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Music: IRON MAIDEN studio album ranking

Iron Maiden releases now since 21 years studio albums, with all its twists and turns in the middle of their carrier. At all they released 16 longplayers so far, with ‘Senjutsu’ the 17th installment incoming. Time to take a look at the records and talk about my view of quality and musical style. Maiden is for sure not for everyone, but despite of that, it’s an incredible successful band. What you read here is my personal opinion and journey I had with the band.

So let’t take a look onto the albums, released till yet. I choose always four favorite songs of mine of each main album.

On the picture to each record you see also the rereleased Singles on CD format (20th anniversary releases), always featuring two Single releases on one disk. There are great additional songs on it, I highly recommend picking it up if you find one. But they are rare. And here we talking only about the songs on the main albums.

Iron Maiden (selftitled)                                   

Release 1980           

        

As the record was released I was nine years old. So I of course didn’t hear it at the time the album was released. I heard it iirc between ‘Somewhere in Time’ and ‘Seventh Son of a Seventh Son’, interested in the origins of the band. Some songs I knew already from the brilliant ‘Live After Death’ live album. The Songs are brilliant, maybe the ‘wrong singer’ but Paul Dianno did a good job on this record. So no complains in this case 🙂 It was a revolutionary record of its time and the beginning of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.

My favorite songs: ‘Prowler’, ‘Phantom of the Opera’, ‘Transylvania’ and ‘Iron Maiden’.

Rating Iron Maiden: 10 out of 10

Killers                                    

Release 1981            

       

Still Dianno as the singer, and on this record I like his singing less then on the previous one. There are good songs on it, but at the end not on my top list. Of course some classics on it and at all it’s a good record … but with the damn wrong singer!! In case of my rating, heavy downgrade for the singer issue here :/

My favorite songs: ‘Wrathchild’, ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue’, ‘Killers’ and ‘Purgatory’.

Rating Killers: 7 out of 10

Number of the Beast

Release 1982

The first record with Bruce on board and many great songs on it. I’m not the biggest fan of the song ‘Number of the Beast’, but there are other great songs on it. What interesting is, on ‘The Number of the Beast’ you can hear the youth, but the first two albums and the following records sounded more mature. I prefer the more mature sound, but they were simply very young. So it’s ok. The record was incredible successful in the UK and brought Maiden the breakthrough into the hall of fame of Metal and the music scene in general.

My favorite songs: ‘Children of the Damned’, ‘The Prisoner’, ’22 Acacia Avenue’ and ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’.

Rating Number of the Beast: 8.5 out of 10

Peace of Mind 

Release 1983          

                

        

Peace of Mind was my first Maiden record I experienced in my live. But not at the time of the official release, but 1984. I was 13 years old and my family hadn’t a vinyl player in the home. So I copied the record of a friend of mine on tape to play it on my Ghettoblaster I had in my room 😀 The record fascinated me in total. It was something completely new I didn’t heard before. I loved the style, the guitars, the bass, the drums, Bruce singing. Yeah, that was my entry to Maiden and this fascination for that kind of music never vanished out of my heart … till today.

My favorite songs: ‘The Trooper’, ‘Revelations’, ‘Quest for Fire’, ‘Where Eagles Dare’.

Rating Peace of Mind: 10 out of 10

Powerslave       

Release 1984           

              

         

After I was so fascinated of ‘Peace of Mind’ I went later the same year to the same friend, again copying the record from his stereo onto tape for my Boombox. The record itself was again an outstanding peace of modern music in general and again an absolutely unique and kind of pioneer work in the metal scene. Again an incredible record from Maiden which further defined the Maiden style.

My favorite songs: ‘Aces High’, ‘The Dualists’, ‘Powerslave’ and ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’.

Rating Powerslave:10 out of 10

Somewhere in Time      

Release1986          

                

         

As mentioned we hadn’t a vinyl player at home, so I played so far my music via a tape-Boombox. But my parents purchased 1985 one of the (in Germany) early CD players and put it into the livingroom, connected with a high quality stereo and really fine boxes!1

So I was able to buy Maidens new record ‘Somewhere in Time’ 1986 in CD format. I heard this record to death over years and years. For sure the most influential record of my live! The only thing I regret, is that Maiden never released a official live CD from the ‘Somewhere in Time’ tour 1986.

My favorite songs: ‘Sea of Madness’, ‘Heaven can Wait’, ‘The Long Distance of a Long Distance Runner’ and ‘Stranger in a Stranger Land’.

Rating Somewhere in Time: 12 out of 10

Seventh Son of a Seventh Son 

Release 1988       

            

Another big record from Maiden in the pike of their success in the late 80’s, followed 1988 with ‘Seventh Son of a Seventh Son’. But there the argues about Maiden and their musical future began. From the fan-side, but also in the inner circle of the band. In Magazines I red about the issues which way to go in the future. Bruce wanted to go more into a more rougher style, Steve prefered remaining the original Maiden-style.

I was happy with the album and heard it also to death. Not so extreme like ‘Somewhere in Time’, but still very, very often. So I hoped they will continue their way Maiden-style. Of course developing the style further, but at the end remain in the core what Maiden defines. But it came different, they walked the path of the rougher style, like Bruce was intended to do. Bruce is a part of Maiden, he cannot be replaced. But it came as it came and for me, with the next records ‘the bad years’ came, as I call it! “Luckily” I lost in the early 90’s interest in Metal for a while and heard other stuff the upcoming decade, returning only in the early 2000 back into Metal music. So I hadn’t went through the crisis, so many other Maiden fans did 😉

My favorite songs: ‘Moonchild’, ‘Can I Play with Madness’, ‘Seventh Son of a Seventh Son’ and ‘The Prophecy’

Rating Seventh Son of a Seventh Son: 10 out of 10

The bad years, the Maiden period/records I don’t like:

I make it short, I don’t like these three records. On ‘No Prayer for the Dying’ and ‘Fear of the Dark’ I don’t like the musical-style and on X-Factor and Virtual I’m unhappy with the new singer. Despite of that, X-Factor is something special for me and I have to say something more about below. For the other three records, I make it short.

Rating No Prayer of the Dying: 6 out of 10

Release 1990

Rating Fear of the Dark: 4 out of 10

Release 1992

Rating Virtual: 6 out of 10

Release 1998

Special case: X Factor   

Release 1995    

The new singer Blaze Bayley was a disappointment for Maiden fans. What makes ‘X Factor’ for me interesting, is the songwriting. I like it a lot. With Bruce as a singer it would be of course so much better. But I liked listen to it, even with the wrong/bad singer. So I really do like the songs. I sold ‘X Factor’ with the three records of the 90’s I don’t like. But with the ‘Senjutsu’ purchase at September 3rd, I think I will purchase ‘X Factor’ back to hear it again. Rating-wise, downgrade for the singer issue here.

Rating X Factor: 7.5 out of 10 

The reunion:

Bruce was back and I remember reading back then articles and interviews about their reunion in music-magazines. It was the time when I returned after a break to Metal music and so I was highly interested. The first I did, I bought all the records I passed the last decade (No Prayer of the Dying, Fear of the Dark, X-Factor and Virtual). I was shocked! The great old Maiden times seemed to be over. I had not much hope and was very unsure what to think about the upcoming release of the new record (Brave New World).

Brave New World           

Release 2000    

When Brave New World was released I was despite of my concerns in store and purchased the record. I hoped Maiden will rise again in good old glory fashion! Many Maiden fans have waited a full decade for this moment, so it was a big thing in the Metal scene. Bruce as the lead singer was back, the old band members there and Janick Gers(since 1990 on board) completed the package.

The songs on the record are good. ‘Ghost of the Navigator’ and ‘Brave New World’ are even great, so it was not a bad entry. But at the end, the rest of the record was just ok, but not convincing. Even if there are good songs on the record. But I think for a new beginning, it’s a solid entry into the new Maiden era. I still like to hear it from time to time.

My favorite songs: ‘Ghost of the Navigator’, ‘Brave New World’, ‘The Mercenary’ and ‘The Nomad’.

Rating: Brave New World: 7.5 out of 10

Dance of Death              

Release 2003          

         

The second record with Bruce after the reunion, and this time they found their way back to the Maiden style. Not in the way that they to mimicked the old records, but to find their way for the future and remain within the Maiden spirit. The first ‘new era’ Maiden record I heard really often. I like this record a lot.

My favorite songs: ‘Rainmaker’, ‘Dance of Death’, ‘Gates of Tomorrow’ and ‘Age of Innosence’.

Rating Dance of Death: 8.5 out of 10

A Matter of Live and Death       

Release 2006    

It’s an aggressive and rough record, but a really good one! The album has for me something like ‘being a Highlander standing on a hill – feeling’. So it’s an rough record, I can’t hear it all the time. But it is a really good record and if I’m in the right mood, I enjoy it very much. I like the record a lot, even if I don’t hear it as often as other Maiden albums.

My favorite songs: ‘The Pilgrim’, ‘The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg’, ‘For the Greater Good of God’ and ‘The Legacy’.

Rating A Matter of Live and Death: 8.5 out of 10 

The Final Frontier

Release 2010           

                       

Maybe not for everyone, but I love this record totally! ‘Coming Home’ is the only song on the rec, it’s not so mine. The rest of the album is absolutely great in my opinion. Additionally this record was for me personally the final comeback of Maiden into my heart! I only wished they had separated the intro and ‘The Final Frontier’ into two tracks, to be able to play ‘Final Frontier’ directly. I like to hear it. The Intro is o.k., but I don’t hear it often and so I skip also the first song on the record, I would like to hear.

My favourite songs: ‘Eldorado’, ‘Mother of Mercy’, ‘Ilse of Avalon’ and ‘The Talisman’. 

Rating The Final Frontier: 10 out 10 

Book of Souls   

Release 2015

‘Book of Souls’ was surprisingly a two disk album. I was really happy about, you can’t get enough Maiden fodder … and I was afraid of that this would be the last Maiden album ever released. Luckily I was wrong as we know now. ‘Book of Souls’ matches the ‘new era’ Maiden style perfectly and so it is for me personally one of the best records they ever made. Like ‘Final Frontier’ this record is for me on par with their glory classics ‘Piece of Mind’, ‘Powerslave’, ‘Somewhere in Time’ and ‘Seventh Son of the Seventh Son’. After two, for me, perfect installments, Maiden was really back.

My favorite songs:  ‘Speed of Light’, ‘The Red and the Black’, ‘Death or Glory’ and ‘Shadows of the Valley’.                              

Rating The Book of Souls: 10 out of 10

Senjutsu

Release 2021

Maiden released two songs of the album, before ‘Senjutsu’ is available at stores. The first was ‘The Writing on the Wall’ which was a really good one, and increased my anticipation for the album a lot. Next they showed up ‘Stratego’ which met my sweetspot 100%, making it hard to wait the next 10 days to grab the record.

September 3rd 2021 ‘Senjutsu’ will be released. I will be there, eager to hear the new album … and maybe to get a ‘Senjutsu’ t-shirt.

Here are the two preview songs they submitted on Iron Maidens YT channel:

Stratego:

The Writing on the Wall:

Live records:

Therefore I don’t like the No Prayer of the Dying/Fear of the Dark/New Singer time 1992-2000 I also don’t have the live records from that period. But at all I really appreciate that Maiden releases so much live recordings. So I hope for another published live CD of the ‘Senjutsu’ Tour.

Up the Irons!

Gran Turismo vs. Forza Motorsports

Gran Turismo created a complete new racing genre, not only by the sheer amount of content in tracks and especially in cars, but also for the term SimCade, witch means realistic feeling car handling, but streamlined with arcade elements in it to make the car handling more accessible for gamers.

Let’s explain SimCade a bit closer:

First, the grade of the physics-simulation aspect, is generally a bit simplified, compared to PC hardcore sims.

You can in more recent versions adjust the settings more into a sim direction, but the default settings (and how 99% play the game), is Simcade. And in older versions, there were simply not as much options.

Is Gran Turismo the real driving simulator?

When released on PSX, GT was sub titeled “the real driving simulator”, but if you played already back then real racing simulations on PC, like Indy Car Racing 1&2, Nascar 1&2 from Papyrus or F1 Grand Prix 2 from Geoff Grammond, the difference what a real racing simulation is, was clearly shown.

So no, GT was for sure not a “real driving simulator”. But console gamers did not know it better back then and so many believed Sonys commercial advert slogan.

Especially the first installments had a strong arcade vibe in the car-handling department, but on consoles, it was one of the most realistic driving experience you had till then.

The more modern the racing games of the “GT Genre” got, the more realistic the car handling became/felt. But in comparison to a hard core PC racing sim, its still a bit simplified. So I think the term ‘simcade’ matches it best what the games of the “GT Genre” represents in case of driving experience.

Let me show an example on Forza 7.

I don’t remember the default presets in the driving assist options. But I have set the driving assists all off, exept the “friction assist” and the “collision assist”. Most I drive without”traction control”, but if a car drives to slippery for my taste, I set the “traction control” on “super easy”, wich gives the car then a lot more traction while accelerating.

This makes the game so much easier in comparison to a real PC style racing sim. If you turn all off, you come maybe near, but honestly, nearly no one is playing Forza or GT in that way.

And if you want more of the assist options, you can simply add what you personal prefer.

And that’s ok. If I want to play a hardcore-sim I buy a more hardcore-sim, like Project Cars 2, a great game I like a lot. But if I play a racing game of the “GT Genre” I prefer a more uncomplicated access to have the best driving fun.

GT vs Forza

Today the two brands dominate the “GT genre”. The original Gran Turismo for the PlayStation and Forza Motorsports on XBox.

My personal history of the “GT genre” contains the following games (chronically): Sega GT (Dreamcast), GT2 (PSX via Bleemcast on Dreamcast), Sega GT 2002 (XBox), Forza 1 (XBox), Forza 2 (X360), GT4 (PS2), Forza 3 (X360), Forza 4 (X360), GT Sports (PS4) and Forza 7 (PC).

Based on this experience of GT and Forza I want to compare these two series. I like both series a lot, but for different reasons. They maybe looks the same for many people, but they have different strength and weaknesses.

Note: I’m a traditional offline gamer, so my experience is based on the singleplayer mode experience.

Tracks:
Every series have, beside of real tracks/GP courses, their own race tracks, freely designed by the studios.

Gran Turismo:
The GT series here is well known for great designed tracks in case of layout and setting. So this is a clear strength of the series and clearly above Forza!

But one thing I have to complain. The surface of the tracks in GT are way to flat, nearly no bumbs are found, GT tracks are unrealistic smooth. Thats imo really boring and so the tracks feel more virtual than real. (The Nürburgring Nordschleife is the exception of the rule.)

Forza Motorsports:
The Forza series problem is upside down. They are more bumpy, wich makes it simply more interesting while breaking down or accelerating out of the corner.
But the own tracks designed by the Forza crew, are from the course layout perspective, max medioca. There is imo no Forza track with an exiting route. Even if the setting is nice chosen, like Swiss Mountain, the track design is boring. Others are medioca, but non of their own tracks are great, they appear simply uninspired.

They have great designed real-tracks in the game, like eg. Sebring, Road America and many others, but they don’t seem to understand what makes these courses so great.

Engine sounds:

Forza Motorsports:
The engine sounds in Forza are great. This is very important to give you the right feedback and general feel of the car you driving. Especially weaker sports cars like sportive hatchbacks (eg. Honda R-Type), but also daily mid powered sport cars (eg. Porsche 944), feels so much better in Forza, then in GT. The crisper engine sound gives you simple a better feedback.

Gran Turismo:
The sound of the engines in GT Sports made for sure a big step forward in comparison to the predecessors.
In GT2 it was simply no point, because GT1/2 revolutionized the genre and had simply no competitors. The whole gaming experience was simply amazing!

But with Forza grew a new competitor and in the engine sound department it quickly outshined GT. I love GT4 and it was for sure the best racing game in the “GT genre” back then. It was simply the completest package of the time (the last chase-view GT, so no cockpit; and no weather). But Forza showed with Forza 2, that a serious competitor will arise. It had already the strength of the upcoming Forza titles (minus: content, cockpit and weather-system).

Even in GT5&6 the engines sounded like vakuumcleaners in comparison to the great sounding engines in Forza 2,3&4 at the same time.

So with GT Sports the GT series improved a lot in comparison to its predecessors, but is still not on par with Forza 7. Motorsport cars, hyper cars and strong cars sound now well, but smaller cars feel in GT Sports still unexciting to drive, due to the weak engine sound.

Car handling/driving physics:
Since Forza 2 the series is known for the great simcade carhandling I love so much. It is imo the sweetspot with realistic feeling driving experience, but a bit simplified for the gaming experience.
The GT series does the same and really well too and made a great progress with GT Sports innetwork that department for thethe series. But for me, the Forza series feels still a bit better car-handling wise.

Weather system:
GT has simply no weather system, in comparison the Forza series has a weather system included since Forza 5. For me, to have a weather system with all its variations in the races in the game, is very important! Only with a weather system included, a game can provide the full racing experience, it’s simply richer in variety. GT Sports provides a wet surface on some tracks, but only on some less and no weathersystem. Additionally it was added very late via patch and is more an afterthought.

When the weather system is active, Forza 7 has its best visual appearance, cause the lack of modern lightning is overshined by the effects like fog, rain, etc..

Cockpit-view and chase-view:
Originally both series were played in the chase/3rd person perspective, but since the games have detailed cockpit views, mimiking the original interior of the cars, the focus of the games is clearly the cockpit experience. And both series work great here, GT with the plus of more love to details in the interior department or how realistic the steering wheel is animated.

But from time to time I still like to drive some races in the good old chase-view. While the Forza series still feels very good to drive in the chase-view, GT Sports simply doesn’t work anymore well in 3rd person view. The car feels stiff an unresponsive in that view and is imo no fun to drive. Therefore most gamers will anyway play modern GTs in the cockpit-view, they will not recognize it. But for those like me, who still enjoys from time to time to drive in chase-view, I think it’s worth mentioning. Here the Forza series still delivers and works in any view great.

Summery:

Forza Motorsports

Plus

  • more bumps on tracks
  • very good engine sounds
  • great driving physics
  • weather system (since Forza 5)
  • aquaplaning via rumble
  • driving in cockpit-view feels great
  • driving in chase/3rd perdon view is very good

Minus

  • monotonous carrier mode (Forza 1-4; since a weather system is included it’s better)
  • lack of detail in comparison to GT
  • no headlights turn on in tunnels (and no backlights from cars in front of you),
  • boring track design in “Forza costume tracks” (layout max medioca)
  • lightning not on par with GT (Forza 7 / GT Sports)
  • inconsistent graphical quality of the tracks (new courses look better, tracks from older games worse).
  • CPU cars you collide with, sometimes keep stuck in your car.

Gran Turismo

Plus

  • love of detail!
  • content of tracks, cars, career mode (GT Sports is for me not a real/full fledged GT!)
  • better designed career mode than in Forza
  • great track design (all tracks)
  • driving in cockpit-view feels great …
  • consistant graphic quality, all tracks look great.

Minus

  • … but driving in chase-view/3rd person, the car feels stiff and unresponsive (since the series is focused on cockpit-view).
  • to smooth track-surface (nearly no bumbs)
  • often medioca engine sounds
  • smaller cars feel boring to drive
  • no weather system (GT Sports has some less rain enabled tracks, but no weather system, it’s more a wet surface feature and only limited to some tracks).

Conclusion:

Which I like more? I can’t decide.

I love a full fledged GT, for the great designed tracks, great amount of cars and tracks (GT Sports is for me not a real GT!), the incredible love for details, better carrier-mode and better graphics.

Forza I love for the great car handling, the great engine sound, the amount of content of cars & tracks (after Forza 2) and the weather system the series has included since Forza 5.

I personally like to switch between the both series. If I played one or two games of a series, it’s a welcome edition to have another series which feels different. I would get bored to play always the same. So after Forza 7, next will be GT 7 … this time hopefully with a real weather system.

Attachment:

Lack of detail: What do I mean with lack of detail in Forza 7? Here some examples I recognized:

  • In general the graphical detail in GT Sports higher in case of tracks and cars (especially interior).
  • The car shopping experience in Forza 7 is very simple presented, just a simple menue without any atmosphere.
  • If a championship is won, the course you drove at last is shown in the background, not the name of the championship you have won.
  • The steering wheel in GT Sports is beautifully realistic animated, in Forza 7 it shows only a minimum of movement/animation.
  • In some less darker races, the headlamps are on, but no spotlight in front of the car. In reality you would see the spotlight on the asphalt in such dusky conditions (see screenshot below).
  • As you can see on the second screenshot below, the red backlights are mirrored on the wet track in white, instead of red. Thats not always the case in F7, but often.
  • No headlamps turn on in dark tunnels (flying blind).

So there’s a lot of detail missmatches in F7 you recognize while the game. This does not stop F7 to be a great “GT game”, but it’s a bit sad.

Game pickups last four months

After a brake I collected again some stuff.

Beggar Prince (Mega Drive/Genesis)
As the game was released 2006 I missed to purchase it brand new for around 50 € (if I remember right) … and always regretted it. What a shame not to have it in my Mega Drive collection. Prices are now around 150 € on Ebay … for 100 I got weak and purchased it.

Not the perfect bargain I hoped for and by far the most expensive purchase in this collectors phase, but still a good price. It’s in real good condition and my collectors heart can now sleep well :p

Retro Spiderman:

Spiderman vs. the Kingpin was a decent early Mega Drive title from 1991 I like and enough copies were manufactured to make it (yet) not too rare, so it’s still available for a good price. I got a complete copy mint condition for 25€ shipping included. Not a bargain end 2020, but also a good price.

For the Game Gear I took Spiderman: Return of the Sinister, cause it’s an 8bit exclusive Spiderman (NES,MS,GG).

I have something for Spiderman Web of Fire for the 32X, but found at first even not a single copy for sale on Ebay. I wondered what price it would have. For 50 bugs I would buy it ;p

One or two weeks later I found a copy complete and mint on Ebay … for sweet 2000,- $ … I don’t think that anyone will buy it for that price … but who knows what crazy collectors are out there. At least it seem really rare. It was the last released 32X game on the north american market.

I decided then for a repro box for a couple of bugs and maybe find later a repro card.

Spiderman Dreamcast:

A rent from the videoshop in the past was Spiderman for the Dreamcast. It is a real good story-based 3D action title and imo overlooked. It’s pricy these days and therefore I shot a Spanish copie, that means booklet is in spain/italien, but the game on disc is still in English. The disc print for the pal region releases was all the same.

So I took it cause of the price advantage.

Dr. Robotniks Mean Bean Machine

It’s Puyo Puyo and yes I like Puyo Puyo I play from time to time on my NDS-Lite. Dr. Robotniks Mean Bean Machine is simply Puyo Puyo, but I like the visuals presentation much more than in the original.

Snatcher repro wanted:

I took a look for a Snatcher Repro for the SegaCD, but did not found one. The US original goes for 600 to 1000 $, what a crazy pricespan. No, the only way here is a repro. Maybe I’ll find one in the future.

I have nearly originals only, but cause of the high prices of some retro games a repro has it’s rights. So far I have the following repros in my collection.

These are:
Battle Mania 2 (MD) (box and cart)
Border Down (MD) (box and cart)
Twinkle Tale (MD) (box and cart)
Dhana (MD) (box and cart)

Spiderman WoF (MD 32X) (box only)
Kolibri (MD 32X) (box only)
Doom (MD 32X) (box – but cart is original)

For Kolibri and Spiderman Web of Fire I will look in the future for a repro card … maybe I will find one, maybe not. We’ll see.

Nintendo Wii: the lightgunshooter box

Finally a rebuyed of a Nintendo Wii, this time not a white one, but a lovely black edition. I don’t know how old the plan is to rebuy a Wii for some lightgun fun, but now I did it. Still available for a very good price (69€ (shipping included) + an original RGB cable I got luckily for 10€) and in top condition I think it was the right choice at the right time. Cause maybe it was luck to get the right piece of hardware now, there are so many worn down machines on Ebay, so that the real good consoles maybe will become very rare soon. Who knows, but I have my unit in lovely condition!

And of course some new lightgun games I hadn’t back then:

  • Ghost Squad, a spiritual Virtua Cop successor
  • Resident Evil: Chronicles
  • Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles

And the LA Machinguns and NY Gunblade doublpack I have since years in the basement I bought long ago, but had no more a Wii then. Yes so long is the plan ago to rebuy a Wii.

So many new stuff here … but at first I will replay the good old House of the Dead 2,3 & Overkill on my new&lovely black Wii 😀

Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Xbox)
rent it back then in a videoshop and it was a really nice coop experience back then. I have good nostalgic memories, the Lord of the Rings books and films are an important part of my life and this game was the only LotR game I ever played, so I have to have this in my collection.

Jade Empire (Xbox)
JE is a great game and a very unique A-RPG. I was always fascinated about … but never played it. So I did it now. Did not expect that the game hooked me so easily after all the time. It’s a strongly story-driven action RPG with moral choices to answer. The RPG elements are not deep, and for today standarts, the game feels for me more like an actionadventure with RPG elements. But that’s a good thing, I hate the totally overloaded games of today. It’s a game developed by Bioware. The start of the game is imo really medioca, but it developes very good and will enter in a greatfull adventure. Don’t let you destruct from the lame beginning. After you leaving the first village/school the game developes great. It’s not an open world PRG, it is a linear, story driven A-RPG. Basically you walk through villages and towns, the outer world are more or less linear pathes with some branches. But if you love old school story driven Action RPGs in an asien fantasy martial arts universe, this is a must play! It wasis the perfect game for me over Christmas. I would really like to see an Empire successor, this time maybe in a Japanese setting.

Halo 3 (X360)

Played so far only the first Halo on original Xbox, I decided to give Halo 3 a shot. You can buy it for a penny on ebay, heard only good about it and I’m in the mood for my next Halo.

Sport games collecting for my SEGA systems

I totally missed to collect some sport games I like. I had some less, but not much by now. A sports game was more something I borrowed from the videoshop back then. So time to add some more to the collection. ATP Tennis I had already, it’s accidentally on the pic.

Golf is a sport genre I really like, not in real, but its digital counterparts.

The first Golf game I had and really liked, was PGA Tour Golf 2 on the Mega Drive.

While collecting the shit I show here up, I played a bit PGA 2 on emulator, cause this was the game I played most back then. PGA 3 I had only rent two or three times from the video shop.

I was totally surprised how well the gameplay stood up till today. Everything is top notch, from the ball physics, wind influence, to estimate the balls traveldistant and choice of the right club, ballspin … everything is still today working perfect. Additional the gameplay has the right pace and is intuitive to play. Easy to lern, hard to master if you really want to compete with the best players.

And even if PGA 2 is imo the perfect Golf game, PGA 3 is even improved in detail and presentation.

All the PGA Tour games on MD/Genesis are for me pure classics and for sure the best 16 bit Golf games available (PGA Tour 1,2,European Tour and 3)!

Exept PGA Tour Golf 96, avoid this at all costs!! EA made PGA 96 for the PSX and outsourced the Mega Drive/Genesis port to NuFX … and the result was total crap!

Best golf games on the Saturn:

On the Saturn I had also one Golf game back then. PGA Tour Golf 97 (also accidentally on pic). This game is by far not as good as the Mega Drive PGA games. Aditional the game has long loading times. Only playable if you are in a very patience mood.

But I wanted for some retro Golf goodness good 32 bit games to enjoy for my Saturn. After researching the net I found out that Virtual Golf and Actua Golf seems to be the best.

Gosh, so much writing. I could talk endlessly about the games I collected 😀

Gain Ground (MD), Steep Slope Sliders (Sat), NHL 98 (Sat), ESwat (MD), Mud FIM Motocross (Vita) and all the other games you can see on pic. But I have to stop this nonsence 😀

Enjoy your games!

Edit 05.2021: and some more …

Edit 07.2021… some Papyrus classics, replacing my jewelcase only versions against bigboxes. 60 Herz/Japanese version of Tomb Raider for the Saturn and NHL 2K2 for the Dreamcast.

Over and out

WRC 4 on PS Vita – quick REVIEW

I played WRC 3&4 on X360 and WRC 3 on Vita back then. The PS360 versions of the games are underrated rally games and really solid entries in the rally genre!

WRC 3 on Vita was a different thing. Heavy framerate probs and harsh stottering is part of the game. But the arcady driving physics were not bad and so I had decent fun with it.

I heard better about WRC 4 on Vita … but let’s take a closer look:

Framerateprobs are here and there still there, but way improved in comparison to WRC 3, so it runs not perfect, but way better. It differs from country to country and stage to stage a bit. Additional there’s lineflickering.

So the technical appearance could be better, but don’t hinders the gameplay imo. It is really fun to play. At least in 12 of the 13 countries in WRC 4 – Australia is an exception where the stottering gets massive and shows that at the end of the developement circle there was no money/time left for the polishing part.

The driving model in WRC 4 on Vita is, like in WRC 3, again more arcady in comparison to the big versions on PS360. But this is totally fine, the car is very well controllable, despite of the tiny analoguestick of the Vita and is total fun to drive!

I had a soundbug in the German rally on two stages (yelling crowd on 1/4 of the stage, even there was no crowd at the track).

To make it short. Despite still some technical issues, I had a tons of fun driving this rally game. I was really surprised how much fun I had/have while playing the game (minus Australia) … and that in the year 2020!

Without the technical issues it would be an 8+ handheld rally game for me, so I have to downgrade the rating a bit, but this game is imo real fun (minus Australia ;)).

For sure the best handheld/mobile rally game of its time.

RATING: 7.7 out of 10 muddy tracks

SoR4-SettlersHC-Forza7-F1´13

The Settlers History Collection (PC) is regarding The Settlers 2&3 a view back. After 3 I lost contact to the series. I don`t now why, but maybe it was not the badest thing. If I regard the collection the series went through a quite confusing way. So theres a lot of new content here for me … but I will replay The Settlers 2 and 3 😀 … and later maybe try The Settlers 7.

Streets of Rage 4 (PC): an unexpected successor to Streets of Rage 3/Bare Knuckles 3 after more than 25 years! Have not played it much till yet, but I think I will like it a lot!

Forza Motorsport 7 (PC/download): After GT Sports the return to the Forza series with Forza 7 I have since a while. Graphics are less impressive than in GT Sports, the level of detail and especially the lightning. But the Forza series has one undeniable strength. Driving fun! The driving model feels way better than in the GT series, especially smaller cars feel so much more responsive and satisfying to drive in comparison. And this time (last Forza I played was Forza 4) even with weather … and a much broader selection of cars than in GT Sports. Overall, the better “GT game” of both imo. Regrettably there is no retail available for the PC version. Downoad only.

F1 2013 (X360): a game I downloaded as it was free via XBox Live Gold back then … and it’s not only a good F1 game, it has additional classic content. So it is something special for me. The retail simply for the collection.

Edit 31.10.21: … and three more. Project Cars 3 (PS4), Ride 4 (PC) and F1 2020 (PC).

Collection cleanup round 2

Time for another and final collection cleanup. Time to toss out the last senseless purchases or double owned games on different platforms or versions (DoA5 (360)/OR C2C (PC)/TR games (BigBoxes)).

collection cleanup part 2 res1200OR2006 C2C I won’t sell, but store in the basement. In the future I want to try out how it works on X360 BC with steeringwheel. Hopefully I will find then the game in the basement ^^

Yakuza 6 I had only cause of Virtua Fighter 5 FS arcade version playable inside the game. But since a while it’s running via PS3 emulator on my Laptop.

The rest are senseless and/or bargain buys I never used or simply games I tried out but did not like (Sim City DS, Monkey Ball DS). Dark Souls II was a present, but not my type of game.

Edit: and kicked out sone more: Super Daisenryaku (MD), Gynoug (MD), Mortal Kombat 2 (cardridge/MD), Space Invaders ’91 (cardridge/MD), T2 The Arcade Game (cardridge/MD), Intial D (Sat), Baldurs Gate 2 (PC), Star Ocean LH (X360), IL Sturmovic (X360) and GoW3 (X360).

Edit edit … and a further cleanup.

The problem if you are in collector activities, is that there are always some unnecessary purchases you buy on the side of your real collectors hunt … you don’t need really, some of them you play a bit, others you play never. It’s more kind of a side effect from your collectors shopping spree you’re on … cause bargains are everywhere (but not the collective items you’re searching for ). *\_^¿^_/*

I will limit my collectors activities on games for Sega hardware only … so time to toss the next staple out.

Edit: for Fantasy General (PC) bigbox, I decided different. I did not play it so much back then (10-15 hous iirc), but it’s a real good fantasy strategy game, so I’ll keep in my collection.

Is it worth playing  classic Tomb Raider games on your PS Vita device?

Tomb Raider Logo b

2018  I began to replay the classic Tomb Raider games from back then. Each one year. Originally played the games on Saturn, PC and Dreamcast, now the PS Vita was the device of my choice.

For many Mario 64 was their first real 3D experience. For me, the first Tomb Raider was my fist step into a real, polygon based, 3D world. 1996 brand new, a revolution … something you only dreamed before. I was a completely new experience.

More than 20 years after the release of the original Tomb Raider (first 1996 on the SEGA Saturn – then four weeks later (iirc) on PSX and PC) I began to replay these old classics from Core Design. For many gamers 3D graphic from thee 32-bit era, look dated. But for me, it is pure nostalgic vintage goodness. Maybe cause is was visually so good for it‘s time back then. It was the pioneer time of 3D gaming and polygon technology I experienced back then. Dispite of looking old and washy today, for me this visuals have a lot of charme, even if they are full of issues from todays standards. Despite clipping, popup/draw-in, low res assets, transparancy issues (Saturn), texture-bending (PSX), and more.

If you think the same, or if you are despite the age of the titles curious about, you maybe wanna (re)play these classics too.

But is it worth playing the old Tomb Raider games on a PS Vita device? I played 2018 the original Tomb Raider through, ´19 Tomb Raider II and now ´20 finished Tomb Raider IV. So I played the PSX versions via PSoneClassic as download/PSN the Vita.

General TR/Vita notes:

About the gameplay-mechanics of Tomb Raider, I think everyone who found this hidden blog and article about the Tomb Raider series in the net, know the games and how they work and play very well. So I want to write about the Vita experience.

First, without a grip, it is imo a pain to play an actionadventure on PS Vita. With the grip (even it was a cheap one) it became a much more satisfying gaming experience. It feels good, fits properly … and the ergonomie is great and brings finally the comfort to be able to play such games properly. So I really highly recommend to use a grip!2

Before I played the games I ask myself: „are the items to pick up are good enough visible?“ Cause so many items sink half in clipping … it depents. In Tomb Raider 1&2 I had no issues seeing every item or way to climb/go, no problems at all. I could spot everything good! Tomb Raider IV is different! The game is much darker and the items have less contrast to the backround, so I had often difficulties to spot all. Issues I had not back then on Dreamcast or on the PC version I started to play (but payed only through on Vita). I will write something more about this issue in the TR game-sections below. I sure missed some items in TRIV cause of the bad visibility. Luckily there are enough items to pick up (medi packs, ammo, etc.), so it’s no prob for a playthrough. You get more than enough items to pick up. Key is of course to explore the levels properly.

Note: I played the US-versions from the US-PSN store.

Vita issues:

The OLED screen ist great, but like all mobile handheld systems, if the sun comes out, or even in a bright room, it gets nearly unplayable, expecially cause everything reflects on the Vita OLED screen and the brightness settings are limited. The darker the game, the more prominent this issue appears.

Sidesteps in the Tomb Raider games you execute by tapping the rear touch pad in the left or right upper corner. That was very critical without the grip. To execute sidesteps by accident with your fingerstips on the touch pad was common. Then the complete controles get blocked and Lara don‘t moves properly. With the grip, it works much better and the accidential sidesteps only rarely occured then … even if still sometimes happening. But with a grip it worked imho good enough. Even if you have sometimes to tab  twice, if you don’t hit the right spot on the touch pad. But after you get used to, it works imo good enough.

The rest of the controles are set as you‘re used from the origninal hardware. The PS Vita buttons and cross have a very precise and satisfying functionality and work great. The Vita feels in generell, from material and layout, well crafted and responsive while gaming.

So the haptic is top notch … and this is imo very importand for a good gaming experience.

Let’s now take a closer look on each Tomb Raider game I played on Vita:

Tomb Raider

TR I Cover

From the graphical standpoint, there are of course some issues. It is not only an old game, but also it‘s the PSX verion you play on the PS Vita. So texturbending in the first Tomb Raider is massive and is for sure an issue for that version. Texture flashes are also there, but did not bother me so much. What effects more the gameplay are the massive framerate probs if you match bigger areas of the game. So it plays jerky in some bigger areals. The framerate problems are for sure the biggest issue and are a bit of a pain to be honest. It remains always playable, but bigger rooms like e.g. the cistern, the game stotters hard. Additional there’s heavy line-flickering in the game.

Another visual issue I had with Tomb Raider 1 on Vita, was the level of contrast. I wished to have a setting to adjust to lower the contrast, especially in some levels. But wether the game, nor the PS Vita gave me the oppertunity to adjust the contrast level. Only brightness settings are available. But this contrast issue, I had only in TR1.

TR1 (5)TR1 (4)TR1 (3)TR1 (2)

Tomb Raider II – Starring Lara Croft

TR II Cover b

In TR II the texture bending ist still there, but way improved in comarison to the first one.

Regrettably the framereate problems in some bigger areas are still present in TR2. In smaller rooms and narrow levelparts the game is running fairly good, so in many parts you playing the game is running good. But in some bigger and wider areas, the framerate probs appear obviously (e.g. on the deck of the Maria Doria etc.). In some levels the jerkiness gets even worse with very hard, nearly unbearable, stottering (e.g. Barkhang Monastery, Catacombs of the Talion, etc.). TR1 and 4 have also Framerate issues, but they are imo bearable, in TR 2 the stottering was in some areas/levels very annoying. I’m a Tomb Raider fan and I like to play on the Vita device, so it did not stop me to continuing … but in TR2 it is for sure an issue many gamers of today will not tolerate! Plus line-flickering in TR2 is a bit better, but still there.

TR2 pix BLOG (2)TR2 pix BLOG (4)TR2 pix BLOG (5)TR2 pix BLOG (7)

Tomb Raider IV – the Last Revelation

TRIV tLR Cover

Tomb Raider IV ist the technical most advanced game and really showed what you could get out of the PSX. Texture detail and variety, lightning and levelstruckture are beyond TR1&2. So I was unsure about the framerate issue, after TR1&2. But to my surprise TRIV runs on Vita even better. It has still framerate issues, and you have to be tolerant about this issue if you want to play the TR classics on the Vita device, but it is imo tolerable, round about at the level of the first Tromb Raider. And the line-flickering wich appears in TR1&2 way too much is strongly improved here in TRIV.  So at all, I was surprised that TRIV did such a decent jop in that department.

The biggest issue with TRIV is, that the game is very, really very dark. Especially around  the second half of the game from the „Dead City“ on till the end.

You cannot play it on your Vita on daylight without darken the room … or you play only at nights. 😉 The game has simply to many dark levels … and yes you can use the torchlight lara can use, but you also walk often without lightening the level, that’s part of the game. And so at the end, you have to adjust your room to the game. *lol*

I remember back than 20 years ago playing the Dreamcast version … and it was of course still a game with many dark levels, but on my Sony Trinitron TV I played it back then, I had not only a bigger screen, but also various adjusments on the TV settings to improve the visibility. So it was still a dark game, but way, way better. Same on my Gaminglaptop I startet TRIV (but finished only on Vita yet), the visibility was a huge step better. The Vita screen settings in comparison are rather limited and additional the Vita screen refelcts strongly. So in consequence you have „adjust your room to the game“.

This affects mostly the visibility if items or (in only some cases) to spot where to climb further. I had on Vita 2-3 situations I simply did not see how to proceed, two times it was a dark ledge to climb and one time even a lever directly before my character. Even after I knew them, I could hardly see it. This issues are TRIV on  Vita „exclusive“. On all other versions (DC/PC), I did not have that kind of problems.

TR4 (1)TR4 (3)bTR4 (6)TR4 (7)

TR4 vid/PC version: Hypostyle Key insert – Tomb Raider IV The Last Revelation

The savesystems

Therefore you playin`the PSX version of Tomb Raider 1 on Vita it has the crystal save system, but the crystals are very fair and close set together, so no issue here at all. In Tomb Raider II & IV you can save freely everywhere and everytime.

So is it worth playing the Tomb Raider classics on the Playstation Vita?

Pro:

  • A big pro is for me the haptic of the Vita device itself, the very good ergonomy while playing with a grip.
  • The nice oled screen.
  • The flexibility a handheldsystem like the Vita offers.
  • The superquick regain into the game from standby mode.
  • Mobile gaming – play when and wherever you want.

Con:

  • You have to live with the technical PSX issues (texturebending, flashes, framerate.
  • line-flickering in TR1&2 on Vita (played on OLED version)
  • Jerky freamerate (in bigger areas) – see description above for each game.
  • The oled screen sunlight reflections.

Neutral:

  • The overview lacks a bit cause of the smaller screen. So its a bit more difficult to spot some objects like levers or items or passages. But except in TRIV for some items, I had no real problems. But, if you don‘t know the games and it is your first playthrough at all, I would recommened a “big-screen” version. But if you know the game, even if its long ago and you‘re familiar with the Core Design Tomb Raider games in general and want to replay it and want to have the flexibility a mobile device gives you … yes I think it works … at least for me! If you have red this article you know about the issues and  you can decide for yourself if this is acceptable for you, or not.

I’m a fan of the TR series, especially of the Core Design games; and I like to play on my PS Vita and the mobile fexibility I have with it. So yes, dispite of the issues the games on Vita have, I like to play them on it. But best way to (re)play the games are for sure to play the games on PC, Dreamcast or the PSX games upscaled on PS3. But I like my Vita … and I like to play the Tomb Raider games on it 🙂

Epiloge:

At least I want to mention, that the PSX games/PSoneClassics on Vita are running on the PSP emulation mode. So I had here several framerate problems, while playing on Vita. I have no PSP, so I cannot say if the jerky framerate is a result of the PSP emulator running on Vita, or if the additional framerate probs are also on PSP existing. A problem is there for sure, cause the games runned better on original PSX hardware from back then. So I trace back the additional framerate pobs on Vita by the emulation.

Lara 4ever – have fun!

Policenauts (full english translation) REPRO release (SEGA Saturn) and Layton series (NDS) – Edit: SEGA V-Saturn MKII & Dreamcast VGA – chipped/modded

I catched a full english translation Repro from Policenauts, originally released on many plattforms, but all japan exclusive. Luckily a fantranslation  was brought to light, and I catched a physical Repro release of this phantastic game for my lovely (modded and CD-R capable) V-Saturn MKII. Very, very nice!2

DIGITAL CAMERA

And therefore I enjoyed Prof. Layton and the Curious Village a lot, I purchased the rest of the Layton series, Pandoras Box, Lost Future and Spectre’s Call, for my NDS-Lite.

Here’s the Battle of the ports episode of Policenauts. It’s the spiritual successor to Snatcher (SegaCD/MegaCD). Enjoy!

Edit 25.01.2020

Chipped multinorm Dreamcast and CD-R capable with intgrated VGA-box. Regrettably this machine is way too loud. The internal build VGA unit corrupts the airflow in the machine. The aircooler is working normal, but cause of the corrupted airflow via intern VGA-box the air is swirled, air jams inside the DC-shell, pulling the air with pressure out of the air vents of the device.

DIGITAL CAMERA

Its really three times louder as my Pal Dreamcast. So my new DC will become a craft project. When I’m in the mood, I will open the device to see how the VGA unit is build in and then decide how to cut new whole(s)/vents in the machine to give the VGA Dreamcast an easy way to pull the air out.

DIGITAL CAMERA

With the V-Saturn MK2 I have finally upgraded my Saturn hardware with a chipped multinorm device, capable to play in all my import games in 60 Herz. No switch, but autodedected region (running through a ‘Phantom’ software sys.) and CD-R capable, don’t to wear down my collection and be able to play fan translations on original hardware.

DIGITAL CAMERA

SHENMUE III day1 Collectors Edition UNBOXING [PS4]

Shenmue III

 I really can’t believe it … finally Shenmue III is here. As the box arrived, it feeled near unreal to hold it finally in the own hands. I ordered the day 1 collectors edition, so it’s not the Kickstarter set, but the limited CE you could pre-order four month before the games was official released … today 19.11.2019. The CE was sold out within three weeks.

So let’s talk a bit about the Shenmue saga and unbox Shenmue III.

First, I was surprized about the size of the box!1 Here in comparison side by side to the Dreamcast boxes of Shenmue I&II

Shenmue III l

Some words to Shenmue I&II:

Shenmue (released Dez. 1999 Jp / Nov. 2000 US;Can / Dez. 2000 EU) was a phenomenon of its time. Released only on DC, to push SEGAS next gen hardware, it was one of the most ambitions and most expensive entertainment software projects in the world.

The technical aspects of Shenmue I & II, the level of detail and the very own gaming formula made it a very unique gaming experience of its time.

But let us now open up the Box of Shenmue III

Shenmue III aShenmue III b

The ratings of the first two Shenmue games were really good back then and represent the impact Shenmue I & II had back then … at least in the core gamer scene 😉

SHENMUE I (DC) ratings from magazines back the time:

Gamer’s Pulse May 2001 98 out of 100 98
FunGeneration(GER) Jan 2001 9.1 out of 10 91
4Players.de Dec 2000 95 out of 100 95
GamePro (US) Nov 2000 4.5 out of 5 90
Video Games (GER) Jan  2001 84 out of 100 84
GameSpot Jan 11, 2000 7.8 out of 10 78

SHENMUE II (DC) ratings from magazines back the time:

Legendra Jul 24, 2002 100
Gaming Age Oct 29, 2001 A 100
Maniac (GER) 2001 9.1 out of 10 91
GameSpot Dec 04, 2001 8.7 out of 10 87

SHENMUE II (XBox) ratings from magazines back the time:

The Next Level Feb 03, 2003 A- 91
GameSpy Nov 21, 2002 84 out of 100 84
IGN Oct 29, 2002 8.3 out of 10 83
GameSpot Oct 30, 2002 7.3 out of 10 73

Shenmue III cShenmue III dShenmue III e

The Shenmue saga was still back then not for everyone. It was slow paced, many parts gameplaywise adventure-like, broken up with Beat’em up, QTEs, forklift driving or Minigames (Arcade games, armwrestle, work, book transport, etc.). Especially mainstream gamers found mostly no access to the Shenmue franchise. In fact is was a phenomenon inside the gamer scene, there it had an undeniable impact and a die hard fanbase was born. This also reflects in the successful Kickstarter campaign of Shenmue III. Even around 14 years after Shenmue II (released Sept. 2001 Jp (DC)/ Nov. 2001 EU (DC) / Okt. 2002 US/Can (XBox) / March 2003 EU (XBox)) the gamer community waited eagerly for a successor.

Shenmue III fShenmue III g

And now … finally it is there!! Announced as a Kickstarter project 2015 at E3 the unexpected happened. Till to that point no one really believed in the realization of the third part of the Shenmue Saga. But Yu Suzuki, the creator of Shenmue I & II found a way to realize the next episode of his last and biggest project realized under the SEGA Enterprises logo.

Shenmue III h

SEGA had no commercial confidence in the IP and rejected an internal development of Shenmue III over years. But with the, back then, new possibilities in form of crowed-funding Yu took action and used the advantages of the emerging Kickstarter platform, to achieve  the funding of the development process for Shenmue III. In the first seven hours, they gained 2 Million $at the end it was an investment of 7,1 million $.

Shenmue III j

Luckily SEGA, the owner of the Shenmue IP, decided to make the way free and let Yu Suzuki use the IP to create his vision of Shenmue III.  Yu founded Ys Net for the development in cooperation with Neilo.

The announcement at E3 2015 was only a short appearance … and I think from the professional standpoint a bit odd, but thankfully Sony invited Yu Suzuki onto the official Sony E3 press conference stage … millions of gamers in the world took notice. It was the same press conference the Final Fantasy VII remake was announced, and these two messages was the show of the whole E3 2015! This appearance on Sonys stage was very important for the funding campaign on Kickstarter. The gamer communities were hyped and willing to give their money! Thanks to everyone who supported the game in this early phase of the project!

Shenmue III Yu Suzuki E3 2015 Sony Press Conference

Now 4 years later the final product hit the floor!

Beside the Kickstarter funding they found a publisher for additional help for distribution and financial support. And no, the publisher was not SEGA … and not Sony … but Deep Silver.

That was really a surprise for me, I always thought Sony would became partner because of their support at E3 2015 … or SEGA, witnessing with Shenmue III the most successful Kickstarter funding ever happened to this point and so decided to become part of it. But nothing of this happened. So I appreciate even more that Ys Net found with Deep Silver a partner to finish and launch Shenmue III on the market.

Shenmue III k

Here you can see in comparison to other game from different systems, how big the Shenmue CE box is, it’s huge 😛 And for 79,99 € it is a real good value if you ask me.

Shenmue III BigBox CE PS4

What ratings will Shenmue III receive?? I’m really curious about … I will edit them in later

… but for now, I will enjoy the long awaited third part of the Shenmue saga by myself.

Praise Yu Suzuki folks!2

 

HandheldMANIA (NDS/3DS) + edit: SEGA Mega Drive Mini / Retro-Bit`n XBoxWin10 pads + Tomb Raider bag & lot of games

My first Handheld was the Game Gear I really loved back then. But after the GG, stationary gaming via consoles and PCs was the way to come for the next 1 ½ decades. Only in the year 2007 I owned the next Handheld system. The Nintendo DS-Lite.

Using it aside with PC and Xbox 360 it was a nice and unique addition. It was unique cause of two reasons. The double Screen with fold mechanic … a superpractical feature if you ask me … and, most impressive for the time: touch controles (via stylus). Today a common feature, was this 2007 in products for the mass market nearly non existent.

Exif_JPEG_422

The double screen feature Nintendo presented the first time with a GBA upgrade version called GBA SP. It worked so well, the took the design for their entire next Handheld generation. The Nintendo Double Screen (NDS).

The NDS was performancewise a weak system indeed (technically), even at launch window. The PSP showed what a Handheld could handle in power and outperformed the NDS by miles. Even back than, most games on the NDS had visually a strong RETRO vibe, cause of their outdated technique. So most NDS games came in form of bitmap-graphics or poor 3D assets, looking mostly even weaker than PSX polygon games.

Dispite of that, the NDS was a very attractive system and comercially successfull for many rasons:

  • it simply gave us a fresh gaming experience with great working stylus touch gameplay! This is what the NDS offered, but the PSP didn‘t. I really still like to use the touch controles via stylus. It feels good … and the reason why it still feels good is the top notch quality of the whole item, but touch funciton with the stylus too.
  • In contrast to the graphics, the sound was modern for a mobile device for its time.
  • Despite of the technical poor visual power of the system, bitmape based games looked beautiful. And by 2019 standards it is imo still a dream for friends of retro gamers.
  • I love the sturdy build of the item. In material and finishing the DS-Lite This is really a quality item! Something that adds for me personally a joy factor while playing. You simply feel it in your hands.

Beside that, the fold-up design is something I really love. Mainly for two reasons:

  1. If something/-one interrupts you while gaming – you simply close/fold-up you DS in a second, the game pauses automaticly and you can put it on the side instantly. … If you want to proceed simply unfold the DS in no time and the game is continuing instantly. Nor recovery or loading time. Instandtly! This is such a perfect feature in daily situations.
  2. Most Handhelds have imo a very bad ergonomy. The handling is without a grip more a pain than a joy (never mind if GBC, GBA, PSP or Vita). But with the upper screen opened (and fixed) with an proper angle, it creates a so much better/convenient handling out of the box. I need no grip here.

2011 I bought a PS Vita and so If I played an Handheld system the last years, the Vita was the show. But lately I rediscovered the DS-Lite and I realized what a timeless system the NDS for me is.

NDS Lite R4 Skyrim backround

It combines perfect mobile and retro gaming, it combines perfect casual and serious gaming … and the item itself I simply really do like it a lot!

NDS games are at the moment really cheap to have, so I think it‘s a very good time for collecting them. I play the games btw. in form of ROMs with my R4 card on my NDS (see pic above) … so after a short function test, I put the games into the collectors cabinet. It‘s pure collecting and I‘m to lazy to change cardridges 😉

DS Lite Tomb Raider Legend DS

Fist I played Tromb Raider Legends DS. A couple of years ago I played TR Underworld DS; and Legends is the same type of game. 2.5 D sidescrolling mini action-adventure. Legends is a short game and very easy … but I can`t help liking it. No it‘s not a good game, for sure not, but it‘s good for in between, for short gaming session (10-30 min), I like to jumb around with Lara, the action shootouts are easy and gameplaywise poor, but I like to hammer my stylus on the foes, I like to see the story-movies from the big Legend (PS360) on the DS, and I like the music. I give it only a 5.5/10 … I apoligize, but I like to play it despite of that. Underworld DS is long ago, but iirc it was even a bit worse. But I’m not sure. And hey, maybe I will play it again … I mean … it‘s Tomb Raider and I like Legends DS … I really don‘t know why, but it is what it is. Maybe I‘m simply a Tomb Raider nerd ^^

FroggerManiabb

For a longer time I played already Frogger Helmet Chaos, back then the ROM on R4 cardridge for my NDS-Lite. I like it so much, I‘m not only playing it once again, I purchased the original for my collection. 8.5/10

I‘m a big fan of The Settlers 2&3 (PC). Back then I didn‘t buy the DS Settlers game cause of the medioca ratings in the magazines back then. Now for 6€ I bought it and I like it … I think 😛 … even it is clunky to controle the core gameplay has a pure The Settlers 2 vibe, the visuals too! I’ve played around 30% of the Rome campaign, not sure what to think about (jerky/clumsy controles/scrolling) and what ranking I would give Die Siedler/The Settlers DS -> when I’m doing a PC IPs on NDS special.

DS Lite Settler Sieder NDS (2)DS LIte Die Sieder The Settlers DS Pic

But this brought somenthing in motion. I realized that many PC IPs got their very own game/version for the NDS. I was really surprised to see all this PC IPs on Nintendos Handheld. The Setterls, two Anno games (New World & 1701), Die Gilde/The Guild, Age of Empire, Civilizations, Populous and more! I was totally fascinated and the NDS collector activities began ^^

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Beside The Settlers I startet also Anno: Create a New World wich is gameplaywise much smarter converted onto the NDS and the stylus controls. Plus it runs buttersmooth, while the Settlers scrolls from square to square. But for these PC IP‘s on NDS I will hopefully write some seperate articels to feature the games in detail. I love the PC IPs on NDS topic!!

At the moment I play also Prof. Layton and the Curious Village – the game needs no introduction, it was commercially incredible successful and got a lot of successors. Puzzlegaming framed by an adventure. A must for puzzlefriends! Very charmy presented.

Super Monkey Ball: I‘m not the biggest Monkey Ball fan, but it‘s a neat skill game … yea … I will proceed it from time to time a bit. But I’m not the target audience it seems …

A skill/puzzle game I really do like is Bust a Move DS. The games uses the touchpad/stylus of the DS to create a slingshot mechanic. It is precice and really a lot of fun! Highly recommended for friends of Tetris, PyoPyo, Columns … and of course the classic Bust a Move games. With the slingshot mechanic, the game feels kind of fresh for me.

Made a quick shot, don’t care the score 😉 I simply wanted to show a pic to visualize the slingshot mechanic on the NDS.

DS Lite Bust a Move

The Nintendo NEW 3DS XL

Therefore I like the fold-up mechanic so much on the NDS, as written above, it came more and more in my mind to add an Nintendo 3DS to my hardware library.

Since two weeks now I have a 3DS. I realized that the PC IPs on NDS phenomen was a one hit handheldwonder. On Nintendos Handheld successor, the 3DS, not one game of this kind appeared. But that‘s o.k., there are enough on the NDS for me to explore. And I realized that the 3DS is region locked. Cause NDS and Vita are region-free I had this issue completely not on my radar … and it is really very sad that Nintendo put this bug into the machine :(( So no japan or US exclusives are running on my 3DS device!

But there are for sure some Pal/Euro games out there for my new sweet N3DS. But the region lock is for sure a downer for the system!

Luckily I catched a near mint New 3DS XL for 115 €. And I‘m very lucky about, cause I realized how rare this items has become in comparison to the demand the system still get. For the start I have only one game for it … nearly …

… cause the it is a collection. The SEGA 3D classics. On this collection there are 9 classic SEGA games on it (Galaxy Force II, Power Drift, Sonic the Hedgehog, Phantasy Zone II, Thunder Blade, PuyoPuyo and Altered Beast + bonusgames: Phantasy Zone II new and Maze Walker) . I highly recommend this collection, especially for everyone who wants to experience the 3D capabilities of the 3DS.

So far I played some:

  • the whole collection is made by M2. And Sonic the Hedgehog is a dream on the system. It looks and runs beautifully …and M2 added the dash move from the later 2D Sonic games. This version is a dream! I really love the Mega Drive original, an all time classic 4ever on original hardware! But M2 did a brillant job here. For me the defenitive version of the game ever made. The 3D mode here is imho obsolete, but it is so perfect in standard (2D) mode.
  • Powerdrift and Galaxy Force II on the other hand is literally made for the 3D capabilities of the 3DS. Both are arcade machines from the mid to late 80‘s (GFII with slight enhancements). But they still look gorgeous in 3D and therefore the games are from the arcade they are perfect for a quick play. They nail the 3D experience of the 3DS. Really absolutely great 3D arcade experience! Highly recommended!!

Beside the Handheld stuff I added the Dreamcast-version of Rayman 2 mint … and Rayman for the Sega Saturn  to my collection.

Here’s a Game vs Game episode about Rayman 2:

Have fun!

EDIT 31.10.2019 … some more games + Mega Drive Mini & Retro-Bit pads:

Games 3DS MD PS4 PC Sat 1200

Normally I don’t add Repros to my collection. But Dahna for the SEGA Mega Drive is meanwhile a really expensive rarity, so I decided for a Repro (now my fourth Repro in the collection alongside with Battle Mania 2, Eliminate Down and Twinkle Tale). Some 3DS games, Lara Croft 1&2, Warcraft 2 ToD sealed (so I can never open it ^^), Sonic Mania (now also physical), Bust a Move 2 and the SEGA Mega Drive Mini (european version) … and I have to admit, I really love that little thing!1 Plus a couple of Retro-Bit Controllers (Mega Drive & SEGA Saturn (USB and for original hardware).

Mega Drive Min 1200MD Mini PhSt4 1200MD Mini Sonic 1200Retro-Bit Pads MD Sat 1200 res

… must … stop … collecting …  😉

EditEdit: … but wait, what we have here … what a nice Tomb Raider bag! 😀

Tomb Raider bag 2019

EditMania (27.12.2019)

Last gaming content 4ever?? xD

Dirt Rally 2.0 (PC) is the same like the predecessor. If you liked Dirt Rally, you can grab 2.0 blind … but wait, no! If you want to play the main offline-mode, you have to be always online!! If you are not online, only some minor modes like time attack etc are accessable/possible to play. I always boycot such forced always-online politics. This is why I did not buy it at launch, but decided to wait for a bargain. And 2-3 weeks ago … I saw it for 16 € … FU Codemasters! 😛

I would never pay full price for such a shit companies policy!

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The Street Fighter Collection (PC) is a great collection. Features every single bit-map based Street Fighter game, from Street Fighter on up to Street Fighter III Third Strike. I Highly recommend this collection!2 Here are all Street Fighter games (arcade versions) you find on the compilation.

  • Street Fighter
  • Street Fighter II, Street Fighter II: Champion Edition, Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting, Super Street Fighter II, Super Street Fighter II: Turbo
  • Street Fighter Alpha, Street Fighter Alpha 2, Street Fighter Alpha 3
  • Street Fighter III, Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact und Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike

Hardware: wireless XBox (One) Controller for Window 10