Monday, April 24, 2017

Rollercoaster Tycoon - METALLICA WORLD

With Metallica kicking off their US leg of the Worldwired Tour coming up a month from now, I figured I'd post the first of a couple of things dedicated to them starting with a little creation I made over a decade ago (about 14 years ago to be more precise). I'm referring to my theme park based solely on the music of the metal masters, Metallica World!

This was created in Rollercoaster Tycoon 2, with the aid of a bunch of different custom pieces that I got through downloads of some other awesome parks I found in fan forums and what not. This was the first huge theme park that I set out to create. I later followed up with Star Wars Galaxy, which I wrote one of these blog posts on in which you can find here.

The idea for this park came about on the heels of Metallica's release of the album St. Anger, and during high school I would think about names of awesome roller coasters and it suddenly dawned on me that many of Metallica's song names would make for some kick ass names, and thus voila! I had dreamed up the initial phases of Metallica World, and I dove right in to create a world filled with one of my absolute favorite bands songs bracing the nameplates of all the attractions and stores.

So what was the result of my mind hitting the computer game? Below is the overview shot of the entire park.


The park itself consists of seven different areas: For Whom the Bell Tolls Plaza, Haunted Hollow, Mount Metallica, The Sanitarium, Metal Zone, Ancient Isle, and Where the Wild Things Are. One thing you might note, there is nothing with the Death Magnetic or Hardwired albums in here, because, duh, I created this park in 2003. Even if I wanted to add stuff from those, I cannot as all that remains of this park is embedded in the screenshots that I have (which about a third will show up in this blog).

As I stated earlier, this was my most ambitious theme park I had set out to create at the time, and I put a ton of detail into this thing. You might notice that there are little Pepsi vending machines strewn around in some of the images, and that's how in depth I wanted to make it. I wanted to make something that was seemingly something that could be a real thing. I guess you could say this was the beginning of my super in-depth love of theme parks, but I know it started a little earlier than this, this was just the beginning of pushing the game to its max.

So let's dive right in shall we? As you enter into the park, you enter through an old castle because these guys are the Kings (come at me bro). But on a serious note, I just figured it would be sweet and I really wanted to use some of the theming to create a sweet entrance. Sweet entrance means that the park is going to be sweet. I think I accomplished that.

 
Once inside the gates, you get into the prototypical 'Main Street' area named For Whom the Bell Tolls Plaza that features a bunch of shops and restaurants. But what makes this one a little different is that I included a few rides like Frantic the For Whom the Bell Tolls Tower. The tower ride slowly has you ascend up the tower until you reach the top, then the bell tolls and you fall 150 feet! The area also includes a huge concert venue called Hit the Lights Grand Theater. The Until it Sleeps Hotel is located here as well as the attached Breadfan Casino. I even included a Budweiser Brewery near the hotel, because why not.
 
 

If you take a right upon entering the gates, you will head into the first of the themed areas, Haunted Hollow. This area features a bunch of attractions that draw from the 'scarier' named songs. There is a haunted house called The House That Jack Built, a bumper car ride with the cars in the shape of eyes called Eye of the Beholder, the Blackened Lounge, among other things that feature songs like Fade to Black, Devil's Dance, and Damage Inc.
 
 
 
The area also features four roller coasters, with the first one being Creeping Death. This is a corkscrew coaster that has five inversions on it, with a couple that hug the path so guests can get a creeping fear into them as it passes over their heads.
 
 
The next coaster is located in the corner of the park and is the massive wooden roller coaster Harvester of Sorrow. The song had to have a ride named after it because it is such a cool name and of course I had to make it a wooden one with Harvester in the name. This is one of my favorites in the park.
 

 
We then head over the inverted roller coaster named Phantom Lord. Inverted coasters are usually crowd favorites as your legs dangle below you. This coaster has seven inversions on it and most voted to make you puke. Seems right for an evil named ride, right?
 
 
I didn't want to make Enter Sandman a roller coaster because of course everyone thinks you are going to do that. So I took a different approach and made a somewhat of a Splash Mountain style ride where you slowly build up to the climax of the solo and plunge into the night and the dark depths of the ride. From the overview, it looks like nothing as seen below.
 
 
But once I turn off the scenery and give you the underground view of the ride, you can see there is a huge build-up to the drop. The little sign above the drop that you view from the path says, "EXIT LIGHT, ENTER NIGHT" as you drop into the darkness.
 
 
The last coaster in this area of the park is the floorless roller coaster Master of Puppets. I wanted the legs to dangle like a puppet, naturally, so I used the floorless design. Why not make it an inverted roller coaster then? Well because I wanted this ride to be big, and this style can be built higher and faster than an inverted one. If I remember correctly, this thing goes over 60 miles per hour and it still has numerous inversions as well. Just a note, if you haven't noticed in the screen shot, I even put the little white crosses out in front of the ride entrance just like from the album cover!
 
 
In the back corner of the park, I wanted to create a nice scenic overlook of the entire place so I created Mount Metallica. This section has a chairlift for those who don't want to hike up the side of the mountain, and you still get to see the cascading waterfalls and rock outcroppings. At the summit of the Mount is a shopping plaza with an overlook out over the park.
 
 
Smack dab in the center of the park is the Metal Zone. Along with its three roller coasters, there a ton of other attractions like the Orion Café, 2x4 Go Karts, Disposable Heroes laser tag, Ride the Lightning Theater (where I envision the experience like an electric chair!), and the Wherever you May Roam Arcade. Metal Militia and Whiplash also have their representation here as well.
 
 
The first coaster in this area is Battery, and it is a steel twister that is situated right above the go karts. This coaster also has seven inversions in its very compact nature and which really makes you feel pretty beaten after you get off of it.
 
 
The next coaster here is called Motorbreath and this one is an LIM Launch coaster that fires you out of the station at nearly 70 miles per hour and then you navigate is twisted metal track until your face is melted.
 
 
The final ride in this area is the steel screamer named Fuel. This is one of the fastest in the park, and it's so fast that the color of the train fades from red to white from the front to the back! Okay, you can control that, but I'm going for effect!
 
 
As you head to the back of the park, you cross a bridge and into Ancient Isle. Some of the heavy hitter songs are represented in roller coasters back here, but also some cool little rides like Through the Never time machines and a Prince Charming spinner. The Four Horsemen Lounge is another great bar here.
 
 
The coaster that is located in the middle of the area is the wooden twister named The God That Failed. A wooden twister provides for steeper curved drops, but the difference mainly lies in the design of the ride vehicles. As you can see, there are a lot of twists and turns on this roller coaster.
 
 
The two behemoths that loom large over Ancient Isle though are two of Metallica's most well known songs. The first is the massive steel hypercoaster called One. This guy goes up to speeds over 80 miles per hour through numerous tall drops.
 
 
The other huge coaster in this area has its entrance found in a small castle that spans the midway and is called King Nothing. This steel hypertwister also goes over 80 miles per hour but features a lot more twists and turns as opposed to the massive hills on One.
 
 
Going back up to the front corner of the park, where if you would take a left after entering, you would enter the area known as The Sanitarium. Different songs featured here are The Unnamed Feeling, Dirty Window, Escape (in a launched lift ride), The Cure, Leper Messiah, and The Memory Remains. The area is heavily themed in a gothic cathedral style. Two other attractions that can be found here are the My Friend of Misery boats that have you navigate a channel filled with nightmares as a grim reaper sits on your boat a la Charon and the Of Wolf and Man Woods. The Woods is a hedge maze that tells you that if you don't make it out in time that you will turn into a werewolf!
 
 
The first coaster here is a stand-up twister roller coaster named Somekind of Monster. Always have to get a stand-up one in a park somewhere, and I enjoyed making this one in its compact and narrow form. It still packs in quite a few inversions, which is essential for stand-ups.
 
 
Located in the center of the Sanitarium in its own church-like confines is the dual steel launch coasters The Unforgiven and The Unforgiven II. Yes, I know there is now an Unforgiven III, but again, it wasn't out at the time so it was super convenient to make these two. These two get up to speeds over 85 miles per hour before scaling the tower and dropping you in reverse back to the station.
 
 
The tallest and fastest roller coaster in the park honors though belongs to the giga coaster enclosed in its own cathedral. A coaster with this name has to have the 'honor' of being the most extreme in the two big categories, so of course its name is St. Anger. As stated, you enter into the unholy shrine of this colossus before you get your face blown off by speeds over 95 miles per hour and drops over 300 feet.
 
 
 
The last section of the park is a jungle themed place called Where the Wild Things Are. In addition to the last three coasters of the park, the other songs that are represented here are Slither, Bad Seed, The Thing That Should Not Be, The Outlaw Torn, Whiskey in the Jar, and Sweet Amber.
 
 
Upon entering the land, you will come face to face with the vertical coaster Minus Human. It's called a vertical coaster because it has the ability to have a drop at 90 degrees. You might say that most can, but this one has a brake system that pauses you before the drop so you in essence stare straight down for a few seconds before it releases you (Google: Oblivion at Alton Towers). In this case, the pause comes before the ride drops you into the Minus Human Thicket making you plunge into the bog and underground in the back half of the ride.
 
 
The other titanic wooden roller coaster of the park is located here and is one of my favorites, Call of the Ktulu. This is the tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster in the park and is rated way more extreme than Harvester is. This is also the one of the longest coasters at over 7,000 feet in length.
 
 
The last coaster of the park (which is #16 I believe), is another steel twister coaster, but this one has a ton of inversions and is tall and really long. This voodoo inspired creation is entitled Fixxxer. You really zoom through the jungle and swamps and try not to get those pins stuck in you!
 
 
So that does it for my first foray into highly detailed roller coaster tycoon antics. It's hard to believe that I completed this 14 years ago, but alas, time flies I guess. I know there are a bunch of songs that are represented throughout the park that I forgot to mention in this post, but I know that I think I had pretty much every song up to that time covered. I know a bunch of the Garage Inc. ones didn't make it in here except for only a handful like Breadfan and Whiskey in the Jar. But most of their original songs I think all made it in here in some form or fashion.
 
I know I was extremely proud that I completed this thing back in the day, and I still think of it as one of my masterpieces (this is my art guys!).  I've heard from some of my friends that they couldn't believe how this turned out and I agree with them. When I started it I never thought it would look like this, but it did and I remember I had a blast doing it. Which that is why people have hobbies isn't it? To do things that you enjoy to do, and creating this was a lot of fun. Too bad it won't ever become a reality, but if it did, you know you want to visit, don't you?
 
Thanks for reading,
 
Mike G.
 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Retro Gaming: SUNSET RIDERS

Hello everyone! This time on the blog we will hopefully start something I get to do maybe once a month where I explore one of the old video games that I played a ton of growing up, and usually it is one that is a little off the beaten track and of a lesser known variety (and maybe to make you feel regret you never played them!).


To start things off, I'm going to start with one of my all-time favorite games that I played through countless times as a kid, and still do when I get a chance to fire up my cousin's old SNES. I am going to write about one of Konami's lesser known games, Sunset Riders.




This game started out in an arcade cabinet but was soon ported into the SNES and Genesis consoles. Although I have never played this game on the arcade system, I have played both the SNES and Genesis versions over a hundred times. Not even joking. Honestly, this game doesn't take a whole lot of time to play through, it usually takes about 25 minutes to get through the whole thing by yourself, sometimes a little quicker with two players. It is just so fun that you just want to keep playing it over and over again.


Interesting to note that the SNES and Genesis versions are not identical games. The Genesis version has multiple stages in some instances before you get to the stage boss, the mountain stage being one that I remember vividly due to its music that only appears in that version of the game. There are more villains in the SNES version and you can be more characters as well. The money values also vary slightly from one system to the other. For all intents and purposes, I will show the villain wanted posters from the SNES version.


So, where to begin, let's start with who you get to pick to be! You get to choose one of four heroes as shown below.




The characters you can be are Steve, Billy, Bob, and Cormano. The first two characters, Steve and Billy, use two pistols while Bob and Cormano use shotguns. Normally, this would be an easy choice, right? Always take the guys with the shotguns! Duh! But you would be incorrect! Pistols are more accurate, so you should use them...


Actually I am kidding, you would obviously choose Bob or Cormano because when you get two shotguns, the spread the guns put out is extremely helpful a la the spreader in Konami's classic shooter Contra. My brother always chose Cormano, in part because of his dual shotguns and the other main reason that when you are on horseback and shoot back it looks like he is smoking a huge cigarette. I always chose Bob, because, well, yeah, a shotgun.


However, I also played Billy a ton as well because he is not only BILLY THE F'N KID, but blue is my favorite color. Hence why no one I've ever known has chosen Steve, because he is yellow, and NOBODY ever chooses yellow because they are lame (case in point: HUFFLEPUFF = MEGA LAME!). But in seriousness, playing as Billy sometimes is a challenge due to his pistol shooting. And by that I mean that one shoots diagonally all the time. Both his pistols do not shoot in the same direction. This can be extremely beneficial at times, and at others (Boss fights by yourself) is sometimes a pain in the ass.


When playing two players, as my brother and I did a lot, we would be Billy and Cormano a lot because the nature of the gun play were very compatible with each other and is really effective. Granted, whoever was Billy was most likely to get shafted in collecting the wanted money on the bosses. Which naturally was me, so being the guy with pistols sucked.


But if you really wanted to lay waste to the bad guys in the game, then be Bob and Cormano and you will mow through all the gangsters and bosses. This is where the multiple play-ability comes in, you can try out the different characters and get used to beating the game in multiple ways.


Now that you've chosen a character (NOT STEVE), let's get into the game! I first want to say the soundtrack for this game is absolutely stunning. In fact, you should listen to it as you read this post, and just YouTube Sunset Riders OST for SNES or Genesis, whichever your preference. you will probably finish listening to the whole thing by the time you are done reading this blog.


So after you choose your guy, the first thing that pops up is this wanted poster:




This is your first target, and honestly, there is absolutely no set up to why you want to defeat these bosses. Maybe that is a good thing that there is like no story. But I envision this game basically as the precursor to the Red Dead games where you sometimes act like a bounty hunter and track down guys for the price on their head. But I actually like making my own theories as to why these guys are bad guys. My guess is that Simon Greedwell is, well, greedy...


Okay I know that is dumb and you don't need to be a genius to figure that out, but this guy makes you want to get rid of him when you show up to his hideout and he comes out and says to you, "It's time to pay!" You basically look up at him and say, "How 'bout I give you the finger and say no!"


But before you get to fight this guy, you progress through a classic side-scroller that looks something like this below:




Before you say anything, yes, I know, somebody ACTUALLY chose Steve. But this was the only sreenshot I could find that could get the vision I wanted. First you will notice that the bad guys, depicted with the red bandanas covering their faces like the fools in the movie Tombstone, because honestly, nothing screams BAD GUY like a red bandana on your person. Must have been a western stereotype or something because it seems like bad guys in western movies always had red bandanas.


The other thing you will notice is that Steve, the pistol-wielder, is shooting in two directions, and this goes back to what I was explaining earlier. His bullets are the green ones and in this particular instance, shooting in two directions is extremely useful as both bad guys are going to eat lead. But see, you ALWAYS shoot in two directions at a 30 degree angle, and when fighting ONE boss who is only in one spot, it is really annoying.


So once you progress through the first level, you get to jerk Greedwell and he tells you it's time to pay, and you shoot his barrels out and kill his goons, then shoot him enough that he falls from his balcony to the street and with his dying words says, "Bury me with my money..."


At this point, if you are playing multiplayer, one of you wins the $10,000 reward for hitting the boss the most. The game will show you the percentage of damage you did to the boss and it is winner take all, you don't split it between you. Pro tip: Cormano always wins.


You then move onto the next stage and you see the wanted poster of who you will get to face at the end of the round. The second level features a change in the gameplay to an extent, to which you move to horseback as the screen moves without you having to progress your way forward.




Enemies will be all over, on the tracks, along the bottom on horses, in covered wagons that appear in front of you with guys throwing logs out the back to trip you. Sometimes trains show up with guys in the windows and stuff. Once you get to the end of the horseback riding, your rider does a masterful flip forward off the horse and you find Mr. Boss man for this stage, Hawkeye Hank Hatfield.




As you look at him on the train platform, he begins the duel with the classic line, "Draw Pilgrim!" and then he hides behind the boxes and crates like a little bitch. You pretty much end up taking out all his minions first, as you should do in every level (they repopulate every once in awhile), and eventually he gets out from the behind his cover and you gun him down to which he says, "You got me..."


Then you get to do a fun little bonus stage that pops up for you to collect more money and you get to shoot bad guys almost exactly like Marty McFly in Back to the Future.




They pop up and you press the D-pad in that direction and fire and if you hit them they cry out and fall dead. If playing two players, each kill has a distinctive cry so you know who gets the kill as this happens pretty fast. You have to be a crack shot like Marty in order to get them all later on in the game.


You then move onto round three where you get to fight the Dark Horse.




Now, growing up in Nebraska, you quickly look at that guy and say, "Holy smokes, we get to fight Herbie Husker, except he is on a horse!" Now this might be traumatizing for young Husker fans, or extremely fun for people who don't like the Huskers, but that is up to you.


However, one thing for sure is that he is not very good at foreseeing the future as he looks at you at says, "You in heap big trouble!" Yeah, okay buddy. Except I'm not your buddy, I'm here to kill you. After a fight that can get interesting as he is on a horse and you aren't, but the trick here is to keep jumping from ground to balcony because bullets for some reason don't kill you when doing this maneuver. After you kill him, he finally becomes Captain Obvious and says, "Me in heap big trouble..." before he slumps over on his horse and his horse carries his corpse into the sunset. Heh, jackass.


Right after you see your reward get transferred into your Swiss bank account, a woman gets thrown out of the tavern doors in front of you. Being the hero of the west, this is something you just can't stand for, so you rush to the aid of the damsel in distress that tells you there are terrible men inside. After you console her, you run inside the tavern to find out that the nefarious Smith Brothers are inside.




These bosses don't have a level that makes you work your way through, you pretty much just join in the fray except for Green Smith to say, "We're going to blow you away!" These two then throw crap at you, the Greeny throws bombs and Blue throws fire at you. You have to dodge all this and their goons that hang in the chandelier, but after you kill them both, the one left standing shares his last thought with you, "That was a bang!" then falls to the floor and blows up. He pretty much spontaneously combusts, which is awesome, because it somehow happened in 1880.


You then get treated to a showgirls dance routine celebrating the victory and they tell you that there is a huge reward out for Richard Rose and that he has three sidekicks with him. First you think, this Richard Rose sounds like a flake, and he pretty much is, but you figure you will take out his band of misfits first. It is fun though because you don't get to see their faces until their levels, so you picture some sort of disfigured badasses that you hope to fight. And well, maybe I guess.






First up is this oddball dude named, El Greco. Which I think is Spanish for 'The Greco'. Or at least I think that's what it is. You pretty much think to yourself that he is about to become El Deado.




You fight your way across a train full of those same old bad guys that are easily dispatched, they really do have Stormtrooper aim. And not the kind that Obi-Wan Kenobi told you how accurate they are in A New Hope, that was some hype build-up that failed to materialize, much like the hype for Independence Day: Resurgence. But that is neither here nor there, so when you get to the engine of the train, El Greco is standing there in his sombrero and poncho just waiting for you. At least he has the politeness to greet you when he says, "Adios, Amigo!" Oh what the hell, what a jerk, he is already telling you goodbye and implying it is you who is going to die.


Then he pulls out a steel shield and get this, A WHIP! HE DOESN'T EVEN HAVE A GUN! What a loser! He brought a WHIP to a GUN fight! This is Richard Rose's first line of defense?! What a cakewalk, after dodging his whip, you finish him off to which he says yet again, "Adios Amigo..." So he basically is the Groot of Sunset Riders... Great, you have one line. After he says the only thing in his vocabulary I guess he then falls onto the tracks and the train just continues to run him over.


Then you get to do another bonus round and be a crack shot before you head into the mountains and you face the guy pictured below. I think the image is enough to describe why this game would have to change the name in this day and age.




Yes, you face Chief Wigwam. I guess this is slightly better than the arcade version in which his name was Chief Scalpem? But anyway, this is where I remember the Genesis being different, in the second stage of the mountain you killed Native Americans, but only the same bandana-donning gang members in the SNES version.


You eventually make your way through the mountain pass dodging careening boulders and baddies and get to a stone circle where Chief Wigwam jumps in and says, "Get ready for a Pow-wow!" This is one of the more difficult boss battles as he jumps around and throws three knives at a time making them hard to gauge to dodge. If you get too close to them, he basically stabs you to death, so you have to slide around and get shots in when you can.


Once you land enough hits on him, he falls to the ground and says, "I'm Pow-wowed out..." and just before you put the killing blow into him, his sister runs out and tells you not to kill him as he was just following orders. Whatever those orders were, who knows?! But I don't really care, I just pocketed $60 grand so there's that.


The next level starts you out on horseback again, this time through the woods and you essentially fight the same way like the second level. But halfway through this level, you jump off your horse and proceed on foot to the outer wall of Richard Rose's fortress and find the ugly ass dude named Paco Loco atop the wall.



I guess he gets to be second-in-command because he has a machine gun. Which is I guess as good a reason as ever, I mean Richard Rose's other two sidekicks had a whip and a set of knives. I would put the dude with a machine gun over those guys too. But you get to his fortress and he looks at you and shouts out, "Aye, Chihuahua!" and proceeds to open fire at you.

This guy has a lot more angles that he can shoot at you which makes no place safe to shoot from and he also has the high ground. Adding to that, there are minions popping out of the trees above you and throwing bombs at you, which gets annoying fast. You just have to stay on the move and taking shots when you can until you finish him where he falls off his wall down to you feet like beached whale. You think he is dead until he sits up and cries out, "Hasta la bye bye!" before he fires of the last of his rounds and finally falls down dead. Funny, didn't take him for a drama queen with that face for radio.

After watching Paco Loco die, you place TNT at the base of the wall to the fortress, blow it up and sneak in to go find Richard Rose. For some reason the inside of his fort is filled with ankle deep water. To be fair, I'm not sure there were too many plumbers back in the day that could have fixed a clog, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. You then progress to the second half of the final stage with is scaling the walls to the top of the mountain to the mansion where you find the man, the myth, the legend, Richard Rose.



Well, excuse me, SIR Richard Rose, I wonder what he did to get knighted in the wild west. I guess I should trust him, he greets you with, "Cheerio old chap!" as he throws a rose down then enters his mansion and appears behind a guarded stone balcony. Here you have a crap ton of extra gang members to kill that show up very frequently, and Rose shooting at you with his bullets coming in extra fast.


The thing I learned to do here is always perform one of the moves that you are invincible while doing, sliding or jumping between balcony and ground, while firing off shots quickly in between at either the gang members or the stone around Rose. You have to be patient here or you will lose all your lives rather quickly.


Once you eliminate the stone barrier around Rose, all the nagging gang members disappear and you finally get to face this dude mano-e-mano. He runs around really quickly and shoots at you a lot, but since you are in the groove of jumping and sliding, he shouldn't put up too much of a fight.


Then he lets out an agonizing wail of death and falls face down... only to get back up? As you begin to cuss under your breath, he laughs at you and reveals he had a metal plate under his suit just like Clint Eastwood in Back to the Future Part III did. And before you correct me, I know the real Clint Eastwood did it, but so did 'Clint Eastwood' in Back to the Future Part III. So there.


So once again, you have to kill him a second time, except this time he is much faster and shoots a lot more. And I do mean A LOT more. Sidenote: I love how the ammo has no meaning in this game, every gun has infinite ammo! It's basically like putting in the cheat code IDKFA in DOOM and getting all guns and ammo!


Finally after he falls a second time, he looks at you and says, "I say, bit of bad luck..." then falls face down dead on his lovely rose-patterned carpet in front of his mansion. After this, you collect your cool $100k and ride off into the sunset. Then you can start back at level 1 to face Simon Fatwell again and off you go in your never ending conquest of beating stereotypical western characters.


So that is the entire game that you can play in the SNES version, the Genesis version only has Simon Greedwell, Paco Loco, Chief Wigwam, and Sir Richard Rose. There are 8 levels in the Genesis version and the first level of the two before the boss you always rescue a damsel in distress. The bonus stage in Genesis features you riding horseback catching coins thrown out the back of the wagon, and I really wanted to show you the crack shot version of the bonus, another reason I used SNES gameplay.


However, both versions feature pretty ladies giving you a good luck kiss when you run into the saloons to pick up your gun power ups! Although the SNES version makes them look like pioneer ladies, the Genesis version features a more 'working girl' kind of look if you get my drift... ; )


Well there you have it, if you played this game back in the day, let me know if you had as much fun as I did playing it. Heck, I still play it when I can. But if you didn't get to play it but want to see it in action, just search it on YouTube and you'll find loads of people have videos of it!


Thanks for reading,


Mike G.