Tag Archives: Game retrospectives

Die Hard Games Retrospective

Yes I’m still celebrating the 30th anniversary of Die Hard as I’ve been doing throughout this year with numerous articles and I still have a few more to come including offering my own opinion on the biggest topic of every festive season. But before then, I want to take a look at the games based on and inspired by the movie series.

When I first started to think about this topic – only a few Die Hard games initially came to mind, that NES one, the trilogy thing on the PlayStation, oh and that arcade game. At first I thought this was going to be a relatively short article. But then other Die Hard games began to creep into my noodle, games I had played and long forgotten about. Plus a little digging around on the interwebs brought a whole slew of other Die Hard games to my attention. Turns out that John McClane has had quite a long career in video games over the years.

So let’s not dally around any longer, time to take on some terrorists, look at some Die Hard games and ask how can the same shit happen to the same guy twelve times?

Die Hard

Die Hard DOS

The first game was released in 1989 for DOS and developed by Dynamix, Inc. This game was a third person action shooter with some survival mechanics thrown in. With you playing as John McClane following the same plot as the film with you having to take on Hans Gruber and his men while trying to save hostages.

Featuring early 3D graphics and some EGA renditions of stills from the movie to forward the story. Strangely though Bruce Willis’ likeness is not used and McClane’s appearance is altered from the movie, he’s not even wearing the right coloured top – but Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber is shown in all it’s early DOS graphical glory.

Gans Gruber DOS

You would have to go from floor to floor taking on terrorists as you scoured Nakatomi Plaza in search of items and weapons to help you survive. Take out a bad guys and you could search them too for ammo. Many of the films iconic action sequences are represented in the game including the throwing C-4 down the lift shaft, jumping from the roof as it explodes and of course facing off against Hans himself. The game features multiple possible endings from saving the day just like in the movie to Hans getting away with the money and killing Holly too.

Die Hard DOS Action

For the time, Die Hard was a very advanced game using not just action but also survival ideas to make a highly unique game… tough as nails hard though but if you persevered and learned all the game had to offer, then you would be rewarded with a great title.

Die Hard

Die Hard C64

This one was released for the Commodore 64 in 1990 and developed by Silent Software. It’s basically a port of the previous DOS game only a lighter version and changed to a side scroller due to the limitations of the Commodore 64. So gone are those fancy 3D environments. But don’t worry, Hans still shows up in glorious C-64, pixel vision.

Die Hard C64 Action

No real point in going into details with this one as it’s pretty much the same game as the previous one. Some of the survival elements were toned down to make the game more action-centric but still essentially the same thing as before. But hey, they got the colour of McClane’s shirt right in this one. This one is okay, it lacks the depth of it’s DOS bigger brother but certainly playable though.

Die Hard

Die Hard TurboGrafx 16.jpg

Also released in 1990 was this exclusive to Japan for the TurboGrafx-16 game developed by Pack-In-Video Co., Ltd. Very different from the previous two games we have seen so far with it being a top-down/arcade action title. While it followed the plot of the movie, it still used some creative licence along the way.

You start the game in a forest… just not like in the movie. The game features various weapons, like a lazer… just not like in the movie and the final boss fight is with an attack helicopter… just not like in the movie. As I said, the game uses some creative license. I suppose one could compare this to the arcade classic Commando. It has the same top-down viewpoint and its one of those run and gun type games with you shooting your way through dozens and dozens of bad guys.

Die Hard TurboGrafx 16 action

After you get out of the forest that is not in the film, the game does take place in Nakatomi Plaza and it begins to look a lot more like the flick. But the whole building is like a huge maze with branching paths and various doors to go through, you’ll find yourself getting lost pretty quickly. Still, it’s a decent game overall if a little frustrating, full of action and yeah it feels very Die Hard once out of the opening couple of stages and if you put those lazers at the back of your mind.

Die Hard

Die Hard NES.jpg

Perhaps the most (in)famous of the early Die Hard games. Released for the NES in 1991, developed by Pack-In-Video Co., Ltd. Another top-down shooter but very different from the previous game… but at least you don’t start out in a forest.

The game follows the same plot as the movie with McClane stuck in Nakatomi Plaza having to fend of terrorists and stop them breaking into the vault to steal the cash (bearer bonds in the movie). You start out with nothing, not even a gun, but if you manage to punch the crap out of the first bad guy, you’ll soon find yourself armed with a gun. Basically all you have to do is clear each floor of terrorists, find Hans and stop him. The main problem with this game is the time limit as there are about 3-4 minutes between each lock on the vault being opened and when all locks are opened, it’s game over. The time limit is way to strict and gives you little room to explore which is a shame because the game pretty much requires you to be a little stealthy/slow.

Die Hard NES Action.jpg

There are a couple of interesting aspects that include a foot meter. This is really a heath bar for your feet and the more damage your feet get (like walking on broken glass), the slower you move… yes like in the movie. Plus you can listen in on Hans talking to his henchmen via a C.B. radio… yes like in the movie. The story is played out with still cut-scenes taken from the movie, still no Bruce Willis though, but Alan Rickman is here.

It’s actually an interesting game with some great features, but that damn time limit really ruins this one as it forces you to run around like a headless chicken when you really need to take your time and explore the levels. The game features multiple endings once more including Hans escaping with Holly.

Die Hard 2: Die Harder

Die Hard 2 Amiga

Developed by Tiertex Ltd. and released for Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64 and DOS. This one hit the shop shelves in 1992 and is based on the movie of the same name. Going for a first person view point, this was one of those light-gun games… without the light-gun.

Set over five stages based on scenes from the film and each stage split into three screens, kill the bad guys on each screen to advance to the next one, clear all three screens to move onto the next stage. You know these type of games, bad guys keep popping up, you shoot them and they drop power-ups, weapons and ammo. Occasionally a civilian will run in the line of fire instead of staying in cover (because they’re stupid), rinse and repeat. It’s a shooting gallery and not a good one.

Die Hard 2 Amiga Action

This one’s not very good at all, it’s just so damn dull and there are better games of it’s ilk around, even in 92 it felt 10 years out of date and that feeling is much worse now. The screens don’t scroll or anything, they are completely static. If you can stomach the game until the end you’ll get one of the worst game endings ever with a blue screen displaying “You completed your mission” and that’s it. Best to avoid this one.

Die Hard Trilogy

Die HArd Trilogy.jpg

This could be the most famous game based on the movies. Released for PlayStation, Sega Saturn and Windows in 1996. Developed by Probe Entertainment Ltd., this one takes the films of the then trilogy and melds them into one huge game. I think I’ll need to split this up into three sub-sections to cover as each game is different.

Die Hard: A third person action shooter based on the first film. Playing as McClane you fight your way up Nakatomi Plaza shooting terrorists, picking up ammo and weapons. Clear each floor of bad guys and move onto the next. I guess its pretty similar to the previous NES game I’ve covered… only without that annoying timer allowing you to enjoy the game at your own pace. Explore each floor, kill bad guys, save hostages, take in the badly dubbed lines from the movie. It’s very faithful to the film too and you’ll recognise some of the locales within Nakatomi Plaza. Yup this one is a stone cold classic that plays well and despite a little clunkyness, it’s still very playable today too. A truly great Die Hard game that does the film justice and it’s only the first third too.

Die HArd Trilogy Die Hard

Die Hard 2: Die Harder: Going for a first person view point, much like the previous Die Hard 2: Die Harder game I just covered, it’s one of those light-gun games… but with the light-gun if you had one or controller if you didn’t. Only this one is far, far superior to that other mess of a game. Taking place though numerous scenes from the film, it’s standard stuff, shoot bad guys, they drop ammo and weapons, civilians will run in the line of fire instead of staying in cover (because they’re stupid), rinse and repeat. The gameplay in this one is much more refined, it plays more like Sega’s Virtua Cop and less like the bland shooting gallery of the other one. There’s some impressive destructible scenery too. Not as good as the first part of this trilogy, but still damn good fun.

Die HArd Trilogy Die Hard 2

Die Hard With A Vengeance: Things are changed up again for the final third and now it’s a driving game. You race around New York in various vehicles such as taxis, ambulances, sports cars and the like. The aim it to find the many bombs Simon Gruber has placed around New York and ram them with your vehicle to defuse them… cos that’s how the bomb squad do it right? There are several power-ups that can be collected including turbo boosts, jumps and extra time. Oh yes, this game has a timer and I hate timers. Of course if you are chasing bombs, it makes sense that there’s a timer but I just do not like them. For me, this is the lesser of the three games in this trilogy but that being said, it’s fast paced and still fun – just not as fun as the other two.

Die HArd Trilogy Die Hard 3

Overall, this game is perhaps the best Die Hard game so far or most probably ever will be. It can be a little frustrating as the controls are very dated now and for me that third game is the weakest. Still as a collection you get three good games all in one that are both faithful to the films they are based on and yet also do their own thing to make for an exciting and entertaining trilogy of games. Oh and all three are overtly violent and bloody too.

Die Hard Arcade

Die Hard Arcade.jpg

Developed by Sega’s AM1 R&D Division and released (unsurprisingly) for the arcade in 1996 with a Sega Saturn port soon following. This one is based on the first movie, in fact, make that “inspired by” not “based on”. The game does take some liberties with the movie as I’ll cover next. It’s a scrolling beat em’ up kind of like Double Dragon or Final Fight only with fancy 3D graphics and environments.

So the story of the game does not follow the movie at all. You can play as either John McClane or Kris Thompsen (or both in two-player) who is an FBI agent I think (never played as her, why would I?) and you are tasked with saving President’s daughter from a skyscraper that I think is supposed to be Nakatomi Plaza from the first movie, the Nakatomi logo is everywhere. So it’s a very different plot. It’s standard scrolling beat em’ up fare, punch and kick bad guys, pick up weapons (one being a grandfather clock), take out more bad guys, get to the boss and kick the shit out of him.

Die Hard Arcade Action.jpg

There are a few QTE sections in the game that split up the levels and all in all, this one is pretty good fun to play. There’s no real depth and it’s very clear it had little to do with Die Hard. Makes me wonder if this was originally developed as an original game and the Die Hard license was slapped on at the last minute. I mean, the Japanese version has nothing to do with Die Hard at all and is called Dynamite Deka – which had a sequel called Dynamite Deka 2… and when that sequel was released outside of Japan it was called Dynamite Cop. So this Die Hard game has a sequel that’s not really a sequel at all.

But anyway, this is a good, all action game with both feet firmly in the arcade. Well worth a play even if it really has very little to do with Die Hard other than it’s name and lead character. It’s a short game and offers no replay value, but its a fun quick blast regardless.

Die Hard Trilogy 2: Viva Las Vegas

Die HArd Trilogy 2

Yes the best Die Hard game got a sequel not based on any of the movies. Developed by n-Space, Inc. and released in 2000 for both PlayStation and Windows. This one is a whole new McClane story but still using that three different game concept from the other trilogy game.

Telling a story set after the events of Die Hard With A Vengeance with McClane going to Vegas where he finds himself cleaning up the mess after a prison riot where terrorist Klaus Von Haug attempts to take over Las Vegas with the help of some friends.

Die Hard Trilogy 2 Action.jpg

Okay so I’m not going to split this one up into three different sections as I did with the first game because you don’t play them separately. The three different game modes are here, the third person, the first person and the vehicle section – however they are all intertwined into one game instead of three individual games. So for instance, the first level would be a third person one then the next one would be a first person and the one after that would be a driving level and the game continues like that. Still that is if you play it in Movie Mode to follow the plot. You can also play Arcade Mode where you can choose which of the three gameplay styles you want, so you can play just the third person, first person or driving sections if you like.

This one is pretty bad. It’s a different developer from the first game and it really, really shows too. None of the three different gameplay styles work here and they all seem several steps backward since the first game. A very disappointing sequel to a great Die Hard game.

Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza

Released in 2002 for Windows and developed by Piranha Games, Inc., this game is a sort of remake of the movie. It follows the plot of the film to the letter, but still uses a little creative license to add some new ideas and even shows what McClane was up to when we do not see him in the film.

This one is a first person shooter and originally started out as a mod for Duke Nukem 3D. The development team even went to Fox Plaza (the real Nakatomi Plaza in L.A.) to ensure the game was as faithful as it could be. It uses music and sound effects from the game, even some of the cast provide voices… no Bruce Willis though. It really does follow the film well but still does it’s own thing along the way to expand the gameplay. It keeps things as close to the movie as possible to the point where the only weapons in the game are the only ones used in the film – so no lazers here.

Die Hard Nakatomi Plaza

It’s a pretty good shooter that does the film justice. Bearing in mind this was low budget and as I said, it started out life as a mod for another game too. Still with the limed funds and small development team, they made a solid Die Hard game that any fan of the flick will enjoy.

Die Hard: Vendetta

Die Hard Vendetta.jpg

Developed by Bits Studios Ltd. and released in 2002 for GameCube, PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Once more, another first person shooter, only this one tells a whole new story. Set several years after the events of the third film and McClane is now working for the Century City Police Department in Los Angeles along with his now adult daughter Lucy. Enter Piet Gruber, Hans’ son who kidnaps Lucy and you have to save her.

The main problem with this game is that first person shooters were everywhere back in the early 2000s and to stand out, they needed to be something special. Die Hard: Vendetta isn’t very special. It does a couple of interesting things like being able to take hostages/human shields and the enemies react depending on who you take. There a slo-mo thing called Hero Time where everything slows down but McClane moves at normal speed, so you can dodge bullets and take out bad guys easier. Plus the game has a stealth mechanic and the gameplay is pretty decent. But that’s all it is, decent.

Die Hard Vendetta Action.jpg

The story is trite and playing as McClane is not as fun as it should be despite some interesting mechanics. The game feels very unpolished but what is there is okay at best. Worth a look at least. This was the last “proper” Die Hard game too. All that is left are the final two Die Hard based “games” and they only need a quick look at too…

Die Hard

This one came out in 2013 and was developed by Goroid Games released for Android and iOS. Yes it’s one of those free to play games. Despite it only being called Die Hard it’s actually based on the most recent movie, A Good Day to Die Hard. It’s one of those endless runner type games with some shooting thrown in.

Die Hard Andriod.jpg

If you have played games like Temple Run on your phone, then you know what to expect. This is pretty standard fare and really offers little gameplay other than slide you finger left, right, up, down, etc. Nowt special here, but what is confusing is the next game…

A Good Day to Die Hard

Yes another game based on the most recent film. This one also came out in 2013 and also released for Android. Developed by Gameloft Software Ltd. So yeah, two games based off the same film but where as the previous one was an endless runner game, this one is a side scrolling shooter.

A Good Day to Die Hard Andriod

Playing as John or Jack McClane you find yourself in the midst of the action based on the movie. There’s some light platforming action along side the shooting. Take out the bad guys and continue through the level. Much more fun than the precious game but still a pretty shallow experience overall.


 

And that’s yer lot for Die Hard games. There are some great games with the highlight being Die Hard Trilogy from 98 – still good fun to play today. Some pretty good games such as 2002’s Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza. Then there have been some truly terrible titles with sadly more bad Die Hard games than good ones.

I’m still waiting for the definitive Die Hard game experience. I think a mix of that first part of Die Hard Trilogy melded with elements of Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza along with a pinch of the first Die Hard game on DOS and we could have an amazing game. But things seem to be drying up when it comes to Die Hard games. The latest film is in production as I type this but I doubt that will garner enough interest for someone to develop a full-blown game, I think the best we can hope is another Android/iOS free to play game. I don’t think we will ever see that definitive Die Hard game, I’m pretty sure we can say happy trials to that idea.

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“I’m Batman”, Part II

I’m still Batman.

Welcome back to part II of my retrospective look at the Batman games I grew up playing and even still play today.
We left off with one of the all time classic and best NES games, Batman: The Videogame, which was inspired by the Tim Burton film. But the NES game was not the last game based on the movie.

Batman arcade

Batman: This one was an arcade only game released in 1990. Developed by Numega and published by Atari Games.
This was a simple scrolling beat em’ up and featured scenes based on the 1989 movie as well as stages where you use the Batmobile and Batwing. The game also used voices and images taken directly from the movie as well as featuring Danny Elfman’s amazing Batman score.
With you playing as Batman patrolling the streets of Gotham trying to stop The Joker.

The game was shallow and repetitive…but it was also good mindless fun. It’s an arcade game and designed to eat up your loose change.

Batman arcade 2

For a scrolling beat em’ up, this was not a bad one at all. Not a great game, but it was good enough to warrant a play or several. Followed the film fairly closely too and was interspersed with scenes taken directly from the film.

As we leave Tim Burton’s Batman inspired games behind, Sunsoft just could not wait for the next film for their next Batman game.

Batman 2 Nes

Batman: Return of the Joker: The sequel to the NES Batman game that was based on the 1989 film. But this sequel NES game released in 1991 was made before the official Batman Returns movie sequel. (confused yet?)
Again Developed and published by Sunsoft.
There were various versions of this game released on other formats that all slightly differed from version to version, but it’s only the NES one I played.

Joker escapes Arkham Asylum and you playing as Batman having to survive through several side scrolling levels set in and around Gotham City. Batman is only equipped with a “Batgun” that fires various, selectable projectiles.

Batman 2 nes 2

I didn’t find this one as enjoyable as the previous NES Batman game, it just did not have the same feel. This one felt more like a scrolling shoot em’ up. It’s was not a bad game at all…just not as good as the previous one. Still as it was from Sunsoft, you can again expect some great music. Worth a look.

Next up we get an official game based on Tim Burton’s sequel film; Batman Returns.

Batman R

Batman Returns: Again, there were various version of this title. But I’m going for the SNES version for this retrospective as it was really damn good. Released in 1993, developed and published by Konami for the SNES.

Batman Returns was a scrolling beat em’ up with some really great little touches to add a lot of depth to this fairly shallow genre. Massively redundant and mindless…but it was also an awesome and satisfying experience.
Based on the film of the same name from Tim Burton, the game followed the film really well with you playing as Batman having to save Gotham City from Catwoman and the Penguin. The game also featured a stage where you get to use the Batmobile.

Very well received at the time and still fondly remembered as a great title.

Batman R 2

Simple in its style, but full of great little features and details. Like being able to grab 2 henchmen at once and smash their heads together (see above image), or being able to throw enemies into the background smashing windows and denting lampposts, etc. The game followed the film really well and was intercut with amazing cutscenes with written dialogue taken right from the film as well as using Danny Elfman’s infamous Batman score to great effect.
Another thing that I always remember is how you could save Selina Kyle in the game just like in the film…”you missed.”
Well worth playing through if you can.

I’m going to stick with the SNES for my next pick of Batman games, this time based on the animated TV series.

Batman animated

The Adventures of Batman & Robin: Was an action/platformer released in 1994 for the SNES. Developed and published by Konami and based on the critically acclaimed Batman: The Animated Series.

You to play as Batman with Robin only appearing in cutscenes. Each level was based on one of the main villains with a rogues gallery like; The Joker, Poison Ivy, The Penguin, Catwoman, Two-Face, The Scarecrow, The Riddler, Clayface and even Man-Bat. Each level had it’s own flavour and style based on each of the villains which in turn was based on an episode of the TV show itself.

Batman animated 2

A really great game. Dark, moody and well animated…just like the TV show it was based on. As each level had it’s own villain based aesthetic and style. The game brought a great mix of gameplay styles that offered plenty of variation from simple beat em’ up to head scratching puzzles.

Next I’m going to tackle one of the worst Batman games ever made.

Batman forever

Batman Forever: Was Released in 1995 for the SNES, Sega Mega Drive, Sega Game Gear, Game Boy and PC. Developed by Probe Entertainment and published by Acclaim. Lets be honest, it does not matter which version I talk about as they were all really, really, really bad.

Based on the third film in the Batman series of the same name. This game has you playing as either Batman or Robin, or even Co-Op 2 player…if you can find anyone that would want to play this game.
This was a side scrolling beat em’ up with some of the worst controls ever made in a game. Sluggish combat inspired by Mortal Kombat, awkward gadget selection and usage. Even bad level design with little to no idea of where to go or what to do.

Batman forever 2

I really have nothing to say here. It’s a terrible game and should be avoided at all costs, not even worth playing just for curiosity sake.
Lets move on…

Still, there was more from Batman Forever yet.

Batman forever arcade

Batman Forever: The Arcade Game: Also based on the movie of the same name, but not the same game as the previous version. Developed by Iguana Entertainment, Published by Acclaim and released in 1996. This was an arcade game but later ported to the Sega Saturn, Windows and PlayStation.

This was another one of those redundant scrolling beat em’ ups, but unlike the last Batman Forever game. This one was actually pretty decent. It was another mindless button mashing game and allowed you to play Co-Op as Batman and Robin trying to stop The Riddler and Two-Face.

Batman forever arcade 2

Decent action romp with a pretty good combo system allowing you to do a 150+ hit combo on one enemy if you knew how. Plenty of powerups, weapons and gadgets to use along the way.
It is an inane button masher, but it still has some playability value in there and it’s far, far, far better than that previous Batman Forever game.
Worth a quick look.

So ends part II, but I will return in part III with the next Batman game based on the next Batman film. Same Batwebsite…yeah, I already did that one eh?

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Service Games is 75 years old! Part III

Welcome back to my retrospective look at Sega. As we approach the end of the 90’s, Sega release their final gaming console.

dreamcast

The Dreamcast was released in 1998 in Japan and came to America and Europe in 1999.
This console was the first released in the 6th generation of gaming consoles, beating the PlayStation 2, Xbox and Gamecube for a release date.
Despite this console being a fan favorite and despite the impressive opening sales and even some groundbreaking/impressive games like; Shenmue, Power Stone 2, Metropolis Street Racer, Rez and even some arcade perfect ports. Dreamcast sales just did not meet Sega’s expectations and continuing financial losses, The Dreamcast was discontinued in 2001, just 3 years after originally being launched.

Even after the demise of the Dreamcast, it’s still considered an important machine as it was the first to include a built in modem for internet support and online play.

In 2001 Sega of America officially announced they were becoming a third-party software publisher and would no longer produce hardware/gaming consoles.
By 2002, Sega had five consecutive fiscal years of net losses and were in serious debt.

Sega losses

Sega were in some serious financial trouble.
CSK founder; Isao Okawa gave Sega a $692 million private donation and even talked to Microsoft in early 2000 about a possible sale of Sega or even a merger. But the talks failed and Isao Okawa passed away shortly after in 2001.
In 2003, Sammy, one of Japan’s biggest pachinko and pachislot companies, bought 22% of the shares of Sega that CSK owned, and Sammy’s chairman; Hajime Satomi became CEO of Sega.
Later in 2004, Sammy bought a controlling share the Sega Corporation at a cost of $1.1 billion, creating the new company; Sega Sammy Holdings, an entertainment conglomerate. From then on, Sega and Sammy became subsidiaries of the aforementioned holding company, with both companies operating independently.

From 2003 onwards, Sega starting making a profit once again and even started to buy and form other companies/studios to join and help grow Sega worldwide once more.
2005 saw the forming of; Sega Racing Studio. In 2006, Sega Europe purchased Sports Interactive. While Sega of America purchased Secret Level in the same year and rebranded it to Sega Studio San Francisco. 2013 saw Sega buy Relic Entertainment.
From then on Sega have managed to maintain a good steady financial flow from it’s various studios as well as by developing and publishing games on various other machines…even allowing Sonic and Mario to team up in the Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games series. Sonic & Mario together in the same game was just not heard of in the 90’s.

sonic mario

Sega even still continued to develop arcade games despite the arcade market being all but dead seeing as consoles had by this time become even more powerful than arcade machines.

Republic

Sega Republic, an indoor theme park in Dubai opened in 2009. Where you can enjoy over 150 amusement games/rides/attractions based on Sega IPs.
Then in 2013, in joint co-operation with BBC Earth, Sega opened the first interactive nature simulation museum in Orbi Yokohama, Japan.

From 2012 – present, Sega have mainly been concentrating on the digital market. By bringing many classic Sega games as well as reboots and remakes to Xbox Live, PSN, Android and iOS. With games like After Burner Climax, OutRun 2, Crazy Taxi and many others…but still no Shenmue 1 or 2 remake or even Shenmue 3?

Sega have certainly had a rollercoaster of a 75 years going from simple coin-operated machines, to help create and popularise arcades. To poor initial home market attempts to helping restore faith in the gaming industry after the 1983 game crash. Even shaping how we would game in the future with the Dreamcast.
I don’t think there is much Sega has not done in the industry.

75 years of Sega. Love them or hate them, you can not deny they have been an important part of the gaming world.

sega pads

Thanks for reading.

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Service Games is 75 years old! Part II

We left off with Sega struggling after the game crash of 1983 with declining profits, despite a decent arcade presence, and an underwhelming first attempt at a home console with the SG-1000.
In 1985, Sega released its second home console in Japan, the Sega Mark III.

MK III

Does not look very familiar does it?
Well for the North American & European launch, the console was redesigned and retitled.

master system

The Sega Master System hit the American market in 1986 and Europe in 1987. Released to compete with Nintendo’s Famicom/NES. The Sega Master System launched with Alex Kidd in Miracle World, Alex Kidd was Sega’s first attempt at a gaming mascot to try and match Nintendo with Mario. Despite Alex Kidd appearing in several games and spin-offs, he never really took off as a mascot.
The Sega Master System itself was technically superior to Nintendo’s NES, it could not match sales of the NES in Japan or North America. However, it did fair better in Europe.

With a moderate success in the home market with The Sega Master System, SEGA carried on to strengthen their arcade library in the mid 80’s with games like OutRun (1986), After Burner (1987) and Power Drift (1989).

1989 would also see Sega release it’s successor to The Sega Master System.

megadrive

The Mega Drive (Genesis in North America) did not fare well in Japan against its main competitor, Nintendo’s Super Famicom. But, it did achieve greater success in North America and in Europe. Helping this success were several ports of some of Sega’s best arcade games as well as the introduction of a certain blue hedgehog.

sonic title

In 1991, Sega first introduced the world to Sonic The Hedgehog. A superfast platformer styled game that took the world by storm and finally SEGA had a bankable gaming mascot.
Sonic went on to star in several sequels and spinoffs on the Mega Drive and is even still a relevant gaming mascot today.
Sonic helped to sell even more consoles and give Sega it’s first real home market success with the Mega Drive/Genesis. The Mega Drive/Genesis also had several addons released for the console like the Mega CD and 32X to help extend the life of the machine.

Sega decided to follow up on the success of the Mega Drive/Genesis and try to muscle in on Nintendo’s handheld console market share held by the Gameboy. Sega released the portable Sega Game Gear in 1990.

Gamegear

The Sega Game Gear was essentially as Master System in handheld form using much if the same hardware.
Due to problems with a very short battery life, titles mainly being lazy ports, and poor first party support, the Game Gear was unable to come close to the success of Nintendo’s Game Boy despite the Game Gear being technically superior. The Game Gear was succeeded by the Sega Nomad (a portable Mega Drive/Genesis) in 1995.

But while they started to gain ground in terms of home market sales, Sega still maintained a strong arcade library through the 90’s especially with it’s “Virtua” series with titles; Virtua Racing (1992), Virtua Fighter (1993) and Virtua Cop (1994).

The mid 90’s saw the release of Sega’s next home console.

saturn

The Sega Saturn first hit the home market in 1994 in Japan and then in America and Europe in 1995.
The console was a moderate hit initially, but sales started to drop off fast due to the release of Nintendo’s N64 in 1996 and the rising popularity of Sony’s first home console, The PlayStation.
Sega also never released a Sonic game for the machine, which many feel is part of the reason the sales for the Saturn soon dropped off. There was one in development called; Sonic X-treme, but it was ultimately cancelled.
The Saturn did benefit from some great arcade ports like; Sega Rally Championship, The House of the Dead as well as ports of Sega’s Virtua arcade series of games and their sequels, but the console was only a moderate hit worldwide.

Not content with just arcade and home console gaming, Sega even opened their own amusement style theme parks in 1994 called; Joypolis.

Joypolis

Joypolis opened in Yokohama, Japan. Several Joypolis were opened in various cities in Japan with the parks featuring arcade games and rides based on existing SEGA IPs. A total of 8 Joypolis theme parks were opened. However, as of writing only 3 of the parks are still open today.
Other similar Sega based arcades and parks opened around the world. SegaWorld opened in the United Kingdom, China, Australia and Japan, but only a handful still remain in Japan. Plus; GameWorks was a joint venture between Sega, Universal Studios, and DreamWorks.

I’ll end here, but part III will cover Sega’s (probably) most popular and loved home console…and their last, as SEGA end their hardware reign and become a software only devloper.

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Service Games is 75 years old! Part I

Service logo

75 years is a big milestone in the gaming world and one worth celebrating.
So join me as I take a brief-ish look back on Service Games from their initial roots to where they are today.

But wait, let’s back up a little here….who the hell are Service Games and why do you not recognise the name?
Well what about if I wrote it like this: SErvice GAmes…

Founded in Honolulu, Hawaii, 1940. Service Games began by distributing coin-operated slot machines and jukeboxes. In 1951, the company moved to Tokyo, Japan and began to distribute basic coin-operated machines to American military bases in and around Japan.

David Rosen, an American officer in the US Air Force, launched a photo booth business in Tokyo sometime in 1954 and the Rosen Enterprises company was born. In 1957, Rosen Enterprises began importing coin-operated games into Japan.
By 1965, Rosen Enterprises developed a chain of arcades, with Service Games its only serious competitor at the time, but instead of battling it out as rivals. David Rosen instead suggested a merger between Rosen Enterprises and Service Games and became chief executive of the new company: Sega Enterprises which derived its name from Service Games and Rosen Enterprises.
In 1965 the now world famous Sega was created from those humble beginnings originated by Service Games 20 years previously.

Original logo

1966 saw the release of Sega Enterprises first ever in house developed coin-operated game; Periscope.

periscope

Periscope was a simple game as this was very early in the life of arcades and games. The player looked through a simulated submarine periscope to launch torpedoes at enemy ships. The ships were made from cardboard and would be moved mechanically via a drive chain, and the torpedoes were represented by simple coloured lights.
This simple arcade game was a huge success in Japan and was then exported to America and Europe the following year, where it again met with success.
Periscope is often considered a turning point for coin-operated games and even arcades as a whole.

David Rosen sold Sega Enterprises to American conglomerate Gulf and Western Industries in 1969, but Rosen stayed on as CEO of the Sega division. Sega continued to grow and prosper under Rosen and flourished very well from the arcade gaming craze in the late 1970s, with income reaching over $100 million by 1979.
Along with the changes came a new and familiar logo.

SEGA logo

In 1982 Sega introduced gamers to the world’s first commercial stereoscopic 3D game; SubRoc-3D.

SubRoc 3D

SubRoc-3D used a display that delivers individual images to each eye via a special eyepiece, a viewer with spinning discs to alternate left and right images to the player’s eyes from a single monitor. This gave the illusion that the in game images were coming towards to player.

Due to the game crash of 1983, Sega saw its profits drop from $214 million in 1982 to $136 million by the end of 1983. Also in 1983, Sega released its first ever home gaming console the SG-1000.

SG-1000

The SG-1000 was released as a competitor to the hugely successful Atari 2600. But the SG-1000 hardly made an impact and was poorly received overall.

While Sega’s first attempt at cracking the home market met with less than positive admiration, Sega still maintained a good arcade game presence in the late 70’s and early 80’s with titles like Frogger (1981) which Sega published in the U.S. Zaxxon (1982) which holds the distinction of being the first ever arcade game advertised on TV. Astron Belt (1983) which is said to be the world’s first laser disc based game, as well as all time classics like Hang-On & Space Harrier (1985).

The failure of the SG-1000 coupled with the declining profits of Sega and the video game crash of 1983 lead to Gulf and Western Industries eventually selling the U.S. assets of Sega Enterprises to pinball manufacturer Bally Manufacturing.
However, the Japanese assets of Sega Enterprises were brought by a group of investors led by David Rosen, Robert Deith, and Hayao Nakayama. Nakayama was a Japanese businessman who owned an arcade game distribution company called; Esco Boueki.
Hayao Nakayama became the new CEO of Sega Japan, Robert Deith Chairman of the Board, and David Rosen became head of its subsidiary in the United States. In 1984, a multibillion dollar Japanese conglomerate CSK bought Sega and headquartered it in Japan. David Rosen’s friend, Isao Okawa, the chairman of CSK, became chairman of Sega.

Here ends the first part of my retrospective of Sega, join me in part II where we’ll see the company rise from the ashes of the game crash of 1983 to become one of the biggest and most recognised names in gaming.

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Pac-Man Part VII

Well here we are…finally, at the end of my retrospective look back at Pac-Man’s entire 35 year gaming life.
If you have managed to make it through my Pac-Man game overview as well as my Happy Birthday bio and even managed to get through the whole multipart retrospecive…well done and thank you for reading.

pac

Here in this final part, I just want to give mention to some of the other games I didn’t cover in the main retrospective.
First the various Pac-Man compilations:

Ms. Pac-Man/Galaga: Class of 1981
Release date: 2001
System: Arcade

Pac-Man Collection
Release date: 2001
System: Game Boy Advance

Pac-Man: 25th Anniversary Arcade Machine
Release date: 2005
System: Arcade

Pac-Man Power Pack
Release date: 2008
System: PlayStation 2

Namco All-Stars: Pac-Man and Dig Dug
Release date: 2009
System: Windows PC

Pac-Man’s Arcade Party
Release date: 2010
System: Arcade

Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions
Release date: 2011
System: Nintendo 3DS

Dual Pack: Pac-Man World 3/Namco Museum DS
Release date: 2012
System: Nintendo DS

Pac-Man Museum
Release date: 2014
System: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PC

Next up are compilations that feature Pac-Man in games, but not in the title:

Namco Museum 64
Release date: 1999
System: Nintendo 64

Namco Museum: 50th Anniversary
Release date: 2005
System: GameCube, Game Boy Advance, Windows PC, PlayStation 2 and Xbox

Namco Museum Remix
Release date: 2007
System: Wii

Namco Museum DS
Release date: 2007
System: Nintendo DS

Namco Museum Virtual Arcade
Release date: 2009
System: Xbox 360

Moving onto iOS/Android games:

Pac-Man Remix
Release date: 2009
System: iPhone and iPod Touch

PAC-Match Party
Release date: 2010
System: iPod Touch and iPad

Pac-Chain
Release date: 2010
System: iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad

Pac-Attack
Release date: 2010
System: iPhone and iPod Touch

Pac’N-Jump
Release date: 2011
System: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and Android

Pac-Chomp!
Release date: 2011
System: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad , Android and Kindle Fire

Pac-Man Games
Release date: 2012
System: iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad

Pac-Man Kart Rally
Release date: 2012
System: Android and Kindle Fire

Pac-Man + Tournaments
Release date: 2013
System: Android

Pac-Man Dash!
Release date: 2013
System: iPhone, iPod Touch and Android

Pac-Man Monsters
Release date: 2014
System: iPhone, iPod Touch and Android

Pac-Man Friends
Release date: 2014
System: iPhone, iPod Touch and Android

Finish off with games Pac-Man has cameoed in:

Kick
Release date: 1981
System: Arcade

Mario Kart Arcade GP
Release date: 2005
System: Arcade

Mario Kart Arcade GP 2
Release date: 2007
System: Arcade

Space Invaders vs. Pac-Man
Release date: 2005
System: Mobile phone

QuickSpot
Release date: 2006
System: Nintendo DS

Body and Brain Connection
Release date: 2011
System: Xbox 360

Pac-Man S
Release date: 2011
System: Social facebook game

Everybody’s Golf 6
Release date: 2011
System: PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 3

Street Fighter X Tekken
Release date: 2012
System: PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita

Pac-Man Smash
Release date: 2012
System: Arcade

Mario Kart Arcade GP DX
Release date: 2013
System: Arcade

Namco High
Release date: 2013
System: Web Browser

Mario Kart 8
Release date: 2014
System: Wii U

Super Smash Bros.
Release date(s): 2014
System: Nintendo 3DS and Wii U

Galaga: TEKKEN 20th Anniversary Edition
Release date: 2015
System: iPhone, iPod Touch and Android

That just about covers every official appearance from Pac-Man aside from a few pinball machines that also featured Pac-Man.

Well, it’s been a long journey (and a long read/write). From 1980-2015, Pac-Man was the original gaming mascot that is still relevant, known and referenced even today. This ends Pac-Man’s 35th Birthday celebration on LBoG&M…and this also just so happens to be my 50th post.
It’s been a great 35 years with great games as well as not so great games. Pac-Man has appeared in various gaming genres from the simple maze running of the original, to platforming, to adventure games…and even a trivia based game.

Thanks for the memories Pac-Man.

Birthday pac

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Pac-Man Part VI

Welcome back (again) to the final Pac-Man games released for the home market, and we kick of with yet another sequel to Pac-Man’s first 3D adventure.

Pac world 3

Pac-Man World 3: Was a multiformat game released on PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox, Nintendo DS, PSP and Windows. Developed & published by Namco and in stores in 2005. The game was released to celebrate Pac-Man’s 25th birthday.

The sequel to the sequel of Pac-Man World and the only one of the trilogy not released in Japan. The game also featured the first speaking Pac-Man within the gaming series.

In a search for power, an evil genius called Erwin has found a way to suck raw energy out of the world of the Spectral Realm, the world of the ghosts. Erwin has created a syphon that can penetrate into the Spectral Realm. This is causing the Spectral Realm to collapse into Pac-Land and bringing about an environmental catastrophe.
Meanwhile, Pac-Man is celebrating his 25th birthday with his family when he is teleported by Orson, a former nemesis of Pac-Man from the first Pac-Man World game. Orson communicates to Pac-Man and tells him about the Spectral Realm. Pac-Man is attacked by fiery Spectral monsters of the orange, green, and purple varieties which have been driven mad by Erwin’s hypnosis with the ghosts; Inky and Blinky been kidnapped as part of Erwin’s evil scheme. However, Pinky and Clyde managed to escape.
Now Pac-Man must join forces with the ghosts, Orson, Pinky, and Clyde to stop Erwin before he destroys both the Spectral Realm and Pac-Land.

Cutscenes pop up throughout the game, and instead of having just subtitles, the characters speak as well. The subtitles are configurable in the game’s settings.

Pac-Man retains his moves from the previous two Pac-Man World games, like the butt-bounce and the rev-roll, but now he gets the ability to punch. As normal attacks don’t work on Spectral monsters, Pac-Man can eat a power pill and do what has been a Pac-Man staple since the first game.

There is also a museum accessible by the main menu, where you can look at Pac-Man game history and even play the original Pac-Man game itself.

Better than Pac-Man World 2 but still not as enjoyable as the first Pac-Man World. The game met with fairly positive reviews. Critics praised the inclusion of elements from the previous two games,but noted the repetition and lower difficulty. Plus a speaking Pac-Man sparked controversy among fans.

Next up, Pac-Man decides to get in on all that Popular Mario Kart action.

Pac rally

Pac-Man World Rally: Developed by Smart Bomb Interactive and published by Namco. Released in 2006 for the PlayStation 2, PSP, GameCube and Windows. A karting game based in the Pac-Man universe and obviously “inspired” by Mario Kart.

Pac-Man World Rally uses standard kart racing genre game gameplay. A 4-player multiplayer mode was also included.
Pac-boxes are available on the track and allow the player the gift of one item/weapon. the infamous pellets are also available on the racetrack., with each pellet collected helps the a meter go up and once the meter is full, the player can press a button and turn into Pac-Man while all the other players turn into blue ghosts. If the Pac-Man eats any of the blue ghosts, the blue ghosts will stop for a while and get a major disadvantage on the track.
There is also a fruit activation button on the racetrack. When the player runs over the button, fruit is scattered around the racetrack. When you run over the fruit, it allows the shortcut that corresponds with the fruit to become open for you.

Various characters were available with not only Pac-Man characters, but also a handful of characters from other Namco games including; Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Jr. Pac-Man, Blinky, Pinky, Inky, Clyde, Toc-Man (Pac-Man World),Spooky (Pac-Man World 2), Erwin (Pac-Man World 3), Pac-Devil (new character), The Prince (Katamari Damacy),Pooka (Dig Dug), Fygar (Dig Dug), Mappy (Mappy) and Mr. Driller (Mr. Driller).

The game was split into various cups (just like Mario Kart) with; Cherry Cup, Grape Cup, Watermelon Cup, Classic Cup and finally: Rally Cup.
Each cup had various races based on the Pac-Man universe.

Reviewers gave the game average reviews at best, noting the blatant ripping off of Mario Kart. But even in itself, Pac-Man World Rally was just a very average karting game.

Next up would be a welcome return to “classic Pac” with a retro makeover and even the return of Pac-Man’s father.

Pac champ

Pac-Man Championship Edition: Released on Android, Xbox Live Arcade, iOS, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo 3DS. Developed and published by Namco in 2007.

The game was designed by Tōru Iwatani, the creator of the original 1980 arcade game and it was Iwatani’s final game before his retirement.

Going back to roots with the pellet eating, ghost dodging, maze running gameplay made famous by the original Pac-Man. Pac-Man Championship Edition was classic Pac-Man done brilliantly and updated for a new audience and generation.

While the game’s roots were in classic Pac-Man, Pac-Man Championship Edition brought plenty of new concepts to the table;
Each maze is divided into two halves. Eating all the pellets in one half causes a bonus item to appear on the other side, and eating that item causes a new maze to appear on the other half.
Players can also collect additional power pills to increase their powered up time and continue earning maximum points for eating ghosts. The longer the player stays alive, the faster the game gets and the more points can be earned.
As opposed to stages, the game is played within a certain time limit, with players attempting to get the highest score possible.

The game features six modes: Championship, which is the basic five-minute mode, two Challenge modes which features real time effects on the stage and three Extra modes featuring different mazes.

Pac-Man Championship Edition was met with positive reviews and reception. With many reviewers praising the return to the simplicity of Pac-Man but also for bringing with it several great new features.

Namco found Pac-Man Championship Edition to be a great success…so they tried it again….

Pac champ DX

Pac-Man Championship Edition DX: Was released 3 years later in 2010. Developed by Mine Loader Software and Published by Namco. Released for Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, Windows Phone, Windows Store and Steam. This was just an update over Pac-Man Championship Edition previously…but what a great update.

Pac-Man Championship Edition DX builds and adds upon the gameplay of Pac-Man Championship Edition. Where players control Pac-Man as he travels through a maze collecting pellets and avoiding ghosts. Collecting all the pellets on one side of the maze makes a fruit appear on the other side, which adds a new layout of pellets on that side. The basic gameplay remained untouched, but Pac-Man Championship Edition DX did bring more new features;
Introduced is a new type of ghost that sleeps in a stationary spot on the maze until Pac-Man moves past it, when it will wake and begin to follow Pac-Man. By passing several sleeping ghosts, they form a large rainbow trail that can offer massive bonus points once Pac-Man is able to get a power pill and eat them.
Some ghosts may also have additional power pills inside them that can prolong the powered-up state if eaten in time.
A slow-motion effect automatically kicks in whenever a ghost gets too close to Pac-Man, which offers players the chance to make a last-minute attempt to avoid being caught.
Players can also use a limited supply of bombs that return all the ghosts to the center of the maze, although it lowers the dot multiplier, game speed and your overall score.

The game has various visual styles, including some in the style of Pac-Mania, which can be mixed and matched by the player. You also had access a constantly updated News feature, which includes articles such as developer interviews, as well as view video replays of the highest-ranking Score Attack players.

I have yet to find a bad or even average review of Pac-Man Championship Edition DX as every single one is nothing but high praise. While just an update of the previous Pac-Man Championship Edition, this title improved everything making it the best modern Pac-Man game yet.

Next up, Nintendo get Pac-Man back on their machines with a return to the multiplayer, party game experience.

pac party

Pac-Man Party: Was released in 2010 being published and developed by Namco and available on the Wii and Nintendo 3DS.

The game included over 50 minigames, which when played would allow players to unlock bonus content such as “Classic Games” mode where players can play three classic Namco arcade games; Pac-Man, Galaga and Dig Dug.

Aside from the pick up and play minigames, Pac-Man Party also came with a story mode known as “Mr. Cookie’s Recipe” which is standard part game genre fare.
In this game mode, all players start at Mr. Cookie’s factory with 1000 cookies to start. The main object is to collect a set number of cookies, and get to the cookie factory to win.
When a player goes to an empty space or an empty castle, the player can build a castle to claim it. When players go to their own castle they receive bonus cookies. A player landing on an opponent’s castle will battle in one of the 50 odd minigames. If the attacking player wins, that player takes the opponent’s castle. If the defending player wins, the attack player loses a number of cookies.
If a player lands on a Millionaire Manor, something good may happen. If a player lands on a Tarot Tent, something bad could happen. If a player lands on Dr. Labo’s Lab, the player would be transported to a different space. Should the player pass an exclamation point space enough times, then the player will play a boss minigame.
The player can then return to the cookie factory to get a cookie bonus along with a castle bonus for each castle gained.
The winner is the player with the most cookies at the end of the game.

Pac-Man Party was met with average reviews with many people fining the minigames only mildly enjoyable.

We approach the penultimate Pac-Man game released for home machines and almost at the end of this HUGE retrospective.

Pac Ghost ad

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures: Was based on the new Pac-Man animated TV show of the same name. Developed by Monkey Bar Games and published by Namco. The game was released on the Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Wii U, and Nintendo 3DS in 2013.

The game begins with Pac-Man and his friends walk into Sir C’s lab. Three golden orbs are on a table, while Sir C is explaining what they are to Pac-Man, four ghosts from the netherworld come and tell Pac-Man that Pacoplis is under attack by Betrayus, king of the netherworld.

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures used many of the characters and art style of the TV show it was based on. The game was a simple enough platformer with all the standard Pac-Man items; pellets, power pills, ghosts, etc.

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures was met with mediocre as it was just a very middle of the road game that didn’t really do anything wrong, nor did it do anything to make it stand out.

Still, some people must have enjoyed Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures as the sequel would be Pac-Man’s final (so far) released home game.

Pac Ghost ad 2

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2: Again developed by Monkey Bar Games and published by Namco in 2014. Released for Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 3, Wii U and Xbox 360.

Following the colorful characters and world of the Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures animated series, Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2 will feature Pac-Man, Spiral and Cylindria in an all-new storyline as they defend PacWorld from the ghoulish army of Lord Betrayus.

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2 really was pretty more of the same. It didn’t really offer anything new over the last game aside from a slightly different plot a few new characters and areas.
Aside from that, it was the exact same game as before and offered (again) a rather average platforming experience.

With that marks the end of Pac-Man’s gaming 35 year career.
From 1980-2015, Pac-Man is still one of the most recogniseable gaming characters ever.

Join me in my final part VII where I mop up with a few unmentioned Pac-Man game spin-offs and collections and offer my thoughts on Pac-Man himself as one of gaming’s icons.

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