Past Blast: Chase The Express – Staying Above 50mph

What to say about the 90’s? Take That, Shell suits, Cassettes, the rave culture, Brit-pop, The X-files, The Outer-Limits, Steps, Strange but True, Sony PlayStation, VHS, Eclipse clothing, tramlines, the ear stud, Pokémon, Nintendo vs. Sega, Eerie Indiana and the Hollywood Blockbuster action movie.

In the 90’s, TV, clothing, music, brands and movies were events; they meant something. One burst out of nowhere, full of high octane action and was all thrill; that movie was the legendary ‘Speed’ starring Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock and Dennis Hopper. An action movie that defined a generation with cheesy dialogue, a simple plot and a 1 hour and 56 minutes adrenaline rush.

I imagine any youth of today may laugh at the above comments on Speed, yet, I’m not kidding. Speed was the must-see movie that even had its own simulator. Speed later influenced one of gaming’s beloved franchises: Metal Gear Solid. With the first Metal Gear Solid soundtrack ripping off the Speed soundtrack (seriously, someone should have been sued) and Metal Gear Solid 2’s Fat Man being inspired by Dennis Hopper’s character.

But there was one game that feels like Speed the game just without the staying above 50mph, being on a bus and Sandra Bullock – that game is Chase the Express.

Covert Ops: Nuclear Dawn (let’s be honest, that title sounds like a prog album) in America, was developed by Sugar and Rockets, and published by Sony Computer Entertainment in Japan/Europe and Activision in America. It was released in the dawn of the new Millennium for the PlayStation.

You play as Jack Morton (maybe I’m reading into it too much but the main character from Speed is called Jack) a NATO officer sent to board the Blue Harvest, a train carrying the Ambassador that’s been hijacked by the KGB who now have access to nuclear bombs.

You are the sole survivor of your team after missiles strike your helicopter, nevertheless, you’ll see many characters on the way, Christina Wayborn – one the ambassador’s special police, Philip Mason – the ambassador’s secretary.  As Jack, your job is to stop the terrorists and ensure none of the nuclear bombs are detonated.

Ok, but what about the gameplay? I hear you say that – I was going to tell you if you calm down and listen. Patience is a good thing.

Chase the Express is a third-person action game with puzzle elements and item management. It features the obligatory tank controls suited for the fixed camera angles you’d expect from a game of the genre and time; however, the environments are modelled in 3D meaning you can slightly alter the camera angle.

The puzzles are your typical ‘find item, and place item in said obvious place’. Firearm combat auto aims at an enemy with a ring that will appear around them – changing to a darker colour, it indicates you can deal more damage and if you run out of ammo you always have your fists.

Stealth mainly consists of you walking to one of the side cabin, waiting for a geezer to walk past, and walking out while his back is turned. Another option is popping out of cover with an action roll or dodging certain attacks; you Souls veterans will feel right at home. The game does it’s best to mix the gameplay up with controlling the speed of a train to match another train, multiple scenarios/endings and a bomb disposal section where the wirecutter is the slowest machine I’ve had the pleasure of enduring.

The highlight of this game is by far the dialogue, writing and voice acting; it’s so terrible in that PlayStation 1 way that it provides the game entertainment and lots of charm. The lines are delivered vacantly with no emotion and are disjointed. The writing – there is a section where you speak to a character about how to disarm some missiles, his reply is just “Screwdriver”. Screwdriver… Genius.

That’s the joy of this game, it doesn’t try to be something spectacular because it knows it isn’t, the gameplay doesn’t try to wow you with some special mechanic because it’s all a poorly done version of something else, the writing and acting isn’t going to blow your mind and they know it.

What the game is, is entertainment, time out of your life for 4-5 hours. In that very 90’s way, it knows what it is and what its goal is, to entertain; not too much, but enough –  it doesn’t swallow your life in the process. If this was a 90’s movie, it would come in a triple VHS with ‘Money Train’ and/or ‘Daylight’; it’s that calibre of video game.

It cost me three pounds. If there is any PlayStation one fans/collectors who haven’t played this game and they want something they can hammer out in a day or two – give it a blast. I’ll be back soon.

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Desert Child game

Racing RPG Desert Child Due Out Q3

The heat is exhausting out here, the only time you get shade is when the sun sets and then, you still want to be under an umbrella. For me, well I just get on this hoverbike over here and ride, for pleasure, for pay; it makes no difference.

Racing RPG Desert Child Game

The hot air turns cool. Of course, it can get pretty hot then let me tell ya – but when I ride, it’s like, what’s the word, Zen, you know… Free. It’s then I forget about the earth and its bullsh… ha, sorry kids, its nonsense. That’s not the life for me; the life for me is up there, Mars; and I’ll do whatever it takes to get there. Me and my trusty Judy here, my hoverbike.

Desert Child game
Dine on a range of interplanetary cuisine with sweet buffs to help you win

Hell, I’ll race, hunt bounties and deliver drugs; whatever it takes… Oh, you don’t like that? Listen, kid, you may snarl away to yourself as you’re reading this on your phone, tablet, but out here you do what you can for a buck. Breaking the law? Nah man, it’s survival. It’s the difference between having a meal and rummaging in the bins for scraps.

To me, I see as I’m playing some RPG, life-sim, racing game; the more points I get, the better the ranking, the bigger the taking. Man, I sometimes see the scores with my very own eyes I get that absorbed in it. Pfft, don’t look at me like that, I’ve got rent to pay and noodles to eat. I might even customize I, Judy, here.

Desert Child game
Race, shoot, and get better! Designed for replayability, with secrets that keep you coming back

I know you don’t understand but look, kid, if you want to survive out here you should do the same, earn what you can and get your ass to Mars.

You’ll see me soon kid, by Q3 you’ll understand and if you see me, you’d better shoot first kid; like I said, just think you’re on your PS4, Switch, Xbox One or PC… It makes it easier.

Desert Child game
Hunt bounties, deliver drugs, throw races – do anything you can to earn cash

Desert Child, that’s who I am. And that’s who you’ll be”.

Turning Hollow: Games And Difficulty

Turning Hollow – The Seal of Quality

“Hello again, Chosen Undead.

“I am Jack Boyles. I am losing my humanity. I am turning Hollow.

“We should exercise more prudence when it comes to the modern age of Video Games. We hath forgiven too long and our acceptance is too high. Acceptance of defective, and deficient and fragmentary games; allowing these attributes to slowly become normality. Souls are spent, only to await patiently for the game to be patched, stitched and sewed together.

“The seal of quality has all but faded from time. The seal of quality was guaranteed, a mark of honour, but with the rise of AAA games force releasing and online services with a lack of quality control; the seal has broken. Many hath scoured for the seal, for all whom hath foraged hath lost humanity.

“Won’t thee aide me in my quest?

“Cooperation may assist me to hold on to my humanity, assist me holding on to my cause…

The Seal of Quality

“Masses hath been delivered into this world only knowing of this tactic. As for I, I hath seen better times, a time during which the seal existed. In that period, developers could not manipulate their games with Hexic rituals like today.

“Games had to be made to withstand the test of time, to be made with calibre; as once fashioned, could not be altered. Delays were accepted, unlike the delays that inhabit this age, today delays can turn people Hollow. We can’t wait for anything.

“The games from the bygone age can still be played today and will remain the status as they did back when they were first crafted. As for modern games, once the server is closed the game cannot receive the Hexic spells to alter it – leaving a patchless pile of shame.

“An abundance of AAA publishers and developers make haste to deliver their games, acquiring the souls of many. Many AAA games materialize as buggy, shattered and unplayable until the first patch is liberated, yet that may last several moon circles. What are thou thinking? Is thou thinking those companies fabricate gigantic games, so it’s too be expected, and I concur, but with the emancipation of Breath of the Wild and God of War, tis now inexcusable to witness faceless characters and NPC’s swimming on fresh air.

Reminds me of my first kiss…

“Tis not just the AAA publishers and developers either. The absences of quality control of the independent scene must be held accountable too, with Steam and console eShop releases unimaginable. Such abominations like Fidget Spinner Simulation, Art of Stealth and Life of Black Tiger diminishing the worth only for the acquisition of souls.

“With video game development software readily available and in most cases free. This has given us more games than ever and with smaller team’s producing unique titles. This has also created many people releasing asset flip games. There is no quarrel in an indie developer using asset packs as a tool, but many have taken advantage off this and been making games from nothing but asset packs; no original content, no original ideas, just cut and paste.

Based on a True Story…

“When the youth of this age re-buy the equipment of their childhood to soak in nostalgia; they will not get that same experience from their childhood, what they will get are faceless characters and NPCs swimming on fresh air. Their childhood will be debauched and distorted.

“Will you aide me in finding the Seal, will you aide me to salvation?”

Bujingai Swordmaster

Past Blast: Bujingai Swordmaster – Surprisingly Rare

As I approached my favourite stall at the Doncaster Video Game Market, looking at all the obscure splendours, I thought: ‘It’s these obscure games that make me attend these events’. To dig into gaming’s past, games ignored on their release and games still ignored today.

As I’m looking through the PlayStation 2 games I hear my fiancée’s voice staccato with excitement to my left. There in her hand was ‘Bujingai-Swordmaster’, there was one of these obscure splendours. I hand over the game with my money to the merchant.

“You know what, this game should be a hell of a lot more expensive. This is a surprisingly rare game”, says the merchant consciously grinning.

“I know, I’ve been after it for some time,” I say, noticing the crowd look at the case in a curious bewilderment.

“Not got the demand, which is a shame because it’s a really good game”, replied the merchant as he’s bagging it up.

“Well, no one has heard of it”.

“I know, thanks mate,” I said, taking the bag from the merchant.

“Thank you”.

I walk off in search for more obscure splendours.

Bujingai Swordmaster

Bujingai Swordmaster

Bujingai, Bujingai: Swordmaster (in Europe) or Bujingai: The Forsaken Forest (North America) is a beat em up/hack and slash game with loose puzzle-solving and platform elements.

It was developed by the legendary Taito Corporation in collaboration with Red Entertainment and published by BAM! Entertainment in North America and 505 Gamestreet in Europe.

The game was exclusively made for the PlayStation 2 and was a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Taito. Due to the anniversary, some exceptional talent worked on this game, with Toshihiro Kawamoto the character designer for Cowboy Bebop, Yosuke Kuroda the scenario writer Trigun and the main protagonist modelled after J-pop Icon Gackt.

So again, all this talent but I bet you just walked past this game?

Well, here’s what you’ve missed out on or for you retro collectors out there; here is what you can get and get for a reasonable price!

Now when I played this game, I didn’t pay that much attention to the story. I had a vague idea of something going on, but I’ve done some research (I read the Wikipedia page…) and here’s what I’ve got.

A 100 years ago an accident of an environmentally friendly energy source has wiped out 70% of the world’s population and in the process has wiped out the government.

All the remaining survivors have gained special powers from earth’s energy – in swordplay and magic. You play as Lau Wong, a human exile who returns to earth to battle his training partner and friend Rei Jenron – who has been possessed by an ‘Evil Spirit’.

Yohfa has been kidnapped, and numerous portals have been opened allowing demons to take over the Asian city Bujingai; it’s up to Lau Wong, to save Bujingai.

Bujingai Swordmaster

As you can see, not an Oscar-winning narrative, but this game isn’t about the narrative, it’s about gameplay.

The gameplay is simple, with two attack buttons and a jump button. The jump allows you to glide and run on the wall, then the light attack button acts as a counter if pressed at the right time.

The counter is where the game shines, you have these gems in the corner of the screen based on how many times you can defend before taking damage. When the counter kicks in, your mouth will drop, and you’ll salivate at its splendour.

Like all hack and slashers around this era, you have a combo counter; in this game, the combo counter runs out the more you are on the ground, so the game encourages you to jump around, gliding through the air and running on walls like some crazed Chow Yun-fat.

The unspoken genius of this game lays in the hands of the sound designers. It’s like listening to the nostalgia of old samurai and kung-fu movies. Those vivid swooshes of the sword, that ting and swipe of steel on steel, the swooping of bodies gliding in the air, those synthesized laser beams, and last but not by a long shot least, the sound of the loose fabric clothes contending with the force of its wearer.

It’s in those details in sound that gives the game authenticity.

Bujingai Swordmaster

Bujingai isn’t a masterpiece, the environments aren’t that exciting, the glide mechanic never feels like you have complete control of where Lau will go, and the game is repetitive.

But the excellent sound design mixed with the outstanding choreography of the fighting animations is just a fun gameplay experience; it’s a shame it doesn’t get the credit it deserves.

Well, now I must give it a blast because it was so dirt cheap.