This week’s edition of Flashback Friday is a double bill, with a pair of PlayStation unsung heroes, whilst scrappy and rough around the edges they were loved by many, join us as we take a look at Loaded and Reloaded!
For the uninitiated among you, Loaded was billed as a ‘science fiction-themed top-down shoot ’em up’ and was developed by Gremlin Interactive with Interplay Productions publishing. Releasing on December 12, 1995, on the original PlayStation with a Sega Saturn port hitting the market a year later.
Loosely based on properties from DC comics (even spawning tie-in graphic novels) you as the player could pick from six playable characters from a roster of villains, anti-heroes, psychopaths, perverts, mutants (the 90’s favourite) and ‘flamboyant murderers’. The idea of your rag-tag team of misfit would be heroes are out to stop an intergalactic supervillain nicknamed F.U.B. and ultimately save the entire universe from devastation and mayhem.
The game’s appeal came from it’s incredibly over the top style, dark humour, gore and violence were all on the menu as you battled your way through hordes of enemies on fifteen different, far-flung sci-fi worlds. Part of the games cult success was due to it being almost entirely based on the gameplay mechanics of Gauntlet giving it a familiar feel to veteran gamers of the time.
My first experience of the game came from borrowing a stack of discs from a friend, Loaded was included and I gorged on its futuristic vibe. Being a fan of comics such as 2000AD, Loaded spoke to me on that level and allowed me to play out very similar scenes seen on the very pages of that stalwart British comic book. I remember telling my friend how much I enjoyed the game and they suggested popping the disc inside my CD player, I of course did and was thrilled to hear the games thumping soundtrack play through my speakers, the game disc being one of the first to be capable of playing in audio CD players.
The PlayStation release of Loaded was met with widely positive reviews, admittedly it wasn’t the most polished game, it was a bit grimy and sometimes it was difficult to tell what was going on due to the bleak color palette but it was one hell of an enjoyable ride to go on, with the aforementioned soundtrack and over the top violence the game was a riot.
Receiving 4 out 5 stars for the PlayStation release and 3 out of 5 for the Saturn release from Next Generation magazine and 6.6 from Gamespot it was less than a year before a sequel would be seen.
Re-loaded hit shelves in 1996 for PlayStation and DOS. The sequel followed the same template as Loaded and used the same game engine, the plot carried out from where the original left off, F.U.B. the intergalactic villain, had his body destroyed at the end of Loaded but managed to shuttle his brain away in an escape pod. It touched down on the dangerous, far off desert planet Kee-Butt-5. The brain was later implanted into the body of a nomad named Manuel Auto causing him to massacre the loyal surgeons who created him and he began life as “C.H.E.B.”, or “Charming Handsome Erudite Bastard”. His Masterplan was to transform entire planets into “Works Of Art and Genius”, starting with his own body which he somehow grows to the size of a moon, (it’s the 90’s, this was okay). The Player had to again pick from a group of ridiculous anti-heroes to take him out.
My memories of Re-Loaded aren’t quite as fond as mine of Loaded, while the first game we admitted was a bit rough around the edges, Re-Loaded was really unpolished, it had its problems and in all honesty, didn’t stand up to it’s predecessor and was probably the reason the series went no further. The almost sole positive comment for the game was the improved graphics, the gameplay, unfortunately, let the game down and hadn’t followed the tried and tested methods from Loaded, IGN felt so strongly about the game at the time that they labelled it “Third Rate”.
I brought Re-Loaded based on my experience with the original game and I remember enjoying it to a degree, I think, looking back that I was probably forcing myself to like it more than I actually did because back then, video games for me were a premium luxury, not something I bought or had bought for me very often so I treasured what I had. Re-Loaded sadly didn’t live up to the hype but it deserved to be remembered as much as Loaded.
Check out some gameplay below.