The Stragglers

Daylight had broken. Almost. The last fading embers, transformed from a youthful, pale birch into gaudy, poignant shades of the upper tiers of rainbows; sizzling in the extreme, a devilish red; now softening ang graying like the twilight of man; committed their nightly act of untroubling, lay unstirred, eagerly prepared an un-ceremony for a final self-effaced donation to that which remained. Here took the nightwatch measured sips of sanguine vintage, reflecting on how much bogus philosophy was actually warranted by eighteen “cartfuls” of runs, laden three abreast and issued four times a fortnight, but deciding that like the wine, the night’s accomplishments deserved to be relished a tad longer. Switching sides, the man peered leaned a benumbed foot against the age-rounded crenelations of a castle built on swampy grounds, and slowly swept along a merlon as swept his tongue against those in its cave. Unsure how much of the illuminating scene was allegorical, how much of it sheer bogus, eyes shifted from the open terrain down towards the moat and the drawbridge, whence emanated the familiar creaking of the windlass as one last trolley was being released on its dusty way.
Then he died or something. Look, it’s not like the mood wasn’t about to get trampled flat anyway by the final batch runs from 2017’s Big PushTM where dreams became reality. Very select ones at least. If you squinted while rapidly flicking the lights on an off. One of the runs has a JRPG-type vaguely olden times high fantasy setting but the other two, by Jove!, could hardly be pneumatically compressed into an artefact of the pre-Renaissance.

I don’t even know where to begin. I’d best get Steve ‘Elipsis’ Barrios‘s offering of The Typing of the Dead: Overkill‘s Bitch difficulty premier (in 1:17:27) out of the way first. Sega published the fifth House of the Dead in 2009. I hadn’t even heard there’d been a fourth one at any point, but that’s because the fourth never got home-ported until 2012. The year after there was Typing: Overkill, a kind of conjoined head where the mutants (don’t say the Z-word!) wear nametags that you type on your portable keyboard to put them down. The dev team for this one was founded by two virtual entertainment luminaires and Fellows of the Royal Society of Arts, the Oliver Twins… except their company filed for bankruptcy before they were finished; Sega, however, granted a continuation licence and funded the new team called Headstrong Games which then rounded the second Typing game off. The art direction was defined by a new wave 2007 exploitation film called Planet Terror which itself imitated the 70’s Grindhouse B-theater tradition. The grotesque, the shocking, the repugnant were the order of the day. One of the boss fights is against a semi-decayed ton-and-a-half mutated stripper still wearing, barely, her old “uniform”. Bare-ly. The original rail shooter and its edumicative twin are anathema to all things right and priggish in their use of language as well: they shared with the South Park movie the Guinness record for most swearing in its medium for some time until dethroned by Mafia II. And there’s a very handy link to…

The original Mafia from 2002, many a “Patsy’s” favorite of the series. A taxi driver called Tommy Angelo, law-abiding shuttle for law-abiding fare between the districts of Lost Heaven – a combination of the Frisco and the Windy City of the 1930’s – runs into a couple of mobsters fleeing from thugs serving a competing family. After tearing them to a safe turf, he’s fed some dough and offered work on the basis of his skills at the wheel, but he’s scared of the thought and declines. Not long after, Tommy finds the same goons on his tail and turns to his new-made friends for protection. Thus begins his ill-omened allegiance with the dark side of society. It’s a pretty poignant story with a typical arc and familiar characters but what the game really nailed was its mimesis. Despite being pretty leisurely most of the time starting from a languid cinematic intro set to the dramatic orchestral main theme, the environment, the people roving the streets, the bootleg unlicenced copies of the authentic “boilers” of the era (a T-Ford by any other name is still a T-Ford), and the accent we’ve grown to expect, all make the joyride a titillating one. A joyride, in fact, is something you might not oppose to taking a few times between missions just to see what you’ve missed.

Even in a speedrun, a lot of that atmosphere is kept listening to the car radio and the guys “beating their gums” as they plan how they’re going to send a hapless louse’s mother flowers, but achtung! It’s in German today. Handling many missions with more elegance, showcasing a few new discoveries, and further distilling car RNG some, ‘Chris-X’ puts the run to its “big sleep” 13:17 faster than the previous segmented record in 2:42:43. This, by my count, would make the fourth such SDA run, the first having been aired in 2005. That was ALSO by a German runner by some coincidence. I’ll leave reading things into that to our home audience.

Wait a second. This is by a German TOO. A guy called…  Chris-X? Where have I heard that before? If I tell you this used to be the longest run (Dune 2000’s run times are erroneously added together to make it longer in the per-length listing), would you be able to guess that it’s a JRPG? I would. Grandia. It’s Grandia. It’s a large oven-heated pizza that comes in three different styles, and don’t you dare just slap it in the microwave cause it leaves it soggy and anyway it’s your responsibility. Seriously though, the name evokes the exact right image: it’s a super-buffed traditional PS1 sample from 1997 and it goes on and on and on… There’s typically a lot of fighting so if you don’t like that, or if you’re actually paying the writing that’s adequate on the macro scale but ear-rendingly cringy on the micro (as was par for the course in earlier translations between Jap-Eng and actually also Eng-Jap) any heed, here’s your exit now! Run! Run while you can, from this biblical 10:25:05 behemoth. A run like this can contain major detouring or grinding that all pays off in the end, but there was just the one really obvious one. It’s pretty good if you wanted to treat it as a let’s play, a massive 3:06:57 faster than before. That’s what it was for me when I did the Pre-Release Check for it: I couldn’t find it in me to finish the game but now I’m entitled to have opinions about it. 😉

So the Push comes to a close… Lastly, I would like to announce a new section of our Knowledge Base created by the industrious Greenalink: a comprehensive guide to getting imported, ostensibly incompatible cartridges and discs to run on Western versions of their consoles. He’s put in lots of effort, and so I wanted to wait until this update so more people are likely to catch the news. You can see the link for this directly on the Knowledge Base front page with a neat picture to boot. Right next to it, there’s another guide to hacking the console for better/different A/V output formats, in the works, being compiled by the same benefactor. It’s like Christmas come late! (I got nothing! *futile fist-shake*)

Updates will resume their normal pace in a few weeks’ time. Until now and then! Cause that’s the normal pace. Every now and then. It was funny before I wrote it.


Source: Speed Demos Archive

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