Sunday 20 November 2016
James Cameron's Aliens turned 30 this year. That's a scary thought in and of itself, but few games have succeeded in bringing the frightening exploits of the Xenomorph home. That's not to say that many have not tried. Out of the numerous games based on the franchise the most obscure by far is this little known adventure by Cryo Interactive titled Aliens: A Comic Book Adventure.
Tuesday 15 November 2016
It's been a week now since the presidential election, and surprisingly the world still stands. If you dig a little deeper into American history, you'll find that this isn't the first election fraught with controversy. Being an ignorant Brit, I found most of this out while playing President Elect: 1988 Edition, an update to SSI's 1981 game originally for the Apple II.
Sunday 13 November 2016
Instead of spending my free time periodically checking to see if the world is burning (like I've been doing since the US election), I thought a cathartic game of politics might help. Power Politics is one such a game that simulates the 1992 presidential election with a wealth of options that makes you question what a politician's priorities actually are.
Monday 7 November 2016
Tax avoidance is not much of a compelling subject for any story, let alone an interactive one, but that's what Divide by Zero has chosen for Innocent Until Caught. This underrated adventure game from 1993 puts you in the decidedly sketchy shoes of Jack T. Ladd whose only goal is to pay off the hefty tax-dodging fine. And get a stiff drink while he's at it.
Thursday 3 November 2016
Dynamix may be best known for their simulation games with the likes EarthSiege, Tribes and Red Baron, but when they entered the Sierra family in 1990 they began to dabble in the adventure genre. The result is a trio of excellent adventures with a heavy focus on storytelling. The most underrated of the three was the globe-hopping yarn from 1991 named Heart of China.
Monday 31 October 2016
It's Halloween and what better way to celebrate than to travel deep in the psyche of H.R. Giger? Dark Seed 2 began development as soon as the success of the first game was evident when it hit store shelves and became a surprise hit (it even won the prestigious Codie award in 1992 against the more popular likes of King's Quest VI, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis and Ultima VII). The result of such a success is sequels and one finally arrived in the December of 1995...
Wednesday 26 October 2016
Echo Night: Beyond may be the third (and last) entry to From Software's excellent horror series, but it was the first to get an official release in Europe. Released in Japan and the US in 2004, it would be another year before it reached our shores and it was worth the wait. The previous entries may have been set in a traditional spooky setting - a ghost ship and a haunted mansion - but Beyond relocates us to outer space. The Moon to be specific.
Monday 24 October 2016
The Super Nintendo - or indeed any Nintendo console - isn't exactly known to bring on the scares. Sure Castlevania was a thing but it was hardly a nightmare-inducing experience. To get a more petrifying play, you have to look to Japan who actually had a fair few titles for an older audience, much more than the West that's for sure. The King of Demons (known natively as Majyuuou) is one of them. And you can play it in English too thanks to a fan-made translation by Aeon Genesis.
Monday 10 October 2016
Gahan Wilson's The Ultimate Haunted House, released in 1994, is a surprisingly fun kid's game from the mind of a surprisingly adult cartoonist. Wilson's work, which often includes such macabre topics as murder, dismemberment and cannibalism, were featured in the likes of Playboy and The New Yorker. Let's see how this strange psyche can be translated for a younger audience...
Friday 7 October 2016
Nothing gives you an unnerving sense of unease quite like a piece of art by H.R. Giger. He's one of the reasons (if not the reason) why the Alien franchise has scared generations, as well as elevating Species from a schlocky b-movie to a nightmare-inducing guilty pleasure. In 1992 Cyberdreams took his large portfolio of art, gave it a story and used it as the driving force to create their first adventure game; Dark Seed.
Wednesday 5 October 2016
If you have an Uncle who is also a scientist, don't ever visit his house. At least that's what adventure game logic has always taught me. His contraption will almost always bring forth the possibility of a cataclysmic event that only your teenage mind can fix. Add a stormy Halloween night into the mix (like Housemarque's 1996 adventure, Alien Incident), and your almost guaranteed to bear witness to some strange things.
Tuesday 4 October 2016
October is upon us so get ready for a hoard of frothing gaming goodness escaping from the darkest depths of the Chamber. The first to maul its way out is Midway's 1998 arcade gem, CarnEvil, a horror-themed light gun shooter that's sadly never had an official home conversion.
Thursday 22 September 2016
Two years before Lara Croft first raided a couple of tombs, Core Designs looked to the skies and released a game with a heavily themed sci-fi setting. Universe took what was learned from The Curse of Enchantia a few years earlier and placed them into a large, sprawling and incredibly difficult point and click adventure.
Tuesday 20 September 2016
For eighteen long years, WarCraft Adventures remained the ultimate 'what if' in adventure gaming. It was heavily promoted in 'coming soon' catalogues and magazine previews and then, not long before its release, Blizzard cancelled it. On 9th September, the Holy Grail - a working, almost complete Beta copy of the game - was found and uploaded to the internet for all to play. And play it we must!
Monday 19 September 2016
In 1996 Star Trek: Klingon gave us an educational view of the war-loving race. Later that same year, Simon & Schuster Interactive tried to do the same thing with the Federation's other great nemesis: the Borg. Except this hive-minded species doesn't really deserve an empathetic history lesson.
Friday 16 September 2016
There's a a fair few updates to grace the Collection Chamber over the last few months. For starters a number of games have been improved (find out which after the jump) but perhaps the most significant is the inclusion of a FAQ. Located on the right-hand-side just below the search bar, you will find many answers to common questions about the download sites I use as well as suggestions for common problems you may encounter. I'll still answer any queries you may have to the best of my abilities, but you may find the answer you are looking for there.
Thursday 15 September 2016
Kids in the UK went back to school this week, lest my Facebook page ever let me forget, so what better way to celebrate parental freedom than an old-school learning game? DK, or Dorling Kindersley, is a renowned educational publishing company that fill libraries everywhere with books about almost anything. They have a great knack for making any subject interesting to all ages, be it engineering, trains or Star Wars. This collection of three titles is their attempt at a multi-media teaching tool for primary school students.
Saturday 10 September 2016
Before Capcom got hold of the Marvel license and pitted them against their own characters, The Avengers had their own fighting game in 1995. Galactic Storm by Data East ushered in a lot of firsts in an over-crowded genre yet for all it's merits it's virtually unknown.
Monday 5 September 2016
Chasm: The Rift is the first game from Ukrainian developers Action Forms, who are perhaps best known for the still-sold Carnivores series. With a budget price-point and a style that so obviously compares to Quake, can it stand up to that seminal shooter? Or does it deserve the relative obscurity it has ultimately received?
Wednesday 31 August 2016
The majority of licensed games - particularly those based on superheroes - tend to follow the same action-based formula. Batman, on the other hand, has often bucked the trend. He's starred in the usual beat-em-ups and platformers but his keen detective skills have occasionally landed him in some adventure titles. Case in point - Batman: The Caped Crusader.
Monday 29 August 2016
Star Trek: Klingon came about in 1996 amidst a glut of games based on the mother of all sci-fi franchises. At that time theatres were showing the first sole Next Generation film in First Contact, two current shows were airing on TV alongside the endless re-runs of the original series and a grand total of eight computer and video games were clogging up store shelves. How did this FMV title fare?
Friday 26 August 2016
The Western is a good genre choice for any game. The setting fits well with for both action and adventuring alike but there's one thing has always amused me; why are wild west adventure games afraid of being serious? From Freddy Pharkas, Fennimore Fillmore and even Fievel Goes West, the tone is always light-hearted. Dust: A Tale of the Wild West released in 1995 by Cyberflix fits right into that same mould.
Thursday 11 August 2016
There's something primal about treasure hunting. It has sparked the imagination of many authors, screenwriters and artists for centuries with videogames being no different. The likes of Tomb Raider and Uncharted may be the popular choices but what about the lesser-known games? Released on the PlayStation in 1997 by the arcade gurus Namco, Treasures of the Deep takes the archaeological action into the depths of the ocean...
Saturday 6 August 2016
There's not really a lot of quality gaming for the very young. Most titles are little more than a trick to teach basic math to an unsuspecting 4-year-old, but Disney bucked the trend in the 90s by catering to all demographics. Older gamers got the 16-bit platformers on consoles, while the pre-schoolers got the high production values of the Animated Storybooks. The Activity Centre series - three of which you can find here - falls somewhere in the middle in both quality as well as age-range.
Tuesday 19 July 2016
AMOK is one of those action mech shooters that popped up in the mid 90s. Originally released for the SEGA Saturn in 1996, it was swamped by the far superior competition when it was ported to the PC later that year. For such a small, overlooked game AMOK has quite a bit of history behind it...
Monday 18 July 2016
Down in the Dumps by Haiku Studios can be described in one word: insane. And not in the way 90s kids used it in a misguided attempt to look cool. I'm talking actual mouth-blubbering insanity here.
Wednesday 6 July 2016
While Yes, Prime Minister was tickling the more intellectual funny bone, Spitting Image was an anarchic assault of satire for our screens. Throughout the 80s and early 90s, no public figure was safe from their rubbery lampooning. Right off the heels of the 1987 general elections - a time rife for spoofing - this little-known fighting game brought the caricatures to the Commodore Amiga.
Tuesday 5 July 2016
British television is well known for its biting political satire. From the early newspaper cartoons to modern shows like The Thick of It, Brass Eye or Spitting Image it's done a great job of keeping our political elite in check (that none of them take any heed of apparently). Yes, Prime Minister began in the mid Thatcherite era of the 80s and is considered a classic to us Brits. And with any form of entertainment that was popular during the UK's micro-computer boom, a game was made out of it...
Monday 4 July 2016
In case you haven't seen the news at all recently, my home country of Great Britain no longer appears to be great anymore (I could go on, but for your sake, I won't). I can imagine the higher ups have controlled the whole EU situation in a similar way to what happens in Floor 13, a strategy simulation game that sees you underhandedly manipulate the British public for the sake of the Prime Minister.
Sunday 19 June 2016
There are more spooky goings-on in Trilobyte's third game to use the 7th Guest's Groovie engine. Only this time it's decidedly more kid-friendly. Clandestiny may be more Scooby-Doo than The 7th Guest's House on Haunted Hill but does that mean this stand-alone puzzle game has been neutered?
Friday 10 June 2016
The movie may be wowing/disappointing cinemagoers (delete as applicable) in all territories now, but that hasn't stopped me getting my retro RTS kick by playing WarCraft II again. Does this once game-changing title still hold up? If you read my thoughts on the first game last week, you probably know the answer but let's talk about it anyway...
Sunday 5 June 2016
Before Activision took them over and relegated the talented development house to their yearly Call of Duty cash cow, Raven Software were quite the name in first-person shooters. Hexen and Heretic were second only to Doom at the time, but their first title to clone id's game-changing FPS came in 1994. Rather aptly, it was called CyClones...
Thursday 2 June 2016
Until recently, console gaming has mainly been the domain of the Japanese. Their machines dominated the market with many trend-setting games being released. What few titles that made it out of Japan are often regarded as classics. The fact that many other great games were never translated is a huge loss to any gaming enthusiast. Thankfully the sequel to one of my favourite hidden gems on the PlayStation got the fan translation treatment by Gemini and Tom at Devil Hackers: Echo Night 2: The Lord of Nightmares...
Wednesday 1 June 2016
Sunday 29 May 2016
With all the hubbub surrounding the new blockbuster film, there's a lot of talk about the game it is based on; World of WarCraft. Yet there's been little mention of the series' strategic routes with Blizzard themselves choosing to forgo its origins to make way for the better-known MMORPG. Is the original game worth playing? Let's take a look...
Tuesday 24 May 2016
Founded in 1993, 7th Level's first title featured a comedy troupe they would revisit until the very end of the company's life five years later. Monty Python's Complete Waste of Time may have been conceived as simply an interactive way to view that dead parrot sketch again, but the final product turned out to be so much more.
Saturday 21 May 2016
Saturday 14 May 2016
With its killer chickens and a protagonist that just wants his breakfast, Chuckie Egg may sound like an odd premise for a game, but this early platformer originally for the BBC Micro holds a deeply nostalgic place in my heart. First released in 1983, it's one of my earliest memories of gaming and in revisiting it today, it's still a blast to play.
Saturday 7 May 2016
Out of all of the great God games designed by the legendary Peter Molyneux, Powermonger seems to get the least amount of love. While the likes of Populous have been given a second lease of life through digital distribution, this strategy war game is nowhere to be found which is a shame as I think it's one of Bullfrog's best from their early years...
Thursday 5 May 2016
For anyone into their text adventures, the name Steve Meretzky means a lot. He was the lead designer on many classic Infocom games including Planetfall, A Mind Forever Voyaging and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - each one an absolute gem. The Space Bar, a 1997 graphic adventure developed by his co-founded company Boffo Games, was to be his last major game...
Tuesday 3 May 2016
Sunday 1 May 2016
The early 90s was a golden age for the point 'n click adventure, with LucasArts and Sierra being the envy of every other publisher. Core Design, the developer who'd later give us Tomb Raider, entered the ring in 1992 with Curse of Enchantia.
Saturday 30 April 2016
Futuristic racers, in particular WipEout, were key in the mid-90s to change the perception of video games. No longer were they thought of by the masses as just children's playthings overflowing with kiddified mascot platformers, but visceral, adult and cool. Developers were quick to latch on to this craze, and Scavenger's 1996 effort Scorcher is one of the most interesting.
The excellent Metaltech series defined what PC gaming was in the early to mid-90s, at least to me. It showcased some impressive polygonal graphics, explosive combat and complex mechanics which were not possible for those stuck with a Super Nintendo or Mega Drive. Add to that an n-depth control system and online play and you have a series that were miles ahead of the 16bit consoles. In the 20-plus years since its debut in 1994, does this once high-regarded series still hold up? Read on to discover my thoughts on the first three in the series: Battledrome, EarthSiege and EarthSiege II...
Friday 29 April 2016
2016 is shaping up to be quite a depressing year. There's so many icons we've lost and we're only a third of the way in. Last week saw the passing of a charismatic songwriter and performer who gave us many three-minute wonders to listen to. Prince has never struck a chord with me as much as David Bowie, but when he did he was damn good. Like Bowie, there was also an interactive CD-ROM in the early 90s...
Thursday 28 April 2016
I'm a sucker for cartoon-style point 'n click adventures, so much so that games otherwise designed for little children will keep my attention until the very end. Ace Ventura (1996, 7th Level) is something of an oddity in its tone. It's obviously geared at young children, yet hidden beneath the surface is a script filled with crass humour and innuendo.