Tag Archives: action game

Vice: Project Doom – Secret Agent Man

I’d not heard of Aicom’s Vice: Project Doom (aka Gun-Dec in Japan) prior to Nintendo adding it to the Switch’s NES app. And neither, it seems, had a lot of Switch owners, since its addition to the lineup attracted even more complaining than you usually find underneath a Nintendo social media post.

I looked into it, though, and I was both intrigued by the prospect of the game… and unsurprised that no-one seems to have heard of it, despite it having had a Nintendo Power cover feature in May of 1991. It did, after all, come out at the very tail-end of the NES’ mainstream lifespan — and after the Super NES had helped bring console gaming into the 16-bit era.

It’s a shame that no-one’s heard of it, though, because it’s really frickin’ good. Let’s take a closer look.

Continue reading Vice: Project Doom – Secret Agent Man

Delving Into Castlevania – #2

Last time around, we looked at how Castlevania’s overall mechanics and sense of game design can be traced forward to technical action games such as From Software’s popular titles.

Today, I wanted to focus on some other important and distinctive aspects of this original NES installment: specifically the platforming component, and the boss fights.

All of the elements we’ll have talked about by the end of today combine together to create the distinctive experience that is Castlevania — not just for this first game, but for much of the early series.

Continue reading Delving Into Castlevania – #2

Delving Into Castlevania – #1

One of the nice things about revisiting old games from a modern perspective is the fact that you can see how certain genres have evolved over time… and sometimes seemingly morphed into different things altogether.

The original Castlevania is a great example of this. Far from being your common-or-garden everyday mascot platformer that we saw a fair bit throughout the 8- and 16-bit home console eras, Castlevania provided an experience that was altogether its own thing, immediately recognisable and immensely influential.

Atmospheric, idiosyncratic and consistently challenging, it’s a game that still holds its own today — just don’t expect an easy ride!

Continue reading Delving Into Castlevania – #1

Atari A to Z Flashback: Maze Invaders

This one’s a cool addition to the Atari Flashback Classics collection: a “lost” game from the Atari archives.

Maze Invaders sadly never saw an official release either as an arcade machine or a home port, languishing in the archives until recently. The International Centre for the History of Electronic Games managed to acquire a whole bunch of old Atari goodies back in 2014, and part of that heap of fun times was Maze Invaders.

It’s kind of surprising this never got an official release for one reason or another; it’s a really interesting, unusual and highly addictive game with a ton of personality to it!

Find a full archive of all the Atari A to Z videos on the official site.

Atari A to Z: Keystone Kapers

Today it’s time for one of my favourite early Activision titles, and a great game from designer Garry Kitchen. Kitchen, if you’re unfamiliar, was responsible for the Atari 2600 version of Nintendo’s Donkey Kong, and also the wonderful Pressure Cooker, the spiritual precursor to popular indie title Overcooked.

Keystone Kapers kasts you in the role of Keystone Kelly, a kopper who is keen to katch his kriminal nemesis, Hooligan Harry. Harry, it seems, likes hanging out in department stores, and thus begins an increasingly ridiculous series of chase scenes up to the rooftop of the store, with Kelly being forced to dodge all manner of mundane yet perilous obstacles that put his mission at risk.

Loosely inspired by the old Keystone Kops movies, Keystone Kapers is simple to learn but tough to master — and a near-perfect example of what early ’80s Activision was all about.

Find a full archive of all the Atari A to Z videos on the official site.

Atari ST A to Z: Escape from the Planet of the Robot Monsters

Whew, now there’s a mouthful, eh? As you may have guessed from the title, this one- or two-player arcade romp — originally developed by Atari Games — channels the very best of 1950s B-movies into a fun and satisfying isometric blaster.

Sadly, the home ports lack the arcade version’s “Hall Effect” joystick, which allowed movement and aiming in sixteen directions instead of the usual eight — a precursor to our modern analogue sticks — but the ST version seen here still plays well with a nice joystick!

Just remember to turn off Sticky Keys in Windows if you’re emulating to, say, record a video… you need that Shift key quite a bit in this game! Oh well, you live and learn, huh…?

Find a full archive of all the Atari A to Z videos on the official site.

Delving Into Air Combat – #1

I always find it interesting to head back to a series’ roots to see what has changed and what has stayed the same over the years.

I was particularly excited to start from the beginning of the Ace Combat series, since it’s one I’ve come to really enjoy in the last few years, and I sense there’s still quite a lot I’ve missed out on.

Would the original PS1 release from 1995 be worth revisiting today, I wondered?

Continue reading Delving Into Air Combat – #1

Atari A to Z: Fire Chief

Here’s one I vividly remember from back in the day… but for which there’s a surprising lack of information about online!

Fire Chief was developed by Tim Huntington and released through English Software, who we’ve already seen a couple of times on Atari A to Z. Beyond the fact it was included on one of English Software’s Atari Smash Hits compilations (number 4, to be precise), there’s not a lot more that can be said from a historical perspective — even its original box art (and/or if it was ever released as a standalone title!) remains seemingly lost to time.

Oh well. We’d better just take a good hard look at how it plays then, huh? Hold on to your hats, this one goes like the clappers!

Find a full archive of all the Atari A to Z videos on the official site.

Delving Into Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown – #4

All right. We’ve established that Ace Combat 7 absolutely has its own sense of style, that the VR mode is something rather special and that it strikes a great balance between arcade action and more realistic simulation. What about the actual missions, and the overall “game” experience?

Well, for those who have been hoping for a true next-gen Ace Combat experience, I am delighted to confirm that you will absolutely find this in Ace Combat 7 — both in terms of its narrative style, and in terms of how it plays.

Actual combat is where the game is at its most unrealistic — but also its most fun. Let’s take a closer look.

Continue reading Delving Into Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown – #4

Delving Into Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown – #1

I’ve been playing a lot of Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown since it released the other day. And I wanted to talk about it a bit!

I’ve elected to use the “Delving Into” format, because that also provides a suitable framework for me to explore (and revisit) the rest of the series along the way, too. For the unfamiliar, my “Delving Into” pieces are more immediate, personal reactions to games or series I want to explore over the long term, but which don’t really fit into the Cover Game structure.

Each article will focus on a particular aspect of the overall experience, or something that I’ve found otherwise noteworthy. Let’s kick off today with my impressions of the game’s overall sense of style, based on my playthrough of the single-player campaign up to mission 17 so far.

Continue reading Delving Into Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown – #1