Thursday, April 28, 2011

Medal of Honor (PS1)

I'm not sure what got me into playing these games after having just repaired my PSone. I guess I was in the mood for shooters. World War 2 shooters, to be exact.

Well, it had been a while since I had played the original FPSes that started the World War 2 FPS craze so I thought now would be a good time to revisit them. Medal of Honor was the first FPS I played on a console and I remember being impressed by the controls at the time. I was, of course, familiar with the PC FPS mouse+keyboard setup so I was at first very critical of how Medal of Honor would play. That didn't last long. From the get go, I enjoyed blasting the endless troops of Nazi soldiers.

Fast forward to 2011. How would the game fare to today's standards? I didn't expect the control scheme to be any good. Turns out there's a control scheme in the game that you can choose that fits today's modern console FPS dual analogue stick control scheme. I was truly surprised by that as I thought the control scheme would be more akin to earlier PS1 FPSes where you moved using the D-pad and strafed using the shoulder buttons.

Thanks to the modern control scheme, the first Medal of Honor is surprisingly playable by today's standards. Well, barely. There are still some flaws. For instance, there's no targeting reticule. When you're aiming, you really have to use your gun as your guide to shoot. Great for realism, not so great for gaming. I had no idea where I was shooting and ended up wasting bullets half the time. And thanks to the limited power of the PlayStation, there was a very limited draw distance and a limit of about 3 enemy soldiers appearing on screen at a time, which made the game a little too easy at times. The enemy AI is occasionally a little wonky as well, which makes it frustrating when enemy guards spot you when they're not supposed to but at other times are painfully unaware that I have a gun pointed at them right under their noses.

However, even with those flaws the game does have its truly memorable moments. One moment you're covertly sneaking across a village while taking out enemy soldiers, and the next you're undercover as a German officer attempting to sabotage their artillery. There's a lot of variety in the setpieces of a mission - you go from French countryside to a submarine. Pretty impressive for an FPS from the PS1 era.

As good as this game was, I didn't finish playing it however. The lack of reticule was just too much of an annoyance for me, which is a shame because I truly wanted to know where the story was going. The developers actually fix this issue in the sequel, Medal of Honor: Underground, also for PS1, which I will be talking about in the next blog post.

Meanwhile, here's a gameplay Youtube video of the game (courtesy of user elbryan42):

If you feel like playing this, I think you can get this cheap on PSN under the PS1 classics label but seeing as hackers brought PSN down and stole our personal information, I can't be sure.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Regarding those Wii HD rumours...

So the rumour mill has started on the next home console from Nintendo. One of the big features is apparently going to be a controller with a HD screen built-in. This can only mean one thing...

Zelda: Four Swords Adventure 2! Woohoo!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Concerning a Station where you Play games.

Yes. The PlayStation. With a Super NES pad. You probably already know the famous story of how the PlayStation came to be, in which case you know it was originally supposed to be a Super NES with CD capabilities.

I'm using that Nintendo connection as a segue to my future series of posts concerning... tada! The Sony PlayStation, aka PSX, aka PS1, aka PS one.

Yeah, yeah. I know I'm supposed to be this big Nintendo fan who only blogs Nintendo stuff and I promised to blog about Gamecube stuff and... I haven't. Not yet anyway. But thing is, I was cleaning out my house the other day and I found my old PS one, looking all cute and white... and neglected.

The problem with my PS one was I had bought it after my previous original body PlayStation had died and very soon after the PS one died as well. Fed up with Sony's apparent lack of quality control I gave up on the PlayStation forever and moved on to (supposedly) more reliable world of PCs for my gaming needs.

But that was a decade ago, and absence makes the heart grow fonder, as the old adage goes. When I rediscovered my PS one, I decided to open it up and see if I could do anything to bring it back to life. It's main problem was that it just wouldn't power on, and before it died permanently, I would have to press the Power button on and off a couple of times before it would actually power up.

Taking advice from multiple console hacking forums like, it was possible that one or more fuses had blew out, as it was a common problem with the PS ones. So I bought a multimeter and prodded all the fuses I could find on my PS one's mainboard... and all of them were working. Deciding that this was no longer a job for an amateur like me, I sent it in to a qualified technician to get it repaired.

And now I have a working PS one again! Hurray! This made me google up some old games I might have missed back in the day. I didn't think I'd find much because well, I'm a video games nerd -- I spend all my time on the internet reading about video games and haunting retrogaming forums. There's not much that escapes me, video game-wise. But because the PlayStation library was so vast and it was an area of interest I had long neglected, there were actually a lot of games I had missed out on.

Most notable are the Japanese games that never got an official translation but eventually managed to be translated by fans, like Persona 2 - Innocent Sin. Or games that did get a Western release but were translated poorly but were reinserted with a better translation from the PSP rereleases of the games, such as Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Final Fantasy Tactics.

Anyway, because of the revival of my PS one, I will probably write more about PlayStation games, seeing as I have more of those games than I do for my Nintendo systems (they're easier to find for me). I'll still write about Nintendo games, of course but I'm just saying I'm hot and bothered for my PS one right now.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Retronauts Live 6 - Jeremy and Gang talk the GBA.

Now that Retronauts is firmly back and comfortable with its new call-in format, I can rest easily that my need for retro gaming chatter is easily satiated every time a new episode goes up.

The most recent episode was about the Game Boy Advance, one of my favourite handhelds as you may know, and while it was a good episode on the whole, with mentions of the Gamecube attachment, Game Boy Player, (thanks to our friend noiseredux from Game Boy Player Land), the three Castlevania games, Riviera, Super Mario Advance, the tendency of the GBA to mostly get 16-bit console ports, Mother 3 and even Rhythm Tengoku, I was slightly disappointed that the Game Boy Micro got no love (despite the Famicom limited edition being the image for the episode) and neither did Advance Wars.

For shame. If only I had a skype headset, fast internet and a time machine, I could fix this. Still, it's not all doom and gloom! It's actually a good episode, despite my complaints. This is the internet, after all. What is the internet without someone complaining.

Monday, March 21, 2011

10th Anniversary of the Game Boy Advance.

Today is the tenth anniversary of the Game Boy Advance, my favourite little handheld that could, and boy did it do it oh so well.

I've mentioned before that I bought my indigo GBA near the Japanese launch and the only games I could get at the time were Japanese ones so I opted to get Super Mario Advance and F-Zero. Both totally awesome experiences, especially F-Zero, which made me feel like I finally had a Super NES... IN MY HAND.

And the GBA was that essentially. A GBA in your hand. It would later go on to inherit the legacy of the Super NES as an all round awesome 2D graphics handheld portable gaming device (phew! That was a mouthful) by being the place for awesome 2D RPGs.

The GBA would be home to a series of some of the greatest Castlevania games ever, two great Metroid games, great (but not perfect) remakes of Super NES RPGs as well as many other great games.

Unfortunately this awesome little thing had one big great flaw. While it did allow you to play awesome games, it unfortunately didn't allow you to actually see them thanks to the lack of a backlight. This particularly sucked if you were playing in a cramped bus with ridiculously dark tinted windows, such as the bus that ferried students to my university.

Though Nintendo eventually fixed that problem by releasing a new version of the GBA, it came with a new form factor -  a flip-top design, which was popular with phones of the time. While it made the new GBA more compact and therefore more portable, it was a digression of sorts. Players now held the GBA like they would the old Game Boy, which resulted in cramped hands. Well, at least it had a backlight now. (Technically it was a frontlight. A later revision would bring a proper backlight and that model is more sought after by collectors.)

Nintendo then decided to end the GBA's life prematurely after only three years (a stark contrast to the previous generation's lifespan of fifteen or so years) by announcing the next generation handheld, the Nintendo DS.

But before that happened Nintendo released two more variants of the GBA, which nobody bought but was in no way less awesome.

The Game Boy Micro, a mini GBA of sorts was actually released after the DS was launched. It had a bright and vibrant, but smaller screen and it returned to the original GBA's "wide" form factor. But because of its mini size, players' hands still cramped up.

The Game Boy Player was an add-on for the Nintendo Gamecube. It was basically a GBA without a screen which attached to the bottom of a Gamecube and allowed you to play GBA games on your TV with either your Gamecube controller or a GBA with a GC-GBA cable. What is notable about it is that despite its physical form, most GBA adaptors and accessories were compatible with it, something the Game Boy Micro can not claim.

The GBA was the last of the Game Boy line only in name, but its spirit lives on in the DS... and hopefully the 3DS as well, which will be releasing around the world this week. (I think. Too lazy to check.)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Done with Mother 3. For now.

This morning on the commute to work, I spent the whole train ride trying to defeat the most difficult boss in Mother 3 I have encountered so far. My train ride lasts about 40 minutes, and the whole time I was just fighting him. Victory never felt so sweet as when the train pulled in to my stop, the boss finally succumbed. To say it felt marvelous is an understatement. I then saved the game, switched my DS off and promptly walked to my office.

However, during my lunch break, I found to my extreme horror that the save file had disappeared.

I checked my last save backup I made and it was early in the chapter I was at. The boss I defeated this morning was at the end of the chapter. This particular chapter happens to the longest chapter in Mother 3.

So yeah, I'm feeling a wee bit frustrated with the game now. I really wanted to finish it, but it looks like I won't be revisiting it anytime soon. I don't feel like replaying a whole chapter. As far as I'm concerned, I am DONE with Mother 3.

I'm going to play another game. Radiant Historia looks enticing.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

This is now!

So I registered a new URL for my little blog:

I can't believe I was able to snag this domain name. Did no one else thought to register it? Anyways, Blogger is smart enough to reroute the old URL to the new one, but update your bookmarks anyway!

In other news, I am still slowly making my way through Mother 3. I am in the penultimate chapter (I think) so not long now till the end.