Discussion in 'Gaming & Tech' started by straightorbroken, Nov 26, 2014.
How did you get involved in the focus group?
For some reason I decided to register my Saturn when I got it (back when consoles came with a little form to let you do that), and I lived very near to Sega's UK headquarters at the time so that might have been a factor in them asking me. I remember being disappointed that it was just normal offices rather than a Willy Wonka style wonderland inside
My other Sega related 'lame to fame' is that many years after this we lived across the road from Sega Europe bigwig Kats Sato (because I was obsessed enough at the time to actually know the execs and what they looked like ). He and his wife would be out working from early morning til very late, and their little dog would sit at the window waiting the entire time
Amazing. COB are you aware of this book?
I hear it's quite US centric but I would love to read it.
I hadn't heard of that, but it does sound right up my street - I think I'll try and pick it up after payday
I wonder when we'll get another big company fuck-up along the lines of what happened to Sega, or indeed Atari in the Eighties. I remember thinking it might happen to Sony around the time of the PS3's launch - they managed to pull it back of course, but for a while at the beginning it really did feel like every decision was badly misjudged and I thought that might be it. Thankfully not!
Well Nintendo aren't exactly in a good place but they have an established fan base who will just buy the same game over and over again as long as they throw a fresh coat of paint on it.
Nintendo aren't as bad off as people think. True, the Wii U hasn't been THAT successful, but they are notoriously TIGHT when it comes to expenditure outside of product development. Plus, they have established franchises that make them loads of money (e.g. Pokèmon) without them even trying. The Amiibo's have returned them to profit in the last year, but I think they could go on for YEARS without a substantial hit console even so.
Sony and Microsoft both of course have the luxury of their consoles not being their only source of income. And although I don't think either company would support an ailing product with profit from another income in the long-term, they CAN afford to do so if they choose.
This came out late last year:
It's really VERY good - even if only for the sheer WEALTH of images (but there is much more besides).
Ultimately though, SEGA's downfall came from the fact that unlike Nintendo, they DIDN'T have that vast back-catalogue of success to fall back on. I think people presumed they did, because their history in the UK (and America) where the Mega Drive drew an almost equal market share to Nintendo makes people think that they probably were a bigger company than they actually were. But almost every other console they launched was, at best, a minor success.
The Dreamcast was a great console and well ahead of its time - but you can't spend a substantial amount of money developing hardware like the 32X and Saturn, and then just sweep them under the rug to try and keep up with the market. I think by that time, SEGA were just running on empty and didn't have the pockets to keep the DC afloat. I think everyone learnt a bit of a lesson from that - it doesn't matter how much your console underperforms, it's more damaging to scrap it and start afresh than to try and plough some resources into it and make the best of a bad job - the Wii U and the PS3 are probably the most recent examples of that.
I have that Mega Drive book
From what I always understood, Sega was hemorrhaging money by the time the Dreamcast came out really badly. I think the Dreamcast would have had to smash the competition for it to be merely profitable at that point, so it wasn't really meant to be. But they went out in a fucking blaze of glory!
Yes, they absolutely were - because they didn't give any of the preceding hardware any chance to turn a profit. Plus they totally burnt their bridges with loads of retailers by bringing forward the launch of the Saturn by four months.
They sank a shedload of money into Shenmue as well - it would have had to been a MASSIVE seller to recoup even a fraction of the money invested in it. The fate of the Dreamcast I think has given it an aura of status amongst its fans, perhaps more than it truly deserves. In fairness, it's hard for me to make a proper judgement on that because I only got mine five years ago and thus the technology is, at best, rather CRUDE by todays standards.
17. Sonic the Hedgehog
Platform: Sega Mega Drive
Release: June 1991
And so the last Sonic is the first one. Breaking 16-bit speed barriers enabled Sega to make up some ground with Nintendo, particularly in America and Europe, until seemingly exhausting themselves by the decade's end. If Sonic didn't quite run rings around Mario, you did at least have to collect them, in a game geared towards creating their own signature imprint on pop culture through high impact speed, visuals and gameplay. Simple. Frenzied loops, plunging down ribbons of tunnels, glistening greens and screen-drenching blues of the iconic Green Hill level, the richly elaborate Labyrinth levels, Sonic packed in an overload of attitude and adrenaline at all turns.
Developer: Virgin Interactive
Platform: Sega Mega Drive
The Virgin-birthed Aladdin provided the Mega Drive with what could be its best ever graphics, featuring critically praised animation aided by Disney themselves. Side-scrolling, rope-climbing-and-swinging, and magic carpet flying through slums, rooftops, dungeons, palaces and caves, Aladdin looks and plays beautifully. In addition to having a sword to fend off enemies, apples can be collected and thrown to gain advantage, and jewels can be picked up/stolen in order to trade them in for lives. Furthermore, the Genie's bonus menus make it feel quite similar to a feature in the Donkey Kong Country series (indeed, a quick wikipedia skim reveals a sequel featuring pre-rendered 3D sprites was planned around the time, if not before, the Kong games), with side-kick Abu becoming playable in select bonus rounds. Dashing and slashing through a variety of impressive levels, Aladdin exudes fun, challenges, stunning design, slick controls, high content and surprising humour.
Sonic 1 is really basic compared to Sonic 2 and even Sonic 3 in my opinion.
Yay for Aladdin, a true 16-bit classic that fuelled the ETERNAL argument of SNES VS Mega Drive.
Obviously, 'Sonic The Hedgehog' has a MASSIVE legacy, but I agree it's fairly basic. Besides the iconic Green Hill Zone, it's not actually THAT fast, is it? You spend the majority of the rest of the game navigating sprawling mazes and pushing switches. Even the bonus stages, with their completely random bird wallpaper backdrop seemed only half complete.
'Aladdin', as with the majority of Disney's licensed games at the time, looked GORGEOUS. I much prefer the Mega Drive version to the SNES version - both are worth a go as they play completely differently. Of course, surely most people never actually SAW the majority of the game owing to the infamous A,B,B,A cheat
I only played the Mega Drive version many years later as my friend who had one never got Aladdin. The SNES version got really hard towards the end and the graphics are nowhere near as vibrant and polished as the Mega Drive's, though.
Those Disney movie tie-ins were really hard considering their target market. 'The Lion King' had a similarly STEEP difficulty curve (if you could get past the 'I Just Can't Wait To Be King' level with the monkeys...) but is probably the benchmark for Mega Drive graphics for me. I still think it looks stunning, even now when it's upscaled onto HD TV's
In the interests of balance, the only question in my mind is "Which is the best MD game: Sonic 1 or 2?"
None of this decent enough Aladdin malarkey. I preferred Lion King even though it was nails.
Oh, or Toejam & Earl
I had Lion King on PC - I never got past the stage with all the monkeys throwing you around, it was confusing as hell! In hindsight, I think if the game had had poorer graphics and no film license I would have never bothered with it, which says it all. Aladdin, on the other hand, was much more playable and enjoyable.
That Aladdin one was fucking SOLID but addictive. There was one on the SNES that my neighbour had which was much easier but less enjoyable.
OMG Lion King on PC was evil. The music and graphics lulled you in and then you'd end up eating your keyboard out of frustration when you died at THE SAME BIT for the 10000th TIME.
15. Tekken 2
Platform: Sony Playstation
Release: March 1996 (JP), August 1996 (NA), October 1997 (PAL)
Gving the Playstation one of its biggest hits (and no doubt the Saturn took a hit from it too in a different way), Tekken 2 would become one of the most critically acclaimed fighters of all time, with the console portal widely regarded as a marked improvement on the arcade original. Certainly adding to the coin-cabinet credentials was the addition of several new gaming modes: Survival, Time Attack, Team Battle and Training. A practice mode was nothing new, but with such a wide array of moves you'll want to be able to tap into when the going gets rough, this really does add an important dynamic I'd personally be lost without, or else it simply gives the game something of a showcase. As handy as button bashing can be, nothing can beat watching your fighter command the floor with an arsenal of attacks showing no mercy to your opponent. They are not all unblockable, so it's also wise and just as important to learn how guard precious chunks of your life bar. What is quite noticeable about Tekken 2 is the speed - it might seem slow by today's standards, but it demands a far more considered approach to your moves as timing is crucial. Visually, I still think this game is stunning. Sure, the CGI mini-movies will have you making sure your scart cable is in fact fully connected, but the chunky figures within the game are lit up so well, I still get a kick out of the mysterious Jun Kazama shaded to resemble a trans Pinocchio who brought a picture of Chun Li to the surgeons to say only "I'll have that, please. Now!". The original hot slut of the day Nina is easier to handle, has the more accessible and showier moves, and Russian prostitutes (from yellow tag to black belt) probably never had busier appointment books, and the polygon Pocahontas barely gets a mention frankly. I don't think the male roster is that impressive, but Paul and Jack-2 could ruin me any day, and the situation would improve in the next installment. The arcade game was number 1 in America for almost half a year, and the Playstation portal accumulated sales of over 3 million, but its legacy feels far stronger. Tekken 2 side-steps most of the competition, and of its generation is only surpassed by its brutally awesome sequel.
I still play Sonic 1 & Aladdin on my emulator on my Wii. I remember hiring out Aladdin for 2 weeks from Blockbuster so I could complete it.
I remember that Lion King game, it made me hate the movie even more. Aladdin was fun, I remember the carpet levels were pretty hard as well. My favorite though is the Hercules game which also was pretty hard.
Tekken 2 is all about Jun Kazama, a bit of a throwaway character that becomes super important when she gets pregnant with Jin Kazama, the protagonist of Tekken 3. She has some great moves, counters and strong kicks.
Although I do love a bit of Nina of course.
Jun was rather pathetic, and I still can't fathom WHAT that noise was she made whenever she took a hit. Elderly death rattle or something.
Tekken 2 had some shit-the-bed brilliant music. Pocahontas' theme was an anthem make no mistake.
It really is somewhat inevitable that we gays would only have bothered with the female characters.
So not true :Oi: Jun was a top tier character, my friend who played with Paul and was pretty good at it would struggle against my Jun. Not many characters in the game had counter attacks (she did, and so did Paul, Nina, Michelle and Yoshimitsu if I recall correctly) which definitely gave you a competitive advantage over non-counter characters.
My favourite was Angel who had that move that would kill someone in one hit. My sister would refuse to play if I chose her.
14. Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest
Platform: Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Release: November 1995
Back in the swing of things, but more than just monkey business as usual, the big in Japan Diddy and the Kylie of primates Dixie Kong are at hand to rescue that burly buffoon Donkey Kong in Rare's stunning sequel to the landmark Donkey Kong Country. Literally treading the boards, level one branches out onto a pirate ship setting, and once again is easy as pants (not that these two are even wearing any, talk about sick) and filled with all the delightful tid-bits you would expect, to at once capture your imagination with both familiarity and distinctions, and cover some of the basics.
As before, the co-operating tag-team have two distinct game-play styles. Both light on their feet, which immediately gets around the arguably less exciting Donkey Kong controls, Diddy is fastest, with his cartwheel taking out enemies and extending jumps with agile and pleasing speed. Dixie is slightly slower, but her helicopter hair-spin allows her longer time in the air, to give enemies the chop and similarly extend her leaps somewhat. I don't know what shampoo she uses, but her hair locks itself around barrels to carry them above her head, and also thrown them (farther than poor Diddy who carries objects against his chest, which actually protects himself from enemies whereas Dixie is left vulnerable to enemies unless things swoop down or are thrown).
To compensate for DK's chest-pounding power, there is an array of familiar animal companions (and some new recruits to the roster, notably Squiter the Spider who can fire and place webs to allow temporary platforms). These side-kicks have slightly enhanced features, such as revving up for a power spring/sprint that will clear out enemies and break through into secret caves (much like the Sonic spin dash). Diddy and Dixie can also carry the other, and throw the other to reach high or low items otherwise unattainable.
It's simply incredible to think that this game tapped into what felt like hidden capabilities of the SNES, quite literally rendering a new image for the console if not quite halting the 32 bit explosion (until the N64 had its shot at blurring the gap and texture maps). If the 16-bit race was coming to an end, the first DKC game marked Nintendo's victory lap. The beginning of the end, the first two were massive sellers and the cross-generational third entry still sold respectively at a time when the N64 push was now under way.
An undoubtedly more streamlined extension of the original's exciting and hypnotic handling, a good example would be the fun-house theme park ride - the music here along with the fireworks in the distance probably being my most special moment of the game. A demanding level, to master the timing of the 'jumps' is as exhilarating as it is tense, and because falling off really only comes down to timing you'll not stop no matter how many attempts it takes, and it says a lot that this never becomes vexing.
I actually find Diddy's quest to be the harder game, but the ease of the first few levels get to show off some helpful hints to appreciate the vast level designs and gain a feel for where Rare like to hide the important Kremkoins. Level wise there are obvious upgrades or improvements: where the original had a bit too much variation of a particular theme (I often loathed the difficulty of the snow levels as gorgeous as they often were), here the progress to the next level maintains a consistent excitement, but my three very favourite levels in the franchise still belong to the original.
What does make this game stand out regarding its ambitious stage designs, is how vertical some of these locations are, often working your way from the bottom up (which also affects the kind of enemy you face sometimes, or simply makes the arrival of a boss seem all the more grand). The bosses themselves are also more challenging, and you'd better stock up on lives in that first level (something I can gladly do for hours such is its charm) as some of them are enough to drive you to despair with the intense precision required.
With such a high standard of graphics and depth of game-play, the soundtrack is incredibly engaging and almost 'upstages' the visuals and influences your chosen movement. From the outside at sea atmospherics to sleek dance grooves and adrenaline-pumping dramatics you immediately are bestowed with from the titles at the very start, the sound enhances the experience with fine details that actually make all the searching for tokens something of a background task to enjoy the music's lavish and lengthy quality.
IN SHORT, Diddy's quest cut conventions and kidnapped its top billed character, tapping into Diddy's popularity and adding the bunch of fun Dixie, ensuring the game was a blast from beginning to heart-pounding end(s).
Too low. This is one of my favourite games ever. I replayed it this year with a friend and it was still the tits, even better as a 2p co-operative game.
13. Tekken 3
Platform: Sony Playstation
Release: March 1998 (JP, April 1998 (NA), September 1998 (PAL)
Yet more fist fun, Tekken 3 packs as much into the Playstation as humanly possible. The final 32-bit fantasy fighter installment introduces many new unlockable characters, side-stepping as a universal move, a lowered jumping height to offer a sense of realism, and a much higher level of moves that can link together, offering a higher variation and sense of individual animation over a set menu (you could play distinctly different to someone else as it now feels opened up so much more, both making it 'easier' or more accessible, but also demanding intense concentration). But what makes all of these features and tweeks so dazzling is the devastating beauty of the graphics of which not many other 32 bit games can hold their own against. Included is the mini-game Tekken Force, which is a not unchallenging side-scrolling beat 'em up, with the only drawback being that the double-tapping to go up or down is a bit of a downer. Although this does exist somewhat separately, completing it eventually unlocks a certain someone as a playable character. Another mode is Tekken Ball, where the object is the use various moves to hit a ball at an opponent, inflicting damage depending on the hit or if they miss it. Limited as they may sound, they do add to proceedings, helping to both make the game feel even more well-rounded on top of some compelling storylines (each fighter has their own CGI endings and unique part to play in unlocking yet more competitors) and to position the series as a step ahead of most other 3D fighters (personally, I think too highly of Virtua Fighter 2 and Soul Edge to go too overboard about T3's superiority). As on the N64's Wave Race, this PAL version also gets a rough ride with noticeable black borders, but once again these are almost unnoticeable when playing on a large screen. Another downside is that sadly Jun ducks this one out, but we are introduced to her buff son Jin. I also miss jumping to great heights, but you can still knock opponents into the air, or attack them as they jump, and proceed to juggle them with repeated hits until they eventually fall. The male line-up is the best of the three Playstation entries in the series, with the female roster actually managing to disappoint me (which merely enhances Nina's new reign as the star attraction). If I were to grab any Playstation game for a quick blast, this would be it. Visually, I'm blown away at the improvements over T2, which goes hand in hand with (if not because of) the immediately apparent increase in speed, not to mention there are so many moves, meaning it's impossible not to get stuck in. But is it the very best the Sony Playstation had to offer?
12. Street Fighter Alpha 2
Platform: Sega Saturn
Release: September 1996
Street Fighter Alpha 2 is one of the numerous, and radically different from the previous, Alpha entries (okay fine they are continual upgrades), which were possibly designed to address the fact that Street Fighter 1 was a long way off what SF2 fans would have wished it to be given that the first did relatively nothing and was eclipsed by a sequel that took the game in a different direction. Compared to the genre-defining trail of SF2 games, I just think SFA2 (and 3 for that matter now that I finally have it) is more polished and fun to play, with some truly gorgeous backgrounds and first-rate cartoon-like character designs (although I do miss the more memorable spectators of before). Whilst it does not stray far from the established Capcom template, it does have a feel of its own and the additional new characters did not disappoint. Italian sorceress Rose in particular was like the Nigella Lawson of combat, specializing in an elaborate head massage for her party-piece put down. Despite being quite defense and counter-attack orientated, Rose is no shrinking violet and many of her animations are a real marvel to look at (leaning on a lightning bolt walking stick to kick, her razor ribbon slashes, more low blows than a Jim Davidson stand-up routine, and a swanky swing kick to boot. However, you really do need to get the right controller to do these moves as the separate buttons for directions on the standard Playstation controllers means the joystick is easier, but still tricky, especially when going for simple fireball-deflect moves (I'm still on Rose by the way). Then, you need to factor in customizing the buttons to whatever feels most comfortable for the ones you need. As it happens, I no longer have the Saturn, but having the series on the Sega system was a huge step up visually - the larger characters, more fluid animations and sumptuous backgrounds (even the loading screens!) all felt pretty exciting for me anyway. Chun Li was turned into a steroid-pumped track and field lesbian, but retains most of her moves and her classic fanny flap ensemble is thankfully unlockable should you require an ensemble change to keep the momentum going. Far more than a multi stop-gap backstory, the Alpha games were so good I even wanted the SNES port of Alpha 2 (although do note I didn't get it), and all these years later this game is still a knockout.
11. Super Mario World
Developer: Nintendo EAD
Platform: Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Release: November 1990/1991
The SNES launch-pad platformer that continues to charm its way onto best-of lists. A quick re-play will always feel special, but its vastness is what makes it feel epic. Mario is as playable as ever here, and is joined for the very first time by Yoshi, who serves as a vehicle and weapon of sorts to hitch a ride on as a controllable character with Mario on his back. Almost 25 years old, Super Mario World's epic scale, deceptively simplistic beauty, classic soundtrack and inventive challenges remain pixel perfect, and surely a Virtual Console download must-have should you be without the super famicon (I just like saying 'famicon'). An iconic masterpiece.
Chun Li in Street Fighter Alpha 2 is INDOMITABLE. Although my character of choice was of course Sakura. A Japanese schoolgirl with a crush on Ryu and a penchant for flashing her knickers? Me in a nutshell
God, I love Super Mario World so much. It's the game that completely hooked me into consoles. It should be top 10 AT LEAST
This blew my mind as a teenager
I never forgave my ratty cousin for stealing our copy of the News of the World's videogame page that had the hints for how to find the fabled 97th level (he didn't even own a SNES) which involved falling a certain way through the pirate ghost ship and collecting a certain level of coins. Was almost definitely a hoax but kept me occupied for months trying to get the combo right.
Super Mario World truly is the bible of 2D platformers. It improves everything that made Mario Bros 3 fantastic, adds 16-bit power and secrets GALORE. The four colour palaces, ghost house secret exits, Star World, SPECIAL stages... at a time where the Internet didn't exist, all these crazy secrets were playground hear 'n say.
Who knew SorB was such a Beat 'Em Up queen. Are you actually any good?
'Super Mario World' truly is about as PERFECT as platforming comes.
I remember first playing it on the in-flight gaming system on a Virgin flight to Florida in 1994. Unfortunately, the flight attendant call button was underneath the makeshift A+B button, which seemed to particularly IRK the staff as they checked on the seat for the 15th time.
Considering the technical limitations of the system, it really packs so much in. But more than that, what I really like is that it actually feels like Mario exists in an actual world - I've come to realise that one of the things I really dislike about the 3D Mario games is that however solid the gameplay is, I just find it quite odd and detatching that the Mushroom Kingdom appears to consist of 80-90 little floating worlds that aren't physically connected.
Like I said before Percy, I doubt you could top me.
We use to play Teken 3 for hours with my friend, it really was the perfect game for its time. All about Anna for me of course and the side scrolling beat me up was also great fun. I even bought the animated movie because I loved the game so much.
I'm sure I played some version of Street Fighter Alpha because Rose is a QoL. I also remember Sakura and Dan and the rest of the not so fabulous characters they added.