Batman Forever: The Arcade Game

Batman forever

Batman Forever: The Arcade Game

Many will not-so-fondly remember the “other” Acclaim Batman Forever game, a disaster of imprecise controls, illogical level designs, and visuals so sub-par, it was hard to make out what you were doing. That mess found its way onto countless game consoles, including the lowly Game Boy, the last place it should have ended up.

Batman forever

However, on the PlayStation and Saturn, Acclaim published the arcade version (ports by Iguana), hence the title Batman Forever – The Arcade Game. Instead of falling into the platform genre, The Arcade Game was a simple beat-em-up, but one completely lacking in direction, logic, or thought, in addition to the problems of 16 and 8-bit platformers.

Batman forever

The games co-op play only made things more confusing, as the muddy, pixelated digitized visuals caused Batman to blend with the background, and Robin to somehow look like some of the more colorful enemies. Instead of establishing a flow or pacing, BF – TAG just tossed everything onto the screen. Power-ups are everywhere, and the game randomly seems to stop as the superheroes suck in their the newly found abilities. Other times, it stops so either can explode into an explosion of lightning (?) to clear the screen. Various combo counters took up valuable areas of screen real estate, making an already difficult to see game even worse. Of course, they can also shrink (??). Why, for what purpose, is anyone’s guess.

Batman forever

Controls are impossibly slippery, while limited animation makes it seem as if characters are skating around the backgrounds instead of walking on them. For the record, they are. Everything moves so fast (the complete opposite of the other Forever game), it becomes impossible to grab the basics of punching or kicking. The epic and certainly expensive soundtrack is culled from the films, unintentionally hilarious considering the absurdities occurring on-screen.

BF – TAG is a Batman game with zero focus, an attempted showcase of the advancement of digitized visuals, which when done well, could work in favor of the developer. When done poorly, you end up with this, a game where the budget is so squarely focused on the graphics, nothing was left for the gameplay.

Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom

Buck Rogers Planet of Zoom

Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom (1982)
By: Sega Genre: Shooting Players: Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 23,297 (one credit)
Also Available For: Master System, SG-1000, PC, MSX, Commodore 64, Commodore VIC-20, ZX Spectrum, TI-99/4A, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari XE, ColecoVision, Coleco Adam, Intellivision
Buck Rogers Planet of Zoom

It may have taken a few years but it still wasn’t long before the first few licensed video games started to appear. One of the first such games to grace an amusement arcade was this example, by my beloved Sega no less, and was based on the (mis)adventures of Captain Rogers. Well, I say ‘based’ but this is a game that, name aside, has pretty much nothing to do with the source material – something that would become a familiar story in the years to come – but as we all know, that doesn’t necessarily make it a sucky game, just an unfaithful one. Planet of Zoom, for example, takes the form of an into-the-screen shooter. Nothing unusual there for a 70’s sci-fi show, I’ll grant you – plenty of shooting done in most of those. However, as long as it might have been since I’ve immersed myself in the gallant exploits of Buck, Wilma, and Twiki, nothing else from the game seems familiar.

Buck Rogers Planet of Zoom

Actually, now that I think about it, I can’t even be sure that we’re playing the game as Buck! Oh well, whoever may be at the controls, it’s your job to guide their ship through a tonne of dangerous stuff, and the best means of doing this is by blasting the crap out of it all. To this end, the ship offers unlimited use of its cannon, and you can also move it around the screen freely and increase or decrease its speed as you see fit. Each round is divided into eight stages (or sectors) of which there are three types – trench (as seen in the screenshot to the right), open space (next shot down), and planet (bottom shot) – but the object of each is the same; namely, to either fulfill an enemy quota or to finish within the time limit. If you can take down the required number of enemies before the time expires, you’ll move on to the next stage with any remaining time awarded as bonus points. If the timer runs down before you do this, you’ll still progress but with no bonus.

Buck Rogers Planet of Zoom

Most of the stages merely pit you against various kinds of oncoming enemies which include many flying saucers, hopping ground-based buffoons, red/purple versions of your own ship (almost), fast winged vessels, and angry-looking grey/red craft. As well as being mighty dangerous by themselves, most of them can also fire missiles and stuff at you, and there are also a few other hazards too. One of the trench stages features a series of barriers with gaps on the left, right, or middle, one of the planetary stages has a load of weird slalom-style gates (which offer only your continued existence as a reward for passing though them), and there is also a stage featuring a much larger boss ship which, for some reason, attacks with its back to you allowing you to simply blast all four of its engines to see it off. Defeating this befuddled clot isn’t too hard and each time you do it’s on to the next round where the stages are in a different order.

Buck Rogers Planet of Zoom

This process goes on forever as far as I can tell, which means things could potentially get more than a little repetitive. Fortunately, the action is fast and involving enough to keep this from setting in too much. The stages all look the same each time they’re repeated but they work well – the scrolling is pretty fast and the enemies move quickly via some superb scaling. The colouring is also impressive with lovely pixelly explosions, nice shaded skies, and even some occasional eye-melting psychedelic effects on some spacey stages. The sound is a little more basic, consisting only of a constant blooping sound (the ship’s engine?), as well as shooting and explosion effects. They’re loud though, and do contribute to the enjoyment of Buck’s adventure which is a pretty decent one. I think it’s clear Sega’s inspiration for Space Harrier lies here, and the later game is understandably the one that’s more fondly remembered, but I was pleasantly surprised by its spiritual predecessor which is more playable in some ways as well as being slightly easier. Buck and friends may have a pretty limited involvement but they can still be fairly proud of this.

RKS Score: 7/10

Cabal

Cabal_Arcade

Ah yes, Cabal. This war themed arcade game throws you and a friend right into the thick of battle. Your mission is to maim, kill and blow up everything in sight on twenty (20) different screens (four screens per stage, with a total of five stages). Should you reach the end and defeat the evil dictator, you are free to relinquish your guerrilla fighting days and just become a run of the mill commando.

Cabal_Arcade

Ask any arcade gamer about Cabal, and you will notice a wry smile come over their face. Cabal had you ducking behind walls to escape enemy fire all the while you shoot back and destroy everything on screen, from buildings, tanks, helicopters, submarines, walls and trees to animals! Using your onscreen cross-hair, you aim and fire. Your soldier starts with his trusty single-shot gun (with unlimited ammo), however, there are power-ups (shotguns, machine guns, grenades) hidden on each screen, hence the importance of shooting and destroying everything in sight. Once the screen has been leveled out, your soldier moves on to the next screen or stage.

Cabal_Arcade

Cabal set the blueprint for a number of shooting games, from its own successor, Blood Bros. to SNK’s NAM-1975. These games may be better (for some gamers), but you have to pay homage to where the inspiration came from – Cabal: Dare the Danger!

GraphicsNice large sprites. Items on screen blow up with great satisfaction (buildings collapse in dust when their foundations give in to your incessant fire)

88%

SoundExpected frenetic war machine noise

85%

PlayabilityThe screen does not scroll, but the gameplay is hectic. You will love blowing up everything on screen

85%

LastabilityStill great to come back to and shoot everything in sight, including the pigs!

83%

OverallUsing the trackball may get some getting used to, but once you do, Cabal will dare you to play it. Get ready to destroy everything

82%

 

 

 

Cabal_Arcade

Manufacturer: TAD Corporation
Year: 1988
Genre: Shooter
Number of Simultaneous Players: 2
Maximum number of Players: 2
Gameplay: Joint
Control Panel Layout: Multi-Player
Controls:
– Trackball: Optical
– Buttons: 2 (shoot and grenade)
Sound: Amplified Mono (single channel)

Zillion

Zillion - Sega Master System

By: Tatsunoko Productions Genre: Arcade Adventure Players: 1 Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Featured Version: Sega Master System
Also Available For: Nothing

Zillion - Sega Master System

Zillion

I think it must be an indication of my gaming preferences and heritage that I’ve seldom been able to ‘get’ some of the most popular computer games that were doing the rounds during the 80’s. A great example of that is Impossible Mission – a supremely popular game, mainly on the C64 which I never owned admittedly, but I did later buy a copy of it for Sega’s splendid Master System. I found it an enjoyable, though very difficult game, but the puzzle elements caused me great confusion and in the end I’m ashamed to say I gave up on it. If only there was a similar game but with less puzzley puzzle bits… Before long I discovered that there was – Zillion – an unusual title even now in that it isn’t an arcade conversion and is exclusive to the MS which meant that not many people had the opportunity to play it. In the opposite scenario to which I usually find myself, however, I did have such an opportunity and I enthusiastically took advantage of it.

Zillion - Sega Master System

Like many Japanese games, this one is based on an anime series, albeit a shortish and relatively unknown one, even in Japan. Both the anime and the game star a fellow called JJ who is a member of the medieval-sounding White Knights, a peacekeeping force who are out to destroy the evil Noza Empire’s base which is located on the 50’s sci-fi-sounding ‘Planet X’. At the start of the game, the White Knight’s mothership has just landed on Planet X leaving JJ to infiltrate the underground base, rescue two captured comrades, and set the base’s mainframe computer to self-destruct. Sounds simple enough! After a short jog across the planet’s surface, JJ descends into the complex via a mysteriously-unguarded lift. From here he can make his way anywhere he wants really. The lift shaft and corridors lead to numerous rooms, each a single-screen in size. These usually contain various traps, some capsules, a computer terminal, and often a door to another similar room which will be locked.

Zillion - Sega Master System

JJ is less agile than the C64’s most famous secret agent but he can still jump around about the place (surprisingly high, too) and can also crawl along the ground. He packs a gun, too, which is used for destroying the sadly-infinite enemy guards who are found in pretty much every location – the planet’s surface, the lift corridors, and many (though not all) of the rooms themselves. Contact with their shots (though not the enemies themselves), or some of traps in the rooms, depletes JJ’s energy reserves, although he can get a ‘top up’ at any time by returning to the mothership. The gun is also needed for breaking open the capsules which contain power-up items including more energy, more powerful guns, goggles (which allow you to see some of the otherwise-invisible traps), ID cards (which are needed to access the computer terminals), and floppy disks which are needed to access the main computer.

Zillion - Sega Master System

More commonly found in the capsules, however, are code symbols. Each door has a four-symbol code but capsules only contain one so you need to bust open four in any given room, remember (or write down) the symbols, then re-enter them at the computer terminal. These capsules are, unsurprisingly, often protected by guards or traps which include energy-sapping barriers, conveyor-belt sections of floor, automated guns, mines, or trip-wires which trigger an influx of guards. The traps can all be turned off by entering a simple code in the terminals although, unlike entering door codes, you won’t get your ID card back so it’s best to work around the traps if possible. JJ is reasonable for this but, splendidly, you can also control your two kidnapped comrades once you’re rescued them. They include the awesomely-named Apple, a girlie who is predictably more agile than JJ and can jump higher but also takes more damage, and Champ, a bulky fellow who shrugs off enemy fire more easily than the other two but can’t leap around so well.

Zillion - Sega Master System

These two idiots also have their own energy reserves, so once you’ve rescued them you then basically have three lots of energy to get through the game with. Well, I suppose technically you have infinite energy if you can be bothered to go all the way back to the mothership every time you’re running low, but either way it makes Zillion a much easier and more accessible game than Impossible Mission, for me at least. That said, it can occasionally be rather unfair, as with the ‘unavoidable death loop’ I encountered. Contact with enemies or their fire knocks JJ (or whoever) backwards, you see, so if enemies are present very close to the point you enter one room and leave another, you can end up getting knocked backwards and forwards between them until you die. Boo hoo! Still, it only happened the once so far and the rest of the game is fairly accommodating despite some slightly iffy controls, mainly regarding the characters’ jumping abilities. Practise makes perfect though, although don’t expect to be able to play though the game quicker on subsequent runs – the door codes are randomly generated each time you play!

Zillion - Sega Master System

The presentation is of a high standard throughout the game and includes a few cut-scenes (including some girlie on the mothership crying if you die – unrequited love?) and the in-game graphics are quite good too. The sprites look a little weird to be honest (it looks like JJ has a blue face for one thing) and the way they shuffle along the ground is quite amusing. There’s a bit of flicker amongst the enemies when two or more are close together too, but there’s been a bit of effort to keep the nicely-detailed backgrounds a little more varied than I had expected. The audio is also good – there’s only one main tune but it’s a catchy one and the effects aren’t bad either which means that, all things considered, Zillion is pretty spiffy! It’s a pretty big game, spanning 136 screens I believe, and most of them are well-designed. You’ll need to return to some later (with a different character or more powerful gun, for example) and the sense of progress is keenly felt. Impossible Mission may well be an all-time great as far as most gamers are concerned, but my simple-mind would much rather tackle this lesser-known clone!

RKS Score: 8/10

Avenging Spirit

Avenging_Spirit

Avenging Spirit

When it comes to classic/retro gaming, most people would probably be amazed at just how many truly great, obscure classics there are out there that they’ve not only never played, but likely never even heard of. And so, as part of my ongoing Retro Ministry, I intend to reacquaint folks with some of these forgotten gems over time. As comes with the territory, these entries will not be about the bigger, more popular games that a lot more people know about. No, instead, these will strictly be focused on games that are rare, but awesome.

Avenging_Spirit

First up, we’re going to look at a little number called “Avenging Spirit”, or as it was known in Japan, “Phantasm”. Avenging Spirit was originally an arcade game by Jaleco, who also brought you such classics as Astyanax, the Bases Loaded series, and the Rushing Beat series. With Avenging Spirit, however, you had a game that was a bit ahead of it’s time and rather unique in it’s approach. It was, at it’s core, another action/platformer type of game, similar to Mario, Mega Man or Contra. But where AS really stood out, was also the “gimmick” that made it incredibly fun. The plot can be summarized as follows: You’re a dude who was walking his girlfriend home one night, when you are ambushed by villainous agents, who kidnap your girlfriend, and shoot you down, leaving you for dead. You come back as a ghost, and your girlfriend’s father, a research scientist specializing in spectral phenomenon, wants you to try and get his daughter back, as she’s being held for random to ensure her father’s aid in nefarious plans.

Avenging_Spirit

So that’s the basic setup. You play as a ghost, and while you have the awesome ability to possess enemies to use their powers, the catch is that if the body you’re inhabiting dies, you have a limited amount of time to possess another body, otherwise your energy will dissipate, you’ll pass on to the “Other Side”, and your mission to save your girlfriend will have failed. So while you get this bad ass ability to basically play as a wide assortment of various characters with all sorts of weapons and powers, you’re also challenged by your spectral limitations. And when I say you can possess enemies, literally, you can take over and play as pretty much every enemy type in the game, except for the bosses. Naturally.  As you can see above, you get an energy bar for your ghost, which goes down every time you leave a possessed body, as well as a life-bar for the enemies you possess at the bottom of the screen.

Avenging_Spirit

Different enemy types also give you varying speed, strength, jumping power, etc., in addition to their unique weapon. Of those enemy types, as mentioned, for a game from 1991, you get a pretty healthy selection to choose from. They include, as seen above, nefarious 1930s mobsters complete with pistols, and feisty Amazon women who look suspiciously like classic Wonder Woman, who use their raw power to punch waves of force at you.  You can also play Rambo-esque commandos with machine guns, ninjas who are very agile and throw stars, goofy wizards with magic wands, a baseball player complete with a bat, a robot, an invisible man, and even a fire breathing DRAGON (probably the coolest thing you can play in the whole game).

Avenging_Spirit

You have to use these awesome abilities to make your way through six stages, all while smashing the shit out of enemies, and possessing some at your leisure to accomplish this. Each stage has a boss, of course, and naturally, especially considering it’s an arcade game and wants our quarters, they aren’t easy. You are also tasked with collecting 3 keys in stages 2, 5 and 6 (random I know), which are used at the end of the game to rescue your girlfriend, as if beating the game wasn’t enough. And just to really stick it to you, if you DON’T get all the keys in those stages, you’ll actually be unable to rescue her at all, and even though you can still beat the boss and defeat the bad guys, you’ll actually get a bad ending (SPOILERS). So trust me, you wanna get those damn keys!

Avenging_Spirit

The game was also ported a year later in 1992 to the Nintendo Game Boy. Having played both versions, with obvious “downgrades” to graphics and such, the game holds up remarkably well, and I honestly can’t see too much different in the port. The Game Boy version seems to retain most of the enemies, all the stages and bosses, and plays basically the same (if not actually a little bit tighter than the arcade original). Sadly, Avenging Spirit was ONLY ported to the Game Boy and nothing else, which is too bad, because looking at that screenshot above, I could really see it having been great on NES in full color, not to mention being a no-brainier for the 16-bit Super NES. It’s actually a similarly odd case to another obscure arcade gem, Tumble Pop by Data East (which I’ll cover later), that was also ONLY ported to the Game Boy.

Avenging_Spirit

 

Damn Game Boy got all the luck. And while I did have a Game Boy as a kid, I didn’t get one until, I do believe the Christmas of 1993, and I never actually heard of this game until I was an adult. I just think it would have made a great NES game, and I would have had a higher likelihood of perhaps seeing at my local rental store and actually getting to play it as a kid. I only lament this, mind you, because while I love this game as a kid, you know how much more open and enthusiastic about everything you were as a child….I absolutely would have been nuts about this game back then.

Avenging_Spirit

Then again, there’s a very long list of games I never got to play or even heard of as a kid that I wouldn’t discover until my teens at least, when internet was more prevalent. Real damn shame, that. BUT, all things considered, the Game Boy version that we did get is a great port of the game, and is actually available for download on the Nintendo 3DS eShop. You can also apparently get a version of the arcade original for iPhone, though personally, I just simply couldn’t see playing old school side-scrollers with those fake touch-screen “buttons” they try to get away with. Me, I need a real controller in my hands! Of course there are “other” means to find and play the arcade version if you wish, and considering that’s how I got to play it, I’ll just say that if you know what I’m talking about and can, by all means enjoy! You’ll be glad you did.

Robocop

Robocop

Drop it! That and the sound it makes whenever Robocop pulls his gun from his leg holster is what I remember the most from the 1988 arcade game. I also remember I was never very good at it. This is a run and gun game meaning the key is to be on the move and ready to shoot at all times. The game also expects you to have a good twitch factor as bad guys will be coming out of everywhere.

Robocop

When you play or watch this game and get a feeling like you are playing Bad Dudes, that’s because the two have a lot in common. I would almost call this a skin game in that you replaced a few things to make it “Robocop”, but you could switch them again and make it Bad Dudes. Nevertheless, many games were like that in the 80’s and 90’s.

Robocop

So Robocop gives you the general feel of the first movie. You walk around the streets of Detroit shooting random bad guys and facing bosses, some you have never seen in any movie and others you will instantly recognize like ED-209. Like the Superman game, they had to make it way easier for you to die, so Robocop is a bit of a wimp meaning just gays running at him unarmed can cause him damage and bullets hitting him anywhere do why too much damage.

Robocop

Sometimes when walking around the level you only have your fists to defend you, but once gun wielding enemies show up, you pull out your sidearm and take them down. You can duck to avoid enemy gunfire and jump over obstacles. You also find power ups, life, ammo and weapons from taking out cans, crates and some bad guys drop their weapons as well.

Overall, the game is fun even if sometimes at the beginning of a level you are thrown right into a swam of bad guys and when you continue, and continues are limited, you start exactly where you died, meaning if ED-290 shot you when you come back he is still right there in the act of shooting you. The game is still fun, but it is hard, at least to me. You take too much damage, have too little life and some normal human bad guys take to many shots to die, but hey, this is Detroit. Nobody said it was gonna be easy.

Gauntlet

Gauntlet_Atari

Gauntlet (1985)
By: Atari Genre: Maze / Run ‘n’ Gun Players: 1-4 Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 20,332 (starting with 2000 health)
Also Available For: Master System, MegaDrive, NES, Lynx, PC, Amiga, Atari ST, Apple II, Atari 8-bits, MSX, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum

I suppose it was only a matter of time before the ‘Maze Games’ feature here at Red Parsley arrived at the Gauntlet series for a review but the decision to return to it wasn’t a hard one. This is mainly because it’s one of my favourite games but I’ve actually spent surprisingly little time with the arcade original. The decent conversion for the Spectrum occupied much of my time in the late 80’s before the fantastic Gauntlet 4 arrived on the MegaDrive (basically a conversion of the first game but with tonnes of extras) and occupied much of my time in the 90’s as well! The series certainly has its detractors, though, who argue that it’s repetitive and frustrating. I definitely didn’t agree with them back then but perhaps time has dulled the appeal of Atari’s classic. Henceforth, I shall find out…
Gauntlet_Atari

The basic gameplay of Gauntlet (and Dandy – see below) must surely be known by near enough all gamers by now but for the benefit of those who have somehow missed it, it works like this: between one and four players can play simultaneously but first each needs to choose a character from the four available – Thor the Warrior (who has good fighting strength), Thyra the Valkyrie (who has strong armour), Merlin the Wizard (who has strong magic), and Questor the Elf (who is the quickest). From then on, your party (or maybe just you) are faced with an unending series of overhead-viewed dungeons filled to the brim with malevolent beasties intent on shortening your adventure! Whether they do or not is entirely up to you though, as each coin you insert gives your character health points and you can insert coins, and therefore play, forever if you want.
Gauntlet_Atari

There are six types of enemy altogether – Grunts, Ghosts, Demons, Sorcerers, Lobbers, and Death. All of them except Death are created endlessly by generators placed all around the maze-like stages which have three strength levels with each monster they create being of the same level. The generators can be destroyed in the same way as the monsters they produce – either by shooting or fighting them one at a time or by collecting potions and using magic which clears some or most enemies on screen in one go. The strength of both of these attacks depends on the character chosen although special potions can also be found occasionally which boost an aspect of a character’s abilities – extra shot power or extra armour, for example. Watch out though – a pesky thief appears now and then and it’s these abilities that he’s most keen on stealing. Deaths appears in smaller numbers than the other enemies but they can only be killed by magic – otherwise they’ll drain 200 health points before disappearing. Grrrr!
Gauntlet_Atari

The stages themselves are each around two screens wide by two screens tall, although some loop instead, and they are usually designed in as maze-like a way as possible. Most include several paths, some of which are often dead-ends. There are usually many doors blocking off sections that must be opened by finding keys and some stages feature teleporters which move you to the nearest similar device. Treasure chests for bonus points are abundant but far rarer are special medallions that grant temporary invisibility (the enemies home in on you as far as possible otherwise) which are a welcome, albeit brief, reprieve when they are encountered. Each player character gradually loses health points as the game wears on anyway but contact from enemies does of course reduce them much faster so it’s a good idea to keep an eye open for revitalising food which comes in two forms – cider, which can be shot, and what looks like roast dinners, which cannot.
Gauntlet_Atari

As original and distinctive as it seemed at the time though, the concept of Gauntlet may not have been entirely born in the futuristic labs of Atari’s secret underground bunker. Ed Logg, credited as designer of Gauntlet, may or may not have had one eye on an Atari 8-bit game called Dandy, released two years previously, while putting his game together but the two titles certainly have some similarities. Whoever was responsible though, Gauntlet was the game which rose to prominence and it’s one that’s attracted and maintained a sizeable fan-base over the years. There could be many reasons for its enduring popularity but the simple fact is Atari’s game was available to a much wider audience, and arguably came at a much more convenient time as well.
Gauntlet_Atari

Another reason for Gauntlet’s success over that of Dandy could simply be that it was better. It has a huge number of stages for one thing – a hundred unique dungeons which appear in random order from the eighth one onwards, and after the hundredth stage they start repeating as well so it’s a game without end! The cast of characters, both heroes and villains are also very memorable too. The differing attributes of each – shot strength and speed, magic power, fighting ability, armour, etc – meant that everyone had their favourite even if the differences between them became purely cosmetic once a few of the special potions had been collected which each boost one that character’s attributes accordingly. The relentless onslaught of enemy creatures pouring from their respective generators meant that you rarely get a minute’s peace too!
Gauntlet_Atari

The enormous abundance of evil creatures to slay may make Gauntlet a tough slog for the most part but it’s rather impressive from a technical point of view. All sprites, objects and pieces of wall and floor take up one square on an unseen grid of 15 x 15 which makes up the visible play-field so everything is more-or-less the same size. This doesn’t take much processing power with regards to the inanimate parts of each stage of course, but the sprites are all animated, detailed, and there are absolutely masses of them nearly all the time. It’s still pretty impressive now so you can only imagine how mind-blowing it was at the time! Of course, this did present a challenge to the talented programmers charged with converting the fab game to home systems but even then the results were mostly spiffing!
Gauntlet_Atari

Sadly, the audio here is almost silent though. There are a few simple sound effects but no in-game music which is hard to get used to since the fantastic MegaDrive conversion that I’ve played so much has had an equally fantastic soundtrack added. Breaking the near-silence now and then though, is the famous voice of the unseen dungeon overseer who offers occasional advice and support. He may sound a little ropey today but back then he was a revelation and his many comments have proved to be almost as enduring as the game itself! Indeed, despite the inane wafflings of the many naysayers, Gauntlet is still great fun and a highly enjoyable challenge. Yes, it is repetitive, as most games in the early years were, but not many of them offered four players the chance to unite and fight evil monsters to the death! Even for the solo-player, the lure of seeing new mazes or achieving a new high-score is enough to keep you playing. A timeless classic that offers a near-unlimited helping of simple, addictive adventuring. Still hate those bloody Lobbers though. Grrrr!

RKS Score: 9/10

Blast Off

Blastoff - namco - arcade - gameplay screenshot

Blast Off was released in Japan in 1989 and is the sequel to the space shooter Bosconian which was released in 1981. Created by Namco this game is pretty much the typical vertical space shooter in where it is you versus and army of enemies, however your ship is armed with some pretty badass weapons.

One thing that is a little different is your ship can switch weapons and while that in itself is not unique, what is, is the fact that dependent on the color of the laser you select you can shoot behind you.

Blastoff - namco - arcade - gameplay screenshot

Here is the weapon rundown:

The Red color features two lasers in a spiral pattern

The Blue color features one laser straight ahead, one behind

The Yellow color features one laser straight ahead, one left, and one right

The Green color features two lasers diagonally forward (one to the left and one to the right), and one straight behind.

In addition, you can hold down the fire button and the ship will fire off a powerful spherical laser. As you can see in the short video you have to have your twitch factor at a high level or you will die pretty quick, but honestly it is not as hard as some of the classic space shooters, I just suck that bad.

Truxton

 

Truxton - Gameplay Screenshot - Banner

Truxton, or Tatsujin (Japanese for ‘Expert’), is a viciously addictive vertical shoot’em up. It was released by Taito in 1988. For the folks In the US, the game was licensed to Midway and Romstar for manufacture and distribution.

Truxton - Gameplay Screenshot

The premise of the game is quite simple – you control a fighter ship, taking power-ups and weapon-selection items along the way, and then using them to shoot down enemies. When the going gets tough, one press of the Tatsujin-bomb button exterminates every enemy on screen (the motherships and big bosses take more hits to kill).

Truxton - Gameplay Screenshot

As you progress through each area, it gets more critical to collect the various power-ups and weapons that come your way. The souped-up weaponry, like the green Tatsujin-beam, assist in killing the motherships with fewer shots. The game has 5 big bosses to defeat across 200 hundred areas (not levels!).

Truxton - Gameplay Screenshot

 

Vertical shoot’em ups have a simple premise, but the devil is in their gameplay detail.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_qoaWICjgc[/youtube]
Truxton has no shortage of gameplay and the vast areas and different enemy types, will keep you occupied for a long while. Put your space-suit on, whack on your helmet, and get in that fighter ship – the universe depends on it !

Truxton - Gameplay Screenshot - Cabinet

Manufacturer: Toaplan
Year: 1988
Genre: Vertical Shoot’em Up
Maximum number of players: 2
Gameplay: Alternating
Joystick: 8-way
Buttons: 2 (Fire and Bomb)
Control Panel Layout: Single Player
Sound: Amplified Mono (single channel)
Cabinet: Upright Standard
Weapons: Red – Power Shot, Blue – Sun Lader and Green – Tatsujin-Beam

 

The Simpsons Arcade Game

The Simpsons Arcade Game is now available on XBox Live, and the first-ever home console release of the 1991 quarter-muncher is every bit as fun as you remember.

The Simpsons Arcade Game - Xbox live - Gameplay Screenshot

One of a long series of four player side-scrolling beat-em-ups that Konami put into arcades around this time, The Simpsons allows players to fight as HomerBartMarge or Lisa as they attempt to rescue baby Maggie from the evil Smithers.

Younger fans of the iconic Simpsons franchise should note that this classic arcade game was developed at the very beginning of the television series.  Some of the characters will look different than they do today and all of the references in the game pull from the earliest episodes of the show.  Sideshow Bob appears in one stage to help you out, Smithers is a tough guy, Bleeding Gums Murphy is alive and the rabbits from the Life Is Hell comic strip appear several times.  In those days that comic strip was Matt Groening‘s biggest success story to date.

The Simpsons Arcade Game - Xbox live - Gameplay Screenshot

Fans who remember pouring every quarter you had into the arcade game will be thrilled.  The game is exactly as you remember it from start to finish with straightforward controls and even the full demonstration mode, complete with the annoying-yet-classic “waaa waaa waawaaa waaaa!” scene with Bart and Lisa.

Several fun unlockables are also available for those who finish the game with specific characters.  The Japanese ROMset is available for play along with character bios, a neat but brief look at the development timeline and original advertising materials for the arcade game, a sound test and more.

The Simpsons Arcade Game - Xbox live - Gameplay Screenshot

Some achievements are easy to get and some will take time.  Longtimes fans of the Simpsonsseries will laugh at some of them as well.  The “Tastes Like Burning” achievement I gained by hitting Smithers with one of his own bombs forced me to pause the game for a moment to laugh, which brought up a neat pause menu drawn inside the old Simpson television set.

Online leaderboards not only show scores but also how many continues those players had to use to obtain them, adding a little credibility to such a scoreboard as part of a multi-continue game.  If you really want to try and show off there is a one-life “survival mode” as well.

The Simpsons Arcade Game - Xbox live - Gameplay Screenshot

Overall, The Simpsons Arcade Game is just pure fun.  Fans of the original arcade game will like it for different reasons than the younger Simpsons fans who may never have seen it, but they will all like it.  At 800 Microsoft points (about ten bucks) it’s a steal as well.

Don’t have a cow, man.  Download this one right away.

Patrick Scott Patterson has been a gamer since 1981, acting as a writer, technician and world record holder on several game titles. He has appeared numerous times in the yearly editions of Guinness World Records: Gamer’s Edition. In addition to writing here, Patterson has also written for Yahoo!, Twin Galaxies, VGEVO and Gameroom Magazine, and is always looking for unique and positive news to report from the video gaming world.

Baku Baku Animal

Baku Baku Animal - Sega - Gameplay Screenshot

Baku Baku Animal (1996)
By: Sega Genre: Puzzle Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sega Saturn First Day Score: 17,250
Also Available For: Arcade, Game Gear, Master System, PC

After the unprecedented success of Tetris, a good few companies jumped on the ‘falling block’ puzzle game genre, and one of the biggest offenders was Sega. After buying the rights to Columns, it soon snapped up Puyo Puyo too. None of these addictive games, however, was to appear on their new Saturn console, so instead Sega came up with their own game, and quite an original one it was too! The King (of somewhere) is apparently looking to hire a zookeeper to look after the animal-mad Princesses pets! The game is basically a test at a job interview. If you win, you’ll get offered the job! Like the games before it, the action takes place on a single screen, in this case divided vertically down the middle. Player one controls the action on the left side of the screen, and player two or a computer-controlled opponent controls the right. As is usually the case with games like this, the concept behind the gameplay is a simple one. Sets of two blocks drift down the screen, one after another. Pictured on each single block is either a food or an animal. All you have to do is match the food with the animal that eats it!

Baku Baku Animal - Sega - Gameplay Screenshot

There are five different animals in the game and each will eat only his favourite food when he lands on some (monkeys eat bananas, mice eat cheese, etc), but since food blocks appear more often than the animal ones it’s best to group foods together as much as possible. This is the best way to play the game as chain reactions can occur this way resulting in not only larger scores for you, but will also see a load of random blocks dumped on your opponent’s side of the screen! This will obviously not only screw up their attempts to do the same to you, but will also push them closer to the top of the screen which results in game over. The longer the game goes on for, the faster the blocks will fall down the screen. Occasionally, a pair of coins called ‘BB Coins’ will appear in place of a food/animal block. These will make any blocks they touch, and any other blocks of the same type on that player’s play field disappear.

Baku Baku Animal - Sega - Gameplay Screenshot


There are two play modes to choose from in Baku Baku (plus a secret third one) – Arcade and Ranking modes. Arcade mode is the same as the arcade version as you might imagine. Here, you will challenge a series of opponents until you get to challenge the Princess. Beat her and win the game! Arcade mode is also where the two-player action is to be found. The ranking mode is for one player only, and is more or less the same as the arcade mode except your opponents carry on forever. Beat as many as you can and then receive a ranking for your playing skills such as number of attacks, number of chain reactions, and the least amount of time elapsed. Also featured is a hall of fame and a movie viewer, both accessible from the options screen where it is also possible to alter the difficulty level and increase or reduce the number of different animal types.

Baku Baku Animal - Sega - Gameplay Screenshot

As with most puzzle games of this nature, its simplicity means the technical strain on the host system is kept to a minimum. It’s a nice, colourful, happy looking game though, and features a decent rendered intro detailing the story. The animals themselves are particularly amusing when they grow bigger to eat the foods! The music and sound effects are also suitably happy and upbeat (there’s even a ‘bangin’ dance remix hidden on the disc), and that’s pretty much the case throughout the game. You know what you’re getting with games like this and, whilst there are no real surprises and the one-player mode won’t last you long, this is still one of the best games of its type. Everything about it is top quality and it’s a lot of fun, especially when challenging a friend. A novel and amusing take on the much-copied falling block game and one well-worthy of your time.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GMzVGK0V5Y[/youtube]

RKS Score: 8/10

Game Gallery: Puzzle Bobble

Puzzle Bobble - Bust A Move - Title Screen

One of my reasons for doing this is because, when I first started writing game reviews I found it really difficult to find decent quality screenshots, and half the ones I did find were tagged, which infuriates me. So, I started grabbing my own screenshots and, unlike so many other selfish tossers on the net, anyone is welcome to take my screenshots and use them for whatever they like. It would be nice if I could get a namecheck or something in return, but if not, no problem!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Teenage Muntant Ninja Turtles - Title Screen

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1989)
By: Konami Genre: Fighting Players: 1-4 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Arcade
Also Available For: NES, PC, Amiga, Atari ST, C64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum
Download For: Xbox 360 Live Arcade

I was in my early teens around the time the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles phenomenon hit the world and it confused me. Ninjas are cool, sure, everyone knows that. But ninja turtles? I thought they were stupid. Turtles can’t even hold any weapons, they have flippers! I couldn’t stand how popular they were. Even my best mate, Luke, liked them! Oh well, they were engrained into popular culture, there was nothing I could do about it. Of course, various games based on their exploits followed. Some were good, others weren’t. As I remember it, the most popular one was the arcade offering from Konami, but it wasn’t until a recent Luke visit that I actually played this game for the first time ever. Did it suck as much as the stupid characters it was based on, or was it actually half decent?

Teenage Muntant Ninja Turtles - Gameplay Screenshot

The story is pretty much the same as every other scrolling fighter – someone gets kidnapped, you (and possibly a friend) have to rescue them. In this case, villianous master ninja, Shredder, leader of the nefarious Foot Clan… umm… clan, has kidnapped buxom news reporter and friend to the Turtles, April. Just for good measure they then also kidnap the Turtles rat sensei, Splinter. It’s then up to you to battle through the Foot Clan’s ranks and rescue April and Splinter before they do questionable things to them. First step: choose a turtle to play as. Their leader, Leonardo, is armed with two Katana swords, Michelangelo uses nunchaku’s, Donatello is equipped with a bo staff, and Raphael makes use of a pair of sai’s. Each of the Turtles has slightly differing attributes such as speed, reach of weapon, etc.

Teenage Muntant Ninja Turtles - Gameplay Screenshot

The Foot Clan themselves comprise a majority of the Turtles’ enemies through the game. They all look the same aside from the colour of their hoods and trousers, with the colour denoting their method of attack. Some of them carry big hammers, some of them throw dynamite, some can grab you from behind, others just punch and kick. They are joined on the odd occasion by robots. Having never really watched the TMNT show, I can’t really say if robots featured in it, but there’s a few of them here and they’re generally a mere nuisance rather than being formidable opponents, although some of them do possess the ability to hit you with an electric whip! The various bosses are taken from the show however, and include Bebop and Rocksteady (an agressive pig and rhino respectively), Dr Baxter Stockman (a mad scientist type), Lieutenant Granitor, General Traag, Krang (a small alien with a bumbling humanoid suit), and Shredder himself.

Teenage Muntant Ninja Turtles - Gameplay Screenshot

There are five stages, or scenes, to battle through here, covering such ground as an office block, city streets, sewers, and of course the Technodrome itself (the base of Krang and Shredder). Some of the stages are also split into several sections each too, and the Turtles even face a fast-scrolling section on skateboards at one point, taking on similarly equipped Foot Clan hoodlums and even missile-launching helicoptor gunships! There’s a pretty nice variety between the stages, graphically speaking, and there’s some decent static cut scenes between stages too. As mentioned earlier, a large percentage of the enemy sprites look the same except for differences in colour, and the animation on all sprites is fairly unremarkable, but it’s certainly not a horrible game to look at by any means. As far as the audio is concerned, I personally found it pretty annoying, what with the Turtles theme tune featuring prominently in different forms and various catchphrases from the show, but I’m sure it would be appreciated by fans.

Teenage Muntant Ninja Turtles - Gameplay Screenshot

The only problem this game has really is one that is so common within the genre – a lack of offensive moves. There is just an attack and jump button here which kind of limits how many manoeuvres you can perform, although you can press them both together for a (pretty unspectacular) special move. As mentioned though, there’s not many scrolling fighters that do have a sizeable roster of moves so it’s not too much of a problem, and the game does have an ace up its sleeve though – simultaneous four-player action! I guess it would be weird to create a games based on a team of four and not allow them to fight together, so kudos to Konami for incorporating it. I haven’t personally played the game in four-player mode but I can imagine, whilst being a bit chaotic and cluttered, it’s probably a truckload of fun too.

Teenage Muntant Ninja Turtles - Gameplay Screenshot

So, given my dislike of the subject matter, it’s a little annoying to find that this is a pretty decent quality scrolling fighter, and that in itself makes it a precious commodity, especially when you take into account the four-player mayhem it offers! It has its faults, and I’m sure fans will enjoy it more than I did, but it’s a solidly playable effort – entertaining in short bursts for a solo player, great fun with multiple players.

RKS Score: 7/10

Puzzle Bobble (Bust-A-Move)

Bust-A-Move SNES screen
Bust-A-Move SNES screen

Puzzle Bobble review (Bust-A-Move) by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:
“One of the CUTEST and ADDICTING puzzle games ever!”

Overall Score:
9 out of 10

Overview, Gameplay, My History With This Game, Fun Factor, & Replayability:

Damn you, Taito… Puzzle Bobble is just so freaking cute and such a great time eater! I first saw this game when I would go to arcades and it would be the game that girls would hog all the time, especially asian girls.

Puzzle Bobble screenshot
Puzzle Bobble screenshot

The cute little dinosaurs from Bubble Bobble, Bub and Bob, are back in their own little puzzle game. The game consists of the dinos manning a cannon that shoots different bubbles filled with specific enemies, basically colors, from Bubble Bobble. When you make 3 bubbles of one kind of color they pop. If there are any bubbles connected to them that were only being held there by that string then they pop too.

The game not only requires foresight as to what bubbles to blow up on time but skill as well. Only when you die do you get targeting bubbles that help you guide where the shot will land. The rest of the time you have to learn how to accurately fire bubbles and have them be effective. If you screw up by being slightly off you could have potentially ruined the easy way to pop bubbles quickly which is a problem considering every X number of seconds the stage moves down one bubble in length. If the stage reaches the bottom of the stage, you are so very, very dead.

This game not only makes you think quickly but requires you to react quickly as well, especially the further up the levels you get. I think that’s a good blend for some serious fun! This game is sometimes peaceful enough that it can be relaxing but once you get to the later stages it will make you cry as it owns you.

I’ve been playing this game since the mid 90s and I pick it up and put it down at least once a year. I give it a Fun Factor of 8 out of 10 and Replayability a score of 8 out of 10, considering almost 15 years worth of playing it!

I’ve played it a lot on the arcade, DOS, and the SNES version as well. Look below for a full list of all versions.

Difficulty & Difficulty Versatility:

The game starts out rather simple but it gets difficult on some stages quickly. There is no way to alter the difficulty but the game is challenging as it is. If you find it easy just fly through the levels and eventually you will get to a point where your skill is maxed out and then it will get really tested.

Difficulty gets a score of 8 out of 10 since it starts out a bit slow for me but later gets heavy, giving Difficulty Versatility a score of 7 out of 10.

Value:

Puzzle Bobble (Bust-A-Move) was released on the 3DO, arcade, Game Boy & Game Boy Advanced & Color, Game Gear, iPhone, mobile phones, N-Gage, Neo Geo & Neo Geo CD & Pocket, Nintendo DS & Gamecube & Wii, PC, Playstation 1 & 2 & PSP, Sega DreamCast, SNES, VG Pocket Caplet, WonderSwan, Xbox & Xbox 360 (XBLA).

Depending on what version you get will determine how much you’ll pay. I’d say this game would easily be worth $20 tops considering it’s age and considering how available it is for emulation on just about everything. Even at $20, it’s totally worth having in your game library. At that price I’d say Value gets a score of 8 out of 10. Anything less or free is worth a 10 out of 10.

Sound:

Just like everything, even the sound is cute in this game. When the level is about to start hearing them say “Ready……. Go!” or the popping sound goes really well with the theme of the game. Sound gets a score of 9 out of 10.

Music:

The music sounds a lot like bubblegum, like j-pop but with a special arcady feel to it. It blends really well with the feel of the game and its repetitiveness makes you keep playing, at times. Even the little jingles when you beat levels are very uplifting happy songs. The music gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

No version I’ve ever seen of this game on any platform has ever crashed, not even the DOS version I used to play. Stability/Reliability get a score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:

You don’t need many controls to play this game. Mastering the controls is another different matter though. Left moves left, right moves right, and the fire button simply launches the bubble. Again, mastering the exact spot where it will land takes skill, especially in the later stages and that aspect of the game requires aiming like a game of pool would. Controls get a score of 9 out of 10.

Graphics & Performance:

They made Bub and Bob even cuter than they were in Bubble Bobble and they have very much a very big Kawaii factor. The game is so cute it might make you ill. Graphics are really well drawn and they deserve a score of 10 out of 10.

The game never lags, no matter what version. Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Conclusion:

If you love puzzle games and you’ve never played this, you must check it out. If you like Bubble Bobble and want to see the dinos killing stuff with their bubble cannon, you need this. If you like Kawaii stuff and cute games, you need this game badly.

***

You can play this game in the Obsolete Gamer arcade area.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade machine
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade machine

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game

It’s the summer of 1989 and if you are an old fart like me you were totally into the TMNT cartoon that began airing a few years earlier. One day I stepped into my favorite arcade and there in the premiere section was the awesome full-sized, four-player game. I remember the first thing I heard was the theme song straight from the cartoon in perfect stereo sound.

Even if you aren’t in your thirties like me chances are you saw the TMNT game in your local arcade because it had a long and successful run. There were two versions, the four-player one and the two-player version. With both you could pick from the four famous turtles, but with the four-player one you could play as the full team.

TMNT was the epitome of beat-em-up games, your goal was simple, beat the Shredder and Krang and take out the Tecnodrome. However, the game starts out with April, the yellow jump suited lady friend of the team being kidnapped and you having to save her.

TMNT arcade screenshot
TMNT arcade screenshot

You start off in a burning building fighting foot soldiers which came in a variety of colors and flavors spouting all types of different weapons from guns, to swords to sonic fans. The idea was to overwhelm you as the foot would try to flank and surround you to attack from all sides.

One of the cool things about the game was you could use the environment to your advantage. You could hit street signs and coin meters to send them flying at the foot. There were also cans that if hit wouldsmoke and then explode. You could also throw some bad guys again the wall where they would smack into it and slowly slide down. The bad news was all this could be done to you as well.

TMNT arcade game box
TMNT arcade game box

In the game you had the choice the four turtles which each had their own unique traits. Donatello had a long range but a slower attack, Raphael and Michelangelo were very fast, but had a short reach and the leader Leonardo was pretty balanced between speed and range.

As for controls it was pretty easy which was good because this was a button mashing boot-camp of a game. You had only two buttons jump and attack, but you could press jump and attack together to do a special move be it a jumping swing attack or like with Raphael a rolling attack. You could also throw the foot over head and if attacking a foot in front of you and another snuck up from behind you could pull of a quick back attack to send them flying.

Back to level one, after making your way through the building and avoiding things like the falling bolder down the stairs and those awful robots, you find April cowering in a room sounded by the foot. After taking out the foot a drill capsule comes up from the ground and Rocksteady, the mutant rhino, attacks. He isn’t too hard to beat with his machine gun and slow kicks, but after you do the Shredder appears to steal April away from you once again.

You continue on into the streets fighting more foot and come across the only way besides beating the level to replenish your health, pizza. Soon after your snack you face Bebop, the mutant warthog which I always found harder with his sonic pulse gun and charge attack. I also found myself falling in the sewer which by the way took a bar of health.

With Bebop down you move to the sewers, but this familiar territory is filled with more foot and biting robots provided by Baxter Stockman who you fight as the levels boss. Then it’s back topside for another street level and then the rematch where you fight Bebop and Rocksteady together. This fight can be tough, but you if you keep your distance and use quick attacks it’s not too bad. Also you can separate them and when you both charge you jump and watch them crash into each other.

With April safe it’s time for revenge which takes you toward the Tecnodrome. On the way you fight a horde of foot soldiers and rocket across the streets in a jet powered skateboard before the turtle van cashes and you find your master, Splinter being carried away.

To get Splinter back you face one of the cheapest bosses in the game, at least in my opinion. The first stone warrior you come across can easily cost you several rolls of quarters. Not only can he trap you in the corner and repeatedly knock you down, but he also can turn your face to toast with his flamethrower. Did I also mention he has a ton of hit points? After you finally lay the smack-down on him you rescue splinter and then it’s off to kick some Tecnodrome ass.

As expected the Tencodrome is packed full with foot soldiers and tons of traps like lasers, freeze rays, robots oh and another cheap stone warrior. However, this stone warrior isn’t half as bad and even though he is sporting a rocket launches he is easily defeatable. Now it’s just you and the two final bosses.

Khang the pink brain of the team comes out from behind an energy screen in his makeshift body firing lasers from its eyes and kicking you if you get close. Stick and move is the key to this fight and soon his robot body will be scrap, but as Khang exclaims while he flies away; “I’m invincible!”

Finally its Shredder time! Shredder is a master swordsman so his sword attacks are fast and deadly. He also has powerful kicked that can send you flying out of your shell. To add to this he can also split into two creating a clone of himself that is just as powerful. Finally he has his mutant ray that can turn you back into a normal turtle effectively one shotting you.

I’ve found the key is to keep them together and take em both out. Soon both their helmets come off and the fight is over. The Tecnodrome is destroyed and you are left to wonder if you will see Krang and the Shredder again, the answer is yes.

TMNT is one of those arcade games that is still fun to play today. It was released for many consoles including the NES though for the NES it was called TMNT 2 because the first TMNT game was god awful and I will not speak on it. If you want to know about it check out this video from the Angry Video Game Nerd.

If you are felling nostalgic you can get TMNT the arcade came on X-box live. Trust me, if you haven’t played this game you need to. TMNT is truly a classic; it had everything a gamer could want. Pure fun, pure excitement, pure turtle power!

Gyruss

Gyruss Arcade
Gyruss Arcade

Gyruss review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“My favorite video game from my early youth”

Overall Score:
10 out of 10

Overview & my history with this game:

This review is specifically for the arcade and c64 versions. I haven’t played the other versions and I know the NES one is different (includes bosses, different music, etc.)

This was the first Konami game I ever saw or played, although it’s not their first game. People were impressed with Pacman but this was the first game that showed me that video games were going to be the future. This is the first game I remember having upgrades and also the concept of getting a “perfect”. This was the first game I played that had bonus stages too.

You take the role of a starship fighter pilot trying to fight your way to earth. The entire solar system has been taken over by a legion of enemy fighters and space stations. Your lone fighter will get swarm attacked by a pack of enemy fighters that will come at you in a specific attack pattern depending on what squadron you’re fighting and what planet you’re traveling to next. Your ship rotates around the center of the screen as you fight your enemies and keep flying forward. You start at Neptune and travel in order of the planets until you make it to Earth.

Gyruss Perfect
Gyruss Perfect

Not only are fighters coming at you at a fast rate but you have to deal with the projectiles they sometimes fire at you, passing asteroids, energy barriers that can rip you apart, and space stations that spawn at the end of a stage. Everything in this game kills you with one shot. If you get touched by an enemy ship or any other object, you instantly die.

At the end of the level, when there are a swarm of enemy fighters circling in the background, 2-3 enemy space stations will appear, one which, if you haven’t picked up the upgrade yet, will make two beams circle around the screen and land on your ship once you kill it, giving your weapon twice the width in spread.

If you kill a certain grouping of enemies in a specifically quick manner and leave no survivors the game also awards you with bonus points. This matters in this game, actually, because you get bonus lives based on your score.

The game loops when you beat it until you run out of lives.

This game has always made me think of the movie The Last Starfighter. In my mind, as a child, I imagined that it took place in that universe and the main character was fighting his way back home.

Gyruss is available originally for the Atari computers as well as 2600 and 5200 consoles, the ColecoVision console, the Commodore 64, and for the NES. The game got rereleased for Playstation, Gameboy Advanced, and Xbox Live Arcade.

Fun Factor:

Gyruss is a ton of fun and my favorite early shooter game. It’s a lot of fun to hear the swarm sound of a group of fighters jumping out at you in a really fast pattern and you blasting away as much as possible trying to kill them all and gain the bonus points while keeping them from ramming you or shooting you as well.

You can see how intense the action is in the following video:

Fun Factor gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Difficulty Versatility:

There is no way to change the difficulty but the game is challenging enough for most gamers as it is. The longer you play it, the harder it gets. The enemies will attack you more often in each passing stage. Overall, the game is tough near the later stages but it’s still playable.

Since you can’t change the difficulty that hurts it but it’s hard enough for most players. I give Difficulty Versatility a score of 7 out of 10.

Value:

Most people will just play this on M.A.M.E. these days so basically the ROM is free. Technically, you’re not supposed to play ROMs unless you own the game already.

The link to download the c64 emulated version is the following from c64.com.

I couldn’t easily find the Playstation and GBA versions for sale as they might be out of print.

Since most people will play the emulated versions, I’d give Value a score of 10 out of 10.

Replayability:

I’ve been playing Gyruss since the early 80s and I visit it often when I’m in a retro arcade/c64 gaming mood. The mix of the music, retro sounds, non-stop gameplay keeps me having fun even though it’s been many years that I’ve been playing this gem. It’s hard for me to get tired of the gameplay. Replayability get a score of 9 out of 10.

Sound:

The sound effects are super retro and they’re brilliant. My favorite sound effects are the blast of the main gun, the teleportation sound from when you warp to the next stage, the gun UPGRADE sound (oh god yes), and the explosion when one bites the dust. The rest of the sounds are great and sound like a perfect blend of retro arcade.

Sound gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Music:

The music to Gyruss is a simplied and sped up version of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue is D minor:

To me classical music in games, especially ones with a ton of action is pretty epic.

Music gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Graphics:

For an early 80s game, this game looks simply amazing. Most of the enemies for the main stages look the same but the enemies for the bonus stages look unique depending on which bonus stage you are doing. The game looks like a total evolution over Space Invaders. Graphics get a score of 10 out of 10, considering this is a 1983 game.

Stability/Reliability:

Since the 80s I’ve never seen this game crash or get stuck once, not even after playing it for ours on my old c64. Stability/Reliability are perfect and get a 10 out of 10.

Controls:

On all versions, the controls are really simple. Left rotates you in that direction and right rotates you in that direction. Fire just fires for all versions. Nothing fancy or confusing there.

For the arcade version, the ship will rotate in the direction of where you have the joystick pointed towards. If you keep it towards the top and you keep pointing up, the ship will just stay there once it’s topped out there.

For the c64 version, it’s a little different. Left moves you counter-clockwise, and right moves you clockwise, no matter what.

Controls can’t get simpler than that. Controls get a score of 10 out of 10.

Performance:

Perfect performance, even when the game just came out. Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Conclusion:

Gyruss is a classic arcade game that should be played by everybody, especially retro arcade gaming junkies!

Leave your comments below or on our social sites!

Dig Dug review

Dig Dug in-game
Dig Dug in-game shot

Dig Dug review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“Pop that monster!”

Overall Score:
9 out of 10

Overview:

Dig Dug consists of you being this blue man in a white suit that digs your way underground to kill monsters in tunnels. You do this by impaling them with an air pump that has like a tip like Scorpion’s weapon in Mortal Kombat (weird, I know but it’s cute!). You them pump the little monsters with enough air until they pop like a balloon. The game keeps progressing as you kill more monsters and there are none left in that level. Each level is progressively harder (especially when multiple enemies come at you at once).

You can get an extra man every 20000 points and you can pick up fruit in the middle of the stage when you kill enemies in a spectacular way, accelerating your 1UP rate.

The original game keeps going for 256 levels with the remake having about 400 levels.

The game is available on most Ataris, the Intellivision, Apple II, Commodore VIC 20 and c64, for PC, NES, gameboy, Wii, and the TI-99/4A. The remake is also available under Namco Classic Collection Volume 2 for Xbox, Gamecube, and the PS2.

Fun Factor:

I always thought it was a trip to fill up cute little monsters with air and watch their belly burst. If you’re braindead like me then you will love this kind of action. As the game will become much harder later, you will have to react instantly to the onslaught of monsters and have to adapt to using the terrain to your advantage and tricking the game’s A.I. by timing your attacks. You will sometimes have to run like a little bitch for your life and that can be fun to do especially in an old game! Fun Factor gets a score of 1o out of 10.

Difficulty Versatility:

Dig Dug is a challenging game. It’s from an era where if you wanted to get a high score you had to be a good gamer. Continues? Never heard of them. You put in a quarter and you got a set amount of lives. If you lost them all, you had to pay again to replay from the beginning. If you like your games easy then Dig Dug is not a game for you. If you like a game where the A.I. will eventually come at you from every direction, really fast then this is your game. You do get one more life though every 20000 points.

The first levels are easy and the game constantly keeps acccelerating in diffuculty. There’s no way to alter that but the game is challenging enough as it is. Difficulty Versatility gets a score of 9 out of 10.

Value:

Since this game is so old now, most people will probably play the emulated (usually MAME) version which you can get for free.

The PS2 Namco Classic Collection version is now out of print and not available online. You can track it down either by calling your local game stores or finding it through ebay.

The Wii version you can probably get online from their store for probably a few dollars.

Overall, since you can either play this game for free or for a few dollars for the PS2 or Wii version, Value gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Replayability:

Most classic arcade games are highly addictive/replayable, unless you find them too hard/frustrating for you. You can pretty much set your own goal as you what you want your experienced with this game to be, whether to get to whatever number of level or whatever your high score will be.

Myself, I find this game fun and I often wonder to what level I can get to the next time I play. Considering I’ve played this game thousands of times since the 80s and I still play it, the game is a classic and very replayable. I give replayability a score of 9 out of 10.

Sound:

The sounds mainly consist of hearing the dragon roar (whistle) and your pump that fills up the cute monsters and pops the living hell out of them. For an old game the sounds are really well done and I think Sound deserves a score of 1o out of 10.

Music:

The music is so simple but it’s so catchy. The music is interactive in the sense that the little jingle will only play whenever your guy is walking. Mega64 makes fun of that fact and made a video where they go around harrassing people with it! Here is a video showing that:

It’s catchy and it keeps you playing this hectic little game. For a few simple notes, it’s a classic. Overall the game has like 4 little melodies but the main melody is the one that you will hear the most. Music gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Graphics:

The graphics look pretty cute for this old game and they are actually great. It’s fun watching the monsters blow up like a balloon and then POP! Graphics get a score of 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

This game actually has 2 bugs.

If you get to the end of the game, the game has a kill screen where you are basically stuck because the game will not progress any further. This happens when you get to the last level of the game (level 256) and beat it.

The other bug happens if you drop a rock on an enemy while you are pumping it with air and snuff it. It basically makes all enemies disappear making the level unbeatable but the work around is to trigger another rock to fall.

Other than those two bugs, mainly the rock one (because most people will NOT get to the last level), the game is rock solid. Stability/Reliability get a score of 8 out of 10.

Controls:

The controls are simple. Up is up and so forth, and the fire button always triggers the harpoon gun/pump which lets you kill enemies. Other than that you walk into the ground to tunnel and you make rocks fall by leaving a tunnel under it (to try to trick a monster into getting crushed). Controls get a score of 10 out of 10.

Performance:

The game runs flawless whether you play it on an arcade machine, emulation (MAME, etc), or on a console remake of it. If only all games could run as well as old games! Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.

My history with this game:

This is one of the first games where I was impressed by an arcade game, specifically Namco and Atari. I remember seeing this around the same time I first played Ms. Pacman, another arcade favorite of mine. I’ve played Dig Dug over 1000 times, literally. It’s not as popular as the Pacman games but among the arcade community, it’s always a classic.

If you’ve never played Dig Dug, you are missing out on a major arcade game that is a corner stone for arcade gaming history. Go play it and stop reading this.

Heavy Weapon (Atomic Tank) review

Heavy Weapon Atomic Tank!
Heavy Weapon Atomic Tank!

Heavy Weapon (Atomic Tank) review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“The return of Silkworm!”

Overall Score:
8 out of 10

Overview:

The first thing that I thought of when I first played this game was that it was based on Silkworm (the mode where you play the jeep). This game takes that action but multiplies it by a factor of 20.

You take the role of the Atomic Tank, the free world’s last hope versus the red scare. The Ruskies/Commies took over most of the world and the only hope for the Americans is for you to blitz their countries in an alternate reality kind of Red Dawn kind of way and blow their home armies to smithereens.

The game is really simple. You are a tank with unlimited ammo finding a horde of helicopters, other land vehicles, fighters, bombers, blimps, killer satellites, and BOSSES. This is a traditional arcade game in every sense.

You get upgrades depending on the game mode and some on the go such as faster movement speed, faster rate of fire for the main cannon, higher DPS, and spread shot upgrades. You get on the field upgrades via white helicopters that drop them for you (which you’re not supposed to kill). The two special weapons are the mega laser and the nuke. The mega laser comes in 4 parts, being dropped after you killed a good amount of enemies. You need to catch the drops before they hit the ground (for the mega laser only) or else they shatter on the ground. Once you get that puppy built you basically scorch ANYTHING they send or shoot against you. The nuke is like your holy grail weapon. You simply activate it and everything on the screen that’s a hostile simply evaporates (even bullets, missiles, and energy balls). Regarding big upgrades they are: a defensive sphere that takes hits for you, a guided missile, a laser cannon upgrade (the best), unguided rockets (2nd best), flak cannon, and homing bouncing lightning (3rd best). There are 3 levels of upgrades for each.

Other than skill keeping you alive, your tank has an energy shield that comes in red, yellow, green, indicating how strong the shield is. Each strength takes one full hit of a weapon for you. Once your shield is gone if you get hit once by anything, say goodnight.

There are two game modes, Campaign and Survival. Campaign consists of playing though 19 different missions (half of them recycle only MUCH harder), with a boss at the end of each, and an upgrade you get to pick (and can respec later if needed) awarded after the boss is dead and the stage is over. You get 3 total lives in Campaign mode and the game saves automatically at the end of the last stage you beat. You can respec your tank build should you need to before replaying the last stage that got you killed. Survival starts you out with a pea shooter and you simply must survive as long as possible while collecting upgrades.

Heavy Weapon (Atomic Tank) is available on PC, PS 3, and Xbox 360.

The following is a video of the first two levels to the campaign game being played:

Fun Factor:

This game is a ton of fun to play because it keeps your attention going as you try to evade enemy weapon fire and focus on unleashed barrages of heavy anti-aircraft fire worth of utter destruction. It’s still simple enough of a game that you can still play it while sleepy and the game will actually probably wake you up or maybe frustrate you (for some players).

This is my kind of arcade game and it reminds me a lot of playing games on c64, amiga, the NES, and SNES. Not only does it remind me of Silkworm but a little bit of Master Blaster from the NES.

Arcade games are fun. Really good arcade games are a TON of fun. Fun Factor gets a score of 9 out of 10 from me.

Difficulty Versatility:

In Heavy Weapon, there is no way to set the difficulty. For the campaign game, for the 19 missions, you will get hard and easy missions depending on how you have your atomic tank specced out and whether the mission itself is hard or not and whether the boss is a cakewalk or a real challenge. The survival mode will continue to get harder no matter what, the longer you survive.

Overall, this game is quite challenging and it took me about a week playing the game on and off to beat the campaign game. The survival mode is the mode I play the most now and it is the most challenging since they make you start with no upgrades and upgrade drops are random. Overall, the Difficulty Versatility of this game gets a 7 out of 10.

Value:

If you get the game from the Popcap games website they sell it for $20, which is not the best price. You can get it via Steam for $10 and that’s totally worth the price of admission, to me. The link to the Steam version is: http://store.steampowered.com/app/3410/

The console versions sell about the same price via their stores. For $10, an arcade game with a good replayability that IS fun, and many many hours of game play, you can’t go wrong. I give Value a score of 9 out of 10.

Replayability:

The campaign mode can get easy, especially if you have beat it already. One basically learns all the attack patterns and spawn combinations for groups of enemies and after countless times of dying, you already know how to counter most attacks. The game still does require pure gaming skill. That mode is still worth checking out for its fun factor and the upgrades you get at the end of each level.

Survival mode is a blast if you want to see if you are making any development as far as your skill goes as the game keeps track via a highscore table your top 10 longest survival times (time, not score matters here).

Heavy Weapon is a easy game to pick up and drop so it is highly replayable if you like old skool arcade style games. I give Replayability a score of 9 out of 10.

Sound:

This is certainly a game where if you put the volume all the way up, you will probably play better. There are so many audio ques you can get of oncoming attacks that you want to be warned and the explosions get addictive. All the sound effects are great! Even the announcer that sounds like an old 80s arcade game gives the game a retro feel that’s classic!

If you want to have a real treat keep playing the game collecting the parts for the mega laser. The sound of hearing it fry any target instantly and seeing them just pop is simply amazing! Sound gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Music:

The game has a a limited number of songs. The main menu has a fake 80s hairband rock ballad that sounds real but so cheesy. I still love it. The main song sounds like a military march and it has a good beat and keeps a great mood going of “the commies are coming!” The rest of the music in the game are short tunes but they keep the atmosphere of the game constant. It just wants to make you play the game even more. Music gets a score of 8 out of 10 simply because of the lack of more music. What’s there is great though!

Graphics:

This is a budget title so you shouldn’t expect much but I found the art of the game really neat, especially all the fake Stalin statues in the background. The graphics are really neat and kind of remind me of playing Project X and Disposable Hero on the Amiga. It seems like a lot of love was put into this game based on how humorous some of the graphics are. I give Graphics a score of 10 out of 10 for what the game is.

Stability/Reliability:

I’ve never had any crashes with the game, not even while ALT-TABbing via the PC version. The game is SOLID. Stability/Reliability get a score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:

For the PC version, the controls get some getting used to, at least at first. They are simple but some of that simplicity can get you killed. Basically, the tank will move in the direction you have the mouse pointed at. Left mouse button shoots and the only other button is the right mouse button for the nuke.

Because the tank will move towards where you are shooting (especially annoying when you have the flak cannon upgrade which will blow up around the cursor only), you need to be careful that the tank is not driving towards oncoming enemy projectiles or that it doesn’t ram any of the enemies that instakill you.

The controls are simple but they make the game challenging. That can be kind of fun but some people will find it annoying. I give Controls a score of 6 out of 10.

Performance:

This game runs perfectly on any PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. I’ve only had it lag slightly while running about 10 programs in the background but it hardly ever happens. Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.

My history with this game:

I first played this game when we were at my friend Frank’s house and we downloaded the demo via the PS3 Store just to check out some new games. We played the living crap out of the demo, and even that was fun. When I found that they were selling this on Steam I didn’t hesitate to buy it on the spot since I remember how challenging the demo was. I’ve been playing this game for about 2 months and I still find it entertaining.

OutRun 2006 Coast 2 Coast

Outrun 2006 Coast 2 Coast title
Outrun 2006 Coast 2 Coast title

OutRun 2006 Coast 2 Coast review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“The return of the arcade classic, Outrun”

Overall Score:

8 out of 10

Overview:

Outrun is one of the classic arcade games that put Sega on the map in the arcade world and helped them later become a major player in the console market. If you’ve never played Outrun, Outrun is a very fast racing game where you are driving really fast in a bunch of Ferrari cars to get to the finish line, with a time limit. There are different game modes, some where you race against rivals, the traditional one where you are trying to get there as soon as possible with your girlfriend riding shotgun, and another one where you are trying to get the girl excited (no, seriously) by completing challenges. You do different stages depending on the game mode you set it to and unlock new courses, girlfriends, cars (which you buy with money), and music (which you buy in money if you don’t to cheat). You still have from the original, your girlfriend bitching you out when you get yourselves killed by ramming the Ferrari and flipping it over and over after hitting some palm trees or other obstacles.

The physics engine is basically an arcade game so don’t expect GRID or Grand Turismo. Damage is non existent so you’re basically immortal so long as the time doesn’t run out (for some game modes).

PC, PSP, Xbox, and PS 2 versions of the game are available.

Fun Factor:

If you like driving fast and want to get a good feeling of being out on a crazy road trip with hot girl, Outrun is the game for you. For me, the game brings a great feeling of nostalgia since I played the original arcade game in the 80s and at home on the c64 (both Outrun and Turbo Outrun). The game gets hard later but it only makes me want to master it even more. Fun Factor gets a score of 9 out of 10.

Difficulty Versatility:

The difficulty starts out easy and gets to the point where it is impossible for most people to win at all. The later stages would even put skynet to shame, as they are designed for a god to be able to beat. =P I give difficulty versality a 6 out of 10 since you can’t do much about it and it will make you cry (once it becomes insane difficulty).

Value:

I got this game on Steam for about 7 dollars when it was on sale on Christmas. They sometimes sell it on there, but not currently. You can pick it up for console for 5-10 dollars and considering how fun this game is, it’s still worth getting, although it’s old (for most video game players). You can find the game for sale on ebay, gogamer.com, and gamestop/ebgames. I give it a Value score of 10 out of 10.

Replayability:

I played this game a few months ago and it’s still fun to pick up once in a while. I would recommend doing some practice runs before really committing on it again on a replay because the later stages will usually frustrate you. I give Replayability a score of 7 out of 10.

Sound:

Some of the sounds are kind of generic like some of the car engine sounds, that don’t impress. The tires pealing out noise is wonderful and they bring back a lot of memories of the original. Overall, Sound gets a score of 7 out of 10.

Music:

The music for this game is simply BRILLIANT! Two modernized versions of the original songs are in it, and they are even better than the originals. All the original versions for all previous Outrun games and all the Outrun sequels are included. The OGG files for these songs are available within the game directories, so that you can make your own mix CD of Outrun in real life and go for a real Outrun! ;-] Even some new tracks are introduced which sound like they come from Planet Sega! =P Music gets a 10 out of 10, simply because 1o is the max!

Graphics:

This game came out in 2006 and the game designers did a decent job of balancing graphical quality (better than arcade quality at the time) and performance. The car models for the individual Ferraris are pretty well done and since the game includes some rare car models, it’s a nice treat. I give Graphics a score of 7 out of 10 overall.

Stability/Reliability:

For the most part the game never crashes, at least in the middle of a race. I’ve gotten the game to freeze up while loading if I play it for too long or just the game launched in a bad mood. Not much data loss happens when that takes place. Overall, I give Stability/Reliability a score of 8 out of 10.

Controls:

The controls are as simple as can be and since this is an arcade racer, that’s a really good thing. Because drifting is such an essential part of the game, I usually remap the brake to something other than down on the arrow keys. It allows better control. Since the game even lets you remap while in a race, the controls are solid. Controls get a rating of 10 out of 10.

Performance:

This game is 3-4 years old and it runs fine on any computer that you would be using for gaming anyways. It would probably also run fine in a light gaming computer such as a work laptop. I give performance a rating of 10 out of 10 considering how many computers will be able to run this game.

My history with this game:

From the arcade, to the c64, and then Amiga, Outrun has always had a place in my heart as far as racing games go. I hope they keep making sequels to it, even in the arcade form because the games are always fun and they’re relaxing to play (some racing games will give you a heart attack). I can usually just load up this game and have a good time without having to worry about the world ending if I lose.