Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful. And since we’ve no place to go, let’s watch the hands down greatest Christmas movie of all time, Die Hard! Yes, it’s an action movie, and no, it doesn’t talk about the true meaning of Christmas, but it is about getting together with your loved ones and the importance of family, be it how much you love your wife, whose being held hostage by a murderer, or the bond between a terrorist and his brother whose neck you broke. It’s set on Christmas eve, festive decorations and trees abound, and it ends with Vaughn Monroe singing Let It Snow. That’s good enough for me to pop this classic on every December.
One series that I have had a rough love hate relationship with is Capcom’s Resident Evil. For a long time I’ve wanted desperately for it to be great, while being regularly disappointed. There are titles in the series that are truly excellent, genre defining horror games, and those titles make the far stupider and ill conceived entries all the more painful by comparison.
I was introduced to the series at its peak, in 2002 when Capcom released the Nintendo exclusive Resident Evil Zero. This game was originally slated for the N64, but production ran long enough that it became an appealing prospect to make the game a showcase for the GameCube’s power. As a bonus, the first RE title received a full remake with new assets, a reworked script, and all new story content. Both this remake and Zero are impressive titles that make for excellent survival horror experiences.
Although Konami has taken a turn for the worse in recent years, at least as far as the gaming landscape is concerned, we will always have those old mainstay series to fondly look back on. Excellent hits like the Metal Gear series, with its fun arcadey stealth and bonkers story, Silent Hill with it’s mastery of horror and subtlety before the US studios got their hands on it, and Castlevania, the all out monster mash throwing the demon hordes of the night at you in consistently high quality titles. the only thing it couldn’t survive was the third dimension. Today I’d like to take another look at the forgotten children of the Castlevania series, the Gameboy titles.
Having grown up in a Nintendo household, I rarely saw any Sony material. I remember school yard squabbles about N64 vs PlayStation, with neither side really knowing anything about the other. Back then, my only encounters with the PlayStation came from visiting my cousins, or with a neighbor, so I only had a glancing knowledge of the system’s library. Some characters stood out in the commercials and magazines I saw at the time, like Crash Bandicoot and Spyro, but besides those big names and some more obscure titles, it was undiscovered territory for me.
The late nineties saw the coming of a particular brand of hyper stylized action. Directors like the Wachowskis and John Woo made films that presented sweeping, heavily choreographed, action set pieces that experimented with cinematography in new and interesting ways. Some of these movies, like The Matrix, became cultural touchstones, whose effects are still felt to this day, while others, like Face/Off, were too ridiculous to be ignored.
Gaming was also advancing at this time and the next generation of consoles was on the way. Sony’s Playstation 2, Microsoft’s XBox, and Nintendo’s Gamecube were all capable of cutting edge graphics, comparable to what PCs could do at the time. Many projects originally planned for the PS1 and N64 were moved to the new hardware, and a small Finnish company, Remedy Entertainment, reconfigured their upcoming third person shooter to take full advantage of the new hardware.
This time we take a look at a third party light gun for the 16-bit era, the Konami Justifier. In the past, most peripherals for the 8-bit systems had little in the way of competition. Ideas like the Power Glove and LJN’s Rollin’ Rocker were major flops in their own right, so no one wanted to copy them, While others like the NES Power Pad had potential that was not fully realized until the home version of Dance Dance Revolution came around. On the whole though, most systems that had a light gun had just one designed in house. The NES had the Zapper, the Sega Master System had the Phaser, and later the Saturn had the Stunner. But when the Justifier came around things got a little complicated.
Do your ever have those moments where you see something and it doesn’t leave much of an impact, but then years after you’ve forgotten about it, you see it again and it hits a dormant memory? This was the case for me with a particular NES game.
When I was a small child we would visit my grandmother and at her home was my uncle’s collection of NES games. Even though I was terrible at playing them, I still loved trying them out. Now, at the time I could barely read, and more often than not my brother would be the one actually playing through the games, but they still left impressions on me through the covers, the manuals, or the games themselves.
Although there were the classics, there were some games that were just to complex for a little kid to understand. One such game had a grey label depicting a man in a suit with a machine gun. I found the game hard to follow and I had no idea what I was supposed to do. All I could get from it was that you were exploring a city and there was a lot of reading involved.