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Re: October Together Retro: Golden Age of Survival Horror

Posted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 12:40 am
by pierrot
I finished Blue Stinger last night, a little bit to my surprise, actually. I was going to see what I could accomplish in Dino Crisis, in the final hours of October, tonight, but other plans were had, unfortunately. I haven't really decided yet whether or not I actually want to just keep going with survival horror, and play through Dino Crisis, anyway, though.

At any rate, Blue Stinger was a really surprisingly good game. Just another amazing US launch title for the Dreamcast, nothing all that new for the console, really. It's a little head spinning to think about the US Dreamcast launch lineup, in retrospect, but I digress. It's not really that Blue Stinger is a perfect game, and I can understand why there would be people turned off by it, but I don't think their reasoning would be entirely fair. Although, a lot of that is on the basis that the game is imitating the survival horror genre, and I'll admit that the developers might have really been going for more of a general action game than a survival horror game. Anyway, I'm going to continue to evaluate it as a survival horror game.

The big issues with playing Blue Stinger, for just the average person picking it up on a whim, are the controls and camera. Blue Stinger actually allows for free movement, and does not require tank controls. However, they still aren't perfectly precise, even though they perform pretty well. Frustratingly, even though there's fairly decent auto aim, some flying enemies in the latter part can be a real pain to hit with almost any weapon. Swimming can also be a bit of an adventure, due to the underwater controls, but they are manageable once one gets the hang of them, and there are only a couple of sections where swimming is even required. The camera is another thing that's actually a bit different from a lot of survival horror games, but which still gives plenty to wrestle with. I'm not really sure what the camera is like in the US version, although it seems like some find it worse, for whatever reason. I believe the camera in the US version typically follows the main characters, and near walls, etc, usually ends up pointing straight down at the top of their heads. In the Japanese version, there's a more 'dynamic' camera, that swoops around, pans, zooms, and backs out to some pretty impressive heights. It can still make things a bit tricky, because the directional controls are camera dependent, so the camera can pan while one is moving, and almost reverse controls, or just make the direction the player is holding go straight over the nearby cliff. This is actually a little bit of an issue near the end of the game, where there's some fairly precision movement over bottomless pits, and the camera is wiggling and wriggling all over the place. I suppose the good of it is that the game offers a rope hook item that is expended if one falls off a platform, and allows the player to continue at that spot, without suffering a game over. I assume it would result in a game over, anyway; I actually didn't need to purchase any of those items, because I was just able to collect enough of them that had been strewn across the ground, over the course of the game. In my experience with the Japanese camera, when it was stationary at least, the angles tended to remind me of those in Deep Fear, where they were usually pointing toward the main characters, and didn't allow for much visibility of what was up ahead in the hallways. This wasn't always true, though, as it would often happen that going in one direction offered a camera angle with decent visibility, but going the other direction would tend to obscure visibility. There's a level of self awareness to the game's shortcomings, from a gameplay perspective, but I typically did not mind them, anyway.

Graphically, I thought things were pretty on point. The draw distance is absurd. The camera occasionally gets up to dizzying heights, and things are just visible forever. Blue Stinger doesn't use any mipmapping, though, so there are a lot of flickering textures. I personally don't mind flickering, and tend to kind of prefer it to a lot of the mipmapping in Dreamcast games. I tend to find the latter more distracting, actually. The character models, obviously, are not all that hot, though they still look pretty good for the time, even if the joints needed some work. Animations are a little stilted, particularly Doggs' running animations. I really enjoyed the environments, though. There's a lot of variety in the locations, even though it's all just one, fairly small island. I found it to be a really nice game to look at, generally, with 3D environments that were far better looking than a lot of the undersampled prerendering of the time. The presentation matched with intense music (if a little limited in variety), and cool cinematic cutscenes. Plus the game runs pretty smoothly at all times. The interesting thing is that it seems like instead of dropping frames, or slowing down visually, when things get a bit more hectic (like when a billion coins are bouncing off of walls and other environmental objects, after being spewed out of a fallen enemy) the music actually is what slows down. A few times I was actually fooled into thinking it was a change of tempo in the compositions, but nope. Very interesting tactic of compensating for the overhead.

The acting is pretty textbook Resident Evil, but this is another point where I don't think the developers were necessarily going for a schlocky vibe one purpose (unlike Illbleed). Rather, I think they may have just brought in English voice actors for the Japanese version to add some "cool" vibes to the action theme, and give it even more of a Hollywood feel. It's all the same to Japanese audiences, whether the English VO were good or bad. The actors themselves are probably not really that bad, in Blue Stinger, I think it's more about the voice directors, and the way the script was translated into English. Case in point, there's this little girl who's alone in an arcade, and when asked where her parents are she says, "I don't know," with just the most inappropriately indignant tone, but the Japanese subtitles suggest a more apprehensive, and slightly periled tone. I feel fairly confident that if the voice actors had been directed to give their lines in ways that made more sense when considering the Japanese script, things would feel a little more believable. I don't really feel the same way about Resident Evil, or Illbleed, though, for example. While I kind of liked the story, overall, the ending felt a little abrupt, and I was kind of surprised it ended at that point, but it's not as if the game really needed to keep going, either. It was a pretty substantial experience, and on the longer side of these styles of games (it took me about 13 hours to finish).

Overall, Blue Stinger is probably just barely not a must play, even though I really enjoyed it. I'd give it an A-, personally, but there probably aren't a ton of people who would feel the same way. A lot of other people would probably focus way more on the challenging aspects than I did, and honestly, I can't really say why I was as okay with everything about the game as I was, but--. Yeah, If you've got it, play it. I think it's worth it.

Re: October Together Retro: Golden Age of Survival Horror

Posted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 1:09 am
by Exhuminator
Well the month's over, that went by fast. :|

I want to thank Ack for a fun and appropriate theme. This TR encouraged me to play some classic games I likely would not have otherwise.

Here's the titles I beat for this TR:

Fatal Frame: Special Edition (Xbox) 7/10
Jack in the Dark (DOS) 7/10
Silent Hill 2 (Greatest Hits) (PS2) 7.5/10
Silent Hill 2 (Greatest Hits): Born From a Wish (PS2) 6/10

And now if you'll excuse me, it's time to step into my TARDIS.

Re: October Together Retro: Golden Age of Survival Horror

Posted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 1:26 am
Last Sunday I was able to sit down and play through Resident Evil Dead Aim on PS2, known elsewhere as Gun Survivor 4.

It's a pretty fast paced RE that has you exploring in third person and shifting to first person for the shooty bits. The Gun Survivor games are all light gun shooters, but I don't have a light gun or a tv that works with them, so I had to play with the controller. Which actually worked perfectly fine. I'm sure things would have been faster and easier with a gun, but controlling the cross hair was pretty smooth. You hit a shoulder button (R1 I believe) to bring up your aim, and you can use the L buttons to strafe. It works pretty well, and while the camera transition can be a bit jarring at first, in the end it was really no different than aiming in any other shooter.

Other than that, Dead Aim is campy and stupid and fun in that classic Resident Evil way. It wasn't a top shelf experience or anything, but I had fun in the 2 hours it took me to beat it.

I intended to play Gun Survivor 2: Code Veronica as well this month, but never got around to it. Ah well.

Re: October Together Retro: Golden Age of Survival Horror

Posted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 8:04 am
by Ack
Yes, we have reached 13 pages! I arise from the depths!

As mankind is now ending, I highly recommend you all climb into your time machines and go back to the beginning for the November Together Retro.


Re: October Together Retro: Golden Age of Survival Horror

Posted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 7:23 pm
by Xeogred
Sweet dreams.


Re: October Together Retro: Golden Age of Survival Horror

Posted: Fri Nov 02, 2018 5:59 am
by Key-Glyph
Jennifer's Diary

It happened in October. I doubt anyone will believe me, now that I'm safe. But I beg you: go to the mansion. Rip up the floors. Find the elevator, and descend into the basement, and witness the remnants of what I still can't understand.

My name is Jennifer. On a picturesque autumn day, I and three of my friends from the orphanage -- Ann, Lotte, and Laura -- did our best to control our excitement as we walked towards what would be our new home. We were led by our adoptive mother Ms. Mary, a polite and charitable woman. What I remember most is the smell of the pine of the beautiful woods, which seemed to stretch forever to every angle on the horizon. I could never have imagined how all of these beautiful things would betray us.

Night had fallen when we finally arrived. Ms. Mary settled us in the main hall of the mansion and smiled at our flushed faces before leaving to fetch our adoptive father. Ann was uneasy immediately, possibly from the splendor of our surroundings, possibly from the amount of time that was passing. I found that I could not sit still anyway, so instead of stoking my sisters' anxiety by pacing relentless up and down the foyer, I chose to explore the mansion and seek out our mother.

This is the moment I think of above all: the moment I left. To this day I do not know whether this decision is what ultimately saved me, or if it is instead what doomed my closest friends...