Thursday, March 31, 2016

Sword of the Samurai Review

Samurai were big fans of cyan training mats
  • Developer: Microprose
  • Publisher: Microprose
  • Release Date: 2 January 1989
  • Time played: 8 hours (INCOMPLETE)

One of my favourite developers of all time is Sid Meier and the two companies associated with him, Microprose and Firaxis. While I’ve mainly dabbled with the Civilization series there’s also been a few other Microprose/Firaxis games I’ve enjoyed such as Sid Meier’s Pirates!, Covert Action, Sid Meier’s Gettysburg!... actually this is going to be a long list so I’ll stop there – but you get the picture. Anyway, I really enjoyed Sid Meier’s Pirates! and Covert Action so when I saw that GOG had a sale on Sword of the Samurai, which is described as a similar game to Pirates! and Covert Action except set in Feudal Japan, I jumped at the chance to give it a go.

So what you’re probably wondering is whether or not it's as good as these other games and whether it’s still entertaining enough to play in the 21st century? Let me say first off (which is implied already by the first paragraph) that I never played the original when it first came out, so I'm playing this game for the first time. So my review is going to be pretty useless to fans of the original game and this review is more relevant to the younger cohort or gamers of a similar generation to me that just never got around to giving it a go.

Now that we've got that out of the way, let us proceed.

What I like


Set in Feudal Japan

I haven’t played many games set in Feudal Japan – in fact, this is quite possibly the first time I've done so. That’s not to say there aren't heaps of games set in Feudal Japan – there are tons, but for me, it's a bit of a novelty. I like it how they use Japanese terms for titles and that honour features very prominently as something that can make or break your fiefdom.

Role-playing and Mini-games

Just like Sid Meier’s Pirates! or Covert Action, there’s an element of role-playing involved and there are several mini-games to get your head around. In terms of role-playing, your samurai ages with time and consequently, it’s important that you get married and have boys as you’ll need an heir (daughters are unimportant, at least during this period of Japanese history). You’re also able to help out other samurai with their own problems which in turn grants you honour or even more land. You can also wander the countryside killing brigands (one of the mini-games) and duelling swordsmen (another mini-game).

The final mini-game is a combat or battle mini-game but I'll get into that later.

What I dislike


It’s starting to look pretty dated

The game has 16-colour EGA graphics (even the VGA option looks like it only has 16 colours), basic animations and a very basic in-game soundtrack, making it seem rather dated by today's standards. In fact, the game was even lambasted for poor presentation by reviewers back in 1989 (although they generally complimented the game on its gameplay)

RTFM

Read the Friggin' Manual. This advice rang true for just about any game developed in the 1980s or 1990s. Back in these days, disk space was at a premium, so your game would often be bundled with a hefty physical manual. Games never tended to have tutorials either so reading the manual was crucial to your success. While learning to read manuals isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's a bit archaic in today's age of computer gaming so it’s not everyone’s cup of tea (in fact, I actually prefer being able to play an interactive tutorial nowadays instead of reading a manual or watching a video).

Clumsy controls

Another problem with the game being so old is the over-reliance on the keyboard over the mouse when it came to controlling things. This makes the mini-games extra challenging, especially the sword-fighting and army/battle/combat mini-games. If they were intent on sticking with keyboard they could've at least reworked these mini-games - or maybe they just wanted you to use the joystick (since that's also an option)?

Army combat mini-game

Despite finally figuring out how to move my troops and the general gist of the army combat mini-game, I'm still often confused as to what’s going on and it’s really difficult to issue orders on the fly when using only a keyboard. Ultimately, I don’t think the mini-game really adds any value and I would've preferred a turn-based combat mini-game or something similar to Genghis Khan II.

Difficulty spike

Once you reach a particular rank where you control an entire province the game shifts its priorities from the role-playing segments about building honour into a game similar to Risk where it’s all about holding territories and generating enough troops to fend off greedy neighbours. I really wasn't ready for it at all and it was a huge difficulty spike for me; if you don’t start building up your troops early, it’s game over.

Score – 5/10 (Average)

While Sword of the Samurai probably wasn't a bad game in its day (in fact, it received many positive reviews) it hasn't aged well, meaning it’s only a merely average game nowadays. While being set in feudal Japan is a plus and role-playing as a samurai is great fun, the game is let-down by infuriating mini-games and there’s a bit of a difficulty spike once you start controlling whole provinces as the game changes its focus to strategy rather than role-playing. If Sword of the Samurai were to be remade for modern audiences, I’d probably keep the themes behind the mini-games (e.g. fighting bandits, duels and army battles) but would rework them to make them more accessible and fun (and maybe mouse-based?).

Is the game worth $7.99?: No. I think a fairer price would be $5 considering how old this game is and considering you're probably better off playing Sid Meier's Pirates! or Covert Action.


If you like this game, you might like…

[ LINK: Sword of the Samurai on GOG ]
[ LINK: Sword of the Samurai on Steam ]

Monday, March 28, 2016

Choicest VGM - VGM #223 - Lamborghini American Challenge - Main Menu Theme


Soundtrack composed by: Richard Hooper

Back in the early 1990s, the Lamborghini Diablo was all the rage:



Sexy isn't it?

Anyway, my brother and I managed to get our hands on a relatively obscure game called Lamborghini: American Challenge at a time when arcade racing games were probably going out of fashion. The game was pretty challenging for me, mainly because I'm not very good at arcade racing games, so I never really got that far, so the only track I ever heard was this one which plays during every part of the game except when you're actually racing (there's no music when racing).

The track is a pretty catchy one and gets you in the mood to "run some burner"... er.. I mean "burn some rubber"!

The music was recorded through DOSBOX and consequently this is DOSBOX's emulation of OPL3 I believe, the FM synthesis sound chip used in a lot of old Soundblaster cards.

[ VIDEO: Choicest VGM - VGM #223 - Lamborghini American Challenge - Main Menu Theme ]


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Day of the Tentacle Remastered Review

This must be that Woodstock place Mum and Dad are always talking about.
  • Developer: Double Fine
  • Publisher: Double Fine
  • Release Date: 22 March 2016
  • Time played: 4 hours

Ah, another classic point 'n' click adventure remastered by Double Fine. They already managed to remaster Grim Fandango last year and now it's Day of the Tentacle's turn. Day of the Tentacle ranks as one of my top 10 games of all time so it was a no-brainer to acquire a copy (or two, as I actually have both a GOG and Steam copy!) when the game was finally released. But don't take my word for it, the game also featured on the Choicest Games Top 100 in the #40 spot (along with many other classic Lucasarts point 'n' click adventures).

The question is, does this remaster do the original justice? Will those who played the original over 20 years ago enjoy the remastered version by Double Fine? Also, will those who have never played Day of the Tentacle find something to enjoy?

What I like:


It's a remaster, not a remake

Double Fine have decided to only make subtle changes in its remaster of Day of the Tentacle, giving the game higher quality graphics and MIDI. This is different to a "remake" or a "reboot" such as what Firaxis did with XCOM: Enemy Unknown; in that case a new game was built from the ground up that incorporated many common elements from the original game but was quite a bit different in terms of its execution.

Some gamers would appreciate the changes as it makes old games more accessible to a modern audience and often includes improvements to the gameplay. Purists though often hate "remakes" since they deviate too far from the original formula. So if you're one of those gamers that was hoping for a lot of change in the remaster, you're going to be disappointed. In fact, I would've liked it if they happened to redo the soundtrack using a live orchestra (similar to what Double Fine did with Grim Fandango), however that may have been a bridge too far, and besides, the original soundtrack was decent enough anyway.

As someone who thoroughly enjoyed the original though, the remaster is fantastic since it doesn't touch any of the puzzles or story and just gives you a sharper, higher definition experience for modern PCs. Also, if you want to go all retro, you have the choice to revert to the original graphics, soundtrack and interface too.

Time travel puzzles

I love movies with time travel and I love games with time travel. In fact, Day of the Tentacle is probably the first computer game I played that featured time travel and it did so with a bang. Not only did you control one character, but three characters during different periods of history; one is thrown back 200 years in the past during American Colonial times, another is thrown 200 years in the future (a dystopian one where tentacles have taken over the world) and another stays put in the present... well in 1993 at least. My favourite puzzles involved changing things back in American Colonial times which would have a flow on effect on the future. I also enjoyed talking to humourous caricatures of Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock and even George Washington himself.

Interesting development trivia

The remastered version of Day of the Tentacle contains a whole bunch of developer commentary from guys who are now veterans of the gaming industry: Tim Schafer, Dave Grossman, Peter Chan, Larry Ahern, Peter McConnell and Clint Bajakian. I found the commentary interesting as the developers talked about the challenges they faced working on 90s hardware, such as Clint Bajakian commenting on how the composers struggled to keep MIDIs under 32 kilobytes in size, or how the judge tentacles in the future waddled as one character since animating all of the tentacles hopping around would've been impossible.

More fluid animations

When I played the original Day of the Tentacle, I used to remember that whenever audio samples had to load there’d be a lag for a second or two during animations. This is no longer the case. Yay!

Yo dawg

Just like the original Day of the Tentacle you're able to play its predecessor, Maniac Mansion within Maniac Mansion...II (Day of the Tentacle is Maniac Mansion II you see)! So you're able to play a Maniac Mansion game within a Maniac Mansion game. Neat!

And on the topic of the original Maniac Mansion, thankfully you don't need to play the original game in order to enjoy Day of the Tentacle. Back in the early 90s when I originally played Day of the Tentacle it didn't matter and it still doesn't matter now (although you'd obviously understand the few in-jokes if you did).

What I dislike:


I may be biased

I loved the original game so much and since this remaster is pretty much just the original with hi-res graphics and higher quality MIDI, my opinion isn’t likely to change. I can appreciate that with all things nostalgia, things you played or watched when you were younger don’t quite hold up when you experience them again as an adult. With Day of the Tentacle Remastered though, I have to say that it’s held up pretty well. However, that’s not to say the same will apply to everyone, especially people who are playing this for the first time.

Developer Commentary Subtitles

There are so many typos it seems like they did a rush job on the Developer Commentary subtitles. But, as you can tell, this is being really picky so it’s not a major issue (I’m struggling to find something negative to say about the game!)

That it took this long to be released

I've been waiting for almost two decades for a modern remastered version of this classic. Actually, I would've been happy with just the original Day of the Tentacle and it was so painful to see Steam release a whole bunch of classic Lucasarts titles but none of the other classics like Grim Fandango, Day of the Tentacle or Full Throttle. Thankfully, it seems Double Fine are going to rectify that (and make a bucketload of money while they're at it).

Score – 9/10 (Awesome)

It's a higher definition version of the classic Day of the Tentacle with developer commentary... and that's about it. However, if you loved the original game you won't be disappointed with this remastered version of one of the best point 'n' click adventures of all time. For newcomers, this is a great opportunity to experience a classic, time travel, cartoon point 'n' click adventure developed during the Golden Age of Lucasarts.

Is the game worth $14.99 USD?: Yes. With the current exchange rate, that’s about $20 to experience one of the best point ‘n’ click adventures ever.


If you like this game, you might like…

[ LINK: Official Day of the Tentacle Remastered Website ]

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Windward Review

"Land ho!" Hey... wait a minute...

  • Developer: Tasharen Entertainment
  • Publisher: Tasharen Entertainment
  • Release Date: 12 May 2015
  • Time played: 21.5 hours

I've liked games about pirates from a young age and I blame Ron Gilbert for this thanks to 1990's The Secret of Monkey Island. It was only much later that I experienced Sid Meier's Pirates! in 2004, despite it being a remake or a remake.

Anyway, fast forward to 2015 where thanks to generous friends, I managed to score a gift copy of Windward, a game set during the Age of Sail that claims to be a "procedural co-op game" which "truly comes alive when playing with friends". That sounds pretty awesome already, and thankfully, is exactly what you get when you play this game. But what about the rest of it? Is it still fun single-player? Is a good procedural co-op game enough to keep you coming back time and time again?

What I like


Conquering new territory with friends

This is by far the best part of the game. Teaming up with friends to take on pirates in a new sector, conquering the towns one by one and slowly seeing the fruits of your labour, it's a great feeling. Settling and naming new towns after your friends, family, pets and favourite catchphrases is the icing on the cake.

Easy to pick up

The game is relatively easy to pick up. While I still struggle to master using the mouse and keyboard at times (since both the mouse and keyboard can accelerate the ship forward and steer it), that's really all there is to it. You just need to know how to accelerate, brake, steer, fire cannons and use abilities and you're well on you way. Mastering the game involves learning which abilities to pick when you level up and which ships are better for particular situations (and which situations you should sail away from!). But you can worry about that later.

Simple but effective music

It's not going to win any Grammy awards, but I like the music in Windward.

Made by one guy!

It's impressive to think that Windward was developed mainly thanks to one man: Michael Lyashenko. 3D artwork was done by freelancer Rich DiGiovanni and music by freelancer Angelo Cicero.

What I dislike


The Diablo Effect

The game is actually very similar to Diablo and its clones in that it's all about killing enemies, grabbing loot, equipping your character (or in this case, ship) with aforementioned loot and rinse, repeat. While some might love the rolling of the dice to see what neat stuff you can acquire for your ship, others will be bored by the grind. In fact, in order to unlock new, more powerful ships you'll need to defeat the very same ships in combat, which isn't easy to do, so you'll either have to team up with friends (probably the recommended approach) or wait to grind higher quality equipment for your ship (yawn).

Too much sandbox?

Unlike Sid Meier's Pirates! there's no overarching story to the game and everything is procedurally generated, so unless you decide to roleplay or play with friends, there is a big question mark concerning the game's longevity. The game is actually similar to Elite: Dangerous in that regard since that too suffers from the fact everything is procedurally generated so at times it feels like the game lacks charm. If you like sandbox games though and know how to make the most of them, then you're likely to get more out of Windward than other players.

Bugs

The game has a few interesting bugs like your ship being able to respawn on land (which basically means you have to quit the game and return) or sometimes not being able to build towns despite the game directing you to the spot. I think it may have something to do with the procedural generation of the land and the allocation of potential port locations (which act as respawn points).

Framerate drops

I occasionally experienced lag and framerate drops. We also found it a challenge to set up your own server having to resort to Hamachi in order to play since the only other alternative was to perform port forwarding (or join someone else's random server).

Score – 7/10 (Good)

Windward is a neat, little sandbox game similar to Sid Meier's Pirates! without the story, or Diablo with ships, or even Elite: Dangerous, but without the spaceships. The game is at its best when you're able to conquer and develop a map with mates but it might lack the longevity if played exclusively as a single player game. Acquiring late game ships can also be a bit of a grind.

Is the game worth $14.99 USD?: Yes. I reckon about $20 AUD represents good value as there's quite a bit of fun you can have with this game, provided you have other players to give it a go with.


If you like this game, you might like...


[ LINK: Official Windward Website ]




Monday, March 21, 2016

Choicest VGM - VGM #222 - Syndicate - Danger


Soundtrack composed by: Russell Shaw

This track plays when it's time to... PANIC!!!!! Well, that or a lot of trouble is coming your way. One of my fondest memories in the original game was the Atlantic Accelerator mission where you'd hear maybe two notes from "Assassinate" before it quickly switches to "Danger" and then all hell breaks loose as Gauss Guns are firing all over the place.

Danger also seems to be a favourite track to remix as even Skrillex has created his own version of this iconic theme for the Syndicate game released in 2012.

[ VIDEO: Choicest VGM - VGM #222 - Syndicate - Danger ]


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Undertale Review

Undertale has a combat system that's quite a bit different to your typical JRPG
  • Developer: tobyfox
  • Publisher: tobyfox
  • Release Date: 15 September 2015
  • Time played: 7 hours

For my birthday, my mates managed to pool some money together so that I could buy my own pressies. Of course, the only prudent thing to do when you've already got a "pile of shame" is to add MOAR GAMEZ to that pile! So, I decided to purchase the new King's Quest, Rebel Galaxy and, the game this review is about, Undertale (thanks guys!).

So why did I get Undertale? Mainly curiosity got the better of me. The game is one of the highest rated games on Steam with an "Overwhelmingly Positive" rating of 97% from over 40,000 reviews! However, when you look at the game, it's not exactly a big budget game - it's an indie game by effectively one man and a few other collaborators.

So why is this game so good? Is it really as good as the Steam community says it is?

What I like


Plot

Undertale has a touching yet, at the same time, hilarious story. It cam sometimes come off as a bit twee yet at other times, the story is quite moving. It takes what is best from some of the iconic fantasy films from the 80s such as Labyrinth, The Princess Bride and The NeverEnding Story and places it in a game that looks like your standard, retro JRPG. The game is a fantasy adventure that doesn’t take itself too seriously, often breaking the fourth wall, and even having characters that are probably inspired by Sesame Street (such as Sans and Papyrus which remind me of Bert and Ernie).

Hilarious and unconventional combat system

The conventional way to fight battles (if you could call it that) involves dodging bullets fired by the enemy, i.e. it's similar to "bullet-hell" games like Raiden to a degree. However, what you need to do in each combat mini-game is rarely ever the same. The game also encourages you to talk to monsters and avoid combat altogether (which I've rarely ever seen in a game before)!

High quality chiptune soundtrack

The developer of Undertale, Toby Fox, also happens to be the game's composer and the cynical ones amongst us might think the game was simply developed as a medium to showcase his music. Well, it's pretty damn good music as far as chiptune soundtracks go and it covers an eclectic range of styles.

Multiple endings and a customised epilogue

There are actually multiple endings to this game and the game's epilogue is also customised dependent on what actions you took in the game.


What I dislike


The ending

Okay, the game does have multiple endings, as I've mentioned, but the ending I received for the first time playing the game was a bit underwhelming. Yes, it was pretty choice how the epilogue was customised but when I researched further I discovered that like some Japanese visual novels, you can never get the "good" or "true" ending on your first playthrough - you must play the game again in order to do so! So basically, you have to grind through a game twice in order to get a satisfactory ending instead of a half-arsed one. I tried my best to not kill any monsters during my playthrough but found it nigh on impossible to avoid it in some cases, and it's not always obvious what you have to do in order to avoid killing monsters, even if you don't want to.

Bullet Hell

I'm really bad at bullet hell games, and when you don't have the option to resolve a confrontation in a peaceful manner, you're going to be dodging a helluva lot of bullets. It puts players like me between a rock and a hard place since I really want to resolve the confrontation peacefully for not only one reason (because I'm trying to roleplay a nice guy/girl) but two.

Interface

Just like many console games, you only can save the game at certain points in the game (and it's only one save game). You can't save whenever you feel like (which is usually the norm for PC games). Also, the game never bothers saving any of your configuration settings so each time you want to play the game fullscreen, you'll have to do so manually.

Steam goodies

There are no Steam Achievements and no ability to take screenshots.

Controls

You can’t bind keys and it's possible to sometimes become confused when navigating the interface.

Graphics

I actually like the style to be honest but primitive 80s era graphics aren't for everyone: You’re either going to love the nostalgia or hate it.

Score – 7/10 (Good)

I thoroughly enjoyed most of Undertale as it incorporates many of the best qualities of fantasy films from the 80s along with a healthy dose of humour that often breaks the fourth wall. Its combat system is also quite a bit different to your typical JRPG where there's even the option to play nice with the monsters and hopefully seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict. However, the end-game truly disappointed me as I found myself unable to avoid having to play the "bullet hell" mini-games in order to progress and the ending itself is pretty underwhelming (unless you're willing to play the whole game again for a "good" or "true" ending).

Is the game worth $9.99 USD?: Yes. With the current exchange rate, that’s about $13 and just like a good book, it was hard to put Undertale down. Pity about the ending though.

If you like this game, you might like…

[ LINK: Undertale on Steam ]
[ LINK: Undertale on GOG ]

Friday, March 18, 2016

Changes to the Blog

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

There are a few changes coming soon to the blog thanks, unfortunately, to me having a shortage of time. However, it's not all doom and gloom since I'm hoping this time can be better directed back towards what I really want this blog to be for: PC game reviews.

So firstly, I'll be placing the "Where are they now?" Wednesday posts and Spotlight Sunday posts on hold. While I found the exercises to be educational and fun (and even some of the original game developers came by to say "hello" for the "Where are they now?" posts) they were time intensive. This doesn't mean I won't revisit these in the future - far from it, but I don't see myself revisiting them on a weekly basis for the next few months or even few years.

Video Game Music (VGM) Mondays however aren't that time intensive so you can still tune in here every Monday for some choicest PC game music!

Secondly, I'll be revising how I do my reviews. The reviews will now incorporate ideas from my "First Impressions" articles since I found that many of the "First Impressions" articles ended up sounding like reviews anyway and it's in an easier to digest format than the traditional reviews. This means I will no longer have category scores but I shall still use the categories in the background as a kind of checklist when reviewing the game.

I'll continue to give the games a review a total score but now this is more a comparison of the game with other games in the same genre or at least games to a similar genre if it's hard to pigeon hole it. I will give the game a score out of 5 and then multiply it by 2. Half points are allowed though to give me some leeway when I think a game doesn't quite fit one of the whole numbers.

As a rough guide, here is what each score will mean:

0 = Worst. Game. Ever. Or at least in the genre. Should be pretty rare to get this.
1 = Bad game. This game has no redeeming features, but it's not the worst game I've played in the genre.
2 = Mediocre game. This game might have one redeeming feature but everything else is done poorly.
3 = Okay game. This game is probably lacking in gameplay or presentation or it's one of those games that would be great if they spent more effort elsewhere
4 = Good game. Only some minor bugs or issues keeping it from greatness (probably a lot of games will end up here since I usually pick damn good games ;))
5 = Excellent game. Best game ever or best game in genre. Pretty rare to score this.

So what's the upshot of all this? I should be able to type up reviews sooner and it should leave more time to actually play the hundreds of games I intend to review!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Choicest VGM - VGM #221 - Syndicate - Assassinate


Soundtrack composed by: Russell Shaw

This track plays when you're running a mission with your squad of cyborg agents. I'm not quite sure why the copy I found is called "Assassinate" since I didn't think every mission in the game was to do with assassinations, surely? Or maybe my memory is failing me and every mission was as assassination mission; if that's the case, it's a very fitting title.

The track is cool, sneaky and futuristic - which is exactly what you want in a cyberpunk game like Syndicate. I love that old school blare at 0:38 - can't get enough of that kind of stuff.

[ VIDEO: Choicest VGM - VGM #221 - Syndicate - Assassinate ]


Sunday, March 13, 2016

Spotlight Sunday - Week 11 - 2016


Spotlight Sunday is a way for Choicest Games to feature PC games that are scheduled for release on the following week - games that we consider worthwhile checking out.

This week (14th March to the 20th March 2016) unlike the previous week, there's only one game I'm keen on that's coming out (although the Early Access game Steno Arcade looks interesting). So the game I think is worth checking out next week is:

Premium Pool

  • Release Date: 15/03/2016
  • Availability: Steam - Free to Play
It's been a while since I've tried my hand at a PC pool game. The only two I remember are Sharkey's 3D Pool which came out in 1990 and Pool Champion (I believe) which came out in 1995. They were always good fun especially the tournament modes so I wouldn't be averse to playing a new pool game, especially if it's free; this is where Premium Pool comes in as it's a free-to-play pool game that's coming soon to Steam!

Be warned that the game is listed as going to have in-game app purchases but so long as they're not pay-to-win, I don't see any issues.



So are you interested or excited about any PC games being released next week? Which games are you looking forward to?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Where are they now? - The Designers of Global Domination

Simon Bradbury and David Lester designed 1993 PC strategy game Global Domination

Just as it was with my previous "Where are they now?" blog post, the game to feature in today's post has already been mentioned a few times on the blog already, by being featured on the Choicest VGM playlist. However, today I'd like to focus on a couple of the designers of the game, namely David Lester and Simon Bradbury. Where are these two now?

"But wait..." you're probably saying. "What is this Global Domination game you're talking about? I've never heard of it." or you're saying "you mean that game that came out on the Playstation in the late 90s?". No, I'm talking about the PC game by Impressions that was released in the early 90s. To be honest, the game probably doesn't seem that special by today's standards; it's basically the board game Risk but with a grand strategy layer and some real-time strategy mixed in - but I hadn't really experienced anything quite like it up to that point - well except maybe for Genghis Khan II but that didn't have an RTS element to it!

So these chaps at the company Impressions called David Lester and Simon Bradbury designed this game. But where are they now?

Lester after founding Impressions worked there for 10 years but in 1999 became the chairman for a company called Crimson Publishing and in more recent years, he's also chairman of a company that develops a HR system called citrusHR. He even had a stint as a director of Watford Football Club in the early 2000s.

Bradbury on the other hand decided to keep in the business of making games after Impressions and co-founded Firefly Studios in 1999. This company is most famous for its Stronghold strategy games and also a game called Space Colony. He's CEO of the company to this day.

I unfortunately don't have the time to cover what happened to the entire development team but if you happened to be part of the original Global Domination development team, then let us know! We'd love to hear your stories and anecdotes! :)

LINKS:
[ MobyGames: Simon Bradbury ]
[ MobyGames: David Lester ]
[ MobyGames: Global Domination ]

Monday, March 7, 2016

Choicest VGM - VGM #220 - Syndicate - Opening Track


Soundtrack composed by: Russell Shaw

When the original Syndicate intro played for the first time, it blew me away. This was the early 90s mind you so the game's intro looked pretty damn impressive - almost photo-realistic at parts. The music that played during the intro was also a highlight; to this day, I still reckon that it sounds a whole lot like the Mars movement from The Planets by Holst.

[ VIDEO: Choicest VGM - VGM #220 - Syndicate - Opening Track ]


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Spotlight Sunday - Week 10 - 2016


Spotlight Sunday is a way for Choicest Games to feature PC games that are scheduled for release on the following week - games that we consider worthwhile checking out.

This week (7th March to the 13th March 2016) there are way too many interesting games coming out that I had to effectively make a shortlist. This meant Early Access games like Block'hood and Labyrinth didn't make the cut (although Early Access games normally don't anyway on Spotlight Sundays) and neither did Alekhine's Gun, Caravanserail, Kelvin and the Infamous Machine or Star Realms. So the four games I think are worth considering next week are:

Shardlight

  • Release Date: 08/03/2016
  • Availability: Steam - Not available for pre-order, Direct - $14.99 USD, GOG - $20.99
If you want new, retro-style point 'n' click adventures, Wadjet Eye Games is one of the best companies out there that develops and publishes these sort of games. It seems that they're about to release another one called Shardlight which takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting.

If you're not sure on whether to get the game, there's a free demo you can try out. There's no pricing for the Steam version yet but I suspect it'll be around $14.99 USD.



The Next World

  • Release Date: 08/03/2016
  • Availability: Steam - Not available for pre-order
The concept behind this game sounds intriguing because it's similar to an idea I've had for a while with respect to visual novel games, i.e. a sci-fi visual novel game with strategy elements. The game basically tells the story of a bunch of colony ship survivors trying to make a new life on the wrong planet (the ship crash landed). It's up to you to manage the colony's limited resources in order to survive.



Tom Clancy's The Division

This game needs little introduction but here's what it's about anyway: The Division is meant to be some military unit in the United States that is activated once a pandemic sweeps the city of New York which descends into chaos. As a member of the Division, it's your job to restore order to the city and do so by partnering up with friends in PvE zones or in the PvP Dark Zone, where rogue agents might be out to get your epic loot.



Panzermadels: Tank Dating Simulator

  • Release Date: 10/03/2016
  • Availability: Steam - $Not available for pre-order
Just when you thought Hatoful Boyfriend, a game where you're a girl dating pigeons wasn't ridiculous enough, comes this game where you're a guy dating... tanks?



So are you interested or excited about any PC games being released next week? Which games are you looking forward to?

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Where are they now? - Producer of Genghis Khan II

Yōichi Erikawa is the co-founder of Koei and now CEO/President of Koei Tecmo. He was producer for the classic strategy game Genghis Khan II.

I've covered the game Genghis Khan II in this blog a few times before and the posts mainly concerned its music by Michiru Ōshima. However, I don't believe I've ever talked about the producer of the game, a man who found probably the greatest Japanese PC game development studio, Koei; His name is Yōichi Erikawa but he has also gone under the moniker "Kou Shibusawa".

Why was Genghis Khan II so great? Well it's probably because it was my first experience of anything remotely related to the "grand strategy" genre, i.e. a genre that mixes tactical and strategic aspects where you not only get to manage an army of soldiers, you get to manage the politics, the economy and even your bloodline. These types of games tend to mix elements of role-playing and strategy, which I whole-heartedly approve of (at least when you get it right - Warcraft III is an example where I don't think it works, or at least it biases the game towards roleplaying Hero units a bit too much).

But I digress. What about Yōichi Erikawa? Where is he nowadays? Well since the 1990s (which was probably his heyday or when he really got his hands dirty with development) he's been credited as a producer on several games developed by Koei and now Koei Tecmo (after they merged in 2009). That's probably understandable considering he was a co-founder of Koei (with his wife Keiko) and now he's President and CEO of Koei Tecmo. The last game he's credited as producing is 2012's Pokemon Conquest for the Nintendo DS. Prior to that, he was credited as Producer for 2007's Romance of the Three Kingdoms XI which was released on Windows and Playstation 2.

So what's he up to nowadays? Well he still seems to be CEO of Koei Tecmo but at least according to MobyGames, he hasn't been credited as having developed a game for a few years now.

I unfortunately don't have the time to cover what happened to the entire development team but if you happened to be part of the original Genghis Khan II development team, then let us know! We'd love to hear your stories and anecdotes! :)

LINKS:
[ MobyGames: Yōichi Erikawa ]
[ Wikipedia: Koei Tecmo ]