Category Archives: Rambling

Dreadaxe Retro Gaming: Five Nostalgic Video Games (1990s edition)

Since lockdown in 2020, I found myself juggling work at home and childcare, but also saw an increase in my reading during the day and gaming in the evening. Both became quite comforting and therapeutic to an extent, and in recent months I have been thinking about which offenders from my backlog I’ll be tackling in 2021; I am keen to bash through a chunk of my Steam library this year.

This last month however I have also been reminiscing about older games from past systems and the titles that kept me going during my childhood, or just flat-out annoyed me to the point of not being able to shake them from my memory.

In no particular order I present 5 nostalgic video games that I’m feeling nostalgic for:

Duke Nukem (MS-DOS, 1991)

Once saved to a flamboyant orange floppy disk marked ‘DUKE’, the original Duke Nukem was an early favourite of mine, and probably takes the title of being the first game I had ever completed by myself. Yes, I was playing this before I got my hands on Doom.

Duke 1 was a 2D side-scrolling shooter with a variety of robotic enemies and some of the most obnoxious sound effects you’ll hear in your life. I still hear the gun firing, or the hyperactive fanfare that played when you collected an item; if you’ve played this game before, you know!

The screen always tended to be stuffed with things to blast, be it a pouncing robot or a line of surveillance cameras. Even chicken drumsticks could be ‘cooked’ by firing your gun. I don’t think I’ll be able to forget the absolute flamboyant carnage on display in Duke Nukem, the barrage of bizarre sound effects that rattled the brain as you played. It remains as one of my earliest gaming memories.

Pharaoh’s Tomb (DOS, 1990)

Pharaoh’s Tomb always makes me think of visiting my Uncle and Aunt’s place down in England in the ’90s; me and my Dad would play through this platformer in the attic office/games room space, starting in the late afternoon and continuing long after the sun had disappeared for the day. Unlike Duke Nukem, I don’t remember Pharaoh’s Tomb having any sound (if it did, we couldn’t hear anything), but it felt like more of a visual treat.

The game had a distinct look about it: red-brick pyramids, tombs and labyrinthine levels against a black background, with your character standing out for his abnormally large hat and small head. The enemies were very unsettling, and the gameplay boiled down to basic platforming, key-collection, and throwing spear-like projectiles. I also remember one Arctic level where your character could plummet into the drink and re-emerge dead as a block of ice. Pharaoh’s Tomb felt like an epic adventure at the time, though I’ve not had much luck in tracking it down in the present day.

Virtua Cop 2 (Sega Saturn, 1995)

One of my relatives was pretty invested in the Saturn when it was released, buying into the lightgun phase along with a copy of Virtua Cop 2. I admit that I’ve never been a massive fan of these types of games; I suck playing lightgun games at arcades and I was equally garbage here, resorting to using the controller to shoot like the absolute killjoy I am.

Virtua Cop 2 had a trio of levels, including a subway, bank heist/chase, and yacht, of varying difficulties. No matter the level, it was just chaos; enemies would pop in and out of cover, fire from cars, and occasionally take hostages as shields, with the game becoming more like a memory challenge as me and my uncle would target where we knew the next perp would appear before they even had.

There were a lot of great times with Virtua Cop 2, whether it was flipping a car full of gunmen by blasting their tyres or even just blowing away a civilian to piss off my teammate.

Resident Evil (Sega Saturn, 1996)

Thinking about the 90s wouldn’t be complete without the original Resident Evil. This was a game that one of my buddies from school loved harping on about, and I was lucky enough to be able to get this on the Sega Saturn at the time. RE1 frightened the life out of me (I would have been 8), with its brutal opening cinematic, spooky soundtrack and, of course, the lumbering hordes of mutated bioweapons.

Again this was a title that felt like it really pushed the envelope at the time, a game that made the player feel relatively powerless, with their ever-dwindling resources and health being the only tools at their disposal. Resident Evil also seemed to mark this shift between games being quite arcade-like, to being more cinematic. It stood out from the other games in my collection for being terrifying and, I guess, “grown-up”, for lack of a better term. Let’s put it this way, RE1 was a huge departure from Virtua Fighter 2 and Sonic the Hedgehog.

Streets of Rage (Sega Megadrive, 1991)

It definitely wouldn’t be a look back to 90s gaming without Streets of Rage. Moving through various levels filled with thugs and punks, your goal was to (literally) beat down an oppressive crime syndicate that had overrun the city. I played this game until my thumbs were sore, teaming up with friends and family alike to run through this massively addictive brawler. The soundtrack was also incredible.

But I remember how amazing this game felt, the way each character felt different with regards to movement speed and fighting style. You could even call in a special move that involved radioing a police officer to lay down supporting fire if things got tough (which they often did). And the fact that it could be a solo adventure or local coop, well that just made it even better.

These are just a handful of gaming memories I have swirling about in my head, so thanks for reading this far. Have any of you had experience with these titles? And which games remind you of your childhood or early gaming years?

Building Spree

My previous post was discussing me starting with the Imperial Guard, and since then I have been trying to settle on a colour scheme and background for my own custom regiment. I didn’t want to go with any of the existing ones because none of them seemed like a perfect fit in terms of storyline and appearance, the closest being the Savlar Chem-Dogs, but felt the urge to write something new that I could tailor as I go.

I started putting some background together with a homeworld and preferred combat style, and this started to take the form of the Carkaillan Rifles;

Hailing from the mining world of Skerion Prime, industrial hive cities separated by barren wastes, rad-plains and bogs, the stout inhabitants of this world are proud miners, their trade going back generations. Rival mining factions and families vie for control of the planet, their bitter disputes often spilling over into open warfare in the city streets while their workers toil in hazardous conditions underground, harvesting minerals required to meet the Imperial Tithe.

Recruits are fierce in battle, displaying stringent discipline in combat. The inhabitants of Skerion form the backbone of the regiment, trained in combat through rigorously defending the network of mines under their planet’s surface from vast tunnelling monstrosities, mutants that stagger down from the rad-plains, or rival factions and underhive gangs. From a young age, Skerion men and women learn how to fight in suffocatingly confined spaces, and to make every shot count.

On the building side of things, I picked up a Start Collecting boxset as the value was pretty damn good for what it offered, and have been slowly building my second squad of troops. Also in the box was a Commissar and Leman Russ tank, as well as a Heavy Weapons Team. I have since primed the first squad from the previous post and some test models (old Space Marine Scouts).

Continuing the theme of Carkaillans being exposed to toxic environments throughout their lives, I’ve included a few troops with gas masks, respirators and bandanas. I used a couple of Sisters of Battle Repentia heads to complete a female Sergeant and a Company Commander, to add diversity to the army. There’s a lot of female ‘Guard artwork that inspired this choice, and though the Repentia parts put up a fight, I feel it was worth the struggle.

That’s the end of this update. Thanks again for reading, and stay safe.

Working on something new

I recently picked up the Astra Militarum codex because I was keen to read up on the smaller regiments of Imperial Guard, some of whom, up until last week, I didn’t know existed. For a while I was settled on Savlar Chem-Dogs, a band of criminals that like stealing from the dead, and would have made for an interesting Imperial Guard project; I’m talking from the point of view of someone who didn’t realise there was more to the ‘Guard than Cadians, Catachans and the Death Korps of Krieg, by the way.

There are a few issues with the Imperial Guard just now though. The Catachans are grossly fucked for scale compared to the other kits, the Vostroyans don’t exist anymore, the Steel Legion are metal miniatures (hilariously), and the Cadians are quite awkward in that way that most late ’90s, early 2000s kits are/were. Even trying to build a squad of Chem-Dogs, you really need to be buying a full kit of Genestealer Neophyte Hybrids every time you buy a box of Imperial Guard just to make them look kind of like they are in the artwork.

So I’ve decided I would like to give the Imperial Guard a go, as they are an army that I’ve never tried and for one reason or another I’m quite enjoying their backstories and units. For the first time in a while, I intend to design my own regiment and work on their backstory, think up their colour scheme and their combat style. There’s a lot of very cool lore surrounding many of the lesser known regiments and I would like to use that as inspiration to work on my own.

I have a couple of ideas for a brief background, but I aim to have this straightened out in the next week. So far, out of the ones that are floating about I like the idea of the regiment picking up and carrying what equipment they can, scavenging as they go, leading to differences in gear throughout the units. The scattered amount of gasmasks and respirators was meant to signify prolonged exposure that some had had to the noxious environments of the mines or catacombs of their homeworld, but I’ve yet to settle on this!

It’s a start anyway. There’s a squad of Space Marine Scouts upstairs that are close enough to use as Cadian test models regarding a colour scheme test, and I’m aiming to use a similar painting plan to that of my Chaos Cultists from earlier this year. So far, I’m optimistic and excited about getting some more Imperial Guard in the future if this turns out well. I’ve been painting Space Marines, in some form or another, for years and years and years; it’s time to try something different.

That’s all for this time, so thanks for reading and I hope you’re staying safe.

Lockdown Gaming, pt5: Bioshock

Up until a little while ago I thought that Lockdown Gaming posts were done and dusted but here we are. Unfortunately we are now entering a different flavour of lockdown this time around, though one which is required all the same. I won’t go further into this topic as it is saturating the news and the Internet at this point in time, but the overall mood of this week has been a pretty lousy one and I started thinking about hitting the games again to lift my spirits.

The game I’ve been playing as my main just now has been Bioshock, or Bioshock Remastered (I guess? I don’t know, it’s part of the Collection, so I assume so?), and this marks the third time that I have seriously put the hours in with this game. The first time was with the original over 10 years ago and became fairly frustrated. I played again a few years back and enjoyed it enough to see it through. This time, I just wanted something creepy to play, and on this occasion everything just clicked.

While it doesn’t seem like I’m giving this classic its due, in the grand scheme it’s mainly just down to poor timing on my part. Bioshock was originally released in 2007 and passed me by at the time, being a title that I picked up years after and felt even then that it was somewhat dated. I’ve grown up (somehow) since then and can appreciate the masterful nature of the environment, the characters, and the story, which is delivered mostly (and masterfully) through audio logs.

The premise has been written and described numerous times, so I’ll be brief. Following your plane going down in the sea, you end up in the underwater city of Rapture, a sprawling cityscape torn apart by civil war and now populated with the remaining psychopathic inhabitants known as Splicers. Addicted to the substance ADAM, the Splicers are vicious and unpredictable, turning the elegant halls of Rapture into a bloody horror show. And that’s really all I’m going to divulge, though I will say that Bioshock builds the tension so well with every aspect of its design, especially from a voice acting and audio design standpoint. The environment is so chilling and tragic, the Art Deco beauty of the city being a distant memory as locations lie partially flooded, collapsed or smeared in blood.

One thing that I love about the series in general is the mix of gunplay and powers that you can weave into combat. The environmental effects are one of the game’s strong points and makes for some exciting conflicts, such as zapping enemies with a shock plasmid while they stand in water, or using an incinerate plasmid to melt ice around the level and thaw out a door. The ability to fine-tune your character through upgrades that offer various perks gives you the chance to make a build that is all your own too, and tweaking these throughout the story was rewarding and felt weighty.

If I had any gripes with the game it is mostly down to the ‘juggling’ you do with your weapons in one hand and plasmids in the other; Jack can only have one hand on-screen at any one time, making the player switch between them in combat. This makes sense because some of the guns are two-handed, like the machine gun and shotgun, but it feels like an odd design choice when you start playing.

Also, there are some irritating bugs present with the game’s difficulty dropping in secret for no reason; I played through on hard mode and figured that I was just getting stronger as I reached the last boss, only to find that the game had knocked itself down to medium. At the end of the day though, these issues were minor and didn’t sour the overall experience that I thought was a remarkably positive one.

That’s all for this post, anyway. If you have any thoughts on Bioshock or indeed the Bioshock Collection then feel free to let me know. Until then, stay safe and take care.

Word Bearers Master of Possession

So this post has been a long time coming! It has been a while since I last posted anything (not having anything ready to blog about), although I’ve tried to stay active as a reader on WP during this time. With lockdown restrictions lifting, there has been a lot of change and I’ve found myself getting caught under the treads, with the days hurtling by.

Most of this time has been spent reading; I’ve been reading everything from Asimov to Vonnegut, Ellison to PKD and so on… it’s been a breath of fresh air getting back into reading regularly again. I’ve also began writing again, however that is another post for another day.

I thought it was time to get cracking again, so I’ve been working on my Possessed crew. This includes an additional HQ for my Word Bearers in the form of a Master of Possession. And I’m going to state for the record that I dislike the MoP model from Shadowspear; I don’t know if it’s the pose or the ram helmet, something just doesn’t sit right. So, I opted for something slightly different.

I really liked the Sorcerer but thought that, in game terms, the MoP would be more beneficial to an army with Possessed, Obliterators and Spawn in its ranks, so I used the Sorcerer model as the base for my own MoP. I still adopted the horned skull for the staff, as this seemed a like an important badge of office for him; it was just one of the bigger skulls from the Citadel Skulls box.

The rest is straightforward. I switched out the double dragon backpack and gave him a mutated one from the Possessed kit, as well as added a familiar to his base, the little sprite from the Terminator Lord kit. I thought it looked pretty cool and needed to go somewhere.

His head choice was an agonising one. I liked the bareheaded idea but the notion of having a helmet gave him a more sinister feel, so he got one of the Warp Talon heads I had kicking about. This way, he shares a kind of Gal Vorbak-esque look with the Possessed ranks and ties in with them a bit more.

At this point I’m still making some headway with the Possessed squad, although they are very fiddly in the amount of details and extras that are covering/pushing their way through their armour. They are really fun to paint though, as was the MoP, and I’m definitely going to try to make more time for it again.

Thanks for reading, and take care.

Word Bearers Rhino (Sixty Day Miniatures of Magnitude May-June 2020 Challenge)

I’m not fully sure how long I’ve had this Rhino in my possession for; I seem to recall it being a present from my sister maybe a year ago. I also remember the assembly wasn’t as bad as Rhinos normally tend to be! With Ann’s Immaterium issuing the Miniatures of Magnitude Challenge, now was the time to get this tank brought up to speed.

When putting it together, I aimed to keep it in line with everything that I liked about the Chaos vehicles: the spiked top sections, the grumpy gunner, the variety of gruesome trophies, etc. With our foul missionaries in the Word Bearers spreading the truth wherever they go, it made sense to add some parchments and tomes to the body of the Rhino too. Trying to avoid spending money on gubbins, I raided my bitz box and came up with a daemonic book and a couple of Space Marine parchments that could be used (after filing off the Imperial Aquila).

As far as painting goes, I stuck with my normal routine of drybrushing the armour. It took a few goes around the tank to build up a decent deep red that fit in with the rest of the crew, but added to that tattered, ancient look that is shared across the army. Feeling brave, I attempted some weathering with a sponge along the bottom of the chassis as well.

Thanks for reading and catch you all next time.

Lockdown Gaming, pt2: Fallout 4

I’m finding a lot of comfort in video games right now. With the state of the world at the moment, it’s quite difficult to focus on most things. I wanted to revisit a game that I put many hours into some years back, but never really tied up properly in terms of cleaning up side quests and exploring areas.

I didn’t really know what to write for Fallout 4; it’s a difficult game to digest. In my opinion it’s not as much fun as Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, although it does regurgitate some things from these games. It feels more like a retread of 3 for those that missed it some years prior, with some sections (one piece of DLC in particular) seeming like they have been ripped from the previous game with tiny changes and a graphical upgrade.

Without comparing it too much to New Vegas, it’s definitely more of streamlined RPG experience in this outing. The shooting is certainly tighter, and the explosives pack one hell of a punch this time around too. The combat was an area of the older games that was the least polished, but in 4 it really shines.

The main protagonist having a voice was a huge change at the time, although a welcome one, and I forgot just how stunning the sound design is overall. It’s a breath of fresh air getting to see and hear your character come to life in such a way. The factions and supporting characters are varied too and inject some urgency into the story, and it all culminates pretty well.

At time of writing I am just about wrapped up with the Nuka World DLC, with the main storyline being long finished. It’s been fun for the most part exploring areas that I had not before and tying up some loose ends here and there. I’ve just never been that fond of it as a Fallout game. It’s not a bad game by a long shot, just that it lacks some of the charm, and even some of the soul, of its predecessors.

But there we have it for now. I hope you’re all well and taking care.

Lockdown Gaming, pt1: Left 4 Dead 2

This is a strange time in the world right now, and with so much time in lockdown we’re all having to entertain ourselves in our homes. My kids’ nursery has closed a few days ago so they are at home all day now, but there are occasions where I can pick up a game and crack on. I wanted to start a short series of posts to cover these games, writing mainly as a means to keep myself sane.

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Beginning ‘The Parish’ campaign, with a few alternate character skins.

Myself and a few friends have rediscovered a game from our past, the brilliant Left 4 Dead 2. If this one passed you by, it’s a first-person, team-based romp through zombie-infested areas riddled with elite infected creatures. Levels are grouped together in 4 or 5 part ‘episodes’ that tend to have a theme (rural areas during a monsoon, or a journey to a shopping mall). And those elite infected? They can ensnare a player in multiple ways, so teamwork is key.

Left 4 Dead 2 will teach you which of your friends is a loose cannon and which of them do a runner in a stressful situation. I had forgotten how much fun it is to wade through a cityscape packed with hundreds of zombies, trying carefully not to shoot car alarms for fear of triggering even more hordes of the undead. When a situation escalates it can be balls-to-the-wall gunfight or a heart-pounding sprint to the next saferoom.

In all honesty I’m more of a single-player gamer. I enjoy games that build an atmosphere slowly over time, whether they are stealth, horror, or RPG games, and coordinating a team of friends to get together online is harder in the present day than it was when we were eighteen. Suffice to say, I love the coop aspect of L4D2 and how you are just dumped in this post-apocalyptic world to deal with the zombie infection.

I’m still working on my Word Bearers when the kids turn in for the night, as well as studying. I have been finding it tricky to concentrate what with everything that has happened in the UK over the past week, as I imagine countless millions of folk have as well. If anyone wants to talk video games, models or whatever then feel free to leave a comment.

I hope you’re all well. Stay safe!

Followers of the Word, pt.3

I can safely say I’m glad this week is over and done with. I’ve had little time to do anything hobby-related but with the arrival of a package from eBay I decided to take the evening for myself, and do a brief update!

So I ordered the greater possessed from the Shadowspear set earlier in the week because I’ve been wanting to add more monstrosities to my Word Bearers, and the models themselves are awesome. Also, having painted most of my helbrute I have a hankering to try more weird fleshtones and figured that this pair would lend themselves to a goal like this.

After building these guys, I continued on with painting the rhino and some of the rank and file Chaos Space Marines with the aim of wrapping up work on a squad of 5. There’s a piece of uni coursework due for later next week, after which I intend to take more hobby time. With some of my Word Bearers, it’s a case of just needing a base completed; with others it’s a decal here and there. Either way, there are a few just teetering on the brink of being finished!

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On another note, my daughter got a plaster figure of Elsa with a magazine (along with some little paints and a brush) and she painted this up herself the other day. It was a really cool thing to see when I came home from work, and I was really impressed with how neat she painted it!

That’s all for this instalment, thanks for reading.

Followers of the Word, pt.2

I’ve had a little break from posting, however this has not extended to painting. In the background I was having an internal struggle with the Word Bearers’ scheme and trying to find a method that was a) quick, and b) not going to result in their armour turning purple. Thankfully, this has been sorted. October also saw another term of uni starting (long-distance studying), and between work and studying forming a vice on my free time, painting has been a case of doing little bits here and there.

I also decided (tactfully, not selfishly) to grab the last piece I had planned for this army before I have to start Christmas shopping. With the cultists out the way, it’s just power armour that needs painted for my 1000 points list, and I figured getting the HQ built and thrown into the mix would be a good idea about now.

One of the goals of this little army is to keep it little, with another being to buy the units that I personally want, ignoring list-building Reddit-based natter in the process. I went with the dark apostle because the model is flat-out glorious, the accompanying sycophants add some outlandish beauty to the unit, and they all look fun to paint. He may not be the toughest boss in the book but he can hold his own. The apostle can also help to buff the cultist meatshields as they scramble up the field in search of a scrap.

So these three are based and awaiting a sunny day so I can get them primed. Fairly easy to assemble too; nowhere near as agonising as putting together the havocs at least! I’ll keep you updated as we go on, and I assume the first handful of the rank-and-file marines will be wrapped up by the end of the month.

Until then, thanks for reading.