Recent Acquisitions

I will use today’s entry to elaborate a little on some software I managed to pick up at reasonable prices at the weeks end. It has certainly been a while since I have expended any kind of currency on such things but I have just produced my inaugural budget and one of the side effects of these economic devices is that sobering feeling which originates from seeing just where exactly spending that money here and there leaves you in the nebulous future. But enough of such matters and on to the elaborations.

007:nightfire – NINTENDO GAMECUBE

Before I start on this game I will draw your attention to the fact that I reproduced the NINTENDO GAMECUBE trademarks as per Nintendo’s very own decree on the matter. I will admit to being a bit of a perfectionist in this regard, so the casual reader may not necessarily — how should I put it? — give a damn. I now, on the other hand, sleep marginally easier at night; however this could be attributed to my cessation of sleeping upside-down in an attempt to produce bat guano. Don’t ask — it really is better that way.

I can recall a fair few 007 licensed games that have been produced over the years but depressingly few have stuck in my mind as being anything other than titles falling into the category of “the usual crap movie licence fare”. The exceptions being:

  • The Living Daylights (Amstrad CPC) – Only because of the milkman who threw explosive milk bottles; that always scores points with me.
  • Goldeneye (Nintendo 64) – Only because it is one of the best pieces of electronic entertainment ever created.
  • The World Is Not Enough (Nintendo 64) – Only because I always wanted it but never got it (and the fact that from all accounts, it was pretty good).

As you may think, some of these games may not wholly deserve to be remembered but regardless — they still represent a precious minority of the total body of work where 007 is concerned. I wholly feel though, that Nightfire may be another rare strike against the status-quo.

Nightfire is the creative work of Eurocom, the same development studio responsible for the FPS based on the TWINE license, which is allegedly: “A bit of all-right”. From what I have sampled of it thus far it seems to keep true to Eurocom’s reputation and delivers a thoroughly enjoyable 007 romp which is high on “Bondism” and low on crap. Some clarification:

[n] Quintessential James Bond associations such as stealth, action, gadgets, cars, women and innuendo — to name but a few.
Nothing to do with bondage.
[n] Excrement; both figuratively and literally.

And so my desire to work-in a HTML definition list has been quenched.

The game is thoroughly well presented with nice touches throughout; from inferno framed pixel masks of lithe feminine figures toting guns in the background of menus, to various reworks of the classic Bond musical theme. The story is Eurocom’s own, without the support or restraint of having an actual Hollywood movie behind it, Eurocom have basically produced their own game-movie. Missions vary from stealth infiltration and straight out gun fights to piloting various contraptions such as motorised snow-mobiles with cannon turrets and sleek motor vehicles equipped with rockets and smoke screens. Just about every aspect of the game has been crafted with the highest production values and the engine delivering the action never misses a beat; it is quite possibly the finest FPS engine ever to grace a home console. I say “just about every aspect” as I have stumbled upon a few things which — while they do not destroy the game — mar the experience and in my opinion, would not appear to have been difficult to rectify.

Firstly, and as noted by several reviews around the web, there are instances where you will shoot someone — with like a gun — and the victim will not even flinch. This is strange as I have it on good authority that such an action normally results in some kind of harm being enacted. I think it goes beyond simply not triggering an animation as the receiver of the bullet can still take several more hits afterward before succumbing to the wounds that bullets normally inflict. It would appear that the hit is just not detected at all. This is exasperating in the extreme, especially when the assailant you are shooting is repaying the favour; except that his bullets actually cause you a great deal of grief.

Secondly, and less critical, is that in one particular mission your opponents and other generic office workers develop a severe case of verbal diarrhoea. Every security guard on the level will constantly yell such memorable phrases as:

  • “I need some backup!”
  • “There’s the intruder!”
  • “Go! Go! Go!”;

while the terrified Tokyo office workers (whom happen to all be female) scream snippets of Japanese panic in a continuous cycle of whimpering annoyance, even long after they have fled the area of torment. Being in Japanese I cannot interpret what they are saying, but I would not be surprised if it were something along the lines of: “Why can’t I stop whimpering!”. It almost incites you to turn the sound off and miss out on the rest of the audio the game has to offer which is, in contrast, deafeningly good.

In the end though, it all boils down to one question: is it better than Rare‘s masterpiece Goldeneye? Eurocom: You are getting very close.

At a RRP of AUD$69.95, this game is a steal. At the price I stumbled upon it for (AUD$38) — it is positively grand-theft.

Final Fight One – Gameboy Advance

When gamers of my vintage turn maudlin and talk about the good old days when a large portion of video games involved players taking the role of some protagonist who subsequently goes on a rampage of kicking the living snot out of hoards of nameless thugs, they invariably speak about titles such as Double Dragon, Streets of Rage, Golden Axe and Final Fight. Readers — the good old days are back.

I had been eying off the GBA edition of Final Fight — titled imaginatively as Final Fight One — for some time. The only aspect of the game which prevented be from authorising the expenditure on it was the fact that it cost AUD$50. While this price represents the absolute most I am prepared to expend for any GBA game, it is still significantly higher than what I am willing to spend for a port of a thirteen year old arcade game — regardless of the fact that I consider it to be the pinnacle of the entire beat-’em-up genre.

For those of you who may not have any recollection of this game or have not had the privilege of playing it, Final Fight is a side-scrolling beat-’em-up from Capcom. The “story” line involves the mayor’s daughter being kidnapped by a mad gang who act under the quite appropriate and non-cliché moniker of “Mad Gear”. Mad Gear’s motive for committing this heinous act is to try and sway the mayor to let them have full reign of the city’s criminal activities without intervention; for which they will also generously enhance the mayor’s salary and not harm his attractive daughter.

Naturally Jessica’s boyfriend — Cody — and his colleague — Guy — are both skilled hand-to-hand combatants while the Mayor — Mike Haggar — is a 6′ 6″ tall, champion street-fighter who weighs a very mayoral 297 lbs.. Please do not try to extol how unrealistic this is; I will not have a bar of it — there are similar precedents in actuality.

The main reason behind my affection for this game is it’s unparalleled pick-up-and-play qualities combined with numerous named opponents (even if there are twenty punks all named “Bred” who, in turn, all look strikingly similar) and meaty, bone-jarring hits. It may also be because I can count on my nose all of the video games where you, as the mayor of a city, can walk around the street, sans-shirt, dropping people on their heads.

The only quibble I have with the game is that the developers have changed parts of it slightly to be more, I guess, politically correct. During Mike Haggar’s conversation with the leader of Mad Gear in the original version he vents: “You sons of a …”; whereas in the GBA version its: “You fiend!”. Other parts have a more sanitized feel to them too. They have removed the acrobatic female punk “Poison” and replaced her with a male version called “Billy”. I guess it isn’t PC for the mayor to beat up a girl — even if she is trying to rip his scrotum off.

The original version also had an engaging exchange between Guy and Cody during the attract mode prologue. It went something similar to this:

Cody: “Jessica was kidnapped!”

Guy: “Jessica!?”

Cody: “My sweet heart since childhood.”

Guy: “The Mad Gears must pay! She’s my friend too. Count me in!”

This is probably the best writing I have ever seen in this genre; it makes you feel sympathetic towards Guy with his sudden bouts of amnesia. Alas, they have changed this dialogue in the portable version — it now actually makes sense. I can only hope that the final scene where Guy kicks Cody in the back of the head for no apparent reason before running off into the night, still remains.

Just a warning to you: if I see anyone on the street who look anything remotely like the villains “J” or “Two P” from this game, I will become extremely agitated; especially if you attempt to approach me from behind.

On a final note, I had a dream last night. In this dream I was playing a new X-COM game in the same style as UFO: Enemy Unknown. It was a very good dream.