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?

Barrow-wights

I’ve not been sleeping very well over the course of the last two weeks, with sleep disturbed by odd wake-up times and the odd nightmare. As such, my day-to-day workings have been fairly skewed and that goes for the painting as well. Still, I’ve found some pockets of time to get work done on the minis in my cabinet, and have managed to finish a couple of Lord of the Rings models. Being tired as hell, they are two of the easiest miniatures that I could paint.

The Barrow-wights act as ‘captains’ for an Angmar army, being classed as a Hero of Fortitude which allows them to lead their own warband of 12. With decent stats and the ability to paralyse enemies, a Barrow-wight seems to be a bargain at 50pts. I painted them up to reflect their appearance in various pieces of Lord of the Rings artwork, having a more earthy/dead flesh colour to them than the default paintjob from the website. I would have liked to have attempted an even darker colour to match that of the spirit that appeared on the Barrow-downs in the LotR: War in the North video game, but I didn’t want them to end up blending in with the Ringwraiths.

As for the models themselves, they bring back pleasant memories. I used to have the ‘Fog on the Barrow-downs’ set that GW came out with about 15 years ago, a set that included Tom Bombadil, Goldberry and a quartet of Barrow-wights; unfortunately the contents of that kit have long since left my possession. I recently bought this pair of Barrow-wights from GW, overjoyed (and also surprised) that they were still in production.

I’m aiming to getting my Imperial Guard Scions finished by the end of April, which is a generous deadline to say the least. I’ll see how my sleeping improves.

Thanks for reading, and take care.

Hobby Progress (23rd March)

The last few days I’ve been taking it fairly easy, on the back of finishing the first draft of the latest short story I was working on. My brain took this to mean that I was now free to mosey around on Skyrim, which is what I’ve been doing for an hour or two here and there.

Hobby-wise, I’ve taken the time to work on painting up another Troops choice for my Imperial Guard, this time the Scions. There are just 5 bodies in this unit so it’s a bitesize squad to tide me over, and the paint scheme is quite simplistic. I’ve opted to go with the Iotan Dragons’ scheme, as they are a regiment that trains in dark environments and specialises in cavernous warfare, normally in the pursuit of the xenos menace. This ties in with my own army’s background, as I originally wrote them as being recruits from a harsh mining world themselves.

Secondly, I have been doing a lot of reading into the Lord of the Rings battle game lately. In one of my earlier posts, I mentioned replacing my old destroyed Witch-King with a box of Ringwraiths of Angmar. Since building the kit, I started to read up on the rules and watch a few videos, and did a little list building. Before long, I’d ordered a box of wargs, a warg chieftain (because the model is beautiful), and some Dead Marsh spectres. I would like to get a small force ready for getting out the gates and playing when society eases back into something resembling normality, and I just really love the LOTR models.

A potential theme might be an army based on the Angmar invasion force at the Battle of Fornost, lead by the Witch-King on horseback. I need to pick up a box of orcs for the actual fodder, but I’m aiming for a 500pt force that could get me through a few games and get a hang of the rules with to start out. Until then, I have a little chunk of models to assemble and paint up.

Anyway, that’s all for this post. Thanks for reading, take care.

Imperial Guard Command Squad part 1

One unit that appears to cause grief in online discussions is that of the Imperial Guard Command Squad. This is for a number of reasons, but I’ve seen boil down to their equipment loadout as well as points cost, and just the general notion that they apparently don’t fill a role that’s required in a Guard army. While these are points worthy of discussion, I prefer to think of the Command Squad as more of a centrepiece for an army than a unit that’s going to make its points back several times over.

I like the idea of a mixed unit that has various uses but also a unit that looks cool on the tabletop, and/or fits in with the army thematically. With the Command Squad kit, as well as a bunch of leftovers (seriously, where do all these extra Guardsmen keep coming from), I’ve assembled two units that can be mixed and matched depending on what I might feel like bringing to the table. There will be a following post covering the second squad.

The vox veteran relays the Company Commander’s orders from a safe distance.

This first squad is more of a long range deal, being able to hunker down and shield a Company Commander. Here we have a sniper, a vox and the lascannon heavy weapons team that I painted up a couple of weeks back. The vox would allow the Commander to issue orders to other units within range that also have a vox (which, I think, is every one) and the sniper and lascannon team could plink away at tough targets from a safe distance while the spotter gives additional cover with their lasgun.

Veteran heavy weapons team for tough armoured targets.
The deadeye marksman was trained on the expansive wastes of the regiment’s homeworld.

The heavy weapons team I’ve shown before, but have added the transfers to tie them in with the others. I feel like I’ve opened a huge can of worms by issuing squad number decals now, but it’s something that I was probably going to have to do to the remainder of the army sometime down the line anyway haha.

As always, thanks for reading and catch you all next time. Take care.

Imperial Guard Basilisk

The second vehicle to be completed for the army is the mighty Basilisk, equipped with the earthshaker cannon.

The Basilisk is the second Heavy Support choice for my army, a touch of additional firepower for the Guard and one of their more iconic tanks. While I currently have more units assembled for my Troops slots, I realised that my army was somewhat light on the heavies.

I needed artillery with silly range.

With a range of 240”, the Basilisk’s earthshaker cannon does not require line of sight when choosing a target. It also allows two dice to be rolled on deciding the number of attacks, with the lowest number being discarded. I also equipped the tank with a heavy bolter as it had to have something, but I don’t think I’d ever want it to be in the position (range, even) to use this gun. I’ve gone with no upgrades, keeping the Basilisk at 125pts, based on GW’s most recent points shift.

In terms of the crew, I understood there to be a model on the sprue, although no such model was actually shown in the pics online. The kit came in a blank white box so there were no pictures to use as reference, either. It turned out that there was one artillery officer in there, and I would have to use spares to build someone for him to scream at. I had such spares from a heavy weapons platform I hadn’t built yet, so quickly whipped up a crouching troop with leftover pieces.

The shell he’s crouching by was a spare from the Bullgryns kit and the bases were actually unused Necromunda ones, taken from my Cawdor Gang kit that I used to fill out my Word Bearers Cultists a year ago. The idea behind this was it made more sense to have the Basilisk crew on industrial bases as they would be on the gun platform, not the dirt like the rest of the army.

Anyways that’s all for this update. The Basilisk joins the Leman Russ as the backbone of my Imperial Guard heavies. Next up I’ll be working on some infantry or elites and taking a little rest from painting vehicles.

Until next time, thanks for reading and take care

Hobby Progress (13th March)

A few days ago, I made the smart decision to start building the last Imperial Guard model that was yet to be assembled, the Hellhound kit that was a gift from Christmas that I hadn’t gotten around to. Unfortunately, I forgot that there was a reason I’d been leaving this can of worms to one side for a later date.

Jokes aside, this wasn’t as painful as I anticipated. The bulk of the Chimera chassis came together easily, and the interior was fiddly as hell though I didn’t encounter anything too bad. One of the armour plates refused to seal with the plastic glue, but this was down to a wonky strut that hadn’t gone into place.

The chassis and the loose plates were sprayed in grey while the drums for the interior were primed in black, then painted up with Leadbelcher. After a black ink wash and some time to dry, I could finally put it all together. In case you can’t tell, I hate doing models in sub-assemblies. It makes me twitch, maybe because you have loads of half-painted, semi-built parts everywhere with the increased chance of something going walkabout.

It’s fully built and ready for the standard vehicle rundown, but I want to take a break from painting up another tank a) until the Basilisk is fully painted, and b) after I’ve painted up some more infantry. At this point in time I’m torn between painting the Command Squad or the Scions next.

The Tainted. He just looks really sad.

In other news, I finally replaced my Witch-king mini that got damaged beyond repair around 6 years ago. That was a Witch-king on fell beast though, a model I had built at whatever age, 15 maybe? It had been hanging on for dear life ever since and after two house moves and 12 years of bumps and scrapes, the ancient superglue and modelling cement finally gave way when my wife bumped into a table he was balancing on. I’d never seen a metal miniature break into so many pieces before.

That was probably my last metal mini, no joke. This week, however, I was looking at LOTR minis online and figured it might indeed be time to replace him. The fell beast mini was gone from GW’s store but I picked up a Witch-king happily riding his horse, accompanied by a few badass-looking Ringwraiths.

Maybe after all these years, I’ve been wrong about metal miniatures. Maybe back when I was wrestling Mordor Trolls together at the age of 15, the superglue was just bollocks. Building these guys was quite relaxing, and they required little to no clean-up (apart from the resin King himself). It’s been an hour and they still haven’t fallen apart!

As always, thanks for reading and take care.

Inquisitor Coteaz (“Neglected But Not Forgotten” Challenge, March 2021)

This month, Ann’s Immaterium issued the “Neglected But Not Forgotten” challenge for finishing up those minis that haven’t seen any love in a while. The model I have selected is none other than Inquisitor Coteaz, who has been in my possession for a long time!

He’s just one of those instantly recognisable badasses- a mascot for the Inquisition and, back when I bought him, he was the key to taking heaps of Inquisitorial henchmen as troops. Coteaz remains a badass even today, with his trusty Nemesis daemon hammer and the Spy Network rule, which sounds like it can really wind up your opponent, making them spend 1 additional CP (once per game) when trying to play a stratagem.

The model himself is quite detailed, fitted in Inquisition armour with an hourglass, bolt pistol, tome and a two-headed psyber-eagle. I painted him in a colour scheme closer to that of how he looked in the Daemonhunters codex, making use of a darker shade of his cape mantle and eagle, as well as Leadbelcher paint for armour details in place of white.

I bought this figure maybe 9 or so years ago. Talk about neglected! I was working a horrendous job at an ISP doing tech support, where the managers were useless, the training was non-existent and the customers were awful. And they really were, not just from an employee’s point of view. Rude, impatient, aggressive, 9 hours a day. On one of my days off, I wandered into the GW in my town and chatted with the guy instore about starting a new army, where I looked over the codices and ended up buying the Grey Knights book and Inquisitor Coteaz.

Walking through town afterwards on what was a sunny day, I recall bumping into one of the guys from my desk, who none of us had seen for weeks. My colleague told me about how the stress of the job was crushing him and I came to the realisation that I was doing the same to me- I just hadn’t admitted it to myself, or couldn’t because I thought that this was what working was meant to be like. I didn’t know any better at the time.

In the weeks that followed, I would find another job and be right out of there. Though they were dark times, I did learn a lot during that period and feel that I gathered a lot of strength from my colleague, Stewart. Perhaps I even took some from the stern face of Coteaz. I ducked in and out of the hobby for years but this model has always been a constant, and I’m happy to have had the push to finally give him the treatment he deserves.

I apologise for the emotional baggage dump that came with this post, it’s just one of those models that conjures a heap of memories!

Thanks for reading, and take care.

Crusaders

Faithful and fanatical are the warrior-priests of the Cardinals Crimson, stalwart defenders of the Imperium in the face of its unholy enemies.

Crusaders have been a long-time favourite of mine, going back to the 5th edition Grey Knights codex. At that time, I was planning an army of the Inquisition around a certain Inquisitor who made possible entire armies of random henchmen, and the Crusaders stood out as being a survivable choice among the rabble of disposable mercenaries, operatives and thugs that you could build your force from.

Although I fell out the hobby before the plans came to anything, I continued to love the Crusaders and was very surprised to find them folded into the Imperial Guard codex, especially since now I could take an entire unit of them! For now I’ve been painting up two boxes of them, equating to 4 models. I have to say, despite being resin (or “Finecast”) they arrived in a great state, with no damages or broken limbs. The clean-up was still lengthy but that was to be expected. It was worth it.

The Crusaders wage war with the sword and shield, and have access to Acts of Faith where they can pull off an additional movement phase or reviving one of their fallen brethren, among other things. From what I have read in their rules I can only say that they sound like an interesting unit, and I look forward to the day when I can actually get a game in, let alone get to use them!

As always, thank you for stopping by, and take care.

Hobby Progress (4th March)

What I’ve done is title this post in a way that prevents me from using “WIP”, because that’s been pretty much my label for 2021 so far. Rest assured, this is still a WIP post. But I thought I would share what’s been going on anyway because a post with completed models would otherwise be a week or so away.

So there’s multiple things going on, many different units being worked on simultaneously, and they are all nearing the end. One is for the March 2021 painting challenge issued by Ann’s Immaterium, one is a unit of Crusaders, and there is also a Basilisk (with crew).

With the Basilisk, I’ve been going through the same stages as the Leman Russ before it, with the vast ink wash and drybrushing. I’ve never painted a Chimera chassis before, and it’s quite an interesting shape with lots of indents and nooks. The cannon is a treat for the eyes, so I’ve been trying to do it justice. I saw some 40k art that had the cannon with muzzle burn (not as much as a flamer would have, obviously), which I’ve tried to replicate in the picture below.

The Crusaders are nearing the end, as it’s just their shields and bases that require painting up. Painting “Finecast” is largely a gross affair though, so it’s a task that’s been taking a little longer. On the other hand the Basilisk’s crew will be easy enough- one is an officer and another a standard troop in flak armour, so standard army colours all round.

Thanks for reading, take care.

WIP Crusaders

Working on the Crusaders has been fun so far, and it’s been great getting to paint what I’d say are a few of my favourite GW sculpts of all time.

As you can see, I’m about halfway through my squad of 4. I’ve tried to keep the palette fairly close to the one that’s on the site (the one that I first saw in the Grey Knights codex years back), though I have to admit I was tempted by some of the alternate colour schemes I found online.

I still have Agrax Earthshade on my nail.

I’ll do a proper write-up when they are fully done, this is just a brief update for the time being. Other things in the pipeline are my Basilisk which is currently getting an ink wash, and an Inquisitor Coteaz model that I discovered in an old bitz box of mine.

Until next time, take care.