Tag Archives: LBoG: Retrospectives

Its never going to get any better than this (A brief history of video games).

I grew up in the late 70s and through the 80s, growing up playing games as long as I have. You get to see many, many changes over the years. There have been several times when I’ve played a game and thought to myself that ‘its never going to get any better than this’ only to be proven wrong further down the line.

Evolution

So here, I’d like to round up those games that, for as long as I have been playing games, for one reason or another. Whether it be graphics, gameplay, story or some other reason, have impressed me.
In no particular order and I’ll be jumping around the years as I go and yes, I would have mentioned several of these games elsewhere on this site already too. Here are my ‘its never going to get any better than this’ (A brief history of video games).

SpaceInvaders cover

Space Invaders – Atari 2600 (1980): Holds the distinction of being the first ever licensed arcade to home machine port. This was always a simple game and one of the all time classics in gaming. But what amazed me about it was the simple fact we could now play arcade games at home, of which Space Invaders was the very first and opened the floodgates to other arcade/home ports like Asteroids, Defender, Donkey Kong, Pac-Man and so on.

SpaceInvaders screen

While this version was not an arcade perfect port by any means, just the simple fact we were playing this on our own console at home was a dream come true. Plus the Atari 2600 version came with 112 variations on the classic game offering hours upon hours of replay value.

PoP cover

Prince Of Persia – Amiga 500 (1989): This game just had to be seen to be believed back then. The super smooth, rotoscoped animation was unreal and unlike anything we had seen then. A platforming game like no other at the time and would go on to not only be the inspiration for other many hugely popular IPs later, but also become its own successful franchise in itself. Prince of Persia didn’t just offer amazing animation but also managed to blend into the mix platforming action, sword fights and puzzle solving. The game was simple but tough and relied on the old ‘trial and error’ style, so the more you played, the more you learned and progressed.

PoP Screen

It gave birth to the sub genre of (what I call); ‘The cinematic platform games’, as this offered an almost movie like story experience that unfolded as you played. With other games like; Another World (AKA; Out of this World), Flashback, Nosferatu, Blackthorne (AKA; Blackhawk) and numerous others that borrowed form the Prince of Persia formula. Would we ever had gotten; Lara Croft and the entire Tomb Raider series without this game? Plus the fact that Assassin’s Creed began as a spin off to Prince of Persia called; Prince of Persia: Assassin. Prince of Persia was/is certainly influential.

Half-Life Cover

Half-Life – PC (1998): Okay, I have to be honest here, I’m not a big fan of Half-Life. People are always going on about Valve finally releasing a Half-Life 3 and to be honest, I couldn’t care less. But I am more than willing to admit that I was impressed with the original when I first saw and played it… but not for its core gameplay.

Half-Life Screen

While I didn’t think much of the gameplay of Half-Life, what did impress me was the introduction. Just that whole opening of going to work felt epic and unique at the time as introductions were just something you watched (and occasionally skipped) before the game began. But the introduction to Half-Life allowed you to play and interact as the story was slowly set up. It all helped to make introductions to games important and a great way to set in place the style and tone for what was to come later.

Midwinter Cover

Midwinter – Amiga 500 (1989): One of the very first true open world/sandbox games that are everywhere these days. While not the first of this sub genre (that one is coming up later), Midwinter (and its sequel; Midwinter II) paved the way for games like GTA, Saint’s Row, etc that we have today.

Midwinter screen

Played from a first person view point, the map was big (for the time) and the dazzling amount of ways you could get around was unmatched. You could ski, use hand-gliders, skidoos, cable cars, snowcats, etc. Then the missions themselves could be approached and handled in various ways. Yeah there was a story to follow and objectives to complete, but you didn’t have to do them and could explore the map, find new locales and meet new people. Just the freedom the game allowed you to have was stunning at the time.

Gauntlet cover

Gauntlet – Arcade (1985): The cabinet itself with its 4 player set up was an amazing sight to see, allowing you to team up with friends and play together. One of the very first drop in/out, co-op multiplayer games. The way each character was unique and had their own strengths and weaknesses was also quite new at the time and offered a character to suit your play style.

Gauntlet Screen

The memorable (and quotable) speech during gameplay, the endless levels urging you to keep on playing to see how far you could get. One of the most perfect arcade games ever created and an arcade game that shaped and moulded co-op gameplay decades before it became popular. I just never could resist popping in a few 10p coins into this monster of a game whenever I saw it.

SMW Cover

Super Mario World – SNES (1990): In my personal opinion, this is the greatest platform game ever created. I really can not think of another platforming game that was as well designed and as much fun to play as this. The closest game that comes to mind it its own prequel; Super Mario Bros. 3. It was beautiful to look at back then and offered a dazzling variety of gameplay and fun with a huge world full of taxing levels to play in and explore trying to find all those little secrets and hidden levels.

SMW Screen

The bright and cartoony styled graphics were jaw dropping at the time, but this was not just a game that looked pretty, it was a game that played even better. Each level seemed to be so well crafted and felt genuinely fun to play. The massive over-world map that held its own fun secrets to find. The multiple endings and secret areas you could hunt for in the levels that would open up short cuts, hidden areas and even a whole ‘new’ world… everything about this game is just so well designed and implemented, for me (as I said) the greatest platforming game ever made.

Skool Daze Cover

Skool Daze – ZX Spectrum (1984): Another early game that had that open world/sandbox style. A game that was very unique at the time with it being set in a school. But the things you could do, the mischief you could get into and the freedom the game offered was a thing to behold back then.

Skool Daze Screen

This game allowed you to bend and break all the rules you couldn’t get away with at school. Want to punch that annoying ‘know it all’ kid, stand up to the bully, hit your geography teacher with a slingshot, write rude words on the blackboard? Well you could do all of that and more in this game. And like many open world/sandbox style games, yes there was a story/plot to follow and a main goal to achieve… but you didn’t have to. You could just play around with all the little things the game had to offer and find new and interesting ways to cause havoc in school without the risk of getting into real trouble.

Populous Cover

Populous – Amiga 500 (1989): You got to play as a God, which in itself was pretty unique at the time. This Peter Molyneux classic (from when he was a great game designer and not a purveyor of lies and empty promises) spawned an entirely new sub-genre of gaming; The God Game.

Populous Screen

The power you had was unmatched in any other game, you could sculpt the land to help you people build ever increasing homes, build your power and army to unleash God-like attacks on your enemy such as earthquakes, typhoons, blight the land with swamps and so on. Until you destroyed your puny rival and took over the land. Each map was different and offered a fresh new challenge, with changing scenery and obstacles to work around. A refreshing and interesting first for its time and was the game that opened my eyes to the strategy led games of that era.

Star Wars Cover

Star Wars – Arcade (1983): The 3D vector graphics were stunning back then, coupled with the voice samples taken directly from the film as we took down Tie Fighters in our X-Wing with the Death Star looming in the background. Then once all those pesky Ties were dealt with, onto to Death Star the take out the towers before reliving the climatic trench run from the film. All of this was just awesome and really made us feel like we were X-Wing pilots.

Star Wars Screen

This game was the first I remember that felt like we were playing a movie. The action was nonstop, the graphics were (at the time) impressive and the digitised sound and music taken directly from the film just added to the overall experience, I’m pretty sure the impressive art work on the cabinet helped a lot too. If there was ever a gaming experience that made me think ‘its never going to get any better than this’, then Star Wars was it.

Elite Cover

Elite – BBC Micro (1984): This, this is the game that is (arguably) the grandfather of the open world/sandbox sub genre of gaming. What this game managed to archive in terms of game design in 1984 was just though of as being simply impossible back then. Developers; David Braben and Ian Bell were quite simply pure geniuses.

Elite Screens

To be honest, to do this game justice, I really need to do its own in-depth article (and may do so one day). What this game offered was just unheard of then, a true revolution in gaming. It was game of unparalleled design, depth and one that offered such amazing freedom of gameplay that it is still held up in such high regard today. With you playing as Commander Jameson (though the name could be changed) and starting off with a meagre 100 credits and a lightly armed trading ship. You are free to do whatever you want within the game’s impressively large universe… and it is a universe. You can become a Han Solo style space smuggler/trader. Dabble in perfectly legal goods, or maybe you want to earn more money going a more illegal route? Mine asteroids for materials. Become a well respected space trader or a nefarious space pirate. Take part in dogfights, go from planet to planet, galaxy to galaxy over an entire explorable universe via hyperspace travel. Earn more money and upgrade your ship, its weapons or even buy an all new ship with even more upgrades available. As I said before, I could do a more in-depth look at this game as it rightly deserves as what I’m writing here doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. Elite changed gaming for decades and really showed what could be done with a little imagination and impressive development skills. What was in Elite was just not thought possible in 1984… but there it was. The game went on to become its own successful franchise with; Frontier: Elite II, Frontier: First Encounters and more recently a reboot for the current generation with; Elite: Dangerous (which I highly recommend if you want a great space exploration game) as well as opening the doors for games like Wing Commander (series), Privateer, Star Wars: X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter and the countless other space combat/exploration games that followed it. David Braben and Ian Bell changed the face of gaming forever with Elite and the ripples it caused are still being felt today.

So there you go, just a handful of games that made me feel ‘its never going to get any better than this’. To be honest, there are literally hundreds of others I could include and may very well do just that in a follow up article or seven later. While all of these were games from the 80s and 90s, there are still games being made in recent years that manage to impress me for one reason or another. I have just learned over the years that ‘it will always get better then this’ with the advancement of technology and ever increasing game designers with fresh and exciting ideas.

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Ghostbusters in gaming

Still going with my Birthday/Ghostbusters celebration as I now take a look at the many and various Ghostbusters games over the years. From the simpler times of the Atari 2600 and ZX Spectrum to modern day with the PS4 and Xbox One.

8 bit

There have been quite a few Ghostbusters games, more than I first realised in fact. Some I have fond memories of and some I wish I could forget.

Let’s get stuck in with the first ever Ghostbusters game and the first one I remember.

GB c64 cover

Ghostbusters: Designed by David Crane and produced by Activision, released in 1984. Originally made for the Commodore 64 and Atari 800 but later ported to various computers and consoles including the ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, MSX, Atari 2600, Sega Master System and NES.

Based on the events of the first movie. This one was somewhat popular at the time and was ported to pretty much every popular computer and console at the time. I still remember the first time I played back in the 80s. It was on a friend’s ZX Spectrum before we got a copy for our Commodore 64 later.

You start by selecting your equipment from ghost traps to a vacuum… yes a vacuum. In some versions of the game, you could even select different cars. But why would you want to play a Ghostbusters game with a car that wasn’t Ecto 1? Once you have your vehicle and equipment, its time to bust some ghosts. You then find yourself on a overhead map like screen that looks kind of like Pac-Man with you controlling the Ghostbusters logo. Unless you know what you are supposed to be doing, this was very confusing at the time.

Basically you have to wait until a place need help from ghosts and move the Ghostbusters logo to the building. This is where the game changes to a more ghost busting action scene. You control two of the team and have to angle your proton streams to force that ghosts toward your trap. Once you are satisfied you think you can trap the ghosts, you would trigger the trap and capture the ghosts. The more ghosts you trap, the more money you make and the more money you have, the better equipment you can buy. It’s pretty simple stuff. Rinse and repeat until you have the best possible equipment. As the game progresses, eventually the main Zuul building will flash and this is your main goal of the game. When at the Zuul building, you have your guide two out of three of your Ghostbusters in between the Stay-Puft marshmallow man’s legs to enter. This is the end of the game in the original versions but it would give you a password in the form of ‘an account number’ which would allow you to start the game again but with the cash you earned from your previous play through. It was an early example of what we would not call a game+ mode.

GB c64 screen

There was also a driving stage mini game as you travelled from place to place. And this is where that vacuum came in handy as it would suck up any ghosts that got near your car and you’d earn some extra cash.

The game was pretty good for the time… again, depending on which version you played. The original Commodore 64 version is often regarded as the best of the lot. The later console ports like the NES and Master System added some new and interesting elements to the game play. Though the NES version is infamous for being terrible with one of the worst end game screens ever…

NES end

By today’s standard the game is very limited. But back then it was quite revolutionary and a good use of the license. It has many fans and has even been remade with updated graphics for you to play on your PC. Well wroth checking out.

Next we have the first game based on the popular cartoon.

TRGB cover

The Real Ghostbusters: Released by Data East in 1987 for the Arcades. Then ported to the Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, and ZX Spectrum later. Based on the popular animated TV show of the same name.

With this one, up to three people could play with each player controlling one of the main Ghostbusters characters from the cartoon. Opting for a top down view, you had to explore fully scrolling levels and shoot and then try to trap and suck up ghosts. Various power-ups could be found including; shot and beam boosters a protective Aura. Even that little green bastard, Slimer makes an appearance who would work as a shield that would orbit around your character.

TRGB screen

A total of 10 levels in the game full of a variety of numerous ghosts to bust. Clear the level of ghosts and move onto the next level. This one was pretty simple arcade fare, I suppose it was a little similar to the classic Gauntlet. No real depth to the game and it was basically a ‘shoot anything that moves’ kind of game, but it was fun… especially with a friend or two.

Its the turn of the film’s sequel and this game had different versions for the computer and console market.

GB II dos cover

Ghostbusters II: The first computer version was released by Activision in 1989 for the PC for DOS. After a lengthy text scroll that recaps the story of the first film and gets you up to speed with the opening events of the sequel up to the court room, the game finally begins.

The gameplay starts in the courtroom with you tasked to getting rid of the Scoleri Brothers ghosts where you just blast them until their energy is low enough to trap them. Once the ghosts have been trapped you move onto Ghostbusters HQ and you have to gather red slime to test, so you next find yourself under the city in the sewers gathering red slime wile avoiding ghostly hands trying to grab you. You’ll also receive phone calls while at Ghostbusters HQ that allow you to take on ghostbusting jobs to earn some spare cash, these jobs are similar to the opening courtroom scene but with different graphics based on various locales around New York like Central Park and the Dock where the Titanic has arrived. The more damage you do to the scenery, the less money you earn from the job.

You keep gathering and testing red slime, receiving calls for jobs to earn cash until have enough cash to build a slime blower and enough red slime to animate the Statue of Liberty. The game then changes to a scene with you controlling Lady Liberty (complete with a NES controller) with you looking down trying not to crush and kill civilians in their cars via her mighty feet as you make your way to the museum. Once at the museum and when midnight comes around, you then have to blast the painting of Vigo while trying to avoid projectiles. Once Vigo has been defeated, its game over and you are rewarded with a pretty entertaining end game sequence.

GB II dos screen

The game also featured a fun mini game where, if you failed any slime gathering or busting ghosts scene. You would have one of the Ghostbusters committed to an asylum and the remaining crew would have to try and break their friend out. It also featured some nice (for the time) digitised images and soundbites from the movie. A pretty decent game for the time though short and quite limiting.

But there was a different Ghostbusters II game relased for other computers.

GB II amiga cover

Ghostbusters II: This other version was also from Activision but relased the following year in 1990 for the Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64 Amstrad CPC and ZX Spectrum. This version differed from the PC/DOS version in several ways. The game begins with a pretty damn good remixed rendition of the famous Ghostbusters theme (on the Amiga) and is accompanied with various digitised stills from the movie and some quick text to get you up to speed on the story.

GB II amiga screen

You eventually take control as to have to abseil into the sewers trying to avoid and blast various ghosts on the way down. Once at the bottom of the sewer, you gather the slime and its onto the next scene. This scene cuts straight to the Statue of Liberty section and things take on a side scrolling shooter style as you fight your way to the museum blasting ghosts along the way in this overtly lengthy section. When you finally get to the museum, the game switches to an isometric view as you have to help all four Ghostbusters abseil into the museum from the roof. This then take on an almost strategy slant as you have to position the Ghostbusters the right place to defeat Vigo. At which point, Ray gets possessed and you have to then defeat him before you get the end game sequence which is very short and not as much fun as the PC/DOS version. This game was notoriously hard and only had three levels. It was just not as much fun as the other version.

Finally, the NES had a Ghostbusters II game too.

GB II NES US cover

Ghostbusters II: Again from Activision and released in 1990. This version is massively different from its computer counterparts. After a quick intro featuring Vigo you are thrown directly into the action.

This one is more of a side scrolling shooting all the way through. The first level is set in the sewers where you blast and avoid ghosts as you make your way to the end of the level. Next up you take control of Ecto-1 again blasting ghosts and avoiding obstacles. The next level is set in the courtroom and is the same as the first, next up is another Ecto-1 level… and that is how the game continues, same basic gameplay with the level graphics just changing between scenes.

GB II NES US screen

Eventually you do get to the Statue of Liberty and its more of the same blasting ghosts in some side scrolling action in a stupidly long section that seems to never end. Yet, eventually you make it to the museum and its more of the same as the first level but with different background graphics, only this time you have to repeat the same level four times to get all of the Ghostbusters to the Vigo painting and then you are greeted with a VERY short end game scene. Some call this game tough, personally I just found it dull. Same bland gameplay level after level and it all becomes tiresome.

That’s it for Ghostbusters II… or is it?

NGB II cover

New Ghostbusters II: This was yet another Ghostbusters II game relased for the NES, only this one was from HAL Laboratory and only released in Europe and Japan in 1990. Very different from the other NES game and far superior too.

This game allowed you to play one or two player and chose from five Ghostbusters… yes five. The original four of Peter, Ray, Egon and Winston. But you could also choose to play as Louis Tully. The gameplay was simple, but fun. Presented with a top down view, you explore the levels inspired by scenes from the film (the first level is set in the courtroom). All you have to do is blast and trap every ghost in a level before you can move onto the next one. Once a screen is clear, a big arrow points you toward the next screen. When every screen is clear of ghosts, you move onto the end of level boss, defeat the boss and you move onto the next level.

NGB II screen

If you chose a one player game then the second Ghostbuster would be controlled by the AI. Two player allowed one person to blast ghosts with the proton pack while the other was in control of the trap. While the basic gameplay remained the same from start to finish, each level was graphically and geographically varied and well designed offering plenty of variety. The final boss is Vigo and once he was defeated, you are rewarded with a fun end credits sequence shown in a cinema where various characters from the game take part in amusing scenes. Much better Ghostbusters II game for the NES than that other one and well worth checking out.

Next up is Ghostbusters… again?

GB MD cover

Ghostbusters: This one was a Mega Drive only release joint developed by Compile and SEGA. Published by SEGA in 1990. Inspired by the original film but with some ‘creative licence’ that brings with it a new story. This one allows you to play as one of the three Ghostbusters, choose from Peter, Ray or Egon (no Winston… racist?). Each of the three characters have slightly different speed and stamina stats. The game opens with a nice cut scene setting up the story.

You are then greeted by a simple map screen that has various locales you can select including the Ghostbusters HQ, an item shop, a weapon shop and the main levels the action takes place in like a haunted house, an apartment and a castle, plus others. Each level is quite large and offers some exploration as you jump from platform to platform busting ghosts to earn cash. You can also play any level in any order you wish, though later levels are tough without the right equipment. The cash you earn can be spent on upgrading your weapons and buying new items to help you in later levels. Each level is guarded by and end of level boss and once you bust them, the level is complete.

GB MD screen

The graphics are cartoon-like and the Ghostbusters themselves have an amusing big-head aesthetic. The weapon/item shops add some level of strategy as you have pick and choose the right tools for each level. When you complete each of the main levels on the map an all new and final level opens up and of you manage to defeat the boss at the end of this one you are rewarded a simple credits scroll and cheering crowd. This game is good fun and well worth finding a copy of if you enjoy Ghostbusters and platforming/shooting action.

The Real Ghostbusters return for another attempt in gaming next.

TRG GB cover

The Real Ghostbusters: Developed by Kemco and released in 1993. This puzzle/platforming game is actually a graphical/license swap of a pre-existing game. In Europe this game was Garfield Labyrinth and in Japan it was known as Mickey Mouse IV: Mahō no Labyrinth, part of Kemco’s Crazy Castle franchise.

You play as Peter Venkman who falls into an underground labyrinth and you have to find your way back out (Ghostbusters?). To clear each level you must find stars on each stage and once all the stars have been found then the door to the next level opens up. Peter is equipped with a proton pack which can be used to destroy certain blocks that can be removed to get to hidden stars or even alternate ways through the level.

TRG GB screen

Each level contains various enemy ghosts which cant be harmed by your proton pack but with bombs (Ghostbusters?). You have a health bar and time limit and if either of these deplete to zero before you can finish a level, you lose a life.

There really is not much to say about this one. Its not a terrible game but it is just very average, its just not Ghostbusters and quite clear the licence was attached just to try and appeal to Ghostbusters fans. Play the original Micky Mouse or Garfield versions instead, same game and you are not missing anything.

The sequel series to The Real Ghostbusters show got a few games too.

EGB GBC cover

Extreme Ghostbusters: Released in 2001 for the Gameboy Color only in Europe. This game was from Light and Shadow Productions. You can play as the various members of the Extreme Ghostbusters including; Eduardo Rivera, Roland Jackson, Garrett Miller, and Kylie Griffin. Each character has their own stats and abilities.

EGB GBC screen

Set over more than 20 levels, you make your way through these side scrolling/platform levels busting any ghosts you come across. You will find various items to help you in your Ghostbusting task such as; Proton Canisters, a P.K.E. Meter, Ghost Traps and even Slimer. Clear each level of ghosts and move onto the next.

This game is notorious for being bad. Stiff controls, bland gameplay and terrible level design. Definitely one to avoid. Lets move on…

The second in the trilogy of Extreme Ghostbusters games next.

EGB Ecto cover

Extreme Ghostbusters: Code Ecto-1: Again from Light and Shadow Productions, this time for the Game Boy Advance in 2002. This game is a mix of shooter, platforming and even a little driving action too. The driving sections are a top down viewpoint, but the main action is a side scrolling/platforming style.

You only get to play as either Eduardo or Kylie in this game as the big bad of this one, a half-human/half-demon Count Mercharior has kidnapped Roland and Garrett and that is the basic story. You have to blast your way though the various levels in an attempt to rescue your kidnapped teammates. You can switch between either Eduardo or Kylie on the fly and the two characters have different abilities and weapons so switching between the two is essential to progress through each level.

EGB Ecto screen

Make your way though each level, take down ghosts and defeat the end of level boss, move onto the next level. Pretty basic stuff, but this one is a huge improvement over the previous game with better controls and even improved gameplay. Things tend to get a bit repetitive and redundant as there is very little variety here, but its a decent action/platformer.

The final game in the ‘Extreme’ trilogy.

EGB PS

Extreme Ghostbusters: The Ultimate Invasion: Yet again from Light and Shadow Productions only this game was for the PlayStation and released in 2004 only in Europe. Remember those light gun games that were popular in the 90s like Time Crisis, Virtua Cop, etc? Well this game used the same concept, in particular Time Crisis with its cover system.

EGB PS screen

You can play as any of the four main Extreme Ghostbusters team who are selectable at the beginning, though each of the four characters play the same anyway. As you make your way though each level in an on the rails style that these light gun games were known for. Shoot ghosts and hide behind cover, shoot ghosts and hide behind cover… it goes on and on. As the game was on the PlayStation, it utilised the CD technology and came with animated cut scenes taken right from the TV series.

Not a terrible game, not a great game. Just okay but by the time it was released, the light gun game was all but dead so people really didn’t care about this much back then.

Well that was the Extreme Ghostbusters trilogy of games. But we finally get to what is considered the best Ghostbusters game ever.

GB VG cover

Ghostbusters: The Video Game: Developed by Terminal Reality for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. Other ports were developed by other studios. Published by Atari and relased in 2009. This game has the added bonus of the story being written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis as well as getting pretty much the entire original cast back. The game is a third person shooter.

GB VG screen

Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Bill Murray, and Ernie Hudson all allowed their likeness and even voiced their respective characters. Also returning from the movies are William Atherton and Annie Potts. Hell, they even got Max von Sydow to reprise his role as Vigo from Ghostbusters II in a cameo. The game even used the film’s locations and props as models for the 3D modelling in the game.

Set in 1991 about 2 years after the events of Ghostbusters II. You play as an unnamed new recruit to the Ghostbusters team. New York is hit by a large PKE shock-wave and ghosts are running riot all over the city, including the return of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. You are only known as “Rookie” as the team don’t want to get to attached to you in case something should happen, are expected to test out any new equipment and upgrades the team make. The Ghostbusters go around New York busting ghosts and slowly learn that certain buildings around the city are being used as nodes to connect the real world to the ghost world in an attempt to bring forth another great destructor similar to Gozer from the first film.

GB VG screen 2

The team have to destroy the nodes and capture the guardians from around the city from various familiar locales like; The Sedgewick Hotel, the New York Public Library and the Museum of Natural History… which just so happens to be hosting a Gozer exhibit. If you haven’t played the game yet, I’ll leave the plot summary there as to not get into spoilers.

Some interesting behind the scenes titbits of the game…

The game originally started out being developed by ZootFly, who began work on a Ghostbusters game despite not having the license from Sony Pictures. ZootFly showed early footage of the game via You Tube sometime in 2006. They were ultimately not able to secure the Ghostbusters licence and so they altered the game and changed it title to TimeO.

Then in 2007, Sierra Entertainment and developer Terminal Reality met with Sony Pictures to discuss the possibility of developing their own Ghostbusters video game. Terminal Reality even used the early videos of ZootFly’s You Tube videos to show how a Ghostbusters came could look. The pitch worked and Sony Pictures allowed the use of the Ghostbusters licence. Terminal Reality began work on their official Ghostbusters game.

The game was put into limbo when Vivendi merged with Activision to form Activision Blizzard and then Activision Blizzard (the publisher of Vivendi’s and Sierra’s titles) stated that several games they were working on would not be released. The Ghostbusters game was one of the titles said to be cancelled. This announcement sparked outrage from fans and by the end of 2008, it was revealed that Atari would publish the game to be released in 2009.

GB VG screen 3

It was also announced that the game would be a PS3 timed exclusive in Europe meaning the Xbox 360 version would not be relased until several months later… however, the Xbox 360 version was not region locked and meant people could import the American version and play that ahead of the European release.

Sigourney Weaver was asked to return as Dana Barrett, but it was reported that she never felt comfortable working on a video game. It was only when Weaver learned the other cast members were attached to the game that she decided to return, but the game was already too far into development by then and too late to include her character. Weaver seemingly learned from this and did return as Ripley in the Alien: Isolation game.

The game’s plot uses some ideas left out of the original movies as well as a few concepts from Dan Aykroyd’s early draft for his Ghostbusters II: Hellbent script. Dan has even said that the game is basically Ghostbusters III.

The game was very well received and often cited as the best Ghostbusters game ever and I have to agree… but I think the game is flawed in many ways. I found the game a bit repetitive, the levels are too linear and lack any real depth. The story mode is very short and can be completed in around 5 hours. Yet it is very authentic and you really do feel like a Ghostbuster. The voice cast and likenesses of the actors definitely helps and the story being written by Dan and Harold is a massive plus too. Yeah, it really is a great Ghostbusters game, but I can’t call it a great game in itself. Still, it is well worth checking out for any Ghostbusters fan. Its a shame we never got a sequel…

Well we did kind of get a sequel… kind of.

GB SoS cover

Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime: Released in 2001 and developed by Behaviour Santiago, published by Atari. This did start out as a full sequel to Ghostbusters: The Video Game, but financial problems at the time at Atari meant a sequel was put into limbo and they decided to release this stripped down/arcade game instead. Environmental assets, such as the cemetery level and even character assets such as the ghosts were reused from Ghostbusters: The Video Game for this title.

You play as any of the four main new members of the Ghostbusters, as the last game ended with the suggestion of setting up a Ghostbusters franchise with all new members. The original team do appear in the game, but as non playable characters in the story sections of the game. The game allows you to play up to four players simultaneously, if you don’t have three friends to play with then the AI plays as the other characters. The game is a simple shooter with semi explore-able levels and secret collectable to find.

GB SoS screen

Its an okay game at best, but a big disappointment after Ghostbusters: The Video Game and a shame this is what we got instead of a full sequel.

That is pretty much it for the Ghostbusters games. I didn’t cover EVERY game, there are a few mobile games like; Ghostbusters: Paranormal Blast, Ghostbusters: Beeline and a Ghostbusters mobile game from 2006. There were a couple of pinball machines and a few others too.

But there are more Ghostbusters I want to quickly mention.

GB 2016 cover

Ghostbusters: Inspired by the new remake. Developed by FireForge Games and published by Activision. Said to be set after the events of the new film where you play up to four players and none of the characters from the film are included.

GB 2016 screens

Its basically an updated version of Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime just inspired by the 2016 film.

Ghostbusters: Slime City: Another mobile game to be released this year. Which sounds like a typical ‘free to play’ cash grab, pay to win mobile game that are everywhere now.

I think that is every (main) Ghostbusters game covered and as I said before, there were more than I originally remembered. The Ghostbusters have had quite a mix bag of a life in gaming. There have been some good games, some decent games and some just plain terrible games. Highlights for me are the original Commodore 64 one, the Mega Drive Ghostbusters and of course the Ghostbusters: The Video Game.

Oh I almost forgot about Ghostbusters making their LEGO debut in LEGO Dimensions…

GB LEGO

There is still more to my Birthday/Ghostbusters celebration. If you haven’t already, please check out my behind the scenes look at the making the Ghostbusters movie, a look at the failed attempts to make a Ghostbusters III as well as my overviews of the Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II movies.

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The Street Fighter legacy, part IV

Ryu evlution

Street Fighter certainly has evolved over the years. From the simple but great ground work of the original from 1987, the revolutionary Street Fighter II in 1991 to the Marvel vs Capcom sub-series in the 2000s, right up to today with the latest editions of the Street Fighter franchise. Speaking of which…

SF IV start

Street Fighter IV: The next title in the official Street Fighter series and also the return of original creator Takashi Nishiyama. As Nishiyama left Capcom after the release of the original game to join SNK where he helped create Street Fighter rival games such as; Fatal Fury and King of Fighters.
The arcade version was released in 2008 with PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 ports in 2009.

While the fourth numbered game in the franchise, chronologically this is set somewhere between the Street Fighter II and Street Fighter III. This game was a welcome return to form after Street Fighter III. It was more streamlined, refined and accessible. A real sequel to Street Fighter II if you will. The home ports offered more playable characters than the arcade version with a total of 25 in all. The game’s style was more like the Street Fighter EX series, with the use of 3D polygon characters and backgrounds but still fighting on a 2D plane. Only the graphics where much more smother and detailed.

Classic, fan favourites like; Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, E. Honda, Blanka, Zangief, Guile, Dhalsim, Balrog, Vega, Sagat, M. Bison and Akuma all return with the inclusion of Dan, Fei Long, Sakura, Cammy, Gen, and Rose. The game also introduced new characters; Abel, Crimson Viper, Rufus, El Fuerte, Seth and Gouken.

SF IV screen

Street Fighter IV received universal critical acclaim with many people claiming it to be the best in the franchise since Street Fighter II. Now with such high praise and acclaim, of course Capcom milked the game for all it could. As with previous games in the franchise, Street Fighter IV had various revisions and updates.
Super Street Fighter IV (2010) added new stages and even more characters; T. Hawk and Dee Jay return from Street Fighter II. Guy and Cody from Final Fight make an appearance. Then there was the inclusion of; Adon, Ibuki, Makoto, Dudley, Juri and Hakan. Then Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition (2010) was released which was a version of the previous Super Street Fighter IV for arcades (hence the title) and brought with it a few more enhancements and more characters. This version was later released as both a standalone game and as a downloadable update for the home market. Not done yet as; Ultra Street Fighter IV (2014) was released for arcade, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. This one added a few more new stages, new characters (now a total of 44) as well as a few new game mechanics.

SF IV characters

There were also versions of the game for iOS and Android devices as well as a version for the Nintendo 3DS called; Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition.

Is that enough Street Fighter IV now? Time to take a look at the latest in the franchise.

SF V start

Street Fighter V: Wait, straight into the next in the franchise, no new sub-series, no Street Fighter: Alpha Mega EX Ultra Edition? Okay then. Yes, after the success of Street Fighter IV, Capcom got the next proper sequel out with little to no fuss. This time only relased for PC and PlayStation 4 this year, just a few weeks ago.

While Street Fighter IV was a runaway success and met with great praise…not the same could be said about this one. Street Fighter V was rushed out to coincide with the Evolution Championship Series (EVO) an annual esports event that focuses exclusively on fighting games. Due to this rushing out, the game was released unfinished. Okay, so the basic and much loved Street Fighter formula was in tact but most of the game itself was just “missing”. Aside from some minor bugs and glitches, the game was relased with no arcade mode (a staple in the series from the very start), no story mode, as well as missing almost every basic feature you’s expect a game of this type to have. Capcom stated they plan to release all the missing content later via DLC, but most fans were just not happy paying full retail price for a game that was clearly rushed out and missing so much content.

Only a total of 16 characters this time around (I can’t be bothered to do another list, the usuals are here) with more characters being added via DLC later.

SF V screen

What with Street Fighter IV actually being set between Street Fighter II and III, where do you think this one is set? Well its not a sequel to IV but actually set between III and IV. So Street Fighter IV is really a sequel to II and prequel to III, while V is a sequel to III prequel to IV…I think. Rocket science is easier to follow than the chronology of the Street Fighter franchise.

Street Fighter V plays well enough, but again, its just not a full game. Yet it did receive positive reviews anyway.

So there you have it the (almost) entire Street Fighter franchise though (almost) 30 years. But there are still more Street Fighter games which I’ll quickly highlight some of now.

In 1994, Capcom teamed up with Universal Pictures to make a live action film based on Street Fighter II.

SF  movie

This film is bad. How bad? Well it stars Jean-Claude Van Damme playing all American Guile…yes with that accent, we are supposed to believe he is all American. Plus one of its stars, the great Raul Julia, died before this film was released. This film killed Raul Julia.
Anyway, why did I bring this terrible, terrible film up? Well Capcom had the idea of making a game based on the film…

SF moviegame

Street Fighter: The Movie: Yes, Street Fighter the game, based on the movie…that is based on the game. Released for the Arcades, PlayStation and Sega Saturn in 1995. This one uses digitized images of the film’s cast playing their characters from the film, except for Raul Julia who died before he could start work on this.

SF moviegame screen

This was a slow, clunky mess. While the basic gameplay mechanic of the Street Fighter franchise was there, it just did not work.

Next!

SNK

Capcom vs. SNK: Similar to the previous Marvel vs Capcom series, this was yet another series running within the Street Fighter franchise. This time featuring characters from various SNK games against various Capcom famous characters including some from the Street Fighter series.

SNK screen

This vs series featured a total of six standard fighting games and even spawned yet another sub-series within this series of card collection games called; SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters with four games in that series.

Next!

TvCap

Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Yes, another vs series. This time its various famous Japanese anime series/characters going up against some of Capcom’s finest.

TvCap screen

Same old schtick. This vs series only managed two games with; Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Cross Generation of Heroes and Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All Stars.

Next!

SFxTek

Street Fighter × Tekken: This one is quite interesting as its a crossover game that uses the infamous Street Fighter formula, but includes Namco’s Tekken series, putting their fighters into the world and style of Street Fighter. Think Street Fighter IV’s style and gameplay with Tekken characters thrown in.

SFxTek screen

So far, there is only one game in this rather unique concept. However, it has been said that Namco are developing their own game where it will be Tekken x Street Fighter. So a Tekken game with its style and gameplay that features Street Fighter characters. But that was first announced in 2010 and it may never happen, though Namco say they are still working on it…

TekxSF

Next…actually, no more. Not that there are no more Street Fighter related games/series for me to take a look at (Street Fighter X All Capcom, Capcom Fighting Jam, Super Puzzle Fighter, Super Gem Fighter Mini-Mix/Pocket Fighter, Namco × Capcom, Street Fighter: Puzzle Spirits, Street Fighter Online: Mouse Generation and others too). I’m just a little Street Fightered out now.

I just wanted to cover the main games in the franchise as well as take a look at some of the more interesting series within the franchise…and I think I have done that, plus this retrospective is long enough already.

Street Fighter is a king among fighting games. Sure, it has had its ups and downs over the almost 30 year history of the franchise. It has spawned other notable franchises and crossovers (Final Fight). Even after all this time, Street Fighter II is regarded as one of the very best (if not THE best) of the one on one/tournament fighters out there. Street Fighter II changed the gaming world when it was released and is still just as playable now as it was back in 1991…no matter which of the dozens of different versions you play.

The game franchise grew to much more than just games too. Movies (some terrible, some pretty good), board games, toys, clothing, soundtracks, collectable coins, artwork. There is even a Street Fighter Monopoly…

SF mono

When you have your own Monopoly, you know you are a successful franchise.

Street Fighter II was my teenage years as it was for so many others.
Happy fighting people.

SF art

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The Street Fighter legacy, part III

Ryu

The Street Fighter franchise just kept on growing and growing through the 90s. From the early original game with its 2 character beginnings, Street Fighter II which added more characters and the Alpha/Zero series where the character count was in the dozens. So many versions, updates and now even separate series running within the main franchise.

What was next for the franchise, will we get the next official game in the franchise with Street Fighter III? No, but how about a pseudo 3D Street Fighter instead…

SF EX start

Street Fighter EX: Originally released into arcades in 1996. This is yet another new series that ran within the Street Fighter franchise that included Street Fighter EX Plus with a PlayStation port called Street Fighter EX Plus α in 1997.

The first Street Fighter game to feature 3D polygon styled graphics, though you still fought on a 2D plane. The basic gameplay still maintained that familiar Street Fighter style, so if you had played any of the previous games, you were well at home with this one. It just looked vastly different due to the inclusion of the updated 3D characters.

Back are Street Fighter II favourites; Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Guile and Zangief. But the game added several all new characters too including; Hokuto, Doctrine Dark, Pullum Purna, Cracker Jack, Skullomani as well as hidden characters; Allen Snider, Blair Dame, Kairi, Darun Mister. Then if that was not enough, the Street Fighter EX Plus update added; Evil Ryu, Bloody Hokuto, Cycloid-β, Cycloid-γ. But it still does not end there as the Playstation port; Street Fighter EX Plus α brought with it Street Fighter II classic; Dhalsim and a new character called; Sakura. With all versions of the game coming complete with boss characters; Akuma, Garuda and M. Bison.
This all added up to the largest count of original characters in a Street Fighter game to date.

SF EX screen

The new styled 3D graphics for the characters made the game look a little ‘clunky’, especially if you were used to the hand drawn art style of the previous games. Yet this is where fighting games were heading around this time with other fighters like SEGA’s Virtua Fighter and Namco’s Tekken series all offering competition for Street Fighter in the 90s. Yet even with the all new graphical aesthetic, the game still fundamentally felt very much like classic Street Fighter.

When released, the game received very positive reviews all round and sold so well in fact that more games were eventually made in the series; Street Fighter EX2 (1998) and an update; Street Fighter EX2 Plus (1999) were both released into arcades while Street Fighter EX3 was released exclusively for the PlayStation 2 (2000). These sequels all added some old favourite characters as well as a few all new ones too.

But we still had no Street Fighter III yet and we were not going to get it next either. Capcom decided to create yet another new series and put their Street Fighter characters up against a few other well knowns in this crossover series.

Now there are a lot of these crossover games, so I’m going to handle these a little differently otherwise I’d be here for hours going through each one. So I’m just going to highlight some of the more notable crossovers in this series.

SF v Xmen

X-Men vs. Street Fighter: Released in 1996 for the arcade with Sega Saturn and PlayStation ports coming soon afterwards. This was the first in a long line of crossovers where Capcom and Marvel teamed up. Playing similar in style to classic Street Fighter and back to that hand drawn art we were used to instead of 3D polygons.

SF v Xmen screen

Pitting favourite Street Fighter characters against the X-Men, this game went on to open the doors to more and more crossovers.

SF v Marvel SH

Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter: This one was released in 1997 for arcades and Sega Saturn and PlayStation ports in 1998 and 1999 respectively.

SF v Marvel SH screen

Considered a sequel to X-Men vs. Street Fighter, this game upped the character count for both camps and included even more classic Street Fighter members as well as opening up to more then just the X-Men by adding Marvel favourites like Spider-Man, Captain America and The Hulk.

Even more games were added to the series, but the Street Fighter name was dropped as Capcom started to add more characters from some of their other IPs outside of Street Fighter as the games became known as Marvel vs Capcom.

Marvel vs Capcom

We had; Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes (1998), Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes (2000), Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds (2011), Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (2011) and finally; Marvel vs. Capcom Origins (2012).

This long running series kept adding more and more characters from both camps.
Capcom had characters like; Ryu, Ken Chun-Li, Guile, Captain Commando, Mike Haggar and Strider Hiryu. In total, across the entire Vs series, Capcom featured 46 characters over several of their known franchises like; Street Fighter, Ghosts N’ Goblins, Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, Dead Rising as well as others.

Marvel brought; Deadpool, Iron Man, Sabretooth, Thanos, Wolverine, Doctor Strange and Cable. With a total of 45 characters using established series like; Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Avengers, Daredevil and various others too.

Marvel vs Capcom characters

The Vs series of fighting games are huge fan favourites and great fun to play. Plenty of characters and gameplay additions/refinements to keep the series fresh and interesting.

Well there you have it. Another series running within the Street Fighter franchise. I can’t think of any other game franchise that has so many spin offs and other series within the same franchise as Street Fighter has.
Yet we are finally at the next “proper” sequel to Street Fighter II.

SF III start

Street Fighter III: New Generation: Well it has been a long journey, but we now have Street Fighter III. Released to arcades in 1997 and then ported to the Dreamcast in 1999. There were updates made for this game (of course there were) with; Street Fighter III 2nd Impact (1997) and Street Fighter III 3rd Strike (1999).

Set after the events of Street Fighter II, this game is a direct sequel. A few new game mechanics were added like; dash/retreat, leap attacks, a quick standing option after being knocked down as well as an all new parry to defect an attack. Also included was a Super Arts gauge similar to super combos from Alpha/Zero series.

Previous Street Fighter stalwarts; Ryu and Ken are back. However, they take a back seat to the main star of the game; Alex who is the front man of Street Fighter III. A disappointing aspect from a lot of fans was that Ryu and Ken were the only Street Fighter II characters to return. A whole new character selection was added; Dudley, Elena, Ibuki, Necro, Sommers, Oro, Sean, Yun & Yang and Gill.

SF III screen

Street Fighter III met with good reviews at the time, though many noted the lack of familiar characters, some of the latter updates added Chun-Li and Akuma. Not as well received as the classic Street Fighter II but it was still a worthy entry to the franchise.

Well that is all for part III. In part IV I take a look at the latest entries into the franchise as well as take a quick look at a few Street Fighter based/inspired games that I’ve not covered yet.

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The Street Fighter legacy, part II

RyuKen

So three games in. The original, one unofficial sequel and one official sequel that ended up becoming a separate franchise and yet still no Street Fighter II.
Capcom next release a new Street Fighter game that is set in the future…well it was the future when it was originally released, now its the past.

SF2010 start

Street Fighter 2010: Released for the NES in 1990, developed and published by Capcom. This “sequel” was another attempt at doing something different with Street Fighter, unlike the previous Street Fighter 89/Final Fight…this one was not as successful.

The game was known as Street Fighter 2010 in Japan but named Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight (may as well make two tenuous links to other Capcom games for the price of one) for the American and European release. This one really has pretty much nothing to do with the Street Fighter franchise at all and opts for a scrolling/action/platform style more akin to Strider over the beat em’ up, one on one fighting games Street Fighter is known for. Even more so, the English translation changed the name of the main character to Ken and even adapted his back story to attempt to tie this all into the Street Fighter series, where as the original Japanese release had the main character named Kevin.

You play as Ken supposedly from the original Street Fighter game who has since retired from his martial arts career after winning the tournament and has become a scientist…because, why not? Ken has developed a new substance called “Cyboplasm” which provides superhuman strength to any living organism. Ken’s lab partner, Troy is murdered and the Cyboplasm is stolen. Ken sets out to bring Troy’s killer to justice and to get back his Cyboplasm.
Yes that really is the plot to a Street Fighter game.

The objective is to defeat a designated target on each level, sometimes more than one target per level, before you can move onto the next stage. Ken can jump, climb walls, back flip as well as shoot his energy projectile weapon which can be upgraded by finding power ups in the levels…and yes, this is still a Street Fighter game we are talking about here.

SF2010 screen

The game is a pretty average action/platformer…but it really has nothing to do with Street Fighter. Even if we forget about the English localisation tenuous links to try to tie this into the existing Street Fighter series. The original Japanese version is still titled; Street Fighter 2010, so Capcom clearly wanted it to be considered a bona fide Street Fighter game anyway…and its really not.

Well after all of that mess, can we finally get a genuine and authentic sequel to Street Fighter?

SF II start

Street Fighter II: The World Warrior: Eventually, in 1991, Capcom did release the REAL sequel to Street Fighter into arcades. Though most people just call it Street Fighter II, its full official title is; Street Fighter II: The World Warrior.

This one was much more like the original game, but with a whole lot on new features thrown in. Instead of only having old rivals Ryu or Ken as playable characters, Street Fighter II added a total of eight playable characters. Back are the original Ryu and Ken but joining them on this world tour of fighting was; sumo wrestler E. Honda (Japan), beast-like mutant Blanka (Brazil), former USAF special forces operative Guile (USA), Interpol officer Chun-Li (China), pro wrestler Zangief (Russia) and finally yoga master Dhalsim (India). Other updates and iterations added more characters later.

What was amazing about this game and elevated above everything else in the arcades at the time was the fact each character was unique with their own back stories, move sets and special moves. Each of the eight fighters had their own personal reasons for taking part in this fighting tournament and all eight had their own endings to the game too.

But there was more then just the playable eight fighters as the game also had four boss fights, though you could only fight against these bosses and not actually play as them…yet. We had; professional boxer Balrog (USA), bullfighter Vega (Spain), kick boxer and original boss from the first game Sagat (Thailand) and mysterious evil dictator M. Bison (???).

I suppose now would be a good time to bring up the name changes. In the original Japanese version, the bosses names are different. M. Bison was called Vega, Vega was originally Balrog and Balrog was named M. Bison. Part of the reason for the name change was due to the fact that the American boxer looked VERY much like Mike Tyson and having him called M. Bison (the M even stood for Mike) was thought a possible legal issue. So they swapped the names around for the English versions.

SF II screen

Street Fighter II exploded and rightly became a worldwide smash hit. It revolutionised the tournament fighter genre of gaming forever and its influence is still found in any one on one beat em’ up today. The game was ported to pretty much every home machine between 1992 up to today. Every home computer/console from the Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 to the Super Nintendo, Mega Drive, even the Game Boy right up to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 had some version of Street Fighter II made available. This game was everywhere and still much loved today.

But Capcom didn’t follow up Street Fighter II’s success with an immediate sequel, oh no. Instead they churned out updates and alterations on the main game with; Street Fighter II: Champion Edition, Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting, Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers, Super Street Fighter II Turbo and finally Hyper Street Fighter II and I’m pretty sure I’m still missing a few other versions thee too. These updates offered various new gameplay options such as new special moves, new costume colours, increased speed, the ability to play as the four bosses, new battle modes and even all new playable characters.

SF II characters

Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers added four all new characters to join the original 12 (the eight standard and the four bosses), the new characters were; indigenous warrior T Hawk (Mexico), special forces agent Cammy (England), Hong Kong movie star Fei Long (China) and kick boxing musician Dee Jay (Jamaica). Just as with the previous characters, they each had their own moves, back stories and endings.

But those new versions up there ^^^ were only the officially relased ones by Capcom as there was a slew of unofficial/bootleg ROM chip upgrades made by fans that also found their way into the arcades…but I’m not going to cover all of those here. Just how many official and unofficial versions of Street Fighter II there are, I’m not 100% sure on, but its a lot.

Oh, by the way. Let it be known here that this trend of releasing multiple updates and alternate versions of the same game becomes a running trend with Street Fighter from this point on.

Street Fighter II is also where the crossovers to Final Fight began. Interesting titbit coming up…

SF II punch

That image is from the introduction to the original Street Fighter II arcade. Recognise the blonde fella?

Cody

Its actually Cody from Final Fight.
But that is not all as Zangief’s wresting moves and even build as a character is very similar to Mike Hagar from Final fight. In fact, part of Zangief’s history is said to be connected to Hagar’s as they were old friends and former wrestling partners.

But I could sit here and yak on about Street Fighter II all day (did you know a bug discovered in early game testing resulting in developing a combo system which is now common place in these games?), I could probably even write its own separate in depth article. But I have a lot of games to cover and need to move on.

So as we leave Street Fighter II behind, Capcom must have Street Fighter III next…right? Nah of course not, this is Capcom we are talking about here.

SF Alpha start

Street Fighter Alpha: Warriors’ Dreams: Also known as; Street Fighter: Zero. This is the start of a whole new series within the Street Fighter franchise. Developed and published by Capcom, released into arcades in 1995. Street Fighter Alpha/Zero is set after the original Street Fighter but before the events of Street Fighter II. So I guess its a sequel and prequel?

Maintaining the style perfected by Street Fighter II and throwing in a load of new features along the way. Adding a three level super combo system, counter attacking technique, air blocking and chain combos along with various other refinements. Characters include Street Fighter staples; Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Sagat and M. Bison but new to the roster are; Birdie, Guy (from Final Fight), Sodom (also from Final Fight), Charlie and Rose. Then there is the addition of Akuma and Dan as hidden characters that can be accessed by meeting certain requirements while playing or imputing a specific code.

SF Alpha screen

Just as with Street Fighter II previously, Alpha/Zero was ported to various home machines at the time; Game Boy Colour, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, Sega Saturn and Windows all had their versions. Alpha/Zero also spawned its own franchise (within an already existing franchise) and had two sequels. These sequels added more refinements and even more characters including some Street Fighter II and Final Fight favourites taking the count to over 40 characters in total.

SF Alpha characters

I feel its time to move on and end part II right here. But there is a lot more Street Fighter action coming up in part III where we may actually get to see Street Fighter III…after a few more other games series within the same series…

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The Street Fighter legacy, part I

SF logo 1

If you was a teenage gamer around 1991, then you’d most definitely would have been a fan of Street Fighter II. A game released by Capcom that changed the tournament fighter sub-genre of gaming for years and is still relevant even today with the latest in the series (Street Fighter V) released just a few weeks ago.

Street Fighter II became a worldwide phenomenon with spin offs, sequels, movies, animations, crossovers, comics, board games and many other forms of media. So much so even a simple image can spark off countless memories of growing up in the 90s…

Ryu DP

But before all of that came about, it all started with a lesser known and not as well remembered game. Here, I’d like to take a look at the Street Fighter legacy and cover most of the main games in the series (but not every slight alteration/re release of some of the titles) and even look at some of the more interesting spin-offs, unofficial sequels and maybe even reveal a few lesser known titbits about this much loved franchise.

But first, we need to go back almost 30 years ago to 1987…

SF start

Street Fighter: The first game in this long running series was released in the arcade by Capcom in 1987 and designed by Takashi Nishiyama.

With you playing as martial artist Ryu (or Ken depending on which control stick you use) you have to do battle over 5 countries and fight against 10 different opponents. The basic gameplay mechanic of the best of three rounds wins the match, each round lasting a set time (usually 30 seconds). Win the match and move onto the next opponent until you make your way through all 10. The game featured various punch and kick attacks as well as introducing special moves like the Hadouken, Shoryuken, and Tatsumaki Senpukyaku. These special moves could be trigged via some simple joystick movement and button presses.

SF screen

Earlier game cabinets featured only two pads to pull off the variety of moves, one pad for punch and the other for kick. However, a unique system was used as the pads were pressure sensitive so if you wanted to do a light attack you would lightly tap the button, a medium attack hit the button slightly harder and for the strong attacks you would have to smash the buttons. This two pad system was designed and created by Atari.

SF pads

This two pad system proved to be problematic after a while as people would hit the pads too hard and end up damaging the pads. There were even reports of players damaging themselves with bruised fingers over hitting the pads too hard. The two pads were eventually dropped due to the damage and increasing costs in constant repairs, they were replaced with the more common and now instantly recognisable six button configuration with a separate button for each light, medium and heavy attacks for both punches and kicks.

Street Fighter was a commercial success in arcades. Eventual home ports arrived in 1988 with Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, DOS, Amiga and Atari ST all getting a version of the game. These home ports were developed by English company Tiertex. Then there was the PC Engine CD ROM/TurboGrafx-CD version where the title was slightly altered to; Fighting Street.

Next up is the first “sequel” to Street Fighter…but its not Street Fighter II.

HKM start

Human Killing Machine: More commonly known as HKM was an unofficial sequel developed by Tiertex (who did the home computer ports of the original game). The story goes that Tiertex just couldn’t be bothered to wait for Capcom to release their proper sequel so decided to make their own. They were not allowed to use the Street Fighter name or any of the characters, so this became an unofficial sequel. Released for the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, Amiga and Atari ST in 1989.

With you now playing as Korean martial artist, Kwon. Using the same basic system implemented with the original game of having to defeat various opponents from around the world…only not as good.

HKM screen

Human Killing Machine received average to poor reviews at best a the time depending on which version was being reviewed. The Amiga and Atari ST versions were known for their numerous bugs and poor development with plenty of graphical glitches and other problems. The game is also noted for playing up to stereotypes with some of the opponents including terrorists from Beirut and a German guy called Hans all decked out in lederhosen. Oh, and you could beat up prostitutes in the red light district of Amsterdam…classy.

Capcom get back in the ring with their first attempt at an official sequel to Street Fighter…but its still not Street Fighter II, in fact its a completely different franchise all together.

SF 89 poster

Street Fighter 89: Okay so I’m kind of cheating with this one, but its an interesting entry that while it did start out as the proper sequel to Street Fighter it became something else entirely. You would probably be more familiar with this game under its “real” name of; Final Fight. Developed and published by Capcom, released in the arcades in 1989.

After early play tests of Street Fighter 89, it was noted that is was too different from the original game to really be considered a true sequel to Street Fighter. Instead of the classic one on one tournament fighter, best of three rounds beat em’ up Street Fighter was known for, Street Fighter 89 went for a scrolling beat em’ up style instead more like Double Dragon with multiple enemies on screen at once and scrolling levels. Beat the crap out of a group of enemies and move onto the next group, rinse and repeat until you get to the end of level boss and then beat the crap out of them to move onto the next level.

As the game was so radically different, Capcom decided to rename the game to Final Fight and launch it as its own IP.

FF screen

Final Fight did become its own franchise, and successfully so too with its own two main sequels and even a fun parody called; Mighty Final Fight. It also had its own spin offs with; Final Fight Revenge and Final Fight: Streetwise.
Street Fighter and Final Fight even co-exist in the same universe with characters from both franchises appearing in each other’s games along with other fun references to find too that carry on today.

Street Fighter 89/Final Fight was very well received at the time is is still often cited as one of the best games in the genre. It also had various home ports made to pretty much every popular home computer/console at the time.

That’s enough for part I, coming up in part II we will get to the big one; Street Fighter II…eventually.

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Man Of Steel, Part III

Still no really great Superman starring game as we approach the space year of 1999. Maybe things will only get better from this point on…or maybe we will get what is known as one of the worst games ever made.

superman n64 cover

Superman: The New Adventures: Developed and published by Titus Software an unleashed onto the market in 1999 for the Nintendo 64. The game is more commonly known as Superman 64 as many N64 games of the time slapped the 64 at the end of them.
Based on the popular Superman: The Animated Series and even featured sound bites and samples taken directly from the show using the original cast.

So, on to the plot. Lex Luthor has trapped several of Clark/Superman’s friends, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Professor Emil Hamilton in a virtual version of Metropolis. Lex puts Superman through various tasks within this virtual Metropolis. As Superman makes his way through Lex’s realm, he comes face to face with several other villains including Parasite, Darkseid, Brainiac, Mala and Metallo. Superman battles his way through the virtual Metropolis eventually freeing his friends while Lex manages to escape at the end.

superman n64 screen

This game is infamous for just how terrible it really is. The controls were horrendous,the game play was tedious with you having to fly trough rings for the most part. Occasionally you got to punch criminals and throw cars and the time constraints you were put under to complete the tasks made things even worse. Superman 64 has become one of the most hated games ever made.

Eric Caen, the game’s producer once stated that “We wanted to create the first super hero based video game where players really behave as a super hero.” in an interview with IGN back in 1998. What they managed to create was a game where you are forced to fly trough rings…not something super heroes are really known for.

The game was universally panned by critics at the time and holds a score of only 23% at GameRankings. IGN eventually rated the game 3.4 out of 10 while GameSpot gave the game a score of 1.3 out of 10.
Yet even with such backlash and terrible but deserved scores, the game was a top seller in North America during June 1999 and even became the third best selling game for the N64 of 1999. Shit sells I guess?

Well, lets leave that mess behind and look at what the 2000’s can offer in terms of a Superman game.

Superman Xbox

Superman: The Man of Steel: Released exclusively for the Xbox in 2002, developed by Circus Freak and published by Atari. The game was inspired by the Superman: Y2K comic book series.

A futuristic version of Brainiac, Brainiac 13 has unleashed a technological virus on Metropolis that causes the city to unnaturally grow into a futuristic “City of Tomorrow”. Brainiac 13 plans to harvest Metropolis for its now super advanced technology which causes massive disruption and chaos which Superman must put an end to.
There are various locales in the game including Metropolis, Earth’s orbit, an asteroid field in space, and even the infamous Phantom Zone.
The villain roll call, aside from Brainiac 13 include; Lex Luthor, Mongul, Metallo, Bizarro and Cyborg Superman.

Superman Xbox image

The game featured a wide array of Superman’s powers like flight, strength, heat vision, super speed, x-ray vision and even his freeze breath. All of which could be used for the various tasks and problems Superman would have to solve.
While a slight improvement over Superman 64…all be it a very slight improvement. The game met with bellow average reviews. Many reviewers would highlight the overtly repetitive gameplay and sluggish controls.

For the next and final game in this retrospective, we have a game based directly on the newest Superman film of the time.

Superman 360 cover

Superman Returns: Released for Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS and PSP. Developed and published by Electronic Arts and based on the film of the same name.
While based on the movie, the game also uses creative licence to add more villains and plot points from Superman’s comic book history.

The game begins with a huge meteor shower that threatens to devastate Metropolis. Superman uses his powers to end the meteor shower. Afterwards, astronomers discovered the remains of the dead planet Krypton. Superman leaves Earth to investigative the ruins of his home planet. Mongul intercepts Superman and forces him to partake in gladiatorial combat on Warworld.
Superman fights his way though the challenge until he comes face to face with Mongul himself and after the fight, Superman heads back to Earth and back to Metropolis. This soi where the film and game meld together in their plots as “Superman Returns”.

Superman 360 screen

With the game being based on the movie, they were able to secure the rights to use the likeness and voices of the actors including; Brandon Routh (Superman/Clark Kent), Kevin Spacey (Lex Luthor), Kate Bosworth (Lois Lane), Parker Posey (Kitty Kowalski) and Sam Huntington (Jimmy Olsen).

Just as with pretty much every Superman game so far, this one was also not met with high praise and met with average to poor reviews and scores. As the game was ridiculed for its dull gameplay, terrible controls and redundant story. I mean the final boss in the game is a tornado…not Lex Luthor, a tornado.

flying

Well that just about wraps up my look back at Superman in games over the years, and it really does speak volumes when the best Superman game made so far is the original 1979 Atari one.

There were a few other Superman games I didn’t cover like; Superman (1992) for the Mega Drive, Superman: The Man of Steel (1993) for the Master System, Superman (1997) for the Gameboy, Superman: Shadow of Apokolips (2002) for the Playstation 2 and Superman: Countdown to Apokolips (2003) for the Gameboy Advance. But as I said earlier, I only wanted to cover the games I remember and played. I don’t know of any of those games are any good or not.

Still, Superman sure has not had such a great career in games really. There have been a few appearances from him in other better games like the LEGO Batman series and Injustice: Gods Among Us.
But for Superman centric games, I can’t think of a game that has been anything but average at best. I honestly do think that the Atari 1979 game is the best of the ones I have played and that was what, 37 years ago?

Why can nobody make a good Superman game?

There have been rumours that Rocksteady, the studio behind the Batman: Arkham series may be working on a Superman game…but nothing confirmed and it could all be bullshit. There were a few Superman/Metropolis Easter Eggs in the last Arkham game, Arkham Knight; there are LexCorp advertisements littered around Gotham City and even an answering machine message from Luthor himself left for Bruce Wayne. There was even a tourism poster for Metropolis that you could find in the game.

Rocksteady and Superman, could it break the “Superman curse” or is Superman destined to be in bad games for ever?

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