Sunday, 23 June 2013

Car Booting 4 - Waltham Abbey

Back saving a bit or money so I can get some deals at my next car boot adventure. This time I traveled to Waltham Abbey which seemed to be promising on the outset but when I got there, the hope quickly dropped. We were in a big field but unfortunately there was only two lines of sellers when the doors opened. I don't know if the usual sellers got scared due to the forecast of rain or if it like this every week. For an early start and 3 quid entry, it seemed a bit of a rip-off. Nonetheless, I was going to see if there was anything worth buying today.

Straight away, I picked up the PS2 game Escpae From Monkey Island for a pound, a decent game for a very decent price. Though as I was distracted with the game, a boy picked up a PSP from the seller next to us for only £3. I don't know if it was working or not but at £3, you would take the risk.

Next I came across a game re-seller who had mostly PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii games. He did however have a few Sega games so I bundled up a few to get a cheaper price. I got Streets Of Rage, a three in one game (both Complete In Box) & Krusty's Fun House, a great puzzle game that I used to play a lot with my cousins, all for a tenner. Not to bad when you consider Streets Of Rage goes for a bit more online. This seller told me that he had tons of games at home and comes to this particular car boot sale every two weeks, I tried to cut out the middle man and said I was willing to meet up somewhere else so I could look through his stuff but sadly he wasn't having none of it. Doubt it I will make it every couple of weeks just in case he has something special, there are other bargains to find.
Opposite this seller was a young family stall and they had some DVDs as well as games. They were still setting up but people were surrounding their table as they had some good stuff on show. I was only there for a couple of seconds when the mum placed two DVD box sets on the table. Normally I wouldn't take notice but these two sets were Ducktails and Chip N' Dale Rescue Rangers. Had to get them. 3 quid each. I know I can download them for free but sometimes the boxed goods are more than worth it. I later popped back to their stall as the mum said she might have another box set of Chip N' Dale so I went looking. They didn't have it but they had a few more items which I purchased. I got myself a red DS Lite (with a damaged touchscreen, will fix that), Xbox games Voodoo Vince, Genma Onimusha, Jade Empire, Black Stone Magic & Steel, PS2 games Street Fighter Alpha Collection & Xenosaga Episode 2 Collectors Edition and a PSP case for 30 quid. Was a good find as there are some usual titles in this bundle.
The next vendor had a host of really old stuff and I was intrigued by the Arsenal 1971 picture frame he had as I would have bought it for my Dad. When I learned he was selling it for £30, I quickly stepped away from the photo and looked down to his other items. What I saw shocked me as I have never come across it before. It was a BBC Microprocessor computer, a primitive computer made by the BBC to combat the Amstrad and the Spectrum in the UK. It was a bit of a flop and not any were sold. It Included the tape deck and a number of games as well. The only only thing missing was the lead to hook the computer to a monitor and instead the guy had a lead for the Commodore 64. He said he was going to bring the C64 next week which will include the lead. In the meantime I managed to bag everything around the BBC Microprocessor for a fiver, nice!! 
Near the end of the car boot sale were some seller who were late for the beginning and now were getting all of their items for sale out sharpish. A 12 year old kid was selling all of his stuff in order to save up for something. He had a bunch of toys and musical equipment but I was interested in the ice cream box next to the car. When I picked it up, I knew there would be games in there because that's where I stored mine when I was a kid but I didn't think I would find the jackpot. Pokemon Heart Gold & Soul Silver, Mario DS, Kirby Superstar Saga, The Sims & Cooking Mama 2 just to name a few. He said he was selling for 50p each so I asked how much for the lot. He replied a fiver. Pay the boy, done deal.
The last seller I encountered was another late comer but instead of creating his own stall, he tagged with another seller who already had his stall set up. He had bags and bags of games to sell and I was just watching and waiting to see if there was anything of interest. I told him I'm after obscure and rare games and he dived into his bags to find one he thought was quite obscure. It was Thunderbirds on the PS2. I haven't seen this game before and neither did the seller. I picked it up along with a Taito collections game for the PS2 and a Perfect Dark Zero Collectors Edition for the Xbox 360 for £6. Not too bad I thought.
I'm saving the best to last though as my best find at a car boot sale occurred that very Sunday. As you probably know, there are a bunch of sellers who just sell DVDs and CDs. They put a stock price on them for a pound or so and some DVDs are quite good. At this one box I saw a few PS2 games which caught my eye instantly but to no avail. Then I spotted some PS1 games. First there was Tomb Raider 1 then there was Tomb Raider 3 and The Last Resolution next to it. At that moment, I noticed a PS1 game on its side and thought, 'oh great, Tomb Raider 2 (NOT!)'. Instead, I discovered a reasonably rare game on the system, Tombi 2. I couldn't believe it. I asked how much, '£1' the lady replied. Paid her and got out of there. It felt like I was robbing her as the price was so cheap. I got out of there quickly after that.
After a clean sweep, I was pretty happy with my day at Waltham Abbey Car Boot Sale. It could have been better with more stalls but the overall return was better than expected. The sour note would be that DS Lite as I should have really bargained that down a bit more because of the damage. I have since fixed it however so it's not the worst thing in the world. 

I managed to go there the following week to see if the guy I bought the BBC Microprocessor from to get the Commodore 64 he said he would bring but sadly he didn't. Instead, I bought three Xbox 360 games (Gears Of War 2, The Darksiders and Section 8), a PS2 game (Myth Makers Super Kart GP), one SNES game (Pilotwings), one Wii game (Resident Evil 4) and a number of Sega games (James Pond 2, Risky Woods, The Pagemaster, Talmits Adventure (all CIB) Dragons Revenge & Hardball). All very good prices which shows that Upshire Road is a consistent place to go for retro game chasing. Can't wait to go again very soon. 

Friday, 21 June 2013

Resident Evil 6 Xbox 360 Review

The most famous survival horror series gets a Hollywood makeover. Unfortunately the only thing that remains scary is the gameplay.

Since Capcom, the best third party developer the video gaming world has ever seen, embraced the survival horror genre and created the first Resident Evil for the Playstation in 1996, we’ve experienced a lot of highs and some lows (Resident Evil Survivor being the most famous disappointment). But when the hotly anticipated Resident Evil 6 came out at the end of 2012, it’s hard not to put this game in the lows department even though you can clearly see Capcom have put a lot of blood sweat and tears into their successful series.

This is not because I hate the game whatsoever, I think it’s definitely an entertaining adventure and since it introduces a new arched storyline where you can play the same timeline but with three different partnerships is something to be admired. But on the whole experience playing the game, I wasn’t completely satisfied with it as I was with the previous titles in the series.

The premise of the game revolves around the outbreak of the C-Virus being let out in Bangkok China and you need to A) stop the outbreak spreading and B) stop the people responsible. This all intertwines with, as I mentioned before, with three playable partnerships in the game. These are; Resident Evil veteran Chris Redfield, the now captain of the BSAA (Bio-Terrorism Security Assessment Alliance) and one of his team members Piers Nivans, DSO (Division of Security Operations) Agent Leon S Kennedy and US Secret Service Agent Helena Harper and another DSO Agent Sherry Birkin and mercenary Jake Muller. Through these partnerships, the story develops further and your motivation for each play through is different. For instance, Leon and Helena witness the death of the President of the United States and they are framed of his murder. They know however that the man responsible is the same man who is behind the C-Virus outbreak, National Security Advisor Derek Simmons who also so happens to be Sherry’s boss. You later find out what connotations this has on the other playable characters but I’ll let you find that one the history of young Jake Muller yourselves.

The story is all well and good but that’s not the problem in this game. It’s seems to have taken a leaf of out of Resident Evil 5’s book and expanded the combat mechanics and have instead taken away the horror and puzzle elements which made the series so worthwhile. I did not get spooked once during this game and made sure I played it during the night with the lights off every time. It’s a sad experience when you play a game that’s in the ‘horror’ genre and you don’t get some sort of fear for going into an infected house or an abandoned warehouse. And I think the reason is that the game is too fast paced for any build up to take any effect. Instead, they try and build up the characters relationships with their partners to make their reasons for their actions to stop the C-Virus more personal rather than doing it for the greater good. Also what takes away the scary atmosphere is the overkill on the checkpoints. There isn’t that sense of keeping yourself alive otherwise you have to go back to your last save point anymore which is a shame because now you will play from your last checkpoint which is usually when you entered a new area. Because of this, you don’t mind running into danger and getting in the middle of J’avo and Zombie range when in a game like this, you should be cautious and thoughtful when being outnumbered 10/1 with flesh-eaters.

The combat system isn’t bad but it can be a little frustrating at times because you often run out of bullets and are hoping your enemies are packing some shells. But often enough they drop skill points which are used to buy skills at the end of the chapter to help you out in later chapters of the game. So I bought the skill ‘more ammo drops’ from enemies and ultimately I didn’t notice a difference so don’t really think they help that much to a certain extent. What I did most of the time was open a can of whoop-ass on the J’avos and zombies to save my bullets for the enemies that needed it like the mutated J’avos and the bosses. Unfortunately that’s not as exciting as using your shotguns or an assault rifle to take down many of the critters at once. The most satisfying weapon in the game has to be Pier’s Semi-Automatic Sniper Rifle. It’s fast and slices through anything as if it wasn’t there. But with bullets running scarce, you’ll be lucky to enjoy a few rounds before the half way stage of a chapter.

With each pairing giving off 6 chapters in total each, you may be excused to think this game is short but considering how it can take up to 2 and a half hours to finish a chapter, you will be spending a fair few evenings getting through the game with the different pairings. And with the game now focused on pairings rather than playing by yourself, you can play the game with a friend or have the other character a computer ally. This is handy for when you’re nearly dead and need someone to snap you out of your paralysed state or if your buddy has a spare green herb to get you fighting fit. I personally recommend playing with a friend because that adds so much more to the experience and you can talk tactics whilst playing. You can never trust the computer player to do what you want.

There is also the added bonus of finally playing as the mystery character Ada Wong when you complete the game with each pairing thus extending the gameplay and the adventure. It’s a good insight to a character whom many people will have mixed feelings for as being a good character or a baddy. We finally see into her psyche and find out if Leon is right to trust her so much.

Though I have been rambling on about the flaws in this game, I’m not going to say that it’s a terrible game. You have some great ideas for the gameplay, at times the effects are mind blowing and the story is as gripping as ever. The only real fault is how this game has to have the Resident Evil title over it and therefore has a lot to live up to. With the series being so big, there is no wonder why there was an over the top budget for this game and you can see why the credits last around 20 minutes to get through everyone who worked on the game. But the more you put in, some aspect are going to get left behind and the lack of scary moments and hardly any puzzles to keep you scratching your head for hours makes this a lot more straight forward than what I am used to. Sad to say but this is a dip in the Resident Evil series.  I would recommend Resident Evil Revelations instead. I played it on the 3DS last year and it was such a thrilling experience. The game recently has been ported to the PS3, Xbox 360 and the Wii U. With HD graphics, this looks to be the true sequel of the series.

Verdict: No doubt a solid game but when you compare it with the other games in the series; it is certainly not up there with the best of them. 7/10

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Custom Made Consoles Seller

On one of my many trips to eBay trying to find another bargain, I came across something usual and very cool indeed. I spotted a N64 but this was like no other. It just so happens that seller raz_1985 creates his own custom consoles from existing ones to give them a bit of life a character. Neat sketchings of Mario and the Triforce married by two complementing colours makes these unique and exciting.
From the looks of it, raz_1985 specializes in N64, Sega Megadrive and Sega Master System consoles and since the latter is the most dull out of the three, it certainly should be added to anyone's collection.
Will be looking to get one myself (when I can raise the funds that is) and I hope you all will do the same.

Check out the video below to see his work, it's pretty impressive.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Car Booting 3 – Barleylands Farm & Thorndon

Third entry in my car boot sale adventure and I was in high hopes at the start of the day. First of all, this was the first time I was going on a Bank Holiday and one would think that a lot of sellers would be free to sell. The other is that I woke up extremely early in an attempt to arrive at 7:30, when the website said the event was going to start at Barleylands Farm in Billericay. When going through the gate, I didn’t see many cars in the car park so my optimism rose. But when I edged further, rest of the field was not as packed as I expected. The problem here was a lot of vendors were still arriving from 7:30, even though the website states sellers should arrive at 6.30. Only a handful of sellers were ready and in terms of games, zilch.

In terms of games, one guy was selling PSP games (mostly sport games) and UMD movies for £4 each, not the best of deals. And in consoles, there was a blue Wii but the seller wanted £50, ‘ain’t gonna happen!’ The only items I purchased was a Gameboy Advance storage box for 50p, a Super Mario 3 CD case for a pound and the wires for a Xbox 360 console for £2.

Was only there for half an hour and I had to make a choice on whether to wait for the new sellers to put up shop or go to another car boot sale. I chose the latter because the new sellers were coming in very slowly and thought I may have a bit more luck in the Thorndon Car Boot which was down the road. Went there and it was even worse. The only item worth mentioning was a Playstaion with a few games and this device to attach at the back of the console to make it play DVDs. In total it would have been £15 but since I have the console and the games, I got the device for a couple of quid.

A pretty disappointing day as it goes but you’re not always going to find a gem when you go to a car boot sale. It is hit and miss when you go but when you hit, it is bloody good. 

Car Booting 2 – Dunton

Since my first venture offered a mixed bag of treats, I decided to go again to another car boot sale to see if there were any more treasures yet to be discovered elsewhere. My next destination comes in the form of Dunton in Basildon.

I managed to arrive about half an hour after the car boot sale started and as soon as I parked the car, I noticed someone taking a boxed NES with two games back to his car. At first I thought great, there will be some games here for sure, my next thought was DAM, I missed out on finding that boxed NES!!! Oh well, with this first spot and judging by how big the field was I knew I was going to find some treasures for myself.

My first stop was checking the stalls which just opened. My logic was that if these new vendors had some gems, I would be one of the first to find them. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. I did find a few decent PS2 games at this one seller. Usually when you find PS2 games at car boot sales, they are picked through and all you would find are sports games or some crappy quiz games.  Here, I managed to pick up 4 titles that you don’t find that often which were Galerian:Ash, Legend Of Kay, Crimson Tears and I-Ninja, none of which I know much about but seemed cool. The seller wanted 2 pound a game but managed to get a couple quid off. Here’s my top tip for this post, whenever you are buying more than one item at a car boot sale, always ask for a discount. Nine times out of ten, the seller will give you a discount.

Going through the most of the other sellers at car boot sale can get a bit depressing at times. Seeing the same rubbish games over and over again after first getting a bit excited at the possibility of finding something rare, valuable and most importantly, fun. This car boot sale was no exception and adding the zigzag layout to the mix, it became somewhat a dizzy affair. Nonetheless, there were other finds in the day. For instance, I found an original Gameboy with a bunch of games on the cheap. So I snatched that with a boxed Crash Bandicoot XS for the GBA, four Gameboy games (Jurassic Park, Soloman’s Club, Radar Club and Super Mario World 2) and a storage case for only £8. Considering Super Mario World 2 goes for around that on eBay, I was pretty happy.
I got a few quick buys at the car boot sale because all the sellers were just selling whatever they had in their attics. I picked myself up Rachet & Clank 3 and Time Crisis 3 on the PS2 for £3, Halo 3 on the Xbox 360 for £3, Turok 2 on the N64 (loose cart) for £2, F1 World Grand Prix for the N64 (loose cart) for £1.50 and a PS3 drum set for Guitar Hero for £2 (needed to replace the one I had already).

Even though I got a few common games, that doesn’t mean I didn’t get any rare and interesting items at the sale. One which stands out is a DSi with a New Mario Bros included. I managed to get this for £23. Pretty solid deal considering how much retailers sell it for, £55 in some places. Next I found a Sega Reactor boxed up, a wireless Sega Megadrive console for only £7 and then I got a Wii Fit board with a game for £20. Though looking back this price seemed high, at the time I thought it was a good deal and a deal is only as good as what you make it… Perhaps I should have got another 5 pounds off though…

Throughout my time in Dunton, I only found one proper game seller where he was selling Sega, Nintendo and Atari games. The selection was bare when I got there but I put that down to being later in the day and me not getting there in time. I did find a few games that caught my eye, for the Megadrive, Virtua Fighter 2, Paperboy and Second Samurai all boxed and one for the Atari 2600 called Pick N Pile. Those four games came to £18 in total. Bargain in my eyes especially since Second Samurai was a game being constantly played when I was a child.

In the end, I was pretty happy with my day out to Dunton. I was planning to go to another car boot sale down the road in Billericay but because there were so many people selling here, it was too late to do anything else.  I would probably go to this car boot sale again to see if any new sellers come with some more surprises. But after I visit some of the neighbouring car boot sales in Essex. You never know what could be out there and hopefully there are some retro games for me to find.

Car Booting 1 – Hounslow, Shepperton & Denham

To get a decent collection and not find yourself in too much debt, you will need to sacrifice a weekend lie in and get your butts to car boot sales across the land where you will find people selling their old rubbish. As is the famous expression, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure and that is certainly the case with old computer games. So, based on this assumption, I have started to take some time out of my weekends and head over to random fields to see if anyone is selling any old games on the cheap. My first point of interest was visiting three car boot sales, mainly because they were small and close to each other.

Hounslow: The beginning of my journey starts with Hounslow West Car Boot sale which is situated in the car park of Hounslow West tube station. For my interests in old games, it didn’t open anything to the imagination, only one games seller and he was only selling new games at a high price. This would have been acceptable if the games were brand new and weren’t sun damaged. A very short and disappointing start.

Shepperton: Opposite Queen Mary’s reservoir lies an acquaint gathering that on a Sunday could see a high number of sellers, but unfortunately I went on a Saturday and so only got a taste of what was on offer. As soon as I entered the sale, I saw a vendor who was obviously a re-seller. He had new games for high prices and the only retro games he had were a Sonic 1 and 2 for the Megadrive. I asked him if he had anything else but he said he sells the rarer stuff on eBay. Not going to get a bargain from him. Apart from the re-seller, there wasn’t that much going on there. I found one other Sega game of Terminator, an average game for three quid and surprisingly a pong console called a Radofin Tele-Sports IV that was going for 50p. I don’t know if it works and it didn’t come with any games but I snatched it up in any case. The last item I got here was a boxed DS Lite. A seller had a load of different items and two DS Lites. He wanted 35 pounds for it but I managed to save a fiver after haggling with him. It was in perfect condition and it included the box which is always a bonus. Considering places like Computer Exchange sell DS Lites without the box for £40+, I think this was a good deal.

Denham: The last car boot sale for the day was a few miles down the M25 at Denham. I got there a couple of hours after it opened so wasn’t expecting much and I was not wrong. Only a few game stalls and even less worth getting excited about. The first thing I noticed was a PS2 Slim and a bundle of games where the seller wanted 20 quid for. At the time I wanted to get a bit of a discount because there were a few scratches and the console didn’t come with a box so I wanted to pay 15. Unfortunately I couldn’t get a deal on that one and looking back on current prices, that wasn’t a bad deal. Next I spotted a few Gameboy, SNES and Game Gear games. Only a couple of Game Gear games took my interest with Streets Of Rage and Ax Raiser. The seller said that each game was 4 pounds and three for £10 but for those two particular games, he wanted £10 each. I talked him down and managed to get those two and another game Strider Returns for 10 pounds. Pretty happy with the deal apart from finding out I already had Strider Returns, whoops. Will make sure in future I have a list of games I have so I don’t get in a situation like that again. Nothing else to note at this car boot sale apart from one seller who was selling an Atari 2600 original boxed up with two games (Space Invaders and Burger Time) for 50 quid. I knew this was a good deal as I never see an original Atari 2600 boxed up. I have the late 80s Atari 2600 which is not as rare or valuable as this one so was a bit gutted I didn’t have the money on me. Luckily for me, he did have something else which I could afford. It was a boxed ZX Sinclair Spectrum 48 with two boxes full of games for only 20 quid. I snatched that up pretty quickly as the rain poured down in a split second. 

All in all I had a good day, found some cool stuff to add to my collection that I know would have cost me a bit more if I bought them on eBay. Out of the three, I might go back to Denham because it seems like a big car boot sale where a number of new sellers could arrive at any time, which may mean more games. I wouldn’t go to the other two again simply because I got the impression that the same people go there ever week and so the same items will be on show constantly. The Shepperton one could hold some surprises if I go on a Sunday but I don’t think I can take the risk of travelling that far to find out.

The day just proves that there is always something to be discovered at car boot sales and many more trips and different venues are certainly on the horizon.