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DOS digression

I dug out my pile of DOS games from somewhere in my garage after making my game list, realizing that several of the games I claim to like so much are, while not ancient (ancient would be my Intellivison Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Cloudy Mountain game), are well past the moldy-oldy stage.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Cloudy Mountain

I added these oldsters to my collection list, if they werent there already, and thought wistfully: "I wonder if there's any way to play these things on my MAC?"

There is, though its not a perfect solution. I found Boxer, subtitle: "The DOS game emulator thats fit for your MAC."

So far, Im impressed. Its got a fairly simple interface. You just drag your mounted game disc onto the import new game hot spot of Boxer. Boxer mostly does the rest. You have to do a little guessing about which .bat or .exe file you want it to run, but once the game installs, it puts the game box into a folder you create, allows you to modify the icon (predictably, I use the game packaging image) , and runs the game through Boxer, so a double click handles on the game box is all you need to do once the game is installed. I used other emulator software that forces you to open one or two helper applications along the way, without telling you that you need to. Very annoying.

I think it was able to run five of the seven games I tired, not a bad ratio. Unfortunately, Dark Seed was one of them I couldnt get going. I wanted to see that thing again after almost 20 years.

The games, as you might expect, leave a bit to be desired. Its more nostalgia than a desire to actually play Callahans Crosstime Saloon again, but as I say that, I played it for half an hour today, despite the clunky graphics and simple interface. Step one was to get em running. Now Im wondering if they go right back into the plastic tub for a year before I ever feel like playing any of them.

Top 10 List of Games I Actually Own

Since I don't have the large, or varied, a collection of video games, I have a limited ability to put together the kind of lists commonly found on Gamespot. But since the system has berated me for years for not blogging enough, I thought Id give it a shot.

The 11th Hour1. The 11th Hour: Its old, its DOS, and its a bit overwrought, but its still the most fun I ever had playing a video game.


SimCity 3000

2. SimCity3000: I cant even count how many hundreds of hours Ive spent building cities, laying roads and power lines, and downloading replacement buildings for my skyscrapers.


Sid Meier's Pirates!3. Sid Meier's Pirates!: despite all its its flaws, especially those of repetition, this game made an entire baseball off-season pass almost overnight.


The Bard's Tale4. The Bards Tale: snarky, humorous, and basic dungeon crawling entertainment. Great voice work.


Silent Hill 2

5. Silent Hill 2: my first experience with the Silent Hill franchise was an eye opener. Never before had I found the immersive, frightening experience found in this game.


MediEvil

6. MediEvil: my first non Crash Bandicoot type video game for PlayStation, and the beginning of an era. Fun, challenging, and with just enough edge to make it cool.


The Godfather

7. The Godfather: they took one of the greatest movies and turned out a great game. Its been years, but Im pretty sure I could still navigate my way from Little Italy to the Little Italy Industrial Park with only a few backtracks to find my way.


Pitfall: The Lost Expedition

8. Pitfall-The Lost Expedition: I barely remember it, but I do remember the quick moving story, the complex but rewarding searches, and the complex but ultimately learnable techniques it took to solve this one.


Baldurs Gate: Dark Alliance 2

9. Baldur's Gate-Dark Alliance 2: building custom weapons. The possibilities actually make it pleasant to slog through the four millionth mile of cave crawl.


Test Drive 5

10. Test Drive 5: muscle cars. Im sure it wasn't the best driving game out there at the time, but racing muscle cars that sound like they have a nine-inch cam lobe is really satisfying.

Princess Isabella: A Witch's Curse (Wii)

Searching still shots can cleanse curses

A kid's single-player game with plenty of different levels, puzzles, and a bit of a plot line. Princess Isabella consists of a series of still images that you point and click on to locate items, solve puzzles (often consisting of hidden item searches in a complicated still image), and navigate to new rooms, with the occasional comment on elements of the castle. You are accompanied by a fairy who actually performs the actions you implement with the controller. Located items allow you to solve some of the puzzles, such as putting strings in a piano. Together with learning a song in another solved puzzle, you can then play it on the piano and solve the room. Your character will also learn abilities (fire, wind, etc.) that allow her to grab items otherwise unavailable. This game is perfect for younger kids the search through the castle is easy enough to navigate, and the puzzles, while they get more challenging, are also solvable by enough random clicking if you can't work out the actual solution. This game is a good one for a parent and child to share the duties it has just enough challenge to interest an adult while still allowing the child to lead the team.

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (Wii)

On the Wii any navigation issues the series used to have are basically wiped away. Its still a point and shoot experience, but with the Wii remote and a pretty forgiving interface, finding your way through Silent Hill is simple, almost instinctive.

As always, the visuals, sound effects, and musical cues are second-to-none. SH, even with its lesser releases (Origins comes to mind) never fails to get this part right. Its disturbing yet beautiful on the screen and is outstanding when it comes to the soundtrack and the sounds of the game.

Combat has changed significantly, and that is a good thing. In SH 2, it was fun for a while to bash the brains out of some horrible creature shambling toward you, but by the time youd obliterated a hundred or so of the things, it got a little old. It also, at harder levels, got a lot hard! The advice in the manuals always encouraged the player to avoid fighting as much as possible, to run. But this never seemed to work. Before you knew it, the thing was behind you, inflicting huge amounts of damage, and you realized you should have just faced it head on and killed it before trying to search for the next item, doorway, or signpost. In Shattered Memories, you dont fight at all. The creatures hop on you from all sides, and your only way to stop the pain is to throw them off, stunning the ugly things for a moment or two. However, in this version of SH, running is a much better defense. The more the character moves fast, direct and constantly toward the exits of the haunted, frozen world where the monsters reside, the better chance he has of escaping with little or no damage. It doesnt hurt that the character doesnt really die. If he is killed, he starts the run again at the last checkpoint he reached (which usually winds up being the beginning of the frozen dream world). No searching for, and hording, of medical supplies and weapons. Just run, search, and escape, with the occasional need to shake off a beast or two who has decided to make you his knew scratching post (these creepy things caress your body when you die).

You run into lots of NPCs, ride around in cars, make a lot of phone calls (and receive both email and phone messages), take pictures, visit an increasingly weird psychiatrist, and solve several, for the most part, rather simple puzzles along the way.

Youll also begin to feel pretty guilty for whatever actions Harry Mason, your character, has done in his forgotten past. He frequently finds messages or broadcasts on TV reminding him, in the voice of his lost daughter that she loves her daddy. The voice acting for the missing little girl is excellent, haunting, and touching. You believe she really did love her daddy, and your get mad at that daddy, your character, for not protecting his daughter better.

Champions of Norrath

I picked this game because I was comfortable with the Snowblind game engine and because I enjoyed Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance II (BGDA II). It's a typical RPG format you create a character (Barbarian Warrior, Wood Elf Ranger, High Elf Cleric, Erudite Wizard, Dark Elf Shadow Knight, all male or female) assign skill points, and crawl through dungeons and open-air battlegrounds, collecting loot and experience points, fulfilling missions to progress through the plot (which is presented in vignettes periodically), and keeping you eyes open for a major upgrade in weapons, armor or magic items from the local shopkeeper. The graphics are interesting, the plot Championsinteresting or at least mildly interesting, the music appropriately morose and bombastic, and the settings and NPCs are sufficiently varied to keep things entertaining. The fighting, while pretty repetitive, does require some assessment of each monster (some need to be fought at range, others melee, though its not always obvious right away) and the Boss fights are usually pretty tough, though when you finally get it right, it seems so obvious and quick you can't understand how it took so long. After a short time playing, the character will have enough money to travel back to a save/shopping point almost at will not much later, money is almost no issue. One thing missing from BGDA II is the workshop feature Champions does allow you to mix magic items with weapons or armor, giving those items special powers, but the workshop in BGDA II sometimes lets you remove those magic items (for an considerable price) as time goes on and use them again in better weapons or armor. It made the commitment of the +20 strength magic item less monumental, but also made it easier to build and rebuild interesting and powerful weapons and armor, which I found to be a very enjoyable part of BGDA II. Aside from that, though Champions is fun and worth the time spent playing it.

How to beat Pyramid Head in the long hallway (Hard Mode)

Silent Hill 2 for PS2

By Justin Payne

Copyright January 2007

======================

How to beat Pyramid Head in the long hallway (Hard Mode)

===========================================================================

Equip the lead pipe. Walk just past the first corner and turn around, get-

ting yourself in between Maria and PH, and start whacking PH. He will cont-

inue to march in place, but after several hits he will walk more slowly.

At this point, you can hit him a few more, or just turn and run to the

next corner. Again, get yourself between Maria and PH, and start hitting

him again. When you see the tell-tale slow down of his walking in place,

itís time to move again. This way you can get past the U-turn at the red

fence, and after that, you should be able to run the rest of the way to

the elevator in time. The only problem is sometimes Maria gets herself

in the way, blocking you from running down the hallway after youíve

slowed PH down. One time I ran into her so hard she grunted, which I

think would count as one the five or so hits she can take before dying.

But if that happens, just keep hitting PH while he pushes you and think

about how you can move to get into better position. As long as heís slow

walking, he doesnít stab right away when you stop hitting him, so you can

move real quick, and start hitting again. Youíre repositioned, Mariaís

clear, you slow him down again, and then run to the next corner. After

trying the ìjust runî method (Alex FAQ/Walkthrough) and the ìuse the chain-

saw and let him push you down the hallway backwards methodî (JackSpade FAQ)

dozens of times, this one took just two attempts to get right (I only blew

it the first time because I started the final run a little to early and

Maria bought it).