WipEout (SEGA Saturn)
Better than Playstation version? You decide...
I liked Wipeout because it gave me a chance to see something awesome in my first year of owning a Saturn. I picked up the Saturn late in its life (the system was actually dead, and I got mine for christmas because my ma saw one on clearance for 120 bucks...I had wanted one for so long...). The game was fast, looked good, and had awesome music.
This was long long ago, of course. Now in 2004, I have had experience with every Wipeout game made, including the PSX version of the very first one. And I had since also gotten my chance to compare the two.
While Wipeout was amazing on PSX...the graphics were phenomenal, it was the first time a soundtrack like it had was ever really used in a game, blah blah blah... it wasn't a disgusting failure on the Saturn like other PSX to Saturn ports have been. People have said that the PSX version used music from Orbital and LeftField and Chemical Brothers... well they're wrong... but I won't go into that here, check the trivia section of this game, I'll have added an entry there.
The differences between the two versions set each one above the other in certain areas. The PSX version's graphics RAPED the Saturn. Greater polygon count, insanely smoother framerate, and texture-mapping ability in general. The PSX version also had the ability to create an echo effect on the music as you went through regions of track with high walls or in enclosed tunnel areas. The Saturn version, though, while it was unable to stay on par with the PSX as far as graphics were concerned, and it couldn't replicate the echo feature (well, it has the ABILITY to do it, because you can turn on an echo while using the Saturn's CD player...they just didn't implement the effect in the Saturn version), its sound effect samples were clearer due to the Saturn's ability to store uncompressed sound samples in memory. The graphics weren't completely horrid; although they didn't match the PSX, they were still average for Saturn.
The biggest difference, which often proposes the question of whether the Saturn version out-performs the PSX version, is the fact that Tantalus Entertainment (the people who did the Saturn re-work) tweaked the game engine a bit. One aspect of the PSX version, as noted even in Ashley Pomeroy's review of the Playstation game, was the control. When you hit the edge of the track, you'd stop immediately (much unlike the game's sequel of Wipeout XL/2097, where you could ride the walls lightly without slowing). This was due to the stilted control that was programmed into the game. While Wipeout was a release title for the PSX, was advertised heavilly everywhere (even gracing the silver screen as an early prototype version in the movie "Hackers"), and etc...we all know how early games for the "next-gen" era often fell short in respect to actual gameplay and control. Tantalus fixed this problem, giving the player greater control of the ship (even more control than you had if you used the NeGcon with the PSX version), and in correcting this one tiny problem, they managed to effectively turn the game's replay value around. Flying through the courses became faster, the excitement of blazing your own best times grew, and it allowed the player to take a greater appreciation of the game in general. Few devout Wipeout fans have ever gotten a chance to actually play the Saturn version, and for this, I offer my sympathy. It's just yet another game released for both consoles in which the Saturn version is a worthier purchase.
The only thing I didn't like about this game, is not console specific. I just wish it were longer... the hidden track is a good bonus, but even then, it still leaves you wanting more. Wipeout XL/2097 certainly expanded on the series, and is considered by some to be the highest point in the series' lifetime (thus far...)...but there's a totally different atmosphere created by the two games. The only compensation is given by the European and Australian "Wipeout 3: Special Edition" in which some of the old tracks from the first two games were re-visited. Too bad we didn't get that here in the US... we got Wipeout 3, but unfortunately it bombed hard...painfully obvious by the Amazon.com advertisement on the left side of this page right now;
"Wipeout 3" Activision (that's wrong Amazon) New $2.90! Used $3.95!
And I've seen it sell brand new in stores for about 3 - 5 bucks. We never even had a chance to see the special edition.
The Bottom Line
Nostalgic, ground breaking at its release, a long-standing classic. Pick it up, seriously, you won't be disappointed. It's fast, exciting, and if you turn out the lights and up the volume, you'll get whisked away into the future and never want to come back.
By AG Wolf on October 3rd, 2004
Tempest X3 (PlayStation)
Addition to the series, 99% worthy of the name "Tempest".
Tempest X3 was the first Tempest game I personally owned (I went on to get prior and post versions afterward). The graphics are phenomenal, very trippy; the gameplay is as intense as the original arcade version. There's no real describing this game to anyone who hasn't played it, but the negative aspects are clear as day...and are what hold this version of Tempest back from getting a perfect rating.
First thing, like Jeff Minter commented (Jeff Minter = Tempest 2000, Tempest 3000 creator), the AI Drone does nothing but follow you...instead of it being programmed to seek out new enemies on the web as Minter had told it to do in the JAGUAR version of T2k (it didn't do this in any other version of T2k), it just sort of lagged behind you a few tracks.
Music; X3 has all the remastered music from the Tempest 2000 soundtrack (nice, crisp, higher sample rate versions of the Jaguar music; along with new tracks), and you can input a code that SUPPOSEDLY makes remixed music play instead of the standard fare CD quality T2k music...well what this code does is just play a recording of one of a few tracks from the Jaguar T2k's music.
The Bottom Line
Again, very hard to describe outside of saying "original Tempest on acid"...but even still, that title is reserved for Tempest 3000. X3 is just stoned. Bottom line, if you like repetitive shooters that get progressively harder and more complex as you play through them, get this game. It's totally worth it, and by now I'm sure it's dirt cheap to find- so even if you don't rave over it, it isn't a big loss.
By AG Wolf on May 23rd, 2004
Bubsy 3D (PlayStation)
Holy crap...this sucks.
The fact that it was Bubsy for a next-gen (at the time) system.
Everything...my god... I don't mean to be so blatant and to-the-quick, but seriously...this game sucks. The control is so stiff you feel like someone poured concrete into your controller; the graphics are so bland that you feel like you're back in the "3d" era immediately after vector-polygons. It's not Bubsy, it's garbage...and slow garbage at that. At least the Genesis/SNES titles were fast and fun sidescrollers. The only redeeming quality this game has is the fact that it runs in the Playstation's high-res mode...perhaps that is one of the reasons the polygon detail is few and far between, and textures are non-existent. (it makes one shudder to think what the Saturn version looks like)
A good attempt...no check that, a horrible attempt, which unfortunately doomed the cat forever :/
The Bottom Line
Traumatizing, if you've played Bubsy 1 on Genesis or SNES.
By AG Wolf on April 4th, 2004
Sonic Heroes (GameCube)
Horrid, half-assed, failed attempt at resurrecting a dying breed of game.
It's Sonic...that's about it. That is literally the ONLY reason I bought it (and subsequently will also be the only reason I will buy the PS2 and X-Box versions later this month). I need to keep my collection up to date.
Practically EVERYTHING. The control is disgustingly inaccurate, the GameCube's 8-notched control-stick well didn't help much when you needed to make finite direction changes at full speed. The music is boring..plain and simple. I would love to hear some sort of throwback to the Genesis era, instead of this new techno-ish + rock + j-pop GARBAGE from Jun Senoue (spelling?). Sonic Team's effort to revive the older type of run and jump Sonic completely does NOT fit the atmosphere the music creates. On top of that, the game itself is lame...I could sit for hours with Sonic 3 & Knuckles (and when I first got them, I did just that) and explore levels, find different paths, etc etc... With Sonic Heroes, the time it takes me to go through a level ONCE is already longer than I want to spend on it, not to mention the fact that once AGAIN we have the whole stupid "Emblem" crap. These are levels that are boring, monotonous and repetitive, TEDIOUS, and just outright lame. No real complexity at all. The graphics are all spiffy shiney (Must be whatever that "RenderWare" logo is on the back of the box), but that's about it...Sonic Team again wanted eye candy rather than a full bodied game. Despite the graphics being crisp and smooth, the camera still sucks... Like, we all know how bad the camera was in the Adventure series...well take that camera, make it boring and stationary, and you've got Heroes' camera. The game is akin to the early Crash Bandicoot games on PS1, only you have more mobility, and you CAN rotate the camera around you to see other things. There's just something about this game I cannot stand......on top of everything else, Sonic Team didn't even get some of their OWN CHARACTERS traits correct... when Sonic runs at full speed...uhm...he either holds his arms at his sides, or stretches them out behind him...he does NOT move his arms when he runs! His spindash is nearly non-existent now as well, reduced to nothing more than a swift kick from a fellow teammate. And Knuckles' biggest claim to fame, his ability to climb walls... is gone. Uhm... What the hell?
The Bottom Line
This game is CRAP. I'm saying this, with Sonic gaming experience from the day Sonic 1 was released... I'm probably one of THE biggest Sonic fans in New England, I have just about every Sonic game that has been made (along with its European and Japanese version counterparts as well). I know the older games inside and out, but I still enjoy playing them... in contrast, any Sonic game that was made from 1999 and after, has been the complete opposite- I barely know the levels at all but I dislike it so much I can't even force myself to play it.
TOTALLY rent it first... don't waste 50 bucks on something you'll wind up shelving in a day and a half. If you want a GOOD 3D Sonic game, push for Mike Wallace to find the working Saturn demo of Sonic X-Treme, or just pop 3D Blast into your Genesis/Saturn.
By AG Wolf on January 11th, 2004
F-Zero: Maximum Velocity (Game Boy Advance)
Great addition to the series, definitely worth buying.
This game is everything the original was, and then some. It uses the same Mode 7 scrolling graphics that made its SNES Prequel a hit, only this time it has two layers; one for the track, and one for the city layout beneath the track. It also has multiple layers of scrolling background; all for an even greater 3D look as you race around the tracks. Its difficulty level is infinitely higher than the original version. Aside from requiring a more intuitive approach to each course, F0:MV implements a new handling style with the addition of a ship's balance. No longer can you simply sail around a turn with, say, the Fire Stingray like in the first game, in MV you need to master the art of what the game calls "Blast Turning". To take a turn while maintaining balance (which means your ship doesn't slide right out of the turn), you have to repeatedly press the accel button as you turn. This is a technique which creates a deeper, more complicated learning curve...but ultimately succeeds in providing a more fulfilling challenge. The story is as non existent as in the first game, but this time we didn't get a fun corny comic in the game's manual :P Unfortunately though, we also weren't graced with the same selection of ships...instead, we're greeted with a new team of drivers and vehicles. While there are a handful of unlockable ships, which provide for a greater replay value, it seems as though neither the new drivers or their ships have the same appeal as Falcon, Dr. Stewart, Pico, and Samurai Goroh had. The music is good, or at least fitting for the series itself. It may not compare to the score you would hear in a Playstation game or something, but come on...this is GameBoy, you can't expect fully orchestrated tunes here :P Fans of oldschool game music will rejoice when they hear the course themes echo from their GBA's speaker (or stereo if you have the GameBoy Player with your GameCube), each song sets the mood for its level it is played in. The only unfortunate aspect the game is missing is a sound test :( All in all, the game is good. It will provide many hours of gameplay; practicing, getting use to it, getting good, then getting your butt whooped once you reach the final difficulties. Keep on going, the satisfaction of beating a game this challenging makes it all worthwhile.
Not much actually...there wasn't a sound test. That made me sad. But no, really, there wasn't much I didn't like in the game. The original F-Zero was ground breaking, where-as this version may seem old-hat to some people...but what a game looks like really shouldn't be the sole aspect of a person's final decision.
The Bottom Line
F-Zero: Maximum Velocity is a good buy, if you want a challenging and fun racer, then this is definitely worth a shot. As long as you don't pick up this racer with a chip on your shoulder's, comparing it to other GBA releases of totally different genres; you're sure to enjoy it. :)
By AG Wolf on January 5th, 2004