A trio of PS1 games on the Ouya.

With most of my retro gaming machines all packed away whilst we redecorate, my Ouya is becoming quite the star with it’s small footprint, one lead setup and some rather slick emulators. Tonight, I’ve got the pleasure of three Playstation One games – two from my own gaming library and another on and loan from my friend (cheers Seb!).

Colin Macrae Rally.

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Not my first choice when it comes to rally sims (Colin Macrae 2, 2005, Richard Burns and Rally Trophy please) , but despite the clipped and chunky graphics, CMR1 on the PS1 is bags of muddy fun. There’s eight countries to compete in providing a variety of  road and off-road surfaces as well as varied weather conditions and day/night driving. You get a choice of four 1998  WRC cars to drive including Colin’s winning Suburu Impreza and (by far my favourite) Tommy Makinen’s Mitsuibishi Lancer E4. There’s also four novice cars to zip around in including the nippy Golf GTI and the Renault Maxi Megane and, my favourite of the lot, four unlockable historic rally cars including the Ford Escort Mk11 and the (probably) rocket fuelled Audi Quattro S1.

I’ve been a rally sports fan for a long time now and really got in the the World Rally Championships during the  late nineties when drivers like Macrae, Sainz, Burns, Gronholm, Auriol and Makinen were all juggling for the win whilst future talent was being introduced with the likes of  Solberg, Leob and Martin.

I’ve not really been following it as much these past few years, but after reading about  increased live coverage on one of the digital sports channels we get I thought I’d take a look at again this year. I wasn’t disappointed, last weekends Monte Carlo rally was hugely entertaining and the unpredictable weather there brought about some real drama and an ever changing leaderboard. Sweden next, my favourite of them all.

It’s with this renewed interest that I sought out CMR1 from my Playstation collection and with the Ouya’s analogue controls playing quite nicely under emulation (FPse) I’m looking forward too some of my own armchair rally action.

NHL 99

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Of all the sports games I’ve ever played, EA’s NHL series has been the one that I’ve purchased religiously each year right from the beginning up to when the EA big wigs  decided not continue releasing them on the PC…idiots! NHL ’99 is certainly not the best edition there is but it’s this version (PS1 and PC) that I hold dear for many reasons. I play this and I remember a friend (who happened to play ice hockey for our local team) stopping by and not leaving for hours as we played endless vs. and co-op matches, repeated many many times over the next few years. I play this and I remember leaving my PC on overnight to download the whoppin 56mb demo only to find CRC errors in the archive – back in the days of dial-up internet and billing per the minute,  quite an expensive download!  I play this and I remember the wow factor when my new shiny Nvidia TNT pro graphics card smoothed out those pre ’99 pixelated hockey players. I play this and I remember the Zamboni which didn’t seem to appear in any of the later editions. I play this and I remember trying to amass a whole host of user mods to update the player gear, ice centre and boards (again, quite a feat on crappy dial-up services). And lastly I play this and remember the very best NHL game intro that in my opinion has never beaten.

Take it away Dave!

and lastly (thanks once again Seb!) – Xevious 3D.

To be honest, I’ve never been much of a fan of the original arcade game, preferring something like 1942 for my vertical schmup fixes back then. The air-air and air-ground  weapon systems in Xevious was quite a novel feature but, I dunno, I just found Xevious to be a bit….well, a bit boring.

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Whilst wandering around the console area at Play:Expo last year I happen across a Playstation running this rather funky looking 3D(-ish) shooter. I sat down for a while and absolutely loved playing it not knowing that, until my lives had been spent, I was actually playing Xevious 3D.

Unlike the original, this is much more fun to play with plenty of  power ups and some truly outstanding boss attacks. Check out the spider robot for example at the 1min:55 mark in this long play video by betamanATstage6.

This 3D version also has the original (and super arrangement) games included to so maybe I’ve been a little too hard on the original game and it’s time I gave it another look?

Just a quick word on the PS1 emulator ‘FPse’ on the Ouya. It can be purchased and installed directly from the Ouya Store, is a breeze to use and supports .iso files directly from either your Ouya (limited space)or directly from a USB stick. It also detects your game files and auto downloads the cover art for you. There’s plenty of options to play around with for graphics and audio and both digital and  analogue gamepad emulation is available (including vibration) as well as on screen controls and emulated memory cards for save support. In a nutshell, pretty much everything you’d need from a Playstation emulator and has run everything I’ve tried so far without a single hitch or slowdown.

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Nintendo Namco Polystation….huh?

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Whilst visiting the Maritime museum in Liverpool (which, might I add, has a fascinating Titanic exhibition on display until next spring) we dropped down into the basement area to look at smuggling, piracy and import/export exhibitions.

Although I couldn’t see any reference to Monkey Island, something caught my eye in one of the display cabinets that contained examples of fake goods seized and confiscated by customs officials.

Nintendo Namco Polystation…..what the?

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It’s a poor photo as the lighting was quite bright in the cabinet so here’s another image I found via Google.

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This isn’t as you’ve probably guessed a product of Nintendo, Namco or indeed Sony. Nor is it an early prototype Playstation…in fact, its not even CD based (despite the screenshots on the back of the box depicting PSX games), nope this is one of many NES/Famicom clones out there cleverly packaged in an attempt to dupe the unsuspecting gamer….or said gamers parents into thinking they might be picking up a bargain priced console for Junior 🙂

The Polystation is just one example of the fascinating knock offs out there and is an area of retro gaming that I’ve never looked at before. Bookmarked for when i got home, it’s been an hilarious trip around the net this morning looking at the weird and wonderful world of the clones..and might I add, some that I’d like to track down myself!

Kensington/Chintendo Vi.

Great name and as expected, crappy console 🙂

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Retro Duo

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PX-3600

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Subor Famicon clone (currently on eBay)

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TK90x – Brazillian Sinclair Spectrum clone

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Gameboy clones

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Commodore Amiga 500

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….sorry, couldn’t help myself with that last one 🙂

Rinco 256 VCS

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…and on and on. In fact, I happened to stumbled across a site that was listing all known Famicom clones…so far they’re up to no. 377!

Happy 16th to the Sony Playstation.

It’s hard to believe that 16 years ago today, Sony’s first Playstation games console hit the UK stores and yet after all this time I vividly remember standing outside in the drizzle of Autumn mist waiting for my local computer shop to open. Face mashed to the door glass in the hope of spotting any sign of life inside that could be flagged down and persuaded to open up early so I could finally get my mitts on Sony’s stunning new grey box.

It was a local store of course without crowds and queues of gamers to battle ( a cunning move on my part I thought) and yet this lack of eager gamers, excitement turned to concern and the roll of cash I’d saved became damp with nervous sweaty hands. The store owner said he would have a few new consoles in for the release date and I had reserved one for me…but what if they’d been a problem?…by the time I could race into to the city and to the larger stores, they would probably have sold out.

I’m sure he kept me waiting on purpose 🙂 and Fortunately, t’was my imagination running amok. The store open, he handed me my new console and I ‘peeled’ the wet notes from my hand!

Sadly, I could only afford the console itself, but as payday was just around the corner, I wouldn’t have to wait very long before I had my first game. For now, the Demo 1 disc included with the console was enough to blow my socks off and provide a few demo games to sample.

Over the past 16 years I’ve owned many Playstations (which I’ll now use the short code PSX to save my ‘typing finger’), some I brought, some i sold, some I traded, donated and have been given but up until recently have been without one for some time. Thanks to the chaps at the Retro Computer Museum I know have a lovely looking modded model example complete with the original control pads (edit – now have another modded console thanks to James!)

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So to coincide with the release date and the fact that autumn, amongst other things, still reminds of the PSX, I’ve been revisiting some of the very early release titles these past few weeks. There’s nothing suprising here and I’m guessing most gamers are very familiar with all of them. However, if it’s been awhile, dust down the old grey box, forget about HD and dual shock controllers and go back to 1995, in don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

WipeOut.

Psygnosis – Sept 1995.

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The killer release game and probably on top of everyone’s choice for their first buy. WipeOut was something special back then and thanks to it’s trend setting design element, fast paced visuals and cd quality audio tracks straight out of the dance clubs it became a popular culture icon breaking the mold of nerdy bedroom gaming for kids and introduced a slick and hip experience to all including non gamers alike.

Such was the appeal of the visuals, it was common to see game loops being projected onto large screens in nightclubs to accompany techno dance tracks. Add beer and it would often get quite hypnotic 🙂

WipeOut was my first PSX game and was one of handful of the european PSX first release titles. At a whopping £60 it certainly wasn’t cheap, but playing the single track on the demo 1 cd left me hungry for for more.

A total of 7 tracks are available yet sadly to this day I’m unable to get back track 5. Mastering the turbo start, memorising placement of the the speed pads, finding the racing line and a whole dollop of luck is in order.

Get it wrong and WipeOut can be a tad frustrating, get it right and with the music pumping, can be a huge adrenalin rush.

Going back to it today, PSX titles might look a little jagged compared to the smooth graphic accelerated HD games of today but it Wipeout still offers one damn fine gaming experience and the grey box certainly belts it out at great speed. Dial in Chemical Beats, hang on and enjoy the ride.

Destruction Derby

Psygnosis – October 1995

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Another popular early title released one month after WipeOut and therefore coincided with my wage cheque and subsequently was the second game I purchased.

Whereas with WipeOut it was best to avoid opponents on the race track, Destruction Derby encourage such ‘sport’.

Not only did it play very well, Destruction Derby looked absolutely brilliant with detailed 3d modelled cars each with it’s own unique livery, transparent tyre smoke, arid black engine smoke and an accurately detailed damage model as you watch your once pristine vehicle turn into a smashed, twisted and crumpled wreck.

Race circuits were equally detailed with excellent use of texture and lighting and like WipeOut contained advertisements for other PSX titles in game, something that had rarely been tried before and gave this surreal title a certain sense of reality.

Destruction Derby has plenty of great race options including a great two player hook up with two PSX consoles – it was a favourite recently at one of the gaming events at the Retro Computer Museum last year and something we must try again.

Time Trial – probably the weakest game mode as no one is bothered about lap times when you could be ramming your opponent against the wall. Still it provides practise time to get to grips with your car and familiarise yourself with the track layout.

Stock Car Racing – Traditional stock car racing where the top three drivers to reach the finish line after a number of laps will points and go up the leaderboard.

Wreckin’ Racing – by far the most fun game type as points are rewarded for smashing into the other cars to wreck them or spin them around. Hitting them in the right place will spin them 360 degrees and provide you with extra bonus points.

Each driver has their own personality and you find yourself getting to like or dislike certain drivers. Spin them out and they’ll yell out signature catch phases.

The destruction bowl – no start or finish line, just a big ass open space filled with all of other drivers. Your goal, smash up all of the other cars until their engine breaks (signified by plumes of black smoke) and avoid being hit yourself. Let the carnage begin….how long can you survive?

As an opening game Destruction Derby showed us the the technical prowess of Sony’s new box and it’s ability to throw so much stuff at the screen without stuttering. Certainly impressed the hell out of me and friends and yet was only a taster of things to come.

It might have CD scratches, but my original copy of Destruction Derby still appears to boots o.k.

Buying my third title, I recall, was a bit of a difficult decision? Do I go for the beautifully looking conversion of Namco’s Ridge Racer or do I step away from racing for a bit and buy the next big release, the one on one fighting game – Tekken?

In the end I went for the latter, although I did finally add Ridge Racer to my collection a few weeks later.

Tekken

Namco – November 1995

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Prior to the release of the Playstation, many gamers had a difficult choice, do they buy the latest console from Sega, the Sega Saturn with it’s fine collection of Sega arcade conversions like Daytona, Sega Rally and Virtua Fighter, or wait for the release from Sony in the hope that all the hype in the gaming publications at the time that this would be a far superior machine would turn out to be true…..how many times have we been here before 😉

In the end I opted to wait for Sony although I did deeply regretted not being able to play Virtua Fighter as it’s big brother standing in the in arcade halls was one of my favourites at the time.

With the purchase of Tekken for my new console I had high hopes, especially as, at the time Tekken was relatively unknown to me and had yet to see it in the arcades.

It goes without saying that I wasn’t disappointed and as you’ve probably played it yourself, you’ll know it’s damn fine game.

Outside of the arcades, Tekken was the first 3D fighting game I’d played and was such a refreshing and change to the 2D titles of the Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat series. The 3D aspect gives the game a more realistic look and adds a new dimension (no pun) to what has come before….and so too with Battle Arena Toshinden.

It’s full of colourful and memorable fighters, a huge list of fighting moves, throws, specials and combos as well as, if you can master them, 10 hit combos and multi special moves which see’s your character perform an unstoppable array of punishing and bone breaking attacks. I spent ages mastering Kings special wrestling combo’s but could never get the timing right for Nina’s

Today, Tekken, Destruction Derby and WipeOut are still such great games to play. They can all be picked up second hand for just a few pounds and likewise PSX console bundles are very cheap too. This time around I don’t think I’ll have one missing in from my collection again.

iOS Retro Gaming: Hardlines and Air Fox

It’s becoming quite clear that for an old joystick junkie like me, Apple’s app store really is a huge treasure chest of classic games. There’s so many wonderful titles that take inspiration from their vintage counterparts whether in looks, soundwise or gameplay, there’s always something that’s a throw back to a classic and begs for one more go. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of duds out there but these two are not destined for my recycle bin.

Air Fox

You’ve only go to look at the screen shots below to see what classic this is based on.

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….and just like Activisions 1982 hit, River Raid, Air Fox has it all, including those chunky Atari 2600 graphics. It plays perfectly on the iPad too with the tilt gyroscope being used to steer your aircraft left and right and up/down for acceleration and brakes leaving your thumbs free to tap the screen to fire your gun.

Gameplay is the same as River Raid, destroy or dodge the enemy ships and aircraft, steer your craft around the twisting terrain, avoid collision with the ground and bridges whilst keeping an eye on your ever depleting fuel. Fuel pods are scattered throughout the game map and flying over then will give you a top up. Unlike River Raid, your fuel is used up much quicker therefore Air Fox is not as forgiving if you miss a fuel pod.

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Even without rose tinted glasses, Air Fox is one damn fine pick up and play game in it’s own right. A worthy nod to Activision.

The original River Raid box art. Funny enough, I spent a few hours playing this (and many more classic 2600 carts) just the other day at the Retro Computer Museum. It’s no wonder I’m hooked again!

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Hard Lines

If there’s one game that i’ve played the most since getting my iPad, then Hard Lines wins this hands done without a shadow of a doubt.

Ok, so I’ve got a bit of a thing for neon vectors but Hard Lines’ devilishly addictive gameplay keeps me coming back over and over again thanks to it’s pick up and play dynamic. You can play for 60 second an have fun or loose hours with this one.

Hard lines is a remake of the classic Centipede/Snake games with a touch of Light Cycles from the Tron movies. There are various modes of play which range from classic Centipede mode where the aim here is to run over the flashing icons to gain points (but also causes your ‘line’ to gain size) and carefully navigate the game map without crashing into your every increasing line.

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Survival mode (my favourite) see yours and many more lines on the game map and the aim is to cause you’re opponents line to crash into yours or another opponents line. It’s like one huge royal rumble light cycle fest…..a thon. Destroyed lines leave behind flashing ‘things’ which when collected increase your line size and thus giving you an advantage over your opponents.

Timed mode is also a lot of fun as you race around collecting the flashing icons to increase your time. The more icons you collect the longer your line becomes and the once large game map soon becomes a very tight place to be!

Some of the random text messages are so funny.

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Control of your line can be handled in three ways to suit your taste. Either finger swipe left or right to steer, touch the area you wish to move to steer or use the tilt mechanism to steer.

Even on the smaller iPhone screen it plays well, but on the iPad, it’s outstanding.

Retro Gaming: R-Type Delta – Sony PSX

If you ask a retro gamer to list their all time favorite coin-op shooters, I’d hazard a guess that R-Type would probably make their list.

Irem’s classic shooter, R-Type is one of those games that I kinda grew up with and have been shooting the crap out of the Bydo Empire since the original arcade cabinet was released in 1987. It set the standards for many classic shooters and remains as addictive in it’s original incarnation and beyond with  numerous conversions and sequels.

In 1998 (1999 for our European release), Irem released the fourth in the series on Sony PlayStation called R-Type Delta.  At a time when full 3D graphics were becoming the norm, Irem thankfully retained the original 2D side scrolling aspect of the original and used 3D polygonal effects on the PlayStation to enhance the overall look without affecting the gameplay or nostalgic 80’s appearance.

R-Type Delta introduced for the first time in the series,  three new ships to select, the enhanced R-9A, based on the original R9 fighter, the R-X Albatross and R-19 Ceberus. Each with it’s own unique weapons systems and Force Power that can be enhanced even further with power ups. In addition, new to R-Type Delta is the DOSE weapons system. By charging your ships Force pod either by contact from enemies or enemy fire, the DOSE  systems increases the overall attack capabilities of your ship  and once fully charged can release the almighty ‘Delta’ weapon.

Graphically, it’s stunning with the 3D rendering and lighting capabilities of the PlayStation put to good use over seven beautifully crafted stages. Starting on  Earth as you repel the invading Bydo intruders until the  final showdown at the Bydo core, it’s the great level design that really shines above all others.

Gameplay is on par with this predecessors, fast and furious without being frustrating thanks it’s steady learning curve and tactical approach to the weapons systems.

R-Type Delta definitely has that ‘just one more go’ factor and is a worthy edition to the series and  well worth tracking down a copy to add to your PlayStation or indeed your shooter collection. Likewise, such is the popularity of the R-Type games that many have been re-released on the PS3 network, Apple iPhone/iPad and Wii Virtual Console.