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!








7 comments:

FUNNYMAN said...

The best video game based on a movie was the Matrix. Do you really think that? I believe the Chronicles of Riddick was much better.

Junlee said...

Hmmm, Bioshock...I've always wanted to play it! But unfortunately, it seemed to be the only 360 game I have been interested in so far.

But the game does look brilliant, and I could only pray that it's ported to the PS3.

And thanks for mentioning me in your prestigious list! It makes me feel special! :D

fatherkrishna said...

I've never played Chronicles Of Riddick, or indeed seen the movie... Perhaps I should have ended the sentence with "in my experience..." :)

I have to say dear Junlee that I think you may have made a monumental mistake in your PS3 choice... Unless you're a huge Metal Gear Solid fan...

I guess 2008 will be the make or break year...

Junlee said...

I'm actually enjoying my PS3 very much right now. And who knows, maybe Bioshock will be ported.

And yes, I am a huge MGS fan (along with FF, God of war, devil may cry, kingdom hearts, ratchet and clank, jak and daxter) and many other games that will hit the PS3! :)

FUNNYMAN said...

BRAVO junlee. I concur with you 100 %

fatherkrishna said...

Sorry boys if I looked like I was PS3 bashing, I was just so bowled over at the time...

Junlee said...

lol, no no Fatherk, you didn't.

It was a fair inquiry considering the incredibly slow start the PS3 had. But I really think '08 is going to be a good year for it.