"Gather yee, gather yee for tales of generations past. One might think that last week was just a passing fad, but sadly it's still a full on obsession. Read on the chronicles of a man who decided he was better off playing ten year old games instead of current ones."
Ah real life, messing up my weekly gaming plans. Some sort of dock workers guild strike meant all my recent GameCube purchases are stuck at customs for the time being. Not to let that stop me, I have been replaying some of my old favourites. Three underdogs to be exact, three games I still believe deserved a better fate at retail and our gaming memories. This is a new tale...
...of Veritech Fighters and Tragic Endings!
I must admit since I am not American, Robotech never appealed much to me. That is not to say I am not a huge fan of the original Macross series. I was quite looking forward to Nintendo 64's "Robotech Crystal Dreams", big emphasis on the "was" part because as we know the game was cancelled and unreleased. Judging from the prototype beta ROM, perhaps the N64 was not the machine to realize the proper translation from anime to video game. So we had to wait a few more years until the very first Robotech game came to be. "Robotech Battlecry" arrived in Europe early 2003 but in such scarce quantities I had to acquire mine by auction from Germany. It was well worth the hassle, mind. You play mercenary ace pilot Jack Archer, voiced by none other than legendary voice actor Cam Clark. You will meet several regular characters from the show during the campaign mode that moves along with varied and interesting missions. Count with several space, atmosphere and ground battles, nothing that your Veritech Fighter isn't designer to handle. Transforming your Valkyrie is what this game nails to perfection and depending on your current form (Fighter, GERWALK or Battroid), you get different weapons to deal with enemies. Changing from Figther to Battroid to machine gun pursuing missiles and speeding off again in Fighter mode was insanely cool back in 2003 and it remains so in 2014. Wrap things up with a nice multiplayer split screen mode and you got one heck of a package but alas, for fans of the show, making this quite niche. Just don't expect a happy ending by the time you complete the game, something you should be used to if you follow the darker themes of the original Macross saga.
…of the Historically Inaccurate Spartan!
It was a bit surprising to learn that The Creative Assembly was working on a Total War arcade hack'n'slah spin-off . The end result with the blessing of SEGA was "Spartan: Total Warrior", a game I was not expecting to get me so completely hooked upon it's somewhat quiet release back in 2005. Right from the start upon boot you are treated to one of the most epic main title themes ever produced! This game's entire soundtrack is filled with outstanding moments, truly amazing work by Jeff van Dyck that makes revising the game a true joy. Using tech from the main "Total War" series, this game engine was capable of presenting hundreds of soldiers on screen while maintaining a steady 60 frames per second, quite the feat back in the day. I was always amused by people pointing out historical inaccuracies regarding the historical period and figures in the game, since right from the first level you get the freaking Colossus of Rhodes under Roman control stampeding into down-town Sparta. Video games, people! They're awesome, not historically correct or accurate. In this one you play The Spartan (yep, nameless hero with dark past cliché), a soldier that will rise from generic grunt to God of the battlefield, something you will visually witness by acquiring new weapons, magic and fancy new armour along the way. The game single player campaign is also quite lengthy and will take you along a varied ride of mission types from the "kill every Roman that moves" affair to more finesse required "protect Archimedes while he gives a speech" and even all out insanity "defeat the Minotaur" variant. "Arena Mode" rounds up quite a terrific package that somehow I believe did not really get the attention it deserved at the time, mostly because the genre itself was long gone from memories of a generation not raised on 16 bit beat'em'ups. Not all was bad news, I have yet to play it's spiritual sequel "Viking: Battle For Asgard" but understand it's quite good. It inspired me enough to produce this 5 track EP I invite you to take a listen.
...of Revolutionary Psychotic Robots!
OK, the last game I have been replaying this week is the one whose tale hurts the most. Not the game plot which is deliciously bonkers but the fact that this didn't become the beginning of a successful franchise. Swinging Ape Studios "Metal Arms: Glitch In The System" had everything! A third person shooter featuring a likeable character, the "not quite up there" Glitch, a robot fighting for the resistance in the battle against the evil army of General Corrosive using awesome weapons, sometimes taking over enemy soldiers, often finding himself in vehicle sections to break up nicely the regular on foot levels. Everything perfectly executed, super fun to play. But did WE buy it back in 2003? No, no we did not. Damn us! Why, why didn't we buy this in the thousands? Well actually I did, for the GameCube where like on the Xbox version you could play this in super fun four player split-screen battles (PS2 only supported 2 players). I was even happy knowing a sequel was well on it's way... until Swinging Ape Studios was snapped up by Blizzard and the game was quietly cancelled. Can you imagine a modern age "Metal Arms"? With online multiplayer? I often do, but the wars on planet Iron Star will unfortunately remain locked in my GameCube and my memories...
...of counting the days until "Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze" is released!
Ah, yes, I shall return to current generation as soon as I have something new to play. Until that time, I do hope my recent GameCube purchases start arriving, I still want to get a lot more kicks out of that awesome little plastic lunch box. Please note that unlike last week article, these three games are available on all three home consoles of the sixth generation and should be quite cheap to adquire in case you want to try them out. I think... yeah, I think I will be OK! Until next time: Play Hard, Play Loud!