It's time to take a trip down memory lane and return to my one true love. Playing video games. Leering over digital women, marvelling over digital violence, boasting over digital achievements... I've, I've wasted my life....
The following is another 20 gems of the PS1 era. Number 17 will BLOW YOUR MIND! …Not really, I hate those stupid click-bait titled lists plastered all over the internet, you won’t see any of that rubbish here. Besides, this list isn’t numbered. Anyway, 20 gems, plus a bonus extra. Most you'll know, others will have you questioning my credibility ...and perhaps, sanity. And they'll BLOW YOUR MIND!
If you missed Part One, have a look Here. Either now, or after you’ve read Part Two, It doesn’t matter. Whichever you read first you’ll soon realise far too much of my life is connected to gaming. In weird and wonderful ways, I might add.
Let's get rolling!
I loved Syphon Filter, It felt like Metal Gear Solid, but more action oriented than stealth, which is perfectly fine by me as those of you who read Part One will know stealth isn’t my greatest skill. Syphon Filter allowed you to run around like a mad man shooting bad guys with a huge collection of weapons and gadgets. The AI was awesome and changed every time you played a level. I would play certain areas over and over again just to try out different gadgets and experience the changing enemy AI. It was pointless though, because there was one gadget I used endlessly. The Taser. I swear, there is nothing more satisfying than tasering someone for so long that they'd burst into flames and die. Ah, such innocent times...
Colin McRae Rally
'One left. Five right. Long four right tightens into five right. Two left. Square right upper crest. Jump.' And so on. This was all you heard whilst playing Colin McRae Rally, some found it annoying, but I loved it, and often wished I had a similar voice in real life, guiding me about my business. I've lived in little old Brighton & Hove nearly 30 years, and I still manage to get lost on a regular basis. Give me a co-driver. There was a unique satisfaction to Colin McRae Rally, the way you feel after sliding through a muddy course at top speed, following those instructions effortlessly, finishing clean and quick, like a pro. That satisfaction has rarely been emulated by any game I've played since. The term 'Smug Face' came from this game, I'm certain of it.
I wish the G-Police were real. I wish I could look up into the air and see one of their Havoc Gun-ships hovering by (a helicopter with cool looking boosters rather than rotors). I wish I lived in giant dome-cities, connected by warp tunnels, on Callisto (one of Jupiter’s moons). I wish evil corporations battled each other in the streets using laser guns. I wish I actually finished G-Police. Of all those wishes, finishing the game is the least likely to happen. It got so stupidly hard in the later stages! I hate not finishing a game, it’s something that grates on me for eternity. I just can’t let it go! There’s probably 5 or 6 games I haven’t finished in my lifetime, and all of them have twisted and changed me in ways I’m certain are bad. …Alright, alright, I’m not being fair, G-Police was also full of cover-ups, assassinations and corruption, and there’s no chance of anything like that ever happening in our day and age.
Micro Machines V3
Multiplayer gaming has changed a lot, for the worse. People these days think multiplayer means sitting alone, in your pants, in a dark room, with a pair of headphones on, 'quick-scoping' and ‘rage-quitting’ whilst dealing with the sound of high-pitched kids screaming abuse about your mum while they 'tea bag' your dead corpse. I remember the days when friends and I would gather, together, in one room, a few pizzas to sustain our long gaming session, elbowing and jeering each other with good humour and enjoying our gaming time. No chance of that anymore. Every time I die in one of these online games, I feel immediate rage overtake me, because I know the guy who just killed me is actually some smug 8 year old, who thinks he's some kind of god because his kill/death ratio is better than anyone else, and he can say lots of bad words like a big man. Let me tell you, I'm all for people being able to live a second life through gaming, I think it's saved and made better a great many lives, but no 8 year old should ever be able to beat a 29 year old. At anything. Ever.
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver
The vampire. Once feared, once dreaded, once the stuff of nightmares. …Now look at them… Emotional teenagers crying over love triangles while eating vegetables. What the heck happened!? Back in my day (because things have changed so much in such a short amount of time it’s actually ok for someone of my young-ish age to legitimately use the phrase 'back in my day') vampires were cool, they were badass mofos, either old and withered, hidden in castles while leering over virgin brides, or they were Soul Reaver type vampires, rabid animals and deformed monsters. And one thing true of all vampires was the fact they didn’t care about anything. The only emotional dilemma they went through was deciding how violently they could drink the blood of their next victim. I mean, a horror icon, one of the ultimate monsters, feared and recognised worldwide… Forget Soul Reaver, and forget this entire list. What. The. Heck. Happened!?!!?! ….Rant aside, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver still has one of the most brilliant intro sequences ever created. Now is the time to make a Soul Reaver movie and redeem vampire kind!
I've actually had major surgery before, which means I’ve experienced the hospital environment in all its disinfected glory. Let me tell you, It's EXACTLY like Theme Hospital led me to believe. I saw Bloaty Head sufferers whose heads resembled over-inflated balloons, and heard the pop of their balloon-like heads as they were cured. I spoke to those with Slack Tongue, whose tongues had swollen to 5 times their normal size due to chronic over discussion of soap operas, and they explained how their tongues were cut back to normal using the 'Slicer' machine. Psychiatrists told me about King Complex which had people thinking they were The King of Rock 'n' Roll himself, donning colourful suede footwear and eating cheeseburgers, the cure for this was apparently fairly simple, the psychiatrist would simply tell the patient how ridiculous he or she looked. I saw those recovering from careful surgery to mend a broken heart, caused by the existence of someone richer, younger and thinner than them, causing the patient themselves to weep uncontrollably and spend countless hours tearing up holiday photos. That’s just 4 real-life conditions covered by Theme Hospital. The most realistic hospital simulation game ever made. Other conditions included; Vomit Waves, a wave of purifying vomiting all over the hospital. The Squits, we all know what that is. Invisibility, I never saw anyone suffering with that one. And Jellyitis, people wobbling excessively and falling down a lot. ...I can’t wait to go back!
Crash Team Racing
A console without a great karting game isn’t worth anyone’s time. I don’t care what you people think. Kart racers are the bee’s knees! The best Karting game ever will always be Super Mario Kart, but as I was the owner of a Sony console and didn’t fancy playing kids games anymore, (that's right Nintendo, I went there) I spent years waiting for a worthwhile Mario Kart equivalent. Cue Crash Team Racing, The closest any karting game has ever got to Mario Kart brilliance. It didn’t really do anything new, but I didn’t want it to. I wanted Mario Kart, and that’s what I got. The joke is, I rarely played it with anyone else. Mario Kart was THE multiplayer game, I terminated friends for days playing that, well, tried to, but Crash Team Racing, I did my termination solo. I can say this right now, because nobody played against me to discredit this statement, I am the GREATEST CRASH TEAM RACING PLAYER EVER. I’d prove it to you but I’ve lost my copy, and I’ve hurt my hand… and I was struck by lightning a while back so, erm… can’t show you how great I am. But I really am. Believe me. I’m better than you.
Every console generation has a leading type of game, the 1st and 2nd was dominated by point-based arcade games like Donkey Kong and Pac-Man, the 3rd and 4th were side-scrolling 2D platformers like Mario and Sonic The Hedgehog, the 5th generation (PlayStation's era) was taken by 3rd person 3D platform/adventure games like Super Mario 64. Though my favourite will always be MediEvil, a game I covered in vast detail in Part One, a hidden gem of a game which few people played was a little title called Jersey Devil. I can’t remember the premise at all, only that you played as the infamous Jersey Devil, running around a 3D cartoony world, dispensing justice on man-eating plants, giant boxing spiders and dinosaurs dressed as rappers, while jumping around in graveyards, dockyards, junkyards and other places ending in ‘yard’ …none of it made sense. Which is why it was great.
WWF SmackDown! 2: Know Your Role
Good ol' WWF, or WWE as it's now known. The way us kids always tried it at home, even though we were constantly reminded not to. We would all choose a wrestler, and then emulate them. Though my wrestler chose me. I was told I looked like Road Dogg, which, let me assure you, is not a compliment at all. In fact, I have a history of questionable comparisons. Apparently being told you look like someone is a good thing, I'm not so sure. ...By all means, tell someone they look like someone else, just do it when it's someone in some way desirable. Please! I’ve been compared to Theon Greyjoy, the dirtbag, prostitute-fiddler and back-stabber from the Game of Thrones series. The actor Matthew Lillard, specifically for his role in the movie Scream as the more comedic of two psychotic, serial killers, 'IT'S A SCREAM BABY!'. Andy Murray, the most unlikable tennis player ever. And finally, Shaggy, of Scooby Doo fame. Because... people hate me. Oddly enough, Matthew Lillard also plays Shaggy in the Scooby Doo live-action movies, so at least people are consistent with their comparisons. ...which actually makes them even more unbearable.
Command & Conquer: Red Alert Retaliation
I have a fascination with warfare. Warfare fascinates me. I am fascinated by war. The command structure, the tactics, the honour, the bravery, the masterminds and master nemissis'ss's... is that a word? the fight against good and evil, the way normal human behaviour and warfare share many similarities. It's been with me a long time. I once made a shoebox diorama back in school, when I was 7 or 8, depicting the D-Day landings, using toy soldiers, toy tanks, and the like. Yep, people were truly lucky to have me as a friend. Mr Exciting they'd call me. I've been into war since an age I probably shouldn’t have been, and when C&C: Red Alert Retaliation came along I was finally given the ability to act out warfare, and I did, for hour after hour after hour, everyday I'd come back from school, chuck my bag to one side and become the greatest general the world had ever known, Napoleon had nothing on me, until dinnertime, a generals gotta eat! And then after dinner I’d continue playing til bed. Everyday. For months on end. It should be unhealthy. But understanding warfare has given me an acute ability to understand people, and how to manoeuvre and strike when dealing with idiots. Try it. The next time someone pushes into the line at the local shop, loudly declare war.
Who cares about zombies anymore? Isn't everyone bored yet? Zombies have been the 'big thing' for way too long, it's boring! What the heck is the fascination with people imagining how they would survive something which isn't going to happen? Ever. The simple fact that every tv show, film, game or book these days seems to go out of their way to avoid the 'Z' word and instead call them 'Roamers' or 'Infected' or 'Stupid Boring Unthreatening Dead Things' is proof that even the people creating the media you so willingly lap up are sick of the word. Move on! Capcom could clearly see the stale zombie-crammed future ahead, way back in 1999, and went and created a zombie-like survival horror game, except instead of zombies, you fought against dinosaurs! The Walking Dead would be a million times less boring if zombies were replaced by Dinosaurs. I'd love to see that Daryl idiot try to deal with a group of hungry Dino Crisis-style velociraptors with that crappy little crossbow of his. …He would die. I just want to make that clear. Because he'd be dealing with dinosaurs. Not pathetic brain-dead zombies. Yawn.
If you like fishing you’ll love G-Darius! That is, of course, if your fish are gigantic, flying, robotic, fish-monsters that fire lasers at you, and your fishing rod is a space ship which can collect enough power-ups to allow it to spew rockets, beams and lasers all over the place like some kind of military grade sprinkler. Oh no? That’s not what you consider fishing? Well screw you then. G-Darius is freakin awesome! And the adventures I had battling through side-scrolling screens filled with weapons fire to dodge, enemies to kill and collectables to… collect, far outweighs the drama of standing alone in a cold, stinking lake, in your waist striders …waiting… weeping… Play G-Darius! The explosive intensity is like experiencing a 1980s Sci-Fi Anime. Imagine Akira, then imagine Akira fishing. I believe I’ve just made the best comparison ever.
Is there anything more enjoyable than slaughtering the denizens of hell? Eliminating the undead and collecting endless treasures and loot? Diablo started an addiction that is still yet to leave me. An interest in the occult and the praising of our Dark Lord. …No, wait, I mean, an addiction to loot games. Yeah, loot games… With every monster you killed you would wait for that sweet sound of something collectable hitting the ground. Is it worth money? Is it a rarity? Will it make killing even easier!? And so, your pack full of items to trade, you travelled back to the town of Tristram, and whilst there you would always hear the same thing 'Pssst... Over here!' the simple words uttered by Wirt the peg-legged boy. The irritating little one-legged runt who would make you pay to see what he had to sell, and most of the time it was useless. Though you still payed every time. Like an idiot. He reminded me of myself. Annoying, unimportant and expecting people to actually want something from him. In my case, stupid articles about video games…
Hogs of War
Worms, with pigs instead. That just about sums up Hogs of War. Well, that and the fact it was 3D. Which was probably more important. We've all played Worms, The addictive, turn-based, team-combat game. I chose to play Hogs of War over Worms. It had a piggy-centric World War 1 theme, and it mercilessly stereotyped each nation it portrayed, which I found downright hilarious. The pigs were also heavily voiced by the legendary Rik Mayall. That was the biggest selling point for me. If you don't know who Rik Mayall is then I don't need to know who you are. Conversation over.
I like music, all sorts of music. Scrap that, I LOVE music. I live for it. There’s something for me to love in each and every genre out there. One of my favourite areas for music joy is within games, no joke. Some of the best music I’m hearing these days have come directly from games. There’s orchestral pieces out there which sound more professional and more emotional than any top quality movie. Electronic scores more awesome and more powerful than any club anthem. And an utter joy in the gaming world is dirty industrial metal. Want music to make you feel like an unstoppable killing machine? Play Quake II. There is no better soundtrack while terminating alien scum, using double-barrel shotguns and rocket launchers. I remember spending almost an entire Christmas Day retiring to my room in order to rock out and turn evil Strogg into chunks of meat. And to think, the pitiful N64 version didn’t have any music, just crappy ambience… Ambience!?
Though side-scrolling 2D platform games were a thing of the past, it didn't stop their continued creation, and of the bucketload that were released for the PlayStation during its lifetime, Rayman was the best. 'Yeah!' There was something about Rayman, it was so bright, so colourful, its levels and characters were like pure artwork, the music, so whimsical, and of course the character of Rayman, the foppish French freak. What was he? What did he mean? Who cares? I loved the music so much and the novelty of being able to play Ps1 discs in a CD Player to listen to the tracks was so great I used Rayman music almost in its entirety for a homemade radio station a friend and I made. My station was a bit crappy. It was just me playing Rayman music, occasionally jumping in between tracks to crack some potentially awesome, but most definitely terrible, jokes. My mate recorded real radio adverts and even news reports for his station. Bloody show off. Who the heck does he think he is!? One upping me!...
Overboard is one of those games nobody knows about apart from that one person who reacts with utter joy that another human being would even mention such a rarity ‘Overboard! Oh man, I loved that game!’ hence the exclamation mark in the game’s title. Even the designers knew what was up. That’s good game design as far as I’m concerned. They should do that with more games, add a little sub-note or punctuation which allows buyers to understand what they’re getting themselves into. Take FIFA, we know what FIFA is (a football game for those who don't), it’s always FIFA and then a number. Every year. Why no vital information? FIFA - ‘ The same as before but this time with a few more commentary lines!’ FIFA – ‘Now with revolutionary linesman animations!’ FIFA – ‘All new player spitting engine!’ FIFA – ‘Erm… More realistic grass?’ In the day and age of sequels and annual installments, consumers should be given vital information like that. FIFA – ‘It’s the same game since 1993. There’s really no need to make a new game every year. Or for you to buy it. Really!’, Call of Duty – ‘It’s different this time, it’s got dynamic swimming fish’ (That one was a genuine comment), Assassins Creed – ‘Extra stabby’, Need for Speed - 'Extra needy', Battlefield – ‘New modes! Which we’ll release as separate downloadable content… which is online only… which you have to pay for …plus the campaign still sucks.’ I could do this all night…
Tenchu: Stealth Assassins
Being a stealth game, I was naturally terrible at Tenchu, but I did like the setting of Feudal Japan. Anything Feudal Japan is auto-cool in my book. The real reason Tenchu gets a place on this list is because it won me and a group of friends a Drama Competition at my school, way, way back. That’s right, a line an evil merchant screams moments after you assassinate him was brilliantly payed homage to in our play, and although my masterful acting and Shakespearean writing skills clearly played a key part in our victory, that line was undoubtedly vital to our success. ‘My money, my mmmoney!’ Wonderful line. Our play was a comedy based around the famous Agatha Christie novel (whoever that is) Murder on the Orient Express. The death of a money obsessed banker the perfect opportunity for a friend to apply his love of Tenchu to an already incredible piece of comedy. We utterly crushed the pitiful opposition that day. I remember one play about a time machine, and there was some dancing… Pathetic really… ‘My money, my mmmoney!’
The reason shooters, strategy games and other genres didn’t have a place on consoles in the early days is down to precision. You need precision to play those types of games, and early controllers were clunky, slow and stiff. Everything but precise. Ironically I had become so used to those stiff controls I didn’t see the future use of controllers when it was placed right in my hands thanks to Ape Escape. No no, I wanted to remain stiff. I like stiff. Stiff felt good in my hands. Real good. ...Fast forward to now and you'll find Ape Escape was one of the earliest games to use a gamepad's analog sticks in a way that has now become the norm. This opened the flood gates for games like first person shooters to not only become playable on consoles but become currently the most popular type of game. You see, that was quite informative. I am capable of seriousness you know. What? Stiff? What’s funny about that? Seriously, people, grow up.
Bishi Bashi Special
Bishi Bashi is the best party game ever. Why? It doesn’t require any real skill or any time to explain controls. Just sit down and let the game blow your mind! You take it in turns to play speedy mini games, lasting 20 or 30 seconds, against each other, earning points as you go. The winner is the person who earns the most points. Simple. The single best thing about Bishi Bashi you ask? The utter, utter, madness! Games included; 'Hyper Pie Throw', in which you play a bride who has to throw a cream pie as far into the church congregation as possible, 'Perma Mania', where you play a dancer who has to dance in rhythm, and the better you do the bigger your glowing afro gets, 'Uncle Bean', in which you have to catch coloured peas being thrown into the mouth of a Japanese cave man, wearing glasses? And 'Jump For Meat', where you play as a body builder on a pogo stick jumping as high as possible to catch meat. Madness. I didn't even know what was going on half the time during games and wasn't able to compete thanks to inputs often requiring colour coordination and me being quite heavily colour blind. But that just added to the feeling my mind was unravelling in front of my eyes while playing, and it gave me excuses if I lost. Which was never!
Dishonourable Mention - Bubsy 3D
Bubsy 3D is widely considered one of the worst games ever made. I disagree. Bubsy 3D is THE worst game ever made. It's the kind of experience that would have you quite happily attempt brain surgery on yourself in order to remove the inevitably painful memory of playing it. The character of Bubsy is so obnoxious and his quotes so irritating you want to pluck the legs from kittens and stuff them in your ears. The 3D level design so basic and school-boy you would think they'd been created by a piece of wood with slightly above average intelligence. The colour pallet so garish and messy the visuals look as though they'd been created by someone who had downed an array of brightly coloured cocktails and then vomited them all over a tv screen. The inability to do something as simple as jump from one platform to another so utterly impossible it made you imagine what it would feel like to have your face melt like the Nazis in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Bubsy 3D is a game that would be better enjoyed without any senses, including taste and smell. Because burning rage stinks and tastes horrible. The fact the developers made this game to compete with Super Mario 64 is, well… It’s beyond words. Still, the biggest travesty is the fact I actually bought it… What a monumental idiot!
Done. Another very professional list of PlayStation favourites complete.
Will there be a Part Three? ...Yeah, probably... Got nothing better to do...
Til next time!