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.

2012 – New Super Mario Bros. U

New Super Mario Bros. U

nsmbu

Developer(s) Nintendo EAD Group No. 4
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Director(s) Masataka Takemoto
Producer(s) Takashi Tezuka, Hiroyuki Kimura
Designer(s) Shigeyuki Asuke, Daiki Iwamoto, Ryutaro Kanno
Artist(s) Masanobu Sato
Composer(s) Shiho Fujii, Mahito Yokota
Series Super Mario
Platform(s) Wii U
Release date(s) November 30, 2012
Genre(s) Platform
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer
Distribution Wii U Optical Disc, Nintendo eShop

Liam:   So here we have it. 29 hours down and we can get stuck into the last game on the list. By this point I imagine our bodies (especially our thumbs) will be tired and weary and we will be craving natural sunlight and non-sugarcoated foods. Fittingly we end with a game that is not only part of the biggest video game franchise of all time, but also has played a massive part in our lives as gamers.

The thirty years we have covered, encompass the whole span of the Mario lifecycle so far with Mario Bros. the arcade game being released in 1983. Mario did appear in Nintendo’s ‘Donkey Kong’ a few years before as a character nicknamed ‘Jump Man’ but he did not receive his own name until 83. Since then the Mario franchise has spawned over 200 games, several TV shows, a raft of merchandise and a terrible terrible film. (Seriously the film is awful, if you want to watch a video game film go watch Street Fighter with Jean Claude Van Damme, Kylie Minogue and Raul Julia – that’s how it should be done)

NSMBU is a 2d side scrolling platformer. Similar in vein to the Mario Bros. games of old that we both grew up with. The series has received a lick of paint and a HD upgrade for the Wii U – Nintendo’s newest console. In the story, Bowser and the Koopa Troop invade the mushroom kingdom (again) and take Princess Peach hostage (again). It is then up Mario and Luigi, with the help of yellow and blue toadstools, to rescue Princess Peach and bring tranquillity back to the world by eating super powered mushrooms, smashing bricks with their faces and jumping on turtles. I imagine most people are familiar with the concept of a Mario game and this one does not disappoint. Despite the Wii U being less powerful than the next generation consoles due to be released this year it manages fine with the colourful Mario bros game. In fact Mario has never looked so good.

The Wii U allows up to 5 players to play simultaneously. Four players control characters using wiimotes, with 1 player using the Wii U gamepad to block off enemies and lay blocks for the players to jump against. It’s a nice mechanic that allows the whole family to enjoy the game together – a core part of Nintendo’s recent approach to gaming.

In fact it’s worth mentioning that we are borrowing the Wii U from my daughter Paige who has kindly allowed us to use it for the event. By this point in the challenge she will be there along with her brother and sister and my partner to cheer us over the finishing line, and possibly to administer fruit and vegetables.

Joel:  This is it… The final writeup. If I could get Europe’s smash hit out of my head I might be able to write something insightful, but right now, all that’s bouncing round inside my melon is “do-do-do-doooooooooo, do-do-do-do-doooooo, the final write-up!” So anyway, here it is. New Super Mario Bros. U is a great example of the Mario franchise, as well as demonstrating how difficult it is becoming to name new Mario games, presumably because of the number of previous releases in the franchise. This is about the 20th (platform) game in the series, 19th according to Wikipedia, but I can think of at least one release they have not included in their timeline and that doesn’t include non-platformers, such as Mario Kart and the various puzzle games. I have to admit, I’m a huge fan of Mario and consider myself a bit of a buff on the subject. There’s even a vicious rumour that I may have a Mario tattoo somewhere, but that’s a story for another day.

I reckon if you went outside and grabbed the next 50 people who passed and showed them a picture of the red-capped plumber, 48 of them would know who it was. Maybe even 49. He has become a legend in his own (virtual) lifetime and Nintendo’s major cash cow, having a release of some kind on every major platform Nintendo have pushed out in the last 30 years. My first Mario game was Super Mario Land on the (Fat, original) Game Boy, though I had played all the other major previous releases (Mario 1, 2, 3) at friends’ houses. I tell you, I played and played and played that damn game until I completed it – no mean feat for an 8 year-old! I do still have a Game Boy, sadly it’s not an original, but a bright yellow “Game Boy Pocket” and I do still have that Mario game. I was actually playing it a couple of nights ago.

This is one of the games I’m most looking forward to playing as I am yet to use a Wii U and I’m dead keen to see what this latest iteration has in store for our old friend Mario and his slightly under-appreciated chums. You can apparently have up to five players on this, with four on standard controllers and the fifth on the whizzo tablet-controller-thing that comes with the Wii U. That guy apparently is able to place blocks in the playfield and interact with enemies, but not have control of his own character. Some kind of ben/mal-evolent God type role from the sounds of it. I can see me dropping blocks over pits whilst my “friends” try to jump over them, making them fall to their doom. Yes, this is going to be fun for sure.

So, not only is this the last writeup, but, as such, this will be the last game in the marathon and the end of this rollercoaster few months preparing (not that we are ready yet – the game are about the only thing that are actually sorted!!) I don’t imagine that I’m going to be quite myself by the time we’ve finished this thing, but I do honestly think a part of me will be sad that it’s over. When I first signed up for this, I thought it was going to be an absolute nightmare and it times it has been, with the worst yet to come, but still, it’s been great. I don’t think I’ve put so much time, money and effort into anything (aside from child-rearing) for a very long time and I don’t regret a single bit of it.

 

Yet.

 

 

2003 – The Simpsons: Hit and Run

The Simpsons Hit & Run

 Hit and Run
Developer(s) Radical Entertainment
Publisher(s) Vivendi Universal Games
Distributor(s) Fox Interactive, Gracie Films
Designer(s) Debi Laezman, Darren Evenson, Chris Mitchell. Joshua Mitchell, Jeff Plumbly, Sheik Sahib
Artist(s) Vincent Chin, Jaroslav Chorny, Anshin Chu, Dustin Condie, Brad Dixion, Kevin Fink, Aryan Hanbeck, Eric Madill, Mike Marraffa, Sanela Mickovic, Robert Peet, John Zhongyi Wang, Ross Young
Writer(s) Matt Selman, Tim Long, Matt Warburton
Composer(s) Swallow Studios (Marc Baril)
Platform(s) PlayStation 2, Xbox,GameCube,Microsoft Windows
Release date(s) PlayStation 2, Xbox & GameCube
NA September 16, 2003 EU October 31, 2003 AU 2003 (PS2)  JP December 25, 2003 (Xbox)
Genre(s) Action-adventure
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer
Distribution CD-ROM, DVD-ROM,Nintendo optical disc

Joel: I played a few of the early Simpsons games (anyone remember Bart vs the Space Mutants??) over the years and was fairly unimpressed. I remember spending a fair bit of money playing an upright cab in a restaurant in Ibiza once, many moons ago, but I don’t recall which (Simpsons) game it was and I think it may have been borne out of desperation for something to do that I spent so much on it. So when I received Simpsons Hit and Run as a Christmas present one year, I was a little apprehensive. I have to say though, on first glance, I was pretty impressed. The main menu screen is a dynamic scene of the Simpsons’ living room, which changes theme on special occasions like Xmas and Hallowe’en -Which brings a wee smile to the face.

Firing up the single player mode, you’re provided with a decent length, well-polished cutscene to set the story in motion (something to do with townspeople being spied upon by large robotic camera-wasps or something IIRC) and you’re off. The actual gameplay, graphically, is a pretty decent representation of Springfield and its residents. The city is on a fairly large scale for a game of this age and as you would expect of any Simpsons brand product, the attention to detail and inside jokes are all there. The objective of the game really is to get to the bottom of and ultimately stop the aforementioned wasp-powered spying, gallivanting about the place GTA-style. Sadly I never made it to the end of this game and not for a lack of trying. I’ve had it for at least eight years and still can’t beat the same point in the game, to my eternal shame. But I had a good time trying, visiting all the landmarks, finding the hidden gems and interacting with all the various Springfieldians.

Apparently you have to reach a certain point in the game to unlock the multi-player mode. I don’t remember this specifically, but I’m sure I have already unlocked it. I will check before we go live, naturally. But… The reason I think this is because I’m sure I’ve already played it. I think they are sort of top-down mini races, not remarkably related to the single player mode, or even the Simpsons really. More like the Micro Machines games.

2003 was a tough year to decide on – There were a good number of notable releases – Max Payne 2, Silent Hill 3, Midnight Club II, Devil May Cry 2 to name just a few, but there were reasons against many of them being used – we may already have had another game from the franchise, being single player only or, tragically, being PC based. We decided early on to avoid PC games because the last thing we need “on the night” is for some game to inexplicably crap out because it’s running on something modern. Personally, I would have picked something else if I could, but we couldn’t find anything better. Though I have just spotted that both SSX3 and Time Crisis 3 came out this year… Shame the old light-guns won’t work on modern TVs.

Liam: Bit of an odd one this one. Generally TV/Movie game tie ins have left us with some of the worst games in the history of gaming – as anyone who has played King Kong will happily testify. The Simpsons franchise has led to 26 games currently, of which I am ashamed to say I have played around twenty of, and a few are surprisingly quite good (Bart Simpsons Vs. The Juggernauts being my personal favourite). The game itself may not be the most memorable game on our list, but there is no denying that if you have grown up in the past 30 years the Simpsons is a cultural behemoth that deserves recognition. Many of the games have heavy involvement by the Simpsons scriptwriters and some of the shows humour seep through into the playing experience.

The single player game is pretty fun, an open world adventure and driving game which plays a little like a tame grand theft auto. The multiplayer mini-game which we will be playing on the night is also pretty fun. It’s a very simple top down racing game where you can play as any of the four main Simpsons characters (I assume Maggie is in the car next to marge playing with her pretend steering wheel) and for no reason at all – Apu. Not that I have anything against Mr Nahasapeemapetilon, in fact he is one of my favourite characters in the show and I would be playing as him, but his inclusion here as the only non-Simpson character always seemed a little odd. If anyone it should be Hank Scorpio! If any video game developers are reading this you should totally make a wacky races Simpsons games, and Hank Scorpio should be in it. I would buy it.

2003 was a bit of an odd year for us, we put this game in as a placeholder as we already owned a copy and just plain forgot to review it afterwards. We are still considering picking up a Gamecube and playing Mario Party 5 or switching to either SSX tricky, Mortal Kombat or Tiger Wood Golf. It’s still under discussion so we may be losing the Simpsons and switching to another game – watch this space. For the meantime through Springfield’s famous residents will be a good diversion for an hour.

Scorpio!
He’ll sting you with his dreams of power and wealth.
Beware of Scorpio!
His twisted twin obsessions are his plot to rule the world
And his employees’ health.
He’ll welcome you into his lair
Like the nobleman welcomes his guest
With free dental care and a stock plan that helps you invest!
But beware of his generous pensions
Plus three weeks paid vacation each year
And on Fridays, the lunchroom serves hot dogs and burgers and beer!
He loves German beer!