Friday Flashback Five: Week of August 06, 2000


It’s that time of the week again.  Friday means it’s time for another Friday Flashback Five!  Every week we take a look at five random games that debuted that week in history.  Some games held up well even years later, some were outdated the minute they hit shelves, but all are a part of our hobby.  This week, we’re cranking the Wayback Machine for the week of August Sixth, Two Thousand.

Conveniently enough, there were only five titles that were released this week, so that made narrowing down the list rather easy, heh.  Because of that, there’s almost no need for further ado—though there is the usual warning that this isn’t a “top” list or the like; the titles are listed here in random order.  We’re just going to take a look at them and see what effect, if any, they had on our hobby.

Tenchu 2: Birth of the Stealth Assassins
The first game in the series was one of the ones that made the stealth genre more popular.  It never was and possibly never will be as popular as first-person shooters or platformers, but the Tenchu series is one of the ones that, again, made the genre as popular as it is.  The first game had interesting settings, the ability to play as two different characters, and game mechanics that mostly made sense.

The sequel took all of that and cranked things up a notch.  The plot was much more coherent and believable, with one or two exceptions (and even then, they’re mainly exceptions because of the expected issues translating Eastern concepts for Western mentalities), the visuals were better, and there was a third, hidden character to play as.  There were a total of twenty-nine missions to go through, split up between the three characters, and it was genuinely fun to go through them.

With the game play fleshed out, additions made to your arsenal, and much more, it was quite a bit better than its predecessor—as you can see from the Let’s Play right here.

Submarine Titans
For the real-time strategy genre, the pinnacle might well be argued to be the original StarCraft.  It took everything the pre-M.M.O. WarCraft series had done and refined it all.  It also made the series much more popular.  It’s no wonder, then, that other companies put their foot in the R.T.S. door.

Submarine Titans tried.  It really did.  It just didn’t quite live up to the attempt.  Titans came out two years after StarCraft, but didn’t really offer anything new or different.  Other issues included unintuitive naming for technology and vehicles, an incredibly steep difficulty curve, and a story that’s only really detailed in the manual (and who really reads the manual?).  It could have been a lot better, but—it wasn’t.

There’s some game play footage here for those interested.

Play with the Teletubbies
If you don’t know who—or what—the Teletubbies are, you are one lucky son of a gun, let me tell you.  They’re characters in a kid’s show that is about as mind-numbing to anyone beyond babbling age as Barney, if that tells you anything.  If it doesn’t, well, explore the link.  Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The game was—shockingly bad.  It was simply terrible.  Even taking into account that it’s for kids, there’s no way in heck this would have entertained them more than once—and as young adult or older?  Even more mind-numbing than the television show, which is no easy feat, let me tell you.

The controls were fine enough, and the game looked and sounded pretty good—but the game play itself stunk.  The mini-games were tedious and boring, and on top of that, though ostensibly for younger kids, there’s really not much explanation of what button does what.  It’s just something like, “Can you use all the buttons effectively to match [a range of colors with whatever it happens to be at that moment]?”  Logical deduction and strategic planning is a lot to ask of a three-year-old, really.

Interestingly, someone stepped up to the plate and took one for his fellow gamers, making a Let’s Play out of it.

Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K. 2
Sequel to a movie you’ve probably not seen, Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K. 2 is a game you’ve probably not played.  While the movie might have been charming in its way, the game was—not.

The game as a whole tried to mash together concepts from different genres.  That would have been fine if the mash-up had actually worked well.  There are plenty of jumping puzzles à la platformers, but not only are they boring—the jumps themselves just get more difficult, that’s basically it—the sluggish controls work as an artificial hindrance to the player.

There are a good few other issues—the first act is the most interesting one, for example.  However, it does have to be said that the game looked excellent.  It made good use of the Quake III engine, there.

A Let’s Play of it can be found right here.

Seaman
On the list of little-known peripherals for older consoles, the Dreamcast’s microphone has to be near the top of the list.  It was only used for a handful of games, but to Sega’s credit, the games were usually different and interesting.  It came bundled with Seaman, which is more a “virtual pet” game than anything else.  Using the microphone, the player talked to their Seaman (I won’t make the obvious jokes if you don’t…), and the game offered impressive voice-recognition software which allowed the player to really interact with their Seaman.

The game had its tongue firmly planted into its cheek, and this is obvious from the moment one opens the manual.

The first step you must take in preparation is to set up the required equipment. At this time should you experience any tension related symptoms such as heart palpitations, perspiration etc., resulting in the sheer weight of the responsibility for rearing a Seaman you may wish to loosen up a bit by stretching of taking a bit of exercise.

And that’s before the bit where it tells you how to even start the game up.

An interesting note—Leonard “I Might Or Might Not Be Spock, Maybe” Nimoy lent his voice to the game.  He narrates and interacts with the player, including humorously chiding the player when warranted.

All in all, it was a title that was different and interesting—and perhaps a bit ahead of its time.  It wasn’t enough to save the console that, I dare say many gamers would agree, lived too short a life.  I couldn’t find a completed Let’s Play, but someone took a similar approach by making “Seaman Diaries”, which start with this video.

                        *                        *                        *

That’s all for this week.  See you on Monday, and have a good weekend!

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2 Responses to “Friday Flashback Five: Week of August 06, 2000”

  1. Elisa Michelle Says:

    Any time you even mention Teletubbies, a puppy dies. Seriously, the show was scary — downright haunting and disturbing. I can’t believe they even tried to make a game out of it, haha.

    As for the others, it seems this particular week was rather bad for video games.

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