Hello dear readers! My name is Adrian Spicer. But only when I’m in trouble. Everyone calls me Aj. You can too. I’m currently studying games design in Melbourne. I spent my early years on the NSW Central Coast . It was here in the early nineties that I was exposed to video games. I’m not sure what the first game I ever played was but I remember a summer when a local youth centre offered free arcade games. My friends and I ditched the BMX outside and spent the whole day playing Golden Axe and Rampage.
For me games were always a social activity; whether challenging my brother in Mortal Kombat, taking turns to get past that really hard screen in Prince of Persia or chasing down a mate in Need for Speed. Of course there were the times when the whole class would spend lunch in the library playing The Magic School Bus. LAN battles of Star-Craft saw my Lil’ Bro “rage quit” before it was a thing.
During high school I was drawing constantly, figuring out 3-point perspective in maths and doing caricatures of teachers in chemistry. During “Software Design and Development”, when I was meant to be learning HTML, My mates and I were playing Elasto Mania. As soon as the bell rang we were straight home to crawl through catacombs or mowing down Hare Krishna. I tell people that I learnt a lot in high school, just nothing they test for.
For me, style came before anything else: I was still playing Grim Fandango well after it was considered cool. Games like the original Grand Theft Auto or the lesser known Rocket Jockey ( more on this one later) may not have had the graphics to quite pull off what they were aiming for but they had style. The look, the sound and the feel of the game all come together to give you a game that leaves you with grit between your fingernails and puts you firmly in the game world.
The appeal of being able to do things that real life restricts us from doing – be it the laws of physics or the laws of society – is what keeps my game collection large and varied. I can be running a criminal empire or crash my sports car at high speed, spend all of the city’s money an a monorail system that no one uses or get caught cheating at poker then settle the matter with a shoot-out. All without any consequences to my RL.
Top Six Games:
This Diesel-Punk blood sport game has you riding a “sled” – essentially a rocket with handle-bars – against others in three game modes; War, Ball and Race. Each sled has a cable that shoots from its sides that will grab on to poles, balls and other riders. In addition, once both cables have grabbed onto something, they can be joined and detached creating hilarious combinations by connecting riders to land mines or other riders.
The timed matches with multiple opponents, cable power-ups and the Dick Dale soundtrack made for frantic gameplay. The enemy AI was surprisingly advanced for the time, they were unpredictable and ruthless. The best part ( besides the surf guitar) was the handling: when a stabiliser was ripped from your sled or you picked up a heavy ball, you could feel it! You needed to make adjustments to stay in control. The sense of inertia and momentum were spot on.
Rocket Jockey is a game with a high concept that was released a few months before graphics cards were available, so the graphics weren’t great. The first release lacked LAN multiplayer which would have been awesome. The game ran on Windows 95 and nothing else since, but the game-play – a concept that was ( and still is ) – totally original, and the fantastic soundtrack is what makes it worthwhile to dig Rocket Jockey out and crack the dat file for a play at least once a year.
Red Dead: Redemption
I never played the PS2 Red Dead: Revolver ( I was firmly in the X-Box camp) but this game is everything I expected from a Rockstar joint. Rockstar really do make cinematic games, and this is no exception. I’ve sunk lots of hours into this game and I still haven’t finished it. I sit down with that intention but I end up just roaming the desert looking at the scenery to end up being stalked by a mountain lion or pulled off my horse while trying to help a stranger.
The plot, themes and dialogue just put you right in to the boots of the character, spurs and all. I just love walking in to a tavern from a rainy night, shooting some (what I presume is) tequila and heading over to the poker table for a few hands. Gun-slingin, horse-breakin, bear-huntin root-tootin-fun. Where’s my spittoon?
I’ve played all of the Fallout games including Tactics (which let you load up a Humvee with BoS and run down some supper Mutants) and loved them all. At a time when most of my mates were playing fantasy RPGs, all I was looking for was some Sci-fi. I just don’t find magic that convincing. This game somehow brings out a compulsion in me to check every chest, draw or locker, no matter how many times I find nothing in them. I still think that the survival aspect should be ramped up even further than what New Vegas offered. With the access to the engine through the GECK there are a range of Mods to improve balance, animation and textures.
This is a game series that has the grit I was looking for. The world is really fleshed out and the humour is spot on: it’s the closest thing to playing Dr Strangelove in a video game. Like many, my life will be over once I have my hands on the latest instalment.
I was almost going to choose Sim City but Spore won out for the fact that it is an easy game to get into. The mechanics and learning curve are accessible to pretty much anyone who can move a mouse. When I first got this game – soon after it came out – I was chained to my PC and no-one heard from me in days.
There is nothing like coming up with grotesquely deformed aliens and then willing them to life, hobbling around on however many legs that takes my fancy. Playing God is fun!
This Ubisoft title was delayed and delayed until the point when all the hype died down and it faded into obscurity. Great melee & shooting mechanics and great character style with appropriate difficulty progression. The game had so much re-playability when I found out the cheat code that replaced the playable character with any of the enemy-types, abilities and all. This game pulled off what WET was aiming for many years earlier.
Omicron: nomad soul
This one is a strange one. Made by the same people that made Heavy Rain with the same genre splitting mechanics that they are known for. The game featured David Bowie on the soundtrack in a dystopian future city where you fought kick-boxing demons. If you died, you simply continue playing and your soul possesses the next character that touches your body. Each character you inhabit has unique skills and access to certain parts of the city. This meant if you got stuck the best course of action was to die.
The gameplay is something similar to Deus Ex, investigating the conspiratorial by flipping through emails and memos. The problem was that the game used it’s own heavily stylised font that made this eye-straining task frustrating at best. The frustrating text wasn’t enough to spoil the fun of zooming around on hover bikes in the shadow of the mega city with Bowie’s haunting voice to keep you company; Omicron nailed the sci-fi noir theme.