The Daily Awesome: the Model G1 from Rabbit Engineering

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The Model G1 from Rabbit Engineering

Today’s Daily Awesome is the Model G1 from Rabbit Engineering. It is an arcade unit that allows you to play almost any NES cartridge. What’s cool is the styling’s which was made to order and features arcade-style inputs and its own screen and the classic wooden finish is pretty sweet.

 

Model G1 from Rabbit Engineering

Now this rig is a bit pricy at $199, but for retro enthusiast it’s a must have!

P.S. In the video above is the G2 which features an Atari 2600!

Check out the specs and details here – Rabbit Engineering Model G1

Chase HQ Arcade

Chase HQ

Chase HQ was my first arcade love. It’s the first arcade game I can actually remember, well, remembering. I knew the name, I would actively seek it out in the various horrible, dingy, seaside arcades I forced my family to take me to as a kid.* It was colourful, it was noisy, you got to drive a car, bash into another car, and a man leaned out of the window and fired a gun. Brilliant. Simple, effective arcade action. I did whatever Nancy told me to do. I still probably would.

So it was only natural I would want my very own version to play at home. As Lewis has already touched on here there was a time when everyone was obsessed with something being ‘arcade perfect’. The dream held by every school boy was that they could play an exact replica of the game they played at the arcade in the comfort of their own bedroom, away from the frightening puffa-jacketed older boys who might beat them up or intimidate them by standing right behind them and watching them play.

Of course it all seems so quaint now, bloated as we are on fancy graphics and plasma tellys. Why, the arcade itself now struggles to compete with home consoles, relying on ever more elaborate and expensive gimmicks to try and get people to fritter their pound coins away as they once did with their 20ps. Ahhhh, ’twas a different time.

At the time my brother and I were proud owners of an Amstrad CPC6128k (with disc drive, and I’m sure it was spelt disc not disk back then). Now the Amstrad CPC version of Chase HQ was never going to be arcade perfect. Even at 10 years old I knew that.

While the arcade version looked like this:

Chase HQ - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot - 1

The Amstrad CPC version looked like this:

Chase HQ - Amstrad CPC - Gameplay Screenshot

Didn’t matter though. I was well used to such differences and had lowered my expectations accordingly, I just wanted the chance to play Chase HQ at home. Is that really so much to ask?

I found a mail order company in an Amstrad magazine selling Chase HQ at a very reasonable price. I can’t remember how much now, something like £5, but it was cheap. I saved up the odd 20 pence and 50 pence given to me by grandparents and aunts and uncles until I had enough. I got my mum to write a cheque for me, posted my order and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And after about 2 months my parents tired of me asking if Chase HQ had arrived every time I got home from school. My dad called the company, it seemed they had gone bust. I wasn’t going to ever get the game. They had though, in a thoughtful parting gesture, cashed my mum’s cheque, effectively stealing from a 10 year old.

Now this is were Robert Maxwell gets involved. At least I think he does. I’m sure I remember my Dad saying the company had gone bust partly because one of Maxwell’s companies, I presume Mirrorsoft but again I don’t know, owed them a huge amount of money. So, in a roundabout way, Robert Maxwell stole Chase HQ away from me. How did he sleep at night? Maybe that was the final guilty nail when he was on that boat…

Though now I think about it (and having done a little bit of research on the internet – I checked wikipedia) that doesn’t seem that likely. Still, I like to blame him, he did enough crooked things that adding another seems fair enough.

I never got Chase HQ. Very soon after that incident it became increasingly difficult to find places selling Amstrad CPC games, certainly older ones. It seemed I just wasn’t meant to play it at home. In fact after that experience I stopped playing it in the arcade. The game had been soiled in some way.

So, how did Chase HQ make my life slightly better? Well, it taught me to be wary of ads in the backs of magazines – an important lesson to learn whatever your age.

Catlateral Damage

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Catlateral Damage

Goat Simulator with a Cat?

Perhaps not, but this indie game caught my eye when I saw it. First it is called, Catlateral Damage which is awesome in itself. What it is, is a first person mischievous cat simulator. Just like that damn goat, your mission is to knock over your owners belonging making a mess on the floor, just like real life am I right?

Catlateral Damage

You have 2 minutes to achieve this and just like the Table Flipping Game, the fun is in the knowledge that you are messing up someone else’s stuff. So the Dev is going to be adding more to the game so there will be different rooms and more stuff to knock off and the game is Greenlit and will support Occulus Rift.

Catlateral Damage Catlateral Damage Catlateral Damage

  • Visit the Greelight page & leave gameplay suggestions & feedback HERE
  • Play in a Unity supported browser HERE or Download the Alpha HERE

 

Thanks to PressHeartToContinue for the video review.

Haunted Castle

Haunted Castle a.k.a. Akuma-Jou Dracula by Konami (1988) – Arcade

Haunted Castle - Arcade

So there I was, messing round with MAME again when I selected yet another random, rather generic-sounding title to try. The resultant title screen was pretty cool and from there followed a brief intro which showed some girly getting kidnapped by a pesky Dracula-like nincompoop, and I also noticed that it was a Konami game. Hmmm, something about this was starting to seem familiar, but before I thought about that too much I started the game.

Haunted Castle - Arcade

At this point, a feeling of unbridled horror soon fell upon me like dark clouds casting their mighty shadows over a once vibrant landscape, but it wasn’t the game’s spooky horror theme that caused this; noo, this was down to the game itself which stunk like a garlic-riddled corpse. Intrigued by this badness, I then looked into it in more detail so I could know exactly what/who I was cussing, paying more attention this time. Then… egads! Sure enough, it was confirmed – Haunted Castle is actually a Castlevania game!

Haunted Castle - Arcade

As someone who largely avoided Nintendo consoles until the mid-90’s, one of several well regarded IP’s I never got around to looking into properly is Castlevania. I know of their glowing reputation though, and I have played a couple briefly, which makes this effort all the more surprising. It takes the form of a scrolling whip ’em up and involves guiding a suitably heroic-looking fellow through hordes of skeletons, bats, and zombies with the object, presumably, of rescuing the aforementioned girly. So far, so familiar.

Haunted Castle - Arcade

 

Aside from some clunky controls and suspicious collision-detection, however, there’s one big problem – it’s ridiculously hard as well. Our hero (Mr. Belmont, presumably) can take a few hits but has only the one life with which to face the infinite enemies which require fairly precise strikes from his whip. Then I reached an insanely tough screen on which chunks from a castle wall fly across the screen, and it gets even harder from then on. When I eventually get around to covering the Castlevania series I’ll take another look at this (once I’ve mentally prepared myself) but for now… uurghhh. And people whine about Ghosts’n Goblins being too tough? Holy crap, I hope the other games are easier!

RKS Score: 1/5

TumblePop

 Tumble Pop

TumblePop

Back again for another round of forgotten gaming classics. This time, we take a look at another fairly obscure arcade game that was mentioned last time around, that being 1991’s TumblePop. TumblePop was made by Japanese developer/publisher Data East, who were one of the kings of the arcade’s heyday. Data East was responsible for such early arcade hits as Burger Time, Astro Fighter, Karate Champ, and Ring King. They also made later hits such as Karnov, Two Crude Dudes, Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja, Heavy Barrel, Captain America and the Avengers, Kid Niki, Breakthru, Bloody Wolf, and the Magical Drop series. They were also a big name in the late 80s/early 90s home console market, producing such hits as Joe & Mac, Congo’s Caper, and High Seas Havoc. And of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention their infamous (but decent) Street Fighter II ripoff, Fighter’s History, which became a short-lived series of it’s own.
Tumble Pop
It SUCKS, while it CUTS!

Unlike the last entry, Avenging Spirit, TumblePop was more of your traditional arcade fare: light on story, big on high scores and just outright fun. The basic premise of the game is that you play a pair of “Ghost Buster” type characters, who use (get this) vacuum cleaner type gizmos to suck up ghosts, demons, aliens and other monsters. A concept that would, in some form, pop up again years later in Nintendo’s own Luigi’s Mansion. Once you suck up enemies, you can blast them back OUT of the vacuum thingy to use as projectiles against other enemies. And therein lies the core gameplay mechanic, and basic fun of Tumble Pop.

Tumble Pop
I’ll have the Calamari, Bob.

Similar to the Taito classic Bubble Bobble, when enemies are destroyed, they often leave behind goodies for you to collect, such as coins, etc. In fact, the game seems largely inspired by earlier hits like Bubble Bobble as well as Capcom’s Buster Bros, and the game takes the same classic arcade approach of the action being limited to little “Screens”, instead of the kinds of sprawling levels seen in the later side-scroller genre. Like those earlier games, it also features two player simultaneous co-op gameplay, which just adds to the pandemonium. Along with goodies from enemies, you also collect occasional letters that, as you can see in the picture above, eventually spell out “Tumbepop”, and when you get the full word, you are whisked off to a timed bonus stage where you can get even MORE high-score ensuring goodies, as well as extra lives.

Tumble Pop
Alright Mister, FREEZE!

The game plays out over 10 different areas, representing (mostly) real places on earth, such as New York, Moscow, Japan, Egypt, Australia, etc. In the final two areas (SPOILERS) the game sees you travel to Outer Space and finally The Moon. Each area features it’s own themed monsters, as well as typically one big boss fight at the end. And as you have seen in these pictures, there are some crazy bosses, like a giant octopus, a killer snowman, a giant clown robot, a flaming dragon, an enormous genie, etc. And if that weren’t enough, if you failed to defeat all the monsters in a given time, a Dracula-type dude will wander on screen and if he catches you, you lose a life. Major bummer. Totally bogus! But I digress.

Tumble Pop
What the hell happened? Now we’re colorless AND adorable!

As mentioned in the previous article, as coincidental Fate would have it, unfortunately the only platform that TumblePop was ever ported to, like Avenging Spirit before it, was the original Game Boy, in 1992. Again, awesome for Game Boy owners, too bad for anybody else. As again, this would have made an amazing NES game, or even SNES or Genesis game. I certainly would have loved to have rented or maybe even owned it on NES as a kid. The one big difference between the two however, in my personal experience, was that I actually got to PLAY the arcade version of TumblePop as it was long a mainstay of the local area skating rink. As a matter of fact, as a call back to an even earlier article, remember that buddy of mine Harold, whose favorite game EVER is M.C. Kids? Yup, well TumblePop was pretty much his favorite arcade game too. And wouldn’t you know it (unlike his modern taste in games), BOTH of these classics were actually fun! Damn you Harold!!

Tumble Pop
I guess it’s true what they say…being on game box art really DOES make you gain weight!

It should be mentioned that the Game Boy version of TumbePop differed slightly, in that it featured a “World Map” of sorts, where you could even exit areas if they were too hard and come back later, as well as an on-map Shop where you could use coins collected to buy upgrades. Pretty nifty all around. And, again like Avenging Spirit, the Game Boy version of TumblePop, as luck would have it, is available for download on the 3DS eShop. I would highly suggest giving both games a whirl, as they’re well worth it.

Well, that about wraps it up folks! Another fun game, faded from memory, but now resurrected through the power of….well, my bodacious writing! Go find yourself a copy of TumblePop, and suck away!

WWF Superstars

 

WWF Superstars

Technos Japan, 1989

One of the first major licensed arcade wrestling games to hit the US streets did so in 1989 when Technos Japan released WWF Superstars. While not an immensely deep game, it did offer its share of action and enjoyment to those who had enough quarters (it ate quarters like nothing else, save WWF Wrestlefest).

The story: Flashback to WWF in the late 80’s, after the amazing Hogan-Andre feud. Bobby Heenan, then Andre’s manager, sells Andre’s services to the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase (who brought Steve Austin into the WWF).

Their main rivals are the team of Hulk Hogan and Randy “Macho Man” Savage, the Megapowers. This feud was enough to make DiBiase and Andre, the unplayable boss characters in this game, demigods in the eyes of those who played against them.

The Game:

Graphics:

The graphics would fit right into the world of Double Dragon, as they both have a very similar style.  It is definitely well above what the most popular home console, the NES, could do at the time.

Gameplay:

In fact, the punching in this game is Technos-y; IE very much a flailing style not unlike the aforementioned Double Dragon.  Quite different from their actual punches but that’s… fine.

When you pin someone, you immediately control your tag team partner.  This is useful for trying to block your opponent’s partner from breaking your pin, but it can be disorienting at times because as soon as the pin is broken, you’re back in control of your main character.

There is no way to regain your health… even if you tag out.  The only way you can heal yourself is to insert more quarters.  Once your power hits 0, you have no chance of kicking out of a pin.  And, your power does not regenerate EVEN if you win and go on to the next match.  You better either conserve, or have enough quarters ready to go at it.

The sequel, WWF Wrestlefest, would later improve on this mistake, allowing you to regain some health while tagged out.

Sound:

The intro music is fantastic.  I had that tune trapped in my head ever since I first laid eyes on this at Crazy Eights Arcade in Waterbury, CT.  This song absolutely signified WRESTLING to me for quite a bit of time.

Furthermore, when you’re low on power, the music can get QUITE dramatic… until you insert that quarter like you’re supposed to, ya dingus.

WWF Superstars

  Insert coin! Something you’re going to see quite often in this game.

 WWF Superstars Hey… all but two of these guys were still working all the way up to 1999!

Honestly, having six distinct characters to choose from was pretty good for a 1989 game.  A lot of games, including the previously released WWF Wrestlemania for the NES may have had multiple characters, but in many cases, they had the exact same moveset.  Here, each character had their own movesets!

Also unheard of was the fact that each character had their actual finishers (well, except for Duggan of course, who used a clunky bulldog, instead of his 3-point stance clothesline).  Again, this was a feature COMPLETELY missing from the aforementioned WWF Wrestlemania.

WWF Superstars

 Do you have what it takes?

In other words, do you have $50 in quarters?
Seriously.  Games like these were serious quarter
eaters.
 

WWF Superstars 
Ahh… good ol’ New York.  Appears to be Madison Square
Garden.  Noticeably absent is the Iron Sheik, bragging
about how many times he sold the place out.

 WWF Superstars

To demonstrate this game, I chose the Mega Powers.  The only matches available in this game are tag-team.  While this may be unfortunate to today’s wrestlegame fans, it is nevertheless a fun way to spend some pocket change in 1989.

And after 3 gutwrenching and heartbreaking matches for my opponents (and possibly for the poor fans in attendance who had to watch the same tag-team fight over and over again):

WWF Superstars

 WWF Superstars

 WWF Superstars

Mean Gene: “They’re claiming themselves challengers to your world championship belts.”“No one can beat the Mega-Bucks”, Andre says, while gazing longingly at Virgil…

“I’ll put you to sleep with my Million Dollar Dream!”

WWF Superstars Those lazy bastards!  They couldn’t be bothered to drawa new scene for Ted and Andre’s entrance, so they just decided to reverse it!

So as you may have guessed, your final opponents are Andre the Giant and Ted DiBiase.  Andre is a notorious pain in the ass.  Do not try any power moves on him…  he can EASILY reverse them!  Once in a while they will work, but it’s best not even tried!  DiBiase is no slouch either, but Andre is SERIOUSLY tough.

After beating the Mega-Bucks:

WWF Superstars

 WWF Superstars

Your victory celebration!

Elizabeth: “I am pleased to present you

with these championship belts!”
But wait there’s more…

 WWF Superstars What??  Do mine eyes decieve me?
Is that the Budokan? Yes it indeed is!
I made many a trip here when I lived in Japan.

 So,yes.  After winning in New York, you are instantly whisked away to the land of Giant Baba and Stan Hansen, as the WWF invades Japan!  Could we be in for some 5 star classics, ala Misawa vs. Kawada?

WWF Superstars 

Nope.
No matter where the WWE goes, it’s always the same.

Hey, didn’t ya ever notice that the computer can duck,

but you can’t? And is DiBiase teaming with the Warrior?  
Only three more matches to go… again.

WWF Superstars 

This again??  “Declaring ourselves”?  I thought we were the champs!

WWF Superstars 
But we already have… nevermind.

Despite my apparent frustration with this game, I actually love it!  At this point, wrestling games, at least in the US (with the sole exception of Pro-Wrestling for the NES) were pretty much garbage.  WWF Wrestlemania for the NES was garbage, and Microleague Championship Wrestling (the C64 / Amiga game which was pretty much rock-paper-scissors with primitive FMV) was nothing but novelty.  WWF Superstars was pretty much the only game in town for a “proper” wrestling game.  It was great for its time, and it still holds up pretty well today!

The only things close to a “port” (and as Bobby Heenan would say, “I use that term LOOSELY”) would be Ocean Software’s 1991 WWF Wrestlemania for C64, DOS, Amiga, etc., and WWF Superstars for the Gameboy, both of which emulated the graphic style and had more contemporaneous wrestlers but added a weird promo mechanic.

But those are for another time!

Burnout

Burnout_arcade

Burnout (2001)
By: Criterion Games / Acclaim  Genre: Racing  Players:  Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Arcade  First Day Score: Infinity
Also Available For: PlayStation 2, Xbox
Burnout_arcade

As many regular readers here may know, the demise of Sega’s fantastic Dreamcast took with it my enthusiasm for all ‘modern’ gaming as well. Consequently, a vast majority of systems and games released since then went largely ignored by me. Still to this day I’ve used a PS2 only very briefly, and I’ve never used an Xbox, but the GameCube is a bit different. My appreciation of racing games is also well-known and it was these games that consumed the bulk of my time with my shiny Dreamcast so my interest in modern gaming was again briefly piqued by a magazine cover I saw. The magazine was Edge whose cover was only usually awarded to notably important or prestigious subjects so when I saw one dominated by a new racing game called Burnout, I took immediate notice, particularly when I saw the text accompanying the image – “OutRun meets 3DO Need For Speed”…

Burnout_arcade

That said, any interest I had in video games at all during my post-Dreamcast depression was intermittent so it took me a good while to get around to playing Burnout, but when I finally did it was the GC version that I plumped for and my first impressions were mixed. It certainly isn’t a game to bog you down in exposition – as far as I can tell there’s not even a basic outline of your objectives beyond the obvious goal of being ‘number one’ (snigger), never-mind anything as radical as a backstory, but that isn’t too important with games like this. All the game does give you is a choice of several play-modes – Championship, Single Race, Head to Head, Time Attack, and Special. The first two consist of races against three CPU-controlled cars over ‘street’ courses which of course are crammed full of civilian vehicles. Single Race (arcade mode, basically) give you a choice of five fictional cars – Supermini, Sports Coupe, Saloon, Muscle, and Pickup – and three courses to race them on.

Burnout_arcade

Doesn’t sound like much I agree, so luckily more cars and courses can be unlocked by racing (well) in the Championship. This is the mode you’ll probably spend by far the most time with and it consists of two types of race – Grand Prix and Marathon races. There are four Grands Prix, which are each a series of three races over several laps of circuit-based courses (the number of laps depends on the length of the circuit), and two Marathons, which are single races over one long point-to-point course. Both types of race have a fairly strict time-limit to reach the numerous checkpoints but successful completion of each unlocks subsequent Championship races, more courses, more options for the Special Mode, and Face Off races. There are four of the latter which are head-to-head races against a CPU-controlled opponent in a new car. Win the race and you unlock the car for future use!

Burnout_arcade

This does of course bring the total number of cars available in the game to nine – the un-lockables are (skip this part if you want it to be a surprise!) – Roadster, Saloon GT, Tow Truck, and a Bus! Each vehicle is modeled on a real world equivalent (unofficially, of course) and differs with regards to its acceleration, top speed, and handling. The first two don’t matter too much as your opponents will generally be of an equal standard anyway – i.e. if you choose a slow car, they’ll be slow as well, so finding a car that handles according to your preferred driving style is most important. Some of them stick to the road like glue and obey your every command without question; others skid and slide around all over the place! Everyone knows it’s way more fun going for the fastest, craziest option though, and to that end I would recommend the Dodge Viper. Ermm, I mean the ‘muscle car’ – it’s big, heavy, and a challenge to control around corners, but it’s fast!

Burnout_arcade

There are a total of fifteen named courses through the game but only five of them are wholly unique – Interstate, Harbor Town, River City, Hillside Pass, Gridlock USA – the others are made up of sections taken from these courses, sometimes reversed or at different times of day (or night). Although they’re all comprised of public roads, there’s still a reasonable variety of types and features. Their names should give you a good idea or what they’re like but you can expect to tackle inner-city areas, motorways, coastal roads, quiet country lanes, and various others featuring undulating surfaces, tunnels, long sweeping corners, sharp right-hand turns, bridges, and lots of other stuff. As mentioned, all roads are filled with normal road-users as well, including everything from normal cars to buses, petrol-tankers, and big trucks, and these are predictably involved in much of the action.
Burnout_arcade

Travelling the sort of speeds typical of this game, it doesn’t take too much contact to cause a crash. Indeed, hitting stationary objects like walls and barriers is normally enough but touching any other vehicle that isn’t travelling at a near-identical speed (i.e. your opponents) will result in a usually-spectacular accident, often involving numerous other vehicles as well. Whilst it was almost certainly the often-leisurely drives around attractive locales that Edge magazine had in mind when they compared Burnout to OutRun, it was surely the huge crashes that made them mention the original Need For Speed. I guess Criterion were rather proud of them too – each is replayed from several angles and gives a damage figure in dollars. There’s even a ‘biggest crash’ category in the records screen, tempting you to cause them on purpose in pursuit of the record for each course!
Burnout_arcade

This can be tremendous fun as you might imagine, but believe it or not there is actually some incentive for avoiding accidents where possible, and that it what gave the game its name to begin with – the Burnouts! This is represented by a meter in the bottom-left of the screen and there are a few ways of gradually filling it – getting ‘air’ by driving over bumps and hills fast enough, driving on the wrong side of the road without crashing, drifting around corners, and by ‘near misses’ – in other words, nearly hitting civilian cars. Once the meter is full it’s available to use by pressing the relevant button which causes a significant increase in speed for… about thirty seconds if memory serves. This does of course greatly increase the likelihood of a crash as not only do the other cars come at you faster, but it also makes cornering a lot more difficult. When they do come though, they can be among the most spectacular crashes of all!
Burnout_arcade

They certainly do look impressive as well, whether you cause them on purpose or not! In fact, everything looks good here really – the cars, courses, roadside, and scenery are all fantastic and superbly detailed, but this kind of stuff is the least we expect from 21st century gaming – what impressed me the most was the smaller stuff. You can change the color of your chosen vehicle and the races take place at various times of day so the lighting there is great as well, and the attention to detail is superb – weather effects, your car’s shiny windows and bodywork reflecting the sky and parts of the scenery, its drive wheels kicking up dust if you veer off track, its headlights reflecting off the road surface during wet night races, your indicators flashing when you turn corners, shadows appropriate to the sun’s position, other road user honking at you if you get in the way… it’s all here!
Burnout_arcade

Even better is the sense of speed which was the best I’d experienced at the time and still impresses now, especially when using the ‘bumper cam’, and even more so when using a ‘burnout’ – everything gets a tinge of blurriness as your pace immediately increases, reflections pass over your car faster, tunnels approach scarily, it’s pulse-quickening stuff! And then there’s those crashes… The crashes are undeniably a visual high-point – sometimes your car will just stop dead, other times roll numerous times down the street, it can get wedged under trucks, stuck between two buses; hitting a crash barrier or something can even send you spinning through the air, but the results are usually the same for all vehicles involved – smashed windows, dents and scratches all over, and a million different types of crumpled bodywork. I’m no physicist but I’d say the vehicles also behave exactly as they should in these high-speed collisions too which is perhaps even more impressive.
Burnout_arcade

As entertaining as the crashes are though, I always found them a bit overrated. Games like Destruction Derby were created specially with crashing in mind but Burnout, however good its crashes may be, was designed as a racing game first and foremost, and in this regard it’s fantastic. The Championship mode probably won’t take too long to complete but all the courses and cars unlocked therein are available for use in Single Race and Head to Head modes which helps prolong the lifespan of this fine game, and then there’s the hitherto unmentioned Special Mode. To start with this only offers race replays and a music player but it’s also possible to view the credits, access a Survival mode (challenges you to race for as long as possible without crashing), Free Run (lets you race a course without any other traffic around), Free Run Twin (two player version of Free Run), all of which is unlocked in much the same way as the courses and cars.
Burnout_arcade

Even all these play modes will only last so long though. As with any other driving game, the thing that will or won’t keep you playing after you’ve seen everything is simply how enjoyable it is to play, and this is probably Burnout’s greatest strength. Part of the reason for this is the racing system which is surprisingly fair – if you race well but crash occasionally, your opponents will usually be very close by, constantly jostling for position, although not too violently. If you race really well and rarely or never crash, they’ll be way behind, and if you crash every thirty seconds you’ll never catch them up, or at least the leader! Something else that’s very welcome here is the fallibility of the other racers – they all make mistakes and frequently crash, often right in front of you, leaving you with a pile of wreckage to try and steer around unscathed! Possibly a tougher enemy than your opponents though, is the rather harsh time-limit which necessitates fast but careful driving in order to make each checkpoint. This, however, may sometimes seem impossible due to the design of the courses.
Burnout_arcade

They’re not badly designed you see, just realistically, and since real roads are not designed for 150mph races, there’s lots of potential problems. As well as the many, many normal road users who move around as real drivers would, changing lanes, turning at junctions, stopping at traffic lights, etc, there are plenty of tight (and often blind) corners, and even things like crossroads to try and catch you out as well, frequently successfully. The control of the cars is one of my favorite things about this game though. Each is noticeably different and testing the limits of them all is great fun – push any of them too hard and they’ll complain! The floopiest one is also, not in-coincidentally, my favorite, but even the weediest ones will give in eventually. What all this basically means is, although it can often seem like a tough or even unfair game, it’s more than possible to navigate each course quickly and safely. It’s definitely not a game to simply hold down the accelerator and bash your way around each course, but careful as well as skillful driving make playing it a thoroughly entertaining experience.

First impressions of Burnout are ultra fantastic – the very superb presentation, flashy graphics, eye-melting speed, and of course the crashes! Criterion definitely nailed it from an aesthetic point of view, although the oft-criticized in-game music is very much background music and quite inconspicuous. Get past the initially dazzling exterior though, and second impressions of the game may put you off a little. It seems as though you crash every thirty seconds without being able to do anything to prevent it and numerous angry shouts are sure to leave your mouth while playing. Stick with it though, and you’ll soon see that practice absolutely pays dividends. Time spent with the challenging courses and flawlessly-handling cars soon becomes immensely enjoyable, you’ll start finishing races without having crashed at all, laps times will continually come down, and Burnout soon becomes one of the most exciting, addictive, edge-of-the-seat racing games ever seen at the time.

RKS Score: 8/10

R-Type Dimensions

r-type-dimensions

If there was one thing I would not expect to do on a next-gen console, is to play games from the older generation. Boy was I wrong! Even though I do own a SNES and a Master System 2, I still happily play old and new titles on my Xbox Classic, the 360 and the Wii. The 360 and the Wii offer access to their exclusive online stores, and amongst the titles on there are a lot of old games from the older consoles. With that said, a lot of companies lately are remaking classics (and doing quite a faithful job of it as well!) Enter R-Type Dimensions.

r-type-dimensions

My past experiences with the R-Type games weren’t overly immense. A brief stint at a Timezone in Sydney back in the 80’s , the rental-to-almost-purchase on the Master System 2 in the early 90’s, and a sequel on the SNES (R-type 3). A frustratingly hard game? Some could say that, but I’ll go with exuberantly challenging. For those who don’t know what R-Type is, it is a side-scrolling shooter, think 1942 but with a side-on perspective. The storyline is that there’s the evil Bydo empire invading the universe, you are a pilot of a small ship sent to stop this evil.

r-type-dimensions

Okay, not much to it really, but this is the kind of game, where the storyline doesn’t mean a thing, and gameplay is where it matters. R-Type Dimensions is a faithful remake to the original game on the arcade. The graphics have been enhanced to a more modern (3D) feel, and I’ll be honest, they (IREM who were the original creators of R-Type, Tozai, and SouthEnd) did an amazing job of keeping the remake faithful to the classic, also by including an option to swap between HD and Classic graphic mode flawlessly, as the High-def visuals were rolled over onto the originals (Plural, yes, it includes R-Type I & II).

r-type-dimensions

The game was, and still is very challenging, getting to the point that many levels can not be passed easily unless you have 1-3 seconds of invincibility after you die, and a new ship appears. You have multiple power-ups, one of them infamously is your satellite, which is mounted to the front or rear of the ship, and can be jettisoned at will and returned back to the front or the rear of the ship. With the usual speed-ups and missile power-ups, you will find interesting methods on attacking the hordes of enemies, and figuring out how to defeat each end-level boss without losing 50 or so lives.

r-type-dimensions

Speaking about the lives, there is also an infinite mode, meaning you have unlimited lives to plow through the game with. The challenge there I suppose is to see who can finish the game with the least lives. There is also a co-op mode which would be beneficial for plowing through such a hard game.

On the XBLA for 1200 Microsoft Points, some would argue that the price for title like this is questionable. R-Type Dimensions is definitely a title for those who appreciated the original on just about any platform since it’s release.

4.5 out of 5

Pros:
– extremely loyal remake to the original
– ability to swap between new and old graphics
– challenging

Cons:
– Price may be questionable
– Plenty of moments where you could lob your controller across the lounge room from frustration

Ghosts’n Goblins

Ghosts’n Goblins

The human condition. We are a resilient bunch. If you want to test your resiliency (and your patience), then give the unforgiving and difficult arcade game, Ghosts’n Goblins a spin.
The game sees you, Sir Arthur, a noble knight, run and jump through horizontal and vertical levels to rescue his sweetheart, Princess Guinevere (or Princess Prin Prin in other ports of the game).

Ghosts’n Goblins

Sir Arthur can pick up weapons like: an axe, lance, cross, dagger or firebrand. These weapons can be used to kill Satan’s army of monsters, zombies, bats, ogres, demons and ghosts. Sir Arthur can replace his armour by jumping up at certain hidden spots on some levels. This action causes a pot to appear. It is imperative the armour stays intact. Take two hits, and it is curtains for Sir Arthur. That is exactly why this game is unforgiving and damn difficult to complete.

Ghosts’n Goblins

It is not all doom and gloom if you know some tricks to beat this game. The developers at Capcom weren’t going to be totally cruel to us poor arcade gamers. They left us a few surprises (easter eggs) along the way to help Sir Arthur get further into the game. What were these tricks you ask ? Well, we won’t give away all of them, but one good one can be found on the third cave level. Navigate Sir Arthur to the upper level and move him to the right of the rock, just to the left of the second ladder. Then move left and right, shooting rapidly. A zombie will keep appearing and you can score 100,000 points before time runs out. Don’t worry about the time running out and losing a life, you will be rewarded with two extra lives in the process. Even with this trick, you still have to give up a life to get two back. Those Capcom developers were sadists.

Ghosts’n Goblins was, and still is, a great platform game. It is still difficult and frustrating as ever. So, if you like your games to be difficult and challanging, then you can not go wrong with this one.

Ghosts’n Goblins

Manufacturer: Capcom
Year: 1985
Genre: Platform fighter
Maximum number of simultaneous players: 2
Gameplay: Alternating
Joystick: 8-way
Buttons: 2 (Fire and Jump)
Control Panel Layout: 1 Player Ambidextrous
Sound: Amplified Mono (single channel)
Cabinet: Upright Standard
Monitor: CRT, Raster standard resolution
Levels: Graveyard and forest, town, caves, bridge, castle – lower level, castle – upper level, final boss

Golden Axe

GoldenAxe

The powerhouse that was Sega in the late 1980′s indulged us in some awesome arcade hits. Towards the end of that decade, Sega released memorable arcade games: Crack Down, Dynamite Dux, ESWAT Cyber Police, Scramble Spirits and Power Drift. To keep up this pedigree of arcade hits, Sega unleashed Golden Axe in 1989. Once again, Sega proved that they were the king of the arcade hill.

The big rage back in the late 80′s was two player co-op, horizontal-scrolling fighting games, or in this case, slashing evil minions to pieces and getting to the final boss. The medieval theme of Golden Axe implements the hacking and slashing game play to perfection. The storyline is pretty much run of the mill – the evil Death Adder has kidnapped the King and Princess of Yuria and it is up to the protagonists to rescue them and also seek revenge on the evil that was done to their families.

GoldenAxe

To set off after Death Adder, the player controls one of three characters, Ax Battler (a Conan The Barbarian lookalike),  Gilius Thunderhead, the viking dwarf, and Tyris Flare, the Amazonian goddess (my first female video game character crush – sorry Lara!). Even though Tyris is a great character to use, her long-sword is no match for the battle axe that Gilius Thunderhead wields.

GoldenAxe

Anyway, on with the adventure – there are lots of different enemies to slash and if things get tough on screen, each of the protagonists can call upon their unique magic power – Tyris Flare has the coolest magic, she uses fire to incinerate everything on screen. There is finite magic power, so the player will have to pick and choose when best to use it. But wait there is more – mounted enemies riding creatures can be knocked off and the players themselves can then hitch a ride on the creatures and use them as weapons (swiping with their tail). The other neat attack is to charge and ram Death Adder’s henchmen by double-tapping the joystick right or left.

GoldenAxe

The level design is simply awesome – from Turtle Village (which is on a shell of a turtle), to the back of a giant flying eagle. Last but not least, there is the castle where you must defeat Death Adder and reclaim the Golden Axe.

SPOILER ALERT: Once the game is beaten, the ending shows a view of an arcade where the characters “jump out” of the game, run out of the arcade and down the street.

I have always been a huge Sega arcade fan. Whatever they pumped out, it was an instant hit. Golden Axe was no exception.

GraphicsUsing the Sega System 16 board, this was the pinnacle in visuals at the time. Great sprites and awesome looking levels.

87%

SoundThe background music and digitised effects and grunts add perfectly to the axe wielding and sword swooshing atmosphere.

88%

PlayabilitySega knew what they were doing when adding an Amazonian beauty to the mix. Golden Axe remains easy to get into, but its best played with a buddy.

87%

LastabilityIt is a run of the mill side scrolling hack and slash, but hey, there is nothing wrong with that.

88%

OverallIn 1989, I pumped the equivalent of my body weight of coins into this game. It was also one of the reasons I bought a Mega Drive when it was released. Best played with a friend, Golden Axe has it covered – great graphics, awesome sound effects and great game play.

89%

 

 

GoldenAxe

Manufacturer: Sega
Year: 1989
Genre: Platform
Number of Simultaneous Players: 2
Maximum number of Players: 2
Gameplay: Collaborative
Control Panel Layout: Multi Player
Controls:
– Joystick: 8-way
– Buttons: 3 [Jump, Attack, Magic]
Sound: Amplified Mono (single channel)

 

Donkey Kong: The start of a collection

Donkey Kong: The start of a collection

It may appear that we are going somewhat off-topic with this post. Strictly speaking, Donkey Kong, the game that is Mario’s birth-ground, does not seem an appropriate subject for a blog titled beforemario.

But it is not too farfetched, to state that without Donkey Kong this blog would not exist. And it is therefore more than appropriate to put a spotlight on Miyamoto’s premiere master piece; the start of my fondness for Nintendo, as well as the start of my collection.

With that in mind – let’s dig in.
Donkey Kong collection

It is not my intention to introduce or explain Donkey Kong. That would be silly. Unlike many of the Nintendo toys and games featured on this blog, I can safely assume that you know all ins and outs of the game’s origin, have played its four levels a zillion times, and watched The King of Kong more than once. Right?

What I would like to show you instead, is my first – ever – Nintendo game. The first piece of what would become a mountain of games. The first snowflake of an eventual collecting avalanche.

Here it is: the actual first Nintendo item I bought, almost thirty years ago.
Donkey Kong collection

Let us rewind three decades of time, to the Summer of 1982. For months, I had been pumping quarters (well, actually, guilders) into Nintendo’s arcade revelation Donkey Kong.

Donkey Kong collection

I did not own a video game console at the time, and got all my pixelated kicks at the local arcade.

Now, I must admit that I had never really liked the Atari VCS 2600, which was the big home video game daddy around that time. I had played it occasionally, but could not get over the difference between its game play and what was on offer at the arcade. As a result, it never made it to my ‘must have’ list.

I remember seeing Atari’s home conversions of Space Invaders and especially Pac Man (two of my favorite games at the arcade) and not warming to these versions at all.

Then one day, I walked into a toy store, and saw a stack of brochures laying on the counter. It featured a new game console about to be released: CBS’s ColecoVision.
Donkey Kong collection

The scan shown above is from the actual copy I picked up that day, thirty years ago. Given the many times I have thumbed through it (and drooled over it), in the months that followed that moment, it looks surprisingly fresh.

The main selling point of the ColecoVision was a mouth-watering home conversion of Donkey Kong. A screen shot of it was put prominently on the front of the brochure. With the yellow high-light behind it, it stood out more than the actual console itself. And with reason. This was its killer app.

Donkey Kong collection

Inside the brochure, three pictures told a clear story, with a simple side-by-side comparison of the three home versions of Donkey Kong, for the ColecoVision, theAtari 2600 and the Intellivison.

Donkey Kong collection
Never mind that Coleco had handled all three conversions, and possibly given the version destined for their own hardware platform maybe a little bit of extra attention and TLC. The difference in quality, foremost visually, was staggering.
Donkey Kong collection

The ColecoVision version of Donkey Kong was no pixel-perfect conversion either. The first level, for instance, was missing one platform (it had five, instead of the original’s six). And more was missing, as I would soon find out. But it was close.
Donkey Kong collection

So, long story short: desire swelled up in me. I had to have it.

And after months of saving up, I became the proud owner of a ColecoVision.
Donkey Kong collection



Unlike in the US, where Donkey Kong came packed with the console, in Europe you had to buy it separately. Which I did, obviously.

Donkey Kong collection
A magical moment. Look at it. Hours of fun, packed in a black piece of plastic.
Donkey Kong collection

I slotted the cartridge into the machine and started playing.

Donkey Kong collection
Initial amazement at the feast of color and sound was suddenly replaced by confusion. After three levels the game started again at the first. Wait a minute… where is the factory level?

After some moments of disbelieve, and re-reading the manual, I had to take in the truth: there was no factory level. My favorite level had been sliced during the conversion process. Alas, no running on conveyor belts. No jumping over pies.

Donkey Kong collection
After recovering from that somewhat disappointing news, I was still very happy with my own home arcade, and played Donkey Kong for hours on end.
Donkey Kong collection

After this first Nintendo purchase came another, and another, and another, and another. But thirty years on, this one remains one of the most special.

Ghosts’n Goblins

Ghosts n Goblins

Ghosts’n Goblins a.k.a. Makaimura (1985)
By: Capcom Genre: Platform Players: Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 43,400
Also Available For: Sharp X68000, NES, Game Boy Color, PC, Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Commodore 16, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum

The adventures of Sir Arthur, the brave and noble knight of Demon World, have long since passed into legend and become known as some of the grandest in the world of Men. However, the latest in what is becoming an embarrassing series of confessions here at Red Parsley is that until very recently I’d never even played this, the original game in the series. Eeek! Time to rectify that I deem, and what better way than to try the original of the original! First though, it might be prudent to try honing my skills and reaction times, for even I already knew that Ghosts’n Goblins is a supremely difficult game, apparently one of the hardest ever, and that scares me. As much as I may like retro gaming, I’ve never been especially good at most types of games, so I find myself approaching this notoriously hardcore challenge with a great deal of caution. Gulp!
Ghosts n Goblins

Despite my love of the Shinobi series and my mastery of some of its sequels, side-scrolling platform-shooters are one type of game I’m not especially skilled at. I am already familiar with the aforementioned knight though, having played his second game extensively on my treasured MegaDrive over the years, so I should be fairlyready for this, surely? Hmmm. Anyway, like that game, Sir Arthur’s first quest consists of six mostly-multi-tiered stages, each teeming with predictably scary creatures. He can run and jump through them to his heart’s content, provided the time-limit doesn’t expire (which spells instant death), but his objective is only to reach the end and defeat the evil boss that dwells therein. At the end of the final stage Sir Arthur must battle Satan, King of the Demon World. If he manages to defeat him, he will not only restore balance to the world, but also get his hands on Satan’s prisoner – the delightful Princess Prin Prin.

Ghosts n Goblins

Killing the lesser enemies on each stage is not mandatory – some of them are actually infinite so it’s not even possible. With this and the time-limit in mind, it’s advisable to proceed to the end of each stage as quickly as possible. Sir Arthur is initially armed with throwable lances which are in unlimited supply and defeat most enemies, certainly on earlier stages, with one hit. A few of the enemies, however, carry urns. Killing them allows you to then collect the contents which is most often one of numerous sparkly items for bonus points (including some of the Princesses’ possessions!), but occasionally you’ll find a new weapon. These include Daggers (my favourite – narrow range but rapid fire), Flaming Torch (short range fiery things), Axe (wider range and powerful, but fires slowly), and one final secret weapon which is required to defeat Satan.

Ghosts n Goblins

The only items you’ll find already dotted about on the platforms are coins or money bags, again for bonus points, but putting any degree of emphasis on the collection of this stuff is not advised – the default weapon is fine for the whole game (except the final boss battle), and points, while nice, won’t get you any further into the game! For that, practise is required, and lots of it. That brings me to that legendary difficulty… I’ve been playing Ghosts’n Goblins for a couple of weeks solid now and, while it’s definitely a tough game, I wouldn’t call it one of the hardest ever. After the reputation and build-up, I was expecting the most savagely torturous game in the universe, but for me it’s just… very tough! The main problem with the actual stages comes from the infinite nature of some of the enemies. The first stage, for example, features zombies who rise out of the ground and amble toward you. These don’t really cause a problem unless one emerges very close to you, and it’s the same story with the other stages.

Ghosts n Goblins

The second features small flying demons which this time come from some of the windows of the buildings that form the various backdrops. These things also appear without limit and again the main problem is when they appear very close to you, and there is an equivalent beastie through most parts of the game. For me though, the biggest problem in terms of difficulty was the larger enemies – specifically, the annoying Sons of Satan (red devil things – see screenshot below), as well as the even larger bosses which take the form of dragons and ogres and things of that nature, all of whom take numerous hits to put down. If you lose a life while attempting this you’ll return to the half-way point of the stage so each guardian has to be defeated with a single life – no small ask when Sir Arthur can only take one hit without dying which removes his armour, forcing him to fight on in just his undies – one of gaming’s most enduring images!

Ghosts n Goblins

If Arthur does lose his armor  more can be collected if you’re very lucky, but a new suit isn’t exactly forthcoming a vast majority of the time, and can never be collected during a boss fight which is another reason these confrontations are the part of the game I have most trouble with. If you can last long enough though, there’s a lot to see here. The sprites are numerous and look superb for their day. Even more impressive are the backgrounds which change several times during the course of most stages and range from the graveyard in which you begin to a town, various towers, and gloomy caverns, on the way to Satan’s castle itself.

Ghosts n Goblins

As mentioned earlier, you need a specific weapon to fight the Dark Lord himself (a Crucifix in the Japanese version, a Shield in other versions) and if you don’t have it you’ll be sent back to the star of the fifth level.As well as looking nice, and highly varied for its time, the music and sound effects are also great and add a lot of charm to an already-distinctive game. Control of Sir Arthur is pretty good for most part, with two exceptions – after playing Ghouls’n Ghosts so much I assumed the controls would be the same here, but sadly this original doesn’t offer the option of shooting directly upwards. I also found that he often got ‘stuck’ at the tops or bottoms of ladders. Apart from this though, our hero is still pretty nippy and can run and leap his way out of most hairy situations in the right hands. There are a few unfair moments which will have you turning the air blue but generally I found Ghosts’n Goblins to be very tough but an addictive and highly enjoyable challenge all the same. It’s taken me far too long to give it a proper try but I’m really glad I did now. A true classic indeed!

RKS Score: 8/10

 

Elevator Action

Elevator Action

How many times have you walked in an elevator and starting thinking you were in the 1983 Taito game, Elevator Action? Never! Really? It must be me, I am strange like that.

Elevator Action

Since Elevator Action is turning 30 this year, I thought it was a good opportunity to have a game, for old times’ sake. So, how does it stack up after all these years – is it still fun to play? Read on.

Elevator Action

For those that have never laid eyes on this game, the protagonist is Otto, or Agent 17. Otto is tasked with collecting secret documents from rooms (behind red doors) within the 30-floor building. He makes his way between floors via the elevator (hence the title – d’oh) and on certain floors, he can use the escalators. To make things interesting, enemies appear at the most inopportune time to get Otto and derail his whole secret mission.

Otto is no slouch when it comes to defending himself. As a secret agent, he is armed and dangerous. His trusty gun can fire three bullets per shot. If that doesn’t work, the enemies can be kicked. By far the most satisfying way to eliminate the bad guys, is by shooting a light on the ceiling while in the elevator, dropping the light onto the baddies. The byproduct of a dropped light is that the hallways become temporarily dark which makes the enemies harder to see – makes the heart rate go up a notch too. Another way to get kills on the board is to crush the bad dudes with the elevator – gee I’m a sadist.

Elevator Action

After Otto collects all documents, he has to make his way down to the basement where he can escape via his getaway car. For some inexplicable reason, Otto proceeds to another building for more secret document hunting instead of driving off in the sunset. Ah, once an agent, always an agent.

The controls are four-way (up, down, left, right) with two buttons, one for firing, the other for jumping/kicking – Taito catered for right and left-handed players by having these buttons on either side of the centred joystick. The game can become hectic, with the timer ticking down and enemy spies that pop-up just when you don’t want them to. Even though the action may seem limited, the game is still as much fun to play now, as it was 30 years ago. The graphics and sound could do with a spruce up, but back then, it was all about instant playability – which Elevator Action has in abundance.

GraphicsVery basic in this department – enemies wear the traditional black suit with top-hat to match. Documents are hidden behind red doors, and the elevator is cool to watch go up and down.

76%

SoundRun of the mill bleeps and blops. Nothing to tune your ears into.

65%

PlayabilityTaito plonged the joystick in the middle, with buttons on either side – catering for both right and left-handed players. Pick your buttons, and away you go being a secret agent.

80%

LastabilityThe gameplay may feel limited, but this is not a game to play for hours on end. It is great to play in short burts from time to time.

78%

OverallUp, Down, Left, Right, Jump, Fire. No, not the Konami code, just the control mechanisms for a secret agent. Great game to kill 10 minutes of your time.

81%

 

Elevator Action

Manufacturer: Taito
Year: 1983
Genre: Platform
Number of Simultaneous Players: 1
Maximum number of Players: 2
Gameplay: Alternating
Control Panel Layout: Single Player
Controls:
– Joystick: 4-way [up, down, left, right]
– Buttons: 2 [Fire and Jump]
Sound: Amplified Mono (single channel)

 

 

Robotron:2084

Robotron_2084

Eugene Jarvis sure knows how to design intense and playable games. From his plethora of awesome creations, Robotron:2084 (or simply, Robotron) stands out for its sheer mayhem. Yes, I am aware that Mr Larry DeMar was also part of the design duo that brought us this fab game.

I first laid eyes on the Robotron arcade machine in the mid 80′s at the arcade parlor near my school. To say I was mesmerized would be a great understatement. I intently watched others play the game so that I could learn from their mistakes and get more playtime out of my 40 cents. Once I grabbed the two control sticks (no fire buttons here matey!) it was a massive adrenaline rush of evading, attacking and rescuing.

Robotron_2084

There is a plot to all of this mayhem. As I do not want to bore you with detail, here is the short version: Robots (Grunts, Tanks, Spheroids/Enforcers, Brains, & Hulk) have revolted against the human race (Terminator anyone?) and it is the protagonists job to rescue the last remaining human family before the robots annihilate everyone and take over.

Robotron_2084

With the plot set, the next thing to get your head around playing this game is the dual-joystick control system. The left-hand joystick provides maneuverability (usual eight directions) to evade the robots and also rescue the humans. The right-hand joystick is used to fire the laser gun (also in eight directions) to disintegrate the robots in each wave (level). Once you get the hang of the control system, you will be blasting Grunts, Tanks, Brains and rescuing the hapless humans in no time.

The play area is set on one screen – there is no scrolling. Each wave contains a number of different robots and humans to rescue. This game is relentless, there is no time to wipe your brow and high five your mates while playing. Once you meet the ‘Hulk’ robot, things get interesting – he (I assume it’s male) is the one robot that can not be killed. Your laser gun can slow him down, but the basic premise is, evade him and get going on rescuing those humans.

I guess I can rave on about this game till the cows come home, but I will leave you with this – if you want intense gaming, then look no further, Robotron:2084 will provide it in truckloads !

GraphicsSimple sprites to depict the robots, obstructions and humans. The screen can get busy, but this makes your heart palpitate (in a good way)

77%

SoundVery meaty sound effects. Your laser gun sounds like it can penetrate anything

81%

PlayabilityThe dual-joystick control system will take some time getting used to, but persist with it – you will be rewarded

90%

LastabilityThe legacy of the mayhem that is Robotron:2084, has survived for 3 decades. I am sure it will last for more

93%

OverallEvade, Shoot, Rescue = perfect ingredients for the ultimate old school arcade shooter

92%

robotron_arcade-cabinet

Manufacturer: Williams Electronics. Inc.
Year: 1982
Genre: Shooter
Number of Simultaneous Players: 1
Maximum number of Players: 2 (alternating)
Control Panel Layout: Single Player
Controls:
– Left Joystick: 8-way [Move];
– Right Joystick  8-way [Fire]
Sound: Amplified Mono (single channel)

 

 

Pooyan

Pooyan was a Stern/Konami collaboration for arcade release in 1982. It’s considered a classic among the old-school gamers, although it seems most people I’ve spoken to have never heard of it or played it. It was ported to the Atari 2600 and just about every computer in the ’80′s, but I remember the arcade version well.

Pooyan - arcade - gameplay screenshot

The gameplay is simple, as you are a mama pig trying to defend her piglets (pooyan) from jerk-ass wolves who (as we learned from kid’s tales) love nothing more than to eat some sweet pork. Normally, she would just hide behind the brick walls of her house, but it seems the Masons are on strike and can’t build her a house quickly enough. She then takes what she learned from the Porky Pig/Robin Hood cartoon and fashions herself a bow and unlimited arrows.

The game repeats two screens, but as in the case of most older arcade games, the levels get faster and more difficult as you move along. The first screen has the wolves on top of a cliff and they’ve mastered the use of the helium balloon. They will ride them down off the cliff’s edge and if they reach the bottom, will climb a ladder on your side and eat you and the piggies.

Pooyan - arcade - gameplay screenshot

You have two weapons: The arrows, which are dull as shit, as they can’t pierce the wolves’ fur but can pop the balloons and (SPLATTER ALERT!) will send them to their deaths. Or, you can toss huge pieces of meat at them, which are heavy enough to bring everything down to Earth. Where does she get the supply of meat? No one’s talking, but I don’t see any of Mama’s red-headed stepchildren present. The second screen has the wolves riding up the cliff via balloon, and you will take the same defensive actions. The only difference is if enough wolves reach the top they will push a huge boulder on top of you, basically tenderizing their dinner. There are a bonus screens where you do similar actions for points, but just toss the meat.

Pooyan - arcade - gameplay screenshot

The graphics are fine, nothing special. Very colorful, and you can tell what everything is. The music is very cute, with some classic tunes being heard during gameplay…some music you will recognize.
A simple, but eventually hectic game, with just the one joystick and one button. Easy to pick up and play on MAME if you get the chance. Very unique and quirky gameplay, and I think you’ll find yourself addicted. Highly recommended, and you don’t have to put a lot of time into it, as most games will probably last you 5-10 minutes.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ByIl9QQmeM[/youtube]

Overall 9/10

Killer Instinct Comeback?

Killer-Instinct-SNES-Gameplay-Screenshot-Box

Killer Instinct Comeback

Could there be a Killer Instinct remake or sequel in the future? That is the questions being asked after it was discovered that Microsoft has renewed the trademark for the classic fighter. Killer Instinct was originally released by Rare for the SNES in 1994 and featured some incredible combo’s that you could chain together and even connect to your finisher, your ultimate. Also, in its arcade version, was one of the first games to use an internal hard disk drive alongside the games ROM. This was due to the pre-rendered sprites created with Silicon Graphics and the pre-rendered movie-like backgrounds.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dR-7TO_LD0[/youtube]

Now before you get all excited about a sequel, the original announcement came from Xbox Live so there is a good chance KI is getting a HD release for XBL Arcade. However, that is fine with us as well. We will keep on top of this and let you know when we learn more.

Alien Syndrome

Alien Syndrome (1987)
By: Sega Genre: Run ‘n’ Gun Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 96,400
Also Available For: Master System, Game Gear, Sharp X68000, NES, PC, Amiga, Atari ST, MSX, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum
Alien Syndrome-sega-arcade-gameplay-screenshot

Like many game companies in the mid-to-late 80’s, it seems almost certain that Sega were also bitten by the ‘Alien’ bug, so to speak. That is to say, they drew inspiration from the Alien movies for one (or some) of their games. The fact that this release came the year after the super-successful sequel to the classic 1979 film would tend to back up that theory as it’s a game that may seem familiar to some fans. Rather than a gound-based colony, however, it takes place in a series of seven spacecraft. These were presumably craft operated by humans but they have become overrun by hideous alien creatures of various descriptions and their human crew taken prisoner. It therefore falls to Ricky and Mary, two suspiciously Space Marine-like soldiers, to liberate each ship in succession and eradicate the alien scum that now dwells within.

Alien Syndrome-sega-arcade-gameplay-screenshot
The interior of each craft is viewed from an angled overhead perspective and usually consists of a maze-like series of corridors, rooms, or open areas linked by walkways. The human captives, or ‘comrades’, are dotted around the scrolling stages and a set number of them must be rescued (by touching them) within a pretty strict time-limit before the exit is unlocked. This inevitably leads to a much larger and more dangerous alien boss who you must shoot the crap out of before moving onto the next ship. Each stage has unique enemies, usually two different kinds, and from the second stage onwards an infinite number of them are produced by Gauntlet-like generators. Destroying these will finally stem the flow of alien filth and allow you to cleanse the stage. If you want to, that is, as the only actual requirement is to rescue those pesky comrades.
Alien Syndrome-sega-arcade-gameplay-screenshot

Blasting the idiotic aliens does take up valuable time of course, but it also makes the game a lot more fun! Each new alien encountered looks and acts differently to the last. Some can spontaneously reproduce, others chase you, but most of them are able to shoot at you. A single touch from any alien or one of their projectiles is enough to take a life from Ricky or Mary but surprisingly the aliens are just as fragile – from the first stage to the last, a single shot is all that’s required to take them out. Except for the bosses, obviously. Typically, you start the game with a pea-shooter gun which just about does the job, but its range and rate of fire is somewhat limited. There are four other weapons available, however – laser, flamethrower, napalm, and a rapid-fire cannon – which, impressively, not only have unlimited ammo but also last forever as long as you don’t lose a life.

Alien Syndrome-sega-arcade-gameplay-screenshotIt’s also possible to collect up to two small guns that follow you around and shoot backwards every time you shoot your normal weapon which can be shot in eight directions but only forward. These, and all the other weapons, can be collected from panels on the walls where you can also find bonus points and maps that show the basic layout of the stage as well as the location of the remaining comrades. Points are awarded at the end of each stage for any remaining time and for any comrades rescued beyond the quota but, if you’re like me, you probably won’t see too many of them! I usually tend to play games in a very meticulous way, trying to do everything and see everything, so I found the time limits to be quite tight. Aside from that though, Alien Syndrome isn’t an overly tough game and is actually, dare I say it, even pretty fair.
Alien Syndrome-sega-arcade-gameplay-screenshot

Part of the reason for this it that the aliens are defeated by a single shot from whichever gun you’re carrying at the time (even the one you start with) but it also helps that their movement doesn’t seem to conform to any repeating patterns. Their appearances are apparently random and their movement is seemingly dependent on your own, so your progress is pretty much just down to your own ability. Accompanying you on your refreshingly-unfrustrating mission are some tunes and sound effects which aren’t too bad, although not especially memorable, but about the only thing I don’t really like about Alien Syndrome is its graphics. It’s running on Sega’s System 16 board which I`m not hugely fond of at the best of times and this means that most of the colours used are rather pale and drab and there`s some quite unpleasant patterns used for the stage floors. That aside though, there’s little to complain about, and some of the aliens look great!
Alien Syndrome-sega-arcade-gameplay-screenshot

This is particularly true of the big and imaginative bosses and there’s quite a few different normal sprites too. The two playable characters don’t look much different and are even less different to play as but they’re not there to provide a bit of variety – they’re there to facilitate a two-player game, and they do that well. A few differences between wouldn’t have hurt anyway though, I suppose! Oh well, it’s still an enjoyable game, for one or two players, and proves to be a very addictive one as well. The stages themselves get bigger and more complicated but are never overly large or complex – this is a game that’s about fast and frantic shooting and nothing more, and with the ever-increasing hordes of aliens in the later stages, you’ll need to be precise as well as fast! It’s a shame it doesn’t look a bit nicer but if you can handle the offensive patterns, this is a game that’s aged well.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1jkQ-NM1UE[/youtube]

RKS Score: 7/10

My Favorite Games: Part 10

And so… we finally reach the end of My Favorite Games. As expected there’s lots of games I’m fond of that I couldn’t find space for, and I’m sure as Red Parsley wears on there will be many more to consider, and even replace some of the games already here. Nearly all these games come from my younger days and I enjoyed them all in their prime and continue to enjoy them now, but since the purpose of this blog it to help me discover older games I haven’t previously played, some new lists will undoubtedly follow. Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my lists as much as I have enjoyed writing them.

Wiz n Liz – MegaDrive (1993)

Wiz n Liz - MegaDrive

Also released on the Amiga, this frantic platformer is not very well known for some reason, despite receiving decent reviews in its day. That never stopped me from playing it to death on my MD though, and I still do! This is also a good example of how games don’t need to be remotely violent to be great fun – aside from a few bosses there’s not a single enemy in the whole game! The object is to rescue all the rabbits that were stolen from the amusingly-named planet of Pum. Collecting rabbits releases letters and fruits which can be used to spell out and then mix magic spells, and they release various other items too. There is a huge variety of magic spells, each of which has a different effect – some give you bonuses, some are mini-games, others are just for fun. With fantastic graphics and music, this fast-paced platformer is a criminally under-played gem (which also offers simultaneous two-player action) and I can’t stop playing it!

Goldeneye 007 – Nintendo 64 (1997)

Goldeneye 007 - Nintendo 64

Yep, sorry, but I had to include it! This was pretty much the first FPS I played properly and what an experience it was! Being a fan of the Bond films didn’t hurt either. In fact, I had just watched the Goldeneye movie before I first played this and, having been used to terrible movie tie-ins generally, wasn’t really expecting much from it. To my amazement, however, not only was it amazingly playable but it also stuck to the plot of the film too. That was unheard of! This fantastic game represents many firsts for me, notably my first use of a sniper-rifle which was awesome, as well as probably the first game I’d played where stealth and cunning yielded more rewards than charging in all-guns-blazing like a bull in a china shop! Goldeneye is probably more famous for its multi-player deathmatches than for its one-player game but it was the latter that kept me playing this, even when I got stuck in the damn jungle level!

Soul Calibur
– Dreamcast (1999)

Soul Calibur - Dreamcast

Being a big Sega fan, not many games made me prouder of being a Dreamcast owner than this one. Stunning graphics (which actually improved on the arcade game) and a equally stunning soundtrack were the icing on the cake of this ground-breaking game from Namco. It had a lot of flashy moves which weren’t too difficult to perform, a great range of characters, and flawless combat physics, but my biggest surprise was discovering the Adventure Mode which saw you travelling around completing various missions to unlock many treats in the game! Many were hoping for a good conversion of this game. What they got was so much better than the arcade original it defied belief! This is still the finest 3D fighting game I’ve ever played.

Operation Wolf – Arcade (1987)

Operation Wolf - Arcade

Out of all my many visits to the arcades of Hayling Island in the late 80’s/early 90’s, this was the game that received most of my money. It was my first experience of a light-gun game, and it was a hell of an intro! An Uzi with grenade-launcher? Yes please! The force-feedback on the gun made things all the more authentic and I just loved playing this over and over, even if I wasn’t very good at it and never managed to complete it. No game of its type ever ensnared me like this did, until Point Blank of all things arrived! Shooting the helicopters and trucks was always particularly satisfying. Of all the home versions, only the Master System version was much cop, but even that didn’t offer the tense atmosphere of this fantastic original.

Sonic 2 – MegaDrive (1992)

Sonic 2 - MegaDrive

Last and not least… as a Sega fan I can’t possibly leave out a Sonic game, and as most will probably agree, the series never surpassed the second MD game. Released after a MAJOR hype campaign, this was one of the rare games that actually lived up to expectations. It took everything that Sonic 1 started and added a whole lot more – bigger, prettier stages and more of them, a new character in Tails, two-player action, those famous tunnel-based bonus rounds, a bigger challenge… Some of the later Sonic games were good but none of them were ever as endlessly entertaining as this one. Going back to play this makes me sad in a way as it marks not only Sonic’s peak, but arguably that of Sega themselves too. Oh well, let us Sega fanboys remember the good times – even Nintendo fanboys must’ve been jealous of this one!

The End…

Dangun Feveron

Dangun Feveron-arcade gameplay screenshot

Another in a long line of vertical scrolling shooters that seriously test ones ability to avoid an insane amount of enemies and firepower barreling down on you. Also known as Fever SOS, which I assume is what happens when you play the game too long. Dangun Feveron was developed by Cave and released by Nihon Systems Inc to the arcades in 1998.

Dangun Feveron-arcade gameplay screenshot

So you have pretty much a typical shooter. One of the major differences to note is the soundtrack of the game which features various disco music. I assume this is to further confuse you as you fight against a horde of enemies ships with no real chance to avoid the incoming hail of gunfire.

Dangun Feveron-arcade gameplay screenshot

There are some added features to the game that helps it stand out a little including being able to select how fast you want the ship to move. Therefore those who are really twitchy can select the highest setting while others can select a slower one. Like most other shooters you can select the type of ship you want and its special weapon.

Dangun Feveron-arcade gameplay screenshot

The game features five levels with a boss at the end of each level. The game starts off pretty easily to get you used to the game, then the rain comes and its dodging time. You have your primary weapon, which you can power-up with power-up items by killing enemies and you have your secondary shot you use by holding down the fire button. Finally you have your bomb button which can pretty much kill everything on the screen except for the boss.

Dangun Feveron-arcade gameplay screenshot

Dangun Feveron also has a capture scoring system which consists of catching these little round discs that have an image of a man on it. These are supposed to be cyborgs even though they look like dancing men and by capturing them you increase the points you get for killing enemies. However, if you miss a cyborg or lose all your lives the score counter resets.

Dangun Feveron-arcade gameplay screenshot

There really aren’t any tricks to this game besides using your bomb to avoid death. Beyond that try to save your bombs for the boss. The good thing about the boss is there is a life meter for the boss so you know how much you have left. Also during the game and when you beat a boss, you hear the computer cheering for you and see images of people dancing and a huge disco ball.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqeVWXbis-Q[/youtube]

Overall a fun game for emulators since you don’t waste real quarters. Give the game a try just make sure the flashing lights, fast motion and disco music doesn’t cause a stroke or something.

Bubble Bobble

 

Bubble Bobble - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

This is the beginning of a fantastic story!! Let’s make a journey to the cave of monsters!

Bubble Bobble - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot
I know, too many exclamations. Well, when you are reviewing Bubble Bobble, you just can’t help yourself!

Bubble Bobble - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

So what is this game about ? Well, in case you have been under a rock since 1985, you play two transformed dinosaurs, Bub and Bob – you try to complete 100 levels and then rescue your girlfriends by trapping the Baron’s minions in bubbles and bursting them. Sounds easy huh ? Well, not quite. This game grabs you by the scruff of the neck and then shakes you up in the later levels –  it gets hard, very hard. However, Baron von Blubba has left a number of power-ups and hidden abilities to help Bub and Bob get further in the game, like: bubblegum, teapot, umbrella (to teleport), water and lightning bubbles. You better get your bubble-blowing fingers in readiness !

Bubble Bobble - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

Well, what can I say that has not been said about this great coin-op game. Bubble Bobble is an absolute classic !

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4CTi4Wv7WA[/youtube]

GraphicsCute graphics of Bub and Bob blowing bubbles and bursting their enemies

85%

SoundThe sound effects and catchy soundtracks are dead on perfect and complimentary to the visuals and gameplay

85%

PlayabilityAn easy to pick up and play game. This game is fun in single player mode, but when you grab a friend and frolic in joint play, nothing else beats it !

92%

LastabilityWith 100 levels, and two game modes (normal or super) this will last a life time. Yeh, you may find it tough after level 20, but I guarantee you will want to keep going. That is its timeless charm

92%

OverallThis is as close as you can get to a perfect game. Easy to get into and play, fun and hard levels (and there are 100 of them!) and in the end, you rescue your girlfriend and become a hero. Nothing could be better

93%

Bubble Bobble - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

Manufacturer: Taito
Year: 1986
Genre: Platform
Number of Simultaneous Players: 2
Maximum number of Players: 2
Gameplay: Joint
Control Panel Layout: Multiple Player
Joystick: 2-way [left or right]
Buttons: 2 [fire and jump]
Sound: Amplified (Mono or Stereo)

 

 

Donkey Kong

Everyone in the world knows of Donkey Kong, so there’s not much I could say about the game that you don’t already know. Still, that’s not going to stop me from talking about it a bit.

Arcade Cabinet - Donkey Kong
In 1981, Nintendo popped this gem out into arcades everywhere. One of the most popular, highly rated, and often ported/imitated games, but unless you have the drive and determination of Steve Wiebe, or the hair of Billy Mitchell, it’s actually a difficult game. I think in the “King of Kong” documentary, Billy said that most people don’t get past the 1st 4 screens. That’s probably correct. I can’t imagine the amount of quarters I went through, sometimes just trying to get a sniff of the 3rd and 4th levels that I saw others get to as I watched over their shoulders. That changed for me, of course, as I got older and discovered MAME. Still, I don’t necessarily excel at the game, even today.
The concept of the game is ineteresting and silly at the same time.

Donkey Kong - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot
For whatever reason, a huge gorilla is loose. Not sure where he came from; The zoo? Escaped from a secret lab? Jurassic Park?? All I know is that he is here, and he wants nothing but to kidnap a cute girl in a dress. Instead of calling the police or animal control, the local plumber decides to take it upon himself to rescue her. Armed with ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, and assumingly zero ninja skills, he finds her at the top of a steel structure. “Donkey Kong”, as he’s called, which I believe translates to “stupid monkey”, has taken a defensive stand at the top of this structure. As the plumber (from now on called Mario) ascends this structure, Kong starts rolling huge kegs of beer towards him, trying to kill him.

Donkey Kong - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

This seems like the work of a genius (not stupid) simian, possibly one of those in the old Flash comic books. For now, Mario can only jump over the barrels. When some of these kegs reach the ground floor, they have been known to catch fire (obviously from the alcohol inside). The odd part is it seems these firey barrels can actually defy the laws of physics and move upwards and EVEN CLIMB LADDERS! Along the way, Mario does find weapons in the form of an ACME oversized mallet. But, he never seems to use these on monkey, but to crush the barrels and put out the fires. When Mario eventually reaches the girl, Kong quickly grabs her and runs off. That’s a hell of a lot of work for no payoff, that’s for sure.

Donkey Kong - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

Screen 2 has Kong taking her to a factory that makes giant pies. Not only do you need to avoid these pies, but there’s more fire. Didn’t work the first time, but Kong is not giving up. You will find another mallet in which to put out the fires, as well as smash pies, but again cannot be used against the beast himself. Upon reaching the top, Kong will again escape with the girl, making Mario very heartbroken, Clearly he has fallen in love with the girl.
Then, on screen 3, Kong takes her to another steel structure, this one has a lot of missing parts making Mario do a lot more jumping. Kong just stands guard, beating his chest as you try to avoid the fire and a seemingly infinite amount of giant springs that try to knock you to the ground.

Donkey Kong - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

Again, after manuvering through this mad gorilla’s Bondish-like trap, Kong escapes with the girl. This is beginning to smell of BS. I’m not convinced I’ll ever get to rescue her.
Screen 4 is a bit different. A straight-forward steel structure that has 8 “pins” in it. As you walk/jump over these pins, you pull them out. More fire, but this time a blue color, meaning hotter and more aggressive. Again, more mallet-action or avoiding the fire, whatever seems easier. But, as you pull the last pin, the tower of steel collapses, and Donkey Kong falls 100 meters straight on his head. The girl is rescued, and it seems she also loves Mario. All is good!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhFV5-qbbIw[/youtube]

There’s a reason this game is a classic. It looks beautiful, everything runs smoothly, fun as hell, and it’s story of the underdog that defeats the big bully and wins the heart of a girl.

Controls: Arrow keys and space bar.
The game earns a 10/10.

Joust

I have a huge list of “favorite” arcade games from when I was a kid, and JOUST has to be near the top.

In 1982, Williams produced this hit with unique game play, and has been ported a number of times since, and most very well done.

You play as a knight who rides on a FLYING OSTRICH! It seems the regular horse-jousting games were sooooo 1981, they decided to pull that crazy idea out of their butts. Somehow, it worked.

joust-atari 7800- gameplay screenshot

The object of the game is to get through as many levels/points as you can, and like most arcade games, there is no true end. With one joystick to move your bird, and one button to flap the ostrich’s wings, you need to lance all of your other flying opponents. The faster you “flap”, the faster your knight will rise, then use gravity to lower yourself. Unlike most games, where you can start and stop on a dime, Joust tries to add a little realism….if you can just get past the original concept, of course. Wave after wave of knights appear, and you take them down by hitting them with your lance just a little higher than theirs. If vice-versa, you lose a life. After you hit them, they turn into a huge egg, which will bounce around the floating rock platforms, but eventually stop. Running over these eggs gives you bonus points and is essential, because eventually they will “hatch” new riders and remount.

Other enemies include the pterodactyl, who will show up if you take too long to complete a wave. It’s very quick and relentless, chasing you around the screen with an unbelievably annoying battle cry. It can be killed, if hit just right, but only the advanced players are able to do this, me not being one of those. I prefer to avoid.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1itbuQM3oug[/youtube]

At the bottom left and right corners are lava pits, which will swallow bouncing eggs and if you get too close, a FREAKING HAND reaches out and grabs you!

The difficulty ramps quickly, and if I get to 40,000+ points I figure I had a nice game. Visually, it’s as fantastic a game as you’ll find for that era.

Another bit I wanted to add is this is a very fun game either solo or with 2-players. In 2-player mode, you can work as a team, or “accidentally”(hehhehheh) knock out your buddy.

I’ve never been able to figure out where this crazy place is supposed to exist, not Arthurian for sure. It really seems like the developers just threw a bunch of crap together to see what would happen, but it turned out to be a masterpiece.

Overall, 10/10

X-Men for Android

[youtube id=”o8d8_SFupeI” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Right off the bat I loved that the game was polished a little extra for the HD screens found on many android phones. The game looks clean and clear while staying true to its classic roots. You can select from the same six members of the X-Men and their controls, moves and powers are all the same. ~J.A. Laraque

X-Men for Android

If you were an arcade gamer in the 90’s there is no doubt you played the awesome X-Men game by Konami. Released in 1992 there were two main versions of the arcade cabinet, the small two-player version and the massive six-player version. Obviously, the six-player version was the best allowing the full team to battle against Magneto and his evil mutants.

X-Men-Android-Gameplay-screenshot

Now you can play this classic on your android. Here is the official description from Google Play:

Experience the classic 1992 X-Men arcade game on the go! Choose from some of your favorite classic X-Men characters including Cyclops, Colossus, Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler, or Dazzler. Fight your way through hundreds of Sentinels and battle classic super villains such as Pyro, The Blob, Wendigo, Nimrod, The White Queen, Juggernaut, Mystique and the Master of Magnetism himself, Magneto!

-Battle evil with up to 4 of your friends using the multi-player feature over WiFi!!

-Open Feint integrated with both leaderboards and achievements! Challenge your friends!

X-Men-Android-Gameplay-screenshot

Right off the bat I loved that the game was polished a little extra for the HD screens found on many android phones. The game looks clean and clear while staying true to its classic roots. You can select from the same six members of the X-Men and their controls, moves and powers are all the same.

X-Men-Android-Gameplay-screenshot

The joystick is not as good as I would like, but those used to playing with touch pad controls will not have too much of an issue. The video and sound is the same as the arcade cabinet and there is Wi-Fi multiplayer as well as leaderboards, however, you have to use Open Feint, which I do not care for. In addition, there is no cross-platform multiplayer so no playing with your Apple friends.

Overall, for only 99 cents on Google Play, X-Men is worth a pick up for any retro gaming fan.

Thanks to Pixel Freak for the video review.

Wizard of Wor

 

Who would have thought, a game released in 1981 would still be played and enjoyed in this day and age ! It just proves that quality always trumps quantity.
This game has simple graphics and even simpler sound effects. But what it does have, is oodles of gameplay, and let’s admit it, that is the most important part of any game, retro or new.

Wizard of Wor-arcade-gameplay-screenshot

Wizard of Wor is a timeless classic. Game play is simple – one or two players, known as Worriors, move around a variety of line-drawn dungeons (mazes), shooting the creatures that wander within. These creatures, or Worlings (Burwors, Garwors and Thorwors), are eliminated so that the player progresses to an even harder dungeon. On each of these levels, there are bonus monsters, called Worluks, and occassionaly, the Wizard makes a special guest appearance – see The Dungeons of Wor.

Wizard of Wor-arcade-gameplay-screenshot

Each dungeon has different maze patterns, with escape doors that your Worrior can walk through to re-appear on the opposite side of the maze – this is great for when things get tough and you need a quick exit. Be warned though, the Worlings and Worluks can also use these escape doors !

Wizard of Wor-arcade-gameplay-screenshot

The Dungeons of Wor:

Basic Dungeons – consist of short passages and long corridors.
The Arena – appears after the first bonus Worrior is awarded. The most difficult of the basic dungeons with an open central maze area.
Worlord Dungeons – Dungeons ’8′ (and subsequent dungeons) are more difficult where the player is likely to engage the Wizard. In these dungeons, the player is addressed as “Worlord”
The Pit – the 13th dungeon appears after the second bonus Worrior is awarded. It is an entirely open area, with no place to hide and requires the greatest skill for survival. Eliminating all Worlings, Worluks and Wizard earns continued play.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srPdPw9VH2A[/youtube]

If you doubt how good this is game is, I urge you to give it a try. Game play is simple enough for any player to pick up in an instant. Mastering it is another story. I do warn you though, once you enter the dungeon, it is difficult to stop – you will be hooked !

GraphicsSimplistic, but that doesn’t matter

75%

SoundThe tempo of the effects and droning music picking up as you are about to clear out the last Worling, gets the heart racing !

85%

PlayabilityEasy to get into, you just move up – down – left – right and then fire. Sounds simple enough !

92%

LastabilityIf you clear out the Pit dungeon, then you earn continued play. You may find this exhausting and a bit samey, but rest assured, this is the game’s magic – you will want to keep on playing.

90%

OverallIf you do not have access to the arcade version of the game, then hit up the brilliant C64 conversion. WoW is a classic !

92%

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srPdPw9VH2A

Manufacturer:Bally Midway
Year: 1981
Genre: Labyrinth / Maze
Number of simultaneous players: 2
Maximum number of players: 2
Gameplay: Either
Joystick: 4-way
Buttons: 1 (Fire)

ASO: Armored Scrum Object

ASO – Armored Scrum Object a.k.a. Alpha Mission (1985)
By: SNK  Genre: Shooting  Players: 1-2  Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Arcade  First Day Score: 20,480 (one credit)
Also Available For: Nintendo NES

Armored Scrum Object

You know, the history of videogames can be funny. As genres were born, some examples of their games were forgotten almost as soon as they appeared while others went on to be remembered as landmarks, even legends in the years to come. The ones most fondly recalled were generally the most playable, not necessarily the most innovative, and that brings me to ASO (or Alpha Mission as most will probably know it). I must confess that I’d never seen or played it before undertaking this feature. I had vague knowledge of its sequel on the Neo Geo, but this original? Not a clue. When I started playing it though, I was rather pleasantly surprised for, as it turns out, ASO is a very innovative game considering its age! Is its obscurity a blip in history or is it deservedly ignored?

Armored Scrum Object

Its innovation doesn’t extend to its story though! Yep, it’s the same old nonsense – evil aliens attacking Earth, blah, blah, blah. In this case, seven waring races from the Tetranova galaxy have been fighting with such ferocity that all their homeworlds have been destroyed. Finding unity in their newfound homelessness, they have joined forces to find a new home on which they can recover and rebuild their fleets before going to war once again and, as you may have guessed, that new home they’ve selected is Earth! Eeek! Fear not though, as you’ve been given the chance to kick them off using the SYD attack fighter, which for once isn’t an ‘advanced prototype’ either! Using this ship you must fight through twelve areas before Earth can be saved and peace restored to one and all.

Armored Scrum Object

One of the first things I noticed about ASO is that the twelve vertically-scrolling stages generally feature just as many targets on the ground as they do airborne ones. To that end, the SYD fighter is capable of firing its laser cannon to take out the squadrons of various enemy craft but it can also fire missiles to destroy ground targets. Many of the latter include several types of gun turrets, but there are also many parts of the scenery that can be destroyed and it’s in the smouldering remains of these that the game’s many power-up icons can be found, and this is perhaps what impressed me most about the game. Yes, its mixture of airborne and ground-based targets is somewhat reminiscent of Xevious but the plethora of collectible icons here is impressive for such an early game!

Armored Scrum Object

This is also where things can get a little complicated! The icons are marked by both letters and colours. Those marked with ‘S’, ‘L’, or ‘M’ will upgrade the SYD’s speed, laser power, and missile power respectively, but the ones marked with ‘E’ will gradually increase your energy meter which powers the various weapons or ‘armors’ available. The SYD has two of these permanently – the lasers and missiles – but the others must be collected and each is split into three pieces. Once all three pieces of a given armor are collected it is available for use, but only once your energy reserves have reached a sufficient level too. Once this happens you can select which armor you wish to use (only out of the ones you’ve collected of course) and unleash it accordingly!

Armored Scrum Object

There are eight different collectible armors altogether and aside from a shield they are all offensive including more powerful cannons, super-missiles, and energy beams, right up to a powerful smart-bomb style attack. Using any of them will deplete your energy and they only last for a limited amount of time or number of shots, plus some are better in certain situations than others, so strategic use is advised! There are many other icons to be found too – twenty in total, amazingly – and even one of my sizable reviews isn’t big enough to go into all of them, but suffice to say it’s possible to upgrade and downgrade your ship’s various attributes and, mercifully, there are also icons that let you keep your various power-ups after a life is lost, one each for speed, lasers, and missiles.

Armored Scrum Object

Other icons include ones that increase the size of your energy tanks, ones for warps and bonus points, extra lives… all sorts of things, and as long as you keep firing those missiles, the landscape will be littered with them, and that’s probably the best thing about this game – your progress is almost entirely down to intelligent collection and use of the millions of icons or ‘energy tiles’. In spite of their numbers, however, the stages themselves are constantly busy with lots of small enemy fighters flitting backwards and forwards taking pot-shots at you, punctuated by the occasional larger, more powerful craft, but the end-of-level bosses are very challenging, at least at first before you adapt to their attacks and learn a few tricks. Some even fire homing-bullets which are really annoying!

Armored Scrum Object

This combined with the slightly sluggish controls and the fact that the collision-detection often makes your ship seem to be a little bigger than it is conspire to make this is one tough game! While the music and sound effects are merely functional, the graphics here are pretty impressive. The stages aren’t enormously varied despite seemingly being set on both spacestations and on planets, but the sprites are varied and well-detailed too and the great use of colour means things rarely get confusing.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Co8dKqWsAVs[/youtube]

This is all impressive enough anyway but when you consider that ASO was released in the same year as the legendary but more basic Gradius, it’s pretty amazing! SNK have managed to pack a huge amount into this game – its twelve stages, twenty power-up icons, and eight weapons is far in excess of anything else I’ve seen from other games of this age and on top of that it’s great fun too, if a little hectic. It’s very much a game where practise pays off though and I’m now greatly looking forward to giving the sequel on the Neo Geo powerhouse the once over! Ultimately the few little niggles mentioned prevent this from being an top-ranked blaster but I’m still very surprised it isn’t better remembered.

RKS Score: 7/10

Elevator Action

Elevator Action

Released by Taito in 1987 for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Elevator Action can somewhat be most accurately categorized as a platformer action game. The home console video game was actually a port from a popular arcade game; though it lost some of the bright-and-shiny looks of the arcade unit, the NES version of Elevator Action still played very similarly.

Elevator Action - NES - Taito - Gameplay Screenshot

Gameplay

The player controls a spy character who has infiltrated a high-rise building with lots of doors and elevators, and must traverse from the top floor to the bottom without falling victim to enemy men-in-black characters, falls, or being squashed by said elevators. Certain doors in the building are red, and must be entered and exited before completing the level by getting to the getaway car.

Elevator Action - NES - Taito - Gameplay Screenshot

After completing a level, the next stage is generated, with exactly the same building, but a randomization of red-door locations. Also, the A.I. gradually become smarter and more sneaky in their tactics (for instance, they may vary between crouching and not crouching when they fire at you), against the sole defense of the player: A semi-automatic pistol that can fire three shots at a time, and kills instantly, much like the one-shot deaths the player may endure.

Graphics

This is a basic, crude little game. Elevator Action for the NES has a cartoony look, to put it nicely and with as positive of a spin as possible. Otherwise, the line drawings are basic, but at least the elements are recognizable. The simple squishing deaths of agents stuck in elevators shafts are even humorous.

Elevator Action - NES - Taito - Gameplay Screenshot

Sound

Although popular opinion varies widely, the general consensus is that the background music for this game is average at best, and mind-screwingly horrifying at worst. Either way, it does not make up for the “meh” quality of the sound effects, other than the somewhat satisfying “thud” of an enemy agent’s body hitting the floor.

Creativity & Innovation

Elevator Action - NES - Taito - Gameplay Screenshot

Perhaps unfairly, this video game cannot claim to have too much originality, only because Elevator Action was already an arcade game. Otherwise, the very foundational premise is interesting, forming something of a hybrid between a puzzler and an action adventure.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=durTn-5IAms[/youtube]

But beyond all other factors, most visibly prominent, is a cripplingly horrific rate of repetition. Being a high-score, arcade-style game, Elevator Action has no ending, and will only continue generating the exact same building schematic over and over. This truly, deeply hurts its replay value; although it is quirky, possibly interesting, and worth a try, its novelty and fun can only last so long before it becomes boring and stale. Almost single-handedly by this flaw alone, Elevator Actions gets its rating of one and a half stars out of five.

Pit Fighter

[youtube id=”Enter video ID (eg. bsND7aibvOQ)” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Pit Fighter

 

Back in 1990, Atari released Pit-Fighter – the first fighting game to include digitised fighting characters. This animation was created through a “bluescreen” process which was a major feat for the day. It was the precursor to Mortal Kombat..

Pit-Fighter-Gameplay-Screenshot-

Pit-Fighter has three fighters to choose from: Buzz, the ex-professional wrestler; Ty, the kick-boxing champion; and Kato, the third degree black-belt expert. Each fighter has their own fighting style, strengths, weaknesses and super moves.The premise of the game is to take your fighter through 15 different fights, with grudge matches (bonus rounds) every three fights. You become champion once you defeat the Masked Warrior.

Pit-Fighter-Gameplay-Screenshot-

 

Pit-Fighter has some interesting twists amongst its gameplay. Firstly, it has sly spectators that get involved in your fights by knifing you. They lurk amongst the crowd, so watch out ! The game also has weapons and objects to use, like: barrels, crates, knives, spiked balls, oil drums, sticks, bar stools and even a motorcycle ! But, beware – these weapons and objects can also be used against you ! If things weren’t interesting enough, there are power pills in later stages that can temporarily make both your fighter and opponent more powerful and difficult to hurt and ultimately, defeat.

Pit-Fighter-Gameplay-Screenshot-

Pit-Fighter hasn’t really aged too well, but it does offer nostalgic value with its digitised fighters and interesting gameplay, with crowd involvement and outrageous weapons/objects to use. So, if you want to relive the daddy of digitised fighters, throw in a few coins into Pit-Fighter.

Pit Fighter - Gameplay Screenshot - Arcade Cabinet

Manufacturer: Atari
Year: 1990
Genre: Fighting
Number of simultaneous players: 3
Maximum number of players: 3
Gameplay: Team
Joystick: 8-way
Buttons: 3 (Punch, Kick and Jump)
Sound: Amplified Mono (single channel)

Guerrilla War

 

Guerrilla War - SNK - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

Ah yeh, Guerrilla War, released by SNK in 1987, was the first game I played with a rotary joystick. Unlike Ikari Warriors where you had the joystick to move side to side and shoot, Guerrilla War allowed you to move your fighter and at the same time, rotate the gun to shoot in 8 directions !  This rotary “gimmick” seemed to work, as it was used on other games, notably, Heavy Barrel and Midnight Resistance.

                        Guerrilla War - SNK - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

The game is a 1 or 2 player survival shooting game, in the mould of Ikari Warriors. Play can be simultaneous or either player can join in at any stage during the game. The players have machine guns to mow down baddies and grenades to lob at them. Along the way, the players can also get into tanks and cause maximum damage (and get further into the game). There are bonus weapons too, when certain enemies are killed.

                        Guerrilla War - SNK - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

The freedom fighter, and communist leader connection was due to the original Japanese version of Guerrilla War, titled, Guevara. The Japanese game was based on the exploits of the revolutionary, Ernesto “Che” Guevara and the Cuban commy leader, Fidel Castro. Fearing extreme anti-Communist sentiments in the West, SNK did a regionalisation of the game’s dialogue and instruction manual for its US and European releases.

Guerrilla War - SNK - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

The game’s description was changed to: The country is struggling against the cruel domination of the king. The guerrilla leader and his comrades attempt to secretly land on shore, but the king’s military is waiting for them. Fight your way inland and attack the fortress.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4JmBDVWV-0[/youtube]

If you want to play a superlative Ikari Warriors rip-off, then this is your game. The rotary joystick is a godsend, as it allows you to walk and shoot in all directions, causing absolute carnage. Go on, throw a coin in the slot, and play some Guerrilla War.

 Guerrilla War - SNK - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot - Cabinet

Manufacturer: SNK
Year: 1987
Genre: Vertical Scrolling Shooter
Number of Simultaneous Players: 2
Maximum number of Players: 2
Gameplay: Joint
Joystick: 8-way Rotary
Buttons: 2 [Fire and Grenade]
Sound: Amplified Mono (single channel)

 

 

Marc Georgeson: Addictive 247 Games

addictive247logo

Name: Marc Georgeson

Title: CEO

Company: Addictive 247 Games

rygar-arcade

Favorite Classic Game: Rygar (Arcade)

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

Why it is your favorite game: It’s the game that I loved to play in my local snooker hall when I was about 11! The graphics and sound captivated me and even though it was a really tough game I kept on putting coins in.

Derek James: Polyclef Software

Derek James - Polyclef Software

Name: Derek

Title: Owner & Founder

Company: Polyclef Software

gyruss

Favorite Classic Game: Gyruss & Zork

Why is this game your favorite: I’ll actually pick two. For classic arcade action, my favorite was probably Gyruss. Why? Because I thought tube shooters were cool…it was like Galaga, but in a circle! And I also really thought the electronica-style Bach music was cool.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hF2m7EW9_lM[/youtube]

For the PC, the games I remember the most fondly were the Zork and Enchanter trilogies from Infocom. Text-based adventure and puzzle-solving games are obsolete now, but I really thought the blend of storytelling, puzzle-solving, and interactivity was very immersive and compelling. Myst was a great continuation of this style of game in graphical form, but I still have a soft spot in my heart for Infocom’s games.

Drift Out ’94 – The Hard Order

Drift Out '94 - The Hard Order - gameplay screenshot

Drift Out ’94 – The Hard Order (1994)
By: Visco Corp  Genre: Overhead Racing  Players: 1  Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Arcade
Also Available For: Neo Geo (variation)

Drift Out '94 - The Hard Order - gameplay screenshot

As far as my memory is concerned at least, the original Drift Out was something of an inconspicuous entry in the overhead racing genre, so considering how little-known it apparently was, I was surprised to find that it’s actually got a sequel! Like the first game, which has a SNES game based on it, Drift Out ’94 was also exclusive to the arcades but also received a modified home conversion in Neo Drift Out for the NeoGeo. Whilst similar, they are different games, and we’ll look at SNK’s game in a later post, but both are pretty similar to the first game except for one big difference – instead of the direct overhead view used before, Visco Corp have instead shifted the perspective to an angled overhead one.
Aside from the change in viewpoint there’s actually very little difference between the games though. There’s a similar roster of cars available here (although it seems Visco acquired an official license in the interim as the cars all have their proper names now), such as the usual Impreza, Evo, Celica, Lancia’s, etc. Sadly the Sierra doesn’t return but to make up for it they’ve included a Mini! Anyway, once you’ve chosen a car you’ll start your first race which must be completed within a set time limit. The more time you can finish inside the limit by, the better your final position will be, but if you don’t even manage to finish inside the specified time at all, the game is over! As before, you don’t start the race at the same time as your rivals but if you’re good/bad enough, you will encounter other cars on the road here and there.

Drift Out '94 - The Hard Order - gameplay screenshot

Alas, as was the case with Drift Out, the game doesn’t let you select a course before-hand. It instead attempts to emulate a real WRC season by forcing you to earn your progress from country to country, with points awarded depending on your finishing position. Whilst this does promote a great sense of satisfaction at doing well and getting to see the later stages, all but the most determined of gamers probably won’t get to see them. The courses here look really nice though, so the urge to do well enough to see them all is certainly there. Whilst not particularly amazing from a technical point of view (most gamers were orgasming over polygon graphics by this point), the stages still look really nice. The cars all look realistic enough but the backgrounds are more impressive. They are full of detail and, since they span many countries around the world, they are nicely varied too, from mud, tarmac, gravel, desert, snow, and near enough anything else you could think of!

Drift Out '94 - The Hard Order - gameplay screenshot

There’s also some nice effects such as the dust thrown up by your car on the desert courses and huge skidmarks (snigger) left on the tarmac sections, and the sound effects, whilst less realistic than in the first game, are at least in sync with your driving this time. The navigator’s voice is a little odd though, I’m not sure what he’s saying half the time! The music isn’t especially memorable but is suitable upbeat and suits the urgency of the game well. And urgent it is for the most part too! The courses are nice to look at but most of them are tricky to navigate, with each one featuring sharp hairpin turns, chicanes, narrower sections of road, jumps, obstacles (including parked cars of all things), and even multiple routes, with one route predictably being a bigger pain in the arse than the other.

Drift Out '94 - The Hard Order - gameplay screenshot

The biggest problem with the first Drift Out was how frustrating it was – the ease and frequency of getting stuck behind roadside objects, for example. Drift Out ’94 rectifies this and some more of it predecessors flaws, but it’s still not perfect and remains something of a memory test – you’re unlikely to perform well on your first attempt at a course. However, I suppose that’s the idea of an arcade game – to get as much of your cash as possible whilst keeping you wanting to offer it! In that regard, Drift Out ’94 is a success – it’s certainly more enjoyable to play than the first game and, whilst it does look prettier, this is largely afforded by the new viewpoint which suits the game much more and allows for more detail in the cars and scenery. Overall, this pretty much does what a good sequel should do and improves on its forebear in just about every way. It’s still a little frustrating but is also very addictive and great fun. Well worth a burn now and then!

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

RKS Score: 7/10

Cadillac’s and Dinosaurs

Delicious!

cadillacs-and-dinosaurs

Cadillac’s and Dinosaurs

Cadillac’s and Dinosaurs is a fighting game released in the arcades during the spring of 1993. The game plays almost exactly like Final Fight except you have Cadillac’s and Dinosaurs, oh and guns which you really did not see much in FF.

The game has four different characters to choose from all with their own fighting style, special move and ability like using items for more effect. Besides that, the game is a typical Capcom fighter where you fight wave after wave of bad guys trying not to get surrounded and using your weapons at the right time.

I found the game easier than Final Fight at least in the first stages because there is plenty of food that falls out of oil drums and garbage cans. Also, most of the normal enemies are pretty stupid and if you played FF you know how to beat them easily. The bosses as usual have way too much health, but again, they are not too hard especially if you have a weapon.

That is what I really liked about this game, the tons of guns, knives and explosives you use. Also, the game has blood and scenes like butchers chopping up Dinosaurs, oh any they punch them to in order to enrage them, PITA would be so pissed.

Thanks to Dominic Mason from our Facebook Fan page for suggesting this game.

Satan’s Hollow

Satans Hollow

Satan’s Hollow

At first, I thought this was some hack game or Halloween mod, but Satan’s Hollow is a real shoot em up game made by Bally Midway in 1982. As you can obviously tell, this game is pretty much like Galaga, but you fight weird demonic creatures instead and you have a shield to protect you for a very limited time when things get crazy.

I had to check Wikipedia to learn that some of the things the creatures toss at you are eggs and rocks. I think the best in the Sinistar like demon head that tried to attack you every few levels.

Dungeons & Dragons Shadow over Mystara

Dungeons and Dragons

Dungeons & Dragons Shadow over Mystara

Today’s video comes from the Dungeons and Dragons series of arcade games. Made by Capcom, these games were more like a beat em up in the vein of Final Fight with item elements like Magic Sword, but it did have some role-playing parts to it. There was a story, though when I played this in the arcade I never saw anyone read it, but nonetheless it was there. For the most part the game is played like any other fighting game, avoid being surrounded and save your specials for the bosses.

Personally, I liked this game because it did not eat your quarters as fast as it could have. You could easily beat a level without dying and if you used your items and specials correctly get even further. When you had a complete group, it was the most fun because of the increased enemy count and spells flying everywhere.

Red Parsley’s Favorite Games: Part 7

Fighters Megamix – Saturn (1997)

Fighters Remix - Sega

Rarely have I looked forward to a release like I did this one! Unlike many gamers, I never really warmed to the Virtua Fighter style of combat, but it had its good points, and I did like Fighting Vipers a lot, so imagine my excitement at receiving news of this! The extensive roster of combatants includes all of those from both VF2 and FV and let you fight in the style of either game, and also included a dozen or so secret unlockable characters and multiple play modes, so for its day it was a beat ’em up with a lot of longevity. Despite being fond of Candy (for the obvious reasons), I usually fought as Raxel – who wouldn’t enjoy smashing people through walls with a Flying V guitar?! Until Soul Calibur came along, this was the most feature-laden fighting game I’d played and it’s still immensely enjoyable.

Arkanoid – Spectrum (1987)

Arkanoid

Back in the days of game compilations, the 8-bit computers were the systems of choice, and thanks to Taito Coin-Op Hits I had some great games to occupy my time. Using up most of it was this ultra-addictive Breakout clone. Despite the weird controls which made the bat move faster in one direction than the other, I couldn’t get enough of this. I even managed to finish it with the help of a lives cheat (enter ‘PBRAIN’ as a highscore name)! Taking the Breakout concept and adding power-ups and more varied stages was a masterstroke and the game was perfectly suited to the Speccy. Nice crisp, colourful graphics and a well-graded difficulty level made this a great conversion of a fantastic game that hasn’t aged at all. Round three still gives me nightmares though!

Golden Axe – MegaDrive (1989)

Golden Axe

Christmas morning, 1990… finally I got my hands on Sega’s 16-bit powerhouse. I played each game as I unwrapped them and the first one was… Golden Axe! Famously billed by Mean Machines magazine as ‘arcade perfect’ (it’s not), this was one of the best of a decent selection of launch titles for the MD and, after Revenge of Shinobi, my favourite. Not only was it a top conversion of their hit arcade game but Sega also kindly included an extra level and a new play mode called ‘Duel Mode’, which saw the player take on a succession of ever-tougher enemies, to prolong the admittedly short hacking action. A superbly playable game with a great soundtrack, and immense fun for one or two players.

After Burner 2 – Arcade (1987)

After Burner 2

This Super-Scaler classic has its critics, but they usually relate to the home conversions. After Burner belongs in the arcade and in this specially equipped environment I don’t think too many people could argue that it’s an experience to behold! Clambering into the sizable cockpit, grabbing the yoke, and blasting off from the Sega Enterprises carrier is something that can be experienced all too rarely these days but it’s never ceases to thrill. I’ve never been particularly good at this game (those pesky varmints that attack from behind – grrrr!) but it’s always a pleasure to let fly a few missiles, nearly get lost in the smoke trails, perform a barrel-roll to get out the way, shoot down a few jets, etc, repeat often!

Dragon’s Fury – MegaDrive (1992)

Dragons Fury

My appreciation of this pinball classic is well-known! It’s inclusion in the list of My Favourite Games goes without saying, the only point of contention is which version to include. Both the PC Engine original and this MegaDrive conversion are amazingly playable games, but they have their differences. Based purely on how much time I’ve spent playing each version though, I’d have to plump for the MD version, plus it’s a bit easier! Smacking a pinball around a table infested with all manner of demonic minions and horrific creatures of unimaginable horror would be entertaining to start with but when you include flawless ball physics, an extensive and intricate scoring system, bonus tables, and a superb soundtrack, pinball videogames simply do not get any better than this!

 

X-Men: Children of the Atom

X-Men

X-Men: Children of the Atom

Today’s video comes from one of the first Capcom versus games featuring Marvel characters. I remember first seeing this game at a local arcade and spending all my movie money on it and it was totally worth it. Now, compared to the later games X-Men seems slow and simple, but at the time it was the best comic fighter out there.

64th Street: A Detective Story

64th_Street_A_Detective_Story

Today’s classic gaming video comes from C.P. Brain developer of this Final Fight style game called, 64th Street: A Detective Story. The game was released to arcades in 1991 by Jaleco and features a story about two detectives who are asked to find the kidnapped daughter of a rich guy. The two do their detective work by beating up a ton of bad guys using anything that falls out of crates and the background.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKFrHwXq2ss[/youtube]

The game is pretty much just a beat em up, but I do like that you can toss the bad guys into the background. As usual with these games tossing the bad guy or using weapons is the key and you really only get hurt if surrounded or some special attack a boss might have.

Overall nothing to write home about, but it is a good time waster.

Arkanoid

Arkanoid - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

Arkanoid (1986)
By: Taito  Genre: Bat ‘n’ Ball  Players: 1  Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Arcade  First Day Score: 27,690 (with control pad – eeek!)
Also Available For: Nintendo NES, Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, Macintosh, PC, Commodore 64, MSX, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, BBC Micro, Atari 8-bit, Apple II, TRS-80
Download For: Xbox Live Arcade, Wii Virtual Console, iPhone

The history of videogames is a convoluted one. Many disagree even on what constitutes the first ever example of a videogame, nevermind some of the more intricate facts and figures, but one thing that surely cannot be disputed is the first popular game. Computer Space, unveiled by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney in 1971 brought gaming to the masses for the first time but it was too complicated for many users tastes. Realising this, the two talented engineers went back to the drawing board and returned the following year with Pong, which of course soon became a worldwide smash-hit. It’s simple tennis-style gameplay was hugely enjoyable for two players but what about one?

Arkanoid - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

Fortunately the solo-gamer was soon catered for as well when Atari released Breakout. Instead of a ball being knocked backwards and forwards between two bats, this time the top of the screen was filled with bricks which the ball would slowly destroy one by one. This concept was a superb one but due to its simplicity it was also ripe for some improvements and new ideas and these reached their peak with Arkanoid! This classic, released by Taito in 1986, shares much with the game that inspired it but it’s got a good few tricks up its sleeve too. For starters it comes with a backstory, although I’m not sure it’s one that makes a huge amount of sense!

Arkanoid - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

Apparently, “in an unknown time and era the mothership ‘Arkanoid’ was destroyed but a spacecraft, ‘Vaus’, escaped, only to end up trapped in space warped by someone…” Eeek, mysterious! Anyway, regardless of its rather vague, not to mention unnecessary story, it’s this Vaus that you’ll spend the game in control of. This arcade version used a paddle controller to do this, much like the original Breakout did, and this allows for the quick and precise movements needed to progress through the 32 single-screen stages. Each of these is filled with various arrangements of different coloured bricks which you must destroy by knocking the ball into them and keeping it in play by deflecting it with the Vaus.

Arkanoid - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

Yep, that’s about as complicated as things get! If the ball falls off the bottom of the screen, it’ll cost you a life, so the object is to just keep going as long as you can, and the Vaus can only move left of right so this can get pretty tricky! Most of the bricks take a single strike to destroy but there are a couple of exceptions. Silver bricks take between two and five hits to destroy and gold ones are indestructible. These are of course usually positioned strategically around the screen to make access to the other bricks more difficult! Something else that does this is the aliens that appear from the top of each stage after a short while.

Arkanoid - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

These pesky things are easily destroyed by the ball but doing so sends it flying off at a random angle too. The best of the new features introduced here though is the power-ups. Some of the bricks release capsules when destroyed which drift slowly down the screen and each has a different but helpful effect: Enlarge (increases the size of the Vaus), Laser (equips it with lasers – my favourite!), Slow (slows the ball down), Disruption (splits the ball into three), Catch (catches the ball allowing you to reposition), Break (opens a warp to the next stage, and Player (extra life). These splendid capsules obviously make life a lot easier (and more interesting) but don’t lose a life grabbing one!

Arkanoid - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

Arkanoid may have been released a full decade after Breakout but the simplicity of both games means neither really requires a huge amount of computing power. Indeed, while the graphics here are tidy and colourful there’s nothing really noteworthy about them and there’s no music at all, just a few sound effects, but none of that really matters with a game like this, which is still regarded as the pinnacle of its genre. There’s good reason for its reputation too. It was always amazingly playable and that remains the case today. Control over the Vaus is as precise as you could ask for thanks to the paddle control and the collision-detection is ultra-accurate too, both of which help you to make steady progress through the game, although the ball does increase in speed the longer you play which takes some getting used to (and lightning reflexes!). That specialised controller does make the game a little unrealistic to play via emulation though, so unless you’re lucky enough to find this cabinet anywhere, or even more lucky enough to actually own one, you’ll probably be better off with one of the mighty fine conversions (the Speccy version took up a sizable chunk of my youth!). Regardless of which format you play Arkanoid on though, you’ll still no doubt play it to death – it was and remains one of the most addictive games around!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6wXuFNJgEQ[/youtube]

RKS Score: 9/10

Stormlord

Stormlord - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

Stormlord (1990)
By: Hewson Consultants / RazorSoft  Genre: Arcade Adventure  Players: 1  Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: Sega MegaDrive / Genesis  First Day Score: 18,050
Also Available For: Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, PC, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum
Download For: Symbian Mobile OS 

Stormlord

Censorship is a funny thing. Whether it’s games or movies, it seems that it’s fine to feature regular, gratuitous, and often unnecessary violence and gore, but as soon as there’s some nudity? Well that’s just plain evil. Only someone truly sick would want anything to do with that kind of thing. Even older games with limited visual prowess weren’t safe. Indeed, for all its positive qualities, and there are a good few, Stormlord is still most well-known for the teeny bit of nudity it featured. Arriving first on the various home micros of the day courtesy of celebrated British coder, Raffaele Cecco, the game soon found its way to the MegaDrive too, but even with Sega’s liberal censorship policies it was here that it met with the most controversy yet.

Stormlord - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot
The game, you see, is a side-viewed arcade adventure set in an enchanted world known by the less enchanted name of ‘The Realm’. It is here that the evil Queen Badh has trapped innocent fairies in spell-bubbles and it’s up to you, as ancient warrior, Stormlord, to free them. The aforementioned controversy? The fairies were naked. That’s it! The fact that they’re really small and you couldn’t even see their bits and pieces didn’t stop Sega demanding that RazorSoft cover them up. Okay, there is also an occasional larger woman with a nipple peeking out but she’s just part of the scenery and doesn’t appear often. Stormlord is a pretty damn tough game though so I guess the less distractions the better!

Stormlord - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot
The action is spread over ten gruelling levels and you have a set number of fairies to rescue on each (within a time limit) which are of course dotted around in mostly inconvenient places, often surrounded by traps, enemies, or both! Luckily Mr. Stormlord can contend with both. He is able to fire magic stars or, if you hold down the fire button for a second or so, a more powerful sword. Either of these will take care of most monsters easily enough which include wizards, dragons, goblins, caterpillars, bees, skeletons, and flying fiery things. Unfortunately the traps cannot be shot. These generally consist of plants of both man-eating and pod-spitting varieties, pits of fire, rain-clouds of death, fire-breathing dragon heads and more besides.

Stormlord - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot
The levels, as well as featuring all this nastiness, are also home to a number of more helpful items. Most of these are found close to a specific obstacle you’ll need them to pass, such as a keys and high-jump boots, to honey (attracts bees) and umbrellas (protect from evil rain). The only problem here is that you can only carry one item at once. Something else that helps you get around the different sections of each level is a friendly eagle. If you stand on the relevant stone pad, he will swoop down and carry you (by your head – ouch!) and drop you off elsewhere. You’ll have to be careful when you use these though as they are often one-way trips, and that’s the biggest problem with Stormlord. Progress through the levels involves a lot of trial and error and if you make the wrong move, you’ll sometimes have to start all over again. Grrr!

Stormlord - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

It’s also necessary to retrace your steps quite a bit here, which is part and parcel of arcade adventures really, but given this game’s difficulty and the fact that the enemies respawn, this doesn’t assist progress in the game much. Indeed, I had this game for my MegaDrive for many years and I could never get any further than the third level! That said, I did enjoy the game for the most part and its presentation is superb throughout. The soundtrack is fairly atmospheric and the effects are great (including an amusing wolf-whistle when you touch the woman-shaped scenery). The graphics meanwhile are well-defined and really nice while they last too, but there’s not a huge amount of variety. While the level layouts do of course change substantially, getting increasingly harder and more complicated as you might expect, there’s just two different sets of scenery graphics for example – the enchanted forest and the fiery castle you can see in the screenshots.

Stormlord - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot
All of the sprites are very nicely drawn too (especially the sexy fairies – hee hee!) but feature very little in the way of animation, even Stormlord himself. His posture doesn’t change when jumping or doing anything and he moves rather stiffly, even when he dies! If he suffers a glancing blow he’ll just growl and carry on with the task at hand, but direct contact with any enemy or trap results in him crumbling to a pile of bones on the floor. Fortunately he controls nicely enough though, the game is hard enough without those kinds of problems! It’s a real shame Stormlord is so tough too. It looks nice, has some good features, and I like its fantasy setting, it’s just too difficult. Like me, you’ll probably persevere for a while but when you’re playing the same sections over and over again and still not even halfway through the game, you’ll probably just give up.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3l5iQ0xNj4[/youtube]

RKS Score: 6/10

Video of the Day: Game Deaths

Classic video game deaths

This video is just to awesome not to share. This video shows death scenes from various classic games to a great remix tune. Enjoy.

[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJ6APKIjFQY[/youtube]

(Dir.: Rob Beschizza, BoingBoing. Music is Rob’s MIDI homage to “Mad World,” by Tears for Fears, and you can download the MP3 here:http://www.boingboing.net/2011/03/28/game-deaths-mp3.html and buy their original song here [MP3]: http://tinyurl.com/4wzqgry ).

Totally Tiny Arcade

totally tiny arcade

Totally Tiny Arcade is based on the rather brilliant idea of combining WarioWare styled mini-games with a classic arcade aesthetic. Or is that the idea of revisiting Lazy Jones while liberally remaking some of the best known arcade cabinets ever? Well, we’ll never really know I suppose, but what actually matters is the simple fact that Totally Tiny Arcade is, despite its flaws, a truly great offering for us ageing retro gamers.

Set in a visually pleasing and distinctly 80s arcade, the game has players rush through more than a dozen imaginatively remade classics chasing after a nefarious virus and trying to beat a pretty strict time-limit. Beating the game, leads you to a brilliant boss stage -played in front of a most obtrusive audience- that will in turn unlock a short and lovely finale and -happily- a new arcade venue to tackle. Do this another couple of times and the game is pretty much over and a few extra modes become available.

totally tiny arcade defender

The main attractions of Totally Tiny Arcade are of course the arcade remakes themselves. Impressively, there are more than 20 of them available, each sporting excellent, chunky, retrotastic graphics and some equally impressive sounds, with each game spanning four levels. The games are inspired from an impressive variety of titles including Space Invaders, Spy Hunter, Pac-Man, Joust, Frogger and even the Atari 2600 version of E.T., though -unfortunately- not all of them are equally good. For every two or three excellent remakes there’s a dull or even a completely unsuccessful one, but admittedly the brilliant and imaginative games far outnumber them mediocre offerings. After all, not all arcade games were that good, even back in the day.

You can grab Totally Tiny Arcade (or of course try the hefty demo) via its very own, very retro official site. Oh, and here is the trailer, that will hopefully clear things up.

Verdict: Retro and indie gamers will love it. The rest should first give it a try. Gnomes should indeed instantly buy the thing.

Gun Frontier

Gun Frontier - Arcade

Gun Frontier (1990)
By: Taito Genre: Shooting Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 20,330 (one credit)
Also Available For: Sega Saturn

As most of us already know, shmups are one of the most common types of games around, or at least they were in the ‘good old days’! A majority of them featured basic stories merely to facilitate the action which usually revolved around some sort of evil dictator/alien invading a country or planet or something, perhaps kidnapping someone important in the process. So leave it to Taito to come up with a shmup story as off-kilter as this one! It’s set in the year 2120 when Mankind has escaped the confines of Earth and started colonising other planets. One of them, Gloria, is rich in gold, but it cost most settlers everything they had to reach it, so the planet has ended up with a civilisation somewhat akin to the American Wild West! Thanks to the abundance of gold though, Gloria provided a comfortable home to its inhabitants.

Gun Frontier - Arcade

Unfortunately, its gold also soon became a target for the ‘space thieves’ known as the Wild Lizards who invaded and quickly overwhelmed the comparatively primitive dwellers. Among them, however, was a few talented inventors and engineers were able to design and build two fighter planes in the shape of revolvers with wings (no, I’m not making this up). Much of this is revealed in the game’s pre-title screen intro sequence which includes some digitised stills of locals being traumatised. “Ah! Can anyone save us from this hell…” Yes, a chortlesome story it may be, but it does its job, perhaps overly elaborately, or giving you an excuse to shoot the crap out of the evil aliens, and this is done over six vertically-scrolling stages featuring some of the more intense blasting action yet offered by Taito!

Gun Frontier - Arcade

As might be evident from some of the screenshots, Gun Frontier looks and plays a lot like some other well-known vertical scrollers, notably Flying Shark. It features the same sort of tanks, squadrons of enemy fighters, and ground targets such as gun turrets and buildings, and even some of the backdrops are reminiscent. Not that this makes it a bad game, of course, just not very original. Maybe that’s what the Wild West theme is in aid of. Hmm, anyway. It seems the internal working of your aircraft doesn’t adhere to its antiquated design. If it did, you’d only be able to fire six shots before needing to reload! As is it, the rapid-fire, albeit weedy, ammunition is infinite. It initially consists of a twin shot which can be upgraded by collecting the silver ‘dimes’ that some destroyed enemies leave behind.

Gun Frontier - Arcade

Each time you collect five of these dimes your cannon’s power will be increased by one shot, ultimately enabling it to fire five shots at once. Your weird ship is also equipped with smart bombs whose power can be increased by collecting the gold bars left in the ruins of destroyed ground targets. Appearing less frequently is a spinning silver/gold dime. Collecting it when its silver side is showing will do the same as any other silver dime, but if you collect it with its gold side showing, it will instantly boost your shot and bomb power to maximum! Unfortunately, that’s about it as far as the power-ups are concerned, and you’ll need all the firepower you can get. The enemy attacks are relentless here with plenty of large tanks and battleships around to keep you occupied while the waves of smaller craft try to pick you off!

Gun Frontier - Arcade

Whilst plentiful, the design of the enemy craft are a bit hit and miss. Some of them are similar to many other shmups, as mentioned earlier, but for some odd reason many others seem to be based on old Wild West-era weapons that you (and potentially a friend, for two players can fight the Lizards together) control, which is a bit odd. It has been explained why the planet you’re fighting to save has a Wild West theme, but why would advanced aliens make their ships look the part too? Well, regardless of the motivations of the aliens, it’s an interesting look but I’m not sure I like it much personally. The sprites are all pretty good from a technical point of view though, and the screen is always busy with bullets, explosions, rockets, etc, and some enemy aircraft are even armed with flame-throwers!

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

The backdrops are generally pretty good with some nice details, such as a flock of birds flying away as a large underwater enemy starts to stir, but the choice of colours seems a bit dull and washed out for the most part. There’s a couple of nice graphical effects on show (such as the big blue ships in the screenshot above which change size as they change altitude), but nothing is really done with the strangely chosen Wild West theme beyond the aesthetic design of some sprites. In fact, the graphics, as well as the sound, and indeed everything about Gun Frontier really, is generally little more than average. It doesn’t do anything wrong and is perfectly playable, but at the same time there’s nothing here that hasn’t been seen goodness knows how many times before either. Give this a go if you get the chance by all means, but don’t expect to be blown away by it either.

RKS Score: 6/10

Heavy Unit

Heavy Unit - PC Gameplay Screenshot 1

Heavy Unit (1990)
By: Kaneko / Taito Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: NEC PC Engine / TurboGrafx-16 First Day Score: 6,900
Also Available For: Arcade, MegaDrive

If you were asked to think of a Taito shmup, there’s a good bet you’d immediately think of a Darius title. This is largely understandable due to the number of games in that series if nothing else, particularly on the PC Engine which was groaning under the weight of shmups of varying quality, but they did make a few other games of that type too. Among them is Heavy Unit, which is again a horizontal scroller converted from their arcade original. The story is pretty similar to that of the Darius games in that one of Mankind’s planets has come under attack and needs defending. In this case it’s our first artificial star and planet, Le Tau, which a race of genetically modified alien monsters has designs on! Naturally, it falls to you to vanquish this evil (and scary-sounding) foe by making use of the ‘Heavy Unit’, a heavily-armed transforming spaceship/mecha.

Heavy Unit - PC Gameplay Screenshot 1

The planet in question is apparently a rather diverse one, for the six stages that make up the game are all pretty distinctive, although that could be because the aliens have already had their way with it! Featuring a forest, gelatinous pink alien slimy stuff, and big metallic bases amongst its diverse locales makes it fairly easy on the eyes, but it’s definitely not easy on anything else – Heavy Unit is one of those ‘suicide missions’ which actually is! Each stage is filled with a wide variety of alien scum of many shapes and sizes. The small ones generally attack en masse and move quickly, and they don’t just go down after a single shot either! The larger ones are obviously less agile but make up for it with their firepower. Each stage also predictably ends with a large boss too, and some of these are pretty strange, including a dinosaur skeleton!

Heavy Unit - PC Gameplay Screenshot

Much like the recently-reviewed TransBot for the Master System, this game features a ship that can transform into a flying robot-type thing, and much like TransBot it’s a gimmick that really doesn’t serve any useful purpose. Here, that ability is one of a very small number of power-ups, and is basically a different weapon. Your ‘Heavy Unit’ ship looks fairly unspectacular and in fact is, in pretty much every way. Its default weapon is a puny pea-shooter and, unfortunately, power-ups with which to upgrade it are not frequent. When the ‘P’ icons do arrive though, they increase the power and range of its cannon and also provide weak missiles that fire above and below the ship. In order for your ship to undergo its aforementioned transformation, you need to look for a ‘T’ icon, which are even rarer. Collecting this will cause it to change into a flying robot, or mecha, which has a more powerful main gun, and homing missiles, and collecting it again will cause your craft to revert to its previous form.

Heavy Unit - PC Gameplay Screenshot

Remaining power-ups include the ‘B’ icon for a shield which protects you for a few hits, ‘S’ icons for much needed speed- ups, and ‘E’ icons for extra lives. All but the latter of these are found by shooting a certain type of enemy, but the extra lives are a little harder to find. There is one per stage (as far as I can tell) and each is hidden, usually in part of the scenery. They can be found by shooting at its location but you have to find out where that it first! That’s actually quite telling about this game’s biggest fault – take one of my favourite horizontal scrollers, Thunder Force 3 for example… When I play it from beginning to end without losing a life, by the final boss I have 23 lives. When doing the same with Heavy Unit for this review, I had 3. That gives you an idea of the relative abundance of extra lives to be found, and it’s indicative of the game’s insane difficulty level generally.

Heavy Unit - PC Gameplay Screenshot

Heavy Unit is a strange game. There’s nothing particularly remarkable about it but it’s not a bad game – what there is of it looks and sounds decent enough – it’s just so stupidly hard! Most games ease you in with the first few screens featuring small, relatively harmless enemies that you can pick off with a single shot. Here, the first enemy is a fast skeletal snake-type thing, and it will probably kill you repeatedly. You’ll probably soon decide that avoiding it is a better idea – it is killable but it’ll be a while before you actually manage it! After this there is another, then two more at once, all of which whoosh onto the screen at high speed, and all of which take multiple hits to destroy. After that you’ll reach the point from which the first screenshot is taken, above. This features three rapid-fire, directional cannons (each of which takes a real pummelling to disable), then, after navigating around a large moving piece of scenery you’re faced with three large, metallic snakes. Getting past this point will take multiple restarts, even for a fairly proficient shmup gamer, and it’s only the first three screens or so of the game! Utter insanity.

Heavy Unit - PC Gameplay Screenshot

Unsurprisingly, what with the somewhat harsh difficulty here, Taito didn’t have to make the stages very long. They do look fairly nice for the most part, and some parts of them are more than a screen high, but they scroll very slowly, and each would be over in minutes if it wasn’t for the inevitable restarts. Some parts of the later stages have moving obstacles, parts of the scenery, and barriers to further hamper your progress, but they needn’t have bothered as only a very small percentage of gamers will ever reach them. I played this game via emulation for this review. If I hadn’t, I’m confident I wouldn’t have even finished the first stage. It took me a good couple of hours to reach the final stage, and that was with saving and reloading my game about a hundred times! If Heavy Unit had a more forgiving difficulty curve, it would still be merely an average shmup, but as things stand there really is little to recommend. To make things worse, the collision detection is also pretty ropey here. Even the pause button didn’t seem to work at some points, usually the most critical of course! The PC Engine is positively swamped with shooting games. They’re not all great of course, but I haven’t yet played any less deserving of anyone’s time than this one. Unless you’re an insanely gifted gamer (or perhaps just insane), steer clear of this.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQmH9h2xrpY[/youtube]

RKS Score: 3/10

Atomic Runner

Atomic Runner - Gameplay Screenshot 1

Atomic Runner a.k.a Chelnov (1992)
By: Data East Genre: Run ‘n’ Gun Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sega MegaDrive / Genesis First Day Score: ???,???
Also Available For: Arcade, X68000
Download For: Wii Virtual Console

Having recently looked at an ‘on foot’ vertical scrolling shmup in Elemental Master, this seems like a good opportunity to look at a horizontally scrolling game of the same type, and it’s a game that got off to a some- what dubious start. Originally released as an arcade game titled Chelnov in 1988, it seemed to take its inspiration from the Chernobyl nuclear incident! After surviving a catastrophic explosion at a nuclear power plant, Chelnov, a coal-miner, finds himself highly irradiated and the recipient of some new abilities. Seeking to harness his new abilities for their own questionable ends, an evil organisation attempts to capture him. In order to evade their clutches, Chelnov must fight, using his abilities to defeat the organisation. Needless to say, this story didn’t really go down too well, particularly in light of the game featuring Soviet iconography too!

Atomic Runner - Gameplay Screenshot 2

After the furore of its Japanese arcade release, the game saw quite a few changes upon its MegaDrive release four years later. Now known by its original subtitle of Atomic Runner, the story was changed to a more formulaic alien invasion-type scenario which saw Earth’s major cities attacked and their residents mercilessly slaughter- ed. Hiding in an underground laboratory, Chelnov’s dying father explains that the aliens have been on Earth before and designed an ‘Atomic Suit’ for the Pharaoh’s. Using the design-schematics found in an ancient pyramid, he was able to build a suit which provides Chelnov with super- human strength, agility, and apparently the ability to throw various weapons out of his hands! Using these handy features he must do his best to rid the world of alien scum!

Atomic Runner - Gameplay Screenshot 3

Anyway, now that all that multi- story shenanigans is out of the way, onto the game! Whilst more of a run ‘n’ gunner than an out-and-out shoot ’em up, the focus of Atomic Runner is still very much on shooting, and unlike most run ‘n’ gunners, it uses forced-scrolling more akin to a traditional shmup. However, the seven levels do feature various platforms around which Chelnov can jump, and some parts even feature (admittedly limited) multiple routes. There are twenty different kinds of standard enemies populating the levels, including both mid-level and end-level bosses, and they must all be either avoided or eliminated in one of two ways – either by using Chelnov’s energy weapons or by jumping on their heads, Mario-style, believe it or not!

Atomic Runner - Gameplay Screenshot 4

It is however easier, not to mention far more entertaining, to blast the crap out of them with energy weapons, and there are six kinds: Laser (which you start the game with), Boomerang, Light Ring, Spiked Balls, Morning Star, and Homing Missiles. Each of them has differing rates of fire, range, and power, and you can only have one of them at a time. Each is more suited to certain parts of certain levels but they appear frequently so you can chop and change between then as often as you like. Each weapon can also be powered up, and in three different ways, by collecting ‘UP’ icons. These come in three colours – yellow increases shooting range and bullet speed, red increases bullet size and destructive power, and blue increases bullet count and rapid-fire ability. If you repeatedly die on the same part of a level, a super-power-up appears which increases all three of these attributes fully, in one go. Other power-ups include one which increases Chelnov’s jumping height, and two for bonus points – one for two thousand, and one for five thousand.

Atomic Runner - Gameplay Screenshot 5

These power-ups are usually found being carried by the flying skull/spider things, who drop them when shot, and the scenery features flaming torches which also release them. When Chelnov loses a life he will lose all power-ups collected so far, but luckily they are plentiful so it doesn’t take too long to power back up again, and each level has numerous restart points too. That doesn’t mean that this is an easy game however – given the forced-scrolling nature of the game, Chelnov’s movement around the landscape is a little limited. He can shoot in eight directions as he runs through the levels and you can marginally increase and decrease his speed as he goes by pushing forward or backward on the controller, and he can jump also straight up or forward, but that’s about it.

Atomic Runner - Gameplay Screenshot 6

The levels are set over a diverse range of landscapes and are one of the most appealing aspects of this game. They are titled Atomic Laboratory, Mutant Plant Zone, Mayan Jungle, Egyptian Desert, Treasure Room, Siberian Snowland, and New York, and all look fantastic – this is among the prettiest run ‘n’ gunners I’ve played with regards to the backgrounds and scenery graphics, and the sprites, weapons, etc, aren’t half bad either. The music is pretty decent too, with some tunes being more memorable than others, but it’s all very nice, presentation-wise. It does occasionally seem like the collision detection is a bit off and Chelnov sometimes seem a little sluggish to respond to a command, but there’s no major problems. Having said that, it is possible to get trapped behind an item of scenery and crushed by the scrolling! But that’s the key to this game – practise. Enemies often appear from behind you, so if you stay to the left of the screen you’re likely to die often, but play it enough, get used to controlling Chelnov, and learn the enemy patterns, and it proves to be a challenging and reasonably fair game. There’s not too much else like Atomic Runner around, and for that reason alone it’s interesting, but it’s a very playable, if sometimes frustrating game regardless, and well worth a try.

RKS Score: 7/10

Bubble Bobble

Bubble Bobble - Arcade Gameplay Screenshot 1

Bubble Bobble (1986)
By: Taito Genre: Platform Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 180,180
Also Available For: Master System, Game Gear, Saturn, PlayStation, X68000, NES, GameBoy Color, GameBoy Advance, Nintendo DS, FM Towns Marty, Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, Apple II, MSX, PC

What more can be said about this all-time great? Whilst perhaps not as well known as Mario or Sonic, the cute dinosaurs of Bubble Bobble are just as iconic to many gamers, myself included, and have now appeared in a lot of games on nearly every system ever created, in one guise or another. My first encounter with the bubble-blowing twins was in ‘Kwiki Meals’, the cafe near my college. It was here that I ventured every lunchtime to play Bubble Bobble (and eat a burger), and I was often late back to class! It was the game that first brought the great Taito to my attention and they’ve been one of my favourite companies since. Sadly, both Kwiki Meals and the arcade masterpiece it once housed are now long gone but I’ve had a regular fix of Bubble Bobble ever since.

Bubble Bobble - Arcade Gameplay Screenshot 2

Most of you will know the drill by now – Bub and Bob have been turned into dragons by the evil Super Drunk who has also kidnapped their girlfriends! In order to get them back and be restored to Human form, they must battle their way through a hundred rounds of multi-platformed, monster-infested caves until they can face, and hopefully defeat, Super Drunk. Bub and Bob, who start each round in the bottom left and bottom right corners of the screen respectively, must clear each single-screen round of baddies in order to proceed to the next. To do this you must trap them in bubbles which both Bub and Bob can blow at will. The bubbles fly forward quickly, before floating up the screen being carried by the air currents in the caverns. Freshly-blown bubbles are surrounded by a shiny orange aura until they are a certain distance away and it is only during this brief period that enemies can be trapped in them.

Bubble Bobble - Arcade Gameplay Screenshot 3

Once an enemy is trapped in a bubble, it must be popped quickly to kill it, either by touching it with the spines on Bub and Bob’s head and back, by jumping on it, or by pushing it into a wall. If you fail to pop it quickly enough, it will pop by itself, and the re-released enemy will be angry and much faster. It’s also possible to bounce off bubbles instead of popping them when you jump on one or fall on one from above. This is an essential skill to learn as sometimes it’s the only way to escape from part of a level or reach some high platforms. Bubbles also stick together if they touch each other, whether they contain enemies or not, so if you time it right you can cause a mega-pon chain reaction meaning mega-points! There are eight different types of standard enemy altogether and each has his own movement patern. Learning these are obviously the key to success here, but don’t take too long – if you stay on one stage too long, the undefeatable Baron Von Blubba will appear and stalk you until there’s nowhere left to hide!

Bubble Bobble - Arcade Gameplay Screenshot 4

One of this game’s many memorable points is that it jointly holds the record with its own sequel as one of the most fruit laden game ever (this is a good thing)! Items are spilled on a platform somewhere in the level every time an enemy is vanquished and other items appear seemingly out of nowhere now and then. There is an enormous amount of them to be found, some of which are very useful, particularly the umbrella which skips several levels, and there are power-ups and various kinds of screen-clearing smart bombs too. Some other items are even available in different colours, varying their effect. Also appearing liberally are lots of different fruits, gems and foods which can be seized for bonus points. Additional bubbles sometimes get ‘blown’ onto the screen by the air currents running through the caverns, and included amongst these are ‘special’ bubbles which, when popped, unleash special powers. These include fire bubbles, which spill fire which scorches enemy’s, lightning bubbles which sends a enemy-killing lightning bolt across the screen, and water bubbles, which send a torrent of water cascading down the platforms killing all enemies in its path. The last kind of bubbles to be found contain letters. Collecting them will gradually spell out E-X-T-E-N-D down the side of the screen. Complete the word to clear the round and get an extra life!

There are many more little intricacies and nuances to this game and to be honest, I could go on all day about them, but discovering them for yourself is one of the things that makes Bubble Bobble as great as it is. Despite initially seeming random, almost everything you do has some sort of affect on the game, from how quickly you finish a round right down to a particular digit of your score when you reach a certain point. Many games have been called classics over the years. Whether they truly are or not depends on your definition of the term I suppose, but few are as genuinely timeless as Bubble Bobble.

The cute, colourful graphics which are full of character, that music by Zuntata which could just be the catchiest tune of all-time, the flawlessly structured gameplay, the fiendish stage design, the fantastic fun of jumping around the platforms trying to time an attack to perfection, playing the game with a friend, it goes on and on. It’s regularly sited as one of the greatest games of all-time, and it’s hard to argue. Bubble Bobble isn’t just a single screen platform game, for many it’s the single screen platform game! It’s certainly true that it’s among the most enduring platform games of all-time and that kind of lasting adulation can only be for one reason…

RKS Score: 10/10

Bubble Bobble: Game Gallery

bubble bobble wallpaper

After a long and arduous struggle (which took somewhat longer than expected), I’ve finally managed to finish this damn fine (but also damn long and difficult!) game. Regrettably, I’m not as skilled as I once was as far as playing games is concerned (getting old I guess), and even at my peak I never had the talent that some freaks of nature have (joke!), like those who can complete this classic with one credit! Suffice to say, I got stuck a few times (hence the delay in posting Part 2) and had to seek the guidance of an expert or two.

Among them was splendid Retro Gamer forum user, Tepid Snake, who helped me get past Round 98, on which I’d been stuck for a few days. It was then that I discovered that those crafty scoundrel’s at Taito don’t give you the proper ending unless you finish the game with two players. So back I went to complete the game again, after adding a few credits for a non-existent second player, so I could detail the ‘proper’ ending here. Then I find out that I’ve still not earned the full ending! To do that I have to decipher the mysterious code that I received on earning the ‘Happy Ending’, but I think I’ll leave that for another time! Taito sure know how to get the most out of a game, huh? As I mentioned in my review, this is a game full of intricacies and secrets!

Tepid Snake has also informed me that, on top of all this, there is also a ‘Super Mode’ which sees some of the levels change colours and some of the enemies switch places. Perhaps I’ll look into that for a potential ‘Parts 3 & 4’ though! Jeez! Anyway, behold I bestow unto thee part two of the much fabled Bubble Bobble Gallery!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chase HQ review

Chase HQ Title screen

Chase HQ (1988)
By: Taito Genre: Racing Players: 1 Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 4,723,860 (one credit)
Also Available For: PC Engine, X68000, Master System, Game Gear, NES, Game Boy, Amiga, Atari ST, MSX, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum
Download For: Wii Virtual Console

Before the days of polygons, it was pretty rare to find a decent driving game. Even in the arcades they were pretty rare. If you asked any gamers around my age to name their favourite, most would probably say OutRun, and with good reason – it was a revolutionary game that made a huge impact. There was a few other good examples from around that time as well though, and one was Chase HQ. This effort from the awesome Taito was clearly influenced by OutRun – what else wasn’t in the years after its release? – but it’s not just a shameless rip-off, no sir. Whilst the basic gameplay has shades of Sega’s classic, Taito also injected it with themes taken from some of the American buddy cop movies and TV shows which were so popular at the time. It sure sounds like a perfect combination but how does it stand up today?

Chase HQ screenshot

Taking on the role of police detective, Tony Gibson, it’s your job to pursue one dangerous criminal on each of the game’s five stages. They have all commandeered some sort of powerful sports car and are fleeing out of the unnamed city (which is probably LA), They have got a head-start too so you, along with your partner, Raymond Broady, need to move quickly to make up the lost ground. After a briefing from the lovely Nancy back at ‘Chase Headquarters’ you’ll get sixty seconds to catch up with each felon in your black Porsche 928 Turbo. Once you’ve reached him, you’ll get another sixty to smash his car up until they stop (they’re all men – women don’t commit crimes, remember)! Your ride is equipped with three helpful turbo boosts per stage/credit which can either be used to catch up with the ‘con’ quicker, or to smash into him more aggressively once you already have.

Chase HQ screenshot

You’re probably thinking that it sounds like a lot of fun, but you may also have thought that it sounds rather short. Well, you’d be right on both counts, but the latter point is pretty much the only bad thing about the game. Rather than attempting to craft a longer lasting, more subtle kind of driving game, Taito have instead gone for an intense ten minute blast of a game. It’s not particularly difficult either but some replay value is added by the accumulative bonus you receive for passing each of the many civilian cars the roads are filled with without hitting them. Technically the game is a noticeable step up from OutRun too. The sprites are probably a little better and more varied and the game plays a bit faster, but the biggest improvement is in the stages themselves.

Chase HQ screenshot

Rather than sticking to one backdrop each, the backgrounds and scenery here change numerous times per stage and are pretty varied too. The courses are also much less flat than OutRun’s and each features a fork mid-way through with one route being longer than the other. The audio is also pretty half-decent. The music, whilst perfectable fine, could never hope to best Hiroshi Miyauchi’s immortal tunes, and the effects are okay too, but Chase HQ’s most noticeable addition is the speech. Your partner is pretty vocal throughout the game, willing you to drive faster and getting excited once battle commences, and good old Nancy has a fair bit to say for herself, both during the briefings and over the police radio during the game too.

Chase HQ screenshot

Such is the glorification of crime and violence these days, I’m confident that if this game was released today you would play the role of the criminal, most likely with the object not only to escape from the pursuing police officers but to kill them too, and bonus points scored for killing civilians too, or some such nonsense. As it is though, this is very much a ‘good guys sim’ and remains one of the most memorable cop games released. The combination of OutRun and cop film was a superb idea for a game and makes this play very differently to the former. It also creates a fantastic atmosphere and makes it a different enough game to stand proudly next to OutRun instead of in its shadow. It won’t take you long to see all Chase HQ has to offer but it’s such a fast, exciting rush of a game, you’ll be back time and time again. A genuine classic.

RKS Score: 9/10

My Favourite Games: 1

Hello.  I’m RetroKingSimon (or RKS to my friends).

Some of my many interests include retro videogames, movies, and anime, but I have been complacent in the pursuit of these interests for quite some time now, espically since I’ve been married. This is my attempt to make amends, and will offer the opportunity/excuse to sample some of the best, and no doubt worst, these subjects have to offer, including some that I’ve been meaning to try for many years, and will also allow me to re-evaluate some old favourites that should perhaps be better consigned to fondly-recalled memories.

In addition, I have a curious fondness for making random, and often nonsensical ‘Top Five’ lists, often with the help of Luke. These will also form part of my tomfoolery here, and are just for fun. Any of you that read these musings, I encourage you to make comments or let me know what you think, good or bad, but trolls and other hateful rapscallions can direct your bilge elsewhere. 🙂

Anyway, to mark my first post here, I thought it might be prudent to list my favourite games. There are 30 here, though I like many more of course, and with the exception of the first one, they are in no particular order.

Star Control 2 – 3DO (1994)

Star Control 2 Screenshot I

My favourite videogame of all-time? Without question! Not many sci-fi TV shows or films even have a story as engrossing as this game! It’s an epic space adventure game where, controlling a large, but weak starship, you must wander the galaxy searching for artefacts, forging alliances with or fighting against the many alien races, gathering resources, and building a fleet with which to take on the evil Ur-Quan Heirachy who have enslaved Earth and several other worlds. Featuring hectic real-time battles, hours of speech, and countless things to do, it’s a sci-fi game that has everything. You even get to score with a green-skinned alien girly for goodness sake! The best thing of all about this game is that you can download a conversion of the 3DO game for nothing and play it on any modern PC. Get it here (the game has had a name change though, it’s now called Ur-Quan Masters).

Burnout 2: Point of Impact – Gamecube (2002)

Burnout 2 - Point of Impact Screenshot I

Granted, there’s a lot of games I haven’t played, but right now this is the finest arcade-style racing game I’ve ever played. You have three opponents and racing takes place on long stretches of road also populated by civilian drivers ranging from cars right up to coaches and juggernauts. There are a few cars to choose from when you start the game and successful racing unlocks many more. It’s all fairly standard stuff, it’s just done so well. Control over the cars is precise, the courses are busy and superbly designed, and opponent AI is pretty good too. This all combines to make some pretty awesome, hi-octane racing! In my humble opinion, this was and remains the pinnacle of the Burnout series (and marks the final installment before Electronic bloody Arts bought the franchise and ruined it), and the arcade racing genre in general.

Wonder Boy 3: The Dragon’s Trap – Master System (1989)

Wonder Boy 3 - The Dragon’s Trap Screenshot I

Introduced to me by my good friend Luke, this game blew me away when I first played it in the late 80’s, and has remained a firm favourite. Despite its name, this is actually the fourth game in the convoluted Wonder Boy/Monster World series of games and almost certainly universally considered the best. The game, which takes the form of a sprawling arcade adventure, carries on directly from Wonder Boy in Monster Land, and sees Wonder Boy cursed by a dragon and turned into Lizard Man! And so Wonder Boy’s latest quest begins. He must brave many strange and distant lands in his bid to return himself to Human form, but not before he takes various other forms too! A top game when it was first released and it remains a top game today, arguably the best game of the Master System.

Gauntlet 4 – Mega Drive (1993)

Gauntlet 4 Screenshot I

Not strictly speaking a sequel, Gauntlet 4, released on the Mega Drive/Genesis exclusively, was more a tarted-up conversion of the original and features four different modes. The Arcade Mode is a near-arcade perfect port of the orignal Gauntlet arcade game from 1985, but with the addition of an all-new soundtrack, the Record Mode, which is a variation on the arcade mode tailored to achieving high scores, the Battle Mode is a multi-player fight to the death, and best of all is the Quest Mode, which is an all-new Gauntlet game where the player must battle through the ten floors of each of an ancient castle’s four towers before tackling the dragon dwelling therein. Including some RPG-style features, this is a whole game in itself. Overall, for any Gauntlet fan, this is the complete package.

OutRun – Arcade (1985)

Outrun screenshot I

Until the Burnout series came along, this was still my favourite driving game ever, and in many ways is responsible for my love of videogames to begin with. Everyone knows all about this classic by Yu Suzuki which is still as enjoyable today as the day it was made, in my view. Sure, OutRun 2 and Coast 2 Coast superceded it in many ways, not least graphically, but do they contain the spirit and atmosphere of the 1985 original? I can’t think of many driving games that don’t even have any opponents which are still as enjoyable as this! Simply cruising along listening to Magical Sound Shower is a treat matched by only a small number of other gaming experiences. It’s a shame so few people will ever get to play the arcade behemoth now!

That’s it for now, more to come.

Free Stuff: Zophar’s Domain – Home to all Emulators

Zophars Domain logoFree Stuff: Zophar’s Domain – Home to all Emulators

Many of us grew up playing on many different platforms and systems. Whether you were a computer person or a console gamer, it probably has been many years since that was our main gaming platform. Just because we are now playing on modern computers and consoles doesn’t mean that we won’t get the urge to play a classic game from a dead system of our younger days. That’s where emulators come in, and Zophar’s Domain has EVERY emulator you can think of from any platform to any platform.

Zophar’s Domain Logo

Whether you use a Windows PC, a Linux system, BeOS, an Apple, an Amiga, a console, a phone, or a calculator, if there is an emulator for it so that you can run old computer or system like a Commodore 64, a Commodore Amiga, a Sinclair Spectrum, an Atari console or computer, a 3DO console, a Turbo Grafixx 16, arcade (MAME always comes to mind), any Nintendo or Sega system (ZNES and Genecyst always come to my mind when I think of emulators for these), or some rarer ones, Zophar’s Domain will have them if they exist (usually).

As a quick summary, usually when you want to emulate something you need a properly installed emulator and you’ll need a bunch of ROMs (think of them as disk/cartridge images for games/software/etc, depending on the platform). Now, although Zophar’s Domain will give you the emulators you need and you have every right to emulate software that you have already bought before, the legality of sharing ROMs is not as clear. For that reason, you will NOT find ROMs at Zophar’s Domain but it’s really easy to find them, even using google these days or torrents.

So… fire up a good emulator and relive part of your childhood once again! Either click the name Zophar’s Domain above or click here. If you’re too lazy to install an emulator on whatever it is you use or are worried of the legality of it, you can always go to our arcade section and play an emulator directly from Obsolete Gamer.

Wes Paugh: Fusion Reactions

100 Rogues logo
100 Rogues logo

Name: Wes Paugh

Company: Fusion Reactions, partnered with Dinofarm Games

Job Title: Lead Software Developer

Favorite Classic Game: Perfect Dark

Quote: This is the only game for which I think the term ‘even more perfect’ isn’t completely asinine. Goldeneye established paradigms for the genre that are rarely met with as great success by games with much larger budgets and much more content. Perfect Dark ramped up the formula in almost every way.

The difficulty of the game is cyclically reinforced by its pacing. Level / encounter design was woven brilliantly with story and non-combat objectives to provide non-life-threatening, but often intense, breaks, but I still felt free to explore at my own pace if I wanted. Further, each mission’s golden path was short (3-10 minutes), so they could each be brazenly unforgiving with to-the-second timing that had to be researched and rehearsed to be successful on the harder difficulties. And yet, it was never any less fun or intense going back to easier ones. I just felt more awesome taking the improved skills back in time.

Everything about Perfect Dark felt streamlined and polished, with enough to do to keep me satisfied no matter what experience I craved. Throw in a phenomenal multiplayer and it’s a formula that has kept me coming back for a decade, especially with its recent XBLA rebirth.

Bio: I began working for Fusion Reactions just under two years ago, with prior experience on Vicarious Vision’s Spider-man 3 as a scripter, with a degree in Software Engineering from RIT.

Fusion Reactions had decided to develop an iPhone game, somewhat on a whim. A roguelike RPG called 100 Rogues was born of our partnership with Dinofarm Games in Westchester, NY. Where our team brought software know-how to the project, Dinofarm’s Keith Burgun and Blake Reynolds brought design, music and artistic expertise.

My current work is the continued support for 100 Rogues, with more character classes, worlds and monsters, and features they require. I am currently the iPhone Game’s only full-time software developer.

Project Name: 100 Rogues

Project Info: 100 Rogues is a re-imagining of a genre of games called roguelikes. The genre is defined by strategy against a wealth of opponents with esoteric and widely varied abilities, including the world itself.

Set across a series of 3 dungeons (at time of writing), the player must navigate downward between floors, encountering new monsters and defeat each dungeon’s boss, becoming stronger along the way.

The game currently has 3 unique player classes (Crusader, Wizard, and the recently shipped Scoundrel), each with their own combat advantages and strategies focused around the skills they can learn as they progress.

Although the game is relatively short, completing it is no easy task, and could scarcely be called the point of playing. Randomly generated dungeons, permanent death without chance of reloading from a save point, and different skill-tree decisions make each play through a unique challenge that can take month of practice to reach and defeat the final boss.

Production values also raise 100 Rogues beyond the traditional roguelike, with fully-animated pixel-art, which gives the game a distinct, rich look. We poke fun at genre conventions relentlessly, too; the primary quest-giver nearly passes out from boredom as he hands down the done-to-death ‘Go Kill Satan’, and one player class is actually one of a race living, breathing skeletons… only she, in particular, has been killed and reanimated.

The game is constantly expanding and moving forward, with a fourth player class and world already in the works, a challenge mode with strategy puzzles that will continue receiving additional content, and a bevy of new game modes and features ahead.


Article Source: http://100rogues.com