EA Replay- anyone have it?

ZanLong

Spaceman
Oh I expect the same One asteroid hit= One Kill. What was interesting about the "dead stop", is that I could never pull it off well on the PC. On the PSP, I can pull this off with out a problem. Mapping the L/R as the speed contorl was a great way to free up the rest of the controls. I still have a problem with the com system ( I find it akward pressing the trilange and select to scroll to the right reply. I would have liked to have had the D-pad mapped as the com system contorl just like the Star Wars space shooters on the PS2) but overall a great game. I am going to get kill more times then complet missions but I had the same problem with the PC game.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
I have just finished my first play through of WCEAR, and feel the need to collect my thoughts thus far -- this seems doubly important given the sad lack of attention that the so-called professional gaming press has put into reviewing this package. Wing Commander fans deserve to know exactly what they are getting here.

WCEAR is very, very hard.

This is a good thing, as far as I am concerned. A game that makes you believe you are getting better as you go along is gold. The original Wing Commander did this fairly well, and Origin's Wings of Glory perfected the experience. WCEAR does this in spades; it may take half an hour to finish an individual mission... but by the time you get home, you will feel that you have truly earned you rfive kills. Would that Wing Commander III had given that same emotion.

At the same time, let us admit that this is not wholly intentional. At best, it is half intentional, the result of the Mindscape team's best efforts to copy the gameplay of the original Wing Commander. The other half comes from the controls and the engine limitations on the (emulated) SNES A veteran space fighter pilot who has perfected the experience with a keyboard, throttle, rudder and joystick will have trouble adapting to eight buttons and a directional pad.

With some practice, though, it becomes second nature. EA Replay explains that the 'triangle' button is the "modifier". Keeping this thought in mind allowed me to figure out the controls with much more ease than previous console ports... they're intuitive once you put yourself in the right mindset, but they're maddening until that point. The amount of work you put into it is ultimately proportionate to the reward -- you will feel good when you shoot down your first Krant, you will feel good when you earn that first Bronze Star.

--

On to more specific things. As we expected, these are the SNES ports of Wing Commander and The Secret Missions run on some type of proprietary emulator.

This allows for a few neat features, including the ability to save anywhere in the game. This is especially valuable because Wing Commander has no internal save feature. After every system the player is given a password which he can use to resume the game at any point. Thanks to the external save feature, you can stop flying in the middle of a mission if that becomes a necessity. Perfect for Wing Commander on the go, or just making the SNES experience easier.

I also believe that the controls are slightly easier than the SNES version -- mostly because the PSP is layed out so that you are always "looking" at the buttons and the screen at the same time. The PSP also adds a digital joystick, which takes some work to get used to. Once you've mastered it, it improves the experience... until you do, though, you may find yourself switching back to the d-pad (which I was still doing when I hit the Venice star post!).

A major worry for fans when the title was announced was the 'aspect ratio'. The PSP, designed to play useless UMD movies, has a "wide screen" style display. I can happily report that these fears were groundless: expanding Wing Commander's graphics to 'fill' the screen look much better than the original SNES release, which squashed them to fit a square TV display. For purists, in so far as they could possibly exist in this sense, there is an option to play in the TV-ratio.

The immediate reaction of many people was that EAR should have included the PC version. This is not a reasonable request. While the PSP has the processor power to emulate DOS, there is no good way to replace the elaborate keyboard requirements of the original game. Even if the original Wing Commander source code still eixsts, it's doubtful that it could easily be adapted to a console.

There is a grand missed opportunity here, though. Most of the games in EAR are Genesis ports, and much more work was done integrating them into the package. Only the Genesis games feature 'unlockables' and they are the only games that have been edited in some way (Desert Strike, for instance, has been changed to show the proper PSP controls rather than the original ABC buttons).

In light of all this, it seems like a shame that the excellent SegaCD port of the original Wing Commander was not included. The collection takes up some 80 megs on a UMD as it is, which leaves ample space for the CD game... and with its full speech and superior graphics, WC would have become the unquestioned star of the collection.

(Aside: the unlockables, while a fun idea, are fairly silly. They are pictures of the original game boxes bordered with 'Empire Strikes Back' style 1980s card edgings. The SNES games, which includes all three Origin titles, come with their three cards already 'unlocked'. Wing Commander fans can thrill to seeing three slices of a Hornet cockpit shooting at Dralthi... and Ultima fans can thrill to one card that's actually entirely black (thanks to the post-modern box art for Ultima VII).)

--

Wing Commander fans not familiar with the SNES port should be aware that it is not identical to the PC release. Here is a brief survey of changes:

* Script changes. Figuring out exactly which pieces of WIng Commander dialogue were edited over the various ports is a research project for someone interested in earning their PhD in Wing Commander. In this case, the most noticable change is that the "Blue Devils" (the Scimitar squadron) are now the "Blue Angels" -- an odd product of Nintendo's strange early-1990s licensed content restrictions. Instead of a callsign and last name, your player has one all-encompassing "handle" (a new screen for inputting your personal information was added to the game).

* Cutscenes. They have been, sadly, cut. Gone are the amusing animations of scientists defending their lab and of Mopokes capturing Kilrathi marines. Instead, they are replaced with a less fulfilling sequence where a camera zooms in on a planet while the winning or losing narration scrolls across the bottom of the screen. The introductory and concluding cutscenes remain intact, including the Iwo Jima flag raising.

* Ships. Due to memory limitations, one Kilrathi fighter did not make the cut. If you do not already know the story of the 'Green Salthi'... then you haven't been reading the CIC long enough. In so far as horrible memory budget constraints go, though, this was a very clever swap.

* Graphics. The SNES version uses a 32-color pallette, which ends up somewhere between the EGA and VGA modes included in the original PC release in terms of complexity. On the PSP display, the graphics look clean and sharp! Individual screens are changed from the PC release in subtle ways: the Tiger's Claw's barracks, for example, have six beds rather than eight (and no pin-up girls). There's a fun SNES-only easter-egg during takeoff -- look to the right as your fighter launches... the Tiger's Claw has a HAL 9000.

--

A few other notes. The menu system is nice and intuitive. It's a pretty blue "museum" of the games, which includes a tiny animation for each game and then various other material -- key lists, game descriptions (which contains some embarassing spelling errors), trading cards, etc. It plays some nice music, and is especially notable because it has a much cooler logo than appears on the actual box. The in-game EAR logo is a stylized cartridge with the title on it.

What's the bad news, then? It's the same as the good news -- the game is hard. This means that your little sister can't pick up the package and immediately become a Wing Commander... it takes effort, which is good for fans but is probably ultimately bad for attracting new fans. It is much easier to jump into a helicopter in Desert Strike than it is a Hornet in Wing Commander. I certainly hope some newer gamers will give WIng Commander the benefit of the doubt, because it really is the best title in the collection... and anyone who gets far enough to experience the rewards of the game will probably be an especially *good* Wing Commander fan.

So... do I regret spending $230 to play this game? Not in the least. I'll pay the extra thousand once they port it to the PS3 and the Wii. Come on, EA, I *dare* you!

Now, on to the Goddard Colony! I'll put together a full review when I'm finished with The Secret Missions.

LOAF

P.S., Please include Wing Commander 2 SNES on EARPS3... and, for good measure, Metal Morph.
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
I totally agree with you about dificulty levels LOAF. Back in the day I used to get through maybe one WC2 mission per sitting. (I'm a lot better now). Having to re fly each mission untill I passed It often took me sevral tries after which the next cutscene made me keep playing! And damn did it feel good when you did finally finish a seemingly impossible mission. Also, I remember times that I was just so grateful to have made it back alive that I didn't care if I was on the losing track or not.

Some of my best WC memories are of limping back to the tiger's claw in WC1 with no shields, armor and all my guns shot off...
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Well, expect to end pretty much every mission in EA Replay in that kind of situation.

A few more notes...

* Another noteable change between the original Wing Commander and the SNES/PSP port is gun colors. Blue is laser, green is mass driver and orange is neutron. All Klirathi weapons are orange -- I'm not sure if the game is giving them all neutron guns or if it's a special Kilrathi gun. Salthi don't hurt much and a full shot from a Jalthi is a killer... so it plays the same, anyway (even if those two ships look very similar).

* I just realized that the Raptor squadron is also renamed! It's "Rising Star" squadron instead of "Star Slayer". How weird.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Last night I dreamed I discovered a secret new fighter in EAR... which may be the first dream I've had about the original Wing Commander in fifteen years. That's a good sign.

I'm in the Midgard System in SMEAR (boy, what an acronym!), currently trying to rescue a captured Dralthi, and can offer a few comments.

The game is generally streamlined -- flight is smoother, guns fire more evenly. There's also a difficulty option, and if you pick 'Rookie' the game is much, much easier. This may be the way to get new people in to Wing Commander... one or two hits will take down pretty much any ship at this setting.

Cutscenes have not only been retained, but they've been enhanced! As you all know by now, there is a beautiful new introduction which shows a conversation with Prince Gilkarg and a Kilrathi scientist. I'm not at the end of the game yet, so I don't know whether the execution is intact -- but I will report. (Interesting trivia, the 'audience' watching the introduction was later reused in the Origin FX screensaver. I don't know why... or even how, since they were developed in different locations by different teams.)

In order to allow this, various elements of the game have been changed. The barracks are gone entirely -- the door in the Rec Room now leads to (and is labeled for) the Briefing Room. The only big problem here is that you can't look at your chest anymore -- you only see your medals during ceremonies.

The takeoff and landing cutscenes have been changed entirely... there's now a new image of an elevator raising your fighter to the deck of and then a fantastic mode-7 panorama of your ship piloting down (or up) the 'Claws external runway. It's really nice and a fun change that they didn't have to make. Big points here.

There are also new password and name input screens.

Ships! Secret Missions adds four new ships. I used to think that the game simply swapped them, but apparently this only happened in one case. The game still features Draymen and Dilligents as well as Lumbari and Dorkir (who at Origin thought that the most fun feature of the addon would be to add more kinds of transports? I know, I know, they were left over items cut from the original WC release...). The game does lose the Exeter Destroyer, and replcaes it with the Venture. All references to the Gwenhyvar have been changed to call it a Venture (... which carries fighters). I do not know if the Star Post is traded for the Sivar, or if they're both here. I'll report on that. Salthi are still green.

Here's another Nintendo oddity: any subtle reference to drinking -- the act of drinking -- has been removed from the game. Shotglass, depressed over the death of his cousin, was kind enough to tell he that snacks were on the house. You can kill 250,000 people, and even show silhouettes of their tortured bodies in a cutscene (which is included)... but you can't suggest that anyone ever ingest liquids. Still, the idea that the Confederation employs a full-time bartending staff to hand out snacks to pilots amuses me to no end.

There is an annoying bug (which was also in SMSNES) where the 'Press Select for Comms' text sticks to the left VDU at all times. You forget it's there, after a while. On the plus side, this is because comms are streamlined... you lose wingman commands, but landing and taunting are much, much easier.

A few more SNES-specific oddities to point out:

* There are no friendly VDUs. You can't switch targets to see how your wingman or an escorted ship is doing. This was no problem in WCEAR, as it never came up... but it is kind of funny in SMEAR, where I was just asked to attack a captured Drayman which had no targetting information. I'm looking forward to seeing how the Gwenhyvar and her Rapiers work.

* It's very hard to figure out how much armor you have left. In so far as I can tell, the ordinary armor indicators are non-functional (shields, measured numerically, work fine). You need to watch the damage VDU carefully. While most systems don't effect flight the way they did in the PC version (ie, no fuzzy VDUs when you lose your computers), be very careful that your power generators stay operational... losing them makes your gun recharge slow to an unpleasant rate.

* Some mechanical differences. Afterburners are all equal -- hit the button and you travel at 1,000 kps, no faster, in any fighter you're flying. While the game lists different types of missiles and gives you the option to switch between them, they all do pretty much the same thing -- meaning a Dumb Fire is just as likely to hit as a Heat Seeker, and neither require special locks. There are no alternate cameras (side, left, right, missile, etc.)
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
I was wrong about viewng your character's chest! You can cycle past the killboard to see it in SMEAR.

Also, I have confirmed that the Star Post is in the game, and that the Rapiers and Venture you fight do not have VDU images.

Actual mission design seems to be completely true to the PC version -- if you go back to NAv 1 in the 'rescue the Dralthi' mission, there are a pair of extra Fralthi!
 

Dyret

Super Carrot!
any subtle reference to drinking -- the act of drinking -- has been removed from the game. Shotglass, depressed over the death of his cousin, was kind enough to tell he that snacks were on the house. You can kill 250,000 people, and even show silhouettes of their tortured bodies in a cutscene (which is included)... but you can't suggest that anyone ever ingest liquids. Still, the idea that the Confederation employs a full-time bartending staff to hand out snacks to pilots amuses me to no end.

So what did they do to Paladin's beer. Did they replace it with candy bars, or did they simply remove it?
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Paladin still has three glasses on his table, but instead of inviting you to "tilt a glass", he asks you to "have a chat".
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
I finished SMEAr on Rookie... where I was reminded about one of the great things about the SNES port, which I had completely forgotten about -- the branching ending! The fate of Admiral Gilkarg depends on what difficulty setting you chose at the beginning of the game.

Also: finishing the last mission gives you another Pewter Planet rather than a Gold Star. The last mission ends with a scene in Halcyon's office where he tells you you're being reassigned, but he doesn't specify a squadron.

In the Vigrid 2 briefing, Paladin claims Halcyon wants to "be at" rather than "get drunk at" his retirement. It's hard to believe that this game didn't rid the rest of the world of drinking in 1993.

As expected, the Sivar is in the game -- so on the balance they managed to add three more sets of ship sprites... which makes one question the actual need for green Salthi.

My killboard says I only played 15 missions... was one cut from the game? I'll make sure to check during the Ace playthrough.
 

Confed

Commodore
Some of my best WC memories are of limping back to the tiger's claw in WC1 with no shields, armor and all my guns shot off...
What is the maximum number of systems damaged or destroyed anyone has ever had and survived? I remember I once had 6 systems damaged or destroyed & no guns (took out the last enemy with last of my missiles and ramming into him.)
Did anyone ever survive 7?
 

Cardinal

Spaceman
Here's another Nintendo oddity: any subtle reference to drinking -- the act of drinking -- has been removed from the game. Shotglass, depressed over the death of his cousin, was kind enough to tell he that snacks were on the house. You can kill 250,000 people, and even show silhouettes of their tortured bodies in a cutscene (which is included)... but you can't suggest that anyone ever ingest liquids. Still, the idea that the Confederation employs a full-time bartending staff to hand out snacks to pilots amuses me to no end.

Wait. Are you telling me that they took out the "Rostov Hairball"? Dang.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
I saved the Ralari during my first play-through, so didn't end up in Rostov... but I just had to know! I loaded a password, ejected a few times and found out that...

... Shotglass has invented a new dessert... the Rostov Sundae!
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
The next time some internet dork complains about Nintendo somehow having a 'kiddie' image, remind him of this.

Seriously, though, we could probably invent a Rostov Sundae. Maybe it's regular ice cream with astronaut ice cream in it (because it looks like rocks).

... and also tastes like rocks. That's easily the most disgusting food combination I've ever invented, and I made ham and cheese waffles once.
 

stick

Spaceman
sorry to bring back this thread, but i didn't know if i should make a new thread for this.

i went to my local EB games to pick up a game i had on pre-order, and going through the pre-order book, they had listed EA Replay 2 for release on feb 2007. I put a pre-order on that. Well, it's a long shot, but here's hoping that another wing commander game gets put in this compilation, perhaps even the fabled wing commander II SNES version lost to the mists so long ago.

edit:

oh yeah, and instead of the 19.99 price tag that came with ea replay 1, it's listed for 29.99.. so either they'll drop it again back to 19.99, or they'll be adding more games this time to the compilation!
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
It looks like the Replay 2 announcement is coming the same way as #1 did... first through listings at retailers.

So... what could be on it? The first EA Replay left some obvious choices: Mutant League Hockey, Urban Strike, any of several other Ultimas...

Wing Commander II or the full-speech Wing Commander Sega CD would also fit into the mold of the original -- if they're dedicated to continuing the game series' included in the first.

Also: what about Playstation games? I *believe* (but do not know) that it's supposed to be fairly easy to port existing PSX games to the PSP (in fact, I think the PS3 offers some online service for doing this with select titles). Could EA now (or someday) release WC3 or WC4 as part of these collections?

A single UMD is larger than four CDs... but could the video be recompressed in some modern format to allow it to be part of a 'Replay', or a stand alone budget game?

Also, if that were the case, various single-disc Origin games could be up for grabs -- including Crusader: No Remorse and the Japanese-only PSX port of Ultima: Underworld.

There's also a completed-but-unreleased PSX version of Crusader: No Regret!

Any ideas?

Don't say Metal Morph.
 
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