My childhood and adolescence was marked by what various "phases" of intense, powerful almost obsessional interest in something and then having that something be replaced by something else. Oftentimes these phases overlapped--like how my Star Wars phase lasted from about 1991 up until I sat staring slack-jawed in disappointment at The Force Awakens

The Aliens and Predator phase began after my dad had on the first Predator movie when I was probably 6 or 7 (we weren't a family where my parents were remotely concerned about what my sister and I watched or were exposed to, it all was more or less fair game apparently)

Once I saw the gadgetry and how cool the Predator was, I was all in. At that point in the early-mid 90s, there had been AVP comics for ages already, and the early internet about the two were inexorably tied up together, so it didn't take me long to watch the Alien movies either (shoutouts to my grandpa--WHO HAD HBO gasp--who taped the Aliens director cut so I got to act all cool on the Newsgroups describing the sentry gun scenes).

It was in the midst of all of that fanaticism that I came to know about this game. It was all over game magazines, just like ads for the Jaguar were in general. I was 8 in 1994 and I read every single video game magazine I could get my hands on, and I was obsessed with the idea of it. But there was no way in hell my folks would buy a Jaguar--I had my Mega CD and I was happy with it anyhow.

It became kind of a white whale for me for a while, but emulation was never good enough throughout my tween and teen years, and then it fell off my radar...until like a few weeks ago. I thought "wait, I can probably just play that now huh?"

Turns out yep!

I gotta say I had a blast! I would have gotten wildly lost all the time if not for maps, but I had a lot of fun. And honestly if my child self had been able to play this it would have been all she did for like a year. Apart from the X-Com and TIE Fighter I don't think a game would have been so formative. What I'm saying is I think if I had had a Jaguar and this game in 1994 I would've turned into an FPS head probably

Ok some random thoughts I wrote down while I was playing--these are mostly Marine campaign notes but like, they apply across the board

- Incredibly how long games that don't and didn't ever need a score number kept keeping track of some arbitrary score

- I deeply love that there's just one single corpse style for aliens and you can like, stack them on top of one another

- If you kill an alien inside the elevator it disappears on the next floor loading

- The key that I'm sure the folks in 1994 probably figured out is you can kite the aliens around and not kill all of them. I haven't read contemporaneous reviews of this yet but you will have SEVERE ammo issues as the Marine if you kill every alien

- I love that there's a room FULL of exploding barrels because it tells me that someone on the team thought, "hey we should do this because of the time in Aliens where they said they couldn't shoot their guns"

- Gosh the textures in the Predator ship are some Win 95 maze screensaver stuff

- The Smart Gun is genuinely hilariously powerful. Gotta be up there for lowest fuss-to-highest-killing-power FPS gun right?

- Gotta love a game that has a section of this ostensibly real human space complex called 'The Training Maze'. Impeccable. No notes.

I lov love LOVED the aesthetics and energy of this game; the whole vibe and even the general outline of the mechanics are pretty rad. But it just didn't grip me the way I had hoped

I thought the controls weren't half bad--the aesthetics (so. much. bouncing.) weren't my taste!

Even though I tend not to like super like, action-y, twitch-y games like this, I have a huuuuge soft spot for the game Oni from back in the day, and this seemed kinda up that alley, so I gave it a shot!

Super duper against type for me to really be able to hang with this, but I had a decent time! I like the way the main character looks and the movement is fun--plus I love that PS2 Shinobi game so I felt pretty at home with this.

Overall I dug it! Pretty fun way to spend a little time

Played this one with my wife on Retroarch on our homebrewed PS3 from underneath our kotatsu during this chilly wintry week and that was basically the best possible context to play this silly cozy little game.

I’m a big big big time lover of Lunar, with the Mega CD Lunars being two of my all time favorite games, and despite the name on the tin, there’s just some “oh hey I know them!” style things for fans. Put another way, if you’ve never played a Lunar you’re not missing anything here

That said, this is a very frothy and pretty short Game Gear RPG, with all that entails. Mazes, random battles out the wazoo and dungeons that you revisit like 3+ times each. The charm comes from the really cute sprites and from just enjoying the Saturday morning cartoon vibes. There’s not a lot of gameplay depth or depth of any kind really.

Once you play this you should also check out the cute and funny anime short they released of this game attached to an Evangelion movie-theater release in 1997! Someone on YouTube ripped a VHS release of it that has a really cute interview with the voice actors in the end that my level of Japanese was sufficient to get the gist of but it I’d love to have a like N1 level person translate it!

WELL. Thank god for save states because this sure is a 1988-ass RPG. I've been playing it in like 15 minute chunks for well over a year, and I have effectively nothing to say about it at all. It's bland hard-tack. Without save states and the frankly wonderful guide on GameFAQS (huge, enormous shoutouts to that guy, holy smokes) I wouldn't have gotten anywhere at all

I wish I had something more insightful or interesting to say except to say that it feels impossible that the Linda^3 people didn't play this, because those monsters are straight up Linda^3 monsters

I’ve been playing this (using an Infinite Health cheat) while waiting to pick my wife up from work over the past week or so and it’s…y’know, been a thing to pass the time hahaha

I’m a pretty big nostalgia-induced fan of the Megadrive version of this game, and yep the GG one sure is a GG version! I actually think the pared-down graphics are pretty charming, but this is as mindless as they come.

This game—and it’s Megadrive older brother—continue to earn brownie points from my comic book nerd self for being made in the White Vision era which only lasted like 4 years, which I find really charming in a way. Vision has always been one of my favorite characters in comics and I was chuffed as a kid that he was even in a video game, and it’s still funny that his only game appearance until like, the LEGO games; his inclusion in this game is as gonzo and cool as Hawkeye being in the Spidey arcade beat-em up.

Anywho, there’s very little to say about this one in the end, except that it’s an incredibly weird choice to have Vision have to use the little flying car in the shooter sequences here, when he can fly

At the very least, in this borderline unplayable mess, I got an earnest and genuine laugh at loud moment: at one point the music abruptly changed from some pretty alright generic grunge to…a lounge singer? It was a very very very funny tone switch in the music

Otherwise yikes

1995

WELL with CRW 2 I unfortunately got a monkey paw’s wish. CRW 1’s biggest flaw in my opinion is that it’s not turned based, and the slowness and clunkiness of the real-time combat just could not, despite my best efforts, be overcome by how wonderful and soulful and awesome the game looked.

Tragically, awfully, CRW 2 plays so much better—it’s got a turn-based system, it’s mechanically much more refined, which is great!

…but all the soul is gone 😞 gone is the lovely X-Com looking tactical level and in its place is tragically generic and boring units and interface.

It feels bad to play in the exact opposite way from the first, and it breaks my heart

Well shoot--there went a couple hours up in smoke. This was pretty cute, but the fact that I felt like eventually they were just gonna kill my people again like in the first town just made me eventually just kinda stop and go, "oh wait why am I investing in these heroes" and that made my desire to play evaporate into thin air

Fun time while I was playing though!!

I had high hopes going into the first little bit of this! I thought:

- Ooooh I can make my PC
- OOOOOH I can make a lady PC
- Oooh base building kinda sorta

But then it kinda lost me--I just didn't feel the spark. I wish I had more interesting things to say but I just didn't feel it, y'know? I was looking for X-Com Rome and I got not really that.

WELL I decided on a whim today to do the Orc campaign of the OG. I've been on this PC Games Of My Youth kick the last several days, more or less just trawling abandonware sites and grabbing stuff I loved back in the day.

Since I've been playing other RTS of the era this week as well, it's pretty wild to see what Warcraft did and didn't take from Dune 2, and then to see what the original Command and Conquer did and didn't take from Warcraft.

It's hard to impress to folks who weren't alive and playing PC games back then, but the RTS genre was enormous, I mean like, it was The Big Genre, and it evolved quickly. The quality of life things not present here that show up in C&C a year later and then are just fully baked in by Warcraft 2? Incredible to see happen being able to play them back-to-back-to-back

Wish y'all could've been there alongside us to absolutely flip out about being able to select as many units as you want later on

Finally finished a save I had started like 10 months ago which now allows me to put it right here in the ol' Backloggd.

I'm 36 at the time of writing this, and I went to tell y'all younger folks about something called Shareware. Back in the day, we kinda sorta had two different types of Not-The-Full-Game experiences: demos and shareware. A demo back in the day was what a demo is now; a limited, small chunk of the game. And then there was shareware, which was ostensibly the entire game, but you only got to play a portion of it until you paid. Think of it like a sort of Freemium thing that we've got nowadays.

Anywho, to a kid like me--and I would imagine lots of PC gaming kids back in the day--shareware made up the bulk of what we experienced: the first levels of Commander Keen, the first chapter of Doom, the bits of Escape Velocity before you get blown up by a Parrot. You'd get these games from various discs (floppy discs, mind, but sometimes CDs) and just play whatever came your way.

It was the shareware of X-Com that more or less completely changed the way my brain worked.

There's a concept in TTRPGs, particularly in LARP, called "bleed." Bleed more or less refers to the degree to which you like, feel like your character(s), or the degree to which you're fully emotionally invested in them. There are low-bleed players and high-bleed players, and while I don't necessarily think that high or low bleed necessarily equates to something like immersion, I think there is a way that high-bleed folks can feel more attuned to their characters and games.

I've always been an incredibly high-bleed player, not just of TTRPGs, but of video games too. I need to feel a degree of emotional connection in order to even remotely care. This took the form of me talking out loud to myself as a kid "in character" as, say, an X-Wing pilot while playing X-Wing/TIE Fighter, or as Beatrice the Knight hero in HoMM3 or as the squadron commander of a group of hapless alien-fighting morons in X-Com.

Because of my high degree of bleed, I prefer games that are crunchy; I love when a game gives me levers and buttons and knobs to push and press and pull and manage. I love a base building system, I love an economy, I love to customize things and manage things and name things. X-Com gives you control over everything. The first thing you see when you start a new game is the globe--THE WHOLE PLANET! You can put your first base anywhere you want! Then you've got a whole base to build, you've got things to research, individual soldiers with their own stats and inventories to manage, fighter planes to deploy--it's everything. X-Com hands you an entire world that you get to mess with and says, "good luck!" And then it lets you do it all however you want.

It's simply a masterpiece of a game, and is still more or less unparalleled. The remakes--both 1 and 2--scratch the same itch, but as the saying goes, "you can't go home again."

Nothing will ever be like the OG X-Com.

There's a part of me that just kinda feels bad for giving this three stars. You ever play something that you find yourself wondering why you're not enjoying more?

Since they stopped making Heroes of Might and Magic games, I've been chasing the gameplay loop of HoMM--I just love the idea of having a central town and upgrading it and then you've got your heroes and all that and just, yeah! I love that loop

Spellforce here has it! But it just...falls flat for me. It's got all of the things more or less going for it but it just doesn't bring it home for me emotionally.

Sorry Spellforce.

I finished the Ordos campaign and thought, "yeah I'm good now!"

Gosh, what an awesome blast from the past. When I was a youth, RTS were one of my favorite genres from the very first Dune when I played it on my Genesis, and in a lot of ways, Dune 2000 feels like the sort of zenith of 2D RTS of this mold.

I think Red Alert 2 is better in almost every way, but Red Alert 2 was the beginning of a new era, whereas Dune 2000 feels like the end of an old one. I love the way it sounds, the way it looks, the way it plays (even the old-school interface and UI and all)--it's all just so charming to me.

Dune 2000 is definitely a "if you could only play one game in this genre to get a feeling for what they feel and look like" sort of game