Sunday, December 30, 2007

2007: A Gamer's Diary

As the year draws to a close, I've been thinking about the games that rocked my world in my fortieth year on the planet.

My "hardcore gamer" persona only kicked in mid-way through 2006 (I'd been a casual, if not consistent) gamer for the previous 28 years... But sometime in 2006, videogames surpassed my enthusiasm for film, music and a social life and I've been living and breathing games ever since...

Not only have I been playing them, but I've been reading about them, researching them and even writing about them ever since... So I thought the closing of the year might be a good time to reflect on the gaming highs and lows I've experienced this year...

I'll categorise them by console, and the volume played on each might give an indication to how much love each console feels... There won't be loads of links, pictures or video, merely a list of sorts, that will serve to "diarise" my gaming highlights and low lights this year...

OK, so here goes...

The Sega Saturn: Straight up at the top of the charts has to be Fighter's Megamix... For a start I payed about a quid for it, and it allows you to pit battles against characters from both Virtua Fighter and Fighting Vipers. Add on to that the ability to unlock and play as characters from Virtua Cop and even cars from Daytona USA, this has to be a winner...

Resident Evil: My first forays into the Spencer Mansion were on the Saturn... At first I hated it, but later on, the franchise consumed me. I eventually finished it on the DS as Resident Evil: Deadly Silence, but the Saturn was the console on which I first got a foot in that, oh so slowly opening door...

Sega Rally: 2007 saw me secure my first Saturn peripheral other than the Light Gun, in the shape of the Saturn steering wheel... It prompted me to play all of the major Saturn driving games with said peripheral, leading me to conclude what I always knew... Sega Rally is one hell of a game! I've enjoyed playing it's arcade incarnation a lot this year too...

Dead Or Alive: Great game, great titty action, I'm a sucker for fighting games and huge breasts... (Oh and it was the first Japanese import game I bought for the Saturn, as well, which is something of a milestone...)

House Of The Dead: Most recently saw an outing on Halloween, when despite it's hugely pixellated graphics, scared the pants off some young visitors to the Krishna household...

Diehard Arcade: The hugely brilliant forerunner to the amazing (yet incredibly short) Dynamite Cop/Zombie Revenge on Dreamcast... A stunning and relatively expensive game on the Saturn. The box was falling apart, but the game within, held it all together...

NiGHTs/Christmas NiGHTS: The announcement of a follow up to this classic Saturn title on the Wii made me all nostalgic for the original. Owning as I do, both a PAL and Japanese version of the original, I decided to invest in the Christmas NiGHTs demo/add-on/patch/bonus disc for the third time in my life, this year... Though I bought it in October, I didn't play it till Christmas Eve... Tears flowed people, they really did...

OK onto the Dreamcast!

Well, for me, 2007 was the year of Resident Evil, and quite a lot of Dreamcast time was taken up with the franchise... It started off with Resident Evil: Code Veronica (a game which both consumed and repelled me in equal measure...) Consumed me 'cos it was so magnificent, repelled me 'cos it was so damned hard! Despite me giving up about 15 minutes from the end and watching it's conclusion on Youtube, I'd say this is one of the finest damn videogames ever...

Resident Evil 2: Fabulous! One of the great things about this particular chapter of the Umbrella story was that it allowed you to play the graphically enhanced PS1 port, with all of the unlockable content as soon as you loaded it up. Best weapons, forgiving save system etc. The Dreamcast version allowed you to revel in the storyline, without getting all frustrated by the game's unforgiving nature.

'Resident Evil 3: Ditto! (As above!)

'Head Hunter: One of the most impressive and inventive Dreamcast titles I've played, this tale of one man's battle against evil multi-nationals and fascistic government, has to be one of the Dreamcast's finest hours... The storyline, cinematic cut scenes, characterisation and voice acting, plus immersion in a believable world are fantastic... The phony product placement, advertisements and news broadcasts help the player to become totally consumed by the game...
The motorbike riding is a bit of a pain in the arse though...

The summer was spent raising and caring for Seaman, that grumpy and cantankerous old fish-toad... Apart from being a very high maintenance virtual pet, he is the finest example of the innovation of the Dreamcast. The microphone/voice recognition feature is legendary! Having that experience was fabulous! Brilliant!

'Last Hope: Dreamcast titles coming out six years after the apparent demise of the Dreamcast? It was the sort of thing that made my heart sing! This impressive and graphically gorgeous shmup from indie German developers Redspot Games, made me weep tears of pure Dreamcast joy... The soundtrack is pretty fabulous too...

'Prince Of Persia/Spiderman: two very recent editions to my Dreamcast collection, and ones I've not really played too much... I've wanted the latter for ages, and didn't even know about the former till earlier this month... Thanks to the fabulous Gary, I've now obtained a custom made copy of POP and thanks to a kindly eBay type, I've got the original PAL version of the latter...

Other Dreamcast highlights included being sent a BUNCH of homebrew titles such as Alice Dreams, Beats Of Rage and Crisis Evil (by the lovely Caleb) and virtually every Master System, Game Gear and Megadrive/Genesis title, all playable on the Dreamcast by the affore-maentioned Gary...

Which brings me to the PS2... I'll have to start with the fabulous Virtua Cop Elite Edition, which brought back both VC 1 & 2 from the amazing Saturn franchise, with lovely polished graphics and lovely gameplay.

But the major revelations found over the summer were firstly Rockstar's finest hour, '>Max Payne, plus the best movie/game crossover EVER in 'Matrix path Of Neo and last (but by no means least,) the revelatory and undisputed champion God Of War II, perhaps the pinnacle of any developers achievements on the PS2. God knows, I've maligned the PS2 on many occasions before, for contributing to the death of the sacred Dreamcast, but the above games prove that everything happens for a reason...

Perhaps my finest PS2 experience was provided by 'Resident Evil 4, perhaps Capcom's finest hour., and the title that got me into the franchise... From sublime graphics, to effortless gameplay, forgiving save potential and the best new feature to be added to the game (The Merchant) the game is crammed with chilling atmosphere from beginning to end. Stunning!

In May, at the time of my fortieth birthday, the lovely Mrs. K bought me my first experience of the Next Generation of gaming, in the form of the much sought after Wii! I wasn't wowed by the console initially, and haven't been since! OK, Wii Sports is a nice title for bringing in non-gamers, but really, it's not been that great!

What was the first title that got the Wii played in my house? Well, interestingly, it's a seamless link from the last gen, in the shape of '>RE4 (Wii Edition). This title is a Wii must! The Wii edition makes a great game, brilliant! Hard to improve on genius, the Wii Edition manages it... Sad though, that it takes a last gen port to bring the system's merits to fruition...

Then, much later in the year, I got into Red Steel. This launch title FPS/Wii-mote sword slasher is a very much, under-rated great game. In fact it qualifies as the first FPS title I ever got into, and I'll suggest that it needs better recognition... A definite winner, and even though it remains uncompleted in the Krishna household, I reckon it's one of the better titles released on the console...

I got massively excited about the Wii exclusive, Umbrella Chronicles, that in some way, made up for RE5 not appearing on Nintendo's stellar console... A revisionist title that (almost) saw the entire franchise re-invented as an "on rails" Light Gun shooter, Umbrella Chronicles was a nod to the RE fanboys and the Wii's Light Gun potential...

To enjoy the game at it's fullest required the lovely 'Wii Zapper', a lovely peripheral that encompasses both the Wiimote and Nunchuck in some plastic housing. making them vaguely resemble a sub-machine gun... This fabulous device, bought for a mere £20, was bundled with the 'arcade-a-licious' Link's Crossbow Training, a game that perhaps inspired the most love for any Zelda title ever...

But you know what? I think I over-hyped myself and

UC remains uncompleted... Although on a side note it was great to see Mrs. K sucked into the world of the gamer with Link's Crossbow Training! I laughed my ass off, seeing her to try and improve on her high-score, having taken a major stance against games, gaming and consoles earlier in the year...

Now that would be the end of it, if Santa had not thrown a 360 down the chimney this year for "the kids"... I'd be dishonest if I didn't admit to a vested interest in the main present bought for the kids this year... And I was absolutely thrilled when my middle son (the gaming Ginger Ninja) Martin, spent some of his Christmas money on buying his dear old Dad, Bioshock...

OH MY GOD! Surely the pinnacle of game related experiences so far, this epic odyssey created by developers havok and 2K could be the game that eventually knocks Shenmue off my top spot...
The vastly beautiful (if not inherently) flawed world of the under the sea citadel 'Rapture' , is breath taking. It's art deco architecture, it's gene-splicing, global corporation, fascistic environment is a 'pleasure' to behold... With obvious nods to the worlds hinted at in both Head Hunter and (dare I say it) Blue Stinger, Bioshock delivers in spades...

It's retro-futuristic appeal, replete with a fabulous 30's/40's/50's original soundtrack (the Inkspots are included!) , gives this game a unique and uncomparable feel. So much so, that dare I whisper it, I think in 2008, I might be looking forward in gaming, instead of looking back...
We'll see! I've not even mentioned in this post, my handheld, phone or Virtual Console gaming experiences this year... this particular retrospective has made me consider just how much gaming I've crammed into 2007... And I've left loads out!

This post only leads me to consider those people that have spurred me on in terms of gaming and blogging... They all get my most prestigious award....

1.) Gnome
2.) Nebachadnezzar
3.) Elderly
4.) Elend
5.) Caleb
6.) J
7.) Gagaman(n)
8.) Junlee
9.) Ross
10.) Deitrix

A Merry Christmas to you all, and a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Krishna and a Happy New Year!

Just a quick one, to wish all my dear readers and commentors a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! There's a couple of festive mini games here and here, which I hope you enjoy and a bit of festive video for you all at the top of the page!

My New Year's resolution will be to post a little more often and to try and visit all your blogs a little more often. Wiikly Sermons will now also feature my opinions and thoughts on the 360, as my jolly old cousin, Father Christmas, should hopefully be squeezing one down the chimney tonight!

Hope you all get everything you wish for tomorrow and may 2008 bring you every blessing the good Lord can bring!

(It's me Father Krishna!)

Oh and for my good friend dear Caleb, heres a link to those titties over at the Saturn Junkyard!

Happy holidays!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Super Mario 64

The latest download action on my Wii has been at the behest of youngest Ginger, Ted. He tells me that at some point during his birthday celebrations, I promised I'd download Super Mario 64 on the Virtual Console. I have no memory of this whatsoever, and thus with gritted teeth and a hemorrhaging credit card, I parted with an outrageous £7 to procure this particular title, which would inevitably remain largely unplayed (by me) and serve to eat up my Wii's memory.

But hey! I've loved watching both Ted and middle ginger (gaming Ninja) Martin, eat this particular title up! I've loved them jumping through pictures in Peach's castle to access new lands and levels! I've loved them running around and jumping up and down and squashing things, I've loved all of that quirky Miyamoto macic!

The visuals are sublime, the musical score is delicious and the little snippets of gameplay I've enjoyed have been pure 3D platforming fun.

Enjoy the pics and video! Oh and BTW I'm never going to download another Sega title on the Virtual Console again... I've got every Master System/Game Gear and Megadrive/Genesis title ever made emulated on three lovely discs that will play deliciously on my Dreamcast! (Courtesy of the most amazing Gary! Click on the proceeding link.... He can give you the most amazing stuff!! Look here!
Anything Dreamcast JUST ASK!

Fuck you Nintendo! Fuck you and you're exorbitant download prices... I've already got a NES emulation disc for my Dreamcast, so Nintendo can pucker up and plant one on my rusty sherrif's badge...

My retro gaming lifestyle has just taken on a new dimension...

Happy days!! Anyway, Ive just rambled off topic (it's a common failing of mine...) but if you want to know more about Super Mario 64, check out the links below... Oh BTW the eternally fucking outrageously annoying entity that is Blogger won't let me hit you with any images right now, hopefully the video will happen! I MOTHERFUCKING hate Blogger!!!!!

Super Mario 64 At Wikipedia
Super Mario At IGN
Super Mario Walkthrough

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

80's Love!

Mrs. K was recently bought a CD called 'True Eighties' for her 4oth. It recently struck me what a fabulous time that was to live in! Partly 'cos we had tunes like this! I spent most of the Eighties wishing I'd grown up in the Sixties... 'Cos I ignored the music of the time... I was more into

'The Doors, '>Jimi Hendrix and the '>Small Faces, The Beatles, '>The Strawberry Alarm Clock, '>Toots and The Maytals and '>Jimmy Cliff...

It's only now that I appreciate the great acts that were around at the time...

Watch and enjoy!


Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Wii Zapper And Link's Crossbow Training

Wow! Where to start? I've been so surprised by these two items that I'm a little overwhelmed!

Firstly, I wasn't even sure during the week whether I was going to get the Wii Zapper, as I was progressing quite happily through Umbrella Chronicles without it. But my mate John was getting one and offered to pick me one up. Plus the bargain price of £20 with Link's Crossbow Training thrown in convinced me.

The Zapper itself is the most impressive peripheral I've ever owned (and I've owned plenty - steering wheels, light guns, fishing rods and even a skateboard peripheral for playing Tony Hawk on!)

For a start, it feels 'weighty' and sturdy like the guns you get on arcade machines. Stylistic and solid, it feels so right to hold. For some reason I can't explain, it enhances the accuracy of shots, which in turn increases the pleasure of gameplay.

Link's Crossbow Training is a revelation! The first Zelda themed game which has truly got me hooked. Somewhere between the Arcade/PS One's "Point Blank", the shooting parts of Wii Play and Twilight Princess, the game is just pure unadulterated fun! So much so, that the usually game-hating Mrs. K can't put the Zapper down! She's actually playing it as we speak!

And there's no higher endorsement that I can think of! I'll put a few "Links" underneath to let you know a bit more...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Mike Strutter! Patron Saint Of FKWS!

You know the great thing about having your own blog? About having a blog where you can do whatever you want? You don't have to answer to anyone! You can say whatever the fuck you want!

You don't have to worry about offending anyone, if they don't like your shit, they don't have to read it! With one click, they're fucking toast! OK, on that particular premise, let me introduce you to one Michael Strutter, attourney at law...

The creation of genius comedian Paul Kaye, he of Dennis Pennis and "It's all gone a bit Pete Tong..." Mr. Kaye makes me cry with laughter...

Now I don't always look for the lowest common denominator, but when Mike Strutter unleashes his particular brand of humour, I'm there!!!

Now I love to swear! Not for the sake of it, but as an educated man, I'll be honest and state that for me, I think swearing can punctuate, and articulate a point, to another level, (if it's done with eloquence...) And Mike Strutter takes swearing to another level...

So bask in the man's ability to curse! Enjoy every 'cunt, bitch, motherfucker and bastard!'

I'll fucking get back to the cock sucking Wii, whenever the fuck, I'm mother-fucking, ready! You prick sucking, bunch of twats! (Actually dear readers (that I cherish so much) I'm only trying to make a point), I'll return to my normal self tomorrow... You bunch of ... Lovely people... :)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Most Relevant Wii Post Ever...

For about a year now (or maybe longer) I've had the extreme honour of becoming firm friends and blogging team mates, with one of the most stellar figures in the Blogosphere! I'm talking about the legend that is... Gnome!
As well as providing us with a shitload of freebies, demos and downloads, regailing us with the joys of non-videogame RPGs (yes I know! I didn't believe it either!) over at a Random Gnome's Random Lair He also provided us with the best ever post about the Wii!

You see, one of Gnome's magical skills, is his Gnomic ability to blend the past with the future...
Of course, as well as appreciating the Wii's current/next gen potential, his acute Retro sensibilities saw the Virtual Console's downloadable content, from the NES, SNES, Megadrive/Genesis and Turbo Grafix as one of the Wii's best features!

But being the generous fellow he is, he also saw fit to share his wondrous knowledge with us mere mortals! Therefore, it is my very great pleasure to provide you all with this link to THE Greatest Wii Post ever! Enjoy!

Monday, December 03, 2007

This One's For Me And Junlee!

Way across the pond lives my adopted ginger son, Junlee. He owns and (is the author of) the most fabulous and excellent blog, Junlee Presents.

Want to know more? Well pay him a visit! You love Harry Potter, Nintendo and the Wii? You own a Dreamcast, but never really checked out it's full potential? Want to know more about being an undergraduate and Walmart employee in the Evil Empire?

Want to know about eating possum, Confederacy, and dancing around to Cajun music, whilst calling everybody "y'all"?

Want to know more about Kingdom Hearts and Michael Jackson? About having ginger genes and *cough!* red hair?

There's only one place to go! You guessed it Junlee Presents! ;)

Endless Ocean

Any of you who check out the Cbox will notice that Mr. BJ is a regular commentor and contributor on this particular blog. And when he says he likes a game, this particular blogger sits up and takes notice!

BJ has reccomended the eductional, interactive, aquatic and frankly "Cousteauesque" experience Endless Ocean as a must have Wii title! And he's recorded this rather excellent video of gameplay on his phone for us all to share!

I'll leave the following links for this game here, so you can find out more...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Eagle Has Landed!

This post could have been entitled "Bastard bloody bollocking Blockbuster", for it was at that wretched establishment, that I had placed my pre-order. So, on my way out for a romantic meal with Mrs. K, I suggested that we nip out and pick up my game. (Romantic meal out of the way, my weekend was mapped out with UC until I went to bed on Sunday night.) So we pull up at Blockbuster and I ask Mrs. K if she wants to come in and enjoy the moment when I receive the most coveted game I had ever bought. She sensibly (and predictably) said she would wait in the car. I strolled confidently up to the counter to collect my prize AND... and... and... NOTHING!!!

Those stupid fuckers must have fucked up their distribution or something, because they weren't getting the game till 3 o'Clock the next day! And this just wouldn't do... 'Cos I'd planned my entire weekend around this sucker, including Friday night! I had the (rare) permission to just indulge my gaming passion, to dominate the main TV of the house and to be excused for household chores for the weekend. BAH!

So I rang around the main game stores in Manchester (UK) and they said they had loads of copies. I then suggested to Mrs. K that we would go and have our meal, then I would casually saunter out, and grab my game. But what did my saintly wife suggest? That I would enjoy my meal more if I had the game in my posession. God love her! And thus, I trudged through the wind and rain, battling against hostile Christmas shoppers, to secure the game. Eventually, after a beautiful curry, I stepped through the door and unwrapped the game.

AAAARRRGGGGHHH! the electrical spaghetti underneath my telly was so confusing, that my Wii remained unplugged and powerless. Not that much of a problem you might think? Imagine a TV, connected to a VCR, a DVD, a Dreamcast, a PS2, a Sky Box and a Wii, all with their power sources plugged into one of those six pronged multi plugs, eventually leading to one 'health and safety' risk. Their cords were entwined like a mass of warring cobras, but eventually I managed to get the Wii plugged in. PHEW! OK, ready to play right? AAAARRRGGGGHHH!(2)The fucking Wiimote's batteries had died! Damn! I then had to send my biggest ugly son over to the shops to grab some AA's...

OK! On to the game! Well I was always going to love it wasn't I? As a lover of Light Gun games both in arcades and on home consoles (House Of the Dead, Virtua Cop, Confidential Mission, Death Crimson OX, RE:Code Veronica Gun Survivor ) and as a relatively recent devotee of the Resident Evil franchise, it was a no brainer that this would deliver on every level! And it does! In spades!

My Wii sleeps most of the time, whilst the Dreamcast, DS, PS2 and even Saturn get regular attention. The only games that have brought it to life are Red Steel (uncompleted) and RE4 (lovingly completed and oft replayed.) But as I knew it would, Umbrella Chronicles means that it will be the only console that gets played until the game is completed. I had hoped to play it with the Wii Zapper. After all, Light Gun games are partly fun because you hold a big gun! But the Wiimote on it's own is a fine substitute. The B button makes a perfect trigger and the fact that it is just a cuboid shape doesn't detract from it feeling more like a gun than a regular controller.

Graphics? Gorgeous! I may revise my opinion when I get "the kids" ;) a 360 for Christmas, but being a largely Retro Gamer, I'm massively impressed by some of the graphics on the Saturn. Therefore, when hit with the graphic spleandour of 'last gen' games like RE4, Shenmue, Code Veronica, the RE remake for the Gamecube, or God Of War, I'm blown away!!! Needless to say, although Capcom have recycled a lot elements from it's 'last gen' RE releases, the end result is nothing less than sumptuous to look at.

Gameplay? Fabulous! It's 'pick up and play' potential is excellent. There is something of a tutorial on the first level, but it doesn't take long, and soon the use of Wiimote (and to a lesser degree the nunchuck) comes as second nature. And as I've often stated before, the joy of brainlessly blasting at zombies encapsulates for me the joy of escapism that video games should supply. It's fun! Pure unadulterated fun!

But the real joy of the game, comes from the fact that it was created by Capcom, as a nod to all the diehard Resi fanboys. All the geeks (like me) who have swallowed the Umbrella saga wholesale, who have played the games, watched the films and want to tie up every inch of the storyline.

Narrated by Wesker and connecting every unsolved mystery from the story, it's a Resident Evil gameplayers dream. I'm actually sad enough to have spent hours trawling the Internet, to read every Umbrella file or memo, in order to map out the whole Resident Evil saga correctly. And it's actually a powerful way of wrapping the story up of the last and last but one gen excursions.

The Wii isn't powerful enough to house Resident Evil 5. Hopefully I'll be travelling that particular journey on the 360. But Wii owners couldn't say they've been neglected by Capcom. Both this, and RE 4 Wii edition, are essential purchases.

Where am I up to in the game? Well I've played through the RE Zero chapter of the game. I've never played the Gamecube's RE Zero (but I will) which means that the Rebecca Chambers/Billy Cohen storyline was unfamiliar to me. I loved it though, and I've now completed the RE Zero chapter of Umbrella Chronicles. But now I'm almost wetting myself, because I'm now playing as Jill Valentine, back in the Spencer Mansion where it all started. I know what's behind every door, what is about to happen in every room, enjoying seeing it all in tear inducing graphic glory and it's one of the most sublime gaming experiences that I've ever had.

Gripes? Well OK, there's one or two! No criticism of the game as such. other than the fact that it doesn't feature any revelations or gameplay from RE4 or RE:Code Veronica, but hopefully that means Capcom are saving it for Umbrella Chronicles 2.

To sum up, I must say that although I've enjoyed video games since the mid seventies 'Pong' era, on a variety of consoles and computers, it's only in the last couple of years that I would consider myself a 'gamer'. I now live and breathe videogames, research them, read about them, play them and comment on them. I even have two websites about them and contribute to two more. I subscribe to Games TM magazine and spend hours on the Internet looking up games I've never even played on consoles I've never owned. And I've researched enough (and played enough on about 15 different formats) to know that Capcom's Resident Evil franchise is a must for my fellow gamers.

And if there is one game that encapsulates the back catalogue of this wonderful series it is Umbrella Chronicles. If you own a Wii, go out tomorrow and buy it. If you're disappointed I'll personally reimburse you. But you won't be. One of the pinnacles of the Wii's releases so far, I couldn't give a flying fuck about Super Mario Galaxy or Metroid Prime 3 Corruption. It's all about the Umbrella Chronicles. This is Father K, for Wiikly Sermons, signing out. Now over to you Ted for the sport and weather...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

NGamer Review Of Umbrella Chronicles

I was e-mailed this today and I thought I'd share it with you all. I stress the words aren't mine of course, (I've yet to play it!) But it seemed like an honest and balanced review, and contains some great information about the game. for example, I didn't realise how much of the game was recycled... But any way, I'll let them tell you all about it...
Import review: "There's no doubt in our minds that at some point in the recent past, Umbrella Chronicles was a very different game to the one that has finally emerged. Far from being some elaborate mystery for us to unravel, the evidence has been there from the start - early interviews with Capcom's team suggested Chronicles would be a game more like Resident Evil 4, while later interviews changed the script. After the brilliant Resi 4, it's a shame we never got that original concept, but it's hard to fault Umbrella Chronicles for what it's not, when what it is is so ridiculously fully-featured and complete.

You are dead. Continue?You want levels? How about 12 hours' worth, all set in the midst of the zombie holocausts from Resident Evil Zero, 1, 2 and 3, and featuring a final, all-new level to wrap up Umbrella's Story? You like guns? Capcom have provided every famous weapon from the series, every one upgradable using the points you'll earn on your missions and each handling in its own unique way.And how about the characters? Every chapter of Umbrella Chronicles stars characters from the original games, with each given different introductory cutscenes depending on who you choose to play as. Even better, further unlockable missions are based around untold side-stories from the series and help patch over Resident Evil's big mysteries - like how Rebecca Chambers made it from the Umbrella management training facility to the Mansion, or what Wesker was up to while the STARS team was preparing to move on the Mansion.

Chronicles is the most blatant example of fan service Capcom could have conjured, filling in every gap in the story with new cutscenes, lengthy dossiers, files, and those new chapters that patch up the continuity holes and rewrite the questionable parts of the series' chequered past. Umbrella Chronicles is like a 1970's exploit-o-movie version of Resident Evil's story - not smart or especially stylish, with everything about it designed to appeal almost exclusively to the most niche of audiences. But, what it does offer fans of the series, it offers perfectly. Chronicle triggerAces, then. We'll have some of that. Except, as successful as Chronicles is as a fan-pleasing piece of Resident Evil cake, it's a very ordinary shooter. Sega's Ghost Squad may be pushing around fewer polygons than Super Mario 64, but it's the most exciting all-out shooter on the Wii; like two sides of the same coin, Ghost Squad succeeds where Umbrella Chronicles fails, and conversely, fails everywhere Resi succeeds. Where Chronicles is long, Ghost Squad is short; where the zombie blaster is beautiful, Ghost Squad looks like an especially unattractive Dreamcast game.

Like Ghost Squad, Umbrella Chronicles is an unmistakably cheap game, but again, in a very different way. The Zero stages use the 3D models that provided the backdrops to Resi Zero, the mansion levels are ripped straight from the Gamecube Resident Evil Remake, and since the 3D models used to recreate Raccoon City were of too low quality for a modern game, the Raccoon City stages are torn from the code for Resident Evil Outbreak on the PS2. Recycling like that might make Al Gore a happy man, but it's a cheap and easy turn-around for the boys at Capcom, and rather makes us question the price of the game.And where Ghost Squad is a thrilling rollercoaster ride of a shooter, Resident Evil is a particularly lethargic ghost train - riding along at a snail's pace, you encounter zombies and other beasties every now and again as if they were an afterthought.

It's as if Capcom were so intent upon making an atmospheric and frightening game, they forgot what it is that makes a lightgun shooter so entertaining - there's no relentless pace, no test of your reactions, and you'll even have to conserve ammo and save your biggest and most fun guns for the astonishingly resilient bosses. Chronicles, of course, is shaped like a Resident Evil game where extended periods of calm are punctuated by moments of extreme action and terror, but what works for survival horror doesn't work so well for a lightgun shoot-'em-up, and your ride on the ghost train is about as scary as a sit-down on Santa's knee.

Looking down a dark hallway on a stormy night and knowing you have to walk to the door at the end is a difficult, stomach-churning dilemma; being led down there on rails whether you like it or not is just another turn in the tracks on that ghost train, and when those dogs leap out at you, you won't even clench your bum cheeks. We like what they were aiming for with the atmosphere, but Capcom have missed their target on this one.
Although the design choices made along the way are often confusing, the game Umbrella Chronicles finally became isn't the disaster it was seemingly destined to be.

Lest we forget, Capcom has no strong record for quality Resident Evil side stories, and a particularly bad reputation for lousy lightgun games -the PlayStation Gun Survivor and Dead Aim games are notorious stinkers, Resident Evil Gaiden was a catastrophe, and those two PS2 Outbreaks were less Shaun Of The Dead and more Stig Of The Dump, so it's a miracle the clearly micro-budgeted Umbrella Chronicles worked out as well as it did. A slow start makes way for more intense action on later levels, and though it never feels like an all-out shooter or a true Resi experience, it occasionally touches on both, and when it does, it's at its best. For any fan of the series, it's a tour of a world you love with enough unlockables to keep you squeezing the trigger until the day you die, and a mountain of plot minutiae to read through once you've been reanimated again. Chronicles is no shoot-'em-up, but it's the best Resident Evil side-story in close to eight years. And since the last good one was Code Veronica, that's lofty praise indeed."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Day After Tomorrow!

Yes folks it is just two days until I get my hands on it! I can barely bare the excitement! Umbrella Chronicles will be the first game I have ever bought on the day of release, the first game I've ever pre-ordered and will represent my 11th purchase from the franchise!

My collection so far is:
Resident Evil (Saturn)
Resident Evil 2 (Dreamcast)
Resident Evil 3 (Dreamcast)
Resident Evil Code Veronica (Dreamcast)
Resident Evil Code Veronica: Gun Survivor (PS2)
Resident Evil: Outbreak File (PS2)
Resident Evil: Dead Aim (PS2)
Resident Evil 4 (PS2)
Resident Evil 4 Wii Edition (Wii)
Resident Evil Deadly Silence (DS)
Resident Evil was a game I stated I hated earlier this year, when I played it on the Saturn (look here). And then a complete U-turn showing what a fickle and contrary bastard I am...

And when I get into something, I get RIGHT into it! Some might say obsessed. I've included links for this excellent game here. For some excellent videos look on the official Capcom site (don't be put off by the Japanese writing). For some fascinating background on the game have a look at the excellent Wikipedia page!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

House Of The Dead Wii Compilation!

As if it wasn't exciting enough to be only six days away from a new and exclusive, Resident Evil (Umbrella Chronicles) title to be hitting our shores within six days, I've just become "all of a flutter", about the chance of more zombie ass kicking, with the Wii Zapper, from a Wii exclusive re-issue of HOTD2 and HOTD3 on the Wii!

This is a franchise which I've loved on both the Saturn and the Dreamcast (HOTD1 & HOTD2 respectively) and also in the arcades. Indeed, this was my first experience of video game zombie ass kicking, and I've since become somewhat obsessed with the pastime...

Whilst Sega's odyssey comes nowhere close to the massive epic delivered to us by Capcom, the storyline is a good one. Basically it's a plague of zombies thrust onto an unsuspecting population by an evil corporation. And it's the job of a crack team of agents to try and clear it up! Sounds familiar?

But HOTD differed from the Resident Evil franchise, due to it's FPS light gun credentials, which until recent times made it far more appealing and accessible to me. The RE 'Gun Survivor' series attempted to bridge the gap, but somewhat unsuccessfully. Umbrella Chronicles will hopefully silence critics of Capcom's 'Gun Survivor' outings.

But Sega aren't missing out on the potential of the Wii for Light Gun games. For those of you happy with your last (and last-but-one) gen light gun games comes the problem, that HDTV doesn't gel well with last gen light guns. Want to play HOTD1 (Saturn), HOTD2 (Dreamcast) or HOTD3 (Xbox) on your HDTV? Well you can't!

Technology has moved on! However, the Wii zapper is completely compatable with your lovely new telly, so if you want any HOTD action, this game is the one for you...

I really don't have a problem with classic 'last gen' games being given a rebirth on the Wii. Putting last gen titles up for another outing on newer consoles (or vice versa) is nothing new.
I've been around long enough to see both new titles re-released on their older brothers (Simpsons, RE4, Michael Jackson's Moonwalker or Altered Beast anyone?)

The only gripe I've heard about the HOTD Wii edition, is that it doesn't include a graphically polished re-issue of the heavily pixellated Saturn original. Not one to moan, I'd also like to add that if we wanted a complete a 'dream package' we'd have to include the much under-rated Zombie Revenge. It's a Dreamcast exclusive that places the whole HOTD world in a third person perspective. And what a fun outing it is! ( And maybe we could sneak in Typing Of The Dead too?) Click on the link to see more...

Anyway it looks like the Wii is beginning to deliver some quality games that might not share the limelight of it's bigger profile releases, but has certainly got this correspondent more excited about his latest console, than he has been for some time.

Jesus! The next thing they'll be telling me is that there's a new edition of NiGHTS coming out...

Oh and IGN have confirmed the whole outing thus...

"US, November 16, 2007 - Following leaks from Europe yesterday, SEGA of America has officially announced that is planning to bring updated versions of House of the Dead 2 and 3 to Wii in 2008's spring season. The two arcade games will come packaged together on one Wii disc in a set SEGA is calling The House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return.
Gamers who pick up the compilation will be able to play both classic arcade titles, "battling the relentless attack of bloodthirsty zombies with steady aim and a quick trigger finger." As with all Wii on-rails shooter, House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return fully utilize the Wii remote, which can alternatively be housed in the Zapper shell to simulate a light-gun.
The two titles will feature more than six gameplay modes, including Arcade Mode and Time Attack, according to SEGA. In addition, up to two players can target zombies simultaneously in the title's cooperative mode.
"The House of the Dead franchise has been revitalized for today's gamer looking for non-stop shooting action on the Wii," said Rick Naylor, director of marketing, SEGA of America. "This will take gamers back to experience the celebrated first-person arcade shooter that was so popular in the late '90s."
When asked, SEGA said the titles are being developed by AM1/HIC and further noted that it's too early to comment on whether or not the Wii efforts would feature significant content changes or graphic improvements."

This is Father Krishna, in Raccoon City, signing out for Sky News At Ten... LOL! :)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Super Mario Galaxy Screenshots

Having been something of a Sega fanboy for most of my gaming life, I never really got into those crazy I-talian plumbers. In fact, apart from Donkey Kong at the arcade, the odd flirtation with the original Super Mario Land on the Gameboy and enjoying the film adaptation with Bob Hoskins, that everyone else thought was a crock of utter shit, I've really had no interest in Mario at all.
But since the day I got hold of my DS, I've become something of a Nintendo convert and of course, now proud Wii owner. These days I've softened towards our little moustachioed friend, although he doesn't evoke the sense of nostalgia and familiarity that Sonic does.

But all that is about to change with two new titles that are exciting me lately. One is Mario and Sonic At The Olympics (about which, more later!) and the other is the upcoming Super Mario Galaxy. Looking like a cross between Mario 64 and NiGHTS, this is one of the titles that featured heavily in the Wii promo videos, but gamers have had to wait an age for it's arrival.
Getting some great write ups recently, I will probably rent before I buy. Who knows? Maybe it'll be the turning point and finally Mario will mean as much to me as he does some of my blogging contemporaries... God! One day I might even care about Link! And talking about links
(he! he!) enjoy the links below... If you're unfamiliar with J's Corner, it's a fabulous Nintendo resource and also provides a lot of funny stuff and great music!

Super Mario Galaxy Video

J's Corner Of Randomness

Super Mario Galaxy IGN

Nintendo UK