Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Update and Championship Manager 01/02

With Wigan Athletic, abject failure has never been so much fun!

Absolutely nobody has been asking where the heck I've been
, but I thought I'd best update the people out in Internetland as to why I haven't posted for 2 months.

Well, I go through 2-3 week phases where I feel like rambling about video games and then stop almost as soon as I've started. Doesn't mean I've disappeared completely (unlike the selection of retro games in local second hand shops), just temporarily while I'm pursuing other projects. And real life, which sucks, but what can you do?

Recently I've rediscovered the wonders of Championship Manager 01/02 for the PC, which, to my surprise, still has an extremely active community of gamers. There's something magical about taking Mudhuts FC through the divisions to the Premier League and European glory, though I have to admit I've got nowhere near that as yet. Still, I'm a lot better than I used to be.

Better yet, the game is available for free download on one of the official Champ Man websites. I really can't find which one, but take a trip to your local games shop and you'll probably find a version for fifty pence or something. I can't comment on its quality in comparison with the newer versions as I've only played the 2007 incarnation briefly, but I have to say I'm really enjoying it.

About a month ago I was mildly addicted to Popcap's Zuma, and started a video review on that but who knows if that'll ever see the light of day. Speaking of which, I do have a couple of almost-completed vids up my sleeve to come, and I plan to upload a slightly elongated version of the San Andreas commentary over on Blip.

That's all for the future, though. Right now, I have other stuff to attend to, so until next time, don't step in front of moving vehicles and do what your mother tells you.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Premier Manager series [Mega Drive] - the final word (maybe)

I wanted to give a bit of an overview about the Mega Drive Premier Manager games in comparison with the PC versions and other football management games of the time.

I was going to do a regular post on this, but I haven't uploaded a video in a while so decided to make a bit of a vlog type thing instead. The whole thing was recorded and edited together relatively quickly as a one-day project, so it isn't that in-depth, but briefly explains what I was going to put into words anyway.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Premier Manager [Mega Drive, 1995] quick hints

Premier Manager for the Mega Drive can be an exceedingly difficult game, so you'll need all the help you can get as you attempt to bring your squad from Division Three also-rans to Premier League contenders. Here's a few quick hints which will also work on the 97 version, and possibly the Windows/DOS version.

Some general notes

The instruction manual talks about shooting distance quite a bit, explaining that the better players will be able to score from further away. However, you have to take into account the relative skill level of the opposition, which, apart from the cup ties, is likely to be round about the same as you. Unless you're up against an absolute donkey of a goalkeeper you'll be pretty lucky to hit the net from anywhere outside the penalty area. I don't recommend long range shooting as a general tactic - I usually get more success from medium.

One thing that's always annoyed me slightly about the Premier Manager series is the skill ratings indication system, where a level out of 100 and a written form like 'V Good *****' (see screengrab below) are interchangeable. This is most annoying when employing staff - their percentage stat isn't available, which can result in you having to consult the manual every ten minutes to try and find out whether 'outstanding' is better than 'exceptional'. Here's a better way of ascertaining staff skill: look at their wages. Generally, at the very toppermost level, just over £1,800 is the best you can get.

This will sound incredibly obvious, but... the best way to keep players' morale up is to win: if you're steamrollering everything in your path, then even subs and reserve players will benefit. It does make a world of difference to your performance, especially in a 50:50 match situation.

Coaches/Youth team

Once you're in the Premier League, you'll get access to the better youth team coaches. This will allow you to bring in higher quality players from the youth academy - think 18 year olds with skill ratings of 75+ when they are promoted to senior level. With a good team of coaches (check the Job Centre each month when the sponsorship deals come up for renewal), these can be trained up to 99 within a few years, and are slightly more financially beneficial than bringing in new blood via the transfer market.

For the reason outlined above, I don't recommend using the transfer market unless you really need to. Players are pretty much always overpriced, and that's before you take into account their wages, which can cost you a bomb. Invest in youth - it may take a bit longer but will be better in the long term. Of course, if time is of the essence, then you may have no choice but to buy. This might require selling two of your existing players, which is always a bit of a risk, but one you may have to take.

Note: Look out for the youth players named after members of the programming team such as Atkinson, Lister and Casson. They aren't necessarily any better than any of the others, but it is curious that programmers succumb to vanity: see International Cricket Captain etc.

Stadium and sponsorship

The higher a stand's capacity, the more sponsorship offers you are likely to get for it. Building covering will also allow you to have more hoardings on that stand. If you feel so inclined, take your time when selecting sponsors to ensure you're filling all the space available on the hoardings: in particular, look for Pay Per Week deals.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Status update: what's going on at RY Towers

Don't worry, I haven't died.. well not yet, anyway. I'm currently playing Premier Manager to death, seeing if I can create a team with completely maxed out stats. Dunno if it's possible, as if it's any similar to International Cricket Captain (the original one) I'll most likely be forced to retire after about 20 seasons, scuppering my attempts!

Elsewhere, I managed to pick up a few Mega Drive games for a quid each from the boot sale on Sunday, but I haven't had time to test them out yet. When I do, perhaps we shall have some more guerrilla reviews, hopefully of higher quality this time.

Just another quick shout out for the YouTube channel, where I intend to upload a couple of non-review vids at some point in the future. Should I get time, it would be nice to create a few more lo-tech, cheaply and easily made vids that don't require massive amounts of editing or fiddling around with. Watch out for those, and keep an eye out for more vids.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Streets of Rage [Mega Drive] Guerrilla Reviews

Introducing Guerrilla Reviews, a (perhaps) new series of lo-tech point-the-camera-at-the-TV style vids in the same vein as Collie's Inept Reviews. In this particular video, I play Streets of Rage on the Mega Drive for the very first time. Don't expect too much - the quality isn't that great, but watching it back, I found the narration was pretty funny, so here it is in all its crummy glory.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Pele's World Tournament Soccer [Mega Drive] Timewasting Tactic

Presenting the wizard of the dribble:

Premier Manager 97 [Mega Drive] video commentary/review

This is another one of those 'play the game for a bit then narrate over the top of it' style videos, edited down from about 20 minutes to contain the most relevant bits. Seems there isn't an awful lot of love for this game on YouTube, but I am certain the devotees will soon emerge from the cupboard, as there is no doubting Premier Manager for the Mega Drive is a cult classic.

This is the '97 version, as reviewed briefly in an earlier post.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Cartridges are becoming increasingly hard to find

I popped into my local Gamestation yesterday to see if I could grab myself some bargains, but was in for a bit of a shock. There were a couple of games in particular that were selling for waaay more than anything else in the retro games section - Phantasy Star II & III. I am aware of this series, though I didn't know that the games were so rare that shops would slap a price tag of £25 on them over 20 years after their original release.

Still, at least this shop actually had Mega Drive game carts. I spent a large part of Sunday morning looking through second hand game shops in Bolton, to no avail. I did find a PGA European Tour cart at the bottom of a box in a charity shop, but guess what? I already have that. Maybe I should've picked it up for a quid anyway.

Apart from the Phantasy Star 'revelation', there were one or two good deals in the Wigan Gamestation. I picked up a Mega Drive II with two controllers, Mega Games II, Sonic, Bart vs. the Space Mutants and Shadow of the Beast II for ten quid (pictured above). I've done a video about this in which I brag about how good it is - you might see that at some point in the next few days, so watch out.

I also got a copy of PC Brian Lara Cricket 2005 for the bargain price of 98 pence. Hmm, I wonder if that's a clue as to whether this game sucks? Anyhow, I now own the original BLC, Lara 96, Lara 99 and now BLC05 so that sounds a bit like a series review doesn't it? Don't hold your breath...

Currently uploading to YouTube is a new guerrilla review, but don't get your hopes up too much. The quality isn't that great, but I found the commentary quite funny. The game is Streets of Rage on the Mega Drive, which surprisingly I hadn't ever played up until yesterday evening.

The Yak's YouTube channel

Monday, 21 September 2009

Premier Manager 97 [Mega Drive, 1996] review

The image in Friday's post is a bit of a clue as to what the heck I've been doing over the weekend. Aside from witnessing another crushing defeat for Wigan Athletic against Arsenal, I've once again dug out my old copy (copies) of Premier Manager on the Mega Drive for another look. Things can only get better from here, eh?

For the uninitiated, the Premier Manager series started back in the early 90s on the PC, Atari and a few other consoles. When it was ported to the Mega Drive in 1995, it spelled a whole load of wasted weekends for console management fanatics, not least myself: I never had a PC back then, so this was my first experience of footy management games.

Firstly, I was extremely surprised to see a video game with English football teams. Back then, my whole game library consisted of American and Japanese video games like John Madden, Sonic the Hedgehog and EA Hockey. Course, Premier Manager wasn't the first console game to use the English leagues - Striker had done that a whole three years before (albeit with hilariously named player parodies) and I daresay a few other carts bore the Premier League licence prior to '95. But to me, this made the game massively attractive. The prospect of taking my beloved Wigan Athletic from Third Division no-hopers -- as they were at the time -- from the pits of despair to the top of the table was too tempting an opportunity to pass up.

Fifteen years later and how times have changed. My goal of getting the Latics to the Premiership had actually been achieved in real life, without the aid of a computer game. Or maybe so, I dunno if Wigan's chairman Dave Whelan is a closet Champ Manager fan or something.

Somewhere along the line I managed to obtain a copy of the 1997 version of the game. It isn't all that dissimilar to the original - only a few minor graphical and technical tweaks and a new soundtrack differentiate this from the 1995 release.

Most importantly, however, it's got the all-new 1997 season players such as... well, I won't name them all here, but get ready to be battered by the likes of Paul Peschisolido, Clive Mendonca (awesome player in the game) and Alan Shearer as you work your way up through the leagues. Lemme tell you, this is a verrrry difficult task for even the most hardened of Premier Manager veterans. You literally have to take things one game at a time and get into some of the finer points of the game if you want to be really successful - something that'll take a long while to master. Aside from squad shuffling, there's hiring and firing of staff, promotion of youth players, training, injuries and dabbling in the transfer market should you so choose.

A Mega Drive nut? If statistics and football are your type of thing, then Premier Manager is the game for you. I know that's a pretty small margin to fall within, but I'm sure you lot are out there!

Such is my level of fanaticism for this game that I recently purchased a second copy. I wanted to start a new saved game without wiping my old one, in which I'd managed to steer the mighty Latics to the toppermost division of the English leagues. As it happened, some other bloke named Ste had also done this on the saved game of my newest copy - much better than me in fact. Blast, and I thought I was the PM champ! Check out my commentary (video below) for some more info on this.


Recommended sequels: Premier Manager '99 (PSX)

Get if: You liked any of the earlier versions or want a footy management game for a fourth generation console. As far as I can see, there aren't really any others.

Avoid if: You don't like football, stats or games where you have little control over the immediate action.

Game Info

Premier Manager '97 [Mega Drive] - Also available for PC

Buy this game:
  • Rarity rating [10=extremely rare]: 4
  • Buy@eBay for around £5
  • One of the later games, so you may find it floating around somewhere. If you live in America, then sorry but I don't believe it was ever released on your side of the pond.

Video commentary/review (more info)

Quick hints

For some tips on Premier Manager and Premier Manager 97 for the Mega Drive, see here.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Pele's World Tournament Soccer [Mega Drive] video review

An interesting one this. When I bought this game about eight years ago, I played it a couple of times and never touched it again, until the other week. From what I could recall, I remember the presentation being absolutely awesome - better even than FIFA. Well, it isn't that good, but anyway, watch the video to find out.

See if you can spot:
  • The blatant Urinatingtree homage
  • The deliberate narration error

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Blip.tv channel

Retro Yakkage now has a channel on Blip.tv. The advantage of this over YouTube will be the quality of video, which I will reserve for Blip. I'm in the process of uploading the better reviews (the video reviews) to the channel, so check back in the next few days to see the vids in superb(ish) quality. At least, that's the plan. Hopefully this will go better than the Stage6 experiment...

Anyway, this may or may not comprise other retro-related stuff, we'll have to wait and see.

Additionally, I have a new review ready to export and upload. That may take a while, but be patient and ye shall have a brand new video review within a few days. Wahey!

Friday, 4 September 2009

Columns [Mega Drive] - video review

This is a review from some time earlier this year. Due to my poor Internet connection, I never got the time to upload it (this 80Mb video would have taken the best part of six hours), plus I was considering the possibility of making a Mega Games I (Super Hang On, Italia '90 and Columns) 3-in-1 review. That plan was ditched, though you may see reviews of those other games at some point in the future.

Update 18/9: I've got a Super Hang On review in the works, so hold on to your hats!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas [PS2] - Carnage & commentary/review

I'm not really sure how to describe this one. It started out life as two separate projects based on the same footage: an explosions video and a commentary type thing. You may see both of these at some point -- I am considering creating a blip.tv account for those longer, let's play style vids -- but for now, make do with a cut down, twelve minute edit that condenses all the best bits for viewing on YouTube.

I suppose it could be termed a commentary come review, make of it what you will. One thing's for certain, there's an awful lot of carnage going on.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Don't let the video game bullies get you down

As a long(ish)-time user of YouTube, there isn't that much that gets on my wick any more. Any subscriber will agree that it's a complete minefield of ego-bashers and general eejits leaving disparaging, irritating comments, especially on the more popular videos.

It does not surprise me that many gamers choose to disable comments for their videos, as it is increasingly difficult to find time to moderate and go through single one of them with a fine tooth comb.

But there's one type of comment that still gets to me somewhat. You may have seen them: "this game sucks, there are lots of newer games you know", "of course, you'll never want to play this game ever again because there is a sequel out". In my mind, as so many others, I envisage these as eleven-year-old 'trendy' types that think the newer games are cool just because everyone else has them.

"Oh, you're still playing on GTA: San Andreas? That game is rubbish, GTA IV is where it's at." It may well be true that GTA4 has updated graphics, newer features etc., but in many ways it's actually a whole other animal to San Andreas. It's of a different time, a different generation, a different console. That doesn't change the fact it's still a great game with superb qualities.

GTA was just an example: I could just as well be speaking of Super Mario, Tomb Raider or anything else that's mildly popular with the kids of today. As it happens, I haven't played GTA4 yet. I'm sure it is indeed is a very good game, but I simply haven't had the time or money to buy it. I think that's partially the point - it's a wholly materialistic thing: "I have the newest stuff so I'm better than you, regardless of how much crappier/more awesome the newer versions are".

Now, don't confuse these comments with honest criticism: there may well be features that set Halo 23 worlds apart from Halo 22. However, there is a certain line that separates the genuine video game tip-off from just plain bullying or name-calling. For sure, once I played Super Mario 3, that became my favourite Nintendo game. But it didn't mean to say I never, ever looked twice at the original Super Mario Bros. again - quite the contrary.

Just because a game is old, it doesn't mean it's bad. I extract much more enjoyment from a 99p copy of Premier Manager '97 for the Mega Drive than the £40 brand new version of Football Manager on the PS3. There's no better demonstration of this than the fact the Wii Virtual Console exists: if all these games were so bad, why is it that a whole new generation of gamers downloading and enjoying them?

Don't let the video game bullies get you down - they can never tell you what you enjoy.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Collie - the Inept Reviewer

The emergence of the YouTube generation has given rise to a whole host of video blogs, known as vlogs. Perhaps the most prevalent of these, if not most popular, are ones offering their own critical commentary on their favourite (and least favourite) video games.

It seems everyone with an XBOX and a webcam has had a go at one point or another, and heck, even I have dipped my toes into the tepid ocean of repressed memories that is retro reviewing. The two mediums go hand in hand - those that played Space Invaders in the seventies or had a Nintendo in the early nineties are more likely to have moved on to internet gaming of late.

More popular, though, are retro game reviews. Search for 'Nintendo' on YouTube or Dailymotion and you will find reviews by James Rolfe, AKA The Angry Nintendo Nerd, who has become something of an Internet celebrity with his raging rants on how he wasted his childhood playing terrible games.

That's all well and good, and I do recommend James's channel if you have any sort of interest in retro gaming, but sometimes you just want something a bit more... British. On this side of the pond, we want half-hearted, dithering irrelevance with a touch of bonkers.

You will find no greater proponent of the above than Collie, who goes by the name of the Inept Reviewer on YouTube. His 'let's play' style reviews offer a brief insight to games for various formats, but usually return back to the ZX Spectrum. Now, I will confess that this is not really my generation - being slightly younger I am more of the Nintendo/Mega Drive era.

He does occasionally dabble with these consoles, but in many cases it really isn't about the game, it's the underlying soap opera that is Collie's personal life. Most of his videos are recorded at 3AM on a Saturday morning when he is considerably tired and emotional, worse for wear from the night before. Not a review goes by without being interrupted by an incoming text message from a friend or random person he encountered in the pub.

That's not to play down his knowledge of games, which at times borders on geekish, but that's okay. Each game, where warranted, is put into context very well by a series of stories about his acquisition of the game back in the late eighties. This is okay too, as I prefer my reviewers to have a bit of personality.

There is some (and, in many cases a lot of) beer-fuelled profanity, as is to be expected with this genre of videos - it has become something of the norm. Put up with this and you will surely enjoy this vastly underrated, 'juiced up', rather impatient method of game reviewing. Give Collie a go.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Geoff Boycott plays the Little Master Cricket game [PC]

For those of you not aware of Little Master, it's a Flash cricket game, and pretty addictive it is too.

Here, England cricket legend and grumpy old man Geoff Boycott shows steadfast, resolute defense whilst playing the game. You could pay money just to watch it.

Play the game