Will Rock (2003)
Will Rock is an arcade FPS from the early 2000s, one of several titles that took after Serious Sam as the inspiration for their gameplay. This was also Saber Interactive’s first ever video game, and it is a decent one, that’s for sure.
The plot is simple – the main character gets some of the powers from the titan Prometheus and then gets to rampage through lost Olympus on a bid to find his love and also get revenge or something… what matters is that it is silly and it’s enough of a reason for us to blast through the ancient era.
Will Rock working in 4K
It really is carried by its premise and locations. A few of the enemies like the living statues are clever ideas and alongside a combination of “realistic” (not really) firearms you also get access to the powers of the Titan and some experimental or fantasy weapons too.
Unfortunately, Will Rock has some problems. Most of its unique weapons like the acid gun for example are actually massively inferior to normal human firearms – they just take too long to neutralize most enemies. Yes, the enemy may be technically a one hit one kill most of the time, but the slow animation means that they may still get a few shots off. The machinegun kills them too quickly for that. It is not like Wolfenstein 2009 and its insanely awesome arsenal here. Another issue is that its enemy roster is mostly melee or ranged enemies with (comparatively) little special tactics or movements required to deal with them. It is not a simple but fast and precise dance of death like Serious Sam or DOOM, it just isn’t as well designed to match those.
Finally, I feel that the Titan Powers while a cool concept just don’t do much for it. Temporary invulnerability, slowing down everything (the player as well) or dealing a lot more damage – cool ideas, but the game cannot push you hard enough, difficulty-wise, to make these powers worthwhile.
I am a sucker for ancient architecture…
Even so I miss it. It may have been just an OK title, but it still gave me a lot of joy. And perhaps it could do the same to other younger gamers too. If only it was up for sale…
Lode Runner: The Legend Returns (1994) & Lode Runner On-line: The Mad Monks' Revenge (1995)
This is one of the first games I ever played as a kid and it carries some nostalgia value for me, but upon playing it again recently I can confirm – this one is good. Real good.
Lode Runner is an arcade puzzle platformer game from the 90s and it even won a few awards back in its day. It takes place across a single, non-moving screen and has the player (Jake Peril) collecting gold and avoiding the mad monks dressed in red. With ladders, ropes, a gun that removes parts of the terrain, many different gadgets, bombs, and hiding spots – this is one tightly designed title with a lot of variety across its 150 levels!
A simple level, one of the first in the game. Easy to evade enemies but it will teach you to use the “digging” feature!
In fact, it even comes with a 30 level Co-Op mode for two players! And an editor too! I mean that was standard for games back in the day, it is sad that it is a big deal in the current age…
An example of this classic in action!
Lode Runner also hasn’t really aged a bit, and I do mean that. Its art is still beautiful to this day, and very few games offer its brand of puzzle/platformers these days. Honestly, if someone told me this launched a week ago and it was also on a modern engine - I would totally believe them.
Running from the mad monks (red guys). Notice the holes for hiding!
Unlike most games I have talked about so far, Lode Runner is quite old and does not natively work on modern systems. Thankfully, there are MANY ways to get it working, and other old(er) titles have been sold with their emulator attached to them before. Still, even just having it for sale officially again will make me happy and will allow more younger gamers to check this one out!
Oh, and the sequel – Lode Runner On-Line: The Mad Monks' Revenge too. That one rocked as well! In fact, I will leave a fan-made port of it that works on modern systems here. You can play the Legend Returns from it as well since the Mad Monk's revenge is de facto an Expansion pack for the original. If this fan-made version was put up for sale on Steam or GOG as a “remaster” of the original – that would be one swell move and I would gladly pay up for it. The power of the fans when it comes down to conservation is nigh unbeatable!
The Movies (2005)
The Movies is another one Lionhead’s games that we can no longer buy. A Tycoon game where the player is in control of a movie studio and creates their own movies???
That is a brilliant idea!
The players can build buildings, hire staff and customize the look and feel of their studio. Of course, it has to be clean and tidy and the actors need to be good at their jobs.
The real star of the show are the movies you can make though! Choosing sets, scenes, props, creating situations – it was a blast to make simple movies or machinimas as they were called back then inside this title. Now, there are many limitations at play here and if one were to make a sequel – many areas to improve upon, but darn it was fun!
In fact, a French citizen managed to make an entire political movie using this called The French Democracy. Alas, it is an old one so it isn’t in good quality, but the fact that it even had an effect in real life shows the promise of The Movies as a title!
Like most Tycoon games, The Movies would benefit a lot from pure technological upgrades. It also needs a mod to be played on modern systems well. However, leave those things for a hypothetical sequel or spiritual successor. It needs to be available over popular storefronts first – that will be enough for a start.
A small set being prepared for action^.
And this marks the end of our fourth article looking back at games that I really hope get a re-release one day. It is fun to ruminate on these awesome, nigh-forgotten titles, but the situation with game conservation is actually sad. Without access to these notable or at least fun and entertaining games, the only ones who suffer are gamers and the art form.
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