Digging up some Weird Old Games
I’ve mentioned it a few times in my This Week on YouTube posts but for those not reading the fine print here’s what’s up. I’ve been going back through my old issues of GameFan magazine from the 90’s, taking a day or two to re-read an issue before bed. It’s reminded me of numerous games that never made it to the U.S. or got canned before even being playable. I jot down the names on Post-Its and look them up when I’ve got some spare time. I got through a bunch this week and wanted to pass along some thoughts.
Hagane (1994, SNES)
Set in an awesome cyber-historical-Japan, Hagane is a ninja who almost died and was reborn à la Robocop to save the day. Sorta Shinobi meets Ninja Warriors, this is allegedly a super challenging game but you couldn’t tell from this expert longplay. The art design is what I liked best about it, so much so that I worked up a neat gif set for tumblr, something these old games have inspired me to do more often.
Ruiner Pinball (1995, Jaguar)
This fantasy pinball game’s big hook is tables that are two and three screens wide. The one in the video, Ruiner, has you fighting a nuclear war on one table and then flipping over to another to “duck and cover” and save a wholesome American family. In Tower you go three screens wide in familiar demonic/medieval Devil’s Crush style to conjure up some magic. It looks kinda nice, I may try to track this one down to play myself.
Deathwatch (cancelled, Jaguar)
Pretty much all that exists of this colorful and smooth platformer is this clip from E3 ‘95. Word from developer Stewart Green says Atari pulled the plug (and the code) as they wanted to focus on polygonal games. Too bad, this looks way better than Bubsy.
Alien Virus (1994, PC)
I jotted this down as a port for PlayStation but I don’t think it ever happened. What I watched was the PC version: another inexplicable point-and-click adventure game with aspirations for poetry but a localization team that maybe dropped the ball. It’s silly to watch now with its Aliens inspired monsters and dying characters who spout their life story in their dying breath but there’s something I really liked about it. Had I played it in ‘94 it might have had a profound impact on me. Another tumblr post ensued.
Exector (1995, PlayStation)
I had to look this one up because the GameFan review could do nothing but quote its incredible, horrendous engrish… as I will do now. “Spin Drift the outer space probe ship caught by mysterious energy And She lose all control of herself”. The game itself is an early effort from Arc System Works, a top-down action/exploration game in the vein of Loaded or Machine Hunter. It looks pretty terrible nowadays but that intro is 100% rad. If you’re not into YouTube here’s a tumblr post of the best bits.
Super Burnout (1995, Jaguar)
I saw the title and thought there was some mysterious link to Criterion Games but I was wrong. What I did find was a gorgeous and super smooth Hang-On-alike. It’s pretty much the epitome of the faux-3D, cartridge racing game… and no one paid much attention to it. This video by Implant Games is also a love letter to the game from maybe its biggest fan.