PC

[last updated: 01-MAR-2012]

I'm simply not much of a PC gamer. I don't have the patience to keep updating my hardware to play the latest games, nor have I ever adapted well to the keyboard and mouse setup. The most I play are emulators, small pick-up-and-play games, and a bit of online multi-player if the mood strikes me. I love how immeasurably vast the PC game library is, but it also intimidates me.

Just to make things less awkward than it needs to be, I'm only listing stuff I know for sure I'll write about eventually (or at least said something about it somewhere else on the site). If I were to include every single PC game I ever owned, every free games I downloaded, ever... well, jeez, we'd be here 'til the cows come home.

3D Movie Maker

RATING: 4/4

TYPE: Disc

WHEN: 1995/1996

Amazing.


3D Movie Maker, when you look at it, is pretty crap. It's hideously clunky, takes hours to make only a couple of minutes of content, and even the fanmade expansions are awkward to use. Yet I've managed to maintain the same level of fun and enjoyment with it as when I first got it over a decade ago. It would need to be a special kind of game for me to feel that way about it, and that it is.

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Completion: n/a


Further reading: Who is McZee? Also, the fantastic Resident Evil films.

Atomic Bomberman

RATING: n/a

TYPE: Disc

WHEN: 1998

A bit too frantic for my liking.


[no review]

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Completion: No ending.


Further reading: Check out the Totally Bombastic Bomberman Shrine Place!

Crazy Chicken: The Good, The Egg and the Ugly

RATING: 1/4

TYPE: Disc

WHEN: Jul 2010

Obscure games are often obscure for a reason.


My brother had seen this quite frequently on the sparsely-populated PC shelves of GAME but had always fought against his desire to pick it up and see what it was like. We learnt more about the Crazy Chicken series, believing this was a rare gem of an adventure series hidden among the cluttered PC game library, and imagined that getting a hold of this title would be a gateway into exploring potentially overlooked classics. To no one's surprise, it turned out to be a generic platformer aimed at the casual audience. Oh well!

It's a fairly no-frills title - you run, you jump, you climb and you shoot. The goal is simply to progress from one end of the stage to the other, collecting treasures and defeating enemies along the way. The titular Crazy Chicken is capable of double-jumping and can stomp on enemies to defeat them, though you also have the option of either punching enemies to death or just whipping out a pistol and blasting them. Naturally, some enemies are immune to certain styles of attack, and the pistol is meant to be the lazy man's solution, though it doesn't always work, usually on particularly frustrating enemies. Which is frustrating.

The game proudly proclaims that it only has 21 levels, three sets of areas (a jungle, a temple and a volcano), though it's very, very barebones. The level design is simplistic and uninspiring, and although it does offer score-hounds lots of gems on precarious platforms to collect, it otherwise offers little in the way of interesting secrets or challenges, and the game doesn't even have the ambition to include bosses, never mind a level select!

The titular Chicken (who's meant to be referred to as Moorhuhn, the manual says) controls reasonably well, though there are quirks that make him a nuisance in later stages, especially when playing on a gamepad. When he's close to an edge he gravitates towards it, meaning unless you move him back he'll fall off of his own accord, which is especially nasty when the game includes falling damage - glitchy falling damage! Although it's not an issue when playing on a keyboard, on a gamepad I had a lot of trouble actually getting the guy to stop when I wanted him to; all too often I'd let go of the direction and the Crazy Chicken would just keep running. It's probably just an issue of wonky joystick compatibility, but it's not an ideal feature in a platform game, fellas.

I almost feel I'm dedicated an unnecessary amount of wordage to such a generic platformer. Yeah, it kills some time, and if you're absolutely starved for more digitised jumping amusement then there's probably worse options available. It's unremarkable and the fun factor is rather questionable, but I will commend it for having some neato graphics. I'm normally not the biggest fan of prerendered sprites, but these are high-quality and very nicely animated! It's just a pity they weren't used for something less bland, y'know.

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Completion: Finished.

Halo: Combat Evolved

RATING: 1/4

TYPE: Disc

WHEN: 2005

A simple, unbalanced, overrated game, but it is fun in the right circumstances.


I've ranted and raved about Halo many times before, ranging from blog entries, Memorable Halo Moment volumes or just in various places. I've listed every possible downfall about it, and I think everyone who's looked at it all gets the point that I'm not the most praiseworthy of it. So here's the things that are good or how they can improve it!

For one, the fact you can only take two weapons at a time adds nicely. The likes of Doom just aren't up my alley, both because it's more about finding keys and exits than first-person shooting, and the fact you've got ten different guns to use and it's all a little overwhelming, but only having two weapons keeps it simple and adds strategy to what you should take. Well, not really, since you're pretty much invincible if you have the rocket launcher, fuel rod cannon or flame thrower on hand. And the pistol if you're one of those people with "skills." If they split it so you could only have one "light" weapon (pistol, machine gun, etc) and one "heavy" weapon (aforementioned) then it could possibly be more balanced. Possibly.

Co-operative modes are highly underrated in this day and age, and it's nice to see them in the main game. Except, well, they removed it from the PC version. Even if it wasn't online, just LAN or two people on one machine wouldn't hurt, would it?

Vehicles are awesome, but honestly, make them balanced. The turret car is almost unstoppable until a tank, banshee or well-placed grenade is brought in, whereas the rocket car features slower speed and a weapon that is impossible to kill anything with; it's good only for transportation or the ever enjoyable ramming. Tanks are powerful, yes, but thanks to banshees having paralysing bullets and the fact it takes forever for you character to exit one, they may as well explode at the slightest wind. Ghosts also have paralysing shots, but without the aid of someone else or the opponent lacking a vehicle or being terrible, killing takes forever. Banshees can simply escape and refill their shields for another sweep, feature both paralysing bullets and cannons, and wield long wings for cheap ramming kills. And ramming kills instantly; it doesn't damage you, but it kills you. The shields and health can be set to max, taking a fuel rod cannon's entire ammunition supply to kill a man, but a car will sort them out instantly. I've no idea how you could sort that mess out without simply removing the banshee and rocket car.

Grenades are good, especially in those dire sniper servers where it takes a year and a half to kill someone with a pistol while a grenade takes care of it in no time at all, but the fact they can be set to unlimited while ammo is still limited is a bit uneven. In Metal Slug, grenades are emergency weapons and are pretty damn powerful; if they were unlimited while your regular handgun ran out after a minute of button pounding, which would you go with? Of course, have options for both unlimited ammo and grenades. You know what they say, the more the merrier!

Also, the reason betraying is so fun is because you start off right in the battlefield and can get stuck in to killing folk. Slayer ruins this completely by giving you huge maps and everyone dotted around it, meaning it's difficult to have a massive brawl. If you were given the option of cutting the map in half for Slayer, that would be super.

And imitating the friends function of Xbox Live would be decent. I know Xfire and GameSpy have that function, but yeah, I don't like either.

In a nutshell, Halo is fun, but not necessarily for what it's for. It's more because the people who play it are hilarious and can barely back up their beliefs on why it's good and everything else is "gay." It can be genuinely fun at times, but a majority of the time it's just amusing analysing the behaviour of a man on the internet with a variety of numbers wrapped around the word "Spartan" or "Caboose" looking big by being racist.

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Completion: No.


Further reading: There's a whole ream of stuff about the game; mostly me nagging about it.

Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut

RATING: 1/4

TYPE: Disc

WHEN: Sep 2004

And they ported the more sloppy of the two remakes, why?


I admit, I bought this for the two stupidest reasons ever: I wanted to phase out my consoles and turn my computer into a gaming machine by getting ports of the games (laughable because both my computer and those ports suck), and for hoaxing reasons.

Honest to God, FOR HOAXING PURPOSES. And I spent 25 on this! I am a terrible person.

The port itself isn't too bad; the graphics are vaguely improved, and all the sounds, music, voices and movie scenes are kept in convenient file formats so you can access them straight from your computer, which is probably the best thing about it; obviously, the Game Boy Advance is removed from the Chao Garden, and you can't discuss the game on forums without everyone asking for a save that has all of Mission mode finished. And it required me to input my controls on an entirely different gamepad just for it to work with my regular one. So yeah, it's clunky.

Aside from the whole "WHY DID I BUY THIS" factor, it's not really that bad, and you can get it cheaper than the GameCube version now, but seriously, WHY OH WHY

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Completion: 100%.


Further reading: See also the Dreamcast and GameCube versions.

Sonic CD

RATING: 2/4

TYPE: Disc

WHEN: 1995/1996

A decent game, but simply overrated.


Everyone loves Sonic CD. Many have said it to be one of the best games in the series, citing innovative gameplay, outstanding soundtrack and incredible gimmicks as the reasons why.

My thoughts? It's okay. Nothing great, though.

You can easily tell it's developed by a different crew than the four main Mega Drive games, and one telltale indication is the level design. Each zone makes more blatant use of gimmicks than the other instalments, such as Collision Chaos' abundance of bouncy destructible objects, Wacky Workbench's floors that launch you into the air, and Stardust Speedway being nothing more than lanes and lanes of speedways. Palmtree Panic is the closest the game gets to "normal." Similarly, every boss is more a trial than an actual fight, such as keeping yourself alive long enough for Robotnik's platform to grind itself down to exploding, playing pinball to reach the top, and so on.

This is a mixed bag. See, sometimes the gimmick is made use of in a right amount and isn't exactly taxing, such as Collision Chaos. The likes of Wacky Workbench, however, is just a downright chore. The acts have small gateways you have to get through, reaching them via slow-moving platforms and snake-blocks. If you miss them, you get blasted to the top and have to make your way down again. There's very few enemies but little opportunity to make use of the time travel signposts, meaning to warp to the past where the floor doesn't work is difficult. Similarly, it's not until the last three levels that the bosses become a mild hassle, and even then the only way you can really die in them is through your own ineptness. Kind of like the boss fights to Labyrinth Zone and Mushroom Hill: In comparison to the rest, a nice change, but when the whole game is filled with them it's just a little tiresome.

Also, time travel. Interesting at the most, but really kind of pointless. The thing is that each time zone is meant to be different; present is of average difficulty, future is hard and the past is easy, and allows you to destroy Robotnik's machinery to make a good future, effectively making the rest of the act a breeze. However, going to the future before you solve things out in the past is ultimately pointless unless you're looking for a mild increase in challenge, and there's really no need to go to the past aside from to make the game easier. Essentially, it's a really cumbersome difficulty selection that requires you to hit a signpost and then keep running without slowing until you warp there. Not to mention that getting all of the Time Stones in the Special Stages gets you a permanent good future, so I don't know. It's an interesting experiment, but I'd probably prefer it if there was just a difficulty option that changed the levels accordingly.

If anything, I really do love the visual element of the game. Each zone has strange, bizarre environments, and I'd love to say it's almost art deco but I'd probably be talking out of my ass, but that wouldn't be anything new. The fact the game takes place on a planet that's more or less alien isn't really exploited terribly well outside of the manual's story, so it definitely makes up for that. The soundtracks of both regional versions are also pretty rad, the Japanese one being ludicrously peppy and upbeat whereas Spencer Nilsen's compositions are primarily atmospheric, but still pretty great.

I'd like to enjoy the game, but it really does just come across as a hassle to me a lot of the time. The time travel makes one cautious of going too fast because it's just a waste of time, and the gimmicks range from pleasant to overwhelming. The non-gameplay elements, the figure-eight dash and Special Stages are great, but that's as far as I'd go in praise.

(reviewed March 2008?)

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Completion: Finished without all Time Stones.

Sonic R

RATING: 2/4

TYPE: Disc

WHEN: 2000

So incredibly unbalanced.


The third Sonic racing game, only this time it's less of a ripoff of Mario Kart, as they're on foot this time, and you can actually play it, unlike Sonic Drift 1 and 2.

It's more enjoyable than the Drift games, and it's got a more diverse cast, with the only character it's lacking being Nack. However, it's only got five courses, and the AI varies between being easy peasy and bastardly brutal. Not only that, but the characters are severely unbalanced. Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and the robot equivalents are all very flexible and manoeuvrable, whereas Robotnik, Amy and Egg Robo are slow and clunky and can barely keep up with them, and the only advantages they have are crappy guns that speed up opponents rather than slow them down, and a booster that makes turning a nightmare. There's also a balloon hunt and a tag mode, which sadly aren't multi-player.

It's an awkward, unbalanced game, but it's interesting, to say the least.

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Completion: 100%.

Tobe's Vertical Adventure

RATING: 2/4

TYPE: Download (from GamersGate)

WHEN: Dec 2011

So close, and yet so far.


[NEW!] Evidently the Xbox Live Indie edition was considered a test run, and this later PC release is the real deal with a bit more spit and polish. There are new animations, Player 2 is now a unique character rather than a recolour, there are separate save files for Tobe, Nana and the co-op mode, and so on.
But for all the minor tweaks and higher price, the game still doesn't feel totally polished. The physics are still quite gammy, if not more so than the Xbox version, with all kinds of weird new bugs: Some gems refuse to be picked up until you jump around erratically; standing too close to a wall makes you wall-jump off it; trying to use the rope item can be unresponsive; climbing a shaft via wall-jumping but can be incredibly slow, and so on. They're mostly minor glitches that can be lived with, but some of them simply make the game less fun than it should be.

Minor gripe alert! For a game that tries to feel like an ol' retro game or something, it requires a honkin' big screen resolution that's a pain to try and fit onto a 1024x768 screen. Even in windowed mode, you can't actually reduce the size of the entire window, just the screen inside it. Using a DVI output cable to play the game on a TV only got me half the screen when in fullscreen - I had to put it into windowed mode and muck about with it some more.
Likewise, controller setup is cumbersome - as far as I'm aware, it doesn't save controller configuration, so you have to set them up every time the game is booted. It also wildly interpreted the D-Pad input on my Logitech Precision gamepad when used through the in-game gamepad setup, but playing it with Joy2Key was comparatively hassle-free.

I like Tobe's Vertical Adventure. For a retro-styled indie game, it's got an incredibly slick and polished-looking package going on, not to mention it's a simple concept with a great arcade charm to it; it should be buckets of fun. Instead, the constant gamminess of the engine hinders the experience. Sure, you can live with the quirks, but a good game shouldn't require the player to make compromises, right?
I feel like a right dicknose for saying this, but I kinda felt that the Xbox Indie version was a bit less glitchy.

(reviewed 18 Feb 2012)

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Completion: Finished as Tobe. Need all animals and treasure


Further reading: This is the 'improvement' upon the Xbox Live Indie edition.

Virtua Cop 2

RATING: 3/4

TYPE: Disc

WHEN: 2000

Simple arcade fun. Why can't more PC games be like this?


I never played the original Virtua Cop, so I've no idea how innovative this is compared to the first. All I know is that this one has a WOMAN in it. Innovative! Sarcasm on the internet aside, this is a very good game. Busting up terrorists in a city, cruise ship, train station and whatever the last level is has never been so fun! It's even better when they fall off high ledges. Doubly better if it's a fat guy.

The game keeps you on your toes; as expected of a rail shooter; and the sound effects add to this. Somehow, hearing "RELOAD", "DON'T SHOOT", "SOMEBODY HELP ME" and lots of gunshots a lot really helps. According to a review of the SEGA Saturn version there's fitting music, but the PC port must suck as there doesn't appear to be any. Does it share the same problem as Sonic R?

And as if all this wasn't good enough, there's the obligatory 2-Player mode, both by LAN and on the same computer. Plus, a practise mode of sorts! Good stuff.

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Completion: Finished.