Hell to Pay 2: Diablo Makes a Comeback

Excellent. After years of requests for a legitimate re-release, Blizzard and gog.com have teamed up to get the classic PC game Diablo out exclusively on the popular DRM-free digital platform for a measly $10. That tenner it costs gets you the original 1996 version as well as a separate build updated to run on Windows 7, 8, and 10 that includes “a host of bug fixes and high-resolution support via aspect ratio-correct upscaling”. While Mac and Linux versions are currently not available, I’d imagine someone clever will figure out a way to get those up and running for those fans who may want them. At this point, you won’t get that much-requested Hellfire expansion in this deal and I’d gather that will never be a thing to buy as that content wasn’t created by Blizzard

Blizzard and gog.com will also be getting both Warcraft: Orcs & Humans and Warcraft 2 out as digital-only re-releases at some point in the near future. As for the still superb Diablo II? Well, there’s no news on an updated version at this time, but both can currently be purchased through Blizzard’s Battlenet online store. Personally, I’m hoping for this one to get the same treatment along with the Lord of Destruction expansion, as it’s pure hell trying to get them to run from the original discs without some mucking around with a bunch of config options. The last few times I played DII, I used the amazing Sven’s Glide Wrapper to make the game look better (as well as add a clock to the game screen so I could keep track of time, as DII is a total time-sink).

Diablo gog02

There’s going to be a hot time in the old town tonight…

I still recall way back in 1996 when I walked into an Electronics Boutique to hunt down a few Sega Saturn games and saw a playable demo of Diablo with no one at the kiosk, stepping up to try the game and being floored by the dark tone and gloomy soundtrack. The game felt like a meaner, more complex version of Gauntlet that required a more methodical style of play and yep, I was hooked in. Even the less stellar PlayStation port was a thrill to play multiple times (and yes, I still have that here in the library). While Diablo II never got a console port, it sure would be very nice to see one appear for consoles in the not too distant future just so a bunch of us who want to check that off our wish lists can be giddy for a spell (even if there won’t be mods to mess with).



Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour Launch Trailer (NSFW)


Oh, boy. Invading space aliens with planetary conquest on the brain beware! Duke Nukem 3D is back and yes, it’s freakin’ 1996 all over again. Personally, I love the big, macho lug because he’s a COMPLETELY fictional videogame character who’s larger than life, impossible to confuse with any REAL-LIFE person what with his over the top vices, uber manly urges and penchant for snazzy one-liners mixed with threats to wreck and harm with extreme prejudice. I know no one like that in real life and neither do you, right? Oh, okay, okay… THIS GUY counts.



Um, Anyway… thanks to Gearbox Software, the man himself is BACK in action in a kinda throwback re-look at his biggest adventure with a few additions for a measly $19.99 on Steam, PS4, and Xbox One. GROOVY. Get it, I say. Review incoming shortly, as I see the King has followed me home.

dukenukem3dworldtour_screenshot08 dukenukem3dworldtour_screenshot07 dukenukem3dworldtour_screenshot06 dukenukem3dworldtour_screenshot05 dukenukem3dworldtour_screenshot04 dukenukem3dworldtour_screenshot03 dukenukem3dworldtour_screenshot02 dukenukem3dworldtour_screenshot01




Tomb Raider Turns 20: Two From The Vaults Make Lara More Appreciated

Wow. Every game has unused content from early concept art to trailers and other elements that never see the light of day unless properly preserved. Today’s unearthing of two pieces of Lara Croft memorabilia (digital department), come from Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix in time for the Tomb Raider franchise’s 20th anniversary. It’s hard to believe that much time has passed since Lara swung onto the gaming scene and became a worldwide smash, digital sex symbol (for better or worse), and even a role model of sorts to super-fans inspired by the character.

She’s survived some great and not-so-great games in the series, many, many deaths the introduction of the now forgotten by fans who know how to move on Kurtis Trent, two movies that weren’t so hot, but got butts into theater seats, and a two-time revival back into her former glory thanks to newer console tech and current developers Crystal Dynamics. Lara may have had some ups and downs over the years, but to those of us who dip a toe into the pool and replay her games from old to new, she’ll always be our golden girl.

Resident Evil Makes A Return In 2015 For “Old” & New Consoles, PC


residentevil_consoledownload_small_icon_esrb_jpg_jpgcopyOne of the MOST requested (if not THE most requested) Capcom games fans have wanted to see remade for HD consoles has been the original Resident Evil and it looks as if those rabid folk are getting their wish granted and in a big way. Well, provided you own a PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One or a decent gaming PC. Capcom is set to release a beefed-up HD version of the 2002 GameCube remake of the 1996 original as a digital-only purchase.

That particular version improved the visuals and added many changes to the old game and is considered by some (and me, of course) to be the definitive version of the classic survival horror/action game. Featuring traditional or direct control schemes, 1080p support on next-gen consoles (PS4, Xbox One and of course, PC) and all the content from the 2002 game intact, this could be the definitive remake that also introduces new fans to the long-running series.

RE-001_bmp_jpgcopy RE-003_bmp_jpgcopy RE-006_bmp_jpgcopy RE-002_bmp_jpgcopy RE-004_bmp_jpgcopy RE-005_bmp_jpgcopy RE-007_bmp_jpgcopy RE-008_bmp_jpgcopy RE-009_bmp_jpgcopy RE-010_bmp_jpgcopy RE-011_bmp_jpgcopy RE-012_bmp_jpgcopy

Unfortunately, there’s no word of a Wii U version, which is unusual given the 2002 game was made for a Nintendo console. Of course, the Wii U’s sales and Capcom perhaps realizing that they’d probably spend more money on that version than they’d make back means chances are slim we’ll see this on Nintendo’s latest console. It could also be the download size issue and the cost of getting this onto a disc release (and selling a set amount of physical copies) also mucking things up a bit.

That’s show business, kids – but Wii U and Wii U game sales need a nice jump upwards so publishers see the system is worth getting games like this on automatically. Granted, the console IS indeed getting a bunch of excellent titles this year and next… but this doesn’t look like it will be one of them unless something magical happens and it arrives (with some nice GamePad enhancements in tow).

chris_01_bmp_jpgcopy Jill_01_bmp_jpgcopy zombie_01_bmp_jpgcopy

As always, we shall see… we shall see. For now however, this one’s going to be played by plenty of people who didn’t buy a Game Cube but have always wanted to get their paws on a controller and experience Evil in a whole new way.

Omega Boost 1995/1996: A Work In Progress Before Some Big Changes…

Omega Boost Demo 0 OB_Cyber Head Logo OB_WIP Omega Boost Demo TS OB_HTP screen OB_HTP_SC2 OBS2 OBD_Cockpit View Omega Boost Demo 1

PC_Vol.2Well, now. That wasn’t hard or annoying after all except for two things. One quick download of an emulator, some fast configuring and popping in the demo disc I have here and boom – pictures of the first of three Omega Boost demos that appeared on Japanese PlayStation Club discs from 1996 to 1999. The game went through some major changes in those three years, but even as a 30% complete version in these shots it’s pretty darn interesting from a technical standpoint.

I believe the demo runs at 60 frames per second, it has three selectable viewpoints (first person/cockpit/third person), a full 360 degrees of freedom and is pretty fun overall for what it is. Granted, I took these screenshots at the library while dinking around on a keyboard because I didn’t bring a controller with me (oops) or else there would have been about 30 more images here. I also didn’t tinker with the visual settings on the emulator to make the game prettier because I like the look of many early PlayStation games.

Finally, I need to find out who made up Cyber Head, which seems to be the development team behind the first two builds. Based on some other games I’ve played, it seems that in the early days of PlayStation development, a few studios didn’t mind sharing talent to help each other out as the new hardware was being explored to see what it could really do. Hmmm… I smell a longer story here at some point. I wonder if there’s anyone still around from those days with some helpful info?

Hey, Polyphony Digital? Where’s That Omega Boost Remake/Sequel?

(thanks, Maya Rudolph!)

OB_JPSomewhere before and in between Gran Turismo and Gran Turismo II, members of Polyphony Digital (seemingly working under the name Cyber Head) worked on a little game called Omega Boost which was released for the PlayStation in Japan in April of 1999, the US that August and in Europe a month later. Japan got the awesome and hilarious TV ad above for the game (the US ad was amusing, but not as nuts as the Japanese one) and when the game arrived at the small indie game shop I worked at, it spent a decent amount of time in the store play stack. Back then, the game was impressive to me and many others right away thanks to the opening movie that still packs a punch:

(thanks, Cacophanus!)

Thankfully, other than the slightly unwise replacing of the Queen-style rocker that opens the import with some alternative tune that’s OK in terms of it’s title (“Fly” by Loudmouth) but lesser than the original theme music in terms of impact, the US version got the same explosive intro:

(thanks, vision2098!)

OB_NABy the way, note the “Marilyn Monroe/Norma Jean” autograph reference – I loved that tiny bit of fluff because it was a little detail only a film buff would latch on to right away and smile at. As far as the gameplay went, it was an arcade-style space shooter with 19 stages, some cool planetary and tunnel missions along with a number of intense boss battles and a ton of cool bonuses for the dedicated players out there. Some game critics unfairly compared it to Sega’s Panzer Dragoon games, which only made sense as a frame of reference if you were a PS owner who also happened to have a Sega Saturn in the house. There were some minor similarities, but Omega Boost was more a technical showcase for the PlayStation hardware than Panzer Dragoon ever was on the Saturn.

The game was actually in production as early as 1996 (or perhaps sooner), as a series of Japanese demos I have here shows the early work on the game back then was making for a very different-looking experience running at 60fps with simpler polygon visuals and a few more viewpoint choices. Oh, you want some videos of that for proof? Well you’ll need to come over if you want to see them, silly. I’d thought someone would have posted them on YouTube already, but nope and nope so far. Get on it collectors who never open your stuff, I say!

Oh, all right. One day I’ll get off my butt, dig out those PlayStation Club demo discs and have someone shoot footage of me playing them, but I just haven’t had the time to get onto that and some other projects. As usual, I digress. Anyway, the game wasn’t exactly a “blockbuster” in terms of sales or review scores, but it’s definitely one of those side projects where you could see the quality right from the beginning. Of course, with Polyphony so darn occupied with the vastly more popular Gran Turismo series of games, it’s hard to even think of a new OB rolling out from them any time soon. That’s not to say that is SHOULDN’T be done at all, folks. I’m just hoping that if there is a follow-up or remake, it gets the attention it should on a few fronts the original certainly didn’t.

Eh, perhaps I’ll bite the bullet, download a PlayStation emulator from somewhere and figure out how to record some gameplay. It shouldn’t be that hard to do, although I generally dislike using emulators over an actual console…

You KNOW You NEED A Vacation When…

hazy_parisPlaces you’re been to turn into warped versions of themselves even in the photos you’ve taken. Of course, this is what both real Paris and Hell Paris look like after a few drinks (actually, Hell Paris ALWAYS looks like this, and remember… there’s no beer served in Hell at all despite what some of those signs you’ll come across say).

In short, I really need a vacation, but first I need to be able to PAY for a vacation. I’m working on that, or at least trying to make more money in general. If I can’t go somewhere fancy, it’s at least good enough to pretend at somewhere local and appropriate in its selection of diversions.

OK, OK… I could just go back to Hell for a bit, but I think they’re starting to notice I keep popping up for the free hot buffet and leaving right before the mandatory floor show experience. Hey, that key I found on the street happens to fit the exit door AND gets me in the front gate when I wave it at the guard, so I may as well use it while I can, right?



Bad PR 101: Sega’s “Funny” Folly Went Over (and On) the Heads of Some…

next gen sega card (Large)Yeah, that postcard to the left was promising back in 1996, but less than three years later, the Sega Saturn ship was about to come crashing to earth in a slow nuclear explosion. While the console did get a number of excellent titles, fans of the system in North America suffered through Sega of America’s leadership at the time that seemed to ignore some pretty obvious Japanese 2D imports in a few genres in favor of approving too many first and third party polygon-based games or imports that seemed “safe” bets if the right segment of the system’s audience was willing to buy them.

Combine that with some third-party games taking seemingly forever to arrive and Sega deciding to only ship limited quantities of the last few major games on the platform and having the gall to rub consumer’s faces in it for the best game on the platform (see below the jump) and you end up with a console that died a horrible death it really didn’t need to…
Continue reading

Random Film of the Week(end): Mars Attacks!


As I’m still in full-on Earth Defense 2017 Portable mode this weekend, I figured I’d take a break and catch a movie while charging my Vita. Amusingly enough, Tim Burton’s underrated 1996 sci-fi black comedy was just starting up on one of the Cinemax channels, so I sat and caught one of my favorite end of the world films of the 90’s. Granted, back when it was released, it seems way too many parents were thinking they’d be getting a second Independence Day to take their kids to, so I remember the theater I saw this at on opening day being packed with parents and children (including some on a class trip). Let’s just say that when that flaming herd of cows came running past the camera before the brilliant main title sequence, about a third of the theater emptied out pretty quickly, leaving most of us true Tim Burton fans to our PG-13 rated treat…

Continue reading

Quickie Import Review: Airs Adventure

I was moving some games last week and this one fell on my head, so I had to see if my memory still works by recalling what it’s about. Well, other than being a collaboration between the generically named Game Studio with ToysPress and May Music, Airs Adventure for the Sega Saturn is pretty dated if you judge it by today’s standards. Granted, it was probably dated by 1996 standards because the game isn’t all that complicated or challenging save for some wandering about necessary mid-game to solve a puzzle. Despite the language barrier It was one of the first imports I was able to complete it twice without understanding any Japanese thanks to the simple combat system, only two party members to deal with and for the most part, fairly linear progression.

Continue reading