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 – Klax.

Klax (PlayStation 2, 2003)

After writing about the great Paperboy on here last time which was part of the first volume of the PlayStation 2’s archive games compilation Midway Arcade Treasures, I thought that I would write about another of my favourite games featured on that collection. This time it’s the puzzler Klax which was originally released in 1989. vlcsnap-01636

I really enjoy games in the puzzle genre, so discovering the gameplay of Klax was a great moment. Some squares that are different colours slide down a conveyor belt and you have to collect them and slot them into place on a 5×5 grid, scoring points for connecting three squares of the same colour horizontally, vertically, or diagonally and making them disappear. You also start on the first level and must complete a task such as making so many klaxs or scoring so many points before you can progress to the next one. vlcsnap-01638

As the squares slide along the conveyor belt they all make different noises and you have to catch them in time, because if too many of them begin to drop off the edge or the playing area becomes full with squares it’s game over. Also, as the levels progress the squares are in increasingly different colours and begin to slide along the conveyor belt quicker so you have to be very alert. A multicoloured square also appears which can be used as any colour which can come in useful. vlcsnap-01637

There were some nice sound effects too, I do like the different noises from when you get a klax, and every time you complete a level you get a bonus for how many of the 25 squares on the 5×5 grid we still unused. You also got some applause too which was nice. There were also bonuses for making bigger klaxs of four or five of the same colour. Overall there were 100 levels in the game (or “waves” as they called) which were increasingly challenging and although I never progressed that far I always enjoyed having a go. vlcsnap-01635

When you begin to play Klax a message appears on the screen that rather boldly claims “it is the nineties and there is time for… Klax“. Again Klax was released on several platforms in the 90s including the Commodore 64 and Super Nintendo and although it didn’t make as big an impact as the mighty Tetris which was released around the same time it still seemed to be well received by the reviewers of the time. vlcsnap-01639

I have a few other PlayStation 2 games that consisted of compilations of classic games from the 1980s and 1990s including Atari Anthology and Midway Arcade Treasures 2 so next time I’ll have a look at some more of the classic games that I enjoyed discovering and playing as a part of those.

Gaming Memories – Paperboy.

Paperboy (PlayStation 2, 2003)

I haven’t had the chance to play too many computer games that were released in the 1980s, so when the first volume of Midway Arcade Treasures was released on the PlayStation 2 in 2003, I decided to buy it as it featured versions of 24 classic games. Among my favourites of the selection were Root Beer Tapper and Klax, and the one that I must have played the most was Paperboy which was originally developed in 1984.

When the game begins you get the job as a paperboy delivering copies of The Daily Sun on your bicycle, which seems to be such an honour that you even make the front page. There are three different modes of difficulty to choose from and the basic idea is to deliver newspapers to subscribers on a suburban street whilst avoiding various obstacles. vlcsnap-01630

You start on the Monday and you have to get to the end of the week still in your job. If you don’t deliver a newspaper to the right house they will unsubscribe, however if you deliver to every house you have to you will gain a subscriber. If you run out of subscribers before the end of the week though it’s game over and you get the sack. vlcsnap-01634

As the days progress though more and more obstacles block your way, featuring everything from car tyres rolling around in the middle of the street, to dogs running out in front of you, collide with them and you’ll lose a life. You also score points for accurate delivery of newspapers and breaking objects at unsubscribed houses. If you reach the end of the street you can also take part in an obstacle course against the clock. There were even a few clips of speech for when the paperboy has a mishap which was innovative at the time. vlcsnap-01632

Paperboy was a great game to play and it was very popular in the 1980s, there was even a round on the BBC1 game show First Class where contestants could play a game. About a couple of years ago Paperboy earned a front cover feature in Retro Gamer magazine to celebrate 30 years since its release. vlcsnap-01633

This was the first time that I had bought that magazine and it really was interesting reading about the history and development of the game, and as well as the PlayStation 2, Paperboy was released on a wide variety of formats throughout the years also including the Commodore 64 and the Nintendo Game Boy, and every version had small variations in graphics and gameplay, and a sequel was also released in the early-90s. 

Although it seems that the critical response was mixed to the various versions of Paperboy that were released on all the different formats, all these years later when I want to play Midway Arcade Treasures, Paperboy is still almost always the first game that I select to play. It really is a game that always delivers, ha-ha.

Gaming Memories – Crazy Taxi.

Crazy Taxi (PlayStation 2, 2001)

When I got a PlayStation 2 early in 2001, I began to have a think about what games I would like to play, and I’d heard a lot of good things about Crazy Taxi so I decided to make that one of the first games that I bought, and for me that turned out to be a good decision as I regularly enjoyed playing this game.

In Crazy Taxi you can play as one of four characters who all have different attributes, but the basic idea of the game is the same for all them. You have to drive around in your taxi in the city and pick up fares, and then get your customer to their destination as quickly as possible. If you do get them there in time, you win a bonus from them, plus more time is added to the clock. vlcsnap-01612

You have to carry on getting fares until you run out of time, at which point the amount of money that you made is revealed. You can also score bonuses from achieving stunts which will usually horrify your customer but will increase your score. Alternatively you can play for a fixed time limit such as ten minutes. If you don’t get your fare to their destination in time though they leave without paying and they make it clear that they aren’t very happy with you. vlcsnap-01611

One thing that I liked about Crazy Taxi was that thanks to some advertising deals some of the destinations in the game were based on real places, and you could clearly feel the tension as you wondered if you could get someone to KFC or Tower Records on time whilst trying to stay on the road and not knock everything over in the process. The soundtrack also featured a lot of American rock bands including The Offspring. 

There was also another mode in Crazy Taxi where you had to perform stunts and you would score points. For example there was a challenge where you had to drive off a ramp and travel for as far as you could before landing. There were several tips as to how to increase your power to jump really far but as I have never learned to drive I did find it a little difficult to grasp to more technical side of how to achieve this but I did enjoy having a go. There were also against-the-clock games such as trying to pop all the balloons or pick up multiple customers and these had varying levels of difficulty. vlcsnap-01610

Having a look online it seems that Crazy Taxi was fairly well received by critics and gamers, the PS2 version averaging a score of about 8/10 in reviews, and it was also a big seller on the various formats it was released on, and there were also several sequels released. In more recent years there was even a feature reminiscing about the best moments of Crazy Taxi in Retro Gamer magazine which was a great read and brought a lot of memories back of this very enjoyable game.

Gaming Memories – Telly Addicts.

Telly Addicts (PlayStation 2, 2007) 

One thing that was surprising about the wave of interactive DVD versions of classic game shows was the amount of veteran presenters who were persuaded back to host the show they were most famous for one last time, sometimes as much as a decade after they last did so on TV, and Noel Edmonds got out his remote control again to host a version of Telly Addicts that people could play at home. vlcsnap-01375

There were a few interactive DVD versions made of Telly Addicts, but I have the PlayStation 2 version. One thing that must be noted right from the start is that the design of the game is clearly based on the late-80s/early-90s era of the show, ignoring the final disastrous series 1998 when everything was changed, which isn’t much of a surprise. Also, Noel appears to be hosting the show from a tiny room so this doesn’t seem to be big budget stuff. vlcsnap-01376

There are six rounds to play, by yourself or against an opponent, to test which one of you has the best TV knowledge. Most of the rounds were similar to the TV version. The first round has you having to choose from one of six screens. You then see a picture of a classic TV show and have to answer a multiple-choice question about it. vlcsnap-01378

The second round is similar, but this time you see a short clip of a classic TV show and then you have to answer three questions on it. There has been a good look back through the archive and a wide variety of clips are featured and anything can turn up. Round three is the spotlight round, where five questions have to be answered against the clock, similar to the final round of the original TV version. vlcsnap-01379

Round four is the reveal round. A picture of a TV personality is slowly revealed, the quicker you correctly identify them, the more points you score. In round five you are given a question about a TV show and you have to guess the year in which it launched, and then you are asked some further questions about the show. vlcsnap-01380

In the final round you spin a wheel which features various genres of TV. Where you land will determine what TV genre your question is about. Each player has three goes. Then it’s end of the game and the final scores are revealed. Have you done enough to prove to Noel that you really deserve to be called a Telly Addict? vlcsnap-01382

It seems that these Telly Addicts games were made about a year or two after Noel returned to the screen with Deal Or No Deal and I assume that he enjoyed hosting the show again as it’s a great combination of TV nostalgia and trivia. The fad has passed for interactive DVDs of game shows now, with most shows now releasing mobile app versions or even traditional board games, but it was a good success while it lasted.

Gaming Memories – Max Payne.

Max Payne (PlayStation 2, 2002)

Max Payne is a thriller shooting game, a genre that I am not usually a big fan of, but when I first discovered it sounded so innovative and worthy of the praise that it received that when it was released on the PlayStation 2 after being a success on the PC I wanted to play it. I eventually got Max Payne as a present for my 20th birthday and I became intrigued by the game from the start, and it definitely took my mind off the shock of not being in my teens any more. vlcsnap-01339

Max Payne is a fugitive undercover detective in a blizzard-hit New York who is out to avenge the death of his wife and daughter, and feels that everyone is out to get him. He is not very happy about this, and you can definitely sense that. The various bleak situations are told in the style of a graphic novel which is a great way of moving things along in the story and explaining what it going on in Max’s mind. vlcsnap-01338

The main innovation and selling point in the game is “bullet time”, where as you shoot you can make time slow down and change the angle. This definitely is very effective, but its inclusion did divide critics somewhat, insisting that it proved the game was something of a one trick pony and repetitive, but I did enjoy the feature myself. vlcsnap-01340

There lots of locations in the game, and Max is always after the dodgy bad guys, whether they be in manky hotels or subway stations. Max can also use a wide variety of weapons to finish people off. One thing I noticed about the game is that Max can interact with various things, such as watching the television, spinning a roulette wheel, or pressing buttons in a lift. vlcsnap-01341

One thing that amused me about the game at the time (although I don’t think it was meant to be funny) was when Max enters a toilet. After shooting everyone in sight, Max can actually flush the toilet. It just amuses me that in the game’s development, someone must have insisted that to maintain an element of interactivity and realism those toilets better be flushable. I’m sure I even read a magazine article once wondering why all toilets in games seem to be flushable. vlcsnap-01342

Max Payne went on to have a couple of sequels released, although I haven’t ever played them myself, and the first game went on to win various awards, including a Bafta. Max Payne was even turned into a film in 2008 which starred Mark Wahlberg and was loosely based on the first game. The response from critics to this film was rather mixed but I didn’t mind it. vlcsnap-01343

Another thing that a lot of people find unintentionally amusing about Max Payne is the expression on Max’s face throughout the game, leading many critics to describe him as seemingly being “constipated”. His taste in shirts is rather dubious too. I do remember in a review of the film one critic said that Mark Wahlberg played the role as if he was constipated. I don’t know they were aware that many games critics have always thought this, so if that was how he intended to play the character then it seems that he got it just right. I think that Max Payne is a great games character, a guy with a grudge against the world and a bowel problem.