REVIEW: Metal Gear Solid

Poll Winner: METAL GEAR SOLID

Developed by Konami and released in 1998, Metal Gear Solid was directed, produced and written by  mgsHideo Kojima. Kojima is now synonymous with the Metal Gear Solid franchise and its because of his love and dedication that the series has been so spectacular. The game features Solid Snake, a secret agent who must invade a military base without being detected, discovering sinister plans, plot twists and interesting characters along the way. Metal Gear Solid was only for the Playstation and had significant success in sales and review scores, helping it spawn several sequels over the next couple decades. It was later rereleased on the GameCube as Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes.

There isn’t much to comment on towards Metal Gear Solid‘s cover art. Visually the game holds up surprisingly well for one that had made a valiant attempt at looking realistic. In the graphics department the mgs gifgame is definitely in the top echelon in its generation. Musically Metal Gear Solid holds up incredibly also, with a soundtrack that helps set the tone of this game being basically a play along secret agent movie and less of a traditional video game. Nothing helps set that tone better than the intro of the game, which sets up the story and characters with Hollywood quality camera angles and cuts that made me forget I was playing a video game for a few minutes. There are also small touches, like the mind-blowing moment when Psycho Mantis somehow knows what you’ve been playing or watching recently on your PlayStation (reads the memory card). Superb voice acting adds to the experience, making me feel like I was listening in on actual real life conversations. It was so good in fact that it helped these fantastical, outlandish characters like Psycho Mantis and Revolver Ocelot feel somehow grounded in realism. Everything is set up to immerse the player in the game/movie and pulls the task off beautifully.

As far as the story itself (I may get crucified for this) I am not a huge fan. The story is interesting enough that it keeps me engaged, but the word convoluted does not even begin to describe the plot that this series has shaped into over the years. I love the stealth gameplay of Metal Gear Solid, which rewards patience and intelligence. The style of the gameplay holds up well with time, as it doesn’t rely on killer graphics to be fun or rewarding. Exploring isn’t required, but is rewarding, adding more time and interest to a game that is already a healthy length.

The only place I really found Metal Gear Solid lacking was in the controls at some points in the game. Choosing your weapon and changing the camera are not easy tasks, especially in a frantic point of the action. Later Metal Gear Solid games improved upon these small issues and I’m thrilled with that. Of all the games of the Saturn/PS1/N64 games I’ve played lately I have to say Metal Gear Solid may just hold up the best out of all of them. The energy, interesting characters and killer gameplay age even better than Big Boss himself.

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REVIEW: Sony PlayStation

PLAYSTATION REVIEW

The original PlayStation is the biggest and most boring designs of its generation. The design of its controller, the DualShock, more than makes up for that though. It was the best controller to yet come out in my opinion. It had what everyone wanted, which was four standard buttons, two rows of shoulder buttons and a solid pad, but added that extra new layer of awesomeness: dual analog thumbsticks. Those thumbsticks were the start of something beautiful: controls that help the player become truly immersed in the new 3D technology that this generation of consoles were introducing. The DualShock not only has all these great mechanical features, it also feels very comfortable and looks nice too. Many, if not most, gamers will tell you that the DualShock or one of its successors is their favorite controller ever. I found it to be the best thing about the PlayStation.

In the graphics and sound department I found the PlayStation to be pretty equal to the Saturn. I also think it doesn’t hold up well because of the same concerns discussed with the Saturn. There are a couple games that still look good, but they are for the most part games who’s visual designs are basic. Other games which we would’ve back then credited as looking realistic are now the ones that look the worst nearly twenty years later. It isn’t their fault, they just look blurry and undefined in contrast to how far video game technology has come in such a short period of time. I also had some small issues with the discs reading properly, even ones that look pristine. Once a game did work properly I had no problems with any extraordinary load times, console noise or freezing.

The library of the PlayStation is impressive, much more so than the Saturn’s. Many great franchises either gained tons of attention there or were birthed there like Tomb Raider, Metal ffviiGear Solid, Resident Evil, Spyro the Dragon, Final Fantasy and Twisted Metal. I think the PlayStation sold well because it was a slight step performance wise above the Saturn, had an amazing controller, had a great library and because Sony was open to working with so many outside publishers. This was a time in gaming history where several new and talented developers got their start and the vast majority of them did so on the PlayStation, because of its technical capabilities and because of Sony’s desire to play well with others.

I personally recommend a PlayStation to any video game collector. While it may be out shined by its big brother (the PS2) it has plenty going for itself with the introduction of the DualShock and the birth or revitalization of so many key gaming franchises.

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Cast your vote for which Playstation game I should play and review

PSXIn preparation for my set of Sony Playstation blog posts, we need to select our 3 games for me to play and review. You guys get to vote to decide what one of the three games will be. You can vote by commenting on this blog post or by using the strawpoll link. If you wish to nominate a game not listed you will have to comment.

POLL: http://goo.gl/Z2VJHz

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HISTORY / COLLECTING: Sony Playstation

HISTORY OF SONY

Like Nintendo and Sega before it, Sony was a Japanese based entertainment company before it began the journey into video gaming. It was created back in 1946 and was a simple electronics shop called Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo, with only eight employees. They changed their name to Sony when wanting to enter the global market after inventing Japan’s first tape recorder and a quality transistor radio. Over the next few decades Sony expanded massively, branching into life insurance, movies and music. Its video gaming subsidiary, Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc (SCEI),wasn’t created until 1993.

HISTORY OF PLAYSTATION1280px-PSX-Console-wController

Just a year after SCEI’s creation Sony launched the Sony Playstation in Japan. Playstation is actually a product of technology that almost went to Nintendo. In the late 80s Sony and Nintendo were working together to create a CD-ROM based format to be used as an add-on to the SNES. Nintendo eventually cancelled the idea and partnership after many internal disputes and back-stabs between the two companies, after which Sony decided to create SCEI and make their own console using similar CD-ROM technology. If you are interested in the details of the disputes I suggest visiting the Sony and Nintendo pages on Wikipedia. There’s a very detailed, interesting and crazy history. Like the Saturn, the Playstation uses 3D models and polygon graphics. The Playstation’s controller was very different than any before it. While the four button layout was similar to the SNES’s, the Playstation’s controller used four-way directional buttons (slightly different from your standard “d-pad”) and had optional dual analog sticks that give the player more feel of 3D motion. Playstation also was one of the first consoles to require a memory card, utilizing Sony’s own “Magic Gate” proprietary card.

The Playstation wouldn’t see North American shores until 1995, at a launch price of $299 ($469.78 today adjusted for inflation), an entire $100 cheaper than the Sega Saturn, its competitor at the time. The launch library was one of the best ever, with Rayman, Ridge Racer, Battle Arena Toshinden, Warhawk, Philosoma and Air Combat. Ridge Racer and Rayman were very popular and have become successful ongoing franchises over the years. The Playstation outsold and outperformed the Saturn every step of the way, leading the video game market until its first real competition, the N64, launched a year later. Sales for the Playstation were very high, selling over 102 million units before its eventual discontinuation in 2006. Its lifespan of 12 years is one of the longest in gaming history.

PERSONAL HISTORY WITH THE PLAYSTATION

Growing up I never owned a Playstation. I went from a SNES to an N64. But like my experience with visiting my grandmas to play the Saturn, I had places I visited regularly that had a Playstation. Most of my friends had them, including my best friend who I driverstayed with at least once a month. I have fond memories of multiplayer with him on Twisted Metal 2 and Tekken 3. He also had Tomb Raider, Crash Bandicoot and Driver, all fantastic games at the time. My uncle also had a Playstation and he had all the shooters that my friend’s mom wouldn’t let him have. I experienced Metal Gear Solid, Duke Nukem, Doom and Resident Evil for the first time at his house. That was when shooters really became popular with gamers. Those games along with Saturn’s Virtua Cop were what initially hooked me on shooters. I remember really liking the controller’s analog sticks and two rows of shoulder buttons. The Dualshock was definitely my favorite controller at the time.

COLLECTING FOR THE PLAYSTATION

The original Playstation is kind of average in price and difficulty to collect. The system itself and most of its hit games aren’t too difficult to find at decent prices. The Playstation can be found under $50 and the average game is around $15-20. But a few of the games most people would deem as “must-owns” are over $25, like Crash Bandicoot, Final Fantasy VII, Parappa the Rapper and Silent Hill. Prices also are 1280px-PSone-Console-Set-NoLCDhigher if you are an OCD collector who only wants “black-label” versions of the games. Black-labels are on Playstation 1 and 2 games when they originally release. If they are re-released years later as a “Greatest Hit” or something like that then they have green or red labels respectively. So if you’re someone who insists every case on the shelf line-up exactly and be the exact same color then you can expect to pay a few bucks more. As far as the system you can save a few bucks by buying the later model Playstation Slim if you aren’t worried about whether you own the original version of a console or not. The Slim model also tends to run much better and is less likely to have been damaged over time.

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REVIEW: Sonic Triple Trouble

Personal Favorite: SONIC TRIPLE TROUBLE

Like Tails Adventure, Triple Trouble was published by Sega and developed by Aspect. It launched in 1994 to decent reviews and good sales. Gameplay of Triple Trouble is very similar to the Genesis series of Sonic platformers and that was the biggest gripe reviewers had about it. It was re-released on the 3DS eShop but has had no direct sequels.

I’m really digging the art for Triple Trouble because it showcases my favorite level and also shows Nack the Weasel who made his debut in this game. The graphics of Triple Trouble are on par with the other two games I reviewed. It looks great for an 8-bit game and has great sprites. Where I find it better than the other two games is in the soundtrack. Triple Trouble probably has the best soundtrack on the entire system and I expect nothing less from a game with “Sonic” in the title.

I had the same two issues with Triple Trouble that other reviewers had: it has nothing unique about its gameplay compared to the Genesis games and the game just is overall too easy. A lot of it can be sped through with little to no need to dodge or destroy any enemies. Sonic games can be forgiven for this if they have tough and interesting boss battles but Triple Trouble does not succeed there either. Don’t get me wrong, Triple Trouble has its moments. The snowboard zone is the best and only change of pace.

The addition of Nack was mildly interesting. But all in all it just feels like Triple Trouble needs another one or two small thing(s) here or there to ascend it into a truly fantastic game. A unique gameplay mechanic or a couple more unique zones woulda helped it hit that mark. Regardless I still very much enjoyed Triple Trouble and recommend it to Game Gear collectors, as it is an original Sonic game and not a direct port. Pick it up if you get a chance.

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REVIEW: Tails Adventure

Personal Favorite: TAILS ADVENTURE

We will be doing Game Gear a bit different. Since I have a small Game Gear library and there are also a limited number of decent games for the system I have chosen three of the better and more popular titles to review.

In 1995 Sega published Tails Adventure, which was developed by Aspect (who developed all 133px-Tails_adventureSonic games up until then). Although its a 2D sidescroller, unlike most Sonic games Tails Adventure features Tails as the only playable character. It also has nothing to do with the main plot-line of Sonic games. Tails is working to save his island from a group of evil birds, the Battle Kukku Army. Tails Adventure had positive reviews and decent sales but spawned no direct sequels.

The artwork is cartoony and Tails looks really goofy, I expect nothing less from a game featuring one of the most made-fun-of video game characters ever. The game’s graphics are also cartoony. Tails Adventure doesn’t have many tracks but the music it does have is solid. There is a decent amount of personality in the enemies and Tails. Like how when Tails walks there’s a strut in his step and how he makes a tired, panting expression when he’s been hovering too long. Enemy birds make a squawk when damaged and scurry away with a humorous, shocked expression.

Tails Adventure has quite unique gameplay for a Sonic themed game, unlike any other entries in the series. Tails doesn’t speed through levels. He walks methodically through, using bombs and other tools to defeat enemies and to progress through levels.

Tools are earned at the end of levels or through exploration and include a wide variety of items like bombs, an RC robot and missiles. This system of progression is reminiscent of other games of the time period like the Metroid or Zelda games. The health system is very different too. You don’t lose all of your rings when hit, only a set amount (usually 1 or 5 dependent upon what hit you). They’re also harder to come by than typical Sonic games which again leads to slower and methodical play.

I enjoy the change of pace and overall find the game to be really fun. It could use a wider variety of regular enemies and an injection of mini-bosses, but overall its a fun plat-former and a must own for the Game Gear. You won’t find another Sonic universe game quite like this so if you own a Game Gear, Tails Adventure is worth adding to your collection.

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