Showing posts with label Silver. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Silver. Show all posts

10 Very British Games for the Sega Dreamcast

The British are an odd bunch. We're not really a country (look we're not, you have to admit it. It's like someone got a bunch of nations together who don't really like each other all that much, told them the same rich pricks are in charge of them all and everyone was like "oh okay" and went on about their business. Other than the Irish, obviously), but we have contributed far more than our share towards modern culture (partly by being real arseholes to just about everyone else and insisting they consume our culture whilst invading them), have terrible cuisine, terrible weather and a really, really shit flag. Yet the internet (and by "the internet", I mean Americans on the internet) views all of us Brits as a bunch of posh people who live in country estates who apologise to each other every other second; generally a bunch of genial, mostly nice and horribly polite people with bad teeth. Of course, the Europeans don't see us like that, and instead see us for our true selves - a bunch of gammon-faced troublemaking binge-drinking tourists who invented the sport they're now better than us at. And of course by "us" I mean "the English" because somehow the Welsh and Scottish get a free pass from everyone else despite them both sitting right alongside us when we were arseholes to the rest of the world. So yeah, we're not really a very nice country all in all, if you can even call us a country. What has this to do with the Dreamcast? Absolutely nothing - other than the fact that there are several games on this little Japanese 128-bit wonder that try and come close to truly capturing the real essence behind "being British" - and those games are my target for the latest in my ongoing series of lists about Dreamcast things.

So, without further ado, let's take a look at the ten most "cor blimey, fish n' chips, bottla wateh, tea and crumpets, god save the king" games on the Dreamcast.

Disney's 102 Dalmatians: Puppies to the Rescue

Set mostly in London (aren't all UK-based video games?), this Disney adaptation contains Big Ben, posh English people and dogs. All quintessentially British. The little canine stars travel to various locations either directly modelled after real-life locations (or at least as far as "modelled" can be attributed to a Dreamcast-era movie tie-in) as well as some more generic locations with a British feel. As the game is based on a live action movie and not an actual Disney animated film (which was always a bit of a weird mix), there is some definite artistic license taken, especially as developer Toys for Bob are based in the distinctly un-British state of California, along with Prolific Publishing, who dealt with the Dreamcast port. This all results in a "Disneyfied" Britain that will be familiar to most of us but doesn't quite reflect the hard streets of London or the rubbish-strewn, annoying middle class walker-infested countryside we all love. At times, you half expect Mary Poppins to emerge from a chimney with a hopping Dick Van Dyke singing some ridiculous song behind her. Disney's bastardisation of British culture is something we should all bemoan, especially if you've ever visited the city of Bath and had to contend with the culture-shocked American tourists despondently trudging the streets who thought that everything would be posh, cultured and historic but instead have to contend with crackheads trying to sell shit-stained PS2 games from a carrier bag to people on the street. And that's just Bath - can you imagine their reaction if they visited Swindon?

This is Piccadilly Circus. Sort of. Points for the phone box, but it's slightly less busy than I remember it.

The first appearance of a red double decker in the article. Surely more will come?

The British countryside in all its glory. Sort of.

Britishness Rating: As British as Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins. Dancing chimney sweeps should, however, make a return.

British Town it Best Represents: London, I suppose. If you're American, anyway. 

Dreamcast & PC RPG Silver Re-released On Steam

We recently cast our minds back to the early 2000s and took a misty-eyed look at the fairly decent Dreamcast and PC role player, Silver. The game was largely ignored back when it was ported to Sega's platform in 2000, and it was viewed more as a 'lite' RPG when compared to the more traditional examples of the genre, such as Final Fantasy et al. The Dreamcast version has become quite a sought-after game in recent times though, and as with a lot of lesser-known titles on our beloved console this has caused the price of Spiral House's adventure to spike. The good news is that thanks to THQ Nordic, Silver has recently been re-released on Valve's Steam platform for the bargain price of just £4.99.
Naturally, the minimum specifications required to run Silver on Mac OS, Windows or Linux operating systems are understandably modest - the game was originally released for computers in 1999 after all. If you haven't experienced this enjoyable little role player and you're having trouble tracking down an affordable copy for the Dreamcast, you could do much worse than investigate this recent Steam re-release.

You can find out more about Silver and purchase the game on Steam here.

Life, the Universe and Silver

I think it's pretty safe to say that the Dreamcast's library isn't exactly bursting with legendary role playing games. Naturally, there are some well regarded titles like Skies of Arcadia, Time Stalkers and Grandia II but in the grand scheme of major console releases, the Dreamcast's meagre selection pales in comparison to contemporary systems like the PlayStation; and even more so when pitched against the might of the Super Nintendo. To be brutally honest, this doesn't really bother me because my affinity with RPGs is negligible. I'm not overly enamoured with the genre and much prefer to spend my game time playing racers, shooters and the occasional soccer game.

In recent times though, the vast majority of my free time has been spent guiding one Geralt of Rivia through the trials and tribulations of The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, and so my hard and fast opinion of role players has softened somewhat. And while I realise that The Witcher III is probably more of an action RPG than a hardcore, turn-based affair, I think it is testament to the quality of CD Projekt Red's game that someone who doesn't generally dabble in that type of experience has become fully absorbed in the adventure. Also, according to this Eurogamer article, the voice of Geralt lives just up the road from me so the experience is now extra special. I must also stress at this juncture, that the rumours of me camping outside his house and digging through his bins for discarded banana peels and samples of hair and/or skin are wholly unsubstantiated.
"Get away from my bins!"
So yeah, the point I'm failing to make here is that the Dreamcast doesn't have many traditional RPGs. The ones I have mentioned are considered as the cream of the crop, and then there's Shenmue...but is that really an RPG? I guess it does have all the hallmarks of an RPG, and I'd personally be inclined to class it as such but I already get enough grief about these articles from the folk who just see the titles on social media, let alone the ones who actually take the time to click through and read the shite I write; so I'm just going to hold my hands up and say that I both agree and disagree that Shenmue is an RPG. It's both. It neither is nor isn't an RPG, at the same time. It's Shroedingermue. There's also Record of Lodoss War...which is alright I guess. But I've played that one for about 20 minutes in total and that was back in 2006 if memory serves, so I'm hardly qualified to say just how shit it is. Come at me, internet pettifoggers.
Let's get back on track though. You came here because you saw some bollocks on Twitter or Facebook about Silver, and that is what I'm going to give you. Silver, is an action-RPG developed by Spiral House and published by Infogrames in both Europe and the United States (but not Japan) which represents something of an oddity on the Dreamcast; what with its real-time combat and profanity-ridden script. Not that that's a bad thing when coupled with the glorious accents and intonation of northern England - a sacred part of the world from which the author of this piece hails. A land of milk and honey, a rich tapestry of dialects, patchwork fields and dark satanic mills that would put Tolkien's image of Middle Earth to shame. And by 'milk and honey' I mean 'late trains and broken gas mains,' by the way. Oh, and wider social decay and misery than has ever been described in a George Orwell penned, semi-biographical tome...but you get the idea.

Silver Lining

Howdy. Thought it was about time I checked in with a proper post – it’s been about a month since I actually wrote anything of note for the Universe’s greatest Dreamcast site – The Dreamcast Junkyard (as seen in Retro Gamer Magazine). I almost coughed up a ventricle when I saw that we’d had a rather flattering mention (as documented by the Gagaman several posts ago), but seeing as I was onboard a flight to Turkey for a week in the sun, all I could do was sit there in silent awe – the DC-less cretins all around me oblivious to the fact that we were mentioned in the mainstream…well, niche press. Sigh. Anyhow, many thanks to the people at Retro Gamer.

I tried to keep my eyes peeled whilst in Turkey for the odd DC game, but to be honest I didn’t manage to find even the slightest reference to anything remotely connected to gaming, let alone our favourite deceased console. It appears that the Turkish economy relies solely on the sale of flip-flops, plastic footballs and fake Tag Heurs. On the plus side though, I did wear my Dreamcast shorts whilst swimming in the Aegean Sea. Just keeping it real, people.

Also, I’d like to congratulate Manchester United for winning the Premier League for the TENTH time, and also congratulate Middlesborough for putting EIGHT goals past Manchester City. Snigger.

This is just for you, FK

But that’s irrelevant. You’re here for DC shit, so without further ado, let’s delve into my most recent purchases…

I absolutely detest RPGs. I find them hideously boring and most of them are a patchwork of clichés involving ogres, orcs, wizards and ‘mana’ – all of which are things I have no interest in. There are a few exceptions for me – Ocarina of Time on the N64 and Shenmue held my attention to the end, but they’re more action/adventure games than traditional RPGs. Imagine my surprise then, when playing through Silver, I didn’t actually vomit and fall into a boredom induced coma. Viewed from a 3rd person, static camera perspective, Silver seemed at first to be everything I despise about the genre. It’s Final Fantasy-esque looks and antiquated mechanics looked like surefire ways to induce a sense of hatred from this gamer. But no – I actually quite enjoyed playing Silver. There is no shitty turn-based random combat and the voice acting is really quite good. The graphics are very basic but the backgrounds are nicely drawn, and the storyline – whilst simple (the evil emperor Silver has kidnapped all of the women in the land so he can choose which one he wants for a wife, and you have to gather up a motley crew of bad-asses to go and get you’re missus back. Fail, and its wanking-room only for the rest of your days, me old mucker), is quite original for the genre.

It’s far from perfect – the real time combat consists mainly of mashing the attack button until everyone’s dead; and the distance of the camera from the action in some areas is unbelievable – you might as well be looking through the Hubble Telescope in some instances. Those minor niggles aside, Silver is a perfect RPG for those who aren’t really fans of the genre due to the relative simplicity of the gameplay. Go here, speak to a person, go there, collect key, fight some monsters, get a new weapon etc etc etc. Might sound a bit basic to the average 45-year-old Warhammer geek who still lives at home with his mum, but for me, it’s sweet.

F1 Racing Championship
Hmmm. It’s another Dreamcast F1 game. Based on the Monaco GP engine, F1 Racing Championship betters its spiritual prequel by bringing in official drivers and track names, but in reality it’s got the same problems as EVERY other F1 game in existence: F1 is BORING. So, it’s got the SAME tracks as every other F1 game, has the SAME engine noises, the SAME championship…I could go on.

This is from the PC port, but you get the idea

And because it's based on the 2000 season, there's no Lewis Hamilton. What a shame. To be fair, the visuals are quite good (but not as good as F1WGP2’s), and the choice of either Arcade or Simulation modes adds something new…but again, I’m hardly a massive F1 fan so it’s hard or me to get excited. Bias? You bet your ass. As far as F1 games go on the DC, it’s probably joint second with the first F1WGP game, but as a general racer its several racing leagues below the fabulous Le Mans, F1WGP2 and even Vanishing Point. Ho hum.

Spec Ops: Omega Squad
Fuck me. What a load of shite. Omega Squad looked like it could be the game to finally put the epiliepsy-inducing ghost of DC Rainbow Six to bed, but in actuality its worse. Horrific, in fact. Things start off well, with you getting to choose your weaponry and mission etc – all fine and good. There are lots of missions to take and there is a frightening arsenal of guns, grenades and other pointy things to equip your soldier geezer with, but that’s all irrelevant because when the game actually starts it’ll take somewhere in the region of 9 seconds to realize that this really is a game you don’t want to play. The graphics, for a start are barely above PS1 standard – the character models look like something out of 1970s Doctor Who and the ‘animation’ they exhibit is akin to Pinocchio’s. Before he was a real boy, you understand. Add to this the general murkiness, the flat, drab textures and the pop-up (yes, pop-up in a first person shooter!) and you’ve got one ugly game.

A Lego gun! That'll keep the baddies at bay

Of course, beauty I only skin deep, but Omega Squad doesn’t even play well. The controls are far too complex for a joypad, but even with a keyboard they stink. The view can be switched to a 3rd person one, but all that does is show you how horrendous your Spec Op-ist looks, especially when you kneel down or go prone and sink into the floor. Want more? How about being able to shoot through walls because collision detection is out to lunch? Or shooting a ‘baddie’ in the head at point blank range and the hit not being registered? Absolutely pathetic.

Pen Pen
One of the weirdest games you’re ever likely to play, Pen Pen was a launch title for the DC and one of my earliest Blockbuster rents back in the day. I didn’t really appreciate it’s charm back then, but now I have my wiser head on I can see it’s appeal. Possibly spawned from the depths of an opium den, the idea behind Pen Pen is that these brightly coloured penguin-type things from some far off planet like nothing better than to race around acid-trip worlds by sliding on their guts, swimming and running. Like you do. So, you pick your Pen Pen, get out onto the track and then try to beat all of the other contenders by rythimcally tapping the various controls in order to build up speed. Sliding is a bit like the luge from the winter Olympics, whilst swimming and running are self explanatory.

Graphically quite impressive and aurally quite sickening (in a sweet way, you understand), Pen Pen is very original and features some nice ideas – such as winning races to buy new clothes and hats for the various characters. There are some bizarre aspects, such as putting your Pen Pen to bed - but it comes with the territory I suppose. It kind of reminds me of that old N64 game Snowboard Kids, albeit with massively improved graphics and more abstract weirdness. There are only 4 courses to race but they’re all suitably long and the idea of collecting all of the clothes adds longevity. If you like that sort of thing. Still, Pen Pen is a unique title and worth picking up if you see it going cheap.

Wild Metal
Quite why Rockstar removed the word ‘Country’ from the title of this PC to DC conversion is beyond me, but they did. If you ever played the PC version of Wild Metal (Country), you’ll feel right at home with the DC port – it’s exactly the same. You drive a little tank around a rather barren and foggy landscape with the intention of destroying all of the other tanks and flying meanies roaming about. There is a slightly contrived story about how machines have taken over man’s galactic empire but its bollocks really. All you need to know is that there are enemy units bopping about and they have to be stamped out like the goddamned vermin they are. You do this by correctly aligning your turret and tuning your trajectory from afar and then letting them have it, in a sort of 3D Death Tank kind of way.

There’s little else to it than that to be quite frank. Once you’ve killed everything in a level, you move on to the next where it’s more of the same. Hardly the most complex or involving title on the Dreamcast, but the inoffensive nature of the proceedings makes for quite a relaxing experience. Graphics are very basic and sound almost non-existent, but the gameplay can be quite satisfying – the tanks handle very well and lining up shots with the turret is quite good fun. It’s not Alien Front, but it’s still a decent little shooter.

Finally, I appear to have lost my copy of Buggy Heat. How? I have no fucking idea. How do you lose a game? BAH!

Next up: Freestyle Scooter. Oh yeah baby!