So the Icelandic volcano (let's try to pronounce it now... Eyjafjallajokull – anyone?) erupted last week, grinding air travel to a complete halt and leaving tens of thousands of holidaying Brits stranded as they find alternative means to get home. Six days later, and the world is slowly starting to move again – planes are flying to and from London and the Dover-Calais border is adequately dealing with the steady flow of weary travellers.
For many people, it was an inconvenience and an experience to forget. Even our press schedule at SPOnG has been screwed up this week due to the volcanic ash cloud nonsense (although Tim SPOnG did manage a very nice holiday by car to Paris and back over the weekend, thanks).
But now that it's over (to a degree – there's still a huge backlog at airports, not to mention the threat of a second eruption that could see a repeat of the industry standstill) we figure that we'd take the time to reflect on the situation in the only way us Brits know how – in high, masochistic spirits. Here then, are five games that, if played in retrospect, wouldn't have made the travel experience any easier.
Volcano Hunter (Dos)
Released in 1984, this is possibly the most obvious game you'll want to avoid in a volcanic ash cloud crisis. You play as a Domokun
-looking character named Harry, who lives in a small town that quite dangerously presides beside a huge explorable volcano. Nice. A gang of ghostly monsters named Druts have taken all of the town's fuel tanks and hidden them within the volcano. So you have to get them back, using bombs to blow up the Druts (clearly Harry isn't afraid of being caved in) and your strength to drag the tanks to the town for points.
The graphics are crude and the gameplay simplistic, but it's a relic of the times and is a lovely bit of fun to while away some spare hours. Unless of course, those spare hours involve trying to organise a lengthy coach trip home.
You thought Hideo Kojima was all about the Metal Gear Solid
and Zone of the Enders
games, right? Well, he was also the genius behind this cult Game Boy Advance title, which saw the lead character – a vampire hunter kid named Django – fight the undead and try to turn his land back into the sunny paradise it once was.
Now, it's a simple premise, and the gameplay was top notch, but what made it impressive was the cartridge technology that was included in Boktai
. A light sensor would detect the sun's rays, which would translate in-game to a weapons charge, alternative pathways and other hidden secrets. Indeed, the key to success in Boktai
was in making use of a real world light source.
Of course, Britain's poor weather puts paid to some of that innovative gameplay already, but with Eyjafjallajokull's ash cloud hovering over European airspace, Boktai
's not only a game that will remind you of your travel woes – the lack of sunshine'll pretty much be your undoing in game too.
Star Fox (SNES)
(known as Starwing
in Europe) remains one of the most technically impressive games to ever hit the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Using a special Mode-7 chip to create rudimentary 3D graphics, the idea of controlling a star fighter throughout the far reaches of space in the comfort of your own home was nothing short of awesome. As the leader of a last-resort crack squad for hire, you control Fox McCloud's Arwing ship throughout the Lylat system to take out the evil Andross.
Without a doubt, this game is one of SPOnG's favourites on the SNES, and the camaraderie between fellow teammates Peppy, Falco and Slippy was icing on the cake. Of course, the fact that you're flying a spacecraft might not be something you'd want to think about if your own scheduled flight back to London just got cancelled. Combine this with the torturous MacBeth planet, which features active volcanos, and you'll not want to look at this sublime title.
. The adventure game that turned the genre on its head. Originally released for the Macintosh, Myst
saw release on almost every other system known to mankind during the 1990s. Even the Jaguar CD. You play the role of the 'Stranger', sent to the land of Myst
with the use of a special book. As you progress, you notice several other books, known as 'Ages', that are the key to your completion.
As open-ended as it gets, Myst
has several endings that play out depending on how you tackle the world's puzzles. Most significant to its cult success was the fact that the entire game begins with no backstory – or in fact, any obvious goals or objectives. The only thing you can do when you begin your adventure is explore the world around you. The lack of direction that commands most of this experience correlates a lot with that of the countless stranded tourists in Europe wondering how to get home. So er, not an appropriate game to play whilst waiting it out in Spain, then.
Yeah okay, we were scraping the barrel with this one. The name says it all though really doesn't it?
I know, we're bastards. But we see this as more of a friendly public service announcement, in case ol' Eyjafjallajokull (or the bigger volcano next to it...) blows its top again. Take SPOnG's advice – stay away from these games. Play a bit of Pokemon
on your handheld instead. Oh wait, that has the Hidden Machine 'Fly' in it doesn't it? Ahhhh!
Clearly, this list is by no means extensive – if you have any real obvious suggestions for games to avoid that we missed out of stupidity, be sure to add them in the comments box below!