Friday, 26 July 2013

outdoor gaming! By Coen Velden

About outdoor gaming with the console: 

The weather here in Germany isn't much better than in the UK, so there aren't many opportunities for outside gaming.

As a matter of fact, at the moment of typing this, we're having some heavy rain.

We did a few multiplayer PS1 sessions on the balcony, must have been in the late nineties. Back then, we connected two Playstations via link-cable, and had some great sessions with: Duke Nukem Doom/Final Doom Command & Conquer - Red Alert I have been a gamer since the late seventies, but there aren't many people with whom I can exchange thoughts about that hobby, somehow there's still this "Gaming is for kids" thing among most of my friends.

With my nephew (Philip), somehow, who is a gamer like me, we hardly ever have another theme when we meet.

Doesn't matter what we start to talk about, each and every time, some gaming theme is always involved. Be it some auctions at eBay, memories of 8/16/32 bit stuff, tamagotchi, PC games, etc...etc... When I proposed him to play outside like in the "good old days", he was in for it immediately.

Sadly enough, we didn't have time for that last weekend, so it had to be in the middle of the week. Last weekend, it was too hot anyway, last night was just the right temperature, not too hot, not too cold.

Good thing is, we still have some old tube television screens at my house, which (in my opinion) is still the best thing to play on with old consoles.
First thing I did, was carrying the biggest TV outside, and placed it on the garden table.
Took an extension cable for the electricity, and made some drinks with ice.

Next decision:
Which console are we going to use?
ATARI 2600
Gamecube (Is that retro enough?.... naah, not yet).
We decided to take my psx, which has a mod-chip inside.
I sold my own playstation in 2002/2003, don't ask me why.
Bought a new one a few weeks ago, and the chip was built in already, so you don't hear me complain.
Since Germany is behaving very strange about violence in video games, that chip is a good thing to me.
Many, many games have a different version, specifically made for the german market.
Some games have green blood, instead of red.
Some games have different cut-scenes.

there are games that aren't even available here, like Perfect Dark and Conker's bad fur day for the N64.

(Good thing is, Holland is not far from here, they don't have these problems over there.)
Command & Conquer, for instance doesn't have human enemies, like in the rest of the world.
They changed them into robots/androids, so you are not fighting against human beings.
In Resident Evil, when shooting a zombie, they are not bleeding red, but "sweating" something like grey blood.
Then, they are not lying on the floor, but start to blink, and disappear suddenly.
Can you imagine?
Same thing with Mortal Kombat (SNES), the characters are not bleeding but sweating.
Grmbl.....I could fill a book with this theme.
Anyway, with that chip inside, I can play us/uk/jp games also.

Next thing was, which games are we going to play?
I don't own Duke Nukem and DooM anymore, and we only had one console. 
I still wanted to have some multiplayer action, so we had some beat'em ups to choose from:

Kensei - Sacred Fist
Psychic Force
Tekken 3
Bloody Roar II
Soul Blade

Since my opponent alway used to win at Soul Calibur (Dreamcast), he really wanted to kick my butt at Soul Blade.
His favorite character was, and still is, and probably ever will be:
First we enjoyed the whole cheesy rendered intro, with one of the most remarkable videogame songs of that time.
Some kind of Japanese Pop/Rock, I always liked that song, even have it on cd, to listen to while driving.
He took Siegfried (who else), I took Mitsurugi, because I thought he was the one with the Nunchakus.
How wrong I was, Mitsurugi's weapon is a katana, I didn't have any control, didn't know what to do at all, I couldn't stand a chance.
After a few battles, I had to admit I am so f**king bad at this game, everything I heard was:


I'm getting old.

Philip said, those graphics are kind of bad, but the gameplay is as good as the dreamcast game!

To compensate my bad experience, we wanted to give Bloody Roar II a go.
We both hadn't played this before. 
(some 200 games came with the console when I bought it, many of them we've never tried)
After reading many good reviews when BRII came out, we thought it should be a good game.
This time we skipped the intro.
VS mode chosen, characters chosen, let's play:
First of all, we had to lough out loud because of the 
character-presenting voice:
"Uriko.....Half Beast!"

"Stun....the Insect!"
We did a few fights, but the gameplay didn' impress.
We could see it's a good game.... for fans of the genre, but not really our cup of tea.
Win/lose ratio: 50/50.

Next game:
Tony Hawk's pro skater 2
I still have a savegame from the nineties on a memory card, so we loaded that first.
This wasn't easy, as you can imagine from the picture.
Finding the right mem-card with the right savegame can take a little time.
(Side note: I really miss the memory card menue from my old playstation, I had one from the first series.
The menue on this newer ps1 has a poppy, colorful menue, which I don't like at all.
Well, at least this one doesn't overheat the laser-drive).

OK, chosing the caracters, first round was a skate for fun session.
No time limits, no scoring, just some two-player skating fun, for testing purpose only.
Philip asked me what to do, which controls did what?
I answered:
It's like the fighting games, but instead of kicking & punching, you have to do some grinding & performing tricks.
Needless to say, I beat him at this game.
At one point, he had something like 49.000 points, while I had
some whopping 420.000.
THAT compensated my defeat at Soul Blade!
It was getting dark now, and we were running out of drinks, so I went inside to make some drinks and get some ice.
Before that, I started the game One Piece Mansion.
"Here, you have to try this at least once!"
With a big grin on my face, I went inside, left him not knowing what to expect.
At first, he protested, he was thinking it had something to do with the japanese anime series, also called One Piece.
My comment:
"Don't worry, just shut up and play!"
When I came back, he asked:
"WTF is this?
What am I supposed to do?
What kind of people do come up with such strange ideas for a game?"
At that point, I knew I've done the right thing.
For those unaware of this game, you have to manage a house, seen from the side.
It's open, and you can see the appartments.
In each room, there's a person, or family.
Somehow, an evil alien has captured your sister, and to get her back, you have to build more rooms for your house, and keep the tenants satisfied.
When they're too stressed (Because their neighbours are behaving strange, or getting to loud), that appartment will explode, and all the rooms above will drop down one floor, Tetris-style.
Sounds strange?
It is!
We would have played this nice puzzle game longer, but the problem with it is the music.... that music!!!
Some kind of cheap Japano-Electronic-Techno-Videogame Tune is always playing in the background.
When Inhabitants are getting stressed, and shortly before appartments are going to explode, the tune speeds up, and gets louder.
There isn't an option in the menue to turn the music volume down, onle a Mono/Stereo option!
So, before my (real-life) neighbours were coming at my door, we just had to quit.

After this weird gaming experience, we had a little break.
We put the skullmonkey cd in, and just watched the intro.
We didn't play the game, just sat back and relaxed, which was very welcome, after the totally stressed half hour before.
Skullmonkeys is a jump & run, and a very frustratingly difficult one, but the claymation is so great!
And the music too, by the way.

Time for some drinks....again.
Inserted the Star Trek Invasion CD, since Philip is a big Trekkie.
When I came back, he was playing the first training level.
He had his problems controlling the ship in space, though.
In that training level, you have to manoeuvre yor ship through some turning circles, and there's a time limit too.
He was already halfway through when I returned, everything was looking good.
Then, somehow, he managed to miss one portal, and had to fly back.
With only four to go, the timer started to count down:
(3 to go)
(2 to go)
(Only 1 to go!)
.......Mission failed!!
How can such a simple thing be so exciting?
That was fun to see!

Next game on the list was Resident Evil 3 (US version)
It was almost midnight, perfect circumstances for a game like that.
Dark, outside, quiet, moon was shining, just perfect.
This time, it was my turn to play.
I had a go already a few days ago, so I loaded my savegame.
Had fought my way through the police station (The same as in RE2, which is a great thing, I think).
We discussed some of the differences between german & US versions, while I was solving puzzles, collecting items, and shooting zombies.
At some point, the game scared the hell out of me!
There wasn't a monster or zombie in sight, and I just opened a garage door successfully.
Then I had to walk the stairs, to get onto the next floor.
There were some steps burning, and I was walking in between them, when all of a sudden, a window was shattered into pieces, right beside of me!
I was expecting some kind of brain-sucking monster to jump onto my face, nothing happened.
So I was continuing my way up, when some BIG flames came out of that broken window.
More frightening than all of the zombies I've encountered before!
This part reminded us of the part in Resident Evil 2, where you fell through the wooden floor in the library.
No zombie at all, but shocking as hell!
Survived everything, and after saving the game, we went on to the next part:

Music 2000!
This nifty little programme isn't really a game, but a music-editor.
And a great one it is!
We used to spend hours and hours with it, creating some fine electro-beats.
Back in the days, we even managed to convert our favourite song via Mini-Disc (Does anyone remember that?) onto the PC, then into MP3, so we could listen to it anytime we wanted.
I was always a little disappointed about the rock parts in it, as there weren't many.
Most of the available samples, loops, and beats are electronic-ambient-techno stuff.
Had a lot of fun anyway.
So, on to the last game, as it was already one o'clock in the night, and it had to a multiplayer game.
Philip mentioned Destruction Derby, which I had to get upstairs.
We started the game, looking for a multiplayer option, and all we found was one player, and two player via link cable.
Much to our surprise, we could also start a two player championship.
(After that, it came into my mind that it had been Destruction Derby 2, which had given us so many good moments.)

Expecting some splitscreen racing mayhem, we were both a little disappointed to see we had to wait until the first player finished each race, so alternate racing was the thing to be.
Never mind, we had some great time, but what the hell did they do with the steering controls?
Was this really THAT bad in the starting days of the PS1?
We had a real hard time keeping those opponents of our backs, we were so bad.
We both managed to finish a race at first place only ONE time each!
Some races seemed to work out really good, battling for first/second/third positions, when suddenly some stupid cpu driver came from behind, and turned the car into the crossroads.
After all was done, I was thinking I had a good chance to have more points than my human opponent....
Then came the final result:
Both of us almost at the bottom of the list, except for two opponents!
Philip - 226 points
Coen - 224 points

So, I lost again!

Never mind, we both had a great gaming night, and we're looking forward to the next one!
(Maybe with barbeque and mini-inflatable pool!!)

Blog by Coen Velden

Music from Music 2000 click here

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