Saturday, March 30, 2013

#42: PGA Tour Golf

Adam is in town visiting for Lounge Day and I saw it as a perfect opportunity to avoid playing another bad golf game! Woo!
PGA Tour Golf had the interesting take of having actual pro golfers commenting on the holes you're playing beforehand and giving advice to the player. It had little pictures of their faces that looked like them, too. I imagine EA had a deal with the PGAPA or whatever it may have been back then. As much as I may think EA is a terrible company nowadays they really had it together back in the day. Their sports division, anyway!

The game has 4 courses, which appear to be real courses. Adam played at Sawgrass, and can be seen here on the infamous 17th hole. Hitting the ball right into the pond, just like the pros!

The game actually seemed pretty reasonable. It did a good overview of the hole beforehand, without lagging too much. It showed a good green gradiency, again without lagging. Club selection, a viewfinder, a good hit meter... It actually looked like a very solid golf game, if you like golf games.

Rating: B

Saturday, March 23, 2013

#41: Lemmings

Nice hair-do!
Lemmings is a port of an Amiga game that sold so well they ported it to pretty much every system known to man. The game was designed for use with a mouse primarily, which makes the controls on the SNES a little wonky. Scrolling around is slower than it probably should be, for example. At least they figured out a way to use 5 of the buttons on the SNES controller!

The game itself is a "puzzle-platformer", the first of the genre, and was ground breaking. The way the game works is a small army of lemmings spawn from an entry gate. They walk in a straight line until they hit a wall, reach the exit, or die. If they reach the end of a platform they just walk off and fall down. Fall too far and they die. Spinning blades? They'll walk right into those and die. Bear traps? Walk in and die. Flame throwers? That's right. They'll get lit on fire and die.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to guide most of your lemmings to the exit. In this case, 60% of the 50 lemmings need to be saved. The other 20 are completely expendable! The way you make things happen is by turning one of your lemmings into one of eight different professions. Make him into a digger and he'll dig down into a hole. Give him an umbrella and he won't die when he falls long distances. Turn him into a bomb and he'll explode in 5 seconds! KABOOM!

Wikipedia claims that Lemmings was the inspiration for the entire RTS genre. The idea is it was the first game to have computer controlled characters that you, an external overlord, to whom you would give orders. Lemmings itself was created when some dude tried to demonstrate that he could take an 8x8 pixel box and make a perpetually walking animation. Someone else saw this walking animation and wanted to make a game with the characters just walking along forever. So StarCraft 2 owes it's existence to some dude fooling around with an animated gif!

Lemmings uses famous music tracks. I recognized London Bridge is Falling Down and She'll Be Coming Around the Mountain.

The game itself is actually really fun. I played through 21 levels in about an hour and will likely go back for more later tonight. It does have a couple things that could have been better. An 'end turn' button which fast-forwards with no more input from the player would be nice. Solving a puzzle and then having to wait a minute for it to play out gets tedious. It could use variable scroll speeds so you can move around the level faster. I wonder if there's a new version out there for the PC...

Rating: S-

Saturday, March 16, 2013

#40: Extra Innings

Oh my!
Extra Innings is a baseball game I'd never played before. To be blunt, I didn't miss very much. The characters are chibi style, and the game plays fine, but it's still a baseball game.

Go Copernicus!
I picked a team at random, and it turned out to be pretty sweet. Look at those names! SCIENCE!

Temper Temper...
The game had some nice extras. It has a league function, and it has a 'create a team' function. Batting and pitching worked reasonably well, but were pretty standard. Fielding was slow and plodding, just like pretty much every other baseball game.

There's not really much to say. It's a baseball game. It isn't a bad baseball game. It isn't a spectacular baseball game. I guess if you really want to play some video game baseball you could do worse than this. But I don't want to play a baseball game. With 10% of the games thus far having been baseball games, I'm getting a little tired of them.

Rating: B-

Saturday, March 9, 2013

#39: The Addams Family

*snap* *snap*
Now, The Addams Family cartoons and tv shows were from before my time, and the movies and animated show were a little after my cartoon time, so I didn't have a lot of exposure to this franchise. I know the music, and was happy to hear a decent rendition of it on the title screen here.
The game itself is a smooth but unexciting platformer. I appear to be playing Gomez Addams who makes use of one button on the controller. Well, technically two buttons, but both A and B do the exact same thing. Jump. Eventually I found a sword upgrade which let me attack with the Y button which was nice for approximately 4 seconds. Then I got hit and lost my sword and never saw another one again. For the most part my only mode of attack was to jump on the enemies like Mario. Some of the enemies, like the lovely tree in the screenshot above, have spikes on their heads. You can't jump on them or you take damage. I guess all I could do is run?
At one point I found a beanie cap upgrade which let me hit the jump button to fly. It had a limited duration but I got to pick up some dollar signs on the roof that I couldn't have reached without it. I like this sort of thing in a platformer. In another spot I found a wall I could walk through to find a bonus level. Nice!

Unfortunately I actually had no clue what I was trying to do in the game. I gather from the game over screen that I'm trying to rescue someone. Probably the other members of the Addams Family since I went into lots of rooms and only ever found Lurch and Thing. They were playing the piano in front of a locked door. I assume doing the other levels would eventually unlock that door. Sadly I wasn't actually very good at the game so I kept dying and never completed a level. I tried three times which is more than I've tried most of the other games in this series. It helped that the game seemed to have frequent autosaves in the middle of a level so I didn't have to redo the same stuff over and over when I died.

This game isn't spectacular by any stretch, but it actually seems like a finished product. It hits on many of my pet peeves but it still had good controls and I feel like renting this as a kid wouldn't have been a waste of time or money. And it gets bonus points for having the song on the title screen! I love things like that.

Rating: B

Saturday, March 2, 2013

#38: Super Smash TV

Smash and Cash!
I remember renting Super Smash TV as a kid and being frustrated by it. Other people loved it, I know, but I never could get into it. I'm not sure why. Is it the theme? I'm not a big fan of gunning down huge swaths of people, but I don't think it would be much better if they were robots or zombies. I love killing huge hordes of zombies (Dead Rising is such an awesome game) but I like there to be a little more strategy and variety to it beyond aim your auto-fire gun in a direction and mow them down.

For the record, the game shows that debuted on television in 1999 include Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and Greed. Both of which heavily featured cash grabs, but neither of which included sending a swarm of humans with clubs after a guy with an infinite ammo machine gun. The intro sounds more like The Running Man than actual 1999 reality. Hmm... I think I'll go watch The Running Man again.

The game actually featured voice acting, which was pretty surprising. It was just this puffed up host yelling at me, but it was way more than I expected from the SNES. The game played pretty smoothly. It's pretty much a remake of Robotron 2084 except with a worse theme. It made use of all 4 buttons on the face of the controller which is a pleasant surprise. The 4 buttons were used to simulate a second joystick so you could walk your guy in one direction and shoot your machine gun in the other.

Maybe I'm just not very good at this genre of game. I donno. It just seems overly hard and not terribly interesting. That said, it does actually seem like a real game. If you like this sort of game then I can imagine you'd like Super Smash TV, even today.

Rating: B+