Category Archives: 1995

#33: Doom

Format: Playstation Genre: First Person Shooter Released: 1995 Developer: id

Ah, good old Doom. I remember when it originally came out in 1993 – suddenly it became cool to own a PC, which up until that point had been the sole preserve of flight sim enthusiasts and Civilisation fans. As an Amiga owner I could only seethe in jealousy as my PC-owning mates regaled me with tales of besting Cyberdemons, while I made do with Alien Breed 3D and Gloom. After a long wait, I finally got my chance to engage the hordes of hell in 1995, with the release of Doom on Playstation.

Doom playstation box

Looking back at this game, it’s just amazing how simple it is – things that we take for granted in modern FPSs (like the ability to look up and down) just didn’t exist in 1995. Then again, if the protagonist of Doom managed to defeat the army of Hades without looking up once, perhaps the ability to swivel your viewpoint vertically is overrated. Yes, looking up is definitely for wimps.

Doom playstation screenshot 1

Of course, the best bit about Doom was the multiplayer. I clubbed together with my mate round the corner to buy a link cable, and seemingly every day in the holidays he would schlep round to mine with his Playstation for a bit of a Doom sesh. In the current climate of massively multiplayer FPSs, two player link-up Doom seems almost quaint, but for most of 1995 it sucked up my spare time like a supermassive black hole.

The single-player mode was pretty addictive too. The need to find all of the hidden rooms in the game held an extremely seductive allure, and I remember spending most of the game rubbing up against walls while fumbling with the ‘open’ button. I seem to recall there was a hidden disco room, but I can’t find any screenshots of it – can anyone help?

Doom playstation screenshot 2

Then there were the enemies – considering they were just pixellated 2D sprites pasted onto a pseudo-3D background, they did a pretty damn good job of being scrotum-tighteningly scary – there’s nothing more likely to give you a coronary than rounding a corner and running slap bang into a Cyberdemon.

However, my favourite baddies were the fantastically named Cacodemons – which were sort of like massive red floating Madballs that spat fire instead of water. Fun and scary.

Doom playstation cyperdemon

I’ve just had a thought – were there any other Playstation games that used the link cable? The only one I can think of is Command & Conquer: Red Alert, but there must be others… It’s funny, that link cable cost us twenty quid, and the only game we ever used it for was Doom.

Still, it was worth every penny.

Lewis

3 Comments

Filed under 1995, First Person Shooter, id, Playstation

#15: Time Crisis

Format: Coin-Op/Playstation Genre: Light Gun Game Released: 1995/1997 Developer: Namco

There’s a simple reason that Time Crisis made my life slightly better – if, in the event of some sort of apocalypse, I was forced into the position where I would need to defend my homestead against invasion, the lightning-quick sharp-shooting skills I learned from this game will surely be more than enough to repel any maruading zombies/aliens/angry Belgians. My acquired ability to pick off multiple foes in quick succession, punctuated by brief dives for cover, will undoubtedly serve me well in any situation where I am required to return small arms fire whilst conserving ammunition – basically, if there’s only one gun in the bunker and the men in blue suits are hammering down the door, just leave it to me. Job done.

time_crisis_cover1

There really is nothing quite like gunning down a small army of colour-coded international terrorists to brighten up your day. Despite the constant repetition, I never seem to tire of this game; in fact, knowing exactly where and when every single little hapless blue guy will pop out is almost comforting. It’s a warm familarity, like a dog-eared, stain-covered, favourite jacket for which each stain has its own personal story.

time-crisis-screenshot-1

I’m going to stick my geek hat on here (it’s the one with the flappy ear muffs) and tell you the extent of the misplaced devotion I have given to this game. Several years ago now – back in the days when I thought mobile phones were gimmicky and unnecessary – I spent around six months studying at Barcelona University. Otherwise starved of my computer game fix, I used to pop into the local arcade on the way to uni, although being a skint student, I limited myself to one credit – which always went into the Time Crisis coin-op. After several months of toil, sweat and frustration (well, mainly frustration), I finally managed to beat the game on one credit – the only time I’ve ever managed to finish an arcade game in one go. Beaming from ear to ear, I wallowed luxuriously in my enormous sense of achievement, then turned away from the machine with a cocksure smirk to drink in the awed looks and rapturous applause from my admiring audience – which consisted solely of the fat, moustachioed arcade owner, who was sat reading a porn magazine in the corner and who didn’t take a blind bit of notice of me.

Such is the life of the arcade gamer [sigh].

time-crisis-screenshot-2

I suppose that’s one of the most melancholy aspects of playing video games – you put hours and hours of tireless devotion into honing your skills and learning every nuance and technique the game has to offer, but in the end the only people you’re going to impress are other, equally devoted (obsessed?) gamers. It kind of adds a trickle of ennui to the whole proceedings – which turns into a flood once you realise that the arcade owner is more interested in tits than your gaming prowess.

Which is fair enough I suppose.

time-crisis-screenshot-3

Nevertheless, I continued to devote hours of practice to the home version of Time Crisis after I returned from Spain, despite the knowledge that, like all video games, all this tireless devotion would ultimately be for nought.

Unless, that is, the Belgians invade. In which case I would be able to proudly hold my head up high and say that this game, this single, mighty game, was my inspiration for taking on the entire Belgian Empire single-handedly with nothing but an automatic pistol. Perhaps, when it’s all over and I’m being triumphantly carried through the jubilant streets of a liberated London, I’ll look up and notice that Spanish arcade owner in the crowd;  lip quivering, he’ll slowly raise a salute in my honour as ‘Red Hot Senoritas’ slips from his grubby fingers, only to be trampled by the exaltant crowd.

At last, justification for my video game obses… erm, devotion.

Lewis

(Note: The screenshots in this post are taken from the arcade version of Time Crisis. All screenshots are from the excellent Arcade History website: http://www.arcade-history.com/.)

1 Comment

Filed under 1995, 1997, Coin-Op, Light Gun Game, Namco, Playstation

#6: Ridge Racer

Format: Playstation Genre: Racing Released: 1995 Developer: Namco

There was a time back in the late 80s and early 90s when you just couldn’t escape the phrase ‘arcade perfect’ in computer game magazines. Or rather, endless moaning about how ‘arcade imperfect’ most console games actually were. Basically, there was a substantial gulf between the version of, for example, Street Fighter II you played in the arcade and the slightly-tatty-round-the-edges version you bought for your Sega Megadrive, and the release of any arcade conversion would always be greeted with frenzied playground speculation as to whether it was ‘arcade perfect’ or not. The arcade version of a game was the zenith of graphic perfection that all home versions aspired to reach, yet always fell short.

However, all that was to change with the release of the Sony Playstation and one of the first examples of a ‘pixel-perfect’ arcade conversion: Ridge Racer.

ridge-racer-box1

It wasn’t actually ‘arcade perfect’ of course – the frame rate was a little slower and, most notably of all, you didn’t get a full size Euros Roadster to sit in (a la the ‘Full Scale’ arcade version, which could be found in the London Trocadero once upon a time) – but it was hugely impressive nonetheless.

ridge-racer-full-scale

I remember setting up my brand new Playstation on the big TV in the living room and being utterly blown away by how good this game looked. It’s no exaggeration to say that this game, along with the Sony Playstation, was at the  forefront of a total revolution in gaming. One minute we were all happily playing our 2D platform games, and the next minute we were in the midst of a new 3D age. I doubt we’ll see another such big jump in terms of graphical power for many years to come – until they get around to making truly 3D games anyway.

ridge-racer-screenshot1

The game wasn’t without its flaws: cars often clipped through each other, and there was some truly horrendous pop-up. Most heinous of all, there was a paltry one track on offer – admittedly, it could be played in various configurations, but still, one track is a slim offering by any standards. Having said that, I was happily enthralled in that one track for months on end, and I can’t think of many games that have as compelling a ‘just one more go’ factor as this one.

A large part of what made this game so compelling was the soundtrack – the music was excellent, and the game-show-host-style commentator was not to be missed (bear in mind that actually having speech in a game was almost unheard of before the rise of CD-based consoles).

“Alright everyone, one minute to go, are you ready? The engine’s now locked and ready to go, are you all set?”

Indeed sir I am.

Lewis

4 Comments

Filed under 1995, Namco, Playstation, Racing