Category Archives: Video Games

999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors

Nine people have been kidnapped and chosen to participate in “The Nonary Game”. They have been given 9 hours to escape through 9 numbered doors on a sinking ship. To enter these doors the characters must split up into groups, adding up the numbers on their bracelets so the digital root is 9. Once a door has been opened, if their entry inside is not confirmed within 81 seconds, or if the entirety of the selected group does not enter, the bracelets will trigger bombs within their stomachs.

This game is truly one of a kind and immediately became one of my favourite games while playing it. It makes fantastic use of the Nintendo DS’s hardware and even its physical design. Gameplay is a mixture of Flash room escape games, the investigation parts of Ace Attorney, and the puzzles from Professor Layton. However, the storyline is where the game really draws you in. It is extremely complex, definitely hinging on convoluted (in the best sense possible, the same way the Metal Gear Solid series is convoluted). Everything is explained little by little and does indeed make sense at the very end. Most of your time is spent reading the story and dialogue as the game is primarily a visual novel. The writing is extremely well done, including many laugh out loud moments.

It’s genuinely intimidating to choose between doors because you have absolutely no idea what you’re going to find behind them. There are 6 unique endings, each with different events to make you question who your allies really are. Each playthrough you gain slightly more information about the characters and storyline, both from choosing different doors and the characters gaining new lines of dialogue. The game allows you to skip text you’ve already read which makes it much less daunting to replay the multiple times needed for the true ending. It’s not until the true ending you learn why the Nonary game is taking place and your kidnapper’s identity, which will leave you continually guessing prior to the finale.

The puzzles are challenging but not excruciatingly difficult. I felt the final puzzle was far too easy, the easiest in the entire game. For a game so heavily based upon the number 9, it’s surprising that this type of puzzle didn’t come up sooner. However, if you aren’t already familiar with how to solve it then it might prove more of a challenge.

Music is used very effectively throughout, the eeriest always used during cliffhangers and shocking revelations. It definitely adds to the mood already created with the storyline.

There is a demo of the game on its website, which is slightly different to the final game but identical in the style of gameplay. If you plan to play 999, then do not look up anything about the game on Wikipedia or Youtube as there are many spoilers.

PS2 Promo Discs

Though looking similar to Platinum releases with their plain silver disc, these are in fact promo discs (blue print and “PROMO ONLY” printed at the top). Promo discs contain the full game and are usually sent out to game shops or the press prior to the game’s official release. They don’t have DVD packaging or a cover printed onto the disc for this reason.

Without having played my copy of Sly 1 yet, I got Sly 2: Band of Thieves as I’m fairly certain I will like the series. War of the Monsters was not a game I’d heard of. After checking on my phone out of curiosity, it had positive reviews and also is selling at the £15-£20 mark on eBay. I already have Tekken 4 and whilst it’s not my favourite Tekken, for me it was a novelty to get the promo disc. All of the discs are immaculate with no scratches.

The games were £1.99 each, but I used 2 x £2 vouchers, making the total £1.97 for all 3.

promo discs

Ty the Tasmanian Tiger

tyThis is a game I had never heard of back when it was released, only hearing of it in more recent times. I found it for £2 and thought it was worth a go, especially when I heard it being compared to the big names of Crash and Spyro. The box art does look rather juvenile, but if you look past that you will find such a good little game which is quite enjoyable. Ty is underrated but it’s definitely up amongst the likes of what it’s emulating; it’s kind of a mix between Crash, Spyro, and Jak and Daxter. When Crash came to PS2 it should have been something more like Ty, rather than going down the path of the abysmal Twinsanity and Crash of the Titans.

Ty the Tasmanian Tiger is your fairly standard 3D platformer, but it does its job extremely well. It has all the necessities – tight controls, well designed levels and a nice soundtrack. It plays like a game you are already familiar with, you are instantly at ease with the controls and what you are supposed to be doing.

There are only 15 levels which are a little short in terms of getting from point A to B, but the design of them is excellent. They are quite large, and though the path is fairly linear (with the occasional choice of routes), there are plenty of nooks which are easy to miss on your first run through the level. The game isn’t particularly difficult or challenging, but for completionists the level design is where the game really shines. There are a set number of things to find which remains the same throughout each level. 300 opals, 10 cogs, 10 thunder eggs. The opals and cogs are scattered throughout the level. There’s a thunder egg for finding 300 opals, one for completing the level’s “main” task, one for finding all 5 bilbies, and one for a time trial race. The remaining 6 thunder eggs in a level vary from helping people, to navigating your way to the eggs by jumping and gliding. The thunder eggs are very much like the orbs in Spyro 2.

The pictures you find hidden in crates are only displayed as an overall total, which is a bit of a nightmare considering I am missing 1 picture crate and have no idea which level it is in. The other 125 are in the secret 100% level, which I can’t unlock until I find the last 3 opals in Rex Marks the Spot. Finding these will also give me the last thunder egg, bringing my total up to 72/72.

99 percent

My only gripes with the game are: there are only 15 levels (though I cannot fault those levels in any way), and sometimes the camera can be a little awkward. It tends to move on its own when you are in the middle of jumping, making it difficult to see where exactly you are going. Additionally, if there is an object or wall behind you, the camera refuses to rotate and just “bumps” into the obstruction. It’s no big issue – it’s something that occurs in a lot of games – but it is a little annoying.

The Simpsons Cartoon Studio

This is a game I didn’t know existed until a few years ago, when I saw a video somebody had made using it on Youtube. I looked it up on eBay and was way overpriced; most of the listings being for the disc only, not the original packaging.

Without particularly trying, I managed to find it for £1, complete with original box.

simpsons cartoon studio

The game itself is pretty good, it’s easy to use and there are plenty of animations and sound clips of each character to choose from. The sound clips can’t really be strung together though, which makes for some quite random cartoons! Also there can only be one speech, one music, and one sound effect playing at one time, so there are pauses between characters speaking. The animations available are mostly of the Simpsons themselves – the secondary characters only have a couple of animations.

simpsons cartoon

Homer up to his usual shenanigans

Final Fantasy X and XII

These were £3 each so I decided to pick them up, taking a slight risk as I have never played an RPG before, excluding Pokemon. Even more so a risk when all I really know about Final Fantasy is that laugh. (I do know the context of the laugh though!)

I’m about five and a half hours into FF10 right now; the battle system feels familiar enough for me to have picked it up straight away. The tutorials were nice as they were helpful enough for a new FF player, yet they don’t hold your hand or tell you obvious things.

final fantasy 10 12

Playstation Demos Haul

Yesterday I picked up a tonne of PS1 demos, 1 PS2 demo, and 1 PS1 game. I also got 4 CD’s and 2 PC games, but I’m just going to discuss the demos. A shop wanted rid of their CD’s and it was take as many as you want for £1. My Mam had already picked out 4 CD’s she wanted, so if I found anything I wanted they would be essentially “free”. I found all these PS1 demos so I felt they were worth picking up as nice bonuses and for the novelty. I loved demos as a kid – although I can only think of one game I got as a result of playing its demo… Spyro!

From left to right: (Click image to enlarge)

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Click to enlarge

Essential Playstation Magazine
Five (SCED-01004)
Seven (SCED-01110)
Eight (SCED-01139)

Official UK Playstation Magazine
Disc 16 Vol 2 (SCED-00829)
Disc 17 Vol 2 (SCED-01144)
Disc 18 Vol 2 (SCED-01145)
Disc 41 (SCED-01151)
Disc 42 (SCED-01152)

Gran Turismo (full game)

Official Sony Demos
Silent Hill (SLED-01735)
Namco Demo (SCED-00789)
Autumn/Christmas Releases (SCED-00273)
Demo One (SCED-00816)
Registered User Demo 02 (SCED-00936)
Playstation 2 Demo (PBPX-95506)

I already have 2 of the demos, those being Demo One and Autumn/Christmas Releases which came with the Playstation and Crash Bandicoot (respectively). I didn’t have any of the other demos, though I do have full versions of some of the games included. I enjoy comparing the unfinished demos to the final builds. The Silent Hill demo was quite handy as I can put it in the back of my Metal Gear Solid case to “complete” it.

Two of the cases had different CD’s to what was listed on the cover (hence the handwritten paper in the front of the case). One of them was Disc 42 which contains the 14 Net Yaroze Hall of Fame games which is pretty cool.

If you just include the demos and other CD’s (not pictured), it works out at exactly 4p a disc. If you include the blank cases (you can never have enough blank cases!!) it works out at around 2p for each item. They gets rid of stock, we get all of these – everybody wins!

Replacement PS2 Covers

Here are some games I bought as disc only, so I put them in spare cases and made replacement covers. Using a matte photo paper (rather than regular printer paper) helps to improve the saturation of the colours, making them look undetectable as replacements alongside other games in your collection. Sites such as The Cover Project have scans of the original covers you can print off and use.

before

Before

after

After

 

Assassin’s Creed Books

I got Renaissance back in January and since then I’ve gradually picked up the whole set one by one. Yesterday I found the last book I needed, Revelations, though I’m not sure when I’ll get round to reading all of them! If they make a novelisation of AC4 then I probably won’t get it, I didn’t really like AC3 and I’m not interested by what’s been shown of AC4.

The Secret Crusade – £1.49
Renaissance – £1
Brotherhood – 33p
Revelations – £1.50
Forsaken – £1.99

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Policenauts

policenauts_02b-e1344878015505First of all, I have to give credit to everybody who worked on the English fan-translation of Policenauts. This game never got an official release outside of Japan and as I don’t know Japanese, it is very much a game I would have never been able to play. The English translation is incredibly well done and is definitely up to the standard of any official translation. They did a good job of adding colloquialisms to each character’s manner of speaking, but all the time it still felt true to the official translations of other Hideo Kojima games. A lot of work also went into the programming aspect of the translation, details of which can be found here.

The translation patch is available at the project’s site: http://policenauts.net/english/indext.html

Policenauts is true to the style of any of Kojima’s other games and is very, very verbose. The storyline is utterly engrossing and when I wasn’t playing this game, I was thinking about it constantly. I put somewhere around 15 hours into this game. Kojima does an excellent job of setting up the Policenauts world and it is very much believable despite being a little over the top by most conventional standards. There is a lot of backstory and lore which is generally explained through talking to other characters. For a detailed timeline of the events in the Policenauts universe see: http://policenauts.net/english/timeline.html

redwoodmeetPolicenauts deals with serious issues such as human organ trafficking, widespread drug dealing, and corrupt police forces, to name a few. There is a lot of content in this game which they would never be able to get away if they tried to release it today (mostly all the sexual harassment from Jonathan). I do prefer playing older games prior to this new obsession with censorship; seeing games uncensored in all regards and staying true to the original intentions of the creators, whatever those intentions may be.

Despite being a visual novel, there are a few segments of the game (the shooting and bomb defusal) in which you can actually make mistakes and get a game over. The bomb defusing part is a bit annoying but the characters breaking the fourth wall make it hilarious rather than rage inducing.

died

Pokemon Firered

This was sitting on the counter of the shop and I was awfully worried that this meant somebody had bought it. I asked if anybody was buying it and they weren’t, so my next question was “how much is it?” as it had no price sticker. The man thought about it, then told me £1! He opened it up for me to check everything was still there and incredibly it was and near mint. I say near mint as it’s mint condition quality wise with all the original documentation, but it’s missing the wireless adapter for trading and battling with other players.

firered

I felt I should name my rival after the previous owner, so to whichever Tom had the game previously, my rival is named after you, cheers! He was only 10 hours in with 22 Pokemon, so it wasn’t too bad to save over his game.

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