LSD: Dream Emulator PS1

I’m pretty sure a lot of you out there are familiar with LSD, but I’m sure fewer of you are aware of the weird PS1 game by the same name.

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Released in 1998 by Asmik Ace, LSD: Dream Emulator is a game that received a cult following for its general weirdness, surreal aesthetics and at times outright disturbing imagery.

The game features no real goal or mission, besides exploring different dream worlds that you travel between using a game mechanic referred to as “Linking”. Most borders and objects you find in the game can be linked with by simply colliding with them, which in turns causes the screen to fade into white and transports you into another dreamscape.

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The game has individual days, and tends to cycle between days every ten minutes. When this occurs, you’ll see a dream chart that vaguely lists what sort of dream you had during that day. There are many in-game factors that determine this alongside linking and all of them still haven’t been broken down yet, leaving a sense of intrigue and mystery to the player.

Every so often, you might notice a reoccurring character most players tend to refer to as the “Gray Man”. He shows up at random times and hovers towards you. If he manages to get in a close enough radius of the player, the screen will flash briefly and the man will vanish. Though the nature of this character has been heavily speculated, the general idea is that colliding with him triggers the main character to forget events that happened previously and slows down progress. That’s why it’s a good idea to avoid the Gray Man as much as possible.

That being said, the longer you manage to avoid him the more frequently he appears. The more days you last, the weirder your surroundings get. Sometimes to an extreme.

Screen_Shot_2013-01-17_at_5.02.22_PMNote: The character featured in this screenshot is not the Gray Man, but another similar looking character.

The inspiration for this game has been discussed to infinity, but in a recent interview with Osamu Sato goes surprisingly in-depth on the question and pretty much settles the debate indefinitely, so here’s a quote from the man himself.

“As for why I made LSD, there were plenty of traditional games, racing and so on, for the PlayStation and the Sega Saturn. I played a bit of this game where you drive a car, and I’d never played a game like that before, so I just sucked at it. I was slamming into things left and right. If you crash into things it’s game over, so it was really boring for me since I was no good at it. So I wanted to make something that even people who sucked at games could play. This is the same line of thinking as what I mentioned earlier about moving on to the next world after you die. So if I crashed into the wall I would be launched into the next world – that’s the LSD link. I wanted to make something where the player explores a world that keeps transforming like that.

I wasn’t sure how to put it all together so it sounded plausible, since nothing like that actually happens in real life, but it does in dreams, right? Like, maybe I was just in Shibuya, but if I were in a dream I could suddenly be in New York, too. You can teleport all over the place, right? I wanted to do something like that. And then in order to fulfill the realities of the project I made a sort of dream diary to use as the raw materials and built the world from that, and there you have LSD.” – Osamu Sato

Well, there you have it. One thing, in case you feel up to trying the game after reading this, I’d highly advise checking out the LSD: Dream Emulator wiki which features a lot of information in regards to game mechanics.

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If you’re interested in reading the rest of the interview by Osamu Sato, click this link. Osamu Sato Interview [November 2017]

Throwback Flash Game: Interactive Buddy

Being really into flash games in my childhood, I thought I’d have a piece every so often highlighting specific online games that truly stood out as quality creations.

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Today I’m going to be talking about Interactive Buddy, what it is and why I enjoyed it so much. Interactive Buddy is a free flash game released on Newgrounds in 2005 by user shock-value where you have this little blob companion that you spend time with as you please. Whichever way you choose to interact with him (through violent means or by passive activities) will earn you money, which you then can use to buy new weapons, skins for your buddy, game modes, supernatural abilities and even gain access to a scripting window where you can program various functions if you’re knowledgeable enough. The settings menu is also surprisingly in-depth for a free flash game as you can toggle anti-aliasing, control the strength of the motion blur present in-game and even limit how many objects can be present at once. You can even go as far as set the accuracy of the physics.

The weapons are quite varied, and I was always partial to the landmines. Something about tossing a bunch of mines into the playfield along with a lone baseball for the buddy to chase always satisfied the inner sadist of middle school me.

There are so many aspects about this game I loved. I liked the whole Tamagotchi vibe, the detailed physics, the vast weapon and customization choices and just the overall charm of the buddy. Plus, c’mon, who wouldn’t want to hang out with Napoleon Dynamite?

If you enjoyed Interactive Buddy, check out the App Store and support shock-value by purchasing the sequel “Interactive Buddy 2” that he released in 2012. I’ve had a blast with it personally.

 

Grim Fandango: Remastered PS4 (First Impressions)

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If you’re in the EU region and own a PS4, the January Sale is on and it is enormous. My wallet trembles before all these deals. Since it’s not even January yet, I thought I’d start off easy and bought Grim Fandango: Remastered for roughly $1. Can’t go wrong there, right?

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I’ve been wanting to try this game out for a while after seeing it all over the place during most major sales, and my initial impression of the game is that it’s definitely a gem.

Developed by Lucasarts and primarily Tim Schafer (think Tales Of Monkey Island, Psychonauts, Brutal Legend etc) is a game originally released in 1998 that’s very charming and witty as well as nail-bitingly hard in certain aspects. That being said, it only makes the sense of accomplishment that much sweeter once you figure out a solution to one of the games many puzzles. The gameplay is quite similar to that of a point and click adventure, finding random items scattered all over the world and trying to figure out how to use them to progress in the story. Certain puzzles are definitely cryptic, and you really have to approach it with an old-school adventure game sense if you wish to make progress. There are definitely hints, but more often than not they aren’t spoon-fed to you so you really have to pay attention to the dialog.

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You play as Manny, a character who wasn’t exactly a good samaritan while living so now he’s stuck in limbo with a dead-end job which has him scouting for potential clients that have also passed away and offer them various care packages to lead them onto the afterlife in varying degrees of comfort depending on their budget and how they were as a person when they were alive.

The game has numerous options to tinker with, and you can change between the old-school look and the remastered visuals on-the-fly. It’s quite interesting to see the contrast in certain areas. There’s also an optional developer’s commentary, which I find to be a great addition and something I wish more devs would add to their games.  The base game used tank controls which are also optional (There’s a trophy for beating the game using these) but something worth keeping in mind is that the game doesn’t save automatically, so it’s generally a good idea to save every once in a while so you don’t forget.

The game is in 4:3 and hasn’t been converted to 16:9 (widescreen) for the remaster. This isn’t a deal-breaker for me by any means, but something you might want to know. The game has many varying settings, such as 4:3 with borders or a pseudo 16:9 which is where the screen has been pretty much stretched horizontally to give the illusion of wide-screen. Personally, I stuck with the borders but it all comes down to personal preference.

Overall, I think this was a well-made adaptation of a classic game and I think it deserves all the acclaim it gets. If you have a PS4 and haven’t played Grim Fandango at this point, consider buying it now while the January Sale is on. Or if you’re a PC user, check out the Winter Sale on Steam.

 

 

 

 

Short Write-Up About The Game Year Of 2017

As the year is nearing its close, I’d like to list the main reason I felt 2017 was such a great year for gaming along with a list of general games I felt really set the bar high. Enjoy this short write-up.

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First off, the introduction of the Nintendo Switch. With such a strong line-up of games this year, it’s hard to believe that it hasn’t even been a year since this console was released. With titles such as Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, Skyrim, DOOM, LA Noire, Splatoon 2 and ARMS all in the same year it’s evident Nintendo isn’t playing around this time around after the poor reception of the Wii U.

Add to the fact that the Virtual Console hasn’t even been introduced yet, Metroid Prime 4 is geared up for a 2018 release along with a potential release of a mainline Pokemon game as well and you’ve already got an exciting next year for Nintendo fans. Personally I’m holding out a Smash Bros 4 and Super Mario Maker port. Also, I need Gamecube VC in my life.

To be honest however, I feel as though there have been great game releases all around the board. We’ve got Cuphead, Steins;Gate 0, Sonic Mania, Okami HD, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Nier: Automata, The Crash N-Sane Trilogy, Resident Evil 7, Persona 5, Assassin’s Creed Origins, A Hat In Time and Yooka-Laylee (sue me)

Even now I’m certain I’m forgetting a numerous amount of quality titles, but it’s just been too much for me to process. My backlog is becoming sentient at this point. That being said, I hope 2018 mellows out a bit, or else I might end up putting myself into debt.

Either way, Happy Holidays to everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

DolphinVR – Playing Gamecube Games in Virtual Reality

Dispite being reasonably dated at this point and fairly difficult to understand at times, DolphinVR is a great example of emulation and VR support going hand in hand. The games that really shine in my opinion from what I’ve tried is The Legend Of Zelda: Wind Waker, Metroid Prime, F-Zero GX and Super Smash Bros Melee.

It’s compatible with Gamecube games, Wii games, and various Virtual Console titles. Word of warning however, all sorts of graphical glitches can occur even on supported games. You’re going to have to optimize most of these games individually, and it will be tedious. The creator of the emulator doesn’t update DolphinVR much, if at all so your main hope is to find other users who’ve dabbled in playing the games you’re interested in to find out optimal per game settings. The DolphinVR mantra is certainly trial and error, but for me it was definitely worth it just to inhabit the worlds of my youth. Sometimes it’s fun to throw a random Gamecube game at it from time to time just to see if it’s compatible or not. Even if it seems like it’s not, I tend to take some time to troubleshoot the graphical settings until I can determine whether or not the game is a bust for the time being. For instance, I got Beyblade V-Force running at one point and it was surprisingly immersive. Here’s the footage of that if you’re interested in getting a glimpse for yourself.

Beyblade V-Force

I also tried out some Virtual Console titles which enabled me to play Super Mario 64 and Starfox 64 in VR as well. It was a blast, although Super Mario 64 has a flickering sky bug so you’ll either have to install a texture pack or use OpenGL’s Free Look plugin in order to move the camera so that the clouds don’t cause any discomfort.

Either way, it’s up to you but I highly recommend trying out one of the games listed above in DolphinVR if you have an Oculus or a Vive. You can download the latest version of it by clicking on the link below as it will redirect you the site.

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Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more updates!

 

PSVR Impressions: The Playroom VR

Along with Farpoint I looked into the free experiences on PSN that utilized PSVR and noticed a game titled “The Playroom VR” and gave it a shot. I had a lot more fun than I expected, especially given the fact that The Playroom is designed more as a family-oriented game or something to bust out when you have friends over to win them over to VR.

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The game itself has numerous minigames, some of which can be played on your own and others which are more geared at people playing alongside others. An example of this would be Wanted, where you’re a gunslinger visiting an old fashioned saloon and trying to figure out which one of the characters is the culprit. The way the multiplayer is integrated is quite creative, as your friends can give you information regarding the identity of the culprit from outside of the headset and relay it to you. It reminds me of the mechanics from “Shut Up And Nobody Explodes” in a sense.

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There’s also Monster Escape, which has you play as a Godzilla variant wrecking havoc upon a city. I found this one quite compelling as it tracks your head movements, so you can actually head-butt buildings. That being said, I would advise freeing up a lot of space around you before attempting this mini-game in particular seeing as you could easily cause yourself an injury otherwise.

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Easily my favorite of the bunch was Robot Rescue, which plays as a traditional 3D platformer in many ways, but implements VR mechanics in a very non-gimmicky fashion that truly increases the replay value and makes you wish this was an actual full-length game. The Dualshock controller plays quite a huge role in this entry, as it is literally used as a form of progression in-game. A hook can be shot out of the controller and attached to provide a tightrope for the character to walk on. An interesting addition is the fact that the game technically isn’t being played in third person, even though you have an overhead perspective of the robot character you’re controlling because if enemies collide with the camera it ends up damaging you as well. So essentially, you’re controlling another character while in the first person view of the character guiding the robot character. Is that confusing enough for ya?

Throughout Robot Rescue you collect small coins, but some are unobtainable unless you’re playing with friends so if you’re a completionist of sorts you might want to invite a few friends along for the ride. As mentioned previously, the game ends way too soon and has a surprising amount of potential as a stand-alone title. I’d say for the price of free, this mini-game alone makes this title definitely worth downloading if you own a PSVR.

 

 

 

 

PSVR Impressions: Farpoint

Hi there! I’ve just recently acquired a PSVR and have tried it out a bit so I’m going to write out my first impressions of it. If you don’t know what it is, it’s essentially a VR headset designed for certain PS4 games that support VR.

 

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In either case, it came with a game called Farpoint. Seeing as I haven’t used any other HMDs (Head-mounted display) as opposed to the Oculus DK2 prior to this I was surprised by how quickly I got immersed. The intro was especially breath-taking. I really liked how accurately the game tracked the in-game gun I was holding during gameplay. The bundle I purchased came with a separate accessory specifically for the gun, but I didn’t want to knock everything over so I went with the Dualshock controller instead. In case you’re wondering how that works, the Playstation Camera tracks your controller while you’re playing and has it serve as the weapon while playing.

Some neat mechanics have been added to the weapon in order to add a little variety. A scanner is incorporated into the rifle as well to give the player the option to utilize it for plot development purposes in certain areas. I also liked the fact that if you lean your head towards the center of the rifle, you can actually use the iron-sight. It’s a nice touch that adds a layer of interactivity to the gunplay.

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While playing the game I did feel a little tense at times due to the devs getting into the habit of regularly sending spiders your way at the worst of times. You wouldn’t think that it would be that bad, but once you’re in the game world it can be a definite concern at times. Most definitely wouldn’t recommend this game if you have arachnophobia.

That being said, the surroundings are gorgeous and in my opinion a great way to introduce a newcomer to VR. A lot of times I’d just look around in awe and observe the environmental effects and take in the vistas far beyond.

I also didn’t get motion sick from playing the game, which is a definite plus. It’s designed around your player not being able to turn around completely, but you still get the chance to observe your whereabouts by looking around. I’d describe it in a similar fashion to a walking simulator in terms of movement options.

Overall, I found this game to be a great introduction into the world of PSVR and a blast to play through. Just, y’know, be vary of spiders. They’ll straight up lunge at you.