Games

We all live in a pokemon world for realsy

Its happened, it’s finally happened, you go out into the real world with scary people and you literally catch wild digital pokemon. And every other bugger is doing the same thing, it’s practically normal. Huzza. I’m not saying there’s going to be a time when I’m in a cave on a snowy mountain and Charmander and Squirtle are going to share body warmth but still. I’m going to be a Pokemon master. And here’s how you can too.

Pokemon go Gym Leader

Pokemon go Gym Leader

So first up. Capture your pidgys and your weedles and any other pokemon that take 12 candies to evolve, this is your level up bread and butter. If you’ve got something that will evolve into a pokemon not yet captured maybe save this too. Basically there is an item called a lucky egg which lasts for about 28 minutes and will give you double xp, so activate the egg and evolve those beauts for double xp, thats 1000xp a pop, new pokemon thats 500 normally, bosch 1000. see where we’re going here. Great now you’re leveling up. you can also use your 1 free never ending incubator to hatch an egg by walking, try to time the hatching for when you’ve got the lucky egg going. The updating of your distance traveled can be a bit delayed so don’t be surprised if you’ve a few hundred meters to go and suddenly its hatching. If you’re going a 10k egg then chances are you haven’t got that pokemon and you’ll get that new pokemon bonus. but if you’re going to spend real coin then get the lucky eggs and incubators, each incubator you buy lasts for 3 turns, I use them for 10k and 5k and then use the unlimited one to knock off the 2k eggs during this time.

New Pokemon

Gyms Defending

Payout baby

But if you don’t want to use your real money on coins here is how you get them.
Battle the gyms, leave yours in, head to the next one, when you’re defending all the gyms you can (up to 10 I believe) go to the shop and collect the shield in the top right. This will lock you from claiming again for 21 hours. You have to be level 5 to be able to battle gyms.

Ultra Pokeball at level 20

Ultra Pokeball at level 20

Right, next up capturing those pidgys, hold the pokeball, make circular motion until its glows, time the yellow/green/orange circle around the pokemon so its to your capturing preference then fling the pokeball to the side a bit and let it curl to the pokemon. takes practice and its hit and miss form here but sometimes you at least get a curve ball if not a great for extra xp on the capture
Great Throw

And the post for July is saved, all hail Gym Leader Lartens

Woah, the Vive is how much!

HTC Vive is coming in May for the princely sum of buh, that’s £689 to you and me plus £57.60 for shipping, holey moley.

Viva le Vive

We all know the £499 price point of the Oculus Rift, which seemed insane compared to the development kit that was around £240 including shipping. But the HTC Vive is making the Rift look like a total bargain, especially as yours truly is getting his for free ^^.

vive pre order

So what is VR and which one should you get?

Virtual Reality headsets are the new console wars, except its hardware for a PC (not entirely accurate), which by the by you need a good PC too, we’re talking modern i5 processor at like 3.3Ghz and a GTX 970 graphics card.

For the most part VR gives you an immersive experience, I mean the field of vision is incredible, and how head movements relate to in game head movements makes this come alive, it’s easy to forget you’re just sitting at your desk when you’re trying to check something out in the virtual world, it’s only when you bang your head you’re like, oh. This is the one thing that the Vive definitely has on top of the Rift, and that is the camera that can overlay part of the real world when obstacles are about to become a problem. Personally I think I’ll tether the Rifty beauts to a longer cable and lye on the couch hehe.

So what games can you get, and where?

Well the HTC Vive is partnered with valve so the Steam store will totally have you covered for games supporting the Vive. And the Oculus Rift has it’s own store too but that doesn’t mean oculus ready games won’t show up on steam, Gabe Newell has said in an email to somebody that he doesn’t have a problem with competition.

As for actual games, the rift has kind of support for things like Alien Isolation which I may start again on PC for the full terrifying effect, but there is also full support in games like EVE: Valkyrie, Edge of Nowhere, The Witness, Elite Dangerous and of course Minecraft which some are touting as the killer game for VR.

The Vive as some games too, nothing major looking at the moment I don’t think.

 

It’s Gurn-a Be A Hot One, Mother

Bey

Ask yourself: would you ask Beyoncé to build you a conservatory? Would you ask a nine year old to file your tax returns? Would you ask a Labrador to drive you down the shops? Well no, of course you wouldn’t. And why not? Because that lot clearly don’t know what they’re doing. By which logic, avert your eyes right now Grigadiers, because this is an article about melody written by a tone-deaf 35 year old. Its conclusions may be… flimsy.

Yes, I’m no Steve Wright in the afternoon when it comes to picking my pops. But this much I know: the music in Wii U Mario is rubbish. Tragically rubbish, in fact, because the game itself is superb – so giddyingly near-perfect, in fact, that its horrific soundtrack is not just abusive to the ears, it’s jarring to the soul. This melodically-challenged mush is basically elevator music. Or worse – because even in the urine-soaked lift in Blackpool’s Houndshill Shopping Centre you at least have the comfort that you didn’t pay £55 for the privilege. So it’s a sad failing for the company, and the franchise, that’s brought us some of the most memorable themes of the past three decades. And it got me thinking.


Some piss-stained mush, yesterday.
Modern game music is, in some ways, in a league of its own. It’s unfettered by limits of memory, or audio channels, or synthesisers – it can be anything it wants, sound any way it wants, sample any thing it wants. And while sometimes it’s still amazing, mostly it’s… easy. Modern game designers can churn out a half-baked backing track in half an hour (or pay a D-list indie band to do the same) and so they do. Meaning that, just like the next-gen itself, going big, loud, or gaudy is enough.

It wasn’t always like this.

When you look back, gaming’s musical past stands out not just because of the number of belters – the ratio of memorable tunes to garbage during the 8-bit and 16-bit eras was pretty healthy, too. And why? Because they had to try! When the tools were rudimentary, the only thing they had was their skill. It took craft – and a melody! Because sure, orchestral nonsense and EDM are great when you’re padding out level 42 of your latest blockbuster franchised gumph but, to be a classic, it needs a tune! And so begins the GRiG Campaign for Melody – our noble crusade to bring back the art of tunage and save the Millennials from a dystopian future of half-baked auditory hell. Viva la Revotunion!

And, to whet your whistle, here are some classic examples of how it was done – and a few newbies to show that some still keep the dream alive… (And yes, not for nothing does Smooth McGroove make an appearance. Because what unites the Smooth Megamix? Melody! His acapella loveliness only works with exactly these kind of gems… So sing on McGroove! You’ve earned yourself a GRiGPeter Badge!)

Super Mario Land – Muda Kingdom


Smoothness, yesterday

Of course, you know I love a bit of Muda Kingdom. Often overlooked in the face of the main Mario theme, this is a beautiful bit of 90s dreaminess. All the better with the Man McGroove at the helm…

Bravely Default – Dungeon Theme


A man scratching his nose, yesterday. (Wait, has he even got a nose?!)

Of course, RPGs are a good hunting ground for hwality tunage. They need a bit of mood and so they do put in the man hours. This puppy is actually what first made me think of this article – it’s the first bit of modern game music I’ve had stuck in my head for years. It is a slow burner – the best bit is really a riff, and you’ll find it at about 1:04! – but it’s a standout tune… And if you’re wondering why this YouTuber has called this music “Infiltrating Enemy Territory” and I’ve called it “Dungeon Theme”, well… He’s right. But he’s also a tosspot. Who calls music that unless they’re making some kind of bad euphemism about bumming? Not me! That’s who!

Super Castlevania IV – Simon’s Theme


A box posted by an unimaginative YouTuber, yesterday.

Can there be a game music chart – hell, can there be a music chart?! – that doesn’t feature Castlevania?! Stonking.

Sonic 2 – Chemical Plant Zone


A bearded controversy, earlier

Sonic has quite a few claims to this list, as does the man Smooth. Arguably his version of Green Hill Zone is his better work – while the original game version of this one actually sounds better, benefitting from the synthy edginess that even McGroove’s acapella magic can’t reach. But I like to mix it up so…

Streets of Rage 2 – Dreamer


A contradiction, yesterday

Well, never let it be said that I shy from the controversies. Because one, why is Yuzo Koshiro all the way down here at, like, fifth in this list?! I disgust myself! And two, doesn’t this piece kind of disprove the melody theory? I mean, this is really dance music with a beat and a riff isn’t it? Erm.. Well, yes, as I think we’ve covered on these very pages, Yuzo was apparently quite a fan of 90s EDM and there’s more than a little of European House sprinkled through this Mega Drive classic. But it’s still a great example of making the most of your limits – there’s what, four tracks here? They’re so intricate – and actually that mid-section is verging on a tune. So get off my freakin case man. Jeez.

Street Fighter Alpha 2 – Akuma’s Theme


Knock knock. Who’s there? Akuma. Akuma who? Akuma mutata! Hahahahahahaha…, yesterday

Well, the surprises keep on coming. Because you say classic retro tunes and Street Fighter in the same sentence and you think you know what Benny’s gonna pull, don’t ya? You think he’s gonna reach for Guile’s theme with one hand, and Smooth McGroove with the other and slap down a bit of Guile/McGroove combo action in this here retro tune compilation sandwich! But boom! He’s pulled the old Akuma switcheroo on your asses! (I actually prefer Ken’s theme anyway…) Hey, remember when Capcom did cool buh that was, y’know, finished, rather than release half made games for twice the price? Ho ho, such good times.

Anwyay, here’s Guile’s theme from Smooth McGroove. Sorry.


A lack of surprise, earlier

So there you go – a half-arsed, cobbled together list. But this is only Part 1 of The Campaign (TM)! Clearly, there are loads of beauts I’ve missed off this effort. So how’s about it GRiGadiers – what are your favourites, old and new? Put them in the comments and I might even do a follow up article! (Please do. It’ll totally save me having to think of something new to write about in March. Hurrah!)

Retro vid of retro pickups starring the boys from the Grig!

Well, I said I was gonna trawl this one out… and here it is. No more babbling needed. Roll that shizzle!

‘Kup, Hotrod, look!’

Grig mongers! Now, I ain’t intending to keep posting stuff from Dibbs of the Grig Gaming all over the show here at Grig, but this one you gotta take a butchers at – Transformers Devastation ahoy! And it looks freakin’ sweet! Get ready to run riot with Prime before a showdown with the big man himself – Devastator! Let’s get busy with the Griggy!

So there ya go. Looking pretty darn awes, no? Except for my gameplay. But I’m hoping for good things from the rest of this game coz what I played so far was pretty flippin’ good!

And so, I’ll see ya next time. Same Grig time, same Grig cha…

Ah shut up. Laters.

Some Sega Rally?

Grig-mongers! So Dibbs of the Grig Gaming is racing forth at full steam, throwing out content like it’s going out of fashion… which technically it is coz it’s mostly retro. Or is that now officially cool and in fashion right now? Whatever. The point is that I’ve defied my own expectations for how much effort I thought I was going to put in to this li’l endeavour and have plooped out far more videos than I thought I would. So I thought I’d throw another one up on the ol’ Grig for no reason at all. That’s a lot of thoughts! Sega Rally ahoy…

Well, I aint as good as you two Grigadiers, but I was surprised that I could actually get first after all these years after only a little bit of a warm up. And it was still a dang fine time playing such a beaut again! And I now have a catch phrase which I’ll leave you with…

‘So I’ll see you next time, same Grig time, same Grig channel.’

Yeah, I didn’t say it was a good one.

Just that I had one.

Laters.

Streets of Rage 4 Stuff Abound!

Origami makers! Took a different approach there on that one. Always thinking outside the box. What’s the haps?! Well you probably all saw these pics already, but this is Grig Orig, and we need posts dang it!

So the ol’ Yooz-meister general, and by that I mean Yuzo Koshiro, has tweeted out a few li’l beauties of unseen Streets of Rage artwork from the proposed fourth instalment on the Dreamcast that never was. And judging from these tech demos that leaked many years ago, that’s probably a good thing as they look ploop.


Yeah, I know it’s a tech demo, but this really doesn’t look too promising.

But these bits of artwork are new, never seen before snippets of Raging-nuggetry that must be perused.

SoR41 copy

First thing to notice is that these dudes are not the original cast that we all know and love. The guy who looks just like Axel is apparently Axels son and is named Burn, perhaps insinuating that his mother could be Blaze due to the fire-based-naming-tomgriggery of the whole matter. Didn’t see any other obsequious purveyors of ploop picking up on THAT one! Call me Columbo. But yeah, it would seem that, based off my watertight theory, Axel and Blaze have been making li’l Ragers. I always wondered what went down after the screen faded to black at the end of each stage down those darkly lit back alleys. Not all just eating turkey’s out of bins it would seem… WOOF!

Anyway, next up is the female protagonist of the group, Erie. She ain’t much of a Blaze as she is not fit at all, doesn’t look anything like my old Science teacher Miss Gatehouse, and has a fully clad clothing get up that doesn’t give any scope for some of the up-skirt shenanigans that kept us glued to the game as teenagers. But we’d have probably at least had mercy enough to hear her out for her shame. She might wanna stop off at Clarks though on her way to apply a hearty dose of ayne whooping at Mr.X’s building to get her feet remeasured, if only just to check, coz those massive boots look like they should have a certain moustachioed plumber sitting in them from Mario 3. Just to be clear, I’m talking about that massive clumpy boot thing you can get in. And that ain’t a compliment.

SoR2

On the subject of Streets of Rage girls foot ware, here’s one that always troubled me – Blazes shoes in SoR2. I mean, what kind of shoes are they? They look more like babies booties or something. Always boggled my buh that did. Thoughts?

The other two dudes we have no idea about. Clearly these are the Max and Skate/Adam equivalents, but no names have we heard at this point, although the Fresh Prince should surely be on the table for the last dude coz that isn’t even a close likeness – that IS him. The big dude, we’ll just call Shamus. Second names, er… The Painus In The Anus. No, I don’t know why either.

SoR42

Moves ahoy! I don’t think I say ‘ahoy’ enough these days. I really need to up my usage of that word, especially since we have such a nautical theme going on here at Grig (except we don’t – ah, another classic.)

And so ends our epic coverage of two pictures. Just imagine if they’d actually released something of any significant content, we’d be here all year. Or is more likely, I’d write a bunch of excessive buh in the upper echelons of unacceptable word counts, store it in my phone for three years tweaking it every now and then with current references to make it seem more relevant, and then ploop it all over the Grig front page as a last gasp hurrah to prevent a missed month in Griggish archive history somewhen down the line. We really should do a Grig ‘making of’ sometime to enlighten our dear Greaders about the workings of this well oiled machine. Yeah, don’t worry, we know the truth really. We have more low bars than a grigging Ewok’s play park, what can I say?

‘Til next time.

CVG Shutting Up Shop

It’s been a while since the ol’ vidya games were represented well with a hwality bit of magazinery. Last I can remember was Sega Saturn Magazine from way back in the late 90’s captained by Richard Leadbetter. But what’s even more interesting of late is the dwindling amount of magazines on offer. Once upon a time, any supermarket was littered with the things stretching as far as the eye can see. Now, it’s only about 4 or 5 crappy looking ones sporadically interspersed among a million iPhone/Pad offerings.

Oh, and Retro Gamer, which actually is pretty good.

CVG however, much as it always used to be, was well ahead of the game. The actual physical mag was discontinued back in October 2004 leaving the legendary name to the Internet based iteration that we find today.

Or, find for at least another few days anyway.

For as you may have read recently, CVG is about to shut its doors in Websville too. Sigh. I guess not everyone can have such solid foundations as those found with Grig… or in reality, if they’re up for the chop then we would really be in trouble here on the good ship Grig Orig were we accountable to anyone!

Anyhoo, enough of the buh! Let’s have a look at some fond memories from the CVG magazine-based archives before someone gets round to shutting us down!

Blanka abound!

CVGBlanka

This is the first issue of CVG I remember buying. November 1992… which actually kinda feels a li’l later in the day than I thought, but still, this is the ol’ girl.

Yeah, I missed out on CVG’s age of C64 and the like, but I was well in the door for the Rignal-renaissance of console butt-kickery! ‘Twas a time of much gaming merriment, and with many well loved staff writers on board, had some high quality humour, second historically only to the hilarious type of tomgriggery found here in our own humble tome.

As you can tell by the cover, Street Fighter 2 was in full swing and the magazine was all the more exciting for its coverage. This was when SF2 literally felt like the biggest thing in the world. There was a coin op in every chip shop/bowling alley/swimming pool/pub/corner shop in the land, and was all that people at school talked about. And CVG were making sure they were having some of it!

Alas, as a hapless 12 year old I mercilessly butchered my copy, and the three following issues, in order to extract and plaster the SF2 player strategies for each character all over my bedroom wall. Still, they looked awesome. And they provided a helpful last minute reference when leaving for school and I knew I was gonna be taking someone on that day in the corner shops arcade. Not that I remember them helping me to win much. But at least I was well prepared with matchup knowledge for my losses!

GO!

Also present around this time was Go! magazine that came free in the middle of CVG. Covering an array of handhelds, primarily Gameboy, Game Gear, and even Lynx and PC Engine GT from time to time, it was a great addition to the mag. In fact, one particular feature the mag once ran – a photo story of how the mag gets made – featured one particular staff writer called Paul Anglin who I found particularly cool and funny, and became the initial inspiration for my namesake character Dibbs.

Anglin

Paul Anglin, lesser known member of CVG from times of yore…

Dibbs93

…and Ahoy ’93. I guess based more off of the role Anglin played rather than appearance.

It also inspired a li’l story I put in our old fanzine sorta mag, C.A.O.S, called A Day In The Life Of Us… which could be making a long awaited return to this very blog with its third iteration this year! If I can be bothered/have time. Which basically means it won’t. But I have written most of it already so who knows!

The awesome Streets of Rage 2 issue

CVGStreetsofRage2

This bad boy was one of my all time favourites, and as you can see, I’m still in possession of this beast! Stars of the show were Streets of Rage 2 and Shinobi 3. I sat and pored over the review for SoR2 for hours… HOURS I tell thee… even taking it to school to show all my friends, and convincing Wayne to get it for his birthday which was our first experience with this £45 16-meg heavy hitter!

CVGSOR2Review1

CVGSOR2Review2

Ninety-five percenta ahoy! Plus a bonus SNES pad ad for you to enjoy.

This was around the golden times of Hannah, Lydia and Fiona too, and when I think back to those days I can still remember the hopeful optimism in the air inspired by those hot girls and this issue of the magazine. Oh to be young and sad again! Although I still have the sad part down to a tee.

Blaze face

Shout outs to Miss Gatehouse who’s probably well past middle age by now since it’s been 22 years. I always thought you looked like Blaze in this portrait pic. Oh, and thanks for your science classes. I’ll never forget what you taught us about the periodic table… wait. That’s not right. I’ll never forget how hot you were. Ah, that’s better.

CVG – The toilet paper consistency phase

Around the middle of ’93 I think it was, CVG underwent one of its regular stylistic changes. Cue the launching of a much less chunky iteration of the mag with obviously far lower quality paper much akin to the vicious tracing paper-esque loo roll lavished on only the finest of school toilets of the era.

CVGBadpaper

Well, at least the covers content was good. Kind of. Nice lip stick, Bison.

The inspired steam given to the magazine by the now departed Rignal seemed to be ebbing away slightly, and this was personified in the mags new diminished pamperings. It didn’t feel nice to hold, and I seem to recall it also had a weird odour. Occasionally devoid of several key news stories which I remember I found disappointing, it was also becoming a little barren of the character that it had before. Still, it was still better than any Future Publishing tripe on the market. Funny, in retrospect, that Future now own the CVG brand and are finally putting it to rest in a way they could never do back in the day with their own competing gaming mags.

1996 offering ahoy!

With 1996 swinging into action, CVG had undergone another make over for the new generation of 32-bit consoles.

CVG96

This issue was one of my favorites and i have great memories of reading this. Plus, it’s one of the few remaing magazines to survive my foolhardy cull many moons ago when I decided games were no longer for me. Grig head! Chock full of awesome fighting games, particularly on the Saturn, this was a hype-bringer of an issue!

Check out this awesome array of Saturn games that were on the horizon!

CVG961

Fighting Vipers confirmed!

CVG962

Guardian Heroes review!

CVG963

SF Alpha preview abound!

Oh, and there was a bonus bit of news too that had me bouncing off the walls!

CVG964

Snatcher 2… da grig?! YEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSS!!!

Course, typically this turned out to actually be Policenauts, which although revered in its own way, both wasn’t Snatcher 2 and didn’t come out in the west. Sigh. But still, prior to knowing this, the hype of this moment was real!

Christmas Nights!

CVGNightscover

Nights ahoy… hold up! I still have that free book with the Space Invader on it!

Another fine issue starring Segas legendary Nights for his Christmas version of the game. Restoring the paper quality to far greater standards in this iteration, I believe it was this issue (or thinking about it, maybe the one before) that actually broke the news of the coming Christmassed-up version of Nights. Stopping me in my tracks just prior to buying Fighting Vipers on the Saturn, I instead then waited for the deal to come into play whereby you would receive Christmas Nights free if you bought one of Segas flagship games. It was a little confusing whether or not you had to buy just one or two titles, and even on launch day I remember standing at the counter with the store manager talking to the dude at the register, both confused as to whether they were supposed to let me have it. I certainly wasn’t leaving without it though, and with the manager being a bit hissy, I wrangled it from those buffoons and had a very enjoyable Christmas with it, thank you very much!

Christmasnights

Still, that wasn’t as hardcore as fellow Grigadier Lartens, who took his dedication to Nights to the next level by purchasing Daytona CCE and receiving his free Christmas Nights… even though he didn’t even have a Saturn yet! Respect.

Anyhoo, the rest of the mag had some other non-Sega stuff in it – some machine called Playstation or something seemed to feature I seem to recall, but whatever. Christmas Nights baby! Woo!

Free Play

Around this time there was also a cool li’l innovation in the mag where they used far cheaper less glossy paper to create a section in the mag called Free Play.

Freeplay1

I seem to recall them explaining they could get more pages into the mag with its cut down paper quality and black and white design. This was fine by me as this section was actually good, and even became one of the main parts I spent most time perusing. Let’s take a butchers!

Freeplay2

Readers pics. Always fun!

Freeplay3Street Fighter EX interview. Nice!

Freeplay4

And the other part. Nice design drawings!

CVG – the later years

After 2000 hit, things seemed to be winding down a lot at CVG. It got a little stale, boring even at times, and all the fun seemed drained out of it. Whether or not this was personal to me as my main machine, the Dreamcast was in its commercial (though not long term as far as fan support and innovations go) death throes, and the entire industry was basically in Sony’s hands, I don’t know. But things were just starting to feel a little lifeless.

CVGLater

See, even this. It just looks… dull. Sigh…

I still read it, sure. But the glory days were gone. I took their reviews seriously, I checked their news, but the Internet was in full force by now, and the buzz of ‘First screenshots inside!’ were being replaced by being able to actually watch lengthily gameplay videos of upcoming games.

I don’t even believe I was still around when CVG magazine finally succumbed to its fate, and I certainly don’t remember the final issue as I did when Sega Saturn magazine bit the dust. But I guess sometimes the things you were once into as a kid get away from you, and it’s only later on that you regret missing out on the end of certain eras. I suppose though, in a way, I never really believed CVG, the longest running video game media brand in the world, would ever disappear. Despite the many legendary tomes that fell before it like Mean Machines. CVG was just… a stayer, I thought.

CVGLate

It’s surprisingly hard to find pics of the final few issues of CVG. This is definitely one of the last from 2004.

Anyway, there ya go. As one chapter ends, another one begins. One, er… without CVG. At all. What am I going on about? Who knows. But what I will say is that when the good ship Grig Orig finally founders, I expect posts similar to this spread across all corners of the Internet such would be its earth-shattering impact! But until that day, let’s just doff our hats to the marginally lesser loss of CVG in respect of this once great behemoth.

Thanks for the memories. ‘Twas a fun ride.

Time didn’t fly as a kid

So I recently completed an Ebay bid for my favourite Zelda game as a birthday present from my mom, much like it was from my brother 24 years ago. Zelda II The Adventure of Link. Sure I had it as a kid but I sold the NES to buy the SNES, but my memory of the entire NES/SNES generation is totally out of whack with the internet facts on releases.
Zelda II The Adventure of Link

I actually already had the game but I was missing the box and instructions, luckily for Zelda II the map is in the instructions, the first Zelda and The SNES A Link to the Past have a much higher price tag with a map.
Zelda II map

My original cartridge was once host to such players as Damo and Chris in his Skeletor phase. I’m also going with Boomer at this stage of my gaming handle, inspired by the fabulous dog boomer from Independence Day.
Players on my other cart

Let’s begin at the start of my NES, it was my birthday, I was 11, I had the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles bundle of the Nintendo Entertainment System, finally I could play games at the touch of a button. woah, mind blown.
nes_turtles
The TMHT game was released in August 1990, this is start our timeline, although Zelda II was released in 1988, the timeline is going to represent what I had and when.

Now skipping to the future, the Super Nintendo was released April 1992, and I had it within the first month or two this I know, I sold the NES for £150 in the friday ad, some dude rang up at like 6:30 in the morning and I had to deal with it, I’m 11 this old dude comes to the bungalow and I’m like this is it, 1 NES 13 games. My dad did at this point get up and a cheque was made out to him. The one good thing my dad did do was buy the SNES before the cheque had cleared I was up and running with Mario World.

So this puts the life of my NES at a year and a half, so which Christmas in boots did my brother by me Zelda? The point of this post, it must have been that first one as he bought me two games, probably because I didn’t have many, the other was Tiger Heli which wasn’t that great and it took me forever to work out how to progress from the endless looping. Zelda on the hand had a gold colour cartridge and box this was obviously going to be a winner from the start, I had no idea what an RPG was at this point in my life, it was 1990, all I knew is it looked different, but it turned out amazing, huge exploration for the time, fun side scrolling action, powerups magic, total awesome. The best feeling is the mechanic on the jump and stab down action, get that on a knight and pass right by, confined to a corridor and even get some cheeky continuous hits on some of the enemies, nice.

Those who lived in Eastbourne in the 80’s and who played games would know that you had like two main sources of video games, Boots, and Rumbelows, who remembers them? I think they even used to do the whole rent a TV thing. I did buy Duck Tales from there, £40 and completed it in an hour, was a nice game, but way to easy.

Right so, where was I, ah yes, what I thought were years with a NES, is a year and a half, I amassed 13 games, Mario bros 3 was definitely another birthday so that’s gotta be 1991, though wikipedia type sites are saying 88 for Japan and 90 for America, what the hell! I have no idea how I could afford the other 9, or when super off road or super Mario 2 fit in. Oh and double dragon 2, which is totally different on the NES than arcade, another favourite of the time.

Moving back(or forward) to the SNES, I thought I’d owned it for a while, then worked with my dad for a week or so in the summer and he bought me the Street Fighter II American import and converter from MegaBytes, a shop on the corner in Eastbourne, again this was a good source of games in the early 90’s, boots was on the decline by then, wait, I don’t actually remember any SNES games in boots, hmm. Again I thought I had the Street Fighter for like a year before everyone else, turns out it was only 4 months, the UK got it in December apparently. In today’s time that’s like half a series of Sword Art Online. I guess 4 months of the hottest game in town was just a big deal to my 12 year old self.

Skip ahead a few more years and I’m mid 30’s and have a special display case just for excellent games of years gone past, queue image
Game display case

Tomb Raidin’ tomfoolery at it’s finest!

So is everyone enjoying the Tomb Raider fun and frolics this week? Been entertaining, huh? Well, as someone who enjoyed the first game, I’ve been particularly interested in Crystal Dynamics Rise of the Tomb Raider. But it’s not exactly been the content of the title that’s been getting everyone talking lately, oh no.

RotTR

In a brief nutshell, since the initial ‘is it/isn’t it exclusive?’ fiasco that’s swept the Internet after what was clearly an intentionally ambiguously worded statement that Microsoft wanted everyone to think meant the new Tomb Raider game is only going to be on Xbox consoles, further information has come to light. Mainly because the Internet exploded and the majority of the Tomb Raider community flew off the handle resulting in Microsoft having to begrudgingly admit the deal they’ve paid for only covers a period of exclusivity with a limited duration. So basically they’ve paid to block the game from it’s fans on PS4 for a bit. Bit of a shame, as if the recent Tomb Raider Definitive Editions are anything to go by, the PS4 version will be superior as they failed to get the One to keep up with it’s rival console in several aspects, so fans will now have to wait for the likely better version. Some think it’s a low-blow from Microsoft. Some think Crystal Dynamics/Square have sold their soul. Some are crying ‘boycott all Squeenix products!’. But I’ll leave that at the wayside for now. After all, nobody said console wars were gonna be pretty I guess.

But what’s the deal with this current-gen-news-fandangoing, I hear you cry! Skirting a little close to matters of relevance, don’t you think? Well don’t worry my Grigadiers. There’s a retro-shaped edge to the tomgriggery afoot here.

Y’see, all this hoo hah has reminded me of the sly dealings of Sony back in the days of yore. Something seemingly lost on the whippersnappers of the day who declare Microsofts underhand tactics as being proof in convicting them as the scum of the earth. Let’s take a perusal at some of the wonderful comments the youngens have been scribing from the message boards of the web.

‘The Tomb Raider brand is now stained with unforgivable betrayal and greed.’ – Justerthought, CVG

‘I hope they burn.’ – Kiddoblivion, CVG

‘A franchise that was born and bred on playstation is now an exclusive on the inferior console! Microsoft obviously paid big bucks for this! Way to be loyal to Tomb Raider fans Crystal Dynamics! You’ve just alienated most of your fan’ – SilentJoe68za, Eurogamer

‘Where did Tomb Raider begin? Traitors! Also, Xbox One is doing awful… bad move Crystal Dynamics and Square, bad move!’ – DC_igloosmile, CVG

‘I can see the death threats and what not actually making them re-think their decision and make it into a multiplat.’ – Gamermania, Kotaku

‘f**k them as a life long tomb raider fan since the PS1 they can go f**k themselves. I hope it fails, money talks and MS have a s**t load of it.’ – Fenbobs, CVG

Entertaining stuff, huh? And don’t get me wrong – I’m as much of a non-fan of Microsoft these days as the next man, especially after 360 afforded them an inch and they tried to take a mile over the One’s initial policies. But MS have stirred up a bit of an eyeopening hornets nest here. I’m just enjoying how short the memory is of Playstation fans who once upon a time found hilarity in Sony hand picking big games for exclusivity on their machines. Or in fact, the surprise that it may be to todays gaming youngens who might not remember the distant likes of 1997, that this is not the first time this has happened with Tomb Raider.

TR1

Respect to da lens flare! The staple of any good 90’s artwork!

For indeed, what this all harks back to for me, is the console war of the mid to late nineties. Saturn vs Playstation.

‘Twas a time of excitement! Of youthful hope! Of Merrydown Cider for £2 a bottle! Of vomiting! Those last two went hand in hand. But even more excitingly, the dawn of a new generation of consoles! That’s always a fun time…

Or it was. Until Sony had to RUIN EVERYTHING!

SatPSX

Y’see, Sega, much like Microsoft, were coming off the back of a very strong showing from the previous gen, sorta like 360 for Xbox. They thought this allowed them to do what they wanted. It didn’t. Sorta like the One for Xbox. Everyone flocked to Playstation and ignored the competition. Sorta like the One for Xbox. Sega’s machine kinda fell on it’s ayne. Kinda like the… well, we’ll just wait and see.

Part of the success Sony had in capturing the majority of the industry was down to the games they managed to secure. Wipeout, Final Fantasy, Ridge Racer, Tekken and more relevantly, Tomb Raider, all ticked the right boxes with the gaming masses. Most of these big hitters were only to be found on Sony’s machine… except for Tomb Raider. The game was afoot.

Lara Croft, contrary to what the youth of the day seem to be spouting on message boards far and wide, began her gaming life on Sega Saturn… three months ahead of the PSX version.

Triangle boobs

Lara circa 1996: pointy

With the finest set of triangular knockers that gaming had ever seen, it was not long before Crofty was winging her way to becoming a household name. Overseeing proceedings, Sony with a wicked glint in it’s eye, then saw fit to play a merciless hand.

Tomb Raider 2.

TR2 w Lara

As mentioned, the first game found it’s way to both rival 32-bit machines. However, after a few disagreements with Core Design, tensions with Sega were beginning to swell. Cue Sony approaching Core with a bit of an idea. The idea being a fine looking fee that ensured the developers put the Saturn version of the sequel firmly in the bin. But it’s only now that they’ve shafted Sony that they are traitors you say? Hmm.

TR2

This was one of the first shots released of TR2. I actually remember this pic from CVG boasting a caption along the lines of ‘Apparently Saturn can’t do this’. Buh!

Even worse, the companies put word out that the cancellation was due to the Saturn being unable to handle the game, thus damaging the image of the flagging machine even more. Since the Saturn version of the original was undoubtedly less swish than the PSX version having been rushed out to get a head start, and missing a few parts of the game in order to make release, this was something people saw as believable. Perhaps it was. Particularly as many developers struggled to get the most out of the Saturn due to it’s strangely designed architecture. Maybe Core did lack the ability to get the results they desired. I guess we’ll never know now. But let’s face it. It’s more likely the money from Sony.

As stated by one gentleman, Calvin Gill on Kotaku, seemingly swimming against the tide of cluelessness, the following truth-fuelled quote he sought out and proceeded to decree.

‘In September 1997, Sony Computer Entertainment America signed a deal with Eidos to make console releases for the Tomb Raider franchise exclusive to the PlayStation, preventing the Sega Saturn or the Nintendo 64 from having any Tomb Raider game released for it until 2000, a deal that would prove very beneficial to Sony both in terms of revenue dollars and also in further cementing the PlayStation’s growing reputation as the go-to system for must-have exclusive titles.’

If you may remember, it was with the expiry of this deal that Core then released a conversion of Tomb Raider Chronicles on Dreamcast, shortly followed by Tomb Raider The Last Revelation.

TR DC

So… the backstabber returns huh? Well who needs you. Oh yeah. I own this game. But I only played it for half an hour despite paying full price, so the joke is on you! Sigh…

Amusingly now, I considered these releases as Core finally removing the knife from Sega’s back. I guess I’d have been lighting up the message boards with rage on the Internet had I had much access to it back in those days!

But what other games fell into Sony’s financial trappings? Let’s have a butchers…

Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3

The first recollection I have of the dreaded limited exclusivity deal, was Mortal Kombat 3, held back 6 months on the Saturn by Sony’s lowbrow deal wrangling. Actually, I’m glad to document this as it’s one of those recollections that’s incredibly hard to find any other information on and is in danger of becoming lost to time. Either that or I just made it up and am talking buh and that’s why nobody else remembers it. But I swear it’s true!

MK3

MK3. Probably. I actually don’t know that game well enough to know that this is actually it as I was busy playing SF Alpha in the 32-bit days which was infinitely better.

Mortal Kombat 3 released early in the life of the PSOne, and with the series still commanding a high level of interest and praise, was a great coup for Sony when they secured a 6 month exclusivity period. Whilst this was a tough blow to take, even though I thought the game was garbage and nothing compared to Street Fighter, the Saturn, along with Playstation as well, was only served an aged Kombat scraping in the form of a conversion of Mortal Kombat 2. Fair enough. But the whole thing had a sense of being disadvantaged at the hand of Sony who were not just doing fine work in ensuring their console had all the top new games, but were making it so that us paupers on Saturn did not. Grig!

UMK3

There was a brief bit of reprise when the Saturn version launched sporting all the updates from the Ultimate edition whereas PSX only had bog standard MK3. But by this point, with the advent of 3D fighting games like Tekken, Mortal Kombat was becoming increasingly irrelevant as punters far and wide were being wowed by the polygon pushing power of Playstation, and anything 2D was being considered old and crap as ‘the camera doesn’t zoom in’ as I was reliably informed (sarcasm) by a classmate at the time.

Ghostbusters.

Whilst not a particularly old game, ’twas only last gen that Sony were still plying their hands at the ol’ limited period of time exclusivity shenanigans. This was a bizarre one, as it applied only to the European market and was frankly a bit pointless. But still they doth persist!

GB3601

Wait… why didn’t J. Edgar Hoover appear to destroy them again?

After a glut of interest swelled across the ol’ www after an unlicensed Xbox 360 demo from Zootfly hit YouTube (in very bad quality video), gaming bosses hit upon a profound revelation – that people wanted a Ghostbusters game. You don’t say. Featuring the Ghostbusters looking more like the marines from Aliens, their proton pack wands were akin to huge chain gun kinda things. An interesting take on things, and possibly one to appeal to the growing dude-bro COD crowd that was gaining momentum. Urgh, I hate that term. Anyway, ’twas not they of the tech demo fame that got to ply their hand at the full release.

GB 360 beta

Another game that never was! Man this is a bad shot. Alas the video is so ropey this is the best I got. Seemed to be taking it’s cues from the fairly new at the time Gears of War. I was hyped for this!

GB Ecto-1 beta

Ecto-…2? Who knows. But this is certainly not the car we know and love, so I’m glad this vehicle never blighted the series. Ugly little spud.

GB beta art

What could have been the Ghostbusters in 2007. Had they actually acquired the official I.P. Which they didn’t. A good thing? Guess we’ll never know now!

But i’m getting off topic. Back to the Ghostbusters game that actually did come out. Terminal Reality handled the ‘next gen’ version, whilest Red Fly Studio dealt with the characature-esque more cartoony version for PS2, Wii, PSP with Zen studios making a DS game.

GB Wii

‘Yes it’s true. This man has no pee pee.’ Well it is the kiddie version after all.

Sony struck up a deal that bought them a six month head start on the PS3 version in Europe, which at time really ground my Grig as the PS3 version was markedly inferior with oodles of screen tearing abound, sub par frame rate, and not even technically being HD with it’s 960×540 resolution. All in all, it was buh. Which, by the way, was particularly hilarious when the dev teams started slating the 360 as some kind of inferior-to-PS3 pile of junk during the development process… before releasing the superior version on that very machine. More Sony influence at play? Get Jessie Ventura on these conspiracy theories! Anyhoo, so the PS3 version was what we had to stomach, at least for a while. Thanks Sony.

marshmellowman

PS buh! A sub HD Marshmellow Man scaling Terminal Reality towers to get to the bottom of this catastrophe yesterday.

Of course, everywhere else in the world received the game at the same time, so it felt distinctly like we were getting the shaft again. In fact, at one point it was very hazy as to whether Xbox 360 was even going to get the game in Europe at all due to some vague communications. But at last, we received the better version on 360, much to the delight of nobody who cared since fans had probably imported the U.S version months ago. But hey ho! Such is the buh you have to shovel when these things happen!

So there we go. A brief foray in to the world of a few exclusive dealings. Whilst Sony was the bigger boy bullying all the other kids in the playground in years gone by, it’s interesting to see the reaction now an even bigger boy has entered the fray and started throwing his weight around. Of course, the instances I’ve listed above are only a small snippet of these type of deals from Sony. History contains all the big hitters being involved in trying to secure big names exclusively for their machines over the years. Just look at when Resident Evil went Gamecube exclusive. I mean, that only set the series back about ten years and lost most of the public interest in it while shifting literally dozens of Gamecubes, so that worked out great. Tssk!

Good luck Lara. You’re gonna need it.