Review: Night Trap: 25th Anniversary Edition

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Good luck finding one of these, folks!

NT_tinyPlaying Night Trap after about 15 or so years away from any version brought back a few sour memories. Not those about the game’s campy/cheesy vibe and still somewhat clunky gameplay that’s better if you don’t use a walkthrough to blow through your purchase within the first hour of the day you buy it.  Nope, I ended up thinking too hard about how a bunch of overly zealous politicians lied their asses off to the public (and themselves) about an intentionally silly videogame being a potential root cause for real-life violence and mayhem.

Just as they did with comic books, Dungeons & Dragons, and Hollywood movies before that (I’d include Prohibition in this as well, but let’s not get too carried away today), Night Trap was made an easy scapegoat back in 1993 along with Mortal Kombat and a few other games deemed inappropriate for kids who very likely knew they weren’t being brainwashed into axe murderers en masse. As a result, it ended up selling out in spots, was briefly taken off the market but eventually reemerged on 3DO, Sega 32X, MS-DOS, and Mac OS, turning absolutely no one into a sex fiend or blood-lusting serial killer (well, the last time I checked, at least). In terms of the remaster/re-release, Screaming Villains has definitely delivered the definitive Night Trap experience, which is kind of like saying you’re getting dented canned tuna for dinner, but it’s the best damn dented canned tuna you can buy.

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VGA 101: Running the Gauntlet to Get Gauntlet IV Running…

Gauntlet Running 
Sometimes, the simplest things can take way too long but the payoff is well worth it. I was recently in the mood to dig up a classic and had Gauntlet on the brain. Not just ANY Gauntlet, mind you, but Gauntlet IV on the Sega Genesis. That version of the game is not only four players, but has a few game modes not in the original arcade hit including a story-based RPG mode with a bunch of element themed levels and an ending that’s a total corker. Imagine my surprise when I went to my bookshelf full of Genesis and Mega Drive games and… there was no copy of Gauntlet to be found.

Eeek. Just when my eyebrow was shooting up over my forehead, I recalled that I’d traded my cardboard box version of the game for a second manual-less copy of Shadowrun (which I still need a manual for) and something else I needed a cart of that I had a box and manual for. Oops. So, I now needed a replacement and thanks to a bit of quick hunting around, I found a plastic-boxed version in really nice shape for $16 shipped. NOW, I could get playing…

Or not, as I soon found out… Continue reading

Random Film of the Week(end), Too: Suture

sutureA few weeks back on an otherwise fine Tuesday while I was at the library typing away on a review or something at the usual table I sit at near the DVD section, a man came in with a friend of his looking for a particular film. However, from listening to their conversation behind me (the gentlemen weren’t whispering), neither could recall the title. As there wasn’t a clerk in earshot at the time, my encyclopedic brain clued into things quickly when one guy said “it’s about this black guy with a twin brother who’s white or something like that…” and without turning around (hey, I was busy and decided to help them out so I didn’t have to hear them gab away), I chimed in with “Suture” and heard both their heads turn around with a cartoon snapping sound. Not looking up, I smiled. I tend to surprise people sometimes with my head full of useless know-it-almost range on certain subjects

One guy leaned in like I was his new best friend and said “YEAH, that’s it! HOW did you know that, man?” His clothes smelled like he just ate at the newly re-opened McDonalds across the street and had a cigarette afterwards. My nose hairs curled up something awful, and I offered up the following nugget of truth: I’d seen it back when it was released and a few times on cable a few years later. To which Mr. Tobacco Burger (who’d turned around so his head was now on correctly) offered up his own nugget of truth. “I’ve been looking for this movie FOREVER, man!” (Edit: Okay, partial truth) – I heard it’s SO strange… I like strange movies like that!” I didn’t want to spoil his mood, but I did inform him that he should either ask at the front desk or see if it was in the database. of course, two or more amusing things happened after that, but I’ll keep you in suspense for a bit… Continue reading

There’s No Beer In Hell, But All The Pianos Play DOOM There…

File this under “Now, I’ve REALLY seen Everything!”: OK, so it’s NOT Hell Paris again, but hell… someone made a piano that plays DOOM. Yeah, I want one now (and am kicking myself that I gave up on lessons as a kid), but I’ll need to steal a cargo plane, hire some some assistants and fly all the way to London’s Virgin Media Game Space in order to get this one of a kind hybrid machine/instrument. Of course, I’ll get arrested, tried and convicted and need to serve some hard time (boo, but I want to keep the film rights!), but at least I’ll have a story to tell at parties after I get out that will top the usual “I saw so-and-so coming out of a Starbucks drunk!” stuff you hear all the time, right? Hmmm… I wonder if Carmack, Romero or even Bethesda will ask for one of these to be made for them at some point. Hey, I say if anything, you can buy off that devil with a gift he’ll really flip over! You DO know he plays EVERY instrument, right? I got him a harmonica last year and he’s quite the expert at it!

VGA 101: More Classic PC Game Intros? OK, A Little Dungeon Hack For You…

Another favorite game of mine by Dreamforge was Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeon Hack, a pretty cool create your own dungeon-crawler were you chose or created a hero or heroine and set out in a random dungeon generated by you or the computer. This made for who knows how many millions of possible combinations and no two generated “seeds” playing exactly the same. Basically, it’s a rogue-like where survival was constantly tricky, but not impossible if you lucked out and managed to get some great gear to defeat the increasingly difficult monsters (and found enough rations so your avatar wouldn’t starve to death). Anyway, the intro is another favorite of mine thanks to the great art and colors used plus it’s funny as hell to see the hero whine about needing to get paid in advance with traveling and supply money… only to get zapped to the dungeon unprepared. I think I’ve only ever completed three or four of the dungeons I cooked up with this game, but it’s been a long while since I’ve played this one. I’ll fire it up once I have free time and dink around a bit to see if I can still play this one. It installs and runs perfectly on Windows XP, but I really don’t have the time to dive in and get hooked all over again…

Video Game Appreciation 101: PlayStation Evolution (US and Japanese Versions)

 

With Sony getting ready for next week’s big worldwide reveal, their Japanese branch is doing a bit of nostalgic reminiscing on YouTube. Here’s part one of what’s looking to be a fun little series (those quick bits of Japanese PlayStation ads are hilarious and make me wish Sony would devote a channel to the MANY awesome TV ads for PlayStation systems that have been shown there since 1994). Given the console’s huge impact on the gaming scene, I’m hoping we get to see this series show at some point on a Blu-Ray or online in full with additional focus on how the system hit North America in an equally spectacular manner (er, Polygon Man, the whole ENOS campaign and those silly Toshinden “Sofia Says” ads aside).

 

Thanks to dionisio for the Sofia ad!

Videogame Appreciation 101: The Sega Letters (Found!)

Back around 1990 or 1991, I recall my younger brother and I getting hopelessly stuck in Phantasy Star and in dire need of assistance. Nope, we weren’t mapping the dungeons at all, so some areas of the game were total nightmares. Still, we slogged through the game , managing to make it all the way to the infamous Baya Malay dungeons where we finally threw in the towel. Almost. Out of sheer frustration, I said, “Eh, go write Sega!” and a few days later, we’d worked out a letter asking for help and sent it off hoping for a response. About two weeks later, an envelope arrived with that familiar logo and we were both thrilled to open it up and find a photocopied walk-through of the game that helped out quite a lot.

Amusingly enough, in the interim, we’d managed to level everyone up so they were all pretty much invincible. When it came time for Myau to “flap(s) his wings ploudly” (heh) and take off for that Sky Castle, that big ol’ mandatory bird boss battle was over in something like three hits. On the first turn, yet.  The final boss was a breeze as well, but were were even more impressed by the end credits of the game, which showed off the pseudo 3D scaling in a really cool way.  To date, the game is still a truly great example of a few things including full screen “corridor” style movement that even developers making games for more powerful 16-bit systems from Sega and Nintendo failed to get running as smoothly or as fast (or even full screen, for that matter).

Anyway, during the wait time between when we mailed the letter and when it arrived, a few other games ended up stumping us for a bit. However, once that PS walk-through arrived, another note went out asking about Lord of the Sword, Spellcaster and Golvellius: Valley of Doom. I think we got two of those in one envelope and a third in a separate mailing, but by then, we were on a roll with the letter writing. I even wrote Nintendo about a NES I’d found that needed service and got a really speedy reply with a few local spots that happened to be authorized Nintendo service centers. I ended up not having to spend a dime on repairs, as a friend managed to get that system up and running with about five or so minutes of tinkering.  More money for games is always a good thing, I say…
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Random Art: One From the Vaults: Sonic + Mega Man

Quick backstory: I did this back in 1993, so perhaps I was a tiny bit psychic. About a year later, gamers were getting all excited reading about Sega making some sort of big publishing deal with Capcom which some thought would also bring Mega Man to the US on a Genesis cart. Of course, that didn’t exactly happen and Rockman Mega World/Mega Man: The Wily Wars is to date, a highly desired collectable. It was released in Japan and PAL territories in English, but Sega decided to ONLY give this game a shot as part of their innovative Sega Channel service.  Blast you Sega for being so damned forward thinking!

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