Tagged: games

I Bought Stuff! 7/31/2012: Video game… comic books?

I really should be getting prepared for a camping trip (as I originally wrote this). Instead I went to some thrift stores and found some interesting finds. But first, some GameStop finds.

Surprising no one, finding interesting stuff at GameStop is a crapshoot. While I did find Perfect Dark Zero for a ridiculous $2, Boom Blox was considerably less ridiculous at $13. I’m trying to burn off the excess store credit I have with GameStop so I don’t have to do much business with them anymore, especially with some of their terrible business practices.

Since I bought games on the Steam Summer sale from a few weeks back, I suddenly had games on systems I didn’t need. Such as a shrinkwrapped copy of Saints Row: The Third for Xbox 360. GameStop wanted $18 credit for it, so I opted to try my luck with my reliable Video Game Wizards, a local Portland game store I’ve talked about in the past.

Since it was unopened, they offered me $14 in cash or $21 in store credit. I opted for the store credit, which was more than GS was gonna give me. I then rebought 007: Agent Under Fire007: Everything or Nothing and 007: Nightfire all on the PlayStation 2 for a total of $8. I’m trying to replace my multiplatform released games from the GameCube with PS2 or Xbox equivalents, mainly because most of the multiplatform ports on the GC suck control-wise or for other reasons.

2020 update: As time goes on I realized that this wasn’t necessary for some games, and I ended up selling most of these back years later. I still follow this rule for some multiplatform games, but only on ones I don’t already have elsewhere.

Sometimes when I’m in downtown Portland, I poke my head inside a couple thrift stores in the area, as I’ve gotten a few interesting things from them in the past. Like one time I found a Japanese copy of Hot Shots Golf 2 for the PlayStation.

My usual thrift store haunts in downtown Portland were a bust, except in one store. This thrift store had a comic book I saw, which I decided to snatch up immediately. While I was there, I decided to thumb through their surprisingly vast comics section. I then walked out with about $2.40 of comic books. I’m no comic book nerd, the last comic I bought was Archie Comics’ Sonic the Hedgehog many years ago, but I couldn’t pass these up.

Hellgate, Timecop and Mass Effect… what a combination.

 

$2.40 for seven comics:

  • Mass Effect: Redemption issue 1

  • Mass Effect: Invasion issue 3

  • Mass Effect: Evolution issue 4

  • Hellgate: London issue 0

  • Star Wars: The Old Republic – The Lost Suns issue 5

  • Timecop issues 1 and 2

It was the Mass Effect: Invasion issue that caught my eye and made me thumb through their comics. With the exception of Timecop — that’s based off the cornball Jean-Claude Van Damme film of the same name — they were all video game tie-ins.

The Hellgate: London one was especially interesting, considering that game was an absolute bust at this point, only living on through a Korean acquisition.

It also seems these were done as special editions, as my 5 minutes of Google searching revealed that every comic series here was a 4-5 issue special edition rather than a regular series. Two of the comics were a mere quarter, while the rest were 50 cents each. Coupled with the thrift store doing an end-of-month drawing where they cut a random percentage off the sale — mine was 20% — meant that I spent $2.40 for all seven.

Coincidentally all the comics I bought are published by Dark Horse Comics. Hell, about a good 95% of the comics on sale there were Dark Horse-published. This is an amusing coincidence, as Dark Horse Comics’ main office is in nearby Milwaukie, Oregon. I’ve gone past there a few times, and I didn’t know they were the king of licensed comics. Well, with the exception of Timecop, they can’t all be winners.

I should eventually see how cheap it would be to complete the set, or at least find these online to read. While I may not be big on Mass Effect or Star Wars: The Old Republic, I’m down for reading some interesting video game stories. Sure beats reading the Archie Comics Sonic the Hedgehog stuff again.

Trying some Angry Birds Fruit Gummies: Space edition.

Hi. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Forgive me, I’ve been swamped with many ideas and no time to publish them. I’ll have some more stuff up real soon. Instead, here’s a fluff post about video game candy.

Heard of Angry Birds? It’s hard not to, they’ve permeated the public conscious about as much as Call of Duty and Madden NFL in terms of video games. A goofy game where you fling birds at buildings to destroy enemy pigs, it has appeared on every system that could possibly play it, and is apparently really addicting. I played the Google Chrome browser version (no longer available as of 2020) and didn’t quite get the appeal.

Doesn’t mean it’s not a multi-million dollar success for Finnish developer Rovio. There’s Angry Birds T-Shirts, Angry Birds toys, Angry Birds board games, there’s probably Angry Birds whack-a-mole if I looked around hard enough.

Now they’ve invaded the food space with Angry Birds Fruit Gummies.

Love the sci-fi motif they decided to go with their silly bird game.

I was in a Wal-Mart, getting a few things here and there, when I saw these in a bargain section for 98 cents. I thought, sure, why the hell not. I remember fruit snacks from my youth. Plus I’m reminded of Matt of X-Entertainment (now of Dinosaur Dracula) buying all the Shrek 2 related foods for his site, so I couldn’t resist giving them a try.

The box tells me to “Collect all four” box covers. Each of the boxes featured art of the respective characters, but I opted for the red bird as that’s the most well-known and iconic besides the pig.

These seem to be based on the most recent Angry Birds game, Angry Birds Space, which is probably the same as the original game except now IN SPAAAAAAACE! With low gravity!

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Shadow Warrior: I messed with Lo Wang, and got my ass beat.

Man, remember when 3D Realms were considered one of the coolest PC publishers? Then Duke Nukem Forever happened and now they’re just a shell of their former glory only to be laughed at. Where did it start going all wrong? Probably when they thought they could make a Duke Nukem 3D ripoff of their own.

This looks eerily similar to the Duke Nukem 3D box.

This is Shadow Warrior. Released in 1997 on the PC, it was a first-person shooter much in the vein of Duke Nukem 3D. Sadly, it didn’t sell as well as Duke 3D did. Shadow Warrior is considered to be part of the “Holy Trinity” of shooters that used Ken Silverman’s Build engine: The others being Duke Nukem 3D and either Redneck Rampage or Blood, depending on who you talk to.

I had already bought DukeRedneck Rampage and Blood through GOG.com, but as of the time I wrote this, Shadow Warrior was nowhere to be found on that service. The only ways to buy it were through 3D Realms’ online store at a ridiculous-for-an-old-game price of $10, or hunt down a copy on eBay or local shops.

Well, luck was on my side when I finally found a copy at a Goodwill recently. After a little cajoling with DOSBox to get it to work properly, I was ready to play Shadow Warrior, told by the man himself that “You no mess with the Lo Wang.” I had heard from friends that this game wasn’t very good. Was this gonna be a repeat of the Blood II debacle, where I found enjoyment in a game everybody else hated? Well, not really.

“Zilla sends his regards…” with ninjas that will quickly die to my fancy katana.

The game starts out in Lo Wang’s dojo, where some goons come in from Master Zilla, who apparently wants you dead after you find out he wants to rule the world or something to that effect, and even kills Lo Wang’s master in the process later in the game, forcing Wang to avenge his death and kill Master Zilla. Granted, this was pre-Half-Life and pre-Deus Ex. Shadow Warrior was made when stories in first-person shooters were there just to make the unrelated levels connect to each other somehow. I can’t fault 3D Realms for the paper-thin storyline.

Wouldn’t be a 3D Realms game without a poke at other games in it.

Unlike Duke Nukem’s claim to fame from stealing from Roddy Piper and Bruce Campbell, Lo Wang doesn’t crib from any kung fu movies, so we get wonderful lines like “Howsa that for Kung Fu Fighting you Chickenashit?!” to “Cocks and balls, squashy penis,” even saying “Ancient Chinese secret!” any time you find a secret area. The jokes come off flat, crude and mostly unfunny. The voice of Lo Wang, John Galt, gave it a shot, but Lo Wang just doesn’t hold a candle to Duke in terms of cheesy one liners.

Since this game is a pastiche of Asian cinema, there are references all over the place that don’t quite fit. It has dojos, references to eating animals, fortune cookies as health boosts, plus weird anime references before anime was even a thing in the US. I can give them effort for trying, but in a sense this comes off as a bit culturally insensitive. Granted I’m the whitest person around, so I cannot really give my piece about some of the game’s questionable elements.

The game loves throwing tough foes at you even early on.

The game is also punishingly difficult, with many enemies being able to do rapid amounts of damage and small enemies that are a real nuisance to hit. Granted, Build engine games can be tough for many different reasons, but Shadow Warrior is considerably harder due to enemies that can easily whittle down your health pretty fast. Not only that, armor is considerably scarcer in this game. I usually don’t have problems with Blood or even Duke Nukem 3D, but the quicksave button got a lot of use while playing.

Ah, the days when you could make a blatant Speed Racer reference and *not* get sued.

Despite my frustration of this, there are a few good things going for it. The art style’s good in spite of the Asian stereotypes, Lee Jackson’s soundtrack is filled with goddamn bangers, and some pretty unique interactivity where you can drive RC cars by using your mouse and keyboard among other drivable vehicles. This was pretty cool stuff for 1997, all things considered.

There were going to be three expansions, which only two — Twin Dragons and Wanton Destruction — got released; the other one would be cancelled after the poor sales of the original game. Both of these are freeware now, so if you wanted more Wang, there you go.

No, Lo Wang isn’t gonna try to eat the rabbit. He’s trying to snatch a fly with those chopsticks.

I feel a little bit bad for 3D Realms. They clearly wanted this to be the next Duke Nukem, going a big marketing blitz, complete with novels based on the game, which I heard are worse than even the Doom novels. But it wasn’t enough as people were already enamored by id Software’s Quake and its innovative 3D engine, and nobody wanted these old looking “2D” shooters.

When I look at this, I see a shooter that despite some cringe-worthy moments like mostly naked anime girls and terrible stereotypes, is actually alright. It does justify its place in the “holy trinity” of Build engine games. It’s tough as balls, but still fun in the end. That’s really all that matters.

If you wanna play it now, it’s freely available on either GOG or Steam, but this is the original game in a DOSBox wrapper. If you want something a bit easier to handle on more modern machines, there’s Shadow Warrior Classic Redux, which was ported by General Arcade. Either way, Shadow Warrior is worth a look at least, in spite of its issues.

Oh well, at least 3D Realms got better after this, right?

Balls of steel, indeed.

 

Nope, they did not.

Updated 1/16/2020 for grammar and tone changes. Added screenshots from the more recent Redux release.

Trivial Pursuit On the Go: The Pocket Player Set.

When I started doing this blog, I wanted to specifically cover goofy stuff about video games. That’s still the case, but I do dabble in other subjects from time to time. We’ll still be talking about games, board games to be exact. Well, the closest thing to a board game, anyway.

Remember Trivial Pursuit? Yeah, that board game where you’re given ridiculously hard trivia questions about history stuff and maybe a question or two on something you actually know? Considered a game of strong intellect, it has moved past its original goal of being a challenging trivia game to having special editions based on various TV shows and movies. Ever wanted a Rolling Stones Trivial Pursuit? There you go.

Back in the 80s, before Hasbro acquired Trivial Pursuit and made a bunch of spinoffs based on Lord of the Rings and Saturday Night Live, there weren’t as many spinoffs of the game. Most of them were based off subject matter like the roaring ’20s, movies, Disney, and even several kids editions.

You might have seen these and many others at your local thrift store, as Trivial Pursuit seems to be a common thrift store dumping ground, next to other board games like bad licensed TV show games, unfinished puzzles and an incomplete copy of 1970s-era Monopoly with unknown stains on it. But what I saw at a recent thrift store visit was something I hadn’t seen before, and I couldn’t resist snatching it up.

That little game piece looks like a handheld communicator from Star Trek.

It’s a travel version of Trivial Pursuit. This is the Trivial Pursuit “Pocket Player Set”: Boob Tube edition. I believe this is the only attempt by Selchow & Righter — the original Trivial Pursuit publishers — to actually make a travel version, because I had never seen anything like this before or since.
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Vietnam: Black Ops: Not the Black Ops you’re thinking of.

Way back in January of 2012, I had written a post about a bargain bin shooter I had grabbed called Elite Forces WWII: Iwo Jima. That wasn’t a fun game to play. But there are several other bargain bin shooters out there, some of which that are actually alright.

Granted, I wouldn’t say it’s good, but I wouldn’t say it’s as bad as Elite Forces WWII: Iwo Jima. It’s yet another game based on a war, this time a little more recent. So let’s play Black Ops.

Sadly, Woods did not learn time travel and appear in a budget game from 2000. Though anything’s possible these days.

No, no, silly, not that Black Ops. Though I wouldn’t mind talking about probably one of the better games in the Call of Duty franchise, we’re actually talking about a game called Vietnam: Black Ops, and it was made way back in the year 2000. Insert your “In the year 2000” joke here.

With that font, I wonder if I’m playing Black Ops or Postal…

Made by a podunk little studio called Fused Software, this would end up being their only published game. Most of the people would work on this game and a handful of other projects around the late 90s to early 2000s, though one art designer for this is still in the biz working on art for stuff like Dragon Age: Origins, so good on him.

Oh, and this is another Valusoft joint. I had mentioned them in the previous post, and I wasn’t expecting to be playing two war games published by the same company. It shows how ubiquitous they were during this period. While I can’t say I remember this era fondly, it was certainly more interesting than seeing copies of Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 on my PC budget aisles.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MuyN8Njt5c4]

You play as some unknown marine during the Vietnam War. Captured by Vietcong, your goal is to kill General Phan, and get out of there safely. Occasionally you’ll see text giving your character some personality, but that’s about it. Honestly, I’ll take Alex Mason and him babbling about “hearing the fucking numbers” over this bare-bones plot.

So, it’s another first-person shooter on the Lithtech engine. Which is weird, because I thought it was the Quake engine at first, until I dug into the files and realized it used the REZ file format that Lithtech uses.

In every level, you just get to kill a bunch of Vietcong, do some slightly obnoxious platforming, and get to the end of the level each time.

You start with a useless knife, then get an AK47, M16, a M60, a Sniper Rifle, and two explosive launchers during your travels. Most of the weapons will be in your collection not long after you start, and unlike Elite Forces WWII: Iwo Jima, there’s actually ammo for these guns this time!

Never thought the Vietnamese would have some hidden temple like this.

However, that doesn’t excuse the game’s punishing difficulty. You have 100 health and no armor, and it doesn’t take much for you to die. Get used to seeing the Purple Heart and “Taps” playing repeatedly every time you die, because you will likely see it a lot. Expect to be hitting the quick save key a lot.

Now I can give this game credit for something: The levels are pretty large, which is impressive for a 2000-era game. Problem is the the levels look blocky and simplistic, with the later levels being “my first FPS level” in some spots. They look like they belong in an action-adventure Tomb Raider knockoff rather than a Vietnam War FPS, but I’m not expecting realism here.

On the bright side, a handful of the levels feel somewhat non-linear, allowing you to take one of two different paths which probably take you to the same place anyway. At least, it felt that way, I didn’t replay the game to be sure if I was right.

Besides the ugly graphics and very banal gameplay of shooting dudes and getting to the exit, there really isn’t much else to this game. Thankfully it’s ridiculously short: I beat it in an hour and a half over two separate sessions. Honestly I was hoping for something longer, but then I flashback to WWII Iwo Jima and realized how much the game padded its levels with ridiculous difficulty spikes, so I’ll take the short length.

I found this in a thrift store for $2. For the time I got with it, $2 is the right price. It’s not mindblowing, but it’s not awful. Hence, Vietnam: Black Ops is just a passable, but ultimately forgettable game.

Surprisingly, there was a sequel: Vietnam 2: Special Assignment. Some of the developers from Black Ops return for the sequel, which surprised me. I haven’t found a copy of this anywhere, but I’m not expecting anything mind-blowing. Maybe I’ll find it and get around to writing about it some day…

Call of Duty: Black Ops promo picture taken from the Call of Duty Wiki. Vietnam: Black Ops video courtesy of YouTube user Marphy Black.

I Bought Stuff! 4/25/2012: Some ’90s PC nostalgia.

Before I started this blog, I used to document my thrift store hauls and finds on my more personal blog. Now with a more centralized place to write about my video game-related things, I’ll start writing about them here. The stuff I’m about to show you will show some insight into ’90s era PC gaming, as well as a bunch of demo discs with free games on it. Because, hey, who doesn’t like free games? As my experience with getting one from GameStop earlier this year proved…

More freebies than you can shake a stick at!

25 cents each:

  • PCGAMES.EXE’s July/August 1998 demo disc

  • Computer Gaming World’s November 1999 demo disc

  • PC Gamer’s July 2000 demo disc

  • Computer Gaming World’s March 2001 demo disc

  • A shareware copy of Wolfenstein 3D

One place I stumbled upon had a few demo discs. Did I say a few? I mean 50 demo discs. For 25 cents each. From the early days of PC Gamer and Computer Gaming World to lesser known ones like that PCGAMES.EXE disc up there, which I could find no information on who published these. I only grabbed a few of these since I really didn’t need every demo disc, just ones that seemed appealing. Hell, for 25 cents each, I had to resist from buying all of them. Somebody must have dumped their old PC gaming collection.

The first one on the upper left is from Computer Gaming World’s November 1999 issue. It has demos of games like Freespace 2 and Midtown Madness, but what really caught my eye was that it had a trailer for Halo. Yes, that Halo. Back before it was a first-person shooter title for the Xbox, it was once going to be a third-person shooter that was supposed to be a PC and Mac game before Microsoft snatched it up for the console’s 2001 launch. The trailer on the disc is almost identical to the one featured below, the only difference being a slight change in the intro. I thought it was an interesting piece of nostalgia, and it seemed even in 1999 that Halo theme was in full force.

 

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Facebook Games: The Price is Right Slots and Zynga Slingo.

Okay, I confess: I play Facebook social games. For a long time I vowed against these kind of games, because of a long-standing view to not play games meant for the “casual crowd” like my mother. Eventually once I got a Wii a few years ago, I caved in and enjoyed the goofy stuff like Wii Sports Resort. This “relaxing” of playing casual games extended to Facebook and the social games there, thus my really stupid stigma of not playing “casual games” had disappeared, and for a while, was my thing.

Anyway, onto the Facebook games. My first taste of Facebook games was Wheel of Fortune. I have a bunch of big game show fans on my Facebook friends list, many of whom I’ve known for years, and it makes sense they’d jump on board to the game show games. After getting hounded for requests on Wheel of Fortune, I hopped on and started doing the daily puzzle thing like the rest of my friends.

After a while we all kinda got burnt out and moved on from Wheel. It didn’t help that Wheel was a single player game on Facebook, thus not as exciting to play as the actual TV show. That was the end of that for a while, I stopped playing Facebook games with the exception of contests, such as winning a Def Leppard track pack for Rock Band 3 thanks to a contest program once.

Cut to months later, where I started getting requests for The Price Is Right Slots and Zynga Slingo. At that point, I had not played any Facebook games for several months, and decided that now was the time to scratch that itch again. First with TPIR Slots, then with Zynga Slingo. Now here’s my rough opinions of both.

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Blood II: The Chosen: Oft maligned, but is it that bad?

Critical opinion of games can vary wildly. Some games are universally praised, such as the major AAA entries, while others are universally slammed for their absolute badness. Though in all honesty, the games that are merely okay are the most interesting.

As time goes on, some games have stood the test of time and are still praised to this very day. Others have not aged as well and thus have a more negative reception now than they did back then. Despite that, there’s some games that are old enough that while the game is universally disliked now, there’s some people that have fondness for the game because of the time they played it. For me, that’s Blood II: The Chosen.

Caleb lives… again.

Taking place in the far-flung future of 2028, the protagonist Caleb from the original Blood is brought back from the dead to stop Gideon from unleashing the Cabal and causing hell on earth. While Caleb goes through darkened alleys, desolate hotels and the obligatory sewer level, he bumps into a few supporting characters who spout goofy tidbits of advice. All this culminates in Caleb having to destroy “The Chosen One” in a dark parallel world. It’s typical late 1990s first-person shooter fare: Little story, strange levels to roam around in, baddies to shoot, and the occasional jumping puzzle. Because hey, people LOVED jumping puzzles back in the day! (/sarcasm)

Blood II was one of the first games to use Monolith’s new Lithtech engine. When it was released in late 1998, the game had very mixed opinions. GameSpot gave it a respectable 7.8 in its heyday, IGN gave it a slightly weaker 6.8, and GamePro was the most critical of the game, giving it a 2/5. The general opinion seems to be that Blood II wasn’t as good, giving Blood considerably more praise. This opinion is agreed upon with most of my friends, regardless of playing it when it was new back in 1998, or when replaying it today.

From early on in the game. These guys have the funniest voice, including saying goofy gibberish which sounded like “Strongalellie,” which I still don’t get what it means.

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StoneLoops! of Jurassica: An interesting GameStop freebie.

So I’m sitting here, browsing the internet and looking at goofy forum posts, when I get an email from GameStop. Usually they’re for dumb deals where you can save $5 off a copy of some used game from six months ago or something. But this one caught my eye.

A free downloadable game? Can’t beat free! Sign me up!

I’m a complete sucker for free games, so I couldn’t resist the temptation to snag a free game, despite it being somewhat of a clunky way to do this.

Normally I don’t frequent GameStop because of their nasty business practices of pushing pre-orders, plus I often find games on sale elsewhere, so often times my GameStop visits are usually that: visits. This was back before they branched out to “geek culture” alongside games.

So I buy a few games at a store just to use up another coupon I had: Batman: Arkham Asylum Game of the Year Edition for PS3, since I had heard it was a pretty cool game; and Die Hard: Vendetta for the Gamecube, since they were gonna stop selling Gamecube games soon. (Note from me in 2019: I played Arkham Asylum and thought it was great, but I still haven’t played Die Hard: Vendetta to this day.)

I get home and go through the less-than-interesting set of events, including having to register for GameStop’s Impulse service, and then installed StoneLoops! of Jurassica. In my excitement and fervor for something free, I didn’t realize what the free game really was.

This looks like something I’ve seen before…

Look familiar? Yeah, it’s similar to the Magnetica series of games (or Ballistic/Puzz Loop, if you prefer). A color matching ball shooter game created by Mitchell Corporation, duplicated by many others, notably PopCap’s Zuma and MumboJumbo’s Luxor.

For those who haven’t played these kind of games, the goal is to shoot balls of a color into a matching color to stack combos for points. Luxor changed it up a bit where instead of shooting randomly colored balls like Zuma or Magnetica, you’d pull a ball over and shoot it back onto a stack to make combos, clearing groups of balls being pushed by special monsters (Beetles in StoneLoops!). Luxor added to this by giving the player powerups like spears and time stoppers, almost like the powerups in games like Arkanoid.

StoneLoops! is based on Luxor‘s gameplay style, yet has a theme/style more reminiscent of Zuma, so in a sense it’s a weird mashup of the whole ball shooter genre. The similarities to Luxor were so blatant that MumboJumbo actually muscled Apple to remove an iOS version of StoneLoops! from the App Store. Not a big deal for developer CodeMinion, as they still have the game available on other platforms, including the PC.

Though I doubt Luxor has an excited announcer yelling words like “ASTONISHING!” and “AVALANCHE!” when you’ve done great combos. Guy could give the Unreal Tournament announcer a run for his money. StoneLoops! has the same kind of gameplay loop these ball shooters have, including upgrading your hut (which doesn’t do much of anything), and a long story progression of multiple levels of challenge.

There really isn’t much else to this game, the game is fairly innocuous and no different than the other color-matching ball shooters out there. Despite that, it’s a decent time-waster.

You can try StoneLoops! of Jurassica for yourself on CodeMinion’s official website, free of charge. Sadly it’s a trial version and not the full game, but an hour is probably enough to see the StoneLoops! experience for yourself. I recommend it just to hear that overexcited announcer.


2019 update:

This would be the first out of two games I’d get from GameStop’s Impulse service, the other being a free copy of Darksiders that I didn’t use. (It came with a Steam key, so I gave the key to a friend.) It was clear GameStop was using this to attract people to the Impulse service, which wasn’t a big success as it would shut down in 2014. Which means this whole adventure was kind of a waste, in retrospect.

However, I downloaded the trial again recently and found it just as goofy as I remember it. I’m not even super-big on casual games like these and I had a fun time for about 10 minutes. I can see the appeal and the addictive nature of these games, for sure.

This post has been completely overhauled, making it drastically different from when I originally wrote it, where it was more like a blog post. I tried to update it more how I usually write things these days. My apologies for it being so short, these kind of games are fairly simple and don’t require a lot of words.

My Demo Disc Collection.

I think demo discs are pretty cool. As I mentioned in a previous entry, they gave us an opportunity to play a game before it was released, as well as give us other useful tidbits and secrets. While high speed internet has pretty much made the demo disc obsolete, I still hold a fondness for them.

Here are most of the demo discs I own:

Almost all the demo discs I have. This was taken before I had acquired more demo discs, including the aforementioned Rainbow Six 3 Companion Demo Disc.

To me, demo discs are a great snapshot of the video games of old to me. They give people a chance to gleam into what gaming was like in that time period. For instance, look at this menu of a PC Gamer demo disc circa late 1999:

Look at this menu! It’s so late ’90s it hurts!

The main menu, as well as some of the pages, have those remnants of late ’90s web design. Completely animated, with varied fonts, a somewhat confusing web interface, even animations everywhere.

On this specific disc, there’s even a gallery of really bad photoshops of former PC Gamer mascot Coconut Monkey in there just to drive it home that this is a byproduct of late 1990s PC gaming culture.

It’s more prevalent in older demo discs than in newer ones, but sometimes you would find modifications or additional levels to add on to your games. For example, the PC Gamer disc above featured above has USS Darkstar, a Half-Life mod made by future They Hunger mod designer Neil Manke; A custom level for Duke Nukem 3D, which I didn’t know people were still making by 1999; and an Unreal map called “DM-TittyTwister.” Hey, I didn’t say all of these were gems.

In some cases, demo discs had demos to games that didn’t get released, or got heavily modified from their eventual release. Early PlayStation Jampack discs would sometimes highlight an import game straight from Japan, which was pretty cool at the time for that was a peek into gaming outside western territories. Sometimes they even made special demos of games, like a Christmas-themed edition of Toy Commander that was bundled in an issue of Official Dreamcast Magazine.

The absolute highlights of my collection are those PS2-exclusive demo discs. Sony seemed to do this a lot during the PS2 era, giving out these demo discs like they were candy. I got each of those demo discs by different means. For instance, I got Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain by being part of a minor viral ad campaign involving several different websites where you’d input codes and unlock goodies, including wallpapers and the aforementioned demo. Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror and Hot Shots Tennis were discs I got back when I was in the Gamer Advisory Panel, before Sony realized that a PlayStation Blog was a more reliable way to get your praise from diehard Sony fans.

Someday, I may cover some more of these demo discs. This would be more for historical reasons than anything practical, especially since about 90% of the demos you can freely access on the internet.

I like demo discs because you never know what you might find on them. For example, one of my finds on a different PC Gamer disc was a video of editor Norman Chan, now a host and personality at Adam Savage’s Tested, promoting Comcast high-speed internet, at a whopping 8mbps download speed! EIGHT! That was pretty impressive back then.

Dammit Norm, stop shilling Comcast and get back to making experimental toys with Adam Savage!

(UPDATE 4/10/2019: Adjusted the post in several spots. One of these days I’ll give a better compilation.)