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Live Blogs Let's Watch: Select Episodes of Cinematech (The Original Series)
BearyScary2013-09-08 15:10:18

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Driv3n Off the Rails

Episode 142: This ep was sponsored by Scion, a brand of automobile produced by Toyota for North America. Since their Tagline was “What moves you”, they asked one of the Cinematech viewers about which Video Games move them. As a result, their answer determined some of the game shown in the ep. The first was the trailer for Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (Ubisoft, multiplatform), shown at timecode: 0:18. Apparently, the viewer was moved by the game's “action, the element of surprise, the sheer violence”. They then moved onto other Tom Clancy-inspired games as a sort of theme for the rest of the ep.

Games Featured: Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3, the original Rainbow Six on the PC, and finally, Ghost Recon (PC).

We actually played R6 on the Nintendo Sixty Four for a while... back in 2005. It was a time where you could still get some cool old N64 games from a local pawn shop.

6:45: The intro to Tobal No. 1 (1996), Squaresoft's attempt at a 3D Fighting Game for the PS 1. The game was actually developed by a company later known as Dream Factory, who went on to make several, less successful games later on, such as The Bouncer (PS 2, 2001) and Kakuto Chojin (Xbox, 2003). Tobal No. 1 was notable for having flat-shaded polygon graphics, a limited dungeon-crawling minigame, character designs by Akira Toriyama, and a playable demo of a certain little game you may know: Final Fantasy VII (PS 1, 1997). The demo also featured trailers for Bushido Blade, Final Fantasy Tactics, and Sa Ga Frontier.

The game's story was typical fighter stuff: On the planet Tobal, an interplanetary fighting tournament is conducted to determine who will win an ore that can be used as an energy source, and features a variety of odd characters battling one another. They include:

  • Chuji-Wu, the face of the game. Entered the tournament to defeat Gren Kuts of the Kuts Foundation.
  • Fei-Pusu, the obligatory old guy, except this old guy has a mohawk and crazy eyebrows, and is the owner of Hom
  • Oliems, a chicken man. Yes. A... chicken... man. I remember the instruction manual saying that he had two kids and an egg. Epon's dad was a racist Jerkass to him, which was one of the reasons why Oliems entered the tournament, to make his species proud.
  • Hom, an ill robot because his power source is running low. Entered the tournament against Fei-Pusu's wishes. This character, bizarrely enough, had a suicide move that he could do by messing with a switch on his back.
  • Epon, a cute but serious girl who entered to clear her father's name
  • Gren Kuts, a good-looking guy with blond hair and a green outfit, making him look like Link from The Legend Of Zelda. Entered the tournament to restore the honor of his family after learning that the Kuts Foundation was committing crimes on Tobal.
  • Ilgoga, a mildly scary-looking, horned, red-skinned alien in a wrestling singlet. Entered the tournament from the year before but lost horribly to Gren, and also lost his girlfriend to Gren in the process, so he enters this year's tournament to win his girlfriend back.
  • Mary Ivokskaya, a large, Russian female pro wrestler and mother of one child. Notable for not falling under the typical body image of a female fighting game character, because she is a big and tall woman. Entered the tournament to save her family from their dire financial situation.

The intro shows all of these characters, and looks pretty good. It has aged remarkably well for an early PS 1 game.

I don't remember being into Tobal all that much. I remember the “RPG mode” where you could pick one of the main characters and explore a dungeon, but I never beat it.

Tobal 2 (1997) was supposed to be a much better game than the first, with many more characters to unlock (including a Chocobo from Final Fantasy!), but it never came Stateside. The game actually holds the record for most playable characters in a fighter at two hundred. Unfortunately, many of them are just palette swaps of monsters that can be captured in the revamped Quest Mode.

I recall an old video game magazine publishing a letter asking about the game and the rumor that Working Designs would translate and release the game in North America. The magazine responded by claiming that they called WD up about the rumor, and said:

”They laughed.
A lot.”

I think they apologized to the sender about the response they got, and how it was not the kind that they would have wanted.

10:32: Gameplay footage from Driv3r (Atari, multiplatform, 2004), the somewhat lamely-titled third installment in the Driver video game series. The game looks decent enough, so if you had seen this ep at the time of its premiere, you probably would not have guessed that Driv3r became a laughing stock that received reviews like this one from Hardcore Gaming 101.

In retrospect, it does kind of look like a Grand Theft Auto ripoff... which did not go unnoticed by Rockstar Games, who put a diss towards Driver and the studio that made the game in Grand Theft Auto San Andreas (multiplatform).

12:34: The intro to Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring, another fighter from Squaresoft/Dream Factory for the arcades, later ported to the PS 1. This was an arena-style fighter that had an expanded RPG mode. There was some confusion about whether or not this game was related to Namco's Tekken fighting game series, because it was designed and directed by someone who worked on Tekken and Virtua Fighter, and because one of the characters was possibly related to the Mishima clan. He does bear the Mishima name and has that mean sort of Mishima look to him. The characters were designed by Tetsuya Nomura.

The characters of Ehrgeiz included:

  • "Yoyo" Yoko, a female high schooler/police officer from Japan that used a weaponized yoyo in battle
  • A Ninja named Sasuke, because every fighting game needs one. It's a little Hilarious in Hindsight that he resembles Hotsuma from the PS 2 Shinobi. He was searching for the legendary weapon Ehrgeiz.
  • Ken "Godhand" Mishima, a former mercenary with a robotic arm. He even has similar gloves to Kazuya.
  • Dasher Inoba, a Japanese pro wrestler. His ending drove me nuts because it's just an endless loop of him eating bowl upon bowl of ramen. You have to press a button to cancel out of the ending and to return to the game.
  • Lee Shuwen, the obligatory old master... or is he? He seems to go from old to middle-aged when he levels an entire row of heavily-armed police officers. He came back from the dead, but began to age backwards, and so he sought away of stopping his de-aging process.
  • Prince Doza, a kickboxer
  • Han Dehan, a young action star who secretly had an artificial leg loaded with small rockets
  • "Wolf Girl" Jo, a Wild Child

Several characters from FFVIII: Cloud Strife, Tifa Lockhart, and Sephiroth, years before their appearances in Dissidia Final Fantasy (2009, Play Station Portable). Yuffie, Vincent, and Zack were also featured in the game.

The CG technically looks better than that of Tobal, but the more realistic character design means that it skews more towards the Uncanny Valley. Tobal actually looks better in its CGI because of Toriyama's manga-based art style.

Ehrgiez became available on the Play Station Store in 2008.

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