Tag Archives: 1990’s

GAME REVIEW: Wolfchild

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There’s always a problem with adapting a game designed for the latest consoles to an earlier console and that is you are left with a shell of the original game. This does not necessarily translate in to a bad game however. I know a lot of Sonic fans out there don’t like the Master System version of that game largely because it was developed by a subcontractor and not the original design team but I quite liked it. Sure it wasn’t as fast as the Mega Drive version or as glitzy but it was certainly playable and was an apt substitute if you hadn’t saved up enough pocket money to buy a Mega Drive yet but had a Master System. The Master System adaption of Wolfchild however goes entirely the other way.

First some history. Wolfchild was developed by Core Design for the Amiga and the Atari ST. It was then ported on to other consoles including the SNES, Mega Drive and Sega Mega CD. The plot revolves around biotechnology researcher Kal Morrow and his son Saul. When his father is kidnapped by the evil Chimera organization, Saul uses one of his father’s inventions to turn himself into a wolf-human hybrid (so a werewolf then) to defeat the Chimera and rescue his father. Given how much of a debate there is amongst zombie fans over whether medically created zombies are “real” zombies I am sure that a few werewolf fans would be equally divided by Wolfchild’s approach. The game was launched in 1992 and by that time the Master System was well in to its death robes in the US and Europe so its surprising therefore that the game was developed for the ageing system. Development time meant that the more modern versions had been out a full year before the Master System’s European release of the game which arrived in 1993. So was this just a quick buck for Core Design and publisher, Virgin?

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First let’s talk about the good. My first impression looking at the case was that thank God the old clip art cases had gone the way of the dinosaurs by the 1990s. Check out the Sega Does boys’ pages who are currently working through the earlier Master System games and you will see just how uninspired some of them were. It has always been my biggest criticism of what is otherwise my favourite games console ever. This was a good looking cover that showed that the Master System’s appearance on the shelves at least had matured. At this point an Obi-Wan style voice over is reminding me not to judge a book by it’s cover. Starting the game up and it is still looking good although the developers really wanted to build you up with their one- or two-word title screens leading to the main menu.

Then from the moment you start the game things go downhill. The first thing that I noticed was that there was no music. What kind if game like this has no music? I was expecting to be thrown in to a world of horror and action but instead I have just little blip sounds as he walks and the usual paper crushing sound when a weapon is fired. I know the Master System wasn’t exactly known for its audio capabilities but there were far better sounding games out there well before 1993. I was so stunned by the lack of music that I thought the cartridge was broken (it is 19 years old after all) and so I took out my phone, went on YouTube and looked for videos and sure enough there is no music on the Master System version. This was a big let down and made the game feel flat.

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Playability-wise, things are a bit up and down. It’s a classic platforming game and in this respect it does have quite an extensive level design with which to traverse as well as a plethora of secret caverns to discover. I will admit that a few times I did get immersed in it but it never lasted and that was thanks largely to the terrible controls. I know he is supposed to be a werewolf/Wolfchild, an untamed creature of the night, but I swear sometimes the game decides to just keep him running even when you have taken your thumb off the D-pad. Naturally this can lead you to all kinds of problems and takes a bit of getting used to. You have to keep collecting power ups which allow him to transform in to the werewolf/Wolfchild and I can’t help but feel a bit of an Altered Beast vibe at times. There are a variety of bad guys that stand in your way but most of the time they don’t move. They just stand there firing the odd round in your direction like some kind of robotic sentry. Your biggest threat comes from things like exploding plants but even these are relatively ease to doge.

On the whole not a very good game but I can see the lost potential from the downgrading. I have checked out some more videos on YouTube of the versions for the newer consoles such as the Mega CD and it does look far better. Maybe this was too much for the Master System to adequately replicate or the publishers just wanted to make that quick buck in the final days of the Master System. Either way this felt like a step back to some of the 1980s era games of the Master System albeit with a slightly better look.

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Star Trek Generations 20th Anniversary

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As amazing as it seems (at least to me) it is 20 years ago today that Star Trek: Generations hit movie theatres. The last on-screen outing for William Shatner’s Kirk and the very first big screen outing by the crew of the Enterprise-D has become on of those Trek movies that has polarized fans in that either they enjoyed it or absolutely loathed it. It is certainly true that the movie won’t ever make any Number 1 spots on the lists of best Star Trek movies but is it really that bad?

I don’t know.

I don’t think it is as bad as some people try to make it out. Sure it had its faults with a rather topsy-turvy story and obvious questionable decisions made by the characters; the classic being if Picard could return to any point he wanted why not return to the point where he first meets Soran and spare us the rest of the movie (and the Enterprise-D)? What always annoyed me was how much of the film felt recycled from previous movies. In some instances they were directly recycled. I am of course talking about the fact that the Duras Sisters’ Bird-of-Prey exploding is simply the reused footage of Chang’s ship exploding in the previous movie. Eeep! I do wonder also why if a ship with its shields and hull would get ripped apart getting close to the Nexus why doesn’t the same happen to Soran and Picard on that hillside?

But what did the film do right? Well, Malcolm McDowell as Soran was an inspired choice and I will say that not since Khan in Star Trek II did we have such a genuinely motivated enemy. He was actually quite sympathetic in his cause and actually does a pretty good job of convincing the audience why he is doing it. How many films can claim to give you a dose of Helsinki Syndrome while you are watching it?

A lot of fans (and I mean a hell of a lot of fans) hate how the Enterprise-D was destroyed in this movie and I really can’t see why. Their argument is how could the ship have survived so much throughout the series only to get taken out by a single Bird-of-Prey? Well in the series the ship faced enemies trying to destroy it conventionally and the Galaxy-class was just too tough for that. So how do you destroy a tough ship you can’t match? Well you cheat obviously and thats what the Duras sisters did. I don’t see the problem. Also with the Enterprise-D out of the way we got to see the incredible Enterprise-E that was much more suited to the big screen. Interestingly, ILM actually put NCC-1701-E titles on the Galaxy-class model in preparation for Star Trek: First Contact before they were told they were given a budget to make a new ship.

Well anyway. Love it or loathe it this movie did get the TNG crew we all loved so much on to the big screen and that’s not a bad thing. The movie certainly had a tough job acting as the intermediary between the 23rd and 24th centuries and for that we should cut it some slack.

GAME REVIEW: Assault City

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Assault City holds a unique place in my gaming history in that it was the first cartridge I ever had for my Master System. Up until getting this for Christmas ’91 I was stuck playing Hang-On and Safari Hunt; the two built in games for the Master System Plus. After having pretty much burned out my console playing those games I was eager to try something new. Putting in that cartridge felt like I was loading a 30-round magazine in to an M-16 assault rifle and I was about to go on the rampage destroying the robot monsters that were poised to wipe out humanity (bare in mind I was 7 at the time). So playing it again over two decades later how does this game hold up?

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First thing you should know is that this game is very story oriented with cut screens between levels full of story. Is that a good thing? If you like reading and you like a recycled Terminator plot then yes. In the latter half of the 21st century, robots have been our servants doing all the tasks we humans don’t like doing and then one day the control system used to function these robots rise up to annihilate their human oppressors. You play as Joe, one of the last of the humans remaining and he is hell-bent on destroying, Skynet…uh…I mean the control system which forces the robots to kill.

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As a game this is a side scrolling shooter. You have no control over the speed at which the screen scrolls and this can be frustrating as it forces you to battle everything that comes at you. There are two versions of this game; the controller version and the Light Phaser version. Now I have never played the Light Phaser version as I am told the game is quite rare here in the UK. What I will say though is that the Light Phaser (if it was feeling accurate) would probably be the better version as I am sure you could shoot the hordes of robots a lot faster. Again though this was depending on whether it had the right conditions since playing Safari Hunt with the gun was often problematic. The controller version has the problem of the targeting reticle feeling slower than a bus at times. It can be an extremely frustrating aspect of playing this game as you seem to spend time sending it across the screen to attack a target that will have already fired at you by the time you get there and then another enemy will appear on the other side of the screen and the same happens again. All is not lost however because once you master how to best use the targeting reticle such as accepting a hit off the one guy on the left in order to destroy the four on the right you have pretty much mastered the game.

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What this game really has going for it however is the look and the sound. Firstly; it has one of the best looking covers of any Master System game in my humble opinion and I remember when I first saw it how excited I was by the picture of those two tripod robots. The look of the game itself for the most part is very good with some interesting robot designs. My only criticism of the robots is that some of the animation of their movements could be a bit smoother as there seems to be little in the way of transitions e.g. one of the bosses is this floating head thing that fires energy bolts from its mouth. The movement of this mouth is open then closed; there’s no opening of the mouth. Also the backdrops rarely change as you progress through the levels making the game feel reptitive at times. Some levels are more interesting to look at than others such as the junkyard but then you have scenes like the one in the picture below where its just blue bricks/lockers/whatever they are supposed to be. The music that accompanies the game is great and really makes you feel like you are in an action movie from the late 1980s.

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I still enjoy this game although I can’t figure out how much of that is nostalgia. I understand when people say that some parts of it is quite repetitive because in places, it is. It’s also a tough game with some segments feeling like the entire robot army is pouring on to the screen then at other times you might just get one little droid to destroy before a few seconds of nothing before the hordes attack again. I do like that they included a hefty amount of story which makes it feel more than mindless shooting. If you are a fan of shooter games I would say this would appeal to you.

Counting Down To Halloween With The Simpsons #4

The Simpsons Halloween Specials have become as much a part of Halloween as trick-or-treating. Ever since that first Treehouse of Horror episode way back in 1990 we have been thrilled by the one episode every season where all the rules are thrown out of the window and anything goes as The Simpsons pay homage to classic horror movies and TV series such as The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and Alfred Hitchcock Presents…

To celebrate this tradition we are going to be posting quotes, reviews, trivia and pictures as we await the arrival of All Hallow’s Eve. Dust off the fake fangs, unscrew the bottle of fake blood because here at the Order of Trinity we’re counting down to Halloween with The Simpsons.


#4 Scary Cast & Crew Names

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One of the ongoing jokes surrounding the Treehouse of Horror episodes is the replacement of cast and crew names with scary or horror themed alternatives. This trend began with Treehouse of Horror II and has been continued ever since. Early themes were simple changes such as “Bat Groening” in place of series creator “Matt Groening’s” name. As time went on new variations became longer and longer to the point where often the screen literally became filled despite the episode starting. Matt Groening did try making a rule for the “scary names” stating that they could not be longer than a person’s real name, but this was rarely followed by anyone else.

One interesting case and a name that has not changed is “Sam Simon’s” who left the show during the fourth season but still received “developed by” and “executive producer” credits as a result of his contract. Since Treehouse of Horror II his name has repeatedly appeared as “Sam ‘Sayonara’ Simon” reflecting the fact he had left.

Just like Marge’s Warnings the “scary names” became so difficult to keep fresh that they were dropped for Treehouse of Horror XII and Treehouse of Horror XIII. The fans however were devastated by this and so from Treehouse of Horror XIV the scary credits returned.

Counting Down To Halloween With The Simpsons #3

The Simpsons Halloween Specials have become as much a part of Halloween as trick-or-treating. Ever since that first Treehouse of Horror episode way back in 1990 we have been thrilled by the one episode every season where all the rules are thrown out of the window and anything goes as The Simpsons pay homage to classic horror movies and TV series such as The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and Alfred Hitchcock Presents…

To celebrate this tradition we are going to be posting quotes, reviews, trivia and pictures as we await the arrival of All Hallow’s Eve. Dust off the fake fangs, unscrew the bottle of fake blood because here at the Order of Trinity we’re counting down to Halloween with The Simpsons.


#3 The Amusing Tombstones

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In the first five Treehouse of Horrors the episodes began with the camera view passing through a cemetery. In the cemetery there are numerous tombstones with funny epitaphs written on them. The source of these epitaphs varied and included the names of cancelled shows from the previous TV season and deceased celebrities including “Walt Disney” and “Jim Morrison” (complete with hippy sat in front of it mourning his dead icon). One tombstone had an inscription that read “TV violence” that was riddled with bullets as the camera passed by it.

They were last used in Treehouse of Horror V after which they were discontinued. While the writers found them easy to do at first it soon became difficult to keep them fresh and funny. As a final salute to the ongoing gag a solitary tombstone with the words “Amusing Tombstones” was put in the opening of Treehouse of Horror V to signal that now too these gags were dead.

Counting Down To Halloween With The Simpsons #2

The Simpsons Halloween Specials have become as much a part of Halloween as trick-or-treating. Ever since that first Treehouse of Horror episode way back in 1990 we have been thrilled by the one episode every season where all the rules are thrown out of the window and anything goes as The Simpsons pay homage to classic horror movies and TV series such as The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and Alfred Hitchcock Presents…

To celebrate this tradition we are going to be posting quotes, reviews, trivia and pictures as we await the arrival of All Hallow’s Eve. Dust off the fake fangs, unscrew the bottle of fake blood because here at the Order of Trinity we’re counting down to Halloween with The Simpsons.


#2 Marge’s Warning

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On October 25th 1990 The Simpsons aired the first Treehouse of Horror. Before the episode even began however Marge appears from behind a red curtain like the ones seen at movie theatres and says;

Hello, everyone. You know, Halloween is a very strange holiday. Personally, I don’t understand it. Kids worshipping ghosts, pretending to be devils. Things on TV that are completely inappropriate for young viewers. Things like the following half-hour! Nothing seems to bother my kids, but tonight’s show—which I totally wash my hands of—is really scary. So if you have sensitive children, maybe you should tuck them in early tonight instead of writing us angry letters tomorrow. Thanks for your attention.

This became one of the trademark moments of the Halloween specials that people remember the most even though it was only done in three of the twenty four Halloween episodes.

What few people realize however is that in the very first Treehouse of Horror this warning was not a gag or gimmick as it became later but was meant to be taken seriously. In 2014 The Simpsons have pretty much become part of the furniture in western society so its easy to forget that when it first aired in 1989 it was a highly controversial show. It was one of the only family shows that actually displayed conflict amongst the family members as opposed to the family facing outside antagonists and many conservative elements felt that this along with the dis-respective nature of Bart to his elders was diluting the view of the traditional nuclear family. The part about “letter writing” in Marge’s warning was a reference to the protests the show received.

With this backdrop its easy to understand why the producers of The Simpsons were nervous about the Halloween episode fearing it could be a step too far and so felt they needed to warn viewers before the episode began. Unfortunately it had the opposite effect and people assumed it was just a gag.

GAME REVIEW: Paperboy 2

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If you’re that strapped for cash, I’d suggest a part-time job. How ’bout a paper route? It builds character. It did in my case.

– Joe Friday (Dan Aykroyd)
Dragnet (1987)

Having a paper round in the 1980s must have been part of the middle class American dream as it seems to have been the thing that 12 year olds did; at least according to countless vomit inducing family movies that Hollywood seemed to chuck out back then. I wouldn’t know as in the 1980s I was barely a few years old living in a working class British town where the main topic of conversation seemed to be “What are we going to do when Thatcher closes the last mine?” I don’t want to get in to politics so I will get on with this review.

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Paperboy is a real classic of a video game. Starting out in arcades it was hugely addictive and earned enough revenue to warrant a home console port making its way on to numerous consoles most significantly the NES and the Sega Master System. Given its success then it came as no surprise that a follow-up would be released. Paperboy 2 was released on to the 16-bit market on the Mega Drive (Genesis) and the Super Nintendo to name a few. The game was intended to build on what made the original game so much fun and address some of the criticisms.

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One of the biggest changes made to the game was the option to play as “Papergirl” in an attempt to give the game more of a unisex appeal. There are no differences in how the game plays regardless of gender and is a purely aesthetic feature. Another change is that now you have to deliver to houses on both sides of the three streets your route is on and each of these streets represents a different level of difficulty – Easy Street, Medium Way and Hard Road. As in the previous game the aim is to deliver at least one paper to each house on your route. A perfect round results in more subscribers but miss one and that person unsubscribes. Miss them all and it’s game over.

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This game is a lot of fun. It looks pretty good but its graphics won’t blow you away. The controls are certainly challenging to master and require practice to learn the right angle you have to be at in order to hit the mail box or the door mat. If that wasn’t tough enough then there are a plethora of things such as dogs, runaway prams, cars and killer bees that try and block your throw and/or knock you off your bike. You also have a limited number of papers and so have to pick more up along the way and you can guarantee they will be in awkward places. Lightning quick reflexes are needed at times to get the bike through the obstacles to pick up fresh papers. At the end of each street is an obstacle course that you don’t need to finish in order to complete the game but just gives you more points.

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Yes it is challenging but it is a lot of fun. There’s just something about this game be it charm or the craziness of the street that keeps making you want to try harder. There are so many bonus points to be had by hitting things with your papers such as the fat man off the diving board in to the pool, the bikini off the sunbathing girl or knocking the car jack down trapping a guy underneath whose legs wriggle in pain – actually I am beginning to wonder if “Paperboy” is actually a character from any of the Grand Theft Auto games in their youth. It would make sense given his penchant for violence.

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This isn’t a casual game as at times you really have to be paying attention at what you are doing even if on the surface it does seem that way. The premise is simple but the original Paperboy was notoriously difficult and this sequel doesn’t let up. It’s the enjoyability that keeps you coming back. My biggest gripe about the game however is that it is somewhat repetitive. You only have the three streets I mentioned earlier and while your week on each street does get more difficult as you progress it does make the game feel rather short.

This is definitely one for the collection and if you spot it – get it!

Captain Janeway on the Satellite of Love

The Satellite of Love is in trouble. With Gypsy, Crow and Servo at the helm, while Mike Nelson is mysteriously missing, the ship is heading for disaster.

But alas they are saved by none other than Starfleet’s Captain Janeway who immediately exercises her authority and expertise to save the day. Let’s hope they have plenty of coffee aboard to keep her sharp…