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Demo Disk Roundup #1

Demo disks are a weird passion of mine. I just love them, and can’t explain why. So I’ve decided to collect them and document them on this blog. So welcome to the first of (hopefully) many Demo Disk Roundups.

Our first disk today is Australian Summer Special. It has six games and one video on it, which are selected through a truly seizure inducing menu. Watching this screen made me feel somewhat sick.

The games are:

  • Medievil
  • Tekken 3
  • Psybadek
  • Colony Wars Vengeance
  • Crash Bandicoot 3
  • Spyro the Dragon

The video included on the CD is “Making of Medievil”

Australian Summer Special comes in a very neat fold out case design. It’s pretty clear that Medievil was thought to be the main attraction here.

The text on the front and on the center says “Do not underestimate the power of Playstation”, leading this disk to be called “The Power of Playstation” sometimes.

The selection of games is very solid, though obviously these are demos. They all run very smoothly, and without any issues that I noticed on my 7500x PS2 slim, which is the most likely model to have issues with Playstation games. Medievil, Tekken 3, Crash Bandicoot 3, and Spyro all support analog sticks, but Colony Wars and Psybadek don’t and act as though you’ve disabled the controller if you enable it.

The video footage is very compressed, as one would expect for a compact disc circa the late 90s, but it’s certainly watchable. Once you start it, there’s no way to stop it except for restarting your console, so keep that in mind.

Next up is Official Playstation 2 Magazine Australia Demo 15. The disk is labeled as ops2m 33.

It comes in a very standard DVD case without much special to note.

This disk has ten demos total.

  • Shinobi
  • Moto GP3
  • Pride FC
  • Evolution Skateboarding
  • Primal
  • Dynasty Warriors 3
  • Conflict Desert Storm
  • Herdy Gerdy
  • Project Eden
  • WRC II Extreme

It also has four videos. These are all trailers.

  • Resident Evil Online (Released as Resident Evil Outbreak, without online features in PAL regions)
  • SOCOM: US Navy SEALs
  • Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick
  • True Crime: Streets of LA

Full reviews of all of these are out of the scope of this blog post, but there’s a lot of gameplay on offer here. Shinobi is top billing on the cover art, but the first demo you’re offered on starting it is actually Conflict: Desert Storm. Shinobi is probably the most attractive option on this disk, showing off the first level of the game.

For this roundup I did two disks, but for future ones I’ll likely only be doing one. If you enjoyed it, please do follow the blog so you can be notified about future posts. I have a lot of PSX demo disks to do next, so look forward to that.

If you like these reviews and want to support me, I have a Patreon and a Ko-Fi. One Playstation 2 game is pretty cheap, and I do take requests, so if you do donate feel free to suggest a game to review in the message. I also have a Discord if you’d just like to talk retro games.


Photowalk – Manchester [B&W] – Part 1

I had recently travelled to Manchester as a break and also to do some street photography. I had never been to Manchester before and I thought it would be a good experience to broaden my horizons and improve my photography. For the first few days of the trip, I explored the downtown and surrounding areas and was mainly photographing in colour. I used these days for scouting areas which would contain interesting scenes and people, and also to identify any areas to avoid.

My preference for street photography is still black and white film and I chose to use the expired Ilford FP4+ film stock for this purpose during the last couple of days of the trip. I brought my 50mm lens for general shooting but also used my 85mm lens for some shots where I wasn’t able to get close enough to my subjects in time. The benefit of using prime lenses with these particular focal lengths is that it forced me to move around and keep my eyes open.

I Want to Ride My Bicycle [Ilford FP4+, 1/500 s, EF 85mm f/1.8 USM]

Sometimes, there’s no time to think about composition and you need to take the shot and hope it turns out well — especially with a medium such as film. This was one of those times.

I was resting on a bench in front of the town hall when I had noticed a boy performing tricks on his bicycle. As he was about to pass by, I turned around quickly and readied my camera for less than half a second before I snapped the shot. Thankfully, the autofocus on the 85mm was fast enough to focus on the boy as he performed a wheelie across the tiled floor.

The positioning of the boy in the scene ended up being even better than I had expected. The negative space in the image is perfect as the light-coloured floor and pillars in the background contrast against the boy’s dark-coloured clothing and bicycle. Due to the faster shutter speed and longer focal length of the 85mm lens, the other objects in this scene are not in focus, placing an even greater emphasis on the boy.

Street Portrait [Ilford FP4+, 1/350 s, EF 85mm f/1.8 USM]

This photo was also shot in front of the town hall, but on the other side on the bench. I was watching the trams pass frequently and figured that I would be able to work with the windows to sub-frame the passengers within the tram. I noticed this scene as the tram had pulled up to the station at the perfect location.

The metal pole and seat inside the tram, the border of the tram window, and the metal framing around the glass pane all combine together to form a frame for this “portrait” of a woman. I had intentionally metered so that the woman would be underexposed and appear as a silhouette against the white pillar in the background.

Unlike the previous photo where I did not have time to react, I had a bit more time here and noticed another pedestrian walking down the ramp from the station. I had adjusted the shutter speed to be able to freeze the motion as well as capture both the man and the woman in focus, and waited patiently for the man to come into the frame. Both people have similar postures, but the bright visage of the man provides contrast against the darkness of the silhouette.

Child-like Curiosity [Ilford FP4+, 1/250 s, EF 85mm f/1.8 USM]

In this scene, I was walking along the sidewalk and I noticed a little girl walking alongside her father. They had stopped at the bus stop and were likely waiting for the bus. I realised that the bus stop would be perfect for framing subjects and possibly be a subject in itself.

The adults are obscured by the signs and supports of the bus stop, leaving the children as the focus of the scene. The girl is interested in something outside of the frame while the child in the stroller is preoccupied with something in front of him.

I attempted to use the rule of odds in this composition with the three panels of glass of the bus stop. The scene may be enhanced with the addition of a third child in the last glass panel. Of course, part of the fun of street photography is unpredictability and oftentimes I find that the scenes are not exactly as I would like them to be.

City in Motion [Ilford FP4+, 1/2 s, EF 85mm f/1.8 USM]

I had wanted to capture the motion of the city while still having a stationary subject. Due to the placement of the tram tracks and the openness of the roads, many pedestrians were interrupted momentarily in their crossing of the streets by the crossing of the trams or other vehicles. With this knowledge, I took an opportunity to photograph a man who was waiting for a tram to pass before continuing on with his journey.

The difficulty of photographing motion in the scene arose from the high amount of light present. I did not have a neutral density filter available so I would need to use the smallest possible aperture in order to achieve usable images with slower shutter speeds. Thankfully, the slower film speed of FP4+ was a huge boon for longer exposures even in the daylight.

The blurred movement of the tram, together with the darkened trunks of the trees, frame the man perfectly. The trio of trees to the right also draws attention away from the other parts of the frame.

I feel that the man represented myself. While I was remaining stationary and resting on a bench, the world wasn’t going to stop and would continue on moving without me.

I hope you have enjoyed these images and I look forward to sharing more photos from this trip in the future.

The images have been shot on a Canon EOS Elan 7e (EOS 30) film camera using either a Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM lens. The expired Ilford FP4+ film stock (expired in 1996) was shot and developed at 125 ISO. The majority of the photos have been taken using shutter priority with an adjustment of EV +0.5. I have only listed the shutter speeds for the images as I do not recall any of the corresponding apertures.

The film was developed using Ilford Ilfosol 3 for 5:30 minutes at 20C. Ilford Ilfostop was used to halt development for 0:30 minutes at 20C. The film was fixed with Ilford Rapid Fixer for 3:00 minutes at 20C, followed by a water rinse for 3:00 minutes at 25C. The resulting negatives were scanned using the Epson V550 and edited in Photoshop.

Experiment with – Lomochrome Purple

Hey there, Mr. Green Sky

Lomochrome Purple is a colour negative film stock produced by Lomography, a Viennese-based company focusing on analogue cameras and photography. This film promises weird and wacky colour shifts while still maintaining fine grains and sharp contrasts. After seeing the results from many other analogue photographers, I knew I had to try it out myself and experience the world through Lomochrome Purple.

According to Lomography, the film exhibits different effects based on the ISO at which the film is being metered. I chose to shoot the film at ISO 400, which provided me with the flexibility to shoot scenes with lower available light or the fast-paced action of the street. The other suggested speeds, ISO 200 and ISO 100, would have resulted in additional exposures of 1 and 2 stops respectively. It was unclear how the choice of ISO would affect the final images so the only option was to experiment.

After developing the film, I was surprised at the resulting negatives and the scans. The lighter greens had transformed into lavender or lilac hues while the darker greens became indigo. Blues had become greens while yellows became pinks or magenta. Reds, pinks, and oranges appeared to maintain their hues.

I suspect the colour shifts are a result of different colour dyes being used for the blue, green, and red layers in the colour film — with the colour dyes for the blue and green layers changed and the red layer’s dye remaining the same compared to C-41 process films without the colour-shift effect. However, I won’t delve too deeply into this topic as it is purely speculation.

Interestingly, there is a yellow base for the Lomochrome Purple instead of the red-orange base found on most other colour negative films. Yet, I am not certain if this base colour has any contribution towards the observed colour shifts in the images.

Aside from shooting still subjects, I was also interested in the film’s suitability for street photography.

While these images were shot in harsh sunlight, the muted purple hues soften the scenes and provide a calming effect to the viewer. The film is able to modify the busy scene in the midday sun into one that is tranquil and bathed in a purple cast.

Familiar scenes are rendered alien due to the unfamiliar colours, and this departure from reality offers an almost otherworldly experience in purples. It has the ability to breathe new life into otherwise mundane scenes.

Overall, Lomochrome Purple is a very interesting film stock. The colour shifts provide interesting and surprising results which require more experimentation. I believe that this film lends itself to fine art or experimental photography but also has its place in street photography.

I look forward to shooting more of this film in the future and I hope you enjoyed my first foray into Lomochrome Purple.

The images have been shot on a Canon EOS Elan 7e (EOS 30) film camera using a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM II lens. Lomography’s Lomochrome Purple film stock was shot and developed at 400 ISO. The majority of the photos have been taken using shutter priority with an adjustment of EV +0.

The film was developed using Tetanal’s C-41 kit developer for 3:15 minutes at 38C. Blix was applied to the film for 4:00 minutes at 38C. The film was rinsed with water for 3:00 minutes at 30C, followed by a stabiliser for 1:00 minute at 25C. The resulting negatives were scanned using the Epson V550 and edited in Photoshop.

Medal of Honor: Frontline: Nazi Dick Shooter

If you ask someone that grew up with the console what their favourite games on PS2 are, oftentimes Medal of Honor: Frontline will make their list. And that’s hardly surprising, after all, it’s considered by many to be one of the best first-person shooters on the console. But how much of that is rose tint? How well has it actually aged?

Medal of Honor: Frontline is one of the three 2002 entries into the series, and the only console entry of that year. Released on the Playstation 2 on May 29th, it was later released on the GameCube and Xbox. Developed by EA Los Angeles (formerly DreamWorks Interactive, currently DICE Los Angeles, briefly Danger Close Games) Frontline is the 4th entry in the Medal of Honor series as a whole, and the second for consoles. The franchise is now largely dormant due to the extremely poor performance of Medal of Honor: Warfighter, the second entry post 2010 reboot.

Frontline is one of those games released at an awkward point for its genre, from a time before the fairly radical shift that was Call of Duty’s explosion onto the market, for better or worse. There’s no magenta keys for magenta doors or anything like in other similarly timed games such as Warhammer 40k: Firewarrior with its partially regenerating health and primary/secondary guns alongside coloured door keys, but the gamefeel is very similar to games like Doom rather than later genre-definers.

The core gameplay isn’t unfun per se, it’s just awkward. Aiming is awkward, shooting is awkward, movement is awkward, the controls are awkward, almost as much as the animations but we’ll get back to that. Despite these issues, and there are many, shooting Nazis rarely gets old. Especially since you can shoot them right in their nazi dicks.

Let’s talk positives. The score is great. It complements the action wonderfully, making things feel cool and heroic. When the music swells as I mow some nazis down with a shotgun, it gives me the warm and fuzzies. The story is interesting in the same way that an old war movie playing midday on a Sunday is interesting. Which is to say it isn’t, but it’s enough to keep you engaged.

The game’s player character, Lt. Jimmy Patterson is just a blank slate and has no real character, much like the protagonists of the aforementioned war movies. Did I mention that shooting nazis is fun? Because it is. At the end of each level, you get a stats sheet which tells you how many times you shot a nazi in the dick, which is a good touch. It says groin though.

As fun as it is, shooting nazis in the dick can’t carry an entire game, so, unfortunately, this is where the positives end. The framerate is simply bad. Not always but I’d say the majority of the time it was affecting gameplay. If a game performed this badly on my computer, I’d stop playing it. I don’t know if it was always this bad, though maybe I’m just spoiled by 60fps now. Mild motion sickness resulted from the lower framerates for me, so if you have issues with motion sickness in games this probably isn’t the best choice for you. The framerate issues are made even more strange by the simple fact that this game does not look good at all. Even for the time, the textures are very low quality, reviews from its era pointed this out. So this isn’t just my modern eyes being spoiled by 4k textures. The graphical muddiness is made even worse by the constant screen-shake. Some levels are worse than others for scripted shakes caused by explosions, but the camera shaking from being shot is always there and never welcome.

The AI is also bad, or as I put it in my notes during my playthrough, “AI is a fuck”. There was one particularly amusing sequence on the pseudo-stealth bridge level where I came up some stairs next to a gun emplacement, and the nazi on the gun just stared at me shouting. So I shot him and his friend ran over and took his place, also staring at me while shouting. So naturally I shot him too. This repeated until all the nearby nazis were dead. While hilarious, it demonstrates just how bad the AI is. Most of the time – if they bother to shoot at all, they just stand in place shooting at you, sometimes they’ll take cover if it’s available (which is honestly just annoying more than anything as you have to watch their cover animations, which are not fantastic). They can also get stuck on objects, but their guns clip through them, meaning they can shoot you but you can’t shoot them. This did only happen less than ten times in total though, so it wasn’t super common.

While the death animations are unique, they’re bad on most levels but they’re almost charming. It reminds me of the old war movies that I don’t remember the names of that I’d watch as a kid, which makes sense as Spielberg’s inspiration for the series was Saving Private Ryan. It is, in many ways, a war movie game series. Shooting a nazi in the head and having him take one hand off his gun, put it to his head, look at his hand and only then have his brain realize it’s on the wall behind him is far from realistic but it’s just fun. It’s more of that war movie charm, enemies dropping over railings and giving Oscar-bait death performances.

Let’s talk guns! There are lots of them, but you’ll generally be using the same ones, which is unfortunate because a lot of them aren’t fun to use. The silenced pistol may as well be a water gun for all the good it’ll do you in a firefight. Not only does it do barely any damage, it’s also extremely inaccurate. Most of the guns feel inaccurate, even the sniper rifles. The shotgun is by far the most entertaining of the game’s selection.

It’s a sign of a good shooter if the shotgun is satisfying to use, and Frontline does pass that test – With caveats. While viscerally fun to use, it’s far too stingy with giving you ammo for it. It will, on occasion, give you some shells, point you to a room full of nazis with their abdomens intact and ask you to rectify that situation, but it does it far, far too infrequently. Often times it’ll take two shots to kill a target, largely due to inconsistent spread, and the game usually only gives you six at a time. The fun is always interrupted by a lack of ammo. Grenades should also pass the same test, but unfortunately the grenades available fail. They’re situational at best, and usually useless.

The difficulty is all over the place, I played on medium difficulty, and it ranged from boring to obnoxious. The lack of checkpoints made this vastly worse, dying near the end of a level because you can’t find health and having to start back at the beginning is extremely frustrating. One checkpoint per level would have improved things greatly, but I’m 16 years late on that advice. Being killed in one hit by a tank and having to start again is not what I would call particularly fun.

It’s unfortunate to revisit a game I played so much and loved so much and find it so lacking, but really I can’t think of many positives with this game. It’s simply aged badly. I still have fond memories, but they’re not for the game. Not really. They’re for the childhood that surrounded it. This game has aged about as well as bananas. Poorly.

I’m in the process of playing through all of the Playstation 2 entries in the Medal of Honor series as part of a larger retrospective I’m working on, so if that interests you, consider following me on Twitter to get updates on it, or following this blog. Next up is Rising Sun.

If you like these reviews and want to support me, I have a Patreon and a Ko-Fi. One Playstation 2 game is pretty cheap, and I do take requests, so if you do donate feel free to suggest a game to review in the message. I also have a Discord if you’d just like to talk retro games.

On a roll – Expired Ilford FP4+

Ilford’s FP4+ is a medium speed panchromatic black and white negative film with a fine grain structure. Like its sibling, HP5+, the film exhibits a medium level of contrast and pleasing midtones.

While browsing eBay, I had stumbled upon a deal that I just couldn’t pass up and obtained a 400 ft spool of expired FP4+ in 35mm format. Given the expiry date of 1996 and the one stop per decade rule, the film should have been rated at 25 – 50 ISO compared to the 125 ISO of a fresh roll of FP4+. However, I had previously tested the film at the box speed of 125 ISO and the film did not appear to suffer from a reduction in sensitivity even after all these years.

Looks like it’s from way before 1996

I shot the film during a sunny day trip in Berwick where the low to medium film speed wouldn’t be too restrictive. I decided to shoot the film at 125 ISO but metered for the shadows to compensate for the possible slower film sensitivity. The bright sunlight also allowed me to use faster shutter speeds while still having narrower apertures to keep the majority of the objects in the scenes in relative focus.

I set out to capture scenes with high contrast and detail in order to test out the film’s capabilities. To be quite honest, I did not have any particular scenes in mind and just shot whatever caught my interest.

Being a slower film stock, I needed to be careful with my selection of subjects as I would not be able to shoot fast-moving subjects without having some degree of motion blur. I was lucky to be able to catch the butterfly at rest as it was stretching out its wings to absorb the sunlight.

The film is also great for capturing scenes with patterns and textures as showcased in the following images.

Although I chose to slightly overexpose the shots with an intent to adjust the images in post, the expired film was still quite versatile and handled a few stops of under or overexposure with ease. Having previously shot fresh FP4+, the expired film yielded a comparatively softer level of contrast while maintaining a similar level of fineness in the grain.

My choice of developer was Ilfosol 3 as this developer provides a high level of detail and sharpness with films shot at box speed. The already beautiful rendition of the midtones in the scans meant that I had to spend a minimal amount of effort on editing.

This particular spool of FP4+ has aged like a fine wine. The reduction in contrast in the final images is desirable and the film retains most of its positive aspects such as the fine grain and film speed. Due to these attractive qualities, I look forward to shooting more of this expired film stock in the future.

The images have been shot on a Canon EOS Elan 7e (EOS 30) film camera using a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM II lens. The film stock used was an expired 35mm Ilford FP4+ film stock (expired in 1996) and developed according to ISO 125. The majority of the photos have been taken using manual settings with a tendency for overexposure by 0.5 – 1 stops.

The film was developed using Ilford Ilfosol 3 at a dilution of 1+9 for 5:00 minutes at 20C. Ilford Ilfostop was used to halt development for 0:30 minutes at 20C. The film was then fixed with Ilford Rapid Fixer for 2:30 minutes at 20C, followed by a water rinse for 3:00 minutes at 25C. The resulting negatives were scanned using the Epson V550 and edited in Photoshop.

Daemon Summoner: The Worst Video Game

The game, surrounded by empty alcohol bottles.
No cute cat pic this time.

Daemon Summoner is a 2005 game developed by Atomic Planet Entertainment and published by Midas Interactive Entertainment and it is a strong contender for the worst game on the Playstation 2. This review is probably better described as a rant than a review, because it is literally a rant I posted to my discord server after playing the first level. I have not, at this time, gotten further than the beginning of that second level for reasons that are explained further on. I have no plans to go further but I could probably milk another rant out of it so I might do it the next time I have the money to get completely wasted.

Midas Interactive Entertainment are a budget publisher currently based in Essex, England. Many of their games are bought at a low price from Japanese developers and localized for a cheap release, often only in PAL regions. So their games may be unfamiliar to US readers. They got their start in publishing with their 1999 Pocket Price Games label, and 2 in 1 and All in One Packs. They stopped releasing any new games in 2012, instead focusing on re-releases on the Playstation Network.

Atomic Planet Entertainment was a development studio founded in 2000 by former Acclaim Teesside developers. Defunct as of 2009, their first title was a mobile phone port of Dino Island (aka Dino Tycoon). They’re most notable for developing the PS2 version of The Guy Game, a game which contained child pornography. 

Credits for the game. The guilty parties.
The Guilty.

This concludes the informational part of this post, and now we go into a slightly edited version of the rant I posted originally.

The game opens with a long, badly narrated and unskippable cutscene about vampires I think. You’re then treated to a seizure inducing menu with a small loop of extremely generic ‘dramatic’ music playing. This was likely something purchased for cheap. The credits lack any credits for music related positions, and the “voice actor” for the main character is also one of the character animators.

It has shit performance with constant fps drops, it looks like a Playstation 1 game at a higher resolution, the first level is a catacomb level where you walk through dimly lit tunnels while zombies sometimes move toward you and groan slightly, a sound effect that is clearly a guy groaning into a low quality microphone, but you can just run through them because they don’t have collision and killing them is slow and shitty because you have one weapon that fires once before having to reload and you melee only works maybe 10% of the time.

It has a kinda neat system of locational damage so you can shoot limbs off but it’s really badly implemented with only upper body damage causing the head to pop (which doesn’t kill them or stop them chasing you) and lower body damage causing a leg to drop off which stops them from moving so you can just keep going and ignore them so the end result is doing the entire thing looking down so you don’t have to aim. The aiming sucks dick (in a bad way) and has massive deadzone so precise movement is impossible. The control scheme is terrible and makes no sense, the buttons don’t even always work.

Near the end of the level you’re treated to the games second enemy, dudes in robes. These dudes in robes do the same thing as the zombies but slightly faster. Either their hitboxes are broken or the gun is because if they’re right in front of you your shots will just do nothing. I assume this might be a case of the bullet spawning behind them and not technically hitting them. Since their attack pattern is basically just ‘Run at and hit’ this makes the hardest part of this getting far enough away from them to be able to shoot them since they run at the same speed as the player does. If you’re curious on how to do this for whatever reason, you wait for them to start to attack since they’re so incredibly basic that they can’t attack and move at the same time.

You then fight the final boss, Emily. According to the back of the box one of this games features is “Unravel the compelling and mysterious story-line and discover the truth behind Emily’s disappearance” but you spend the entire level chasing her and then fight her at the end. It takes three shots to the head while backpeddling and since she also can’t attack while moving you do this in complete safety. Then she escapes, so you chase her to the next level.

Or don’t.

I actually recommend you don’t.

Anyway, this is easier than the dudes in robes because your shots actually connect with her. Turns out that the game is in fact easier when it functions.

How this got a release on an actual fucking disc(Compact disc, in fact) in 2005 is beyond my understanding, oh, and since I can’t fit this anywhere else that makes sense, it comes with a whopping 4 page long instruction booklet and the cheapest and shittiest case design I’ve seen since the last time I looked at a Blast game.

Everything about it is cheap and wrong, even the rating appears to be some kind of knockoff, using a different design to the normal Australian ratings labels, lacking the border and using the wrong text size.

The game case compared to a copy of Grand Theft Auto, to  show the difference in design.
For comparison.

This game came out the same year as FEAR, Star Wars Republic Commando, Spiderman 2, TimeSplitters, Lego Star Wars, GTA SA and Shadow of the Colossus for fucks sake and someone thought ‘hey let’s add to this line up of great games with this pile of fuck’.

The second level is a stealth level and it’s where I stopped, it opens with a narration that if you skip just keeps playing over the next cutscene which shows some vampires(?) meeting and boarding a boat, you’re told to get aboard the boat without being seen but there’s a dude blocking the way onto the boat so you’ve gotta sneak around the guards, but David Hayter’s voice is nowhere to be seen(heard?) and you are far from dummy thicc.

This is where I gave up, the enemies have massively varying detection radius, most of them are basically blind and as far as I can tell they’re all deaf but sometimes I’d just get detected and not know why. When you get detected you’re treated to minutes of cutscene, then loading back to the menu, loading your save, and more cutscene before you’re back into the game. This is probably the single most frustrating way to lose a level and at first my reaction was simply ‘How did they not realize that this wasn’t fun while testing’, then I thought back to the credits and remembered a distinct lack of QA credits. If this game was tested, it was tested as well as it is voice acted, which is to say, poorly.

The game is on a compact disc as mentioned before, and my PS2 makes pained noises while reading it, and it hurts me to know that my consoles lifespan may have actually been lowered by this waste of bytes. This game is simply bad. It is not worth playing and has literally one redeeming characteristic that I encountered in my brief time playing it.

The street reflections on the rainy street the game opens in. They look very nice, especially for the PS2. They aren’t dynamic of course, and I assume they’re just a static image of a render of the street, but it’s a good visual effect.

Of my collection this game is by far the worst thing I own, and my collection includes Trixie in Toyland, Sonic Unleashed, An American Tail, and Hidden Invasion. I enjoy bad games and failed forms of art but I can’t bring myself to even tolerate this game. It is possibly the worst digital thing I’ve subjected myself to. The only possible reason I could recommend this alleged video game is as a conversation piece of having a game made by the people who brought child pornography to the Playstation 2.

If you like these reviews and want to support me, I have a Patreon and a Ko-Fi. One Playstation 2 game is pretty cheap, and I do take requests, so if you do donate feel free to suggest a game to review in the message. I also have a Discord if you’d just like to talk retro games.

V8 Supercars Australia Race Driver 2 aka TOCA Race Driver 2 aka DTS Race Driver 2 Review

Bhaalgorn (Kitten) inspects a copy of the game.

V8 Supercars Race Driver 2 aka TOCA Race Driver 2 aka DTS Race Driver 2 is a 2004 racing game by Codemasters and the 5th entry in the TOCA series of racing games, it’s the second of the Car-PG style with a character and a story. It’s not a very good story. It was released for Windows, Xbox, Playstation 2, Playstation Portable (Twice, two years after original release) and mobile devices, because 2004 was a strange time. I’m reviewing the Playstation 2 version here. I never played this one as a kid like I did with the first, and I think that might be why I like the first one so much more. Yeah that kinda gives things away early on doesn’t it?

Let’s start with the changes. Gone is the car tuning system. Admittedly I never really used this, it felt somewhat pointless most of the time, but it was a nice thing to have for the enthusiasts. You can’t do test drives either, but you can restart during races, so you don’t really need to get familiar with a map before racing it. The car damage system is different. Instead of a diagram of your car showing the damage to each part, it’s now just a set of lights that change colour. This is a pretty big downgrade to usability. In the first game you knew which wheels were damaged, in this one you just know that a wheel is damaged and won’t know which until it explodes and you have to restart. The replay system remains, but now you can save replays, which is nice. 

The graphics have improved slightly, but this game was released in 2004. The Playstation 2 version suffers from the same issues that most Playstation 2 games have, loads of jaggies from the lack of anti-aliasing and a relatively low resolution. If you play it on an emulator this won’t be an issue of course, and it’ll look much nicer, but if you’re a strange collector like me you’ll want to run it on original hardware. I’m just using an up-scaler and it looks pretty good despite the jagged edges on everything. The map backgrounds are much more detailed than they were in the first game, but I can’t speak for the accuracy of them. It has Hidden Valley, which I live near and have been to a few times, and it isn’t surrounded by rolling green hills. It’s surrounded by dirt. They do pretty it up for the V8s though, from what I remember anyway. There’s also none of the stands or anything like that. I guess they just used a generic background, which is unfortunate. Having accurate backgrounds could add a lot to the character of the tracks. 

The car physics are similar in a way but definitely different. I don’t know if they’re better. Sometimes it feels like my car is floating above the road and sliding all around. Sliding is a theme in this game. There’s a lot of sliding. The devs decided that to stop players from cutting corners and having fun, they’d make the gravel and grass cause your car to abruptly turn right. I can only really describe this as intensely lame. There’s nothing worse than taking a corner a bit too wide and touching the grass only to instantly spin out of control. There’s no way to get back up to speed fast enough to not end up in last place too. It’s just straight up un fun. Some cars are better than others in terms of handling though, so it won’t be as much an issue. Unfortunately some choice choices were made that amplify this problem.

In the first Race Driver you had to advance through a set of championships to progress, but you could do them in whatever order you want, and if you performed badly it was fine, you’d get another offer with a different car that maybe suited you better. Race Driver 2 on the other hand is much more linear. You pick from two championships, and then once you beat that or give up and do the other, you get one option and you have to finish that championship in that car to progress. So if that car handles like shit you just have to bear with it till you win. No alternate car options for you. You’ll be restarting a lot. Like.. A lot.

The AI is slightly better, in that it’s worse. It seems more human, and is much more prone to imperfect play. This is a great upgrade, but it seems to work in tiers, so the cars at the back are usually the lowest tier of AI and are pretty shitty. They take corners slowly, almost coming to a complete stop on some bends, and are slow to recover if they crash. The higher tier on the other hand plays much better, which is actually a problem. They play too well, and overtaking them gets pretty hard. The irish guy (I’m sure he has a name but I don’t remember it) has a bunch of radio call outs based on how you’re doing or who’s behind you. He’ll call them out by name, which is neat.

There’s a larger variety of cars available, from Formula 1 to big rig trucks, but it’s clear that the physics isn’t meant for this. The trucks are just boring, they feel weighty but they’re just not as fun as they sound. The Formula 1 cars handle poorly, and they’re dummy thicc, which can make it hard to overtake the cars since the clap of your wheels keeps making the physics break. If the wheels come into contact with another car things go strange and you fly across the track. Some of the cars also make annoying noises, one in particular making a high pitched hissing noise whenever I accelerated. 

It’s a lot harder to recommend Race Driver 2 than it was for the first game. There’s a lot wrong here and not many improvements. The only noticeable improvement is the graphics, and that the main character has no face or voice now. Massive improvement in that regard. There is a story, but it’s really not interesting enough to mention beyond the fact that your character doesn’t talk. Car-PG is a fun term, but this isn’t an RPG. It’s a racing game, and as far as racing games go it’s a thoroughly decent one. 

If you like these reviews and want to support me, I have a Patreon and a Ko-Fi. One Playstation 2 game is pretty cheap, and I do take requests, so if you do donate feel free to suggest a game to review in the message. I also have a Discord if you’d just like to talk retro games.

Experiment with – Bleach Bypass

I had heard about the bleach bypass process before and was interested in trying it for myself with street photography. The result was high contrast and colour shifts, perfect for the unpredictability of the street.

Under standard C-41 (Colour negative) development, the film undergoes a C-41 developer step, a bleach and fixer step (or sometimes in a single step with a Bleach Fix (BLIX) mix), and finally a stabilisation step.

In the C-41 developer step, the activated silver in the film are developed into metallic silver and colour dyes are activated to produce the colour negative. The bleach step causes the developed silver to return the undeveloped state in which it can be removed by the fixer. The fixer then removes all of the silver (since all of it should be in the undeveloped state) and only the colour dyes remain.

However, the bleach bypass process bypasses the bleach step and proceeds straight to the fixing step. By skipping the bleach step, the negative retains the metallic silver particles and the result is brighter highlights and mid tones while the shadows remain relatively unchanged.

Seeing that the day was going to be sunny, I had set out to photograph scenes which had medium to high contrast to test out the effects of the bleach bypass process.

Unedited [left] and edited [right] versions of Man with an Umbrella

In this first set of images, I was drawn to a man who was holding up a yellow umbrella in the broad daylight. I realised that this scene would be perfect to showcase the effects of the bleach bypass on the highlights in the umbrella.

In the unedited version, the entire scene appears to be overexposed due to the silver content in both the highlights and mid tones, with the greatest overexposure occurring in the highlights. There is also a slight colour shift which may arise from the silver content or it might be related to the fixing step (as the Ilford Rapid Fixer has a lower pH value than the bleach fix in the Tetenal kit).

In the edited image, I was able to correct for the overexposure in the mid tones by reducing the brightness and applying a slight colour correction. However, I was not able to recover any details in the highlights as they were complete blown out.

Unedited image to showcase differences in highlights and shadows

In this unedited image, there is a high amount of contrast between the highlights and shadows even before touching the contrast sliders. The shadow areas contain less silver and should appear similar to the shadow areas of an image obtained with the bleach step preserved. The highlights and mid tones in the negative space are used to place greater emphasis on the darker subjects of the amp and instrument case.

With these results in mind, I would need to shoot the film with an underexposure of at least 1 or 2 stops if I wanted to avoid completely blowing out my highlights. However, the blown out highlights might be desirable in scenes where I am able to single out the subject like in the photo of the man with the umbrella.

The majority of the photographs I had taken were in sunny areas where there were harsh shadows and bright highlights. It may be of interest to try the bleach bypass process with scenes where there is a lower amount of light or contrast.

Overall, I enjoyed the results and will continue to use the bleach bypass process in the future.

The images have been shot on a Canon EOS Elan 7e (EOS 30) film camera using a Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM lens. The film stock used was 35mm Kodak Vision 3 250D (5207/7207) shot at 250 ISO. The majority of the photos have been taken using shutter priority with exposure compensation set to +0.

As this is a motion picture film, the remjet layer had to be removed before the actual development process. The film was developed using the Tetenal Colortec C-41 kit colour developer for 3:15 minutes at 38C. The film was then fixed with Ilford Rapid Fixer for 5:00 minutes at 38C, followed by a water rinse for 5:00 minutes at 30C. Finally, the film was stabilised using the Tetenal Colortec C-41 kit stabiliser for 1:00 minute at 20C. The resulting negatives were scanned using the Epson V550 and edited in Photoshop.

Introduction – Alex

Might have overdone the bokeh just a bit
[Lonely Shell on the Beach]

My name is Alex.

I’ve started this blog as a way to encourage myself to continue working with art and photography. My main interests are analogue photography and miniature painting with acrylics. I had casually painted when I was a child but dropped it due to school obligations and most likely poor time-management. However, I have recently rediscovered the joys of art and photography and wish to share my work with everyone else.

I’ve always found that taking the first step is always the hardest. So I’m taking the first step here and seeing where this takes me.

I wish to eventually have this website as an outlet for myself and friends to be able to share their work and anything else they want to share, be it video games, art, or even shower thoughts.