Jims Blog

Vandal Hearts

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Where to start, where to start…  Vandal Hearts is a game from my childhood which I absolutely loved, back in the 90s times were hard and money to buy new video games was not as readily available to me as it is today however the local video shop rented out a small selection of PS1 games and for a couple of pounds I could have a game for 3 days.  Vandal Hearts was one of the games I rented and perhaps the only PS1 game remember renting by name.

Before I talk about how much I love the game I’d like to share my story of playing this as a child as this is part of what made me remember the game so fondly, and it’s quite funny too in my opinion

So back in 1997 I rented this game one Friday night as was the tradition, this gave me the weekend to play the game and I’d have to take it back on Monday after school.  Not having access to the internet at the time or a guide on how to play the game and where all the secrets were I had to do this the fun/hard way, through trial and error.  Over the course of the weekend I worked my way through the game helping Ash and his companions fight evil and bring good to the world once more however on Sunday evening it became obvious that I wasn’t going to finish the game and would have to return it uncompleted.

This didn’t sit well with me, I knew that I wouldn’t have enough money to rent the game again for a couple of week and there was no telling if it would even be available for me to rent when I actually had the money so I decided to power through and complete it before I went to bed.  The good news is that I was able to do it, the bad news was I completed the game at around 8am Monday, this gave me around 30 minutes to get ready for school.  

By lunch time I was really flagging but I knew after lunch I had double woodwork and there was no way that I could be tired in that class, it was one of my favorites and with all the machinery going you couldn’t really get sleepy, or so I thought.  That day the teacher, Mr. Reynolds, decided that he would start with an hour of theory, testing us on what various tools were and what scenarios we’d use them for, I barely made it through that by the skin of my teeth, after this I thought just an hour till home time, just a little longer, then came out the quiz papers. He’d decided that the second half of the lesson would be a quiz/essay to check our understanding.  This is where I fell, asleep that is.

There was no talking teacher to pay attention to, just a piece of paper in front of my, before I knew it I had fallen asleep on the paper and was awoken by a loud thud next to me. Mr. Reynolds had hit the desk with a wooden mallet to wake me. I apologised and explained I hadn’t been able to sleep the night before and he joked that it wasn’t an excuse but he let me away with it and no more was said. 

As for Vandal Hearts itself, the game is a turn based tactics RPG which was made by Konami in 1996, I think. The game follows a small group (3) of members of heroes which gradually grows to an almost unmanageable (12) mess.  

A lot of the characters aren’t particularly well developed, they have brief patches of story when they join you but beyond that there isn’t really much growth for them, it would have been nice if there were a number of side missions where you get a glimpse back on them to find what brought them to the point where you met them and possibly a few missions post meeting them where you get a bit more progression for them.

The game itself however plays really well, there is a good range of choice in role progression for each of the characters however after their first choice they are kind of locked in to their path, the combat system works quite well and there is a great deal of tactical thinking required to beat each of the stages while getting the treasures and keeping as many people alive as possible.

Overall I’d still say that this is a great game which has remained fun and challenging to this day. I’d also highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t played it as it really is a fantastic play.

Discworld

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I decided that after weeks and weeks of gameplay with Medievil which I finished last week that I’d move on to a game which was relatively shorter and yet something that I enjoyed in my younger years, as such I picked up Discworld.

Discworld is a point and click adventure game on the PS1 bases around the stories of Terry Pratchett.  The first game in this franchise, and the one I was playing through, followed the adventures of Rincewind the wizard who is trying to stop a dragon from destroying the town of Anch Morpok.

I remember back in the day completing this and it taking months of effort going from place to place looking for the one item which enabled you to carry on your adventure, unfortunately coming back to it these years later actually lessened the experience for me. Don’t get me wrong here, the magic was still there, Eric Idles excellent voice acting classes mbines with Pratchett’s witty world.  

Where I struggled was I either remembered what you had to go and what you had to collect or when I got stuck I didn’t have the patience to go through every chat option to find the right option and resorted to an online resource to find the next step.  This really took away from my enjoyment of the game and looking forward to the other two Discworld games in my collection I will be desperately avoiding doing this.

I did also find a couple of points with the game kind of annoying, firstly the inability to say the word monkey without being clattered by the librarian, I know that’s what happens in the books and appreciated it the first time but when you get the exact same, unskipable, animation each time it gets old fast.

Second, for much the same reason, the dragon summoning, constantly saying dragon over and over is not a summon gets old fast.

Other than this the only real bug bear I had was the lack of load screen on the main menu so each time I turned off the computer I has to start a new game and load it from there.

Overall a great game which has remained quite fun and one I’d recommend to this day.

The Predator (2018)

Home > Blog > The Predator (2018)

It’s been a couple of weeks now since we got out to the cinema, partially my fault as I’d skipped a week through feeling ill and then the following week we made it to the cinema but ended up staying in the pub as there wasn’t much to see and we wanted to save The Predator for this week.

I think I’ll start off with what The Predator did rather well, which was it didn’t take itself seriously, they paid homage to Arnie and dropped a couple of lines in to let the audience know it was part of the franchise and belonged but where possible they dropped in a joke or something to break the tension.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, that’s pretty much then end of the good points. The film suffered from what is becoming more and more of an issue with major Hollywood films these days and that is the constant dumbing down of the film to be sure that audiences remain abreast of what is going on, my favourite example of this which doesn’t spoil much, if anything, in the film is where we are shown fence with a great big sign on it saying Danger, electric fence, this point is then reiterated when you see someone attach jumper cables to the fence and then driven home when someone is electrocuted on it. I mean for fucks sake, how many times do you need to call out this thing is electrified, don’t even get me started on the fact that the electric fence is powered by jumper cables…

Other than this the film didn’t really have a great story to tell it just felt like it was setting the scene/testing the waters for the next film in the Predator series.  

Overall I’d give this 2/5 and I think that I am possibly being generous here.

MediEvil box art

MediEvil

Home > Blog > MediEvil

For a while now I have been collecting and playing old school games, it feels a little like me having a mid-life crisis and trying to capture my youth. That being said for the most part it has been an enjoyable way to pass some time and get regress to a time when gaming was simpler.

Over the past month or three however I have been focusing my efforts on a Playstation 1 game called MediEvil, in this game you take control a character called Daniel Fortesque, an undead skeleton knight who is brought back 100 years after his death. Daniel is a famed warrior of the people who believe that he fell in mortal combat with the villain of the game, Zarok, the truth however is that Daniel fell in the first charge, to the first arrow fired which took him in the eye.

The game itself is actually pretty fun, it’s a little hack and slash but as you progress through the levels you gain better weapons which enable you to take on stronger foes and there are challenges in the game which still hold up to this day.  

While on the most part MediEvil is a good game it does have one failing… the characters ability to jump. Now for 90% of the game this isn’t something you need to worry about on one particular level (The Ghost Ship) you are required to either jump across three or four platforms which are rising and falling or alternatively you are required to jump across some swinging platforms onto some rotating platforms to get to the end of stage boss, worse still is after doing this if you wish to get the chalice you have to go back over the area you jumped and repeat the process.

Falling from these platforms costs you a health bar (which at this point of the game you will have between 4-6) and it will return you to the platform you fell from, unfortunately the jumping is that bad that it has took me 3 different attempts to get through this averaging out at an hour or two each time. 

I’ll be honest, I am not the greatest gamer, I am good but I know I make mistakes and I accept that. That said this has to be the most infuriating part of any game I can think of in recent history, how this made it through play testing and QA is beyond me, I mean at one point I was raging so hard that I actually threw my controller on the floor and raged out of the room. It’s a platformer game where you can’t actually platform, FFS, get your shit together before you release something to live. 

Jim’s Status

Current mood: Angry

What am I up to: Gaming

Here we go again…

Home > Blog > Here we go again…

For the past couple of weeks now I have been having some issues with my PC, to be honest they’ve been going on longer but my recent deep dive into Netflix and retro gaming has moved the issue from something that needed doing urgently to something that can wait a while.  

Well with the release of the new Warcraft expansion, Battle for Azeroth, I have found myself using the PC on a near daily basis for at least an hour a day and it’s no longer something that I can live with. 

One thing that always comes to mind when I start this process is that it always seems to take longer than you expect, many a time for past installations I’ve thought to myself, “Hey, it’s only 10pm, I can reinstall Windows, redownload my apps and get everything patching while I sleep, then at 2am I am sat red-eyed at my PC waiting for the latest updates, or for the process to complete. 

Anyway, I better crack on with the install, I have an EULA agreement to “read” and agree to…

The redesign lives

Home > Blog > The redesign lives

Been a little bored of late and had some time to myself so I decided to wipe the site and re-do it with a new theme and features. 

More updates should be coming soon however for now feel free to get your revenge for all the things I’ve tested and failed in the past and call out all the defects in this site.