Tag: Desert Island Games

Desert Island Games: Episode 2, part 3

Desert Island Games

Back for the final instalment of MHTL’s list of eight games to take away to a desert island. We’ve had a very eclectic mix of titles from across many generations and we’re bang up to date with these final choices. So on with the show.

Rock Band 3 is a 2010 music video game developed by Harmonix. The game was initially published and distributed by MTV Games and Electronic Arts respectively in late October 2010. Mad Catz took over both roles and re-released the title on November 23, 2011. It is the third main game in the Rock Band series. As with the previous titles, Rock Band 3 allows players to simulate the playing of rock music and many other sub-genres using special instrument controllers mimicking lead and bass guitar, drums, and vocals. Rock Band 3 expands upon previous games by including three-part vocal harmonies — previously used in both The Beatles: Rock Band and Green Day: Rock Band (up to three singers on a song) — plus support for MIDI-compatible keyboards, electronic drum kits, and even use of a real guitar in “Pro” mode.

Rex: So it’s your third game on the 360, would you consider it to be your favourite ever console?
MHTL: It’s definitely up there. I’d say I probably have fonder memories of the GameCube, mainly due to its focus on local multiplayer. Most of my favourite moments in gaming come from having groups of friends over and having long fought battles on Mario Kart, Smash Bros or WarioWare. It’s something that I miss quite a lot from todays games. I’d always been a Nintendo fan until towards the end of the GameCube generation when I picked up an original Xbox on the cheap. I’d always been curious about some of those games (especially Halo) and I ended up really enjoying it. So when 360 came along I was there on day one. That launch was fantastic, some real classic games, a great controller and the hardware was brilliant. Xbox Live Arcade was a revelation, and obviously I loved the new achievements system. When Nintendo went in the direction they did with Wii and motion controls I was pretty disappointed, and I abandoned Nintendo shortly afterwards.

What’s your favourite instrument in Rock Band?
Any of them! We tend to swap around a lot at Rock Band gatherings. I’ve enjoyed rhythm action games for a while (even had Samba de Amigo on the Dreamcast at one point) but Guitar Hero really took that to a new level. I remember playing that for the first time and fumbling my way through the first track on Easy difficulty thinking I’d never master it. Of course with practice it all becomes a bit easier, and since the introduction of Rock Band I’m pretty much an expert player on most instruments. I’d say these days I’ll default to vocals, I’m pretty good (well, I can carry a tune unlike some of our crew!) and I do find it a fun way to play. I love guitar too, especially on songs where there’s a meaty solo or riff to get my teeth into. Drums is probably my weak point, I can still play on hard but only for a couple of tracks or so. Drumming is hard work!

Have you spent a lot on RB DLC over the years?
:shifty: Yeah, way too much. These days I only tend to get stuff in a sale, but back in the day I was buying anything by any band I’d even heard of. It’s a great way to extend the life of the game though, and some of the best songs are DLC add-ons. More Than a Feeling by Boston, Buddy Holly by Weezer and Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey are all popular DLC tracks when we play.

Why not Rock Band 4?
Ugh, Rock Band 4 is a bit of a disaster. I was really excited by the prospect of playing RB on the new consoles but the reality is that so much stuff was broken at launch that it was difficult to even play. They’ve fixed most of it now, but the fact remains that they really dropped the ball with this one. Pretty much everything they added is a novelty. The new ‘unscripted’ solos sound like fun, but actually just consist of totally random strumming. There’s a technique you’re supposed to use but it’s impossible to explain to people that have just come round for a quick game. Harmony vocals for every track is a great addition for the three people that actually use it. And don’t even get me started on the new ‘relaxed’ rules for DLC tracks, which mean we’ve had songs with keyboard parts charted to guitar and songs which don’t use master stems. Speaking of keyboard, I’m gutted that they took out support for this with RB4. I didn’t use it that much, but it’s still a nice feature to have, and now my keyboard is practically worthless. The biggest thing RB3 has over 4 is its tracklist, which is far superior in every way. The third game has the best and most varied of any music game ever made. I’m aware that you can export those tracks into the fourth game for a fee, but since I’d like to save most of my DLC requests for the next game I think I could live with just the base tracks from the third game. Just let me have More Than a Feeling, OK?

Pinball FX 2 is a pinball video game for Xbox 360, Xbox One and Windows and is the sequel to Pinball FX. It was developed by Zen Studios and published by Microsoft Studios. It was released on 27 October 2010 via the Xbox Live Arcade service. The game includes several new features, such as local multiplayer and the ability to tweak table settings. MHTL’s seventh choice is Pinball FX 2 for the Xbox One.

Have you carried this over from 360 and does it allow you to bring over any DLC as well?
I’ve been playing Pinball FX since it first released on 360, although back then it was a shadow of the game it is now. I’ve always been a fan of Pinball but they never seemed to make a decent video game version of it, either going for the hardcore authentic copies of traditional tables (which seemed pointless to me) or by making a total novelty version, like Sonic Spinball back in the day. When this launched I was really impressed that they’d made a game which felt realistic but also embraced being a video game, having certain things you couldn’t really do on a regular table. To me that seemed like the perfect compromise, it’s game-y but not in a way that ever stops you thinking you’re playing pinball.

Pinball FX 2 was the perfect sequel, it just kicked everything up a notch and the tables were of a far higher standard, both graphically and mechanically. They also started adding licensed tables, which despite my initial concerns turned out to be fantastic. They’re really careful to be considerate to the source material, meaning that Star Wars or Marvel themed tables are a real treat for fans of those franchises. The Xbox One version allows you to transfer most of the 360 tables over, and they’ve all had a visual makeover which is really impressive. I suppose technically the 360 version has the most tables available for it (even now, Zen are still making tables for that platform) but the added sheen makes the One version the definitive edition.

Do you have the full library of tables?
I have the majority, but these days I always tend to wait for a sale before purchasing things. Thankfully the tables are regularly discounted to half price, so I usually pick them up then. For my Desert Island trip, ideally I’d like to take all of the tables with me though, the massive variety of themes and styles is what makes Pinball FX 2 so appealing for this. It’s amazing how different tables play so differently, working out how to complete each mission and head for the Wizard Mode is absolutely enthralling. Plus, y’know, high scores!

Which is you favourite table?
I have loads. I love the Star Wars ones, the new Aliens pack is excellent and Blade and Moon Knight of the Marvel collection. But the original designs are my favourite, Pasha (a Persian adventure themed table), Epic Quest (an action-RPG type thing) and Secrets of the Deep, with a nautical theme. I also have to say the table which comes free with the Pinball FX 2 download, Sorcerer’s Lair is probably the one I’d pick first. I have a high score on that table over a billion, which I’m incredibly proud of.

Would you swap out the Xbox One version for PC with Oculus Rift support (or PSVR)? I’m wondering if £11.99 is worth it for only three tables.

I had absolutely no idea this was a thing! Just been to check it out, it looks very impressive. I have to say I’ve never tried any kind of VR at all, but I’d love to give that a whirl. I’d definitely have my reservations though, it’s a game that requires incredible precision and I wonder if you might lose a little in that format. And the lack of table variety means I certainly wouldn’t consider it for my desert island game.

Bloodborne is an action role-playing game developed by FromSoftware, published by Sony Computer Entertainment exclusively for PlayStation 4 and directed by the legendary Hidetaka Miyazaki. It shares many similarities with Miyazaki’s seminal Souls series of games including punishing difficulty and innovative use of multiplayer.  With a metacritic of rating of 92, it currently sits seventh on the all-time PS4 review charts.

Do you have much history with the Souls games?
I have a bit of a weird history with them to be honest. I was properly into the hype for Dark Souls, pre-ordered the deluxe edition of the game and was really looking forward to it. When the game finally arrived, I played maybe 10 minutes of it, found the combat thoroughly underwhelming and dismissed it for something else. And I kept promising myself that I’d go back to it, but I knew it was a big game and I never really found the time to start it. It went unplayed for a good five years.

Finally I decided enough was enough, and last year I decided to boot it back up and take on the challenge. I absolutely adored it. It’s genuinely one of my favourite games of all time, I think the level design is almost perfect, and the majority of the boss battles are incredible experiences. It’s tough but always fair, and that constant sense of accomplishing things, bit by bit, is a feeling that never goes away. After finishing the first game I moved onto the second one very quickly and loved that too. I have the third game sat waiting for me to play, in fact I might go start it shortly…

Why Bloodborne over some of the multi-format titles (I guess the big one being Dark Souls 2)?
OK, here’s the big surprise reveal! I’ve never played it. Being an Xbox gamer (and not having the money or time to invest in a second console) I probably never will, and Bloodborne is the game that pains me the most to miss out on.I know it probably seems a bit strange to include a game I’ve never played on a list like this, but when I thought about the things that I enjoy most about gaming, new experiences rank pretty highly on my list. The first time I set foot on Hyrule Field, that first trip into Phendrana Drifts in Metroid Prime or that shock twist in BioShock. Those are moments in games that will live with me forever, and yet all three of those games I’ve only played once. I really wanted to include a great story-driven single player experience in this list, but I’m definitely not someone that likes to replay games like those multiple times. So my only real option was to go with something like this.

Of course, I’m not going in totally blind here. I know from my experience with Dark Souls that this is a game I’ll enjoy, and aesthetically it’s always something that I’ve thought looked really intriguing. I’ve seen a couple of videos of Bloodborne being played on YouTube (although I’ve tried to avoid spoilers, just in case!) and it looks like it has that same challenging progression as the other games. I know that taking Bloodborne as on one of my eight games guarantees me a good 80 hours of undiscovered gaming joy.

Do you prefer hard games?
Sometimes, it depends what I’m in the mood for. There are days when I just want something to relax and settle down with, but then I have days where I really appreciate a good challenge. There’s massive satisfaction to be had completing a game like Ninja Gaiden or Super Meat Boy. The odds seems so stacked against you that actually overcoming them feels really rewarding, and you get a real rush from making any sort of progress. I remember my first time clearing Ikaruga on one credit, and actually shouting, no, screaming at the TV for a good minute afterwards in celebration. You just don’t get those kinds of feelings without a high level of difficulty.

That’s a great set of eight games, a big thanks for taking part. Just to wrap it all up, were there any particularly hard cuts you had to make?
To be honest, most of the games I’d consider to be my favourites wouldn’t have been suited to this format. Things like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time, Metroid Prime or Dark Souls are all games I’d have in ‘best of all time’ lists but I don’t think I’d necessarily want to spend large amounts of time playing through again. I think games like those are best left as great memories and not played over and over. I also had a load of classic games from my childhood that I really wanted to include, but in the end I had to limit those to just two places on my list. Very briefly: Rainbow Islands, Sensible World of Soccer, Speedball 2, Rock Star Ate My Hamster, Joust, Gauntlet, Metro Cross, Cloud Kingdoms.

The one game that I really should have included is the Xbox One update of Killer Instinct. It’s one of my most played games these days. It’s an absolutely superb fighting game with an enormous roster of characters and ridiculous amount of content, especially for a fighting game. With the benefit of hindsight it should probably be on there, maybe at the expense of Spelunky.

Any genres your really wanted represented but just couldn’t bring yourself to include?
Well as I just mentioned, a beat-em-up wouldn’t have gone amiss. I think I’ve got most of the bases covered, I’d maybe have liked an old school shmup in there but Geometry Wars would probably scratch that itch. It’s difficult covering the whole of gaming in just eight titles! At one point I considered putting Rare Replay in there, but that would have just been cheating, right

Maybe not…

Thanks again to MHTL, I hope you enjoyed this month’s episode of Desert Island Games.

Desert Island Games: Episode 2, part 2

After a couple of very interesting retro choices for games one and two, we’re here again to look at MHTL’s picks for three, four and five.

 

F-Zero GX is the successor to F-Zero X and continues the series’ difficult, high-speed racing style, retaining the basic gameplay and control system from the Nintendo 64 game.  Released worldwide on the GameCube in 2003, it actually runs on a modified version of the engine used for launch title Super Monkey Ball.

Why do you think Nintendo haven’t released a console F-Zero game since this one?
Well you ask me this question pre-E3, so….

It’s unfathomable. I’m not usually one calling for yearly updates or new sequels, but it’s been 14 years and two whole Nintendo generations since we’ve last had a new F-Zero game. It’s a franchise which has been almost universally praised, sold pretty well and been fondly remembered by an awful lot of people. It’s always near the top of Nintendo fans’ wishlists, so I can’t think of a reason why they haven’t developed one, or farmed it out to another studio as they did with GX. I think a new one on Switch would be a big seller, indeed it might even convince me to jump in.

Is this a choice from the heart or the head?
This one’s a bit of both. I really wanted a GameCube game in my line-up, it’s my favourite console of all time and should be represented here, but many of the games simply don’t suit the Desert Island setup. There’s a lot of local multiplayer gems or classic platformers that I’ve already explored and some unique experiences that are a bit shorter-lived. Then I realised I hadn’t picked any kind of racing game and the choice was a bit of a no-brainer.
GX is an incredible experience, fast as hell and controls like a dream. There’s plenty for me to get my teeth stuck into here, numerous cups spread over multiple difficulties, a hard as nails story mode, and when that’s all done there’s improving times via time attack. In theory shaving milliseconds off previously unbeatable times should keep me entertained for ages. This game also reminds me of a great time when I competed in NGC magazine’s ‘I’m The Best’ competition, alongside other members of the GamesRadar community. This was kind of a precursor to Xbox achievements – challenges set by the magazine which when completed would earn you points on an overall leaderboard. We had to record ourselves on videotapes and then send those in to the magazine as proof, which sounds crazy in this day and age! The wonderful sense of community in those days as the people on the forum helped each other out with tips, trading games and generally encouraging one another stands out as one of my favourite times in gaming.
Have you played it recently and does it still hold up against the likes of Wipeout or Fast RMX?

I haven’t played GX since I sold my GameCube in the great retro cull of 2013. The last time I did (which was probably a few years before that) I found while graphically it had dated, it still played just as well as ever. The problem I’ve found with other similar titles is that they always try to complicate the game with different mechanics, weapons, or other such nonsense. I remember picking up a Gamecube game called Extreme-G 3 at around the same time as F-Zero, and whilst it was perfectly competent it never found itself stuck in the disc tray for weeks on end, never got picked for multiplayer at social gatherings. I think F-Zero’s purity is what makes it such a classic game.

Given you can chose any game at all, would you prefer a deluxe sit down F-Zero AX arcade cabinet instead?

And pass up the opportunity to get hands on with that GameCube pad again? Never! But seriously, I think the extra tracks and content on the GC version make it the definitive one. I’m not going to pretend GX is a perfect game. The story mode is way too difficult, and the discovery of ‘snaking’ ruined time trial for me back in the day (really I was just salty that I couldn’t pull it off). But those criticisms wouldn’t factor for me alone on a desert island, so I have no reservations at all at picking F-Zero GX as one of my eight games.

Developed by Project Gotham Racing developers, Bizarre Creations, Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 is the sequel to the original Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved. Released on the Xbox Live Arcade in July 2008, it is one of the few games on Xbox 360 that runs natively at 60fps and 1080p .

What was your first experience of Geometry Wars? Did you play it in Project Gotham Racing 2?
Yes, but that’s not exactly where the obsession started. The first game when it launched on 360 early days was revelatory. I adore score-chasing (obviously) and it did something really simple, it placed the next highest score to you in the top right hand corner, providing constant encouragement to improve. It helped launching when it did – Xbox Live Arcade was in its infancy and there were barely any titles available, but man I played that game for hours.
The game itself was fantastic, handled like a dream and looked amazing on my new HD screen. I love shmups (indeed, I wanted to include many others on my list) and this is one of the very best. It’s worth mentioning also that Geometry Wars is one of the first games to take the achievement concept and use it for changing the way you play the game. Adding things like the pacifism achievement (for surviving a minute without firing) was one of the first examples of this, and still regarded in the achievement community as one of the most important developments in this field.
What made you choose 2 over 1 or 3?

It’s simply an excellent expansion of the first game. Giving the player different ways to play whilst still maintaining the core gameplay is a masterstroke. There’s Deadline, which gives you three minutes to score as highly as you can. King where you can only shoot from certain zones. Pacifism builds on that achievement from the first game, forcing you to survive as long as you can with no weapon. Waves is fairly self explanatory, and Sequence gives you a succession of various ‘rooms’ of enemies to fight. Finally you can play it old school in Evolved. And most important of all, each of these has their own score board, and they’re all right there on the start screen, goading you into one more try.

Having six different games meant that there was always something for you to improve on, always someone claiming your record in King, always room for improvement in Pacifism (definitely this for me, I was terrible at it). And while the games weren’t all perfect (Sequence is perhaps the weak link) the balance and variety of games make this the definitive Geometry Wars experience. I think it makes a perfect desert island game.

The third game is fine, but it diluted the formula with far too many levels and game types. The addition of an adventure mode was an obvious idea, but in practise it was unbalanced and the boss levels are truly awful. The worst thing about it is no-one cares if someone beats your score on level 27, there’s just too many score boards to really focus on. The lack of purity really hurts the replay-ability of the game, I haven’t been back to it since I got the 1000G.

I’ve played a fair amount of 3 on Vita but I’m dreadful at it, where am I going wrong?
You want me to reveal my secrets? Never!

OK, just a little tip. Turn the music off. It’s distracting and learning the sounds enemies make when they appear gives you a massive advantage.

Originally released as freeware on PC in 2008, Spelunky was remade for Xbox 360 in 2012 and subsequently released on just about every platform under the sun. Borrowing significantly from the roguelike genre, each level is procedurally generated meaning no two runs are alike. It was also ranked third on Eurogamer’s Games of the Generation list in 2014 (behind Dark Souls and Super Mario Galaxy).
What makes the Xbox 360 your Spelunky machine of choice? It was on permanent rotation on my Vita for a while, which seemed like a perfect fit for that platform.
Interesting question, and to be honest I hadn’t even considered that. I guess the simple answer is that I’m not really a big fan of handheld gaming. I’ve had a Game Boy, a Nintendo DS and even a PSP at one point but they always end up getting less play time than my home console. I like the idea of having a portable console but in reality they’re never actually that portable, these days I tend to stick to my mobile phone if I want gaming on the go. Given this desert island scenario, there’s no reason to play on anything other than a nice big TV (I am getting a big TV, right? :shifty: ).

Did you max out the achievements on it? If so, is there going to be enough content to keep you going?
No! It’s one of the reasons I picked it actually. I love a nice difficult game and Spelunky has plenty of challenge there to get your teeth stuck into. The achievements (I promised I wouldn’t talk to much about this!) are really well designed too, helping you understand the basics, pointing you towards alternate paths through the game and also playing the game in a different way (without collecting any treasure, for instance).

The other reason I picked Spelunky is the obvious one. I wanted a platformer but generally those games offer little incentive to replay. The randomly generated nature of this game means I’ll always have a different world to go back to. It’s so brilliantly designed too, meaning that despite being random, they hardly ever feel unfair. And even if you do get cheated with a trap placed right next to the exit, it’s one of those games where ‘one more turn’ quickly turns into 10.

I think the structure of the game is perfect, I love the way you have to search all around the levels in the hope of finding certain items that will unlock other areas later on. It’s a game about managing resources as well as platforming, and one where you have to be constantly on your guard – 15 minutes of careful planning can go up in smoke in a blink of an eye if you misjudge something. I really like that sense of constant tension.

Is it something you still go back and play?
Yeah, it’s a perfect gaming ‘snack’ for in between more substantial story driven games. It was recently added to the Xbox One backward compatibility programme, which has meant it’s even more convenient to boot up for a quick bash. Perhaps one day I’ll manage to find the path to hell and finish the game in one sitting. Maybe.

Desert Island Games: Episode 2, part 1

Welcome back to Desert Island Games. Each episode takes a member of the GRcade community and strand them on a desert island forever.

I’m not completely heartless so they’ll be able to take along their eight favourite games to play for the rest of their days. But there are a couple of rules in place. Any game with an online component is fine, but any kind of voice or text chat is banned (we can’t have you calling out for help). Also, availability of DLC is completely at my own whim.

So after Rax was the first of our castaways, who is the second person to stroll up the gangway on to our one way gaming cruise? Well, we’ve got another OG GRcade member. Most well know for their insatiable appetite for cheevos and with a gamerscore of well over 400,000 (putting him in the top 650 players in the world), this episode’s contributor is GRcade’s very own achievement whore, More Heat Than Light.

Rex: Given your history of clocking the gamerscore, was it hard to limit yourself to just eight games? Did you consider adding an easy 1,000 pointer just to keep that sweet feeling of totting up the points?
MHTL: Ha, I thought that might make the list of questions! I tried to ignore gamerscore to be honest, even though I’m a bit obsessed I don’t think it’d be a factor on a desert island. If anything I picked things that would be more challenging to keep me occupied for longer. Easy completions tend to be ‘rinse and trade’ type games, not ideally suited for this environment!

There’s an awful long time between your first choice and your last so I’m guessing you’ve been gaming for a while? Was the Spectrum your first experience of gaming?
My first gaming machine was an Atari 800XL, so yeah I’ve been gaming a while. We were bought a Speccy after that, and to be honest it was a bit of a downgrade, although there were far more games available for it. After that we had an Atari STE, and I’ve been through a lot of games consoles since then.

Although there is a decent amount of content in your list, there definitely seems an element of heart over head in your choices. Is this the case?
A bit of both I think. Obviously the first few are more ‘nostalgic’ games that remind me of home and growing up, but I tried to pick ones that would still keep me busy for a while. There are definitely a few games on my list that offer almost infinite replay value.

Great, so lets have a look at what you’re taking along.

So the first game on the list comes from acclaimed strategy game developer Julian Gollop.  Released on ZX Spectrum in 1985, the game allows the player to battle up to seven other wizards (either human or AI controlled) in a turn based manner. Players are given a variety of spells to cast with varying degrees of difficulty and also alignment. Casting spells of the same alignment can affect the environment. MHTL’s first game is Chaos: The Battle of Wizards.

This game is really one from the dark and dusty past, what are your memories of playing it?
So, I should clarify that the version of Chaos I’m most familiar of isn’t the Spectrum original. We had a copy of a remake made for the Atari ST which appeared on some pirate disc we acquired from someone at school. It’s mostly identical, save for the addition of some sound samples from the likes of Monty Python and Blackadder and a few new spells that aren’t present in the original game. Given the choice between the two, I’d probably pick that version, but I’ve asked for the Spectrum version here simply because I have no idea if that version is even still available anywhere.

Anyway, Chaos is the defining game of my childhood growing up. It was by far the most played game in our household at the time, we often had large groups of kids all taking part in epic games (the fact you could play with eight players at a time was revolutionary back then). We had an award for the ‘Chaos Champion’ in the house, once held for a long period of time by a confused uncle who had been roped in to play. It was absolutely everywhere, and we all adored it. I’ve nominated Chaos as one of my eight games here simply because it reminds me of home.

And the truth is it’s still a wonderful game to play. Basically an eight-way version of chess, it’s incredibly simple but still has plenty of depth to it. Games could be over in a matter of turns (we had an in-house rule of no killings on turn one) or could take an hour to finish. I love the idea that you are randomly assigned a list of spells to start with and had to make the best of what you were given. You could either go big from the start by casting a Gold Dragon, summon a mount to ride (the Manticore was my preference!) or maybe buff your wizard with a Magic Sword. And then there were the big plays, a Magic Wood to grant you more spells or a Gooey Blob which would gradually take over the screen.

It’s a game which works best in local multiplayer which was why I initially resisted putting the game on my list, obviously I’d have no-one there with me on my island! But there’s plenty of depth playing here with a bunch of CPU wizards, we’d often do this just to fill in the numbers and they would always prove to be worthy adversaries. Ideally someone would have come up with an internet enabled version by now, perhaps someone has, I’ve been out of PC gaming for a while now .

Are you a big fan of other Gollop games such as Rebelstar Raiders, Laser Squad, X-Com, etc?
Honestly, I’m not really that familiar with them. Back when Chaos was a thing I was too young to really understand about different game developers and things, we just played the games we were given (usually in the form of those cracked pirated discs distributed by that dodgy kid). I played the Chaos follow-up Lords of Chaos, which wasn’t nearly as good as the first game. I was kinda hoping that his new version Chaos Reborn would make it to consoles, but no luck so far.

In terms of this type of game, I’ve enjoyed similar turn based strategy titles like Advance Wars, and I recently really enjoyed Skulls of the Shogun by 17-Bit. But nothing has ever scratched that strategic arena battle itch that Chaos did.

Game two, Dungeons & Dragons: Warriors of the Eternal Sun, is another very interesting choice. Is this a game you’ve played again recently or is this one looked at with rose tinted specs?
Yeah, this is another trip down memory lane I’m afraid. Our first games console was a Mega Drive, we had a few games for it but our main source of entertainment was the local video shop. We rented this particular game about 20 times, probably spending twice as much money as actually buying the game outright! Me and my brothers were big fantasy fans and this was really easy to pick up and play so it fit the bill quite nicely. Probably not the best genre of game for rental, we’d usually grab it again to find our save had been deleted and have to start again.

I picked up a Mega Drive and a bundle of games from eBay about 10 years ago (before kids, all my retro stuff has now been cleared out sadly) and had a couple of hours on this again. It was amazing how much of it came flooding back, the incredible 16-bit soundtrack, the story, even the world map had somehow ingrained itself into my memory.

I seem to remember it being relatively long (for a game of it’s time), but is there much replay value?
I’ll be honest, I picked this mainly for the memories, but I’d love to spend some serious time getting back into this. When I played it most recently it still seemed mechanically sound, and there are plenty of places on the map that I’ve still never seen. I don’t think we ever paid that much attention to the story, it was more a case of where can we explore? What’s actually past that river of fire in the north west corner of the map?. I don’t think we ever found that out.

It wasn’t particularly well received compared with other Mega Drive RPGs. What made you pick it over other games such as Phantasy Star 2 or Shining Force 2 (or the unbelievably awesome Rings of Power)?
As kids we didn’t read games magazines, we just looked at the games on the shelf and picked the ones with the pretty covers (I still have flashbacks of that time we rented Ballz :dread: ). We liked D&D, and this one seemed to jump off the shelf at us. It just has a special place in my heart. I know there are better games out there but the world in this is just one that means something to me personally. I’m not even an RPG fan to be honest, certainly nowadays I don’t have the time to invest in those kinds of games. And while there are probably all sorts of games that I could take to the island with me that would last forever, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take this one with me.

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