Playing all the video games - Part 000020

I am continuing with the rather futile task of playing all the video games.

Two games in one day... I'm clearly trying to make up for lost time!

Game 000020: 'dillos

'dillos

Available for iOS, Android, PC and Mac, 'dillos is an armadillo themed logic puzzle game. The first of five level packs is free on the iOS version, and it took me about 30 minutes to play through this pack.

The game challenges you to roll your 'dillos from the side of the playing area, where they will interact with various objects (include previously rolled 'dillos), and hopefully land on crosses matching their own colour. At the end of each level you are scored on how few rolls you required, how many power ups you required and how many optional ants you collected on your way. A bonus star is awarded for achieving these goals.

World 1: The Desert

Rather annoyingly the game seemed a little confused about what exactly it was asking you to optimize in order to receive the star. In one level for example I wasn't awarded a star for minimizing the number of rolls I required at the expense of using an additional power up - and in the next level the opposite happened. This would be fine, (although I'd prefer consistency), but the game doesn't tell you what it's goals are for each level until you've finished it the first time. It's a small detail, but I bet it will have put a lot of perfectionists off this game!

I really wanted to like 'dillos as I'm a huge fan of logic puzzles. The puzzle mechanics are quite interesting, the puzzles are well designed. It really feels like there's a better game here which is just hidden beneath the surface. However it's a flawed implementation - and it's a shame, because it's problems distract from what would otherwise be a great game.

The music is bland but inoffensive, the animations were cute the first time, but a little slow - and the game had a tendency to glitch and forget the position of some of your armadillos if you tried to input your moves too quickly.

If you are a fan of the genre and are patient enough to tolerate its flaws then it's worth checking out. The logic puzzles at its core are quite neat.

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Next time 'Splosion Man.

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Playing all the video games - Part 000019

I am continuing with the rather futile task of playing all the video games.

It's been a while...

Game 000019: !Sqrxz!

A game from German developers Retroguru, !Sqrxz! was originally a DOS game, slightly updated a few years ago and ported to a variety of new and retro platforms.

The game is a technical platformer with mild puzzle elements. It boasts that it is a difficult game - which is true, but it has a slight tendency to achieve this via the use of traps which are impossible to spot the first time round, and almost trivial to deal with after that. It certainly hits the right buttons for a 90s nostalgia trip - and the music is fantastic. However once you've played through the first few levels, you've really seen all this game has to offer, and it didn't hold my attention for more than about an hour.

It's a free download, and is pretty cool that the game has clearly designed within the constraints of the older platforms on which it is also available. For a modern PC game it doesn't compare favorably to other games in the genre, but it is perhaps unfair to hold it to these standards given the developer's aims. One for hardcore retro fans only I think.

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!Sqrxz! is one of a few games that have been added to the Giant Bomb database lexicographically before the games I've already played within the last year. The next games on the list are '88 Games, which is an arcade cabinet which will be too difficult for me to track down, and '89 Dennou Kyuusei Uranai, Japanese horoscope software - and not really a game. So next time: 'dillos for iOS.

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Playing all the video games - Part 000018

I am continuing with the rather futile task of playing all the video games.

So that last game wasn't much fun, however it turns out that Ateam Inc.'s other title is alright...

Game 000018: "Aha! I Got It!" Escape Game

Released in 2009 on the Wii Shop, "Aha! I Got It!" Escape Game is a charming, straightforward point and click adventure game aimed at kids. You take on the role of a young kid called Milo who is celebrating his birthday. In an insane plot device, the kid's father locks him in his bedroom as a special birthday "treat", and challenges him to escape. For some reason Milo is rather excited about being encapsulated, and the game centers around solving puzzles in order to figure out how to escape from the bedroom.

The game takes a leaf from the Professor Layton series, and has hint coins hidden throughout the room which can be exchanged for partial solutions to some of the games puzzles. With a couple of small exceptions where the game requires you to use the wii controller in unusual ways to interact with objects (without really explaining what you are meant to be doing), most of the puzzles are pretty trivial - especially given the abundance of hint coins.

I rushed through this game in about 40 minutes - and unlike the other game in the "Aha!" series, it did actually manage to avoid boring me out of my mind. Probably a reasonable game to introduce children to the point and click genre... but the Telltale Monkey Island games are also in the Wii Shop, and they're much better.

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I've given up trying to work out how to attack my last update to the game page forum. Maybe this one will work?

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Playing all the video games - Part 000017

I am continuing with the rather futile task of playing all the video games.

A new site layout brings with it many changes. One of the more subtle is the algorithm used to place video games in alphabetical order. Whereas on the old site, punctuation didn't count towards the ordering, on the new site it does. Which means that the first game on the site which I haven't played is no longer 10,000 Bullets, but instead "Aha! I Found It!" Hidden Object Game. So, here we go again...

Game 000017: "Aha! I Found It!" Hidden Object Game

"Aha! I Found It!" Hidden Object Game

Released in 2010 and published by Ateam Inc., available for 500 points on Wii Ware, "Aha! I Found it!" Hidden Object Game feels like it had about as much thought put into it as its title, before being rushed out the door and onto an aging platform.

Find the Kusarigama!

The premise is simple. The game gives you three static images, each cluttered with randomly generated objects and challenges you to find 12 of them quickly (by pointing and clicking) in order to make somebody happy. Do this - and the game offers absolutely no indication of what exactly the time limit is - and you will be rewarded with an extra level. Take too long, or make too many mistakes and you will make somebody sad, and be asked to try again. What attachment these people have to these hidden objects isn't really explained - but I like to think that they are just happy when you finish the level quickly because it means that they have been subjected to less of the terribly bland background music.

Clearly, I'm not the target audience for this game - but I'm not entirely sure who is. An easily pleased child with sharp eyes and a fascination with Japanese culture, maybe? For anybody who doesn't know the Japanese word for "Chain-Sickle" - completing the levels in the time limit may be a little tricky. I gave up after 20 minutes with this game, and only managed to unlock half of the levels.

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Eagle eyed viewers will have noticed that I've skipped straight past the current first entry in the database !WOW!. As a general rule, I don't intend to make an effort to track down pinball machines as part of this series... especially not pinball machines from the 1930s! Next time, another game from Ateam Inc: "Aha! I Got It!" Escape Game. Great.

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Playing all the video games - Part 000016

I am continuing with the rather futile task of playing all the video games.

Eight months ago when I started this blog some (including myself), doubted if I'd make it this far. Now that I've finished with all the games beginning with "0", I thought that I'd begin with a summary of the zeros.

There are fifteen games with wiki pages listed in the Giant Bomb website. Of these games, there were two which also had a different handheld game with the same name which I played - 007: Everything or Nothing and 007: The World is Not Enough for the Gameboy Advance and Gameboy Color respectively. There were three games listed which I didn't play.

005: An arcade game from the eighties by Sega which hasn't seen a re-release.

0 Story: A language heavy Japanese dating-sim for the PS2, which didn't see a launch outside of the region. I didn't fancy my chances of understanding what was going on!

0x10c, which I haven't played, because it hasn't been released yet.

My personal favourite game was 007: Everything or Nothing for the PS2 whereas 007: Racing for the original PlayStation takes last place. Are there any of these games that I'd actually recommend? To be honest, probably not. A couple of these games would probably have been good in their day - and I've been pleasantly surprised that not all Bond games are as terrible as I'd imagined. I would say that 0 A.D. (currently only in alpha), has an interesting back story and is worth keeping an eye out for in the future. I'd also add that 0D Beat Drop is the sort of game that I'd imagine some people could get really into - it just wasn't for me. A few people have expressed concern for my continued sanity, playing through so many potentially terrible games! Please don't worry, I'm also playing other games too! I'm only spending about 25% of my "gaming time" on this blog - including investing 100+ hours into at least two other games this year.

So while there were only 15 games beginning with a "0", there are 131 beginning with a "1". At my current rate it'll take me six years to play through all of those. Anybody reckon I'll do it? Well, there's only one way to find out!

Game 000016: 10,000,000

10,000,000 is the best game I've played so far... In fact I'd even go as far as saying "you should play this game." I played through 10,000,000 on the iPad, pretty much in one four hour sitting, (I actually slept for several hours half way through, but I didn't leave my bed from beginning to end!) There doesn't seem to be an Android port yet - which is a shame.

10,000,000

Reading through the forums, the name seems to be almost universally hated by fans of the game. However, I think that it's a brilliant name, succinctly describing the entire point of this Bejeweledesque match 3 puzzle game - to score 10,000,000 points. It really is that simple - keep playing until you can achieve this improbably high score and then the credits roll and you're done.

To help you on your way 10,000,000 is a puzzle game with an RPG twist, similar to Puzzle Quest but less epic.After each game you will earn various resources and XP, allowing you to upgrade various stats which will aid you on your quest to reach the high score.

Fight on!

Instead of having a game clock for each instance of the puzzle - a mini infinite one dimensional RPG dungeon is randomly generated for you to play through. If your avatar is faced with a monster match "Sword" or "Magic" tiles to damage it. If you have a locked door in your way match "Key" tiles - and meanwhile match "Chest" tiles to unlock power-ups, or "Resource" to spend in the shops. As you play, the screen is continuously scrolling at a fixed pace, so you have to overcome obstacles fast enough to not be knocked off the edge of the screen. Each level gets progressively harder, and you will eventually lose - and it is in between levels where you get to purchase your upgrades. With a mixture of in game achievements and upgrades to buy, I thought that this game seemed quite well balanced, making you work hard so that your upgrades feel well-earned, but not so hard that it becomes a slog.

It really is a very simple idea, and the mock retro graphics and music is a nice touch. To be honest, I think this game really stood out to me because it didn't out stay its welcome. There have been a few other similar games this year, such as Puzzle Craft, another puzzle game where you slowly upgrade your abilities in between round. The core game is just as good, but whereas Puzzle Craft really peddles the micro-transaction route hard... "Isn't playing this game tedious - spend some money so you can get it over with quicker" is a business model which I still don't really understand... 10,000,000 isn't continuously after more money from you and so doesn't feel the need to draw out the game indefinitely. You'll actually finish this game and gain a sense of completion!

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I've played through quite a few terrible games this year - but this game makes me glad that I started this process. Although the experience was rather short, this was up there with the best of the games I've played this year.

The next game in the database is 100,000 Games, a compilation package which isn't easily available in my region (and looks terrible), so I'm not going to jump through hoops to track it down. Therefore 10,000 Bullets for the PS2 is next on my list.

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Playing all the video games - Part 000015

I am continuing with the rather futile task of playing all the video games.

Since last time I've been messing around with the mini games in Nintendo Land and playing through 5 player New Super Mario Bros. U (that game is really fun and chaotic in co-op mode.) But more fun than the Wii U... Super Hexagon! I've sunk hours into that game over the last week - and have just obtained a top 200 time by surviving 2 minutes on the first level.

I also played through the next game on my list, 0D Beat Drop. I quite like rhythm games; Elite Beat Agents, Audiosurf and Guitar Hero games being among my favourites. I also really enjoy block matching games; Tetris, Bejeweled Blitz and 10,000,000 are all games I've enjoyed in the past. However I didn't really get on with the previous puzzle rhythm hybrid game I played Lumines - despite the fact that most people seem to really like that game. Similarly, 0D Beat Drop never really clicked with me either... Like with Lumines, most reviews seem reasonably positive about it - I guess the genre just isn't for me.

Game 000015: 0D Beat Drop

0D Beat Drop is an XBLA exclusive released in late 2009. There is a Quick Look for it here. I played through the standard Planet Quest mode on easy difficulty, (which was actually pretty tough), and then spent a little while messing around with its song import tool. I probably spent around 3 hours playing this game in total before I got bored with it.

0D Beat Drop

The game is your standard coloured blocks fall from the sky, match 3 game - with the added twist that the blocks will only disappear if you drop them on the beat of the background music. Most of the modes have you face off against a CPU, and there is usually a big advantage to deliberately avoiding dropping blocks on the beat until you can build up a big combo - as connecting multiple blocks simultaneously sends a load of junk onto your opponents board.

You need a fair amount of tactical awareness to succeed in these battles - as there are a few nice subtleties to consider. Such as your opponents attacks don't actually hit you until you miss a beat drop. So controlling when you want an attack to land can give you a tactical edge - especially if you have a few combos lined up, sometimes taking the extra junk pieces will likely set you up for something even bigger. However, this quickly results in attack escalation, with the advantage swiftly swinging from side to side with increasing magnitude. I think this was my main gripe with the game - you are often not rewarded for doing well - because the closer you are to failure, the easier it is to launch a devastating attack on your opponent. It is a mechanic which is meant to keep the battles interesting - but ultimately adds just a little too much randomness for my liking.

Battle Mode

I didn't really find the music that interesting either. This can usually make or break a rhythm game; but I was reasonably impressed with the tools available to add your own music into the game (even if it did seem incredibly hacked together). The in-game music analyser appeared to use some nice Fourier techniques to quickly fit a beat to your music. This worked surprisingly well unless your track happened to change pace midway through; it couldn't really cope with that.

This game was fun for a while and is certainly based around a cool idea. If you like Lumines and Tetris Battle Gaiden, then maybe this is the game for you? However it never really clicked with me, so I doubt that I'll be returning to this any time soon.

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The next two games in the Giant Bomb database are 0 Story, which I won't be playing because it is a story driven Japanese game and I don't speak the language - and 0x10c which looks really cool... but hasn't been released yet. So, unless anybody in the community can find me another game which begins with "0", then next time I'll write up my thoughts on 10,000,000.

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Playing all the video games - Part 000014

I am continuing with the rather futile task of playing all the video games.

With one huge exception I have relatively little experience with Shoot 'em Ups. Until 2006, I'd never bought one - I thought they looked dumb. Then, (the first time I met him), introduced me Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved. I was instantly hooked. The bright coloured shapes... the background which warped as you fired your bullets... the music! Geometry Wars is still in my top ten favourite games. It is also the only game I have ever topped an online leaderboard, (admittedly on an obscure level in the equally obscure Nintendo DS version)... but it still felt good!

Since then I have played quite a few Geometry Wars clones, but nothing (other than Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2), kept my interest for more than a couple of hours. I've also since revisited some of the classics of the genre, such as Ikaruga, and had some fun with some of them. I have come to the conclusion, that they are the sort of games which are hard to do right. Because most of the experience is usually incredibly repetitive, it is essential to get the core mechanics right. The smallest fault can soon start to niggle at a gamer - and I think I have a low tolerance for the genre, so it takes something which reaches the heights of Bizarre Creation's classic to keep me interested for long. Luckily for me 0 Day Attack on Earth only took about 90 minutes to burn through... It still outstayed it's welcome.

Game 000014: 0 Day Attack on Earth

0 Day Attack on Earth is a co-operative top down dual analogue Shoot 'em Up from Square Enix - not the sort of game I'd traditionally associate with them. It is available to download for 1200 Microsoft Points from Xbox Live Marketplace.

0 Day Attack on Earth

The game features three seven-part levels, where the player(s) have to defend off alien attack over New York, Tokyo and Paris. Rather cleverly, the maps are based on Google Earth images with many of the buildings rendered in 3D. That's the best thing about this game... The background maps. Even those lose much of their magic after you watch endless spaceships crash to earth into buildings without even denting them.

Your allies (CPU) are atrocious, get stuck on map geometry and don't seem to realise that the enemies all have weak spots so just fire seemingly at random. The enemies seem mildly interesting at first, and it's quite fun working out how to take down the bosses efficiently - but after New York Day 1 you just fight exactly the same space ships and monsters again and again for the next six levels, until the whole process begins again with a new city. Most of the modes are multiplayer only, and apparently the servers have been pretty dead since a month after launch.

If we are ever invaded by aliens, I hope it's more exciting than this game.

The majority of the enemies in this game are pretty tough, and take a while to take down. The idea is that you learn how to defeat them and avoid their attacks during the early waves. This then puts you in a better position to deal with dozens of identical adversaries later on. It's all pretty sound design - but I think ultimately the game never really gets intense enough to be exciting. You can almost always find space to retreat, regroup and try again. The best Shoot 'em Ups can bring on an adrenaline rush which allows the player to overlook the repetitiveness, and often get chaotic to the point of forcing players to rely on instinct and muscle memory in order to progress. This game seems to be encouraging a very cautious style of play - and I'd be surprised if any dual analogue shooter could pull that off.

Attack patterns soon become easy to predict.

Other than that the game is pretty functional - the controls work as you'd expect - left stick to move, right stick to fire. There are a few (slightly) different handling aircraft to unlock. Although there are no alternative weapons or power-ups to collect - which is a shame, because it would have added some much needed variety to the game. You have three lives per level and three bombs to use per life. Bombs do a small amount of local area damage, and you also has a completely pointless boost which is insanely fast and almost always results in you colliding with an enemy as soon as you use it.

As I said, I have a low tolerance for these games. My hunch is that it is terrible - but maybe it's actually mediocre. Luckily, the final boss fight was pretty simple, so I got my achievement fix when I found out I didn't have to replay the whole game on hard!

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This is turning into a rather prolific week for this blog - although I'm getting a Wii U on Friday, so things may return to a slightly slower pace for a little while soon. However my XBox informs me that 0D Beat Drop has just finished downloading, so I better get started on that.

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Playing all the video games - Part 000013

I am continuing with the rather futile task of playing all the video games.

After finishing off the last of the games beginning with "007" I jumped straight in and downloaded 0 A.D. I don't actually have too much to say about that game - it's still in alpha, so is missing much functionality. However, before I embarked on playing all those shooters I put my cards on the table and provided my thoughts on the genre, (in order to put my views on individual games into perspective). Therefore I thought that I'd briefly talk about my past experiences with Real-Time Strategy games first.

Back around the year 2000, I used to play a lot of RTSs. I sunk dozens of hours into the first two Age of Empires games, and almost as much into Total Annihilation. I never really got into online gaming at the time - but did get around to networking the family computers, so I sued to play Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings and later Age of Empires II: The Conquerors expansion pack with my father. (Almost always, Regicide, Rivers on a small map with no AI... We both enjoyed base building, so found that the rivers provided easy early defence points, and regicide provided each player with a Castle to slow down early attacks. The other advantage of Regicide was that conquest just took too long to finish after one player had clearly won - so killing the King provided a nice abrupt ending without the need to hunt down the last remaining transport vessel hiding in a corner of the map.) Whereas Total Annihilation was the game I'd play with my friends.

However, I think it's probably not too controversial to say that while the late 90s and early 00s were probably the golden age for the RTS, (not only the games listed above, but also the StarCraft, Warcraft and Command & Conquer franchises were going strong). With the exception of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty and the original Supreme Commander, the last decade has not been great - or at the very least, I personally have not been compelled to pursue my interest in the genre. Maybe I'm wrong though? Maybe there's some gem I've overlooked? If anybody knows of anything worth playing, let me know - I used to really like these types of game.

My hunch is that the genre has been partially absorbed into the Tower Defence format. Plants vs. Zombies, Mushroom Wars and Eufloria are all games I've enjoyed in the last few years - but I'd probably regard them as RTS-lite.

In conclusion - I like the RTS format. I especially like the epic, designed for PC, convoluted ones which you can get engrossed in. Things with massive tech-trees... you know the sort.

Game 000013: 0 A.D. (Alpha 11)

0 A.D. isn't actually out yet. Twelve years in development, Wildfire Games released alpha version 11 to the public in September of this year.

0 A.D.

The game began life as a mod for Age of Empires II - but as that game began to show its age the team decided to build their own engine from scratch. In July 2009, the game became open source - and a community of over 100 people have now contributed to the game. 0 A.D. is available to download for free and is available for Windows, Mac OS and most excitingly, Linux.

I played the game for a couple of hours under Windows on a cheap laptop - but also got my house mate to test it on his gaming laptop, running Linux. The game was functional on mine, and featured possibly the quickest loading time I have ever seen in a video game, from double clicking the icon to seeing the main menu! However, as I approached a population of around 100 (of a potential 300), it did begin to lag. Still, it performed about as well as can be hoped for on a cheap computer with no graphics card. On the gaming PC, it ran smoothly - and although it wasn't the most amazing game graphically, it was certainly presentable and by no means a bad looking product.

Large population cap.

I was impressed with what I did play. The game is clearly being made by a community of enthusiasts for enthusiasts, as can be seen in the attention to detail which has been put into the mechanics. It plays like Age of Empires, but where things just work how you'd want them to. For example, multiple villager being able to work on one form - and military being able to construct buildings and help out collecting resources. This one change did take some getting used to, as my usual villager rush strategy left me defenceless against an AI who would focus on military without having to completely sacrifice its early growth.

The game also has an interesting mechanic where it keeps track of your borders. Building additional town centres can expand your borders, but other than buildings may only be built inside your borders - so gaining territory is a more well defined concept than it is in most RTSs. This becomes important, when you find that you can't build a depot next to the stone you are mining, and your villagers have a long inefficient walk back to base.

Ships

I found it a little difficult to differentiate between my own units and the enemies at times, (quite a big problem when controlling an army!) So if anybody can think of away to improve it and knows C++ - please go and submit a change!

At present, the number of units and buildings which are available are quite limited, and I began to loose interest after a couple of hours with it. My hunch is that most of the development effort has been put into the early game, with the number of units, buildings and technologies available to research being rather low. The game does not yet have a campaign mode, and could probably do with a tutorial (although it should feel very familiar to fans of the genre.) Still, there was enough to it to make me excited to see how this progresses. The developers seem to have grand ambitions, and are taking their time with this project. I imagine it'll need another graphical overhaul before it's eventually released - but I'm sure that many people are just enjoying the journey watching how this game slowly develops. After all, there's no real reason to ever actually finish this game. They could just keep on making it better and better.

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Next time 0 Day Attack on Earth for Xbox Live.

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Playing all the video games - Part 000012

I am continuing with the rather futile task of playing all the video games.

007: Tomorrow Never Dies is the eleventh James Bond game I've played as part of this series, and the last one I'll be playing for a while. It comes as a great relief to me that my journey will now allow me to explore some new franchises, and I'm looking forward to the change!

Looking through the Giant Bomb database, slightly under half of the James Bond games begin with 007. My favourite so far has been 007: Everything or Nothing, whereas 007: Racing was the most frustrating of the lot, (although Tomorrow Never Dies came close). I've been keeping an ordered list of all the games I've played, so check it out for short summaries of my thoughts.

Game 000012: 007: Tomorrow Never Dies

With only ten missions 007: Tomorrow Never Dies is a fairly short PlayStation game. It was also the first Bond game to be published by EA. I played through the first half of the game, putting up with a few corrupt sound files on my scratched second-hand disk. After a couple of hours, the game finally packed in all together and refused to load any more levels... Watching through a "Lets play..." on Youtube suggests I didn't miss out on much.

007: Tomorrow Never Dies

This is a 3rd person shooter, and while I was quite impressed with EA's other attempts to move the camera behind our protagonist, this game coherently demonstrates some of the pitfalls of the genre. In particular, this could have really benefited from a user controlled camera. While the game does a reasonable job keeping 007 centre-frame, lining up your camera angles so that you can also see your targets basically requires you to approach them head on. I frequently found myself having to run back on myself just so I could approach a villain again from just the right angle.

The game also suffers from shoddy collision mapping. I frequently found myself having to walk back and forwards over some key door pass, before the game would finally decide that I had approached it with enough pinpoint precision to pick it up - and pressing buttons to activate doors required a similarly frustrating level of absolute fidelity.

Graphically speaking, it felt poor for a PlayStation game - although some clever fog and lighting effects were used on some levels to hide some horrendous low-draw distance, resulting in startling texture and object pop-ins.

One of the few memorable moments.

To the game's credit, it did provide a nice range of weapons and gadgets to experiment with, and there were two or three memorable moments - such as skiing down a mountainside to escape at the end of the first mission... although even that had a pretty dire control scheme.

I think that this was one of the only Bond games I've played which had the concept of lives. The levels were littered with health packs, and collecting these added them to your list of gadgets - allowing you to use them when needed. Taking a full bar of damage resulted in the loss of a life, but the game would then immediately continue as if nothing had happened, giving you a full stack of health back. Lose all your lives, and you would have to restart the mission though.

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I'm officially sick of Bond games for now! Next on the list - something a little different: 0 A.D.

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Playing all the video games - Part 000011

I am continuing with the rather futile task of playing all the video games.

After messing around with some very temperamental old N64 memory cards, I finally got one to work, and managed to start my play through of 007: The World is Not Enough. Turns out I needn't have bothered. I didn't really need to save, as I breezed through it (on the easiest difficulty), in one sitting (just over three hours).

Game 000011: 007: The World is Not Enough (N64)

In contrast to the Gameboy Color game I wrote about last week, which was the worst Bond game I've played so far - Eurocom's N64 version is up there with the best.

007: The World is Not Enough (N64)

The true spiritual sequel to Goldeneye, (ignoring the by all accounts dismal, next game on my list, 007: Tomorrow Never Dies for the PlayStation), doesn't really add anything new to the format of the holy grail of Bond games... It is shorter... doesn't contain an awesome tank level... and the unlockable cheats are much less exciting, which really detracts from its replay value. However the levels play and feel like they have been taken straight out of Goldeneye and are well designed. If present, the game really puts the N64 expansion pack to good use. The textures certainly looks pretty impressive for an N64 game, (the "realistic" faces however, do not... nice try though!)

Inside a bank.

I was amazed with just how quickly I took to N64 controller again. I guess the incredibly generous auto-aim really is essential given the lack of a dual analogue controller. Shooters of this era were less about mastering precision shots, and tended to have a heavier focus on using the environment for cover and choosing your shots carefully... In fact, they were often about exploiting predictable AI to make sure that you got your shots in before you were seen!

007: The World Is Not Enough, contains 14 short levels. A typical level sees you wonder around the corridors of some building, taking out terrorists, and solving environmental puzzles, e.g. disable a security system, to sneak in through a secret entrance to a heavily guarded room, steal a keycard to allow you to open some door to progress down another series of corridors. The game usually presents you with a series of objectives, but leaves you to your own devices to explore the level and work out how to achieve your goals. (No massive arrows pointing you to your next current objective at all times in this game!)

Inside an office.

Many of the levels also have objectives which you can fail, usually if you don't act fast enough, or "accidentally" shoot a civilian. So retrying the levels several times is not an uncommon experience. The game offers you no health packs, (although does have a few body vests), but on the easiest difficulties running out of health was never really an issue.

The game is only really let down by its dull final underwater level, where you have to navigate an underwater maze without running out of oxygen. A fairly bland game of trial and error is required before you'll complete this one! However, the average level quality was pretty high, and the game even throws in a skiing level just to mix things up a little.

OK, so graphically and mechanically this game doesn't really hold up to a modern shooter - but playing (a still fairly simple game), which doesn't feel the need to hold your hand all the way through it, made a refreshing change. I quite enjoyed my time with this one... but not quite enough to replay it on the harder difficulties.

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Only one more 007 game to go and then I can move on to something new!

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