Short Sessions, Part 11

This is another post in my series about the odd games that I have decided not to complete, although I will at least try them out for up to an hour or two.

Pac-Man Championship Edition 2

Developer: Bandai Namco Studios | Released: 2016 | Genre: Arcade, Maze

A significant update of the original arcade game with glowy graphics, techno music and additional rules. I was never a fan of the original. Too simple yet also too hard for me. I liked e.g. Mr. Do a lot better.

New rules? I could bomb jump (sort of like teleport) and picking up a fruit as it emerged seemed to change the maze layout on the fly – sometimes even with a snazzy Tempest zoom. There was one red ghost in the short time I played the game. It didn’t kill me until I had touched it a few times first, pissing it off. It could also collect a train of placeholder ghosts. And there was even a boss level.


Developer: Interplay Entertainment | Released: 1988 | Genre: RPG, Top-down

I tried this classic top-down RPG from 1988 a few years ago. Back then it was a just crude version with the original font and portraits. This time I tried the Steam version in DOSBox, and it had been spiffed up with a smoothed out font, high definition portraits, and a constant music soundtrack in the background.

The music was pretty good – very atmospheric and quite varied too.

I just accepted the preset party of four and went into a world that wasn’t much prettier than ASCII graphics. Found a town with a few buildings. Left and found another place. A farmer wanted me to kill the vermin in the fields next to a big satellite dish. Sounds easy, I thought, and jumped right in. Turns out the turn-based text fights against mostly prairie dogs took quite some patience and even almost decimated my party. At one point I tried to run, but even that required a lot of turn-based action.

Then I tried exiting the field, but instead I stumbled into a gray cave with a treasure at the end. Now I had to fight bunnies. Where the graphics actually showed the prairie dogs in the field, the cave didn’t show the enemies there at all. It was all surprise when moving. That felt a bit unfair.

I never played Wasteland back in the day and thus have no nostalgia for it. But I have a feeling I wouldn’t have had much patience back then either. There is too much text in drawn out fights and too much having to imagine everything in my head. But I do understand and respect its foundation for the later Fallout games, most of which I completed and adored.


Developer: Nelson Sexton | Released: 2014 | Genre: FPS, Zombie

Didn’t really like this one. Perhaps the real fun is to be found in multiplayer?

It was a survival zombie FPS with minimalistic graphics. A tutorial revealed that there were also cars (which could even be refueled) and harvesting of plants and chopping down trees for crafting. Fishing too.

The single player game dropped me somewhere random in a big mountainous area with roads and houses scattered around with quite some distance between them. What I didn’t like was that I had nothing to defend myself with. No weapons. Not even harsh language. Green-skinned zombies were always waiting around those houses, and sneaking was hard. They easily discovered me and killed me in seconds.

ARMA: Cold War Assault

Developer: Bohemia Interactive | Released: 2011 | Genre: FPS, Tactical

Another one that absolutely wasn’t for me. In fact, it was so far away from my preferred type of games that I almost didn’t even want to spend a few minutes with it for this blog series.

It was a compilation of two games in the Operation Flashpoint series, dating back from 2001 and 2002. The graphics were probably not even impressive back in the day. Blurred and hideous textures and sparse details. At least the draw distance was impressive, and I could instantly feel I was in jeopardy.

I settled with briefly trying the first mission about stealing a car in the middle of a small town. I spawned in a field just outside of it, walked five steps, and was instantly shot dead. Yep, that matches what I remember of this game when I tried it a couple of decades ago. That was also a very brief visit.

It’s supposed to have a realistic damage model where just a bullet or two are deadly, forcing the player to navigate the town very carefully. I also got better (or should I say luckier) and shot an enemy soldier twice, but I was still killed a few seconds later by someone or something I never saw coming.

With features such as commanding a squad, 40+ vehicles and aircraft, and at least 100 km2 battlefields, I’m sure the game was fantastic for the right kind of player. I know I’m definitely not one of them.

Satellite Reign

Developer: 5 Lives Studios | Released: 2014 | Genre: Strategy, Cyberpunk

This was a class-based, real-time strategy game that gamers said reminded them of Syndicate. I personally felt a little bit of Deus Ex vibes myself.

I started as one guy in an excellent tutorial with messages and pointers on screen about what to click. Soon I had learned to get to cover, shoot, sneak, hack a terminal, and set up a relay station for respawning. I got my second and my third team member. The third one was obtained after bribing a guy in town.

What impressed me the most were the isometric graphics. Excellent detail, with rain, haze and lighting that really nailed the atmosphere. The guns were also loud in a way that made them sound impactful.

Sneaking felt like it was definitely not going to be a walk in the park.

On the negative side, the user interface and its controls didn’t really win me over. Having to select all team members with Ctrl+A and then right-click a spot to move there? Why not just left-click? I guess you could get used to it, but it sure felt weird. The avatars also had tiny buttons.

All things I might have been able to get used to, but the tactical nature of the game didn’t really appeal to me anyway. It leaned a little bit too much towards the strategy genre for my liking.

See also: Short Sessions, Part 10

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