Yeah, yeah, yeah - I know I haven't written anything for a while. That's because I've been on 'leave,' and for the most part have been spending my time doing fuck all. Yep, fuck all. Except watching Jeremy Kyle (pictured, yesterday) and drinking the free wine that magically 'appeared' in the kitchen. Hick.
In retrospect though, that's not entirely 100% true, for in between the odd gulp of poor quality, throat-burning vino tinto, I've been buying up some truly great (and some truly sub-standard) examples of Dreamcast software. Unusually though, my purchasing has not been entirely limited to the virtual auction house of ebay. No, this week I discovered not one, but TWO game emporiums (emporia?) literally metres apart that BOTH stock Dreamcast games! This probably won't help anyone who lives outside of the Greater Manchester area, but if you venture to the lovely suburb of Stockport and eschew the harsh, garish window displays of GAME and Gamestop you will undoubtedly stumble upon Game City & Game Zone. Not the most imaginatively named stores, I'm sure you'll agree, but they stand opposite each other on the same street and both of them have a small but perfectly formed assortment of magical azure jewel cases inside. The initial wave of euphoria/cold sweat that washed over me soon evaporated when I discovered that I already owned pretty much every game Game Zone had on offer, but it returned like an aftershock when I ventured into Game City and found A GAME I DIDN'T ALREADY HAVE!
Evil Dead: Hail to the King
Unfortunately, upon getting the game home and playing it, the come-down returned and the ecstasy once again made way for boring old reality. Bah. But - as usual - I'm getting ahead of myself. Here's the science bit:
Rather than follow the story of the original Evil Dead movies (of which I have little more than a passing interest, although Evil Dead 3 / Army of Darkness rocked), Hail to the King is a game-based sequel to the whole celluloid series. The FMV intro tells the 'story so far' - you know, the cabin in the woods, the chopped-off hand, the chainsaw replacement, the going-back-in-time and killing witches etc - and then tacks on a rather shitty continuation involving Ash and his new shag-piece going back to the cabin in the woods to help him overcome his nightmares about past events. So they get to the cabin and it all kicks off. Again. I'd also like to add that this is something of a conflict of storylines depending on the version of Evil Dead 3 you've seen, but meh.
So, you get to play as Ash Williams complete with chainsaw hand and basically wander around various locations from the first couple of movies shooting ghosts (?) and gutting redneck zombies with your chainsaw-arm. Oh, and you'll also be required to pick up thousands of random items, look for and then open doors that appear to be part of the scenery, run into walls, run out of ammo, not be able to get away from the randomly spawning monsters, and then die...before starting the whole mess again.
Hail to the King is a 3rd person survival horror, very much in the vein of the original Resident Evil or Alone in the Dark games, but while those two were genre defining (with the exception of the atrocious Alone in the Dark reboot) Ash's adventure is a decomposing mound of cancerous flesh. Graphically, it's not too bad - the pre-rendered backdrops are detailed enough and feature moving textures (curtains blowing in the wind, fires crackling etc), but the 3D model animation is crap and the general design quality of the enemies is abysmal. Gameplay fares even worse - the controls are horribly over-complicated (why is 'run' activated by the right trigger?! surely that's the universal button for 'fire'?!) and what's with the enemies just randomly popping up out of the ground every 5 seconds? In some places they just continually re-spawn meaning that as soon as you've dispatched one badly animated skeleton, another one pops up instantly to take whatever health you had left from the last battle (aka button mashing session).
If ever there was an example of how not to clone Resident Evil, then Hail to the King is most definitely it.
I watched that Pandorum at the cinema the other day. I also watched District 9. District 9 was good, but not 6/5 good as some critics would have you believe; and likewise, Pandorum was not the 1/5 as others have said. Here's the trailer for what I thought was a superb (if a little clichéd) movie:
It's nice to see some Sci-Fi flicks doing well though, and one day (fingers crossed) rom-coms will be outlawed by pain of death. Oh, and the 'tenuous' bit? Pandorum is from the producers of the Resi movies, and Hail to the King is sort of like Resi. Geddit? GEDDIT?!?!
***END OF INTERMISSION***
My other recent purchase is about as far away as either Pandorum or Hail to the King as you could possibly get. Why, it's
Kao the Kangaroo
It's a platform game starring a Kangaroo with boxing gloves on. Called Kao. K-O. Do you see? Of course you do, oh hallowed visitor to the Junkyard. I always thought that this particular game was a sort of free-roaming platformer in the style of Mario 64 for some reason, but it's not. It's more like a really dumbed down version of Super Magnetic Neo and Croc (that shitty old game on the Saturn/PSX). That's not to say it's a bad game though - it's just a bit...well, basic. As mentioned, you assume the role of the titular Kao, a young Kangaroo who has been tasked with...well the usual shite actually.
You've got to save the world or something and in order to do this you have to guide the titular hero around various brightly coloured, predictably themed stages (jungle, snowy, blah, blah, fecking blah) collecting coins and punching floating pigs and spiders. And that's it. It plays a bit like an upgraded Crash Bandicoot and even though there are flaws aplenty (it's ridiculously hard for a kid's game and the 'map' screen is little more than a JPEG showing your progression from level to level), Kao the Kangaroo is a perfectly decent platformer. As I mentioned, it's definalty aimed at the younger gamer which is strange considering it's unfairly difficult in places. It also rather unashamedly takes several cues from other games in the genre (check out the random objects with eyes and cheesy grins glued on, ala Rayman 2). Kao then - a fairly good-looking game that does little to offend.
Then again, it does little to stand out from the crowd but if you can get a copy cheap, give it a whirl.
I've also recently managed to acquire copies of Dynamite Cop and Star Wars Racer for mere peanuts, but both of these games have been featured in past posts so I won't bother dwelling on them myself.
Finally, a special mention goes out to reader 'tdinc' who sent me this link.
Apparently, someone has seen it necessary to turn a DC controller into an iPod dock. Which is quite cool. Although, to be honest, I just prefer to use the little wire that came in the box...