2003 REDUX – Time Crisis 3

Time Crisis 3

time-crisis-3
Developer(s) Nex Entertainment (as Nextech) [1]
Publisher(s) Namco
Designer(s) Hajime Nakatani (producer), Takashi Satsukawa (director)
Platform(s) Arcade, PlayStation 2, Mobile phone, iOS
Release date(s) PlayStation 2–  October 31, 2003
Genre(s) Rail shooter
Mode(s) Single-player, Multiplayer
Arcade system Namco System 246

 

Joel: What a game, what a series! Any arcade with a Time Crisis machine is a decent arcade in my books. I’d prefer TC2, but 3 is damned good too. I think it’s fair to say I have spent more coins on playing Time Crisis games in the arcade than any other.

So, as you’ll know, this is the replacement for 2003, given the dismal reception we got with Simpsons Hit n Run. I can’t really argue either; this is simply a better game, sorry Mr. Groening.

The Time Crisis games are largely similar to one another, but it’s a great formula so why not? You and your (either AI or real) buddy are enforcers of all things good and wholesome, charged with taking down legions of baddies for whatever reason is relevant to the story. In the case of TC 3, they have occupied the fictional island of Astigos. In this third instalment, your rather mundane pistol is supplemented by a veritable arsenal of weapons comprising a shotgun, machine gun and grenade launcher. Which is great news! The premise is simple enough. Shoot. Don’t get shot.

As some of you may be aware, special arrangements had to be made for this game. As it uses light guns (yup, I have a pukka, beautiful condition pair of G-CON guns) we are forced to use an old-style CRT television to play this game, just to add to the logistical nightmare Rachael will have to deal with on the night. It also meant I had to lug a CRT television all the way across town on the damn bus, which was just awesome.

On the night, we’ll be playing this on a television kindly donated by my parents (though I can’t help but think it was just an excuse for my dad to buy a TFT:)) It will be a bit smaller than what we’re used to but totally worth it.

I’m very fortunate to live walking distance from not one but two arcades with Time Crisis machines so I play this game a lot. I think I’m going to win this one, assuming I retain enough strength to hold the gun that is.

Liam:  So poor old Simpsons: Hit and Run has been the victim of a coup d’état. It’s our fault really. When we started the process we put a prototype list together which was mainly full of placeholders. Simpsons Hit and Run was one of these placeholders that seemed to slip through the net and get into the main list. It was a good game but the multiplayer was very limited and on reflection we agreed that something better could have taken its place.

We had a few great ideas to replace it with (SSX and Mortal Kombat being the main two – although I did try very hard to sneak Tiger Woods Golf in) but we thought that as the proposed games were sequels or similar to games we already had on the list – that we were not 100% confident with any of them being in. We needed something fresh, something that was truly enjoyable and if we were going to make a change then that new game would have to be undeniably excellent. Then we came up with the idea of Time Crisis.

Along with the House of the Dead franchise Time Crisis is the de-facto arcade game of our generation, especially for me as someone who dislikes racing games. Players shoot the screen with a plastic gun to dispatch enemies which controlling the ‘cover mechanism’ with a foot pedal. Many hours of my life were spent in smoky, run down arcades pumping my modest pocket money into a Time Crisis machine so I could hop around in front of a screen with a bright pink plastic gun – the best part being that all the arcade machines had two player ‘link play’ where you and a friend could team up against the nefarious Zagorias Federation – ultimately causing arguments when one of you dies and leaves the other with screen after screen of bad guys.

Sadly the old light gun games that run on home consoles have been made obsolete by advancements in television technology. New LED, LCD and Plasma screens render the traditional light gun ineffective – a huge pain for someone trying to organise a charity game marathon with the additional stress of sourcing an old style CRT monitor required to play this game. Also Rachael will have to pick up the logistical nightmare of swapping TV screens forward and backwards at 3am.

Time Crisis 3 is perhaps unsurprisingly the third in a line of very successful rail shooter from Japan. I’m not 100% sure I have played this version before which should be a nice surprise for me. I did own the original on my PSX so I am pretty familiar with the concept. Really glad this game has forced its way onto the list and I think it will be a very enjoyable hour.

2002 – WWE Smackdown! Shut Your Mouth

WWE SmackDown! Shut Your Mouth

WWE

Developer(s) Yuke’s
Publisher(s) THQ (WWE SmackDown! Shut Your Mouth),  Yuke’s (Exciting Pro Wrestling 4)
Series SmackDown!
Platform(s) PlayStation 2
Release date(s)  November 15, 2002
Genre(s) Professional wrestling, Fighting
Mode(s) Single-player, Multiplayer
Distribution DVD

Joel: I think… it was quite a long time ago now.. that this was one of the games I bought at the same time as my PS2. I should really say “our” PS2 as Rachael and I went halves on it at a second hand store in Portsmouth – IIRC it cost a hundred and twenty English pounds, which was a fair amount for a couple of teenagers on minimum-ish wage. But that said, it still runs today, unlike the two PS3’s I’ve killed in 4 years. I digress…

Because of making the generation-jump from a PS1 to 2, whatever I played first was likely to impress me and this surely left a lasting impression. The character creation tool had a previously unheard of level of detail, the levels were huge, in some modes you can end up in the street outside the arena even! A great variety of match configurations were available, from the standard 1v1 to cage matches, King of the Ring, Royal Rumble and all the other big Pay-per-view events you can think of! The outstanding graphics and a great commentary track from Jerry “The King” Lawler and the other chap whose name escapes me, Jim Ross I think, really gave you the feeling you were watching a real match. I played a lot of this back in the day, despite not being a massive fan of the WWE franchise and got pretty good at it, as did Liam. Evidently, I’m not as good as I used to be though – when I broke this out for testing, I was delighted to find that I still had my old save with all my custom characters and records etc. Because it’s one of the most fun things I’ve done in a video game, I went straight to the Royal Rumble, picked my favourite custom character and the match began. I was subsequently eliminated after less than 4 minutes. Not quite what I had in mind, as I had won the thing countless times in the past. Must’ve been a fluke, I tell myself as I reset the match for another go. I haven’t played this for years and have forgotten most of the controls. So the second match kicks off and I’m off to a flying start. After a few minutes I’ve eliminated a number of competitors and things are looking rosy. Felling quite pleased with myself, I merrily bound about the ring, spearing this guy, kicking that guy over the ropes, when all of a sudden a punch from Brock Lesnar sends me backflipping over the ropes and out of the game. Again. Something’s wrong here… I poke about and eventually end up in the options menu and that’s when I see it – I’d had the difficulty set to maximum. Well that explains it. I’m clearly not as good at this as I used to be. So I set it down to medium and sure enough, victory was mine. At least, that’s how I choose to remember what happened.

So this should be a match for the ages. We’re planning on doing a Rumble and then filling out the rest of the time with other modes. We haven’t chosen our characters yet, but I’m hoping to bag Shawn Michaels or Hulk Hogan, both were favourites of mine as a kid. I’ve no idea who Liam’s going to choose, but it doesn’t matter really – I’ll ruin him whoever he picks 😉

Liam: Hurrah the racing games have finished for the time being and I get to take out my anger and boredom with some violence! For those that may not be aware WWE (formerly named WWF until they lost a fight with a panda) is a multi-million dollar sports entertainment franchise. Which is a funny way of saying that lots of people, all over the world, pay them a great deal of money to watch fat guys in lycra playfighting.

Although it is well known that wrestling is entirely scripted (I like to think of it as a sweaty soap opera) as acting wise WWE ranks just above pantomime, with a plot so exaggerated it becomes farcical at times, but this does not diminish the physicality of the show with serious injuries all part and parcel as the athletes perform acrobatic and high impact moves. In the process they have spawned numerous household names over the years such as Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, The Undertaker and Brett ‘The Hitman’ Hart.

Yuke’s have been running the premier wrestling franchise in computer gaming for many years now and even though this game was relatively early on in the series, it still has a very high level of polish. It has a large roster of playable fighters and a wide array of match types including standard fights and tag teams fights, the major pay per view crowd pleasers such as the royal rumble and king of the ring, the more ludicrous offerings of Sloberknocker (endless waves of enemies), TLC (tables, ladders and chairs) and my personal favourite the steel cage match. It’s a highly enjoyable game for any wrestling fan – which at the time I was. Hey don’t judge me.

I’m kinda looking forward to playing this. I feel it will be a regression to my college days where I spent a good many hours taking my create-a-fighter to the WWE heavyweight championship. I was undefeated as well until the undertaker beat me up behind the scenes and stole my belt – which unbelievably counted as a loss. I used to be much better than Joel at this game; it’s been a long while though and I am expecting a good, clean fight.

Bonus Round – Tekken Tag Tournament Teams

Tekken

As a special bonus to all the Tekken fans out there we have drawn up our 8v8 team battle teams! You get to see it! Lucky you!

Liam:-

 1, Hwoarang – Flexible, Ginger, Korean kickfighter. Excellent at keeping players down (or up) but sadly quite predictable, great for the 1st player to do as much damage as possible. Potentially the stupidest name in video gaming.

2, Bryan Fury – I think he is supposed to be a Welsh zombie or something,  he does have nice tattoos and can punch people across the screen which is hilarious. Hit best move is his sweep kick thingy. He looks a little like my brother in law (who is definitely not a Welsh zombie)

3, Wang – Little bearded guy with a name synonymous with cock. Has a great set of special punches which can be strung together for devastating effect. If you manage to finish someone off you can joke about ‘Wanging’ them which is ALWAYS HILARIOUS.

4, Xiaoyu – A Japanese schoolgirl with a pet panda. There are legions of websites dedicated to pulling off moves in such a way you can see her panties. Seriously… the internet is just wrong sometimes. 

5, Hehachi – An electrically charged old man with a dodgy haircut. Not sure why but he has always reminded me of early 90’s chancellor of the exchequer Norman Lamont. Maybe it’s the nappy.

6, Lei – Hong Kong cop as seen in every kung fu film ever. I can’t really play him, but Joel can’t play against him so picking him is a no brainer. Spends a lot of time willingly lying on the floor before springing up against all laws of physics.

7, Jin – Emo protagonist who in the story turns into a big purple demon and electrocutes people with his eyes. That character has a pallet swap with an angel – complete with feathery wings. Yes that is as ridiculous as it sounds. Being Hehachi’s grandson he also has the electrically charged powers that seem to run in the family. Annoyingly the only powers that run in my family are male pattern baldness and heavy breathing.

8, Eddy – If I actually get this far down my roster then I am taking a pasting. If I am taking a pasting I will play as Eddy and essentially cheat my way to the end by hammering the kick buttons with my forehead while simultaneously crying at my total lack of self respect. The truly sad thing is that this is an amazing tactic and will probably work.

 Joel:-

1, Yoshimitsu – Weird cyborg guy, who I believe was created by Dr. Boskonovitch before he went all dark side on us. Looks weirder and weirder with every iteration of Tekken. In Tekken 6/TTT2 they reassigned the buttons for my favourite move to one where he pointlessly stabs himself at great cost. I don’t really use him now.

2, Bruce – Crazy kickboxer sort with a couple of cracking moves. I have to admit that I know very little of his back story. According to Wikipedia he has an unfortunate history of plane crashes. I just like his little knockout punch thing – it’s quick and blasts your opponent across the screen. Good stuff.

3, Baek – A slightly slower version of Hwoarang with a slight variation on the move set. According to canon, he was Hwoarang’s trainer in Tae Kwon Do. He’s similar enough in play-style to Hwoarang to be an excellent stand-in for any fan of the former. In TTT2, he’s fast becoming my player of choice.

4, Bryan – Best videogame maniacal laugh ever. He’s basically just a double-hard nutbar. He has a variety of super-powerful moves which can be executed easily. There’s complicated back story explaining how he was made immortal by various scientists and yet somehow he is able to be defeated… Not sure how that works really. Clearly I don’t understand the term “immortal.”

5, Lee – I’m pretty sure I am yet to encounter another Tekken player who would choose Lee. I can understand why though – he’s really fast but his moves are complicated, he also comes off as an utter douche in cut scenes/movies. He’s basically an entitled little brat whose daddy doesn’t like him. I’ll still kick your face in with him though.

6, Law – If you’ve seen Kung-Fu Panda, you pretty much know Lee’s back story, give or take random animals. Weird physics defying backflips abound, Law is one of those characters who you either take on a massive streak or gets a massive kicking. It depends on who he’s drawn against – a bit of a gamble this one.

7, Hwoarang – Bendy ginger ninja. I kinda relate to him as he has silly hair, a bad attitude and rides a motorbike. I’m not remarkably bendy though mind you. I think it says something of my level of confidence in this challenge that I have him this far down my roster, but I’ll allow you to draw your own conclusions about that.

8, Paul – He’s always reminded me of “Guile” from the Street Fighter franchise. I think it’s just the silly hair. He’s a bit of a brawler with a handful of decent super moves. To be honest, the only reason he’s here is that he’s a fairly good all-rounder with one of the best power-moves in the game, but I don’t expect a lot of success if Liam’s pounded me this far.

 

1999 – Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater

The player, as Tony Hawk, has just collected a...

Developer(s) Neversoft (PS1 & NGE)
Edge of Reality (N64)
Natsume (GBC)
Treyarch (DC)
Publisher(s) Activision (PS1, N64 & GBC)
Crave Entertainment (DC)
Nokia (NGE)
Series Tony Hawk
Platform(s) PlayStation, Nintendo 64,Game Boy Color, Dreamcast,N-Gage
Release date(s) PlayStation NA August 31, 1999 EU 2000 JP March 30, 2000

Nintendo 64 NA February 29, 2000 EU December 10, 2000

Game Boy Color NA March, 2000 EU 2000

Dreamcast June 29, 2000
N-Gage EU October 10, 2003 NA October 13, 2003

Genre(s) Extreme sports
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Joel: Arguably one of the biggest and best skateboard game franchises started right here. …And what a start it was! This game really took advantage of the power of “modern” 😉 CD based game media and processing power, incorporating outstanding graphics, a rocking “real music” punk soundtrack and a relatively decent physics engine making this a game one could come back to time and time again – if only to (try, repeatedly, in vain) to knock your friends off your high score table. The music alone is almost enough to be fair – it’s one of my personal favourite game soundtracks.

I’m not sure I need to explain the concepts of a skateboarding game really, but I suppose for the uninitiated it wouldn’t do any harm: You, represented by your chosen big-name-in-skateboarding avatar compete with other people on a variety of pre-arranged tracks ranging from the most excellent “Warehouse” to the slightly absurd “Area 51” to score the most points by carrying out a series of tricks against the clock. Simple. And great fun. 

It was obviously a winning combination as there were many sequels, re-imaginings and spin-offs but to be honest, I really preferred the first one. The tricks rapidly became ridiculous, as did the scoring system: 150k points after two minutes on the warehouse level probably qualifies you as a “skilled” player on THPS, however in later games 150k points on a single trick qualifies you as, at best, an amateur. Scores escalated into millions, often for single tricks. I didn’t like that. 

As I’ve mentioned in a previous review, I recently (probably not so recently now, but within the last 6 months I’m sure) acquired a most bargainous -if that’s not a word, it should be- Dreamcast and I picked a copy of THPS in a bundle of games purchased from a certain well known auction website. Couldn’t believe my luck! I summoned Liam as quickly as he could muster and we set about tearing chunks off each other. I took an early lead and felt very pleased with myself. Then he seemed to remember how it all works and before long I was screaming at him like I did when we were 17. All that was missing was a Domino’s Pizza and a few of our other friends. We had regressed ten (I’m sticking to that number, say what you will) years in the space of about 20 minutes. As it stands, I believe he holds all ten positions on the high score table, and I’m sure that will be the photo he uses when he posts this article. We got to chatting about things 30in30 related and I mentioned that I still had my old PS1 memory cards so we decided that when he shipped me the game (another one I’d misplaced over the years, I even still had the case annoyingly, just no disc) I’d fire it up and check out the score tables on that one in order to settle the debate as neither of us had played in on the Dreamcast before and hadn’t put in our best performances. Yeah – he had the top three scores on that one too. That may also be the photo he posts to accompany this. (LF – Both photos are attached 🙂) 

This is going to be a high point in the marathon, that’s an absolute certainty. He’s going to win, I’m fairly convinced. But I tell you what – I don’t even care. I get to play Tony Hawks. To quote a song by my favourite band – Nothing else matters.

 Liam:  I remember when I first bought this game second hand from a game store with a broken box and no manual. I sucked. I didn’t have friends who skateboarded and despite being a fan of pop-punk (I had a 2nd hand copy of Full Circle, a NOFX t-shirt and had once seen Reel Big Fish in concert by this point – I was clearly an expert) I had never even heard of Tony Hawk or any skateboarding terms. Once someone showed me how to play the game I was away. I learnt on THPS and I was capable of scoring 200k+ on the warehouse in an average run. I would be lucky to hit half of that now. I used to get to the point where having played a long session, I would view the world through ‘Tony Hawk goggles’ noticing interesting items to grind off and places to do tricks. Funny thing is I can’t skateboard –in fact I can’t even ride a bike without falling on my face after a few minutes.

This game and all the preceding sequels are renowned for having some of the best soundtracks in games. I may be a bit biased as this is the kind of music I listen to anyway but the THPS series gave me introductions to bands like Guttermouth, Zebrahead, Sublime and The Distillers. These music influences finally killed the Grunge phase I was going through (except Bush, Bush rock).

I had no exposure to skateboarding until this game. It seems in the few years after the whole scene exploded with Tony Hawk being a household name and skateboarding through TV shows like Jackass became mainstream alternative culture. The game spawned multiple sequels of varying degrees of quality, sadly moving away from the slick arcade action of the first game. I still believe the first is the best in this case. The graphical superiority of the newer games impressed me for a few months, but the game-play of this version still impresses me to this day. I did own THPS4, THUG and THP8 but none came close to this game. I think once you were able to string tricks together to the point where you could perform a single trick that lasted for minutes it got a bit silly. I remember after figuring out how to do manual and handplant variations, being able to win HORSE competitions (a game mode where you take it in turns to perform a trick with the lowest scorer gaining a letter from ‘horse’ until you lost 5 games and spelt the whole word) without moving from the spot I started in.

I‘m going to go out on a limb and say I will comfortably destroy Joel at this game. Although to be fair THPS score runs always end up as you challenging your own previous score rather than direct competition. I think there will be much more danger of one of us falling out with ourselves (possibly launching a controller across the room) then falling out with each other although I dare say there will be some light ribbing of each others scores.

Here are the promised screenshots of me performing the most humiliating thing in gaming. Owning the high score table on someone else’s console – swish.

dreamcast

 

PSX

1998 – Gran Turismo

Gran Turismo

Screenshot of gameplay using a Mitsubishi FTO ...

Developer(s) Sony Computer Entertainment
Cyberhead
Publisher(s) Sony Computer Entertainment
Designer(s) Kazunori Yamauchi
Series Gran Turismo
Engine Custom
Platform(s) PlayStation
Release date(s) May 8, 1998
Genre(s) Racing simulator
Mode(s) Single player, multiplayer

 

Liam:  Well I still don’t like racing games and the Gran Turismo series is very easily my least favourite of all driving games.

Gran Turismo is a pretty run of the mill racing game by modern standards but set the tone for a lot of the games that came after. Before the Playstation came along, there were fewer simulation based diving games on the market with the majority of games release being more arcade based. With the 5th Generation Consoles, for the first time a consoles had the required power and graphical capability to perform at the required level for these games as first displayed with Namcos Ridge Racer. Now GT and it’s 10 sequels and spin-offs and the roughly equivalent Forza series on the Xbox are massive franchises and are the ‘go to’ games for driving purists. No other genre shows the gulf in class between the 4th and 5th generation consoles than racing games and despite my disdain for these games, it deserves its place on our list.

My main problem with the GT series (and most driving games) is that it’s just so bloody dull. Round and round a track with nothing really happening. There is just nothing compelling to love the about it,  no split second checkpoint scrapes, no epic 1v1 battles with a similar vehicle, no eye-popping neon blur of undercar lights against an urban backdrop – not even a police car. I don’t want a driving simulator; I have a £3000 driving simulator sat on my driveway… I want a ludicrous and thrilling experience unlike anything in the real world. That’s the point of video games!

I believe this game would be infinitely improved by allowing weapons onto the track. Anything that makes you more likely to explode into a fiery ball of metal and glass gets my vote. I think having ticked over midnight I’m going to be feeling pretty tired by this point and ready to collapse into a heap and start sleeping. The only thing that is going to get me through an hour of playing this rubbish is the knowledge that there will be two very very good games coming up in the next two hours.

 

Joel: This was the beginning of the end for me really. I was never quite the same after playing this for the first time. As driving sims went, GT left everything else in its dust. The graphics, the physics, the range of vehicles, the AI, the format of it all… Sublime. The game took, according to its lead designer, five years to develop and for its time, you really can see why. This, as far as I know anyway, was the first game to allow the payer to compete in so-called endurance events – and that they were… some of the individual races would take over an hour and really test your patience and skills. Between this and its followup – the creatively named Gran Turismo 2, I became practically nocturnal for a few years.

I have to admit, we had to re-buy this one for the challenge as a lot of my PS1 games have disappeared over the years but, when testing, I was delighted to find that I was still pretty good at it and although the graphics have dated a bit, the physics are still pretty decent and the cars behave more like individual cars with their own personalities rather than generic arrangements of pixels, as in our earlier racers. This is true to some extent generically of most racers of the period – as I said at the start, the physics are a large part of what made this better than everything else at the time.

I’m really stoked we get to play this game for a number of reasons. Mostly because I just love racing sims – I’ve been replaying NFS: Shift over the long weekend with the boy, who’s just started his own career and is doing really nicely – but also because I could probably beat Liam with the controller upside down. I’ll probably be falling a bit behind on the rankings by this point having had FIFA, Worms, Cricket and Goldeneye in the run up, so I will be relieved to have an easy win.  Money where my mouth is you say? Bring it! I’ll do you an upside-down-controller-handicap race special event if you like.

So yeah – with the exception of Brian Lara Cricket, for which I will keep an open mind, the 90’s range is by far going to be my favourite part of the marathon, with 5 games on my favourite console, the Mega Drive, I will be truly in my element. Bring on Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater – this is going to be the most hotly contested game of the whole thing. I CAN’T WAIT!