Showing posts with label Running With Scissors. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Running With Scissors. Show all posts

Review: Postal

For gamers of a certain age, Postal is a powerfully evocative title. Those who played it will not have easily forgotten their experience, and indeed, even those who haven’t played the game (myself included until recently) will likely recognise the name due to its notoriety. At its core this is because the entire raison d'être of Postal is to entertain its players through on-screen representations of unflinching gratuitous violence. Not violence in the context of a justifying purpose, or under circumstances that bear no semblance with reality, but remorseless mass shootings by a lone gunman.

Therefore, understandably, Postal will not be to everyone’s tastes. However, even those who find the game hard to stomach may have some appreciation for its developers who, whether intentionally or not, pushed back against those who sought (and still seek) to stifle the artistic freedom of game creators. Developed by Running With Scissors and originally released for PC and Mac in 1997, Postal arrived in the midst of ill-founded outrage directed towards video games by self-appointed moral arbiters and sensationalist sections of the media. Rather than focusing their ire on any of the other obvious causes of society's ills (say massive global inequalities, persistent unemployment, or chronically underfunded public services), the narrative being pushed by some was that video games were an exceptionally dangerous source of moral corruption. Within this context, Postal struck a defiant tone. 

A mere 25 years on, Postal has now finally made its way to the Dreamcast, thanks to the meticulous work of Dan Redfield, who took on the challenge of porting the game after Running With Scissors released the source code to the public in December 2016. When the original developers jokingly asked for a Dreamcast version to be produced, I seriously doubt that they expected this outcome: a near flawless port running at a solid 60 frames per second, packed with features, and published professionally in a physical medium. The latter aspect is down to Norwich-based WAVE Game Studios, an outfit who have quickly cemented their reputation within the Dreamcast scene since publishing their first title for the console, Senile Team’s Intrepid Izzy, in August 2021.

Ok, enough with the pretentious preamble, what about the game itself? For those unfamiliar with it, Postal is an isometric shooter, with a smattering of top-down sections, in which the player takes on the role of an unnamed protagonist (simply referred to as ‘Postal dude’). As alluded to above, the premise of the game is quite simple: you roam from level-to-level taking down as many enemy combatants as possible. And although it isn't a prerequisite for progress, the player is presented with ample opportunities to slaughter seemingly innocent civilians too. There really isn’t a great deal of plot: each stage is preceded by a cryptic and often foreboding message, presumably stemming from the pen of the main character, which along with the visuals suggests that Postal dude is gripped by some kind of madness. This lack of plot depth doesn’t necessarily detract from the game though—the no-nonsense approach is focused on dropping you straight into the action and keeping you on your toes at all times. This lends itself nicely to short bursts of gameplay, and the dry sense of humour that occasionally rears its head ensures that the mood isn't as depressing as the subject matter might suggest at first glance.

To facilitate your mission, Postal dude is equipped with a range of weapons with varying characteristics (range, damage, shot frequency), from the low-powered sub-machine gun, through to the more outlandish and spectacular napalm launcher. As with any shooter the aim is to hit your targets while avoiding taking damage. On the face of it, the gameplay of Postal can appear to be quite invariable and a little shallow. On the easier modes it can certainly be played in a mindless manner, with your character capable of tearing through stages while soaking up incoming fire to little effect. However, at its heart, the gameplay is rooted in strategic thinking – something which becomes mandatory if you wish to progress in the harder difficulty settings. Making careful use of terrain, being mindful of your inventory, and deciding when to fight and when to run, all need to be brought into play if you want to actually do well.


Dreamcast officially goes Postal this June!

We looked at the beta version of Dan Redfield's excellent Dreamcast port of Postal in the recent past, and decreed it to be about as faithful a recreation of the 1997 PC shooter as we could have hoped. The work-in-progress version was released in December 2021, and was available to try by downloading the file and putting it on a CD-R or a GDEMU. It was a great example of an indie developer porting open source PC code onto the Dreamcast - not least because it featured full Dreamcast controller support and pretty much every bit of content from the original game.

The story of Postal on the Dreamcast is a fairly interesting one, as the source code was released by original developer Running with Scissors back in 2016, along with an appeal for a willing indie dev to port it to the Dreamcast. Just shows you good things come to those who wait though, as the game is now being given a full official physical release - and you can get your hands on it on 2 June 2022 via WAVE Game Studios, with pre-orders now live on their website. The press release reads: 

Retro gaming fans will be able to experience the rapid-fire action enjoyed by millions of PC gamers later this year when WAVE Game Studios releases this officially licensed port of the classic title on Dreamcast, marking the franchise’s first appearance on the console.

Twenty-five years after the game’s original release, the dream of a professional release on the classic console is finally a reality. POSTAL™ developers Running With Scissors have given their blessing for this brand new no compromises version for Dreamcast, built with love from the original source code.

For more information about POSTAL™ for Dreamcast please visit the WAVE Game Studios website or for more information about the POSTAL™ franchise please visit the Running With Scissors website.

So there we go - yet another new game heading to the Dreamcast in 2022 - and they don't come with much more fame/infamy than Postal. Rather superbly, this release will also come in a choice of PAL, NTSC-U and NTSC-J packaging. Check out some gameplay from the Dreamcast beta version here, and read our interview with WAVE Game Studios here.

Look out for our full review when Postal lands on Dreamcast later this year.

A Dreamcast port of Postal appears!

Back in 2016 Postal developer Running With Scissors released the source code for their blood-soaked isometric shooter. Alongside this release, an appeal was made for a developer to step forward and create a Dreamcast port, should anyone be so inclined. Fast forward to December 2021 and a beta version of Postal for Dreamcast has now been released.

Coming from developer Dan Redfield, with a little help from fellow Dreamcast developer Ian Michael and members of the Simulant Engine Discord and Dreamcast-Talk forum, Postal for Dreamcast is free to download and play on actual hardware...and it runs really well.

Before booting this beta, I had never previously played Postal. I was familiar with the game's rather unsavory premise, reputation and legacy (and the fact that there's an Uwe Boll movie based on the franchise), but I was pretty much going in blind. What I discovered though, is a fairly playable isometric shooter with a definite leaning towards the 'mindless running around with the trigger held down' gameplay style. And gore. Lots of gore. And shooting. And explosions. 

The Dreamcast port, as stated, is a beta; and the intro does say to expect crashes, although I didn't experience any personally (I'm using a GDEMU enabled console with a DCHDMI fitted). Controls are well mapped to the Dreamcast controller and other than when the screen is absolutley filled with characters running around in terror (understandable, considering the nature of the game), there's hardly any noticeable slowdown or hitching. Here's some gameplay I grabbed while playing the first three levels (badly):

Thanks to Dan Redfield and the other community members who contributed to yet another Dreamcast release. The full version of Postal for Dreamcast is pencilled in for an early 2022 release and we'll no doubt have a full review of the game once it lands.

Dowload the Dreamcast Postal beta here, and be sure to follow both Dan Redfield on Twitter here and Running With Scissors on Twitter here.

PC & Mac Shooter Postal Now Open Source, Original Developer Appealing For Dreamcast Port

Postal hit the PC 20 years ago and instantly earned a reputation for its gory, death-filled gameplay. An isometric shooter with Robotron-style trappings, the game caused something of a stir back in 1996 due to the mechanic that involved players having to slaughter a set number of NPCs per level before moving on to the next. Unperturbed by the somewhat negative press, developer Running With Scissors went on to make no less than three follow ups, commission a range of spin-off games, books and even a movie based on the franchise. Apart from a few blips in quality control, the core series was generally met with encouraging sales and critical acclaim. Why are we telling you this? Well, it appears that Postal has been made open source by Running With Scissors...and they are appealing for a developer to port the game to the Dreamcast.
The appeal came via a series of tweets from the official Running With Scissors Twitter account, and after communicating briefly we can confirm that this is not a drill. Repeat...not a drill. The Postal source code has been released through Bitbucket and is freely available to download. Running With Scissors tweeted the following:

"As a slightly belated Christmas present to you all, the original classic POSTAL is now Open Source! All we ask in return is a Dreamcast port! Someone, please - get on that. There's probably some kind of reward in it for ya!"
- Running With Scissors

When asked why the Dreamcast, the reply was that it's 'Krotchy's favourite console.' Who is Krotchy? Well...he's a walking ballsack and mascot of the Postal franchise, and he certainly looks happy hugging that PAL unit!
Are you a Dreamcast developer? Reckon you could bring yet another new game to the Dreamcast? Head over to Running With Scissors' official website or grab the source code for Postal here and get on it! You heard them - there's probably some kind of reward in it for ya! Tell them The Dreamcast Junkyard sent you and we'll all be laughing (probably).