Friday, August 25, 2023

Some well-written reviews of vintage videos games at this site, including one of an Alien game so old it was distributed on a cassette

A few I enjoyed:

Racing Lagoon: Fast and furious: Yokohama drifting

Before we get started on this astonishingly slick looking game I need to issue a little warning to potential players: The title splashed across this page isn’t a racing game. Racing Lagoon calls itself a “high speed driving RPG” and it’s really important to take that to heart when giving it a go because this is not “Gran Turismo with spiky hair” or “Metropolis Street Racer with lots of dialogue”: The story is as integral to the game as the racing, to the point where there are whole nights (as the game refers to its chapter divisions) where you’ll do no racing at all and are instead expected to take an interest in leading man Sho’s life as well as those of his friends and racing rivals. 

Septentrion: Found at sea:

Septentrion is so unashamedly eager to ape ’70s disaster movie The Poseidon Adventure it doesn’t just broadly copy the setting and flow of its memorable inspiration, the game even makes the effort to lead with a movie-like opening sequence and later end with a fake cast roll, complete with legally-distinct actors (such as “Jean Hickman“) for every part.

But unlike many games that choose to base themselves on something else, this SNES exclusive is far more than a hollow Hollywood imitator: This is a truly pioneering survival game, and one that still stands out as a unique, high quality, experience in every sense almost three decades later.

Alien: The perfect organism:

This Spectrum/C64/Amstrad CPC Alien game (Spectrum version shown and played) debuted all the way back in 1984, making it perhaps the only official Alien game old enough to predate Aliens original cinema release. As if to help transport us back to those simpler times the manual opens with a nine page retelling of the first (or as it was then, only) movie up to the infamous “chestburster” scene, using stylishly grainy and deeply oversaturated monochrome photos as a visual aid. The game takes over where the text left off, beginning with the alien scuttling out of an arbitrarily-decided crewmember’s chest.

Although the game’s goal is broadly the same as Ridley Scott’s horror classic – try to either kill the alien or escape it (preferably both) – the way this creepy scenario plays out differs greatly from one game to the next as anyone could start the game infected, anyone (and everyone) could die at any time along the way, and anyone could be the devious alien-admiring corporate android saboteur.