Resident Evil Outbreak // Capcom // 2003 // Survival Horror // Multiplayer
Resident Evil Outbreak File #2 // Capcom // 2004 // Survival Horror // Multiplayer
Seeming as the Outbreak games are incredibly similar, this article covers both.
Resident Evil Outbreak was an interesting take of the Resident Evil series. Using the ethernet adapter for Playstation 2, it enabled both online and single player capabilities. The aim of Resident Evil Outbreak was to allow people to play as a team to survive the zombie outbreak, the problem was, the European online market was not as developed as the one in Japan. Playing Outbreak was more common in Japan, and therefore, more Japanese servers were online.
The game was somewhat limited single-player, and was understandably more difficult. The original Outbreak had you choosing one character out of eight to play as, while your allies were generated based on well a ‘team’ they would play. You were able to communicate with them, it was limited, mostly for online play, commands such as ‘stay here’ and exclamations such as ‘thank you’ and ‘yes.’ You were also able to trade items between characters. There was an interesting dynamic, characters had certain personalities and natures you had to learn to understand; eg, one might be the ‘hero’ and give away all his health items, but hoard weapons, another might find no interest in key items and give them away. Some characters had a positive and negative reaction to others, and had specific abilities, such as lockpicking or strength, that allowed easy progression in a level. Unlockables and extra modes were available, but due to the game being rather short and having few scenarios, replay value was small, and only the veterans would bother to defeat every challenge.
Outbreak File #2 was less limited. While adding on extra scenarios (both games contained five), you were now able to pick all three team members— this was a large advantage! As the original tended to pick characters not always suitable.
Though carrying on with lush, dark backgrounds and graphics from the Gamecube Resident Evil era, the game fell rather short, most likely due to its difficulty on single-player and the limited nature of Playstation 2’s online network, the game’s true capabilities were often unseen. Most ratings were somewhat lukewarm. Servers for Outbreak in America were shut down in 2007, servers in Japan were finally closed in 2011.
Bayonetta // Platinum Games (Team Little Angels) // 2009 // Action/Hack-and-slash
Bayonetta is a stylish action game, some could say it is in the vein of Capcom’s Devil May Cry series. Before release, gamers unaware the game was being developed by director Hideki Kamiya (the director of the original Devil May Cry), criticised any similarities in concept, however, the games are vastly different.
The game focuses on a witch and her rather unusual abilities. Aside from using pistols equipped on both her feet and in her hands to fight enemies— one of her more well-known abilities (possibly infamous ones), is her ability to conjure up beasts, boots, and fists using her hair. That’s right— her hair, to fight her enemies, a variety of angelic creatures. The game is fluid, enjoyable to play, and extremely challenging, boasting a rather steep difficulty curve. Players are subjected to many large-scale boss fights, beasts on a God of War scale, all whilst accompanied with an amazing soundtrack that jumps from the upbeat and jazzy to epic and orchestral— topped with angelic choir.
Much of the animation is fluid, and the character rendering is gorgeous (though, how attractive the characters are depends on personal opinion), and while this game did require a patch initially for the PS3 version due to often complained about loading times, the game flows well.
Depending on who you ask, Bayonetta herself is seen as a modern example of an empowered woman in a video game. Others may disagree, but, either way, Bayonetta is an enjoyable classic, nonetheless.
Rhythm Heaven/Paradise // Nintendo SPD Group No.1/TNX // 2008 // Rhythm
Rhythm Heaven is a catchy and addictive rhythm game developed for the Nintendo DS and was first released in Japan. It is actually the second game in the series [but first in the Western world as Rhythm Tengoku for the GBA was never released outsideJapan]. The aim of the game is to play various rhythm mini games [holding the DS vertically], while using the stylus, to keep in close-to-perfect time with the mini game. Though slammed by some harshly for being ‘difficult,’ the mini games are short enough to have you persisting.
Every mini game is different in its own respect and allows a few different techniques to play, some will have you tapping with the DS stylus, while others will have you holding and dragging. With catchy music and colourful animation, it’s a must-buy for any rhythm game enthusiast.
Banjo-Kazooie // Rare // Platforming/Action-Adventure // 1998
Banjo-Kazooie is a colourful platformer in which you control Banjo, a bear, and his sidekick Kazooie, who resides in Banjo’s blue backpack. Together, you must traverse worlds, collecting jigsaw pieces and musical notes to unlock new worlds and secrets, in order to save Banjo’s kidnapped sister from Gruntilda, the resident witch of the land.
For its time, it was very well done; with bright colours, well-designed levels, catchy music and features a zany cast. It entertains one for many hours without being too challenging. Being one of the more popular games to be released on the Nintendo 64, it was re-released ten years later on Xbox Live Arcade [as Rare’s rights had been sold to Microsoft].
The Sony Playstation, released in Japan in 1994, world wide in 1995. [Also featured below: the later PSone model.]
Launch games: Air Combat, Ridge Racer, Rayman, Wipeout.
Games that made it popular: Metal Gear Solid, Castlevania, Gran Turismo, Resident Evil 2, Ape Escape, Final Fantasy VII, Ridge Racer, Crash Bandicoot, Tekken 3, Parappa the Rapper.
Sold: Over 100 million consoles.
Technical specs: A 32-bit system with 2MB of RAM [with 1MB of video RAM], 16.7 million colours, 3D Geometry Engine, 16-bit 24 channel sound, double-speed CDROM, able to process approx. 360,000 polygons per second [the N64 could only physically process 150,000].
Originally a concept between Sony and Nintendo, this console eventually moved on to be developed purely by sony, and competed in markets against the Nintendo 64.
The Playstation’s original controller [pictured] lacked analog joysticks, which eventually led to the controller’s redesign in 1997, with a later release of the more popular DualShock technology, which enabled the first ‘vibration’ feature in a controller that interacted with actions in game.
It was one of the first systems to allow saving with a memory card [as the console ran discs and not cartridges, therefore external saving had to be arranged], this method was still used for the Playstation 2 and was discarded with the creation of the Playstation 3.
In 2000, a new model was released, titled the PSone. It is the smaller model that can be seen, much more compact than the original, sports a more white colour, and was able to be connected to an attachable 5” LCD screen.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998-2012)
14 years on; comparison between the original N64 version and the 3DS remake.
Haunting Ground aka DEMENTO // Capcom // Survival Horror // 2005
Haunting Ground, connected somewhat to the Clock Tower series only in terms of gameplay, is a survival horror that focuses mostly on outsmarting your enemies [your persistent stalkers], solving puzzles, avoiding traps, and hiding wherever possible. Your only true defense is a white German Shephard named Hewie, which Fiona, the protagonist, must train herself.
The majority of the environments in this game are gothic and old fashioned, seeming she is trapped in a castle and must find a way to escape. If one isn’t careful enough or is pursued often, Fiona will begin to panic— this effects not only the game’s controls, but the music and the graphics. Haunting Ground is one of the only games to have used this ‘panic metre’ technique, passed down from the Clock Tower series.
Animation is very lush for 2005, and it is one of the only PS2 games where one can explore a full area without being interrupted by loading screens [loading screens still occur between cutscenes or arrival of a new area, but are otherwise fully exploreable].
Bob Rafei is a well known concept artist who has primarily worked for Naughty Dog, on namely the Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter franchises, along with the first Uncharted game. It was his artstyle that shaped much of the series he worked on.
Skilled in design, he not only did character design, but also environment, weapon, vehicle and monster designs. His rather cartoony style reflects that of the game’s final product, a gifted sketcher that uses bright colours well. In 2008, he founded Big Red Button Entertainment, which represents veteran game developers.
Samples are mostly his works during the production of Jak and Daxter and Jak II, other works can be seen at his gallery here.