Following on from my previous blog entry, I went on eBay and basically bought all the listed games I didn’t yet own. Though I haven’t received some of them yet, I had a blast playing the four here, which I will now give a short review on.
Though I’ve always been crap at Vib-Ribbon, I’ve also loved it to pieces. First time I’ve owned it too – my initial experience with the game was via a McDonald’s PlayStation promo in which they gave away one of four demo discs back in 2001-ish, with Vib-Ribbon being one of the demos on one of these. Though I’m not a fan of McDonald’s at all, during that promotion I was there all the time trying to collect all four – I succeeded, and still have the demos to this day.
Now the back story is over, Vib-Ribbon is a very simple but very addictive little game. You are a wireframe “rabbit”, and walk along a line not being able to control your walking speed. You encounter objects along the line – blocks, loops, pits, spikes, and combinations of the four. Each of the four objects is associated with a button – L1, R1, down or X, which makes no sense at first but ends up being nice to use. The idea is that you push the correct button when you encounter each object – it’s that simple. Combinations make the game harder as they require double key presses. You advance if you overcome enough obstacles, or become a lower life form if you miss them.
Sounds boring? Well, not really. The game is synced with music. And, in (as far as I know) the first example of this on any system, you can import your own music and the game will generate a level for it. It can be absolutely any piece of music, provided it’s on a music CD. If you get into the game and have some CDs at your disposal, the potential play hours of Vib-Ribbon are amazing.
No One Can Stop Mr. Domino
A different and older back story. Christmas 1998 was when I got my PlayStation – exactly the same time as a group of sisters three doors down I was friends with at the time. While the games I got consisted of Abe’s Exoddus , B-Movie (another game I got yesterday) and as far as my hazy brain can remember, Sensible Soccer, they got a couple of girly games and “No One Can Stop Mr. Domino”. I hadn’t played it since 1999, but had fond memories of it, so when I saw it on eBay I thought it was worth a go.
I’ve got to admit, it’s a bit shit. I guess it was a lot better in the day its graphics were considered advanced, and in a day I was 8 and Pokémon cards were the best thing ever. But I tried for a good quarter of an hour to get the hang of the first level, and just couldn’t.
Star Gladiator Episode I: The Final Crusade
I grew up with two beat ’em ups: Street Fighter II on SNES, then this one – the far more niche Star Gladiator. I’m not a fan of the genre now, but when the internet barely exists and you’re left with two hours of terrestrial children’s television or a limited library of games, they become very nice. The game looks very similar to Virtua Fighter (both being two of the first polygonal 3D beat-em-ups released), though somewhat better and more realistic. It also has distinguishable and memorable characters – despite having not seen this game for ten years and barely even remembering it in that time, I was immediately able to visualise about half of its ten characters and even a few of their associated levels.
Playing through this one also brought back another memory – how Bilstein used to make me cry. What a bitch of an enemy! I managed to beat him several times when I first owned this game. I have to be honest, I don’t know how. I tried with the majority of the roster shortly ago and could not for the life of me do it. Just to pummel my crappiness in a bit further, he’s apparently not even the final boss! Will definitely be going back to this one to fight the bastard again, I’d forgotten how much I love[d] the game.
This was the game out of the first three that came with my PlayStation that I just could not get into. As a kid I could not understand it one bit – my hazy recollection of playing the game is wanting to explore but being told off for exploring about twenty seconds in. It was very hazy, as my replaying of it yesterday just revealed it to be a flight sim, but with alien elements. Attach guns to ship, shoot down helicopter, get shouted at because that helicopter was your ally (thanks for letting me know!), try again and do it right this time. Not very good, and never had the nostalgic “kick” as I didn’t play the game much. Bar the name and the whiteness of the cover, 99% of its memories have been lost.
The most addictive game I got, and along with Vib-Ribbon, the game that most stands up to the test of time. Devil Dice is one of those simple concepts that busts your balls quickly and effectively. You’re a little dude – looks a bit like a Teletubby with horns – with a cute voice and tendencies (you control him on the main menu, and if you switch directions constantly and quickly he eventually trips over and lets out a miffed squeak). There’s a playing field partly filled with dice. By walking across the top of a dice’s edge, you roll it that way and into the next square. The aim of the game is to make chains of face-up dice numbers. Put two 2s together, they disappear and you get points. Put five 5s together, same thing. They disappear by sinking into the ground over five or so seconds. If you roll another of the same number beside a still-sinking dice, that is added to the chain and you get bonus points. You can get rid of 1s by rolling a 1 next to a sinking chain.
The only annoying thing is avoiding ending up on the floor. If you can’t get off a formed chain quickly, you end up on the floor. The only easy way to get back up is to watch the board for spawning dice, which raise up with a bolt of lightning. Hop on quickly and it’ll bring you up to the main level. You can still manipulate dice on the ground, though only by pushing, which doesn’t roll the dice and of course requires a space either side so you can get behind it to push it. The game ends when the entire board is filled with dice.
It disappoints me this franchise died so quickly. Devil Dice came out in 1998, a Japan-exclusive version shortly after, then a PS2 incarnation called “Bombastic” between 2002 (Japan) and 2004 (Europe). There has since been one other game released in the series, this time on PSP, but AGAIN it was Japan-only. It would be so perfect on PS3 and PSP as a downloadable game, and makes me a tad sad so many potential addicts are out there that haven’t the chance to play this!
So that’s my little blast from the past. Some titles that were duds, some that are probably going to be regular-occasional parts of my life for years to come! Speaking of this stuff though, I’ve also ordered a little device to record composite input to USB. As luck would have it, I have composite connectors for nigh on every console I have – PS1, PS2, PS3, SNES, N64, GameCube, Wii, Xbox, Xbox 360, most of the Sega ones, and I believe the NES too. So I’m planning on doing some playthroughs/semiplaythroughs of some of my favourite, or not so favourite, commercial games. Devil Dice will probably be one, Vib-Ribbon another, Star Gladiator a third. Not sure what format exactly – probably just me-quiet game-loud.
Anyway, that’s all for today. Thanks for reading!