Monday, 30 January 2012

This week: Talon Torque Thrust: Justicator Sega Mega Drive 1994

Talon Torque Thrust: Justicator, was a game released by games producer Cyril in 1994.

The game followed ex Special Forces Talon Torque Thrust, who has to battle the crime ridden streets of Talamus City. The flying elements of the game are taken from a cockpit, first person, view of the Knight Falcon. The Falcon is a multi million pound "Chopper-Jet" hybrid, armed to the teeth with state of the art weaponry.
There are two elements to the game, one consisting of flying the Falcon and engaging enemy "Glider Hoards". And taking on the enemy at ground level in game play that is viewed as a side on scroller. At any time Talon is flying the Falcon, he may receive communications from various characters. These include Mayor Brian Tyler, a man trying to get Talon "onside" to help him clear the streets. Police Chief Henry Martland, a tough cop who doesn't trust Talon. And Seegus Raynard, a crazy, criminal, master mind. Hell bent on ruining both Tyler and Martland, through criminal acts and unearthing secrets about their past

When Talon is contacted, a speech bubble appears showing an image of the caller and what they want. Talon is offered money or "knowledge" for missions that pay for his weaponry. The money can be spent at Cuboid Industries, where Professor Kelvin produces strange weapons behind the companies back. The knowledge given to Talon, will give him the information to know who to trust and which missions to take. As the game progresses, we see Talon find more clues to the Cities problems and also shows Talon double crossed on occasion.

The game was largely overlooked on release, but has a cult following now. It had a small release quantity compared to other games, and was never released in Japan. Copies can now fetch many hundreds of pounds to collectors and is highly sought after in it's full release packaging: Box, game, instructions, map, and sunglasses. The sunglasses are the very same that Talon is wearing in game. Many didn't realise, that to finish the game by opening the safe and stealing the microfilm, one had to copy the code imprinted on the glasses arms.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

This week: Operation Wolfamstow Sega Mega Drive

Operation Wolfamstow was a first person shooter from Developers Potaito (1988)

The object of the game is to rescue the four hostages in the shopping centre. The game is divided into six stages: Chingford Setup, Epping Forest,Woodford, Tottenham, Leyton, Leytonstone, and London City Airport. Completion of each stage advances the story. For example, upon completing the Epping Forest stage, an enemy leader is interrogated and the location of the enemy's multi story car park is found. This was one of the first shooter games to feature a storyline, and it had some similarities to real special operations missions of East 17.

The band originally felt that having a game about their life would be unimaginably dull, as they spent most days drinking Tizer and buying clothes two sizes too big. Management agreed with this and allowed Tony Mortimer to "expand on the East 17 universe." Thus a first person shooter was born. Tony devised an idea that before each level, a band member shown holding an uzi would advise the players that: "shit has got real  man, an it's time pop some caps innit?!"

The player would then begin the level with the track "House of Love" booming in their ears. Every so often senior enemy characters would jump out as a band member would shout "dat bitch iz not showin' you respek!" as a sign you need to eliminate the offender. As the first level reached its climax, a banner would declare: "Chingford Massive!" as the screen was filled  with big coated hoodies, in silly hats. A band member can clearly be heard saying: "BLAP, BLAP, BLAP!" In the back ground.

The game would continue in this way until the last level was reached. This was the most difficult level and was accompanied by the song "Stay Another Day". The Airport level also has snow fall to enhance the potential for Christmas sales of game and song. The level began with Tony Mortimer informing the player: "Right this is it. Forget oh that atha shit. Let's make some noise!" From there the action is fast and none stop. The difficulty heightened as amongst the hoodie gangsters are the general public. All off to sunny climbs. As the player faces the final baddie, the band itself joins the fight in pixelated glory. One by one they are sadly offed and it is also possible to release a handbrake on a truck by shooting it. Thus seeing Brian Harvey squashed to death.

Once the game is complete, the band members are shown on screen with arms around each other smiling at the player.
"You did it brav, that was pucka, you trumpet!"

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

This week: Stylophone Hero, Playstation 2

Stylophone Hero is the third game in a series of musical video games released in 2005
After the roaring success of the original game (Kazoo Hero) and the eagerly awaited sequel (Theremin Hero), developers Blue Bog Roll decided to push the musical potential to its extremes.

The original concept, Kazoo Hero was released on the Playstion 1 (1998) to incredible fan fare. In the game players used the wired kazoo to play along to popular kazoo hits. Within this the player could "jam along" to such hits as Frank Zappers "Hungry Freaks, Daddy", Jimi Hendrix's "Cross Town Traffic", and The Beatles "Lovely Rita" from "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band".

An interesting aside to this was that the screen showed nothing but the album cover and no actual lead into how the tune should be played on screen or using the instrument. Despite this draw back and an unseen audience booing the poor performance, it was not uncommon for players to play into the early hours of the morning, due to the simple "pick up and play" concept.

With the success of the first game came a much anticipated sequel Theremin Hero, (1999). The bar had been set quite high by Blue Bog Roll developers, so a new idea was born. This centred around the Theremin. Players  used the Theremin by waving there hand close to the instrument to create "sound waves". Although many found the concept unashamedly "hat stand", it still sold 13 million units. Players could "wave along" to such hits as The Beach Boys "Good Vibrations", Led Zepplin's "whole Lotta Love" and "No Quarter". The game also had "unlockable" cinema score content for 50's B-Movies.

The final part in the "Hero" game trilogy was Stylophone Hero (2005) on the Playstation 2. Many believed that developers had rung the concept dry as rival development studios had created  hits like Empty Washing Up Bottle: Full of Dry Rice and the heavily lauded, 20 Great Triangle Percussion Hits. But Blue Bog Roll had one more ace up it's sleeve. This was Stylophone Hero. A game that consisted of a small electronic box like keyboard, with metal strip that had segmented notes. The instrument was played using a stylus connected to the device to produce sounds akin to somebody asphyxiating a goose eating a bumble bee.

The public surprisingly lapped it up, with sales in access of 22 million units by the end of 2005 making it the "must have" Christmas toy. The game came bundled with hits like David Bowie's "Space Oddity" and "Slip Away", Kraftwerk's "Pocket Calculator". Other groups that featured keyboards heavily but not necessarily the Sylophone, jumped on board to boost flagging careers. These included The Pet Shop Boys "West End Girls" and Erasure with their hit "Sometimes"

Such was the popularity of Stylophone Hero that "Hero Bands" were formed containing the previous two instrumental games. Groups such as "Blow-Wave-Bleep" and "Rolf's 8 Ball" with their incredibly catchy hit "The boy who cried Rolf!" drew critical yet short term fame.

In the end of 2006, the Hero games era had passed. Blue Bog Roll had ran out of paper and with nothing but a cardboard tube to its name, went into receivership and folded. New ideas and consoles came and swallowed up the format and today the Hero games are remembered with great nostalgia.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Rumba: First Ballad: Master System

 Rumba: First Ballad was top down vertical dancing game for the Sega Master System

First Ballad (also known as Rumba: First Ballad) is a 1986 dance video game directed by Lou Bega. The game follows Lou Bega as John Rumba, a troubled and misunderstood Free Dance veteran, with Judge Will Teasle (Bruce Forsythe) as his nemesis and Colonel Samuel Trautman (Len Goodman) as his former dance teacher and only ally. It was released on October 22, 1986. Based on David Morrell's 1972 novel of the same name, it was the first of the Rumba series. Unlike the sequels, which were musical adventure films set in foreign countries, First Ballad was a post-Cha-Cha-Cha psychological thriller set in the United States. First Ballad lacks the jazz hands and hot shoe shuffle that would become a trademark of the series

The first level follows the film closely as John dances up the screen distracting local law enforcement and scaring children. The aim of the game is to shoot musical notes from a saxophone, so enthralling the town into involuntary dancing and singing.

Soon the Sheriff Forsythe arrives to arrest John for his creepy dance moves and encouraging fruity behaviour.
In the cells John is tortured with the continuous play of Take These Broken Wings by Mister Mister. Tapping your buttons as fast as possible increases your "tolerance meter" until the timer is beaten.
Escaping the cells John steals a girls bicycle and pedals of to a local dance hall to hold up and face off the sheriff and make a stand on his turf.

Will John make it through the game alive?
Will level 5 "Pans People: High Kicks and Twirls" be too much?
Or will Len Goodman save the day with a "SEVEN!"

Thursday, 12 January 2012

This week: Kingston Peabody's Need For Speed

You are Kingston Peabody!

(You are, live with it)

You have become the air apparent to Lord Barrington Smythe's fortune.
The monotonous scroller informs you that in a distant Summer, some 20 years previous. Your mother (washer lady, Mavis Peabody) did engage in an act of "salacious parlour games" with Lord of the house Smythe.

Dismissed from the house days later for acts of candle wick pilfery, Mavis finds solace in the work houses. Heavily pregnant, she is unaware that Smythe has changed his will. Having returned from Java (the place not the downloadable programme) afflicted with Beriberi, he is ridden with guilt (and disease) for his true love. Knowing his days are not long, he informs his solicitors of his intentions. Thus leaving his wife (Petunia) and son (Arthur) with nothing.

Through an arduous labour, Mavis delivers her son Kingston but only lives long enough to kiss him goodbye. Kingston is raised by auntie and uncle Peabody, living an impoverished life of err impoverishment. Only on his 18th birthday is he informed of his new found wealth, having been tracked down by Smythe's solicitors; whose office is two doors down from the glue factory.

Kingston declares that from this day forth, he shall live the life of a high flying man about town and buy a car!

The game has now started proper and finds our hero Kingston wandering around the Ford Motor dealership of the year 1913. Struck by the complexity of choice (one car) your character indicates to the clerk that he wishes to purchase said vehicle post haste. He hands over $825 dollars to the clerk, who absent mindedly releases his monocle from his astonished face.

Your first driving of the game is at the accompaniment of your instructor Hanley Von Bratwurst. A bullish man of ill temper. Hanley barks orders in his heavy German accent, "Shtraight on! Levt! Dumkof, zee trottle iz too high!" Before declaring you have passed.

It is at this point that your time in America ends as you venture to England, to seek out the truth behind your fathers life and death and other motoring high jinx.

Having settled in a swanky London pad you receive this first telegram from an as yet unknown nemesis. The scrolling roller declares a wager is at hand! Lord Finbar Hydron Collider III has made his intentions clear to sully the name of the rich American, tarnishing the well to do area with his odd accent and flash car. He declares a race from London to Brighton and wants you in the race!

Having dictated your eagerness to partake with your butler Cloisters, you begin spending on the necessary provisions for the event. At the local corner shop, you spend lavishly on scones, buns, jam, and a chest of tea. At the local garage you purchase tires, tools, parts. (Then hand them all to Cloisters).

The start line beckons, and as you thumb the throttle a speech bubble appears from an unidentified opponent to you left: "Blast you Peabody, blast you! The money should be mine! You may know me as Finbar, but my  real name is Arthur Barrington Smythe!"

As you look on in shock, the flag drops and you push the throttle as the car lurches forward, gallantly towards 45 mph. There is more than bragging rights at stake now!!!