Gaming Memories – World Championship Snooker.

World Championship Snooker (PlayStation 1, 2000)

I felt it was time that I had another look back at one of my favourite classic computer games, and it’s another sport one. I have several snooker/pool games, so I’ve decided to review one of those (now isn’t the time for an “is snooker a sport?” debate), and it’s the PlayStation 1 version of World Championship Snooker so bowties at the ready.

There were various modes in the game, and all the regular rules were applied, which really did make it feel like you were playing the game for real. There were also angle indicators to help you with your break building if you wanted to take a chance at scoring a maximum 147, and there was also a creepy-looking referee who would respot the balls even though he hadn’t taken them out of the pocket. How did he do that? vlcsnap-01055

There were also several professional players who were the biggest names in the game at the time that you could play against, including seven-time World Champion Stephen Hendry, who had won just about every competition going in the game, and if you were feeling really ambitious, you could take a computer-generated version of him on in a 35-frame match at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield as if you were competing to be the winner yourself. vlcsnap-01062

You could even customise your own player, even down to what colour waistcoat they wore! World Championship Snooker also had a good TV-presentation style to it, which included a scoreboard appearing on the screen, and commentary from Dennis Taylor, who is another person who knows all about winning the World Championship in a memorable style. vlcsnap-01063

I remember that World Championship Snooker was also praised by critics at the time for its accurate sound effects. But I am not referring to the various sounds such as the balls connecting with one another and falling into the pocket, but the various coughs and applause of the studio audience which really created a unique authentic feel. vlcsnap-01065

World Championship Snooker was popular enough with fans for there to be some sequels released on various formats including the PlayStation 2 and PC. I have enjoyed watching a lot of snooker on TV over the years, but I am rather useless at playing the actual game myself, so this version was definitely the best alternative for me, and it was good to revisit over 15 years later.

Gaming Memories – Worms.

Worms (PlayStation 1, 1995)

Worms is a game that has a rather strange idea. Teams take part in strategically throwing various weapons at one another to try and eliminate their rivals – but they’re all worms! Who would’ve thought that they all would be so violent? They have all suddenly turned on one another and this was just one of the ideas that made the game so creative.

Each team consists of four worms, and up to four teams can play at once so there can be a maximum of 16 players on the screen. You can also select the name of your team and its members and I enjoyed putting silly-named teams together as much as playing the game which really adds a more enjoyable edge to it. vlcsnap-01658

When the game begins all of the worms are randomly placed on a playing area and then they are encouraged to take it in turns to try and eliminate the others in a limited amount of time against the clock, with everyone starting with 100 points of energy. Another funny thing about the game was the creative variety of weapons that could be used. vlcsnap-01659

Among these were banana bombs that always had to potential to do a lot of damage and eliminate lots of worms at once, although you only had a limited number of times you could use them. You could also use things like Uzis to blast a rival, and most memorably of all, an exploding sheep. If you began to get stuck though boxes were occasionally dropped down which contained extra weapons. vlcsnap-01660

It was always a satisfying moment when you took out a lot of rival worms in one go, and they would always rather worryingly explode and turn into a gravestone as they became an ex-worm. There were lots of funny sound effects and voice clips too. The game continued until there was only one worm or one team of worms remaining, and then after the game ended all the statistics were shown so you could discover which worm on your team was a mean killing machine. vlcsnap-01661

I enjoyed Worms so much that I had the original version on the Nintendo Game Boy, and I also had the PlayStation 1 version which was one of the first games that I got for that console. Worms was also released on other consoles including the Sega Mega Drive. I also bought the sequels Worms Armageddon and Worms World Party which I thought were great too, and in more recent years there have been many more variations released. vlcsnap-01662

Having a look at some reviews from the time it seems that Worms drew a mixed response from critics, mostly based on how funny you found the idea of worms slapping or bombing one another, but I always enjoyed playing it myself as I like quirky games and it was one of the reasons why I became fond of the PlayStation 1 in the late-90s.

Gaming Memories – Vib-Ribbon.

Vib-Ribbon (PlayStation 1, 2000)

Vib-Ribbon is a very odd game and I knew that I would be a fan of it from the first time that I saw a review and played a demo of it. You play as a rabbit-type thing character called Vibri who walks along a straight white line as music plays in the background. The music will generate various symbols along the line and you must press the correct combination of buttons to navigate them. vlcsnap-01642

If you can navigate lots of symbols successfully in a row then your character will grow in size and become more confident. If you collide with the symbols though or press the wrong buttons, then your character will decrease in size and the line they are walking on will become wobblier which will make it even more difficult to succeed, and the game ends when your character has become too small after too many misses or the song ends. vlcsnap-01641

As well as this, there are various symbols at the top of the screen called coupons which represent your score, which when you get to the end is then calculated, and there are even bonuses on offer if you do well, and there were also various modes. But Vib-Ribbon also contained a really clever idea that makes it stand out even more. vlcsnap-01643

It was possible to insert a music CD of your own choice into the PlayStation and still play the game, with the sound of the song that you choose randomly generating the symbols that appear along the line, and it was really interesting seeing how the various genres of music would affect the game, going from being fairly straightforward to play, to symbols flying all over the place and making it impossible to reach the end. I didn’t have a very big music CD collection at the time but I did enjoy putting various discs in which means that there can be a huge amount of variation in what will happen, and there were some surprises along the way. vlcsnap-01640

I’m not sure how successful Vib-Ribbon was as unsurprisingly I don’t think that it was a huge seller, but it seems that it was well received in reviews though, although of course it was a very unusual game but I always enjoyed playing it. There is of course another great musical PlayStation game where you have to press the correct buttons to go along with the flow which is Parappa The Rapper and its various sequels. Although I liked what I saw of that game I never got around to buying it unfortunately, although Vib-Ribbon is definitely a good alternative for people wanting to try a quirky musical challenge.

Gaming Memories – Brian Lara Cricket.

Brian Lara Cricket (PlayStation 1, 1998) vlcsnap-01417Brian Lara Cricket was released just before I got a PlayStation. Because as I have said before I wanted to try and collect a game from every sport because I noticed that this one had received good reviews I decided to buy it to experience what a cricket computer game is like. Brian Lara who endorsed the game is of course the West Indies cricketer who holds the record for the highest individual score in a test innings. vlcsnap-01418It does take some time to adjust to how the game works, there are of course several tactics that you can apply and there are lots of different shots on offer. It is very satisfying though when you finally get the hang of it and you start to be able to start knocking the stumps over or hitting the runs with the best of them. The game also features all of the main test players and nations of the time, and it is up to you whether you want to play just a quick one-off game under the floodlights, go through a test series or even play a world tournament to try to become the champions. There are also various grounds from around the world featured so you can play the game in various conditions which will really test your abilities. vlcsnap-01419

Now I must admit that sometimes I do like to use cheats, but only if I get completely stuck, or if I read about some that will enhance the game in an interesting way. Among the cheats available in this game were using an oversized ball, being able to have superhuman batsmen who would hit a six almost every time, making the stumps unbreakable, and having the fielders develop butterfingers when they are about to take an easy catch, which can make all manner of amusingly odd things happen. vlcsnap-01420

Also enhancing the game is commentary by Jonathan Agnew and Geoffrey Boycott, who have covered cricket a lot on TV and radio over the years. Their comments definitely add to the game, although people had noted that they do end up rather frequently saying “it’s in the air, and it’s caught” when nothing like that has happened. There are also great sound effects, action replays, and umpires waving their arms about. vlcsnap-01421

Because I enjoyed playing this game, I also bought a sequel to Brian Lara Cricket on the PlayStation 2 about five years later, and again it is a very good game which definitely gives me a feel of what it is like to be able to play the game properly and understand the tactics because when I had a go in the school playground I was completely useless.

Gaming Memories – The Weakest Link.

The Weakest Link (PlayStation 1, 2001)

I haven’t actually got around to reviewing the original TV version of this game show yet but I wanted to review the computer game version. Like Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, when BBC game show The Weakest Link was at the peak of its popularity a computer game version was released because everybody at the time fancied a go at playing this game, and my review is based on the PlayStation 1 version which I have.

The Weakest Link is of course the general knowledge challenge where you have to work as a team and get the answers correct because round by round the dunce is dumped. The computer game was rather faithful to the TV version. One change is that only seven contestants take part instead of nine. vlcsnap-01371

Also you can’t enter your own name or a picture of yourself, you have to assume the persona of one of the 24 different playable characters and then choose your opponents who you think you can beat. There are a few game modes such as when you are given the question, you can have four options which you can see in full, or if you want to challenge yourself only the first letter. vlcsnap-01368

One thing that is similar to the TV version is the host Anne Robinson asking the questions, but because there are so many and to save time, usually only something like “in sport, what is the correct answer?” is said. Your contestant ponders this for a while. They do all supposedly have different personalities, I remember reading in one review something of a strategy as to whether you should play as Eddie the trucker: “this porker was no use at all, avoid him!”. Also, just about all the male contestants are voiced by voice actor extraordinaire Enn Reitel who did the voiceover on every other advert in the 1980s and 1990s, and listening to him put on a wide range of silly accents is rather amusing. vlcsnap-01369

You’ve got to remember to bank regularly too to have a chance at progressing and taking the money. Although the game promised “bigger prize banks” than on the TV you don’t really play for anything. At the end of the round regardless of your score you have to of course vote off who you thought performed worst in the round. Again Anne doesn’t hold back in telling the contestants how they did and this causes all kinds of amusing bickering, and leaving one contestant with their head in their hands as they have to take the walk of shame. vlcsnap-01373

Then of course the weakest link is voted off, leaving them to have a post-match rant about how badly they were treated. Poor old Eddie! Once the final comes (if you get that far) you face your opponent in a penalty shoot-out style game to win and have the honour of knowing that you were the best of the lot that day. vlcsnap-01372

I did enjoy playing The Weakest Link because I do like to test my general knowledge and all the correct sound effects and comments by Anne were present. It is a surprise to think that this show is no longer going based on how many people watched it but every fad does pass. There was also a version released for the PlayStation 2 which was a big success.

Gaming Memories – Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (PlayStation 1, 2000)

Here’s a variation on my game show memories, having a look back at some computer game and interactive DVD versions of classic game shows. First is Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, which was a really successful show when the computer game version was released, and I remember being very pleased when I got the first edition on the PlayStation 1 for Christmas one year. vlcsnap-01336

If you’re one of those people who constantly shouted the answers at the screen and always said “I could do better than the contestants myself”, than this was your chance to prove it, as you could now play the game at home, although every critic in games magazines said a variation of “you do realise that you are not really playing for any money, don’t you?”. vlcsnap-01337

The game was fairly good at replicating the TV version of the show which was the ultimate general knowledge challenge. You had to answer 15 successive questions correctly and you had three lifelines if you needed them. Chris Tarrant also took part but he was only heard. One thing that irritated people about the game was that you couldn’t skip Chris doing his whole “you’ve got three lifelines, here’s your next question, you don’t have to play it” routine. The terrific musical soundtrack was also present too. vlcsnap-01345

I suppose that the game did increase the tension well, with Chris often saying things like “you’re going for D… are you sure?”, and they got round the problem of the Phone A Friend lifeline by recording a few conversations of Chris talking to someone which would supposedly help you out. Also when you had to ask the studio audience it was rather awkward because you couldn’t actually see one. There was also a multiplayer mode where you could take it in turns to play, or play the Fastest Finger First qualifying round to determine who played. vlcsnap-01346

There was a lot of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire merchandise around at this time. As well as the PlayStation 1 game there was also a book and a board game. Because of the popularity of the computer game there were many more released, with a second version on the PlayStation 1 which corrected some of the flaws of the first game including Chris Tarrant now actually reading out the questions and a more animated studio. vlcsnap-01348

There would also go on to be many more variations including a junior version of the game, and a PlayStation 2 version which featured a computer-generated version of Tarrant in vision asking you the questions, although I remember one critic saying that the animation made it look like he was trying to chew his own tongue. There were also several interactive DVD versions released. vlcsnap-01347

Now that Who Wants To Be A Millionaire has ended in this country it is a surprise looking back at how popular the show was, with the first game selling very well, although some critics thought it was rather average, I did enjoy playing it. There have been lots of other game shows that have been turned into computer games and DVDs and I’ll review some more of those soon.

Gaming Memories – Triple Play Baseball 2000.

Triple Play Baseball 2000 (PlayStation 1, 1999)

This is another sport game that I have in my collection. Baseball is one of those sports that is more established and popular in America although it does have a following here. My memories of playing rounders as it is called in this country just consist of doing very badly in the school playground. But because I remember watching some MLB coverage on Channel 5 and I liked the look of the game when I saw the review in PlayStation Power, I decided to buy Triple Play Baseball 2000vlcsnap-01329

Again, this is a game which features impressive TV-style presentation with commentators Jim Hughson and Buck Martinez who like to often say things like “he’s hit it way back, this might bring rain!”, and all the players, stadiums and teams from the 1999 season are featured. There are plenty of options, from playing a one-off game to going through a whole season to try and make the playoffs and triumph in the World Series. vlcsnap-01331

Baseball is one of those sports that can have a lot of statistics and it can seem rather overwhelming at first but if you can grasp the basics then the game is great to play. There are lots of other things that made playing this game a good experience for me including amusing crowd noises and sound effects. vlcsnap-01330

Once you get used to the controls it can be great to attempt to score a home run. It’s very satisfying when you achieve this and there’s a huge “thump” sound effect. Triple Play Baseball 2000 was published by EA Sports who are a company who definitely know how to put a great game together. “If it’s in the game, it’s in the game”. vlcsnap-01332

One of my favourite things about Triple Play Baseball 2000 is one of the cheats. In a one-off game by pressing various buttons you can access the EA Dream Team, who all seemed to be based on people who worked on the game. They all have various superpowers such as being able to run round the bases very quickly, or having an oversized bat. The best player in the team is the mighty Erik Kiss, who has the incredible ability to hit home runs over 1000+ft with ease every single time making him a guaranteed matchwinner, and he is almost always selected as the man of the match. If he was a real player he would be the greatest one who ever played the game. vlcsnap-01333

Although there are other games in the Triple Play Baseball series, this is the only one that I have. Such is the nature of baseball that I imagine that it wouldn’t have sold in huge quantities in this country, but in my quest to collect one computer game of every sport to to determine what they are like I have definitely got a feel for why people do enjoy this game. Again there are a few clips on YouTube of people playing the game and over 15 years after it was released I am still a fan. vlcsnap-01334

Gaming Memories – NBA Basketball 2000.

NBA Basketball 2000 (PlayStation 1, 1999)

Time for my first review of an old computer game. As I have said before I have never been particularly good at playing any sport myself, but I have watched a lot of TV coverage over the years, and I have enjoyed playing sport games, and I have tried to collect one of each sport to learn more about and get a better feel of how the game is played. vlcsnap-01322

There are of course many basketball games out there, and I wouldn’t know if the one that I have is among the best or the worst available, but one of the reasons that I chose NBA Basketball 2000 was after I played the demo which was on the disc that came with the Official UK PlayStation Magazinevlcsnap-01324

Around the late-90s there was some basketball shown on TV, and I remember that some coverage of the NBA was shown on Channel 4 and ITV2, but I don’t know what channel it is on in this country nowadays, probably something like Sky Sports 15. NBA Basketball 2000 featured all the licences of all the teams and players at the time, and you had the option to play a single game or go through a whole season. Now who should I play as today, the Minnesota Timberwolves or Utah Jazz? vlcsnap-01323

Like many sport games, NBA Basketball 2000 featured realistic TV-style presentation, with the players walking on to the court to big cheers, action replays from lots of angles, plus accurate crowd noises and sound effects. Also featuring were the Fox commentators Greg Papa and Doc Rivers. Such is the nature of basketball that the game is somewhat one end to the other and there is scoring rather frequently, leading Greg to say various phrases such as “tickles the twine!” or “nothing but nylon”. Also along with this Doc would add various stats and facts about the teams and players. vlcsnap-01325

For some reason almost every time the first free throw is taken in the game Greg will always say “I just don’t think good free throw shooting is emphasised any more at the lower levels”. I don’t know why he seems so concerned about the subject that he has to say it every single time. Also, because this game is now over 15 years old it is a surprise to think most of the players in the game would have started their NBA careers in the 80s, and even most of the rookies featured would be retired by now. vlcsnap-01326

As the game progresses injuries can happen, and it’s always a tense moment as you wait to find out if your star player is out for the game or the season. There is one rather odd feature in the game, it’s not a glitch as such but it is still rather unusual. If when in the fourth quarter with a minute to go the gap between the teams is fewer than ten points, the computer-controlled team will instantly foul you the moment you get the ball, leading to you having lots of free throws almost as if they want you to win the game. vlcsnap-01328

This means that the final minute of the game can last for a very long time, and this also happens if the game goes into overtime. Around this point Doc always says “you never give up on an NBA game because too many crazy things can happen in the dying seconds”. He’s definitely right about that, and it is always rather exciting and satisfying if you score a match-winning buzzer beater. vlcsnap-01327

I was playing the game again before I wrote this piece and I still enjoy it, and although there seems to be no Wikipedia entry for the game, there are a few clips on YouTube with a few comments from people who seemed to enjoy playing the game and it has given me a feel of why basketball has been so popular in America.