Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Shadow of the Colossus: bringing down the knight

I have owned this on the PS2, in a lovely art set with postcards, and twice on the PS3: once on a disc alongside Ico, and once digitally.  I have owned this on the PS4 on disc, bought for a birthday.  I also acquired it when it was given away with PS+.

There are some games I own many copies of because they are classics that I wish to enjoy in many places.  Sonic and Sonic 2 are the obvious examples; Populous the Beginning on PS, PC CD-ROM, and now GOG; Journey; Peggle.  This is not one of those games.  I own this many times because I keep promising myself that I will play it.

And now I have.

The game is breathtaking in its scale, particularly when you consider its PS2 origins.  The world feels huge and intricate, and while not up to GTA3 levels of detail it feels alive.  There is a real sense of belonging and duty, to keep the world functioning, and to save the life of the girl you bring to the temple at the start.  It also feels oppressive, with you being commanded by an unseen deity to go and vanquish the giants that inhabit the land.

Off we pop, then.

Given the size of the world, luckily you have a horse to ride to get you to the far off places quickly.  The horse is well coded, responding to your commands with a bit of leeway to allow for animal eccentricity.  I found quite quickly that you can lean off the horse to fire arrows or use your sword while the horse carries on running, though as soon as you start to aim the horse's path changes.  Not sure I'll use that much.

Other than a light game of exploring the world, with some lizards that seem to increase your stamina bar and some fruit that increases your energy, the main aim is to find and defeat large monsters - seemingly half living, half stone - by climbing up them and reaching a glowing area which you then repeatedly stab until the colossus dies.  They don't like being stabbed, so you have to stop stabbing them from time to time to hold on as they shake and try to dislodge you.  After a lot of stabbing the monster collapses, you get transported back to the central temple, and repeat.

I have, so far, stabbed three monsters, and they have been varied and clever.  I tried to stab the fourth but so far haven't worked out how to climb up it.  Something to ponder.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

James Bond 007: invisible oil rigs

Loading up James Bond 007 on the Atari 5200, you see an exciting opening sequence, announcing you are about to play Diamonds are Forever.  This is, apparently, one of four films represented in the game.

Rather than controlling Bond, you control his car. It's unclear exactly which car it is, but best guesses are that it's the Lotus from The Spy Who Loved Me.  With an added jump function.

The game starts with you driving through the desert, with some odd craft dropping bombs in front of you.  You have to jump over the holes created, which is difficult because your car's jump isn't long enough to do so without swerving across the screen at the same time. You can fire, alternating between one bullet that goes up at a 30-degree angle and something that lands on the floor in front of you, but these don't seem to affect the green craft.

After a while you get to the sea, and you can dive under the waves or, somehow, jump above them. Here the second bullet makes sense, becoming a difficult-to-judge depth charge.  Frogmen fire bullets at you, and you have to avoid these, as well as the green craft's bombs, and try to sheet diamonds in the sky using your diagonal bullets.

As well as giving you points, shooting the diamonds makes the sky flash, which is crucial because it reveals the locations of oil platforms, which otherwise are black on a black background.  If you don't see them, you crash into them and die.  I successfully avoided five or six of these once, before getting worried I was missing something.

I was, indeed.  Reading the manual, I found out I was supposed to land on one of these oil platforms (a brief reminder that touching the platforms kills you in any other situation) to progress to the next level.  So, I worked through the first level again, and landed on the first oil platform.  Much easier.  This then took me to the second level - The Spy Who Loved Me.

Which wasn't much different to the first.  This time there were rockets that sometimes launched from the sea bed (and sometimes didn't), and boats you had to submerge under (and not land on).

Having read the manual, I knew the aim was to get to the end and rescue Anya Amasova.  To do this, it seems, you have to bomb the facility where she is hiding and pick up the escape pod.  Got that first time.

And then onto Moonraker, where the aim is apparently to shoot down three spinning satellites. These satellites move at about 57,291mph across the screen, and I didn't manage to shoot down a single one before being killed by odd green space shuttles and mines laid by submarines.  Had I paid £30 for this back in 1984, I may have persisted … but I now have better things to be doing.