At the end of last year, things started to look up for the Dreamcast-owning shooter fanatic. We finally got Quake III Arena and a bunch of strategy shooters, as well as being promised Unreal Tournament and Half-Life in the first quarter of the New Year. While it looks like the aforementioned titles will be released in the next couple of months, news about one of the proposed shooters has all but dried up. Oh Soldier of Fortune, where art thou?

Soldier of Fortune would have represented a first on the Dreamcast. Sure, there are plenty of violent games available for our console, but the violence in Soldier of Fortune is different, because it is extremely realistic and over-the-top. Your enemies look like living, breathing humans, and the damage that occurs when you put a bullet through one of them brings that reality home. Shoot people point-blank in the head with a shotgun and their faces will dematerialize in a spray of crimson, leaving jagged stumps where their ugly mugs used to be. Use a belt-driven machine gun to saw an opponent’s leg off, and you can then choose to shoot that severed leg in half out of spite as your enemy hops around on the leg you spared. Ghoul technology made it possible for every character in Soldier of Fortune to have over 30 damage areas — each one doing a specific amount of damage to the target (unlike Quake or Unreal, in which a head shot is no more damaging than a leg shot) and causing a different reaction or death animation.

There is a story behind the game, something about an escalating environment of terrorism and crack, gun-for-hire John Mullins being the only man capable of cleaning it up. But what really makes Soldier of Fortune such a fun game — and such a worthy addition to the Dreamcast library — is the Deathmatch. Though it was never confirmed whether or not Crave would make SOF SegaNet compatible, our saliva glands were stimulated by the very thought of bringing that level of carnage to the Dreamcast.

So What Happened?
Over the past few months, we at Sega Radar have continuously attempted to mine any information we could find about SOF. Why? Because we think it’s one hell of a game, and could just be the title the Dreamcast needs to appeal to the violence-loving older market it has had some trouble capturing. Unfortunately, the information we found was vague at best. The game seems to be perpetually moving backwards and, despite our attempts, we have yet to even see a screenshot of the Dreamcast version.

We called Crave’s PR firm this morning to ask about Soldier of Fortune. They told us that the game will definitely be released this year, but were unable to give us any more details. Hopefully this story will have a happy ending, but in this weird period of the Dreamcast’s history, nothing is guaranteed.

This Just In! Seconds before press time we finally heard back from Crave’s PR firm that Soldier of Fortune will be shipping in April and that we should be seeing the first screenshots sometime next week (the ones below are from the PC version).

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Today’s column might be a little painful for some of our readers. Despite the howls of protest, screams of desire and cries of indignity, there are still no decent RPGs for Nintendo 64. There have been a few games that come close, such as Harvest Moon 64 (a fun game, but lacking in the killin’ department) and Quest 64 (aka That Which Should Not Be Named), but we haven’t seen anything that comes close to touching the grandeur of RPGs on the NES and SNES. Today we’re going to reminisce about those good ol’ days and eyeball the game that started all the NES RPG goodness, Enix’s Dragon Warrior.

Although it certainly pales in comparison to subsequent RPGs, you have to give Dragon Warrior (Dragon Quest in Japan) props for taking the first baby steps to a more complete, cerebral Nintendo experience. Most of the games at the time relied on action and twitch ability. While games like Metroid and The Legend of Zelda gave the brain a bit of a workout, and The Adventure of Link contained many elements that would become familiar to future RPG fans, they still relied heavily on the twitch factor. Your brain would certainly help a lot, but if you couldn’t think/react fast, you were still toast.

Dragon Warrior was something entirely different. Nintendo knew what the game was capable of, because it had been quite a hit in Japan. The Big N was really pushing to make it just as successful in the US, with lots of advertising and lots of coverage in Nintendo Power, at one point even giving free Dragon Warrior carts with a subscription to the magazine. I was quite young, and the hype easily got me revved to try this new kind of game. Rentals be damned, I wanted to own it! I saved up allowances for what seemed like forever (and was probably pretty close I think I was only getting five bucks a week or so) in order to buy the game. As things turned out, I loved it.

The story features a young warrior (with a name of your choosing), a descendant of the legendary hero Erdrick. As your travels take you to the kingdom of Alefgard, you discover that monsters, led by the cleverly named Dragonlord, have overrun the land. Because you happen to be a descendant of Erdrick, the people of Alefgard think it would be a good idea to have you go after the Dragonlord. Sounds like fun, eh? The king, being a gracious soul, gives you a torch, a key and 120 pieces of gold. Don’t get used to the royal treatment though. Just because you’re trying to save the kingdom doesn’t mean the people are going to be generous. Instead of equipping you with the best weapons and armor in the land, they charge you overblown prices and constantly question your identity. Even the king’s gift of 120 gold pieces is just enough to buy a club and a set of clothes. I’d bet that Alefgard would have their Dragonlord problem solved long ago if it just bothered to give its wandering heroes something sharp to smite its foes.

The game, for the time, was really something different for NES owners. Enix delivered an RPG that was well suited to the younger and less experienced NES audience. There wasn’t any of that “band of heroes” nonsense; this game is just you, a weapon and an army of monsters in front of the Dragonlord. However, the monsters make an attempt to play fair, and they don’t team up on you. There weren’t really a whole hell of a lot of quests in the first Dragon Warrior. The only real quest objectives involve finding three items, saving the Princess (of course!) and defeating the Dragonlord. The vast majority of the game involves hunting for monsters to build experience points. It wasn’t a terribly difficult concept to grasp, and, at the time, just wandering around killing foes was actually kind of fun. As you gained levels, you would learn spells (with cryptic names such as “Heal” and “Hurt” and their more potent versions, “Healmore” and “Hurtmore”) that would aid you in your quest. Not exactly the deepest RPG, but it did a good job creating an audience for more complex games to come.

Even though the gameplay is a little repetitive, there’s still a lot of fun to be had in Dragon Warrior. Thinking of creative names for your character is fun for young and old alike. When I was a kid, the guys I hung around with thought it was hilarious to name characters with exclamation marks, such as “Eric!!!” or “ya Jerk!,” to make it look like everyone who refers to you by name in Alefgard is either yelling at you or insulting you. Of course, being older, I’ve learned to be much more creative and mature in naming characters, as shown in the picture. I still play through Dragon Warrior every now and then, and if your only experience in RPGs involves watching the pretty FMV in Final Fantasy titles, then you probably need to get yourself schooled and give Dragon Warrior a try.

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I’ve never been a big fan of sports games. My only ventures into the wide wide world of sports involve spending several years terrified of the ball in Little League Baseball and watching the occasional high school game from the relative safety of the stands for band (Band Geek! -ed). I am utterly clueless in some sports (football), while I have a shaky grasp on others (baseball). Because the technology generally prevented games from becoming too difficult for my sports-feeble mind to comprehend, I had a bit of fun playing certain baseball games on the NES.

The first sports game I got was Nintendo’s Baseball. My dad told me that one of his friend’s sons wanted to sell the game for $14, and when I was that young, getting a Nintendo game for just $14 was an incredible deal. I had enough money saved up in case such an emergency arose, so I jumped right on that deal.

The game itself was interesting, to say the least. Anyone who’s played Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out would be familiar with the sound effects, because, for the most part, they were recycled. I guess new sound effects in those first generation NES titles weren’t that easy to come by. The game was decent to play, but it was a far cry from spectacular. The teams were mostly indistinguishable, the characters were blocky enough to look like a good Atari 2600 game, and the outfielders ran like sloths and not just any sloths, sickly sloths that looked really strange when they tried to muster up any kind of speed. Nonetheless, all the rules were there, and it was a decent game to play. However, a purchase by my friend next door would make me forget all about that first-gen nonsense.

Tengen’s R.B.I. Baseball is probably my all-time favorite sports game. My friend was traditionally a more sports-oriented person than I, and R.B.I. was the first mainstream sports game that really captured my interest. If you haven’t played it, it might be kind of hard to understand, but there was just something terribly fun about that game. The players have gigantic round heads, the sound effects are quirky, and the music is some of the catchiest music games had to offer at the time. To top it off, all kinds of cool crap happened when you managed to hit a home run. Fireworks went off, special music played, and the screen triumphantly announced your superb hit! When the game was over, a screen resembling a newspaper headline would appear, with the top story telling about either the winning team (showing a photo of the team members jumping for joy) or the losing team (team members crying into their sleeves). That might not seem like much by today’s standards, but back then, it was the coolest!

The gameplay was even better than all the neat little touches to be found in the game. All in all, it was pretty tight. When the outfield players were running to catch a fly ball, it really felt that they were running at a decent speed to catch it. If there were a fly ball coming straight down, the players would put their gloves into the air and look up, trying to catch it. They would dive for a ball that was going by them, and sometimes, if there were a fast groundball heading right their way, the players might end up catching the ball in an area considerably more sensitive than a glove, stunning them for a few moments. The batting/base running game was just as good. Batting wasn’t hard, but it wasn’t too easy either. You could steal bases as well as tag up. The control setup was very easy, and once you got the hang of it, you wouldn’t make mistakes due to the controls. If you want to get away with the controls like the ones we see with SimCity Buildit, then use SimCity Buildit hack. It is much more effective and safe than anything I found in the internet.

When I have friends over to play games, R.B.I. Baseball is one of the NES games that we still get out to play, and it’s one of the few sports games that we play at all. If you have any other recommendations for sports titles for sports beginners to look for, feel free to drop me a line!

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When the Super NES replaced our treasured NES all those moons ago, it was the graphical improvement and revolutionary controller that had us beside ourselves. Of course the Sega Genesis was already making rounds as “the next level” game machine, but when Nintendo finally got around to releasing its own bad boy, it showed the world the right way to make a console. Soon the SNES was the best-selling 16-bit game machine in existence. When we look at the emergence of the Super Nintendo, we see a leap of technology, but not a revolutionary leap. In other words, the games may have been masterpieces, but they were no Super Mario 64. Games like Super Mario World and A Link to the Past provided larger and prettier versions of familiar franchises, and the new technology gave Mr. Miyamoto every chance to innovate. But it was very much an evolution, a natural next step. It was the revolutionary Nintendo 64 and Mario 64 that gave birth to console gaming in three dimensions.

Could it be as simple as this:

NES = Revolution
NES to SNES = Evolution
SNES to N64 = Revolution
N64 to Dolphin = Evolution

I’ve often been told that history repeats itself, and looking at the complex table above, it’s rather clear that this is the case with Nintendo. A console’s lifespan is approximately five years, and every 10 years Nintendo manages to revolutionize gaming in the home. It seems that after the NES era, Nintendo has always taken its dear sweet time about getting a new console to market — even when competitors seem to rush such a thing. The debate with Dolphin is nothing new. Back when the N64 was nothing more than a screenshot of the plastic shell, many considered the console vaporware. Little did they know that Miyamoto was quietly making the launch title that would later be called “the greatest videogame of all time.” Where were the naysayers then? Although the PlayStation was already on the market, and the Sega Saturn was there even longer, the Nintendo 64 was released to sellout crowds. The demand was greater than manufacturers could handle. It was called the hottest and hardest-to-find holiday item of ’96, second only to Tickle-Me-Elmo. Had GoldenEye been released sooner, the craze would have continued. Nintendo is rekindling its popularity with the new Pokemon Go game that can be accessed at gamesjo.com/pokemon-go-hack/. This game is taking virtual reality on mobile to a new level.

With Dolphin, Nintendo is fixing everything that was ever wrong with the N64, and a stellar lineup of exclusive first- and second-party software will be unmatched by competitors. Very developer-friendly hardware is sure to exceed PS2 specs. At this point, no game company has given us anything so amazing that Dolphin won’t be able to exceed it. There’s nothing revolutionary about the PS2, Dreamcast or even the much talked-about Xbox. Everything is evolving from the 3D gaming that Mario 64 and Pilotwings 64 introduced. In his interview with Famitsu, Shigeru Miyamoto had this to say: “Who knows what will really happen this time, but the hurdle from 2D to 3D was really high.” In other words: better games, shorter development times.

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