One of the things I find kind of interesting about how gaming culture in general has developed over time is how people feel about “arcade games”.
Back in the 8- and 16-bit eras of computers and consoles that I grew up with, the seemingly unattainable dream was to have “the arcade experience at home” — or, well, more accurately, an authentic arcade experience at home. This was kind of strange when you think about it, because a lot of home computer and console games already offered experiences of greater complexity, depth and duration than your average quarter-muncher, but still the dream persisted.
Once we got to a stage where our home gaming hardware was more than up to the job of providing an “arcade-perfect” experience, however, many people had become so accustomed to those longer, deeper experiences that the dream of “arcade games” kind of fell by the wayside for a significant proportion of the gaming audience. And consequently, I suspect a fair few people missed out on highly enjoyable cheese like Sega’s Ghost Squad.
Continue reading Wii Essentials: Ghost Squad
The poor ol’ Wii gets a lot of crap for its numerous minigame compilations, when in fact these releases were a significant part of the system’s appeal.
Minigame compilations provided accessible ways for people less accustomed to games to get accustomed to the Wii’s unusual control scheme, great packages to entertain groups of friends on social occasions… and brilliant opportunities for developers to get a bit weird and creative.
One of the best examples I’ve come across is 2011’s Wii Play: Motion, one of the lesser-known entries in Nintendo’s Wii [x] series, and a game that most people know as “the game you got free with a Wii Remote Plus for a while”.
Continue reading Wii Essentials: Wii Play: Motion
Yes, yes, yes, I know it’s also on Xbox and Gamecube, but I’ve always thought of TimeSplitters as a PlayStation thing, so that’s where it’s getting categorised today.
Ahem. Anyway. TimeSplitters 2 is, unsurprisingly, the follow-up to the excellent TimeSplitters, a game developed by ex-Rare folks who previously worked on GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark on the Nintendo 64.
The original TimeSplitters has aged very well. Its sequel is even better. Let’s take a closer look.
Continue reading PS2 Essentials: TimeSplitters 2
The Ace Combat series is a jewel in Namco’s crown that people sadly seem to forget about quite often — though hopefully the seventh installment due early in 2019 will rectify that to an extent.
The series mostly stretches across the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 eras, with a less well-received (but still enjoyable) spinoff installment in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 era. For most, the series’ peak was with its PS2 installments; opinion varies as to which one of these is really “the best”, but they’re all very much worth your time.
At the time of writing, we’ve already talked about fourth installment Distant Thunder (aka Shattered Skies), so today let’s take a look at the fifth game, known as Squadron Leader in Europe, and The Unsung War elsewhere. It’s a good ‘un.
Continue reading PS2 Essentials: Ace Combat: Squadron Leader
Even today, Capcom’s 2002 racing game Auto Modellista stands out as a bold and striking experiment.
By combining relatively conventional arcade-style racing gameplay with an eye-catching cel-shaded visual style, the game successfully distinguished itself from many of its peers — though sadly, relatively mediocre reviews, mostly focusing on the game’s handling and its attempts to straddle the line between deep simulation and arcade racer, meant that it sold fairly poorly.
That doesn’t mean it’s not worth checking out by any means, however — particularly if you are someone who, like me, enjoys the customisation aspect of deep sims but hates “realistic” handling. Let’s take a closer look — and keep an eye on Sunday Driving for the next few weeks to see the game in action for yourself!
Continue reading PS2 Essentials: Auto Modellista
Wii Music is one of those releases that a lot of people didn’t pick up back in the day, primarily due to its mediocre critical response.
At least part of this was down to the (not entirely unreasonable) assumption that it would be a traditional “game” of some description — or at the very least a collection of minigames, as with the other titles in the Wii [x] series from Nintendo. But it’s actually something rather different.
And take the time to engage with it on its own terms and you’ll find something both entertaining and educational. Let’s take a closer look.
Continue reading Wii Essentials: Wii Music
You know Donkey Kong, right? Classic Nintendo arcade game, origin of Mario? Sure you do.
Donkey Kong is a classic with good reason: it’s solid arcade fare. Its mechanics are simple and straightforward to understand, it’s friendly to quick play sessions, it’s enormously addictive and it consistently challenges its players with just minor, progressively more difficult variations on the same four levels.
The 1994 Game Boy version surely can’t be anything particularly special, right? Or could it? Well, it came out thirteen years after the arcade original, so either someone at Nintendo was really confident in the staying power of its early arcade games — actually not all that unreasonable an assumption — or something interesting was going on.
Continue reading Game Boy Essentials: Donkey Kong