&t Phil on Games: January 2013 <$BlogMetaData$;

Thursday, January 17, 2013

You're a baseball star!


To blow off some steam last night, I dug through my Neo Geo collection on HyperSpin and played my first game of Baseball Stars 2 since I was in an arcade (that means a VERY long time ago). I have fond memories of this over the top interpretation of baseball, and am pleased to say the game has aged very well. The presentation is top notch; if your pitcher is getting tired, you see a close up of his facial expressions changing. Get an awesome double play and watch the player who made the last catch casually spit his chew on the ground and grind it with his foot. The batters and pitchers all have multiple stances and swing styles, presented in a fun cartoon style.

Mechanically, the only thing I found frustrating was the lack of precise control over the pitching, which usually resulted in a very offensive-heavy game of big hits, though it is pleasantly complimented by dramatic defensive plays shown via "action packed" close ups of players diving to catch the ball one handed, or jumping over a sliding runner while hurling the ball to the next player in an effort to get that next out.

For the most part, today's sports games are overly focused on statistics and realistic presentation, which keeps Baseball Stars 2 feeling fresh, delivering a unique baseball experience that, so far, has had no direct or spiritual successor on today's powerful gaming hardware.

Oh, and after a scoreless game and a dramatic 9th inning with a few homeruns on both sides to tie it up, I finally pulled out a win in the 11th inning!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sega CD & Silpheed



Minor update to my HyperSpin project; I now have the Sega Genesis and Sega 32X fully working within HyperSpin! I was never a huge Genesis fan, but there are some gems in there that I do have fond memories of. Now I'm working on getting the Sega CD fully working. It's a bit more complicated, but I have it mostly figured out, and now I'm trying to fill the library up with functioning games.

The first one I had to get working was a cult classic spaceship shooter called "Silpheed". The gameplay is still fun, even though the graphics don't hold up by today's standards. But WOW, Star Fox doesn't have anything on this game if you want to compare two titles from the same generation! Both were among the first mainstream shooters for the consoles that were built around 3D polygons instead of 2D sprites, but Silpheed is just so... epic. I spent countless hours playing this game when I was a teenager, and playing it again brought back that same rush of awesomeness I felt back then, with a touch of nostalgia glazed over the top. Granted, Star Fox had true 3D gameplay, where Silpheed used 3D graphics while still ultimately keeping the player grounded in a 2D plane like a traditional shoot-em up. But with the "amazing" power of the 1x speed CD-ROM drive strapped under, or to the side of, your Sega Genesis, Silpheed delivered comparably fantastic audio, and the scope of the action that occurs on screen was impressive. The only thing that I think Star Fox had a leg up on in overall gameplay was the branching paths that added some good replay value, which Silpheed is somewhat lacking once you run through the whole game once.

Next up on my Sega CD plate is Star Wars: Rebel Assault. It will be interesting to see how that game has held up.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

HyperSpin Project: Atari 2600 (and Spiderman!)



Continuing work on my HyperSpin project, I finally completed implementation of all the Atari 2600 games. I fired up Pitfall 2, River Raid, Dark Chambers, Gyruss, and several others. Countless hours of my childhood were spent playing these games, and I consider it to have the largest impact in shaping my obsession with video games as an adult. There are so many memories packed into these games; I wish kids today could appreciate these gems despite the graphics being ugly as sin (don't get me wrong, a lot of the games back then were really terrible too).

There are still a ton of games with relevant gameplay lessons on the 2600, especially with the rise of the "quick snack" games on our smartphones. Most of these games were only controlled with a single stick and one button, and still manage to deliver a fun experience. I would argue that the Atari 2600 version of Superman is still the best video game representation of the character to date!

...........One more commercial, because this one is a gem!