Let’s cast us all back some years. How about twenty years ago? In 1995, a game that can only be summarised as “epic, for its time” was born. Alas, that wasn’t much to shake a stick at as I can imagine the vast majority of readers here today wouldn’t have heard of this wonderful classic dungeon crawler-like game. This is the story of an unknown game by Interplay known as Stonekeep, a game that pits you against an unspeakable evil known only as the Shadowking.
Boasting some of the most pixelated graphics you can imagine, Stonekeep was a true fantasy experience. From the evil Shadowking himself through a collection of fantasy characters, Stonekeep really was a fun dungeon crawl, allowing you to fight the way you wanted, although not initially. Read on to see what I mean…
When you start the game, you play as a man with no weapons and no shirt on his back. He must have had it bad, but there is an explanation to his pitiful plight. Inside the original box of Shadowkeep was a phenomenal book that accompanied it. Details of the story of the keep you have been imprisoned in and information on the Shadowking and your hero lie within its pages. The book was a story, hence it was such an integral part of the game.
You didnt have to go far before you met your first enemy. I remember I played this game when I was a young child, no older than 7. I found the game staggeringly hard. It featured 3D walls and characters, although thr characters were more like a 2D kind of 3D! Absolutely surreal to think this game is twenty years old. Honestly it was visually impressive for its time and was about 400MB in size. Massive for its time!
The piece of the puzzle that always filled me with this sense of excitement was the voice acting. As a child, this famtastic game literally made me believe that I was helping an unwitting hero inside of the Stonekeep. We were out to find the gloriously evil Shadowking and when you first encounter him, he spoke with a deep, growling voice. Though he was just an animated suit of armour, the sense if dread was totally real to me.
Okay, but today I am unable to be as forgiving as I was back then. Let’s face the facts here: it looks dated. But thats not a huge crime, so does Pac-Man, right..? Well… This game also sounds dated. Yeah, but… “Mortal, be gone!” I hear the Shadowking himself rolling in his grave over this review, as it turns south. Dont get me wrong readers, it is still amongst mine and Joels favourite games… But my god, was this truly 90s gaming?! You can experience this amazing piece of gaming history courtesy of GOG!
Now when you look back at Stonekeep, you feel like you’ve stepped into the abandoned house of a long lost friend. It’s a crazily surreal experience, as you obtain a kind of euphoric rush. The feeling that you’ve been meaning to make your way back here… Or perhaps the dread of knowing your enemies never left and it’s time to head back.
I am going to do a series of videos, playing through my adventures inside of the walls of Stonekeep. I hope it interests and excites, as well as being a little silly along the way. So I ask you; have you ever ventured the walls of Stonekeep? Let me know in the comments below, over om Facebook or Twitter. Let me know if you want to see this epic fantasy adventure. I now just need to finish upgrading my rig for recordings..!
**pictures from this article are from GOG and Wikipedia.
Some anime are made to be shocking, some are made to be really darn cool. Other anime are romantic in their own way. This is an interesting blend of all of those and so much more (hold out for the romance, trust me…). I would regard this as one of the great anime of the late 90’s. The anime was ahead of the game for its time and the manga was quite influential to a really famous game of today, Dark Souls.
Berserk is an incredibly popular manga, but the anime didn’t do quite as well. No, don’t worry – The anime series is incredibly fun to watch. Let me put this into context for you: Amongst my favourite anime are some of the cheesiest series imaginable. I adore Nichijou, I absolutely loved Working! and I love Dragonball for it’s cheekiness, as well as Dragonball Z for how over the top it became… Then there’s Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo… So where does Berserk stand amongst these?
Oh death, gore, blood and demons! Yeah..!
So Berserk follows a lone warrior called Guts, who used to travel and fight for different groups here and there. A mercenary, as it were. Guts then comes across Griffith of the legendary Band of the Hawk. Griffith bests Guts in combat and Guts is forced to join the Band of the Hawk. He does so well with them that he quickly becomes a Raid Leader for the company. The Band of the Hawk fight against demon-like entities called Apostles, humans who have made a pledge (a sacrifice) to The God Hand, a group of archdemons.
A part of this series that truly set it apart from many other shows I had been watching at the time, was the strong theme of friendship. It felt like the anime wasn’t quite what the manga was, which explores deeper meanings. The anime, albeit gory and fast paced, felt like it was showing people the importance of coming together… Okay and a lot of gore.
The biggest crime of this series, however, is that it didn’t finish. This is a long standing manga series that was adapted to anime and it only ran over two arcs, or 25 episodes in total. With the amount of content in the world of Berserk, you’d think we’d have gotten further than we did. I’ll go more into further anime of Berserk shortly, but the first arc was over with in just one episode… Aptly episode 1! One interesting thing is although there are some strong differences in the anime series from it’s manga source, it manages to retain the story of the manga quite faithfully. So whilst there are differences, you are effectively getting the same story – Not bad going!
In 2012, two of three films came out for Berserk: the Golden Arc. The Berserk anime series followed the Golden Arc, but these films represented the start of an adaptation for the whole of the Berserk manga series. In 2013, the third of the film series came out and all three films were met quite positively. They were released by Viz Pictures and hopefully they’ll keep adapting more of the manga into films.
Also, what is up with this incredibly unfitting opening theme music?
Over all, Berserk (the original series) is brutally harsh but wonderfully well executed. It’s gory and it doesn’t hide from the series, although there are masses of modifications, a lot of detail hiding and it didn’t continue, opting out at just 2 arcs in. One day, perhaps we’ll see more of Berserk turned into films, like the three Golden Arc films. One thing is for certain though: If you’re into action, gory, bloody anime – this is one of the greatest ones of all time.
4/5 for Berserk!
Have you seen Berserk? Are you a fan of the serious Guts character? What about Griffith and his burning desire to be king? Comments below, over on Facebook or on Twitter and let’s discuss this one further!