Category Archives: Consoles

Dino Crisis for the Playstation 1

Dino Crisis for me was the first introduction to the survival horror genre of gaming, and one of my favourite games on the original Playstation. Being chased by dinosaurs in a video game is nothing new of course, as fans of 3D Monster Maze on the ZX81 will recall, but Capcom takes the tension to a new level on Sony’s first console.

The story to the game is all a bit Jurassic park, with scientists bringing back Dinosaurs from the dead, this time through a rift in space, and you are sent in as part of a team to investigate the facility.

Dino Crisis PS 1 Playstation
Facing a Veloceraptor in Dino Crisis

Like another classic Capcom survival horror, Resident Evil, the game relies on lots of creeping around claustraphobic corriders, with appropriate creepy violin music to highten the tension as you wait for the next raptor to leap out at you. The gore level is ramped up to 10, with lots of blood, and some great character deformation, your player limping when injured and dripping blood on the floor. Careful management of weapons and ammo is required to make it through the various stages in one piece, especially when faced with the Tyrannosaurus, with whom you fight on several occasions but never seem to kill.

The controls are an improvement over Resident Evil, allowing some quick movements appropriate for blasing fast moving lizards.

The game used a novel multiple ending mechanic, the ending you are presented with being based on certain decisions made towards the end of the game about when to leave, who to rescue and how to get off the island. This adds a level of replay value, with the game keeping track of which endings you have discovered, and there are side quests and bonus to unlock and extend the life of the game.

Like the Resident Evil series of games for the original Playstation 1, Dino Crisis uses pre-rendedered 3D backgrounds to provide a level of detail not possible in real-time, leaving the Playstation’s graphics processor to focus on the player character animation and the dinosaurs.


Alone in the Dark may have started the survival horror genre, Resident Evil will often feature on lists of the top Playstation 1 games, but Dino Crisis should definitely be in your collection.

Crazy Taxi for Sega Dreamcast

Crazy Taxi for the Sega Dreamcast
Dreamcast Crazy Taxi

Crazy Taxi began life in 1999 as an arcade driving game on the Sega NAOMI platform, and was soon ported to the Sega Dreamcast.

The objective of the game is to pick up fares in your taxi and take them to their chosen destination as fast as possible, somewhere in a town resembling San Francisco (probably for the stunt potential of the roads).

The twist is that you are rewarded with a higher fare for reckless driving, including near-misses, jumps, drifts and playing chicken with oncoming traffic. Stunts such as rapid acceleration and braking can be pulled off using the forward and reverse gears, allowing extra stunt points to be racked up and to help complete the levels in record time. Strangely this reckless driving was rewarded by passengers rather than penalised, although botched stunts and crashes resulted in a reduced overall score.

On arrival the fare is totaled and a rating awarded based on time taken and stunts pulled off. Playing under Arcade Rules, the clock reduces as you go and you need to finish in good time to extend, and this is my favourite mode of play. Once you have memorised the characters and the destinations (as well as the short cuts) you can play for a long time on a single “credit”, with ever increasing difficulty.

This game was also ported to the Gamecube, and was pre-cursor to games such as Simpsons Hit and Run, which featured similar gameplay mechanics.

For fans of the arcade the Dreamcast port really excelled, mainly due to the similarities in the NAOMI and DC hardware, and it was a must-have game for any console owner. The gameplay, the music and the replication of the coin-op mode really did allow users to have an arcade experience at home. Couple this with great music and some unlockable mini-games, this is one game I continue to play on my aging Dreamcast to this day.

Combat game for the Atari 2600

For many of us Atari’s Combat was the first introduction to a cartridge-based console game, and for that reason has a special place in many people’s retro memories.

Atari 2600 Combat Screenshot
Atari 2600 Combat Screenshot
As one of the launch titles for the Atari 2600 (VCS), Combat was included with every console sold (a bit like Wii Sports now), and as such had a massive exposure amongst the Atari fan-base.

As a classic 2 player game it introduce the concept of the party game – lots of different mini-games that could be played out between 2 human opponents.

Atari Combat Box Art
Atari Combat Box Art
Atari fans are aware of the limitations of the 2600 kit, which was built around the concept of “pong”. The system is happiest when there are 2 independently controlled players or “bats”, 2 “missiles” and a “ball” which can interact between them, as well as scenery the missiles or ball can bounce off. Combat took this concept and used tanks (or planes) for bats and the missiles, with scenary you can hide behind, and hey presto a classic is born.

This is a great example of cat and mouse style game, with a simple risk reward mechanism. You could move your tank around the maze to get a clear line of sight on your opponent, or wait for your opponent to move and try and get the first shot in. Such a simple concept, but the same basic premise as the multi player FPS games of today.

Add to this the standard Atari 2600 twist of including more than one variation of the game (27 in fact) in the cartridge, and the longevity is extended hugely. Admittedly the games are not that different, but in addition to the Tank battle there was also an Aerial dogfight, and a number of variations on the use of guided missiles and invisible tanks or planes. The dogfight was actually quite strategic in that the planes flew at a constant speed and you could only manage direction and firing, requiring you to pilot them skillfully in order to get behind the other player to shoot them down. Cue long sweeping chases, waiting for the other player to twitch or make a mistake.

I have very fond memories of this game, which I only got to play at a friends house when I was a kid, and have recently introduced my son to after he played something similar on the Wii (The Wii Play title has a similar mini-game called Tank Battle).

A great excuse to dust off the Atari 2600 Woody again.