the Mouth of Madness:
By Jason "loonyboi" Bergman
What's up this week in loonygames? Ask our editor.
've been playing with putting different things here for a while now (last week was a strange exception...I had the flu) but I think the basic idea is going to be this: this column will of course, continue to feature little bits o' goodness from yours truly about what's going on in loonygames, but i'll also be throwing in the occasional editorial, and even a game preview or two.
Quite simply I've decided this because life is good at the moment. Lots of cool stuff is happening, and I want a forum where I can share it with all of you. Expect some cool things here in the coming weeks.
What kind of stuff? The fun kind. This week, for example, I'll be sharing with you my impression of two upcoming PlayStation titles (Apocalypse and Asteroids) that I was fortunate enough to get a hands on showing of this past week. In the coming weeks, i'll have some great reports from you, including a report from the Klingon Honor Guard launch party in Las Vegas (next week), my experiences at The Frag 2 (yep, i'll be there...will you?) and of course...COMDEX which is just six weeks away. Great stuff. Life is good.
Anyway, onto this week's loonygames news. We've got some big news coming...the earth shattering type, actually...but you'll have to wait a tad longer for that (evil laugh here).
You might have noticed that this week i've changed the Mouth logo up there. That's not a permanent replacement, I just loved that part of Mike Sanzone's painting so much that I had to crop that out and stick it here. Great stuff, isn't it? Mike's doing a kickass job on these paintings as are all of our artists.
Careful observers of this week's cover will notice that there's actually text on the monitor...curious as to what it is? Here's what it says:
Snuff is the lifeblood of our
I begged him to stay in therapy.
The text was spliced together from random lines in the New Yorker...pretty strange stuff, eh? I've got a hunch it's that weirdo up top there who typed it. ;)
Anyway, so let's talk PlayStation games here. I got to attend a special preview of two upcoming titles (one of which will be out on the PC as well) so let's jump right into this thing:
After seeing the incredible job that Activision did in updating the classic vector-graphics title Battlezone, I was totally looking forward to this one. Asteroids was always one of my favorite titles, and it always struck me as a prime candidate for the 3DFX treatment.
So when they pulled out the new Asteroids title, I was completely shocked.
Unlike the fantastic Battlezone, Asteroids is not a 3D update. In fact, it's barely an update at all. It's a remake. Twenty years after the original, we have the exact same game (pretty much) back again. What the heck is going on here?
The game is almost identical to the original. Sure, that's kind of neat in a retro sort of way, but come on guys...this is a terrific franchise! Why waste hardcore hardware on a mild improvement on the same game?
Here's the way it works: you're still a tiny spaceship about the size of my thumbnail. You still have three controls: turn, thrust, and fire. You still have to shoot a seemingly endless barrage of rocks.
What's different? They've added some cool CGI sequences, (whee!) a two player multiplayer (no Internet or LAN support here kids) and made some neat lighting effects on the rocks. Hardly something that I think justifies that $50 price tag this holiday season.
The multiplayer was a major letdown...no Internet support at all in the PC version? What gives? Even if this is to be a mass-market title (they stressed that this was their intent) the retro gameplay of Asteroids makes it ideal for Internet play. How complex can the packets be with a game this simple? Sure it wouldn't exactly be Quake or anything, but it sure beats Backgammon on Microsoft's Gaming Zone.
In all fairness, they said their research indicated that most people wanted a remake and not a full 3D update...but this just seems like such a waste of a good franchise. Let's hope Activision decides to make a separate Asteroids 3D title for next Christmas. I might not represent the average K-Mart shopping gamer (that's obviously their target audience with this one) but I sure as hell know a lot of people who would buy it.
Otherwise known as "hey! It's that Bruce Willis game!"
I must say, this title's come a long way since the last time I saw it (although I only caught a glimpse of it at E3). Apocalypse's concept is simple: you play Bruce Willis in a Bruce Willis picture (the typical kind...not 12 Monkeys or Pulp Fiction i'm afraid). And you know what? It does it pretty dang well. I was impressed, and this shocked me because I tend not to like cheezeball action flicks.
Bruce Willis isn't just the inspiration for this game, he's the voice and (more importantly) they motion captured him for the entire game. When you jump around, that's Bruce Willis' jump. It's kind of a novelty thing. Also cool is the fact that they captured Bruce's likeness for the 3D models. Sure it looks somewhat goofy...but again, it's a bit of a novelty.
Naturally, as we've learned the hard way, a celebrity endorsement does not make a decent game (just look at the fiasco that is the X-Files). Fortunately the gameplay in Apocalypse looks top-notch. They've really managed to capture the gung-ho balls-to-the-wall action that one expects from a Bruce Willis game here.
The game is played from a Tomb Raider style third person view (the camera looks much better to me...but you never know from these things) but whereas Tomb Raider focused on exploration and puzzle solving, Apocalypse chooses to go for straight action. And it does so remarkably well. Picture stuff blowing up all around you, enemies on fire screaming at the top of their lungs, weapons bigger than your average Joe's torso (not Bruce's of course) just total insanity. It's entertaining stuff.
The graphics engine looks pretty dang good for a PlayStation title...it's a full 3D engine with a sweeping camera and plenty of kick butt lighting effects. I was especially impressed by the fact that when you walk by a video monitor, it's playing an actual video clip. It sounds easy to do...but it's the sort of small touch that's fairly complicated to stick in...and the only games I know of that use it are AGP titles that stream MPEG clips. Now granted these aren't quite that high quality, but they are neat to watch.
Anyway, be sure to check out Apocalypse when it ships this holiday season...it looks to be one of the better action titles available this year.
This Week in loonygames:
Monday: Feature: The Gaming Community Summit
Tuesday: Thinking Outside the Box, Pixel Obscura
Wednesday: Code on the Cob
Thursday: The Bargain Bin, Guest Editorial ("Austin Grossman")
Friday: Community Profile, The MailBag
- Jason "loonyboi" Bergman is the editor-in-chief of loonygames.
Credits: From the Mouth of Madness logo illustrated by and is © 1998 Dan Zalkus. From the Mouth of Madness is © 1998 Jason Bergman. All other content is © 1998 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited, you naughty boy, you.