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Sketch

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  1. Hi Glad you liked my SC piece in RG. I have several other things in the pipeline too, for both mags. My preferences tend to be for unusual gaming items, and imports from the USA/Japan, so maybe my articles might be more to your tastes? Heh, the boss wouldn't like that. Truth be told, I'd probably just buy him a pint. Anyway, I hope you liked that PM stuff dude, I know you're a big fan.
  2. I spent over £100 on a 3DO (shipping was a bitch) just to play Star Control 2. It was worth every penny. Then years later I wrote a massive article on Star Control 2 for Retro gamer magazine, which came with Star Control 2 for free on the cover disc, and recouped all the costs. I like the 3DO.
  3. Oh yeah, btw, for those who liked the Shadowrun article, I recomend some extra reading. http://www.shadowrunrpg.com/resources/timeline.shtml This is a rather good timeline, highlighting the entire Shadowrun backstory from around 1999 right up to when the videogames take place and after. http://www.shadowrunrpg.com/resources/slang.shtml Meanwhile check out this link if you are interested to read up a bit more on the slang used in the games. So then, has anyone actually gone out and played the Shadowrun games after reading the article?
  4. Rubbish?! Sacrilege! Well, the gameplay might not be to everyone's taste, but I loved the music they used. Very unusual at the time. Though the gameplay was slightly better in Klonoa.
  5. Thanks. I am so glad more people are playing that phenomenal game. It was a real labour of love writing that. It's also worth checking out Toys For Bob's other games. I quite enjoyed Pandemonium and The horde. What did you think of the Popful Mail article and Working Designs interview in GamesTM? Im guessing you read both GTM and RG?
  6. There is no definite translation patch as yet for the SCD game. From what I can tell it's all talk at the moment. Too many seem more interested in translating SFC games. But if there is a visible interest on forums, I'm sure people will become more determined to get it done. At the moment I just play it patched into PAL using ConvSCD. It's NOT worth £100 though, especially if you don't know Japanese. Cheers for the info on the screens. As for criticism, criticise all you like! I'm just a freelancer meaning I only know about my own articles. On both sides of the bridge for that matter. (greetings Strider!) I think there'll be something by me in issue 33 of GTM though, should be good. For GTM it's mainly franchise stuff like the Popful Mail feature, and recently a look at "something else". For RG I normally try and cover more unusual console based things, often tying in to content I've secured for the cover disc. Otherwise feel free to voice anything you didn't like about my work. I'll do my best to check in here every so often.
  7. You don't want to lose the cover disc now. I have secured some VERY exciting and very prominent content for the disc. Im talking BIG stuff here. But that's all I'm going to reveal now. Suffice to say, it isn't remakes! Seriously, HUGE stuff planned for the disc, stuff that has taken around 2 months just to secure. Amazing stuff, just hang in there.
  8. For shame, I had hoped my Popful Mail and Working Designs interview would generate a little excitement. Ahh wel, ce la vie.
  9. No, I agree completely Mr Hazelby. I dloaded and watched it, really excited because of how funny everyone said it was.... and to be honest. I did not find it funny AT ALL. Bit dissapointed really. The best thing about it was when they spoke about the games, since they are clearly passionate about the medium and know what they're talking about. The sketches though... well they were bordering on the slightly disturbing to be honest. Then again humour is very subjective. I personally prefer comedy more in the style of "Black Books" really.
  10. hmm, not much GamesTM interest this month then?
  11. Glad you liked the Shadowrun article, one of my aims was to explain the Sega CD version some moe, drum up interest. I heard some translators were trying to patch, I even offered a copy free to some people at Zophars, but things have gone quiet over the months. They really should patch it. It would also make sense for MS to release compilation, considering they own the game rights.... How many Sega CD screenshots did they use? I must have sent them over 50 screengrabs I took, inlcuding many of the Matrix runs, did they use a lot? Otherwise I'm also pleased so many people liked my Star Control article, I wish more people would play it, it really was a work of passion and a very good game too. Otherwise expect plenty of other good stuff, for several publications, from me in the future.
  12. Ive learned a valuable lesson here: Preach only to the converted. I've gone and read all the positive feedback this has recieved in other places, and not only has it strengthened my convictions, but it makes writing so much more worthwhile. They really understand it, one person even said they nearly wept, commenting that it was almost poetic in some places. Another spoke their own harrowing experiences. My god, I nearly wept myself. The common bond that forms between VT veterans, my god, its beautiful. PHEW! Talke about a headrush, I need to sit down, I think I've gone giddy. Damn, now thats a buzz! Anyway, say what you like, I realise now this was the worng forum to post it in.
  13. I am forever amazed at people not liking the save deletion feature. I would honestly say, that for me, it is at least half of the enjoyment. More probably. The whole essay was actually me proclaiming how much I like the save deletion feature. I seriously dont know why people hate it. MGS3 nearly had the same thing implemented! ahhh well, thats preferences for you. In the meantime, I say viva la save deletion! And heres a toast so that all games in future include it. Sin gle handedly the most ingenious design element this generation, BAR NONE! It rocks people, really it does.
  14. I resent your accusations that I haven't played many games. Your just taking cheap shots at me personally to criticise the piece. Try and be civil I dont want to start this into a comparison of how many games we've played, but: Would you find it difficult to believe that in actual fact I've played probably well over a thousand different titles on original hardware, and gotten considerably far in them? My Famicom games playing alone comes close to the 300 game mark. (that I've owned and gotten far in, as opposed to emulation) Contrary to what you may think, I have experienced a wide variety of different console games. As for everything else said, well where can we possibly take this discussion apart from leaving it there? I won't budge on my opinions of the game or my own work, since I think it's some of the best damned stuff I've written. And yeah, thats probably a throw away defence too, but what did you expect? That you'd convert me on this subject?
  15. Stop whining about people using a defence of "its my opinion!" From what I can remember I haven't done that yet, and I won't anytime soon. I've put this review all over the place, and so far your the only person who hasn't liked it. awww well, cant please 'em all. Actually I laughed several times during that, at least you injected humour into the criticisms. Though I did only skim read it. (yeah, I am lazy, so sue me!) And no, my big PC gaming experiences are only Deus Ex, HL1 and several older DOS games prior to 1993, but they probably dont count in this case. Ive never liked PC gaming. So yup, my only experience of war games is consoles, which SB was designed for. And as for you finding it funny that I assumed you were an edge reader, the same goes for you thinking I like FIFA or any GTA clone. Quite a sweeping statement regarding my preference for games, you'd probably be surprised at what I like games wise. Finally, yes I regard SB as a totally new experience, not for the controller but the save deletion. MGS3 is rumoured to nearly have included such a thing, before Kojima's team persuaded him not to. Hell yeah its new, and my save files ARE precious to me. Now, I must ask, do you actually like SB?
  16. I knew one person would be offended at my comparisons to real war, and you're it! Here, have a prize! I doubt you've been in a real war either, and no I havent either. What I was trying to get at, was you know all those horrible feelings you get in your gut when you think about your life being forced away from you? Such as being killed in conflict. Well SB comes as close to inducing those feelings as watching a gritty war documentary, or hearing a terribly sad story regarding it. It doesn't mimick those feelings exactly. Im sure I said it several times, it comes as close to those feelings. And as for those feelings gotten from documentaries etc. They will of course never be anywhere near as close to being in real conflict either. See what Im getting at? At each movement along the path, innate feelings of fear get diluted slightly. I dont want it to be too realistic. I said that already, its strong enough as is, anymore realistic and the game would be unplayable.... Weren't you reading that? It gets as closer than anything before it, and works because of this. Any closer and it would be too close to the bone. I have already mentioned the fact that your are in giant mechs. Regardless it is a hell of a lot more realistic that some of the bloodless FPS war games Ive played. Utter tripe they were, bloodless, and they allowed me to continue after dying several times. Are those realistic? Bollocks are they. Plus I have never played a mission in another war game about killing deserters. It might be because I havent played enough war games, but I found that to be a disturbing mission in SB. Now onto the AI and the pre-scripted nature of it. I like the poor AI, too intelligent and it would become unpleasant. (I haven't played LoC so cant comment). Same goes for the pre-scripted nature of it. I like the same repetitive levels with stupid enemies, it doesnt stop me from freaking out when the klaxon sounds, it just means Im prepared with the chaff. And again to defend myself.... I never meant SB did what it set out to do. I was talking about my review! In simple terms, my review set out to convey the fact that losing your save data is scary. If anything, its a review on that game design technique, not so much SB, and that I would be interested in certain other games replicating it... maybe. My review does exactly what I want it to do. ----- look, I dont think we got off on the wrong foot. I think its a simple case of what I tried to convey has been misinterprited slightly. If not, well then myeh! I had fun writing the essay so am not too bothered about critiquing.
  17. Clearly you dont like Steel Battalion too much then. Subjective, objective? Who gives a shit. I just wanted to write about the terror it causes, and therefor how close to real war it is. I frankly see nothing wrong with it, in so far as what it sets out to achieve, it does achieve. Im sorry, I forgot this forum is full of Edge readers, and there is no high minded pretensions in my writing, and I wasn't using their scoring method either. Dont lay into me, I dont even know you. But if you feel like critically disecting the essay, without resorting to flames, then I will gladly read it.
  18. I've been posting this on various places, including steelbattalion.org and thought Id start my first topic on rllmuk by posting it here too. Im basically seeing how far i can spread this. Review/essay on SB, specifically focusing on the fear it causes in someone. Mainly written for those who like it already, and quite long. I wrote it about a month ago. Some parts have been fictionalised, others have been based on true accounts of other VT pilots from various forums, all have been meshed together to give a slightly exagerated point of view and nothing here should be taken too literally. Try and keep this topic civil please. Enjoy (MILD SPOILERS AHEAD) ********************** Steel Battalion: When critiquing and scoring a game, the number 10 should be used sparingly. It should be reserved only for those games which are undeniably revolutionary, or genre defining, or do something that make them landmark titles to be remembered forever. SB is one those games deserving of full marks, a perfect score, and for a simple reason: at the time of its release it was arguably one of the most revolutionary, genre defining landmark titles in the history of gaming. Not because of it’s high priced controller, though that was connected to the reason. No, the biggest thing about SB is its unique saving mechanism and the way it is utilised in-game. While many have been quick to gloss over this all important factor, some even dismissing it as an annoying gimmick, the fact remains that it has been utilised in such a way as to be gut wrenchingly terrifying. Like no other game before it, not even the finest of the survival horror games, SB is capable of inducing extreme amounts of raw, almost mind destroying fear. It’s ability to create terror in the player is closely related to the way SB’s unique saving mechanism in the campaign mode makes it the most realistic war simulator of our time. I do not wish to belittle anyone who has fought and served in the armed forces, or even seen the brutality of armed combat, for it is something so unimaginably awful that no one wants to experience it for real. But unlike any other form of war game, even realistic simulations such as Full Spectrum Warrior, SB is as close to the real thing as one is likely to find, despite putting the player in the role of multi-story walking war machines. If you die in SB, you die for real. Your save game is erased and your post-mortem stats are recorded. You, as an avatar in this gaming world, ceases to exist, and along with your persona so does all your progress and hard work. Games have admittedly used death in emotional ways before. Which gaming veteran hasn’t shed a tear over losing Jops half way through Cannon Fodder while his grave stone haunts them until the end of the game? But never before have games designers taken the liberty of punishing the player by erasing all evidence of their hard work. The only way to avoid death is to hit eject in time, once the klaxon sounds. That klaxon sound will end up burned into the sub-conscious of all SB players, causing a “Pavlov’s Dogs” type of reaction where the adrenaline hikes, the eyes widen and whiten and ones hand instinctively lunges for the only switch that can save them. As a result, the further one gets and the more hours are clocked up in-game, the more fearful the possibility of death becomes. Restarting the first five missions on the easiest difficulty is painful enough, but being forced to begin anew after completing your 100th mission or having clocked over 50 hours in campaign mode is simply too much. Losing and dying no longer become options in open warfare once a certain point is reached. It is here that SB pulls you into its trenches and wont let you leave. Even if you do not die, and manage to hit the eject button before the VT (Vertical Tank) explodes in a shower of flames and your body is burned alive, there is still the risk of relegation. Every player earns supply points with which to buy further VTs, lose a VT out in the field and you have buy a new one. Waste too many supply points and you will be unable to purchase anymore, thereby left unable to fight and relegated out of the war. For the player this is death in all but name, and should be equally feared. Like so many things, the “tanker” experience begins slowly and with a light hearted tone to it. The excitement of assembly, your first training mission and the laughs that ensue after toppling a walking tank for the first time. But this innocence is soon lost and slowly gives way to the more familiar jaded and shell shocked gamer. After a few hours, the player has mastered the controls and the cockpit starts to feel cramped as every button and gear is mapped to memory. There is no solace or place to hide in the mission, the VT becomes a second skin and every cannon shot is felt. Soon after, common sense prevails and “Soy Sauce” becomes the official song of war as it ends up being played for every mission. My first and only relegation happened on my initial play through. I took too many risks, made too many mistakes and mission nine ended up claiming all my VTs, all my supply points and eventually my military rank. Every player has at some point experienced their first such major loss, and if they have not, then they should. The experience is akin to being hit in the stomach at high impact. Blood rushes to the face, the mind clouds over, one begins feeling dizzy and speech become incoherent. All the blood, sweat and tears to come this far was in vain, and now everything is lost in the blinking of an eye. This birth by fire marks the beginning of the true SB pilot, since before this they are like children lost in a dream. From this point onwards they vow never to be humiliated in this way again, to never rush in where angels fear to tread and to never again end up facing the wrong end of a Vitzh’s gun. From this point they know the true horror of folly in combat, and whilst begrudgingly starting again, are ever wary of the Hai Shi Dao frontline. After about ten hours, the player develops what VT veterans call the 100 yard stare. Their eyes glaze over once the cockpit hatch closes and the radio crackles to life as they give running commentary of events, halted only by loud screams of “We got HOSTILES! Enemy VT comin’ over the damn wire!” Their brows twitch with every railgun blast and their hands shake with the roar of machine guns. Reloading the cannons becomes instinct and one learns to love chaff as if it were fresh underwear. Even so, the fear has not yet fully developed and early missions are approached with a certain macho bravado. After twenty hours, the player refuses to leave the house and can be seen wearing the same sweat stained jungle camouflage vest for weeks on end, whilst around their foreheads are crude raggedy bandanas made from the sleeves of old T-shirts, pushing back their already spiked and greasy hair. By now the brow twitching and glazed look is uncontrollable following a heart stopping incident that nearly saw the player annihilated by encroaching enemy reinforcements, and every comprehensible sentence they say is followed by the words “out in the field, man.” By now precautions are taken for future missions. Tinned food and bottled water are stored close to “the equipment console” since it’s never known when leave will be given in order to have a proper meal with one’s family again. Experienced players have also admitted to keeping a portable latrine close to hand. Since the game cannot be paused, and much water is drunk to combat the dreaded tension felt whilst playing, there are times when a pilot simply has to go whilst they are on the go, so to speak. After thirty hours, playing the so called “game” in an armchair with table is no longer good enough. The true SB player builds themselves a proper cockpit to sit in, using old cardboard boxes and tape. The TV is no longer used for such petty things as watching television, and is thereafter referred to as a VT combat monitor. Logos are painted on the side of the makeshift room filling cockpit, and the words “no fear” and “VT killer” are scrawled on its sides. The player also demands that everyone refer to them by rank only. By now, slight trepidation has festered into full stomach based dread, the kind that stops people from reloading their guns on night missions for fear of the noise alerting nearby enemy placements. By fifty hours, all players should have passed the point of no return. The in-game boom-box has been replaced by a real life cassette player that pumps out “Flight of the Valkyrie” at full blast for 90 minutes before the tape needs to change sides. Many players develop a small ritual that is preformed before every mission start up: all buttons and switches are individually checked, a small mantra is chanted and the eject button casing has been removed. It is at this point in the campaign that the player no longer wants to participate in SB, not because the thrill of combat isn’t enjoyable, but because the risk of defeat is too great. Some players crack and refuse to play anything other than training ops or free mission mode. For everyone else, they have by now unlocked all the VT models and even rescued Corporal Arnold, thereby removing the weight limits on VTs. They deserve to be called master pilots for their proven high level of battle skill. Which is ironic, since despite this high level of skill, many such players refuse to enter higher level missions without at least three railgun attachments and a full compliment of re-supply choppers. From here on out the player is engulfed by the game. In their sleep they have nightmares about Jaralacc ambushes and downed supply choppers. They no longer use or trust the radar since later levels have radar invisible enemies, instead relying on gut instinct for their bearings. They even resist the temptation to boot the game up, often it only brings flashbacks of past battles. Suddenly as clear as day, fleets of enemy attack choppers can be seen swooping in, reminding them of that dreaded mission twelve where they were once stranded, guns jammed and out of ammo as their buddies were cut up by enemy fire. Memories like these can create twitch players where any movement results in them firing their machine guns almost randomly, since you never know when those rocket carrying rebels might be hiding in the trees. In these cases, such as mission five, the flame thrower becomes your best friend as you burn everything to a crisp. The game can take over the player’s mind, even during menial daily tasks they can still see the in-game targeting reticule while they move and bop their head to the rhythm of a VT walking in 3rd gear. Some reviewers have criticised the game for being too pre-scripted, too linear. That after completing the first set of the missions the others become repetitive. They are missing the point. SB works on an entirely different mental and emotional level to any other videogame. The fear is palpable as you progress through the game thanks to the saving feature. It was this, and not the controller, that makes the game so chillingly realistic, indeed it was a stroke of genius to implement this feature, and is a good example of why Capcom are such an innovative development house. Without the fear of death, the possibility of the save game being erased, SB would have been maybe only one tenth the game it is now. It is because of this reason that SB could only have worked as well as it does being pre-scripted, as opposed to non-linear with adaptive enemy positioning and AI. The game would have been rendered unplayable if the missions had any form of randomisation in them. On later missions which are tough enough anyway, the possibility of encountering a rogue Behemoth or hidden Jaralacc would have been simply too terrifying for all but the most battle hardened gamer. There is a point in gaming where realism must be left behind, where the limits cannot be pushed anymore since the game will lose all elements of enjoyment. A game is fun because it is a game, and while SB puts us in as real a situation as possible, that genuinely makes us fearful of our own demise, to go any further would be to cross the boundaries. The fear would no longer be bearable or enjoyable, and would only become unpleasant. Imagine if the attack chopper convoy from mission twelve suddenly swooped in whilst trying to destroy the battleship because it had called for reinforcements. Or if light enemy VTs could be sent in via an aerial drop at a moments notice. Already frayed nerves would snap under such unpredictable tension. Even with enemy layouts memorised some players have trouble focusing and starting the latest unlocked mission, since at the back of their mind is always the thought of what if they don’t make it back after this mission? Mission nine (the one I was relegated on), to a slight degree has randomised elements, with the position of the enemy occasionally changing and even higher level mechs showing up seemingly randomly. Even in this slight capacity it can frustrate, since if an enemy is not where one expects him to be, the mission becomes frantic as you run around wildly taking damage trying to find them, only to be taken out by a Behemoth that has randomly appeared or those who don’t show up on radar. As well as fear, it work on other emotional levels as well. The mission where the player must hunt down and execute VT platoon deserters is particularly poignant. After a genuinely brutal mountain campaign, the commander informs you that some of the men couldn’t take the pressure anymore and went AWOL with the platoon’s VTs and recent armour and weapon upgrades. They were tracked to a local village, which they’d raid for supplies. These people were once in your platoon, your comrades. Soldiers just like you, and just like you, they were tired of the fighting and the pressures of war. They wanted out, but as the commander showed, the only way out of the platoon was in a body bag. This sets SB apart from other war games, since in all my years I can’t recollect many, or indeed any war games where you had to kill those on your own side and then get rid of any evidence. I have to admit that this mission left a bad taste in my mouth and it made me feel uneasy about future missions. It just didn’t feel right having to do that. But that is life and war, sometimes you are given orders that you do not want, and must carry out unpleasant actions because those higher up in rank say that you must. With this, SB has to be commended. No other game has even come close to being able to generate such strong and overpowering emotions in a player, it quite literally grabs you by your nether regions and hooks you in. The emotional response is so strong that it can fundamentally affect the way you approach and play the game. Imagine how much more immersive and horrifying the Biohazard or Silent Hill series would be if your save was deleted after being eaten by the warped and deformed creatures found within. Or if in MoH games, dying meant restarting the whole campaign. It cannot be denied, for modern players who have become obsessed with perfect game stats and the ultimate save file, this game is a revolutionary wake up call. It has taken the very thing players hold so dearly and put it at risk, and then made you fight bitterly in order to keep it. Games such as Medal of Honour allow the player to save and die an unlimited amount of times before completing the game, where a simple medical kit can heal even the most severe of wounds. In such cases there is no cause and effect, there is no retribution for carelessness. In Steel Battalion this is not the case. No other game ever developed has been able to so accurately recreate the folly and stupidity that is human conflict, or more importantly the unpleasant emotions that go with it. Written by John Szczepaniak
  19. Human beings play and collect videogames for the same reason that they read books, watch films, believe in religion, seek answers to scientific questions and become alcoholics... in order to desperately fill that gaping hole in themselves, in their soul if you will, that is inherent in all humanity. The thing that few end up realising is that this emptiness is in the nature of human beings and cannot be removed.
  20. For a moment there I thought you were being sarcastic... Anyway, glad you liked it. I thought Konami's US manual writing team needed to be villified, and it's something thats followed MG fans for years. But do go and play the games (emulate if you want the translations), they are excellent and will totally alter the way you view MGS and its sequals. (well, except maybe the C64 and IBM versions, they're only worth going after if you're a collector or desperate for more MG kicks)
  21. I take it you liked the Metal Gear history article then?
  22. I thought your accusation of rubbishness was in reply to my previous post regarding the retro section. Since it wasn't, then disregard my exclamation of "excellent". Besides, the official date is only around now anyway. Smiths were simply selling it too early.
  23. Any thoughts on this month's retro section?
  24. What did everyone think of this month's retro section?
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