet connection required to play.” I’m hoping for some sort of offline option after installation\checking in with blizzard servers, because I’m old fashioned like that. I don’t see why any game’s single player content should require an internet connection.

The Reforged edition is due sometime in 2019 – a bit vague, but the game is already nearly 17 years old, so we can wait a bit longer.

Now onto news that’s only a couple of weeks old: Diablo 1 has been released on gog.com. This is the classic action-RPG’s first ever appearance on digital distribution. I’m a little surprised that Blizz don’t want to handle it themselves on their battle.net service; but I’m happy to see gog get the job.

If you’re more familiar with the latter two entries, and their frantic action against hordes of enemies, you’ll probably find this one rather different in style. You’re still hacking down plenty of goatmen with your sword, but it’s all a bit more a slow and cautious affair. Well okay, partially because your guy can’t actually run.

Also though, Diablo has an ominous, doom-laden atmosphere to it that was kind of lost in the sequels. The entire game is based around exploring one enormous set of crypts and catacombs, under a church. There’s a real sense of descending into somewhere dark and terrible, deep beneath the surface, wherein unspeakable horrors dwell. A place where stygian labyrinths eventually lead to hell itself, a realm of pure terror and malevolence.

In later games you go to hell again, sure, and they’re more epic in scope with wold-spanning adventures. Yet you’re never quite so wary of descending into the shadows. There’s not that feeling of creeping horror permeating every element.

I suppose those things are subjective. A more concrete difference is in developing your hero as they gain levels. Action-rpgs have come to mean endlessly fussing over character builds, pouring over forum threads looking for a killer combination of skills and bonuses. None of that applies here. Everyone has access to the same set of spells, which are either bought in town or randomly found in the dungeons. The warrior sucks at them anyway.

I imagine some gamers will find such a basic system off-putting; but perhaps its kind of a relief to not have such total focus on finding ideal synergies of skills. Another familiar rpg mechanic is still present though – endless hunt for ever better loot (+2 sword of extra chopping etc).

The gog release gives you a couple of choices – you can if you wish have the original, untouched version of the game. That means SVGA graphics and connecting to the ye olde version of Battle.net for multiplayer (amazing that Bizzard have kept their servers going all these years). Or there’s an enhanced edition with bug fixes and high-res graphics, although you only get multiplayer via LAN or P2P.

I’m not sure which I’d prefer – the original is murky as hell; in fact when I last played I found myself squinting at the screen trying to pick out monsters from the background. Yet in some ways that actually suits the environments in which the game is set, with various vicious creatures shambling at you out of an oppressive gloom. It’s good to be given a choice, anyway.

Blizzard have stated there are more re-releases on the horizon. Going back to Warcraft, the first two RTS games are due to appear on gog at some point . Presumably these will also have their graphics sharpened up for modern monitors. Just in my opinion, the first game would benefit from its rather clunky controls being upgraded to match those used in Warcraft 2.

That would leave Diablo 2 as the only major game, pre about 2003, for which there has been no mention of an update or re-release. (yeah I hear you, nerd at the back shouting “what about Lost Vikings”). Given all the other remakes, though, seems inevitable it’ll happen sooner or later. For now you can buy the game on battle.net, and multiplayer servers are of course still online.

This means that all the Warcraft, Diablo and starcraft games can now be purchased, one way or another. So here at this humble site, we salute blizzard for their commitment to supporting and updating their classic games.

Review: I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream

March 16th, 2019

Written by: Rik

Hi there.

For today’s review we have a dark point and click adventure with some literary roots: I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream.

Vault of Regret: Retro Collections

March 10th, 2019

Written by: Rik

Over Christmas I decided to take a punt on the PlayStation Classic. This isn’t a review of that, for reasons that will quickly become obvious. Here’s what I did when it arrived: I unboxed it and plugged it in, played each of the games I vaguely remembered for about 10-15 minutes each (confirming along the way that, yes, the introduction to Resident Evil does still make me laugh but unfortunately I also still die about 10 minutes later) before stopping and putting everything away again. It was no fault of the system itself – although I know it’s had some stinky reviews – because it’s a process I’ve been through many times before.

Getting a load of games at once has always been a bit of a personal weak spot, going right back to the old compilation packs on the Amstrad CPC. Memorable collections include Durell’s The Big 4 (Turbo Esprit, Saboteur, Critical Mass and Combat Lynx); The Hit Squad’s They Sold A Million (Beach Head, Daley Thompson’s Decathlon, Jet Set Willy and Sabre Wulf); The In Crowd (a collection of 8 games including Crazy Cars, Combat School, Barbarian and Target Renegade) and The Magnificent Seven (also – bizarrely – a collection of 8 games, including Wizball, Head Over Heels and Arkanoid) from Ocean.

I don’t readily recall it being as much of a fashion in the 16-bit era, although my Atari ST did come bundled with what was known as the ‘Power Pack’ – a collection of 20 games, many of them arcade ports including the likes of After Burner, Outrun and Double Dragon (which all looked great in stills but generally failed to live up to the mark when you played them). And since then I’ve rarely been able to resist a collection, compilation or bundle – from the old 3 for £10 deals on boxed budget games, through to the set-your-own-price digital bundles of the modern era.

The so-called “retro collection” is a slightly different beast, particularly if it affords you the opportunity to experience games from systems that you didn’t own back in the day. The temptation to believe that, despite all evidence to the contrary, you probably do have time to catch up on 30 or so Megadrive games, or even finally get past the first couple of levels of Sonic the Hedgehog, at least, proves difficult to resist.

For those of us who did secretly (or not so secretly) covet a console in the 16-bit era, there came a point when it seemed that it was probably just not meant to be, and over time we learned to love the systems we had, becoming influenced by the types of games that those systems did well and falling out of touch with the ones it didn’t. I’m never going to play Sonic or Mario now, and if I did, I’d probably be rubbish at them. And why were there so many platform games anyway?

Worse still is viewing a collection as an opportunity to revisit titles that you actually did play but didn’t like at the time. One particular pack that I bought for the PSP, EA Replay, featured the likes of Wing Commander (if I didn’t like the PC original with full use of mouse and keyboard, an emulated version of the SNES version with limited controls would be sure to impress) and Desert Strike (technically impressive on my Atari Lynx in the 90s but also, I found, rather repetitive, fiddly and annoying). That’s some solid holiday entertainment right there…or, on second thoughts, maybe I will lie outside in the sun with a book.

And if console games are a bit too hard for us slow-witted computer dunces, then we’re destined to have no chance with collections based on arcade games that revolve around getting some more money out of the player. I guess that could be counterbalanced by those emulated collections allowing you to press a button to insert a coin rather than demanding actual money, but then you wonder what exactly about the experience rings true in that case.

As a kid in the 80s, it would have been great to have infinite coins, but it would have been even better to actually be good at the game. Now, many years later, you could get better, if only you had the time to practice. But you probably wouldn’t, and you definitely don’t.

Excitement about acquiring something and getting it up and running often trumps the reality of playing it in any meaningful way, and honest retro gamers will be familiar with this feeling. My own memories take me back to the shadiest days of abandonware and emulation, where the prospect of getting some free entertainment drove a desire to stockpile downloads and ROMs, much to the consternation of my family as dial-up both cost money and tied up the phone line.

What started as a desire to play International Superstar Soccer without actually owning a SNES soon became a drive to collect anything which might be vaguely of interest. When it came to trying to play them, the performance of the emulator on my machine and imprecise mapping of controls from the SNES joypad to the MS Sidewinder didn’t exactly replicate the experience as I’d wanted, although I wonder now if it’d really have been any different if I’d had the actual console.

Without that spark of interest that drives acquisition of old games, of course, we wouldn’t be here at all. There will always be games we buy but don’t enjoy. And perhaps I will soon fire up the PS Classic and play Resident Evil from start to finish. But in future perhaps it’s worth exercising more caution regarding repackaged collections of emulated 16-bit platform and fighting games. (No, Rik, you won’t play them on holiday, go swimming instead).

Review: Need for Speed: The Run

March 9th, 2019

Written by: Rik

Hi there.

Sorry for the radio silence over the last few weeks: I’ve had a few pieces lying around in a nearly-finished state for a while, but other things have been getting in the way.

So, what’s more boring than someone making excuses for not updating their website? How about 2500 words or so on a Need for Speed game that most people agree is Quite Bad?

Hey, but is it though? Is it really? Find out in our review of Need for Speed: The Run.

Moments in Gaming: The Laa Laa Goal

February 7th, 2019

Written by: Rik

Let’s journey back to a weekend evening, sometime in 1998 (or possibly 1999), when a handful of cool dudes are doing what all 17 year-olds should be doing on a Friday or Saturday night: huddling around a beige PC playing computer games.

Unusually, virtual football is on the menu, with a shared love of Ubisoft’s largely-unheralded Puma World Football ’98 somehow overcoming general antipathy towards sport and cultivating an enthusiasm for multiplayer sessions such as this, which have become a regular occurrence.

Tonight, a round-robin with four human players in the room is a special occasion, accorded extra prestige by the acquisition of MS Sidewinder joypads that can be daisy-chained together, finally putting the expensive beige box on a par, of sorts, with those new-fangled games consoles by extending to both players the right to identical controllers.

To round off the general nerdiness of the event, the tournament has been subject to considerable advance planning, with details of custom team names and players requested and submitted in advance in order for the host and organiser to input them into the game’s editor. And so, rather than the line-ups of top European clubs facing off against each other, the participating teams have ludicrous names, with squads largely made up of comic book heroes, 80s and 90s celebrities and heavy metal band members.

And so, during a match between *ahem* Pedro’s Deathitubbies and Spurs Reserves (some teams were named more imaginatively than others), a careless ball forward from Spurs defender Magneto is chested down in the centre circle by the Deathitubbies’ Laa Laa and punted aimlessly towards the stands. Mid-flight, it somehow curves in the air without losing much speed and ends up swirling towards the goal and into the net beyond the despairing dive of the ‘keeper.

It was a fluke, unrepeatable and inexplicable. We did have a theory that the game’s AI goalkeepers – though alive to, and capable of repelling, the most thunderous of shots at close range – were susceptible to slower, more loopy efforts, which were most easily effected by manipulating a player’s shooting ability downwards in the aforementioned editor. But the huge curl on the ball while airborne was a complete mystery. In the moment, there was laughter – and presumably some rage on the part of the player on the receiving end – and a replay was saved for posterity.

Over time, the finer details of the match, the tournament, the players involved and, as acknowledged above, even a rough date of the events in question have all faded away. Without the video, would this moment be a memorable one? Perhaps – as a semi-apocryphal tale that became more ludicrous with each retelling, maybe, or just a dim and dusty vision of something quite funny that happened once. Or it may well have been forgotten altogether.

The goal does live on though. In raking through our murky history for tales of our early adventures with video, it became apparent to me how odd it is for this clip even to exist, through a historical transfer of save and replay files from PC to PC and one day making a decision for some reason to fashion a silent clip from still images of a game, in a pre-YouTube age, to be watched by virtually no-one.

Strangest of all is to realise that this blurry 9-second video replays events that took place in real life a long time ago. It’s the gaming equivalent of an old photograph, bringing nostalgic memories rushing back while simultaneously reminding you just how much time – 20 years (!) – has passed.

Not quite as unbelievable (to use an appropriate phrase) as the goal itself, but close.

Vault of Regret: Quarantine

January 31st, 2019

Written by: Stoo

Occasionally Rik and I like to do discussion pieces, where we team up and review a game together. We take it turn to suggest games, and a few years back he nominated Quarantine.

Released in 1993, this was a hybrid of driving and first person shooting. It’s set in a dystopian future city, where law and order have collapsed and criminals rule the streets. The usual mode of transport now is hovering cars, usually armed which machineguns and mines. You take on the role of a hover taxi driver, trying to survive amidst the constant violence and chaos. Through transporting passengers, packages, and carrying out combat missions, you hope to find a way out of this nightmare.

I was initially enthusiastic. I never played Quarantine much, but I do recall the demo being on the coverdisk of one of the first ever PC Zone’s that I bought. (Zone being our official favourite gaming mag on this site). I though to myself, this should be my kind of game. 90s shooters are comfortable territory for me; it’s a genre I’ve played extensively, from Wolfenstein 3D to Half Life.

Unfortunately, I sucked at this game from the very start. I careened down the streets, barely in control of the cab, repeatedly smashing into buildings and passing cars. I was utterly hopeless at combat, spraying bullets haphazardly while enemies rammed me off the road, or I just drove headlong into a wall. I also totally failed to successfully carry more than a couple of passengers. I grew increasingly frustrated, cursing this god-damned game, and my own incompetence, until I finally ragequitted.

A screenshot taken by Rik. I didn’t get far enough to buy a minigun.

Perhaps it was a mistake to treat this as a first person shooter and gloss over the “driving” part of the formula. While it’s hardly a realistic vehicle simulator, the basic controls are obviously different to a shooter; for a start there’s no strafing. I think I might have gotten to grips with it eventually, if the controls weren’t so damn slippery. Every touch of the controls seemed to send me either hurtling forward too fast, or veering off the road to crash into the nearest solid object.

I suppose the floaty, twitchy driving model could be partially rationalised with these being hover-cars. Still, I found it intensely frustrating. Also, wait, if it’s a floating car, why can’t it go sideways?

Another problem was the time limits when carrying passengers. I don’t do well with that sort of pressure. The ticking clock caused me to make rash decisions, panic, and not pay enough attention to the map. The end result being, I frequently got lost. Add to this my inability to drive the damn car, and I rarely got the people to their destinations on time. That meant I wasn’t getting paid.

I could mention also how without money, you can’t repair or re-arm your car. This is bad news when everyone is shooting at you, enemy cars are smashing into you, and you’re causing plenty of damage to your cab all by yourself.

Perhaps the biggest issue though is my own impatience. When I’m immediately failing at a game, I lack the willpower to keep practicing until I see greater success. I need a gentler learning curve, and a game that feels like it wants me to keep playing, at least in its early stages. (this is why I will never play Dark Souls). I could say that there’s no point fighting a game that I’m not enjoying, when there are so many others out there. Still, I sometimes wonder if I’ve my propensity to give up has caused me to miss out on some worthwhile experiences.

Anyway, if this had been a solo effort, my disaster wouldn’t have bothered me greatly. Not the first game I’m bad at, after all. However, I do feel a bit guilty about letting Rik down. My dropping out meant he had to do all the hard work of writing a review by himself. Moreover, for a later discussion piece, he happily played a jRPG at my suggestion. Okay, it was a highly action-oriented one, not too beardy. Still, it wasn’t his his usual area of interest and his willingness to give it a fair try leaves me quite ashamed.

Not something I can undo now – even if I find time to play, and write a second opinion, I still didn’t help with his own review. I just hope that I don’t repeat this debacle in any further discussions.

Makin’ Movies

January 27th, 2019

Written by: Rik

As this kind of thing goes, A Force for Good is pretty old. In 2001 the internet was a different place, and the business of covering games for fun a relatively niche and nerdy hobby.

Leaving aside the effectiveness (or not) of our early write–ups in the unforgiving modern spotlight, just putting together each review and adding it to the site was a significant undertaking. For a number of years I would put together my reviews in Word and send them to Stoo to be formatted and published to the site itself.

Screenshots were also a bit of a pain in the arse, and though I can’t remember any particularly stubborn individual titles, a combination of tactics was required. One programme (possibly an earlier incarnation of Fraps) had a habit of mashing up the image with a small portion from the left hand side clipped off and repositioned on the right. It looked – and was – wrong, but went unacknowledged and uncorrected for a substantial period, because we only published small shots (at 320p) until we moved to WordPress in 2013.

(Initially, believe it or not, the smaller shots seemed sufficient: we later readied larger shots in anticipation of integrating a feature that would allow you to access them, which we never did.)

At some point – I’m going to say 2006 or so, when YouTube and video sharing was in its infancy – we had the idea to introduce short video clips to supplement some reviews. These were soundless AVI files captured through Fraps and converted to SWF format so they could be played through a Flash player plugin. I remember being rather pleased with it as a feature at the time.

Several years later, these – by now – rather crummy videos were transferred to YouTube, in the spirit of maintaining continuity with the old site. To preserve my sanity I disabled YouTube comments and anything that might cause someone to actually see the clips except via the site itself, but it meant that FFG had a presence, of sorts, on the platform.

(I’d previously created an account to ensure that this vital piece of gaming footage was preserved for posterity:)

Sure enough, none of them have many views, with the exception of the goal clips from Puma World Football, which gives me a small sense of satisfaction because they were assembled in an extremely inefficient and painstaking way: I used a screen capture programme to capture individual frames of the action as I nudged it along slowly in the game’s replay screen, then used some freeware programme to stick the individual images together and make an AVI. Possibly there were other and better ways to do it, but making and sharing videos wasn’t so common as it is today and things were a bit harder then.

After we moved to WordPress, and driven by a combination of the novelty of engaging with YouTube as a creator, shame at the relative crapness of the clips, and the knowledge that DOSBox had a video capture feature, I spent some time putting together video highlights from European Champions, a DOS–based football game. Unfortunately, I made a bit of a hash of things by using Microsoft Movie Maker to edit it, and failing to resize the source video (and probably 1000 other mistakes) so it turned out kind of blurry and crap, but I was relatively pleased to have dabbled, especially as (at the time) I couldn’t find an existing clip of the PC version on there.

Since then, I’ve returned to the idea a few times, but the effects of repeating the same basic errors outlined above seemed to have an even bigger effect on the quality and the clips weren’t much better than the old ones from 2006. At which point, I determined that faffing around with video wasn’t the best use of the time I had available to work on the site.

I still use the DOSBox video capture sometimes so I can more easily grab screenshots from racing or sports games that aren’t from the beginning or end of the match/race and don’t show me messing up as I fumble for the keyboard shortcut. So sometimes, if those clips seem fairly coherent, need no editing, and show me being Not Totally Shit at a video game, I do use them, as I did recently with Cyclemania.

I made some effort to upscale the video this time, which prompted me to check out the options for more modern Windows titles (last time I seriously checked it involved buying the registered version of Fraps – which I probably should have done anyway at some point – large file sizes and poor frame rates) and of course there were plenty of good options that even I could get my head around which, given the modern fashion for YouTubing and Twitch streaming, is perhaps not surprising.

Just because you can do something, though (to paraphrase Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park), doesn’t mean that you should. I’m not sure whether gameplay videos are ever going to be a major part of the site, for a few reasons. Firstly, I think there’s more of a danger with regard to spoilers, which we do try and avoid here wherever possible. I think a few bits of a sport or racing game are harmless enough, but anything that gives away more than a few minutes of anything with a story seems like too much.

For example: I wondered whether a memorable section of a game currently under consideration for review might be worth a short video. The intention was to highlight a really awesome bit of the game, but doing so would rob the player of the opportunity to experience it fresh for the first time.

Secondly, if you do want a gameplay video, there’s probably a number of better ones on YouTube already than one I could put together. Thirdly, I rarely watch them myself, and even when I do, it’s only for about 30–60 seconds or so. So, on the basis that what we try and do here is produce the kind of content we’d read or enjoy ourselves – if I want to read about an oldie I’d probably go to see if the guys at Just Games Retro have covered it first of all – we’ll be sticking mainly to screenshots and words for the foreseeable future.

Review: Cyclemania

January 19th, 2019

Written by: Rik

Hello there!

With our coverage of the relatively modern Blackwell series over and done with, it’s back to some proper 90s fare with today’s review of the FMV racing game Cyclemania.

Review: The Blackwell Epiphany

January 8th, 2019

Written by: Rik

Hi there.

As you may know, we’ve been covering Wadjet Eye’s Blackwell games over the last few months or so. Although this final chapter was released as recently as 2014, we didn’t want to delay our review because of our own entirely self-defined and arbitrary rules on how old games need to be to qualify for coverage.

So, worry not: here come the very important opinions of the respected gaming site A Force for Good regarding The Blackwell Epiphany.

FFG in 2018

January 5th, 2019

Written by: Rik

Happy New Year to you all!

Back by overwhelming popular demand (ok maybe not), here’s the return of our once-regular feature in which we take a quick look back at what happened on FFG over the last 12 months.

My recollection is that I didn’t do one of these last year because our productivity in terms of reviews didn’t really seem to warrant a retrospective any more, and that I’d been hitting the old football games particularly hard so any summary wouldn’t have made for especially varied or engaging reading. But looking back, I don’t think either of those things particularly hold true…so perhaps I forgot, couldn’t be bothered or was too distressed at the thought of the Christmas break ending.

Anyway, these days, for better or worse, we have more in terms of other blog posts and features that supplement the traditional diet of reviews, and so content is still fairly regular at least, even if we can’t cover as many old games as we used to be able to.

Stoo led the way in the evolution of our old blog from insubstantial throwaway thoughts to more considered pieces, and in recent years we’ve managed to produce a few that possibly deserved greater prominence on the site. To that end, this year we added our Best of the Blog page, replacing our dusty old General Articles section, which had remained stagnant, with only a handful of extremely ancient features, since some point in 2006.

One thing I found out in 2018: someone is still selling Zone Raiders for money.

One of my colleague’s regular features, Moments in Gaming, began last year but continued well into 2018. I was inspired to contribute a few entries of my own before realising that he’s spent considerably more time playing good and memorable games than I have, instead of mucking about about with lowbrow street-racing fare and deservedly forgotten footy titles. Inspired by MIG (as we shall never again call it), we opened the much more Rik-appropriate Vault of Regret, which allowed me to at least indulge in some whingeing about poor choices made over the years. And for Stoo to finally vent his frustrations with regard to Operation Flashpoint

The other big FFG news for 2018 was the introduction of our mobile site. It had been something we’d talked about for a long time, but we possibly put off doing anything on account of it possibly being too complicated to do properly without breaking the main site. I think it’s fair to say, although I didn’t do any of the technical stuff myself, that the whole process was easier and more straightforward than either of us anticipated.

As for the reviews, I personally made more of an effort to stick to the brief of the site as it first existed, in terms of covering games that made some sort of a positive impact on me. In some cases that meant stretching into the newer end of our permitted timespan, although I like to think that there was always at least a link to the old days, be it to a franchise that we’ve followed for some time, in the case of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, an echo of the overambitious interactive movies of the 90s as with L.A. Noire, or a reminder that adventure games with blocky graphics can be totally awesome and brilliant from Dave Gilbert’s Blackwell series.

NFS: Hot Pursuit 2010 – one of my favourite games from this year.

(I appreciate that might sound like a bit of a tenuous excuse for covering newer titles…but we’ve always tended to mix the proper oldies with coverage of ‘games from a few years ago’. In all honesty I think we might need to admit that we’ve reached the stage where we’re almost totally out of touch with the newest stuff in modern gaming and are increasingly likely to focus our interests on titles that at least have some connection to something we already know anyway, boring and middle-aged as that may sound. Perhaps revisiting the mission statement is something we should put on the to-do list for this year).

And there was older stuff, too. Stoo brought us some more authentic retro coverage, making good on our oft-repeated promise to ‘come back to one of the Sierra series at some point’ by ploughing through Space Quest III, and adding a review of possibly our first ever CGA-only title, Monuments of Mars.

Meanwhile, I enjoyed revisiting Apogee’s attempt at Super Mario Kart, Wacky Wheels, while playing Cricket 96 again took me back to a time where I wasted far too much time trying to extract maximum fun from a flawed cricket game instead of doing something more worthwhile (by recreating that exact same experience more than 20 years later).

Stoo was more kindly disposed towards Roger Wilco et al than I might have been.

Who knows what the future holds, but on reflection 2018 seemed like a relatively healthy one for FFG in terms of developing the site and, by our relatively modest standards, keeping up with regular content. As ever, thanks for reading, and we wish you all the best for the year ahead.