Tag Archives: Dreamcast

Podcast 22: Crazy Taxi (#100)

Format: Dreamcast Genre: Racing, Arcade, Sandbox Released: 1999 Developer: Hitmaker

Here at 101 Video Game Towers we often enjoy games that somehow turn mundane activities into fun adventures. Yes, you may have a good time being a space fighter pilot, or the heroic saviour of a post apocalyptic wasteland, or even a low-level gangster in the 1980s clubbing someone round the head with a baseball bat, but it can also be just as satisfying walking a dog, fishing or running a railway business.

Despite this fine pedigree there must have been some consternation when, during a meeting at Hitmaker HQ, the Big Boss pointed with his fat cigar at a lowly, nervous looking  programmer and demanded he make a game that recreates the thrills and spills of driving a taxi.

The advertising was very subtle.

Still, they don’t call Hitmaker ‘Hitmaker’ for nothing. They know how to make hits. In case you haven’t noticed it’s literally their name. Hitmaker… a maker of hits. If they didn’t know how to make hits their name would look stupid and boastful. Which it certainly isn’t. Though they did change it a couple of years ago to Sega AM3 which suggests they tired of putting so much pressure on themselves and instead became extremely early risers.

Anyway, all it took to turn mini-cabbing into a successful game was to add a bit of *pause* ‘Crazy’ (raise eyebrow when reading the word ‘Crazy’).

A taxi flying into the air? How crazy.

Welcome to the 22nd 101 Video Games Podcast! Listen as Ian and Lewis discuss Crazy Taxi on the Dreamcast, the disappearance of Tower Records, how pretty much anyone can’t help but like Offspring while playing this game even if they don’t usually, what a British version of the game would be like and once again reminisce about wasting time at university.

So, as someone with some kind of throat problem once said, ‘Hey, Hey, Hey its time for Crazy Taxi!’

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Podcast 22 Crazy Taxi

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In many ways Gena is Ian's perfect woman - beautiful, cool and, most importantly, she can drive.

Ian & Lewis

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Filed under 1999, Arcade, Dreamcast, Hitmaker, Podcast, Racing, Sandbox Game

Podcast 16: Best Ever Console Final

Welcome to the 1st BEST EVER CONSOLE FINAL! I think we would all agree it’s a been one hell of a journey. Over the weeks we’ve seen Japanese women slapping each other, Big Daddy, Miss World Competitions, the image of Lewis in a red bikini, a picture of Shigeru Miyamoto with a turnip for a head and our first swears. There’s been some laughs… and some tears. Finally we reach the, er, final.

So fans (cough), enjoy this slightly poor sound quality podcast. Who will win? There’s only one way to find out, listen! Or just ask one of us. Whatever.

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Podcast 16 – Best Ever Console Final

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Here’s the way things look at the Final stage:

Ian & Lewis

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Podcast 15: Best Ever Console Semi Finals

The Semi Finals of any competition are always stressful. So close to the final yet so far. The Semi Final of The Best Ever Console Competition is of course no different.

If anything, it’s worse. If you think the pressure from the tabloids is bad on the England football team, you should try picking up one of the Video Game mags. ‘The Official Playstation Magazine’ has photographed the Playstation in a nightclub drinking before a big match, Edge has had feature after feature on consoles’ WAGs (with lots of pictures of course!) and just look at Official Nintendo’s front page:

It’s not easy for our judges either. You try to think of new things to say about a console after already discussing it three times.

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Podcast 15 – Best Ever Console Semi Finals

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Here’s the way things look at the Semi Final stage:

Ian and Lewis

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Podcast 14: Best Ever Console Quarter Finals

It’s the Quarter Finals of the Best Ever Console Competition on 101 Video Games! More importantly it’s the swimwear section of the contest. Unfortunately the ‘PC’ brigade have nothing better to do than attack an innocent competition, somehow suggesting that forcing consoles to parade in front of our judges showing as much flesh as possible is demeaning and sexist. Poppycock!

Pictured: Lewis and Ian pose with last year's winner of the Miss Best Ever Console Contest

Still, that’s the world we live in. To show that 101 Video Games is not asking the consoles to do anything Ian and Lewis wouldn’t, our hosts will also be dressed in swimwear. So join Ian, dressed in a tasteful, mint green one-piece costume, and Lewis, in a risqué, cherry red bikini topped off with a delightful red bow, as they judge the prettiest and loveliest consoles in the world!

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Podcast 14 – Best Ever Console Quarter Finals

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Here’s the state of play at the Quarter Finals:

Lewis & Ian

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#75: Resident Evil CODE: Veronica

Format: Dreamcast Genre: Survival Horror Released: 2000 Developer: Capcom/Nextech

I have a love/hate relationship with this game. Love because it’s one of the best Resident Evil games out there, with some of the most memorable characters and storylines of the series. Hate because some IDIOTIC PUZZLE with an EMPTY FIRE EXTINGUISHER meant that I WAS UNABLE TO FINISH THE F**KING GAME. The memory still haunts me now, hence the extravagant use of capitals and self-censored swearing. I’ll explain…

In our student house at uni we’d often play through games together, or we’d play the same game but using different saves. Not long after I started playing Code Veronica, Paul, my housemate, began playing through it too. We’d swap stories about good bits in the game, and I’d drop excited hints about what was coming up next. All was fine and dandy until right near the end of the game, when I inadvertently uncovered a bug that made finishing the game all but impossible.

Tense, nervous headache?

Earlier in the game, Claire uses a fire extinguisher to retrieve a briefcase that’s stuck inside a flaming room, but for some reason she keeps hold of the empty extinguisher. This either means that Claire is a compulsive hoarder, or the game is subtly trying to tell you that there may just possibly be a puzzle later on that might – just might – require an empty fire extinguisher. Seeing as Claire generally isn’t the type to push around a shopping trolley filled to the brim with carrier bags full of knick knacks and shiny things she finds in the street, I placed my bets on the latter option, and kept the extinguisher to hand.

This guy was very creepy. Despite having his hands tied behind his back, he was still able to attack you using the organic broomhandles sticking out of his back. As you do.

A bit later on, Claire and her hapless companion Steve come across the chap in the pic above, who goes by the name of Nosferatu. History doesn’t relate how he came to bear this moniker – I’m imagining the label was thrust upon him after his unfortunate transformation, before which he was probably called Alan or Dave or Alfonse. Anyway, Claire makes no bones about swiftly dispatching poor Alan (or Dave or Alfonse) and we’re treated to a cut scene in which Alexia, the sister of antagonist Alfred Ashford, awakes from her long hibernation and unleashes the full force of the T-Veronica virus on Steve and Claire’s smiling, unknowing faces – the truck they’re driving is destroyed by one of Alexia’s handy new tentacles, and  control switches to Chris, who’s just pitched up in Antarctica on the hunt for Claire.

Alfred's twisted relationship with his sister Alexia was one of the most memorable parts of the game. Here the newly regenerated Alexia emerges for the first time.

I just want to jump in here for a second to say what a fantastic character Alfred is – definitely my favourite character of the series. Wesker is always held up as the series’  ultimate villain, but he’s so incredibly one-dimensional – there’s nothing really beneath the implausible hair and the Johnny Cash sunglasses. Alfred, on the other hand, has an interesting backstory, which the game goes to great pains to relate – from his possibly incestuous relationship with his twin sister to his penchant for dressing up in women’s clothing. You almost end up feeling sorry for him in a way – through no fault of his own he was born into an incredibly screwed-up family, was ruthlessly used by Umbrella and then ended up losing his mind. Having said that, I’d have a lot more sympathy for him if he stopped trying to kill me all the time.

Claire and Steve admire a digger. Whatever you do Claire, remember to take that fire extinguisher out of your pocket before you get in...

OK, back to the story. After the fight with Alan*, control switches to Chris, and the difficulty steps up a notch. The Antarctic facility is infested with various horrors, including a giant spider that has somehow managed to survive the freezing temperatures, and these fiends quickly take their toll on Chris’s ammo supply. As I limped to the final showdown with Alexia, I was down to just a few assault rifle rounds and a couple of clips for my handgun, but I was finding plenty of ammo for the magnum. So where could the magnum itself be hiding? Wait, there it is, behind that wall of flame. No problem, I’ll just fill up my empty fire extinguisher with that handy extinguishant refill device nearby… Hold on, the extinguisher isn’t in the space/time defying inventory box. Wait a sec, didn’t Claire have it in her personal inventory when she got whacked by that tentacle?

Bugger.

Don't worry, he's 'armless.

With no access to fresh weaponry, it was impossible for me to defeat the final boss, and instead I watched impotently as Paul went on to finish the game. I suppose I could have used one of his save games to go and fight the final boss for myself, but by that point I was so rankled by the whole fire extinguisher thing that I couldn’t bring myself to do it. And anyway, I would have been finishing his game, not mine.

Yet, like a middle-aged man trapped in a loving but turbulent marriage, I still have a soft spot for Code Veronica, despite all of the seething resentment bubbling below the surface. It was denied the suffix ‘4’ by its creators, but in my mind the game stands proudly with its numbered brethren, and possibly slightly above them.

Lewis

*I’ve just found out that Nosferatu was actually Alfred’s father, who went by the name of Alexander, not Alan (or Dave or Alfonse). This is slightly disappointing in some ways (I would have preferred Alan), although I’d forgotten just how convoluted the backstory to Code Veronica is, particularly the history of the Ashfords. You can read about Alfred Ashford’s creepy upbringing here: http://residentevil.wikia.com/Alfred_Ashford.

(Screenshots from http://uk.gamespot.com)

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Filed under 2000, Capcom, Dreamcast, Nextech, Survival Horror

#69: Dead or Alive 2

Format: Dreamcast Genre: Fighting Released: 2000 Developer: Team Ninja

I couldn’t think of a better game than Dead or Alive 2 to feature as post number 69. After all, this is the game that famously featured an option to adjust the bounciness of the female characters’ bosoms, so I think it’s deserving of a slightly saucy number in the 101 Video Games countdown.

Tch, “101 Video Games countdown”? I’m starting to sound like some withered old DJ cliché. Or Steve Priestley from Movies, Games & Videos (née Movies, Movies, Movies). Apparently he works for Magic FM now…

OK, I think I’ve drifted from the point a bit there. Right, let’s start again.

In many ways, Dead or Alive has become a cliché of itself. (See how I worked the whole cliché thing back into the post there? Yeah, I know, I’m good. Let’s see if I can keep it up…) When DoA2 was released, it was a revelation in terms of fighting mechanics and graphical finesse, but subsequent versions have failed to add much of note to the basic game, and the infamy of the Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball spin-off series has somewhat overshadowed the brilliance of the original games.

Yoga-inspired trust exercises featured heavily in Dead or Alive 2.

Dead or Alive Xtreme (and all of its subsequent incarnations) annoys me. It’s basically soft porn dressed up as a series of lacklustre minigames, and it’s exactly the type of game people point to when they argue that computer games are just the preserve of sex- and violence-obsessed adolescent boys. Imagine the scene: a respected university media lecturer is delivering an empassioned speech about how games like Heavy Rain are pushing the boundaries of the medium and exploring territories that could never be reached through film or literature.

Lecturer: “…and that’s why we can expect to see the videogame demographic continue to expand, with older gamers reaping the rewards of a more sophisticated approach to interactive narrative. Any questions? Yes Mackenzie?”

Student: “Professor, can you explain how the recently released Dead or Alive Paradise fits into this demographic? How can we relate something like Heavy Rain to a game in which the main aim is to achieve victory in a handful of simplistic and shallow minigames in order to unlock increasingly skimpy bikinis for a group of proportionally exaggerated fictional women?”

Lecturer: “…erm… Ah, well, you see, errr….. Any other questions?”

Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball - good, clean, wholesome, semi-nude fun.

Arguably, the Xtreme spin-off series is now more famous (infamous?) than the main series, and you can probably imagine what greeted me when I typed ‘Dead or Alive screenshots’ into a Google Image search – let’s just say that the screenshots presented here are by far the most tasteful I could find.

But get past the sauciness and you’ll find that Dead or Alive 2 is a technically brilliant and hugely entertaining brawler. The counter system was particularly fun – get the timing right and you could turn almost any attack back on your opponent, which made for some tense back and forth fights. Plus the animation and collision detection was spot on:  your punches,  kicks and counters connected exactly where they landed. This seems like an obvious point, but if you look at older 3D brawlers like Tekken, sometimes the punches seem to land in mid-air or the reaction doesn’t quite match up with the attack.

See? There are men in the game too! Although it was never quite explained why Zack was wearing a bra.

One of the game’s best features was the the multilevel stages. One stage was set in a church tower, but if you got your attacks lined up carefully you could punch your opponent through a window and jump down after them to carry on the fight below. Along with Power Stone, Dead or Alive 2 was one of the first fighting games in which the stages themselves had as much influence on the fight as the actual fighting, if that makes sense.

And there’s nothing quite as satisfying as knocking your best mate off a skyscraper, then leaping directly onto their head for the finishing blow. Metaphorically speaking of course.

There's nothing quite like punching your opponent out of a church window then jumping after him to deliver the final blow, that's what I always say.

Sadly, I was just as bad at Dead or Alive 2 as I am at most fighting games – although I love the genre, I’ve never quite managed to become an expert. (As evidenced by my recent foray into playing Soul Calibur IV online, in which I failed to win a single fight. Harrumph and, indeed, Grrr.) My gaming nadir occurred sometime in 2001 during a trip to Cowes in the Isle of Wight. A local pub had installed a PS2 with Dead or Alive 2 on a giant screen, so I stepped up to have a go against my friend Louise. Despite owning the game on the Dreamcast, I lost every single round, unable to defend against Louise’s cast-iron tactic of whacking all of the buttons very quickly. I retired defeated, mumbling some half-hearted excuse along the lines of “the button layout is different on the Dreamcast”. I never went to that pub again.

Yet despite the rancour surrounding this particular memory, I still regard Dead or Alive 2 as one of the finest fighting games ever released.

And the bouncy boobs are just an added bonus.

Lewis

(Screenshots from http://www.gamershell.com and http://uk.gamespot.com)

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Filed under 2000, Dreamcast, Fighting, Team Ninja

Podcast 6: Quake III Arena (#57)

Format: Dreamcast Genre: First Person Shooter Released: 2000 Developer: id

Quake III Arena. Bane of Degrees. Annoyer of Female Housemates. Enemy of Social Life. King of multiplayer FPS games on the Dreamcast circa 2000.

Yes Lewis and Ian step into the time machine that is their collective memory and travel back to the Space Year 2000 where they wasted so many hours playing Quake III Arena. Hear the journey on this, our 6th podcast. You’d think by now we would actually be good at them.

But wait! There’s more. For the first time ever in 101 Video Game Podcast history we welcome a special guest star, our friend Paul. Stupid Paul (his full name) lived with us at university and wasted his time playing Quake III as well. In many ways he is the ‘5th 101 Video Gamer’. If there were four rather than two of us. Luckily he escaped a life of blogging about old and obscure video games by getting married and having children.

And the ‘firsts’ don’t stop there. Listen out for the first ever 101 Video Games Podcast edit. Yes, Ian finally made a joke so distasteful that it was decided to overdub the offending section. We even got a mystery guest (not a special one) to do the overdub. See if you can spot it! Here’s a clue to find it – you’ll notice around the twelve-minute mark Ian suddenly makes even less sense than normal…

If we’re brutally honest this isn’t one of our best efforts, but it does have a certain charm. Hope you enjoy it.

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Podcast 6 Quake III Arena

Ian & Lewis

(Screenshots from http://uk.gamespot.com)

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Filed under 2000, Dreamcast, First Person Shooter, id, Podcast