We take a look at the Japanese shooter, School Girl Zombie Hunter where apparently damage leads to underwear modeling. From there we delve into the age-old discussion about how minorities never seem to survive horror movies.
By: Tatsunoko Productions Genre: Arcade Adventure Players: 1 Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Featured Version: Sega Master System
Also Available For: Nothing
I think it must be an indication of my gaming preferences and heritage that I’ve seldom been able to ‘get’ some of the most popular computer games that were doing the rounds during the 80’s. A great example of that is Impossible Mission – a supremely popular game, mainly on the C64 which I never owned admittedly, but I did later buy a copy of it for Sega’s splendid Master System. I found it an enjoyable, though very difficult game, but the puzzle elements caused me great confusion and in the end I’m ashamed to say I gave up on it. If only there was a similar game but with less puzzley puzzle bits… Before long I discovered that there was – Zillion – an unusual title even now in that it isn’t an arcade conversion and is exclusive to the MS which meant that not many people had the opportunity to play it. In the opposite scenario to which I usually find myself, however, I did have such an opportunity and I enthusiastically took advantage of it.
Like many Japanese games, this one is based on an anime series, albeit a shortish and relatively unknown one, even in Japan. Both the anime and the game star a fellow called JJ who is a member of the medieval-sounding White Knights, a peacekeeping force who are out to destroy the evil Noza Empire’s base which is located on the 50’s sci-fi-sounding ‘Planet X’. At the start of the game, the White Knight’s mothership has just landed on Planet X leaving JJ to infiltrate the underground base, rescue two captured comrades, and set the base’s mainframe computer to self-destruct. Sounds simple enough! After a short jog across the planet’s surface, JJ descends into the complex via a mysteriously-unguarded lift. From here he can make his way anywhere he wants really. The lift shaft and corridors lead to numerous rooms, each a single-screen in size. These usually contain various traps, some capsules, a computer terminal, and often a door to another similar room which will be locked.
JJ is less agile than the C64’s most famous secret agent but he can still jump around about the place (surprisingly high, too) and can also crawl along the ground. He packs a gun, too, which is used for destroying the sadly-infinite enemy guards who are found in pretty much every location – the planet’s surface, the lift corridors, and many (though not all) of the rooms themselves. Contact with their shots (though not the enemies themselves), or some of traps in the rooms, depletes JJ’s energy reserves, although he can get a ‘top up’ at any time by returning to the mothership. The gun is also needed for breaking open the capsules which contain power-up items including more energy, more powerful guns, goggles (which allow you to see some of the otherwise-invisible traps), ID cards (which are needed to access the computer terminals), and floppy disks which are needed to access the main computer.
More commonly found in the capsules, however, are code symbols. Each door has a four-symbol code but capsules only contain one so you need to bust open four in any given room, remember (or write down) the symbols, then re-enter them at the computer terminal. These capsules are, unsurprisingly, often protected by guards or traps which include energy-sapping barriers, conveyor-belt sections of floor, automated guns, mines, or trip-wires which trigger an influx of guards. The traps can all be turned off by entering a simple code in the terminals although, unlike entering door codes, you won’t get your ID card back so it’s best to work around the traps if possible. JJ is reasonable for this but, splendidly, you can also control your two kidnapped comrades once you’re rescued them. They include the awesomely-named Apple, a girlie who is predictably more agile than JJ and can jump higher but also takes more damage, and Champ, a bulky fellow who shrugs off enemy fire more easily than the other two but can’t leap around so well.
These two idiots also have their own energy reserves, so once you’ve rescued them you then basically have three lots of energy to get through the game with. Well, I suppose technically you have infinite energy if you can be bothered to go all the way back to the mothership every time you’re running low, but either way it makes Zillion a much easier and more accessible game than Impossible Mission, for me at least. That said, it can occasionally be rather unfair, as with the ‘unavoidable death loop’ I encountered. Contact with enemies or their fire knocks JJ (or whoever) backwards, you see, so if enemies are present very close to the point you enter one room and leave another, you can end up getting knocked backwards and forwards between them until you die. Boo hoo! Still, it only happened the once so far and the rest of the game is fairly accommodating despite some slightly iffy controls, mainly regarding the characters’ jumping abilities. Practise makes perfect though, although don’t expect to be able to play though the game quicker on subsequent runs – the door codes are randomly generated each time you play!
The presentation is of a high standard throughout the game and includes a few cut-scenes (including some girlie on the mothership crying if you die – unrequited love?) and the in-game graphics are quite good too. The sprites look a little weird to be honest (it looks like JJ has a blue face for one thing) and the way they shuffle along the ground is quite amusing. There’s a bit of flicker amongst the enemies when two or more are close together too, but there’s been a bit of effort to keep the nicely-detailed backgrounds a little more varied than I had expected. The audio is also good – there’s only one main tune but it’s a catchy one and the effects aren’t bad either which means that, all things considered, Zillion is pretty spiffy! It’s a pretty big game, spanning 136 screens I believe, and most of them are well-designed. You’ll need to return to some later (with a different character or more powerful gun, for example) and the sense of progress is keenly felt. Impossible Mission may well be an all-time great as far as most gamers are concerned, but my simple-mind would much rather tackle this lesser-known clone!
RKS Score: 8/10
I was a fan of FMV (Full Motion Video) games, not so much as a player but as a watcher. Honestly, those games were often way to hard and cheesy even for a teenager. You would think that if all you had to do was act out a video game, movie style it would produce some great games. Sadly that was not the case.
Case and point is this PlayStation One game from 1998 called Alive. This game was created by the now bankrupt, General Entertainment. I mean with a name like that is it surprising that they failed? This game featured a 20 year old Japanese girl that is accused of murder. Like in classic games such as, Dragon’s Lair, you needed to make quick movements and commands and make sure they are the correct ones or you die and its game over.
Now the game is in Japanese, but you can piece together the story from the video, sort off. As stated you are accused of murder and must fight to prove your innocence. Of course you are being hunted by the cops and there are a ton of dangers you have to avoid. You are in a futuristic city even though it says 2003 they have tech that looks way beyond that, then again it is Japan.
To say the graphics are bad is an understatement, but I guess you can give them a little slack, but just a little. As a side note and because I am a sick puppy, I laughed really loud watching this video and seeing the “vibrator on” open on the title screen. You play as Atsuko-Kawada and while the game starts off peaceful it isn’t long before you realized something is wrong and you need to get out of there.
So the gameplay works like this. During some sequences you have three choices, active, cleaver and escape. You have a limited amount of time to choose one and the wrong one can delay you or give you the game over screen. Later in the game you get additional choices to make such as, when you are driving you can go left or right or go up or down. Once you have a weapon you will get a moving target indicator and will need to time your shots to hit the enemy. Failure to do so almost certainly spells doom.
As stated the graphics are not that great. Obviously it is FMV, but the added animation is not well done. You can really see this in the car crash and explosions scenes. It is pretty bad. You can also tell in the gun shots that they use squibs, but all this goes along with the bad acting and overdone death scenes. If there is something I would say this game is known for it is the death scenes, especially the knifing scenes and the abrupt Game Over screen with what sounds like a cheap version of the Law and Order gong.
Full disclaimer, I never got to play this game. There are like no articles or wiki’s on it. I had to piece together everything from the videos. However, the game is interesting enough that it deserves to be talked about if nothing else, but to watch some of the videos and have a good laugh.
When people think of Japanese Saturn games, they quite rightly call to mind classics such as Capcom’s 4MB-enhanced beat ‘em ups, shmups like Battle Garrega and Radiant Silvergun, and the sequels the West wanted but never got (I hate to bring up old wounds, but I must mention Dragon Force 2 and the remaining Shining Force 3 scenarios). The Saturn had far more Japanese games than just these cult classics though and while the quality naturally varies from game to game there’s still plenty of interesting titles waiting to be played, often for $10USD or less.
Take Real Sound: Kaze no Regret for example – there are literally no graphics at all in this game (and only minimal optional stills in the Dreamcast remake), the reason being that it was designed to be a game that could be enjoyed just as well by blind gamers as it could able-sighted ones. The game is an interactive sound drama and plays out much like a visual novel with the player making decisions at key points.
If that’s a bit too esoteric how about Black/Matrix, an SRPG series by Flight Plan (creators of the Summon Night series and DS SRPG Shining Force Feather) that started on the Saturn and spawned two remakes (Dreamcast and PS1), a direct sequel (PS2), a prequel (GBA), and later a remake of that prequel (PS1) – yet these games are hardly discussed anywhere! What’s especially enticing about this game to a curious import gamer is that it’s rather linear meaning more time can be spent enjoying the battles rather than scouring FAQs for the NPC you should have spoken to in the last town but completely missed.
Japanese Saturn fans even got all-new exclusive sequels to quintessentially Western games too: Dungeon Master Nexus is the final game in FTL’s classic dungeon crawling RPG series and finally brought the series into true 3D while still retaining many familiar features from the previous games. Alex and his lock picks, Screamers, the rune system… just about everything’s present and correct, and the dungeon is as challenging as ever.
Even ports of more typical games are worth looking at – the Saturn versions of Tactics Ogre and Ogre Battle have additional voice acting not found in any other version and while Suikoden was released over two years after the Playstation original Konami made up for it somewhat by giving the game a bit of a tweak and touch up, arguably making it the superior version of the two.
The best part is that these titles are barely even the tip of the iceberg – never heard of Linkle Liver Story? It’s an ARPG by Nextech, the creators of Ragnacenty (AKA Soliel, AKA Crusader of Centy). Soukara no Tsubasa: Gotha World uses a unique “Personal Time System” to give turn based combat a real time twist in a Porco-Rosso-with-fantasy-leanings setting. Sakura Taisen – a series so successful that the cast have filled the Budokan twice with their stage shows – and yet only the final one out of the five main titles (and about fifteen spinoffs, excluding ports and remakes) has been released outside Japan. Gamers not comfortable with the language barrier have plenty to look at too – bonkers shmup Game Tengoku, puzzler Puyo Puyo 3, Bomberman Fight!, the Virtual On-like Steeldom… the list goes on and on.
Being objective, these games are not the absolute greatest titles to grace the system nor are they lost treasures that will silently increase in price until only the most dedicated of collectors own them – but they are quirky and fun games that will entertain and amuse those curious or brave enough to give them a go, and certainly deserve better than to be consistently passed over for more familiar titles. So next time you’re browsing the web for imports, why not give something new a try?
God Hand: Press O to Spank
This video should go under the weird game files, but honestly God Hand itself was a pretty normal if not comical action game developed by Clover Studio and released by Capcom for the PlayStation 2. The game is a beat em up where you play a martial artist that uses the legendary God Hands that can save the world from Demons. In the game you can create long and unique combo attacks kind of like what was used in Killer Instinct. However, what makes this the video of the day is the spanking finishing move that you can only use against female enemies.
You got to love the Japanese.
Forget the big bang theory or intelligent design, the world was made by rolling a big ball of junk together and creating stars. Well, at least that is how the cosmos is recreated after it is destroyed. Katamari Damacy is a mix between a puzzle game and an action game as you play a prince who has to collect various fallen parts to recreate the cosmos your father, King of All Cosmos destroyed.
How did the moons and stars get destroyed? By binge drinking of course. After this event you have to roll around a magical ball called a Katamari that collection objects that will allow you to create a star once it becomes large enough. The game was released for the PlayStation 2 in 2004 and was created as a result of a school project affiliated with Namco.
Along with the main story there is a side story about a family whose father is an astronaut and as a result of the drunken destruction of the King is unable to go to the moon. Meanwhile his daughter can sense that the prince is trying to recreate the cosmos, but in the end they all get rolled up in the Katamari to make the moon. What a twist!
The gameplay is simple, but can get frustrating. The idea is to collect items smaller than the ball, but there are larger objects that can hit the ball knocking off your collected items and slowing your progress. The goal is to collect enough items to grow your ball large enough and turn it into a star. There are secrets to be found in the game as well as a two player mode that has you fighting to see who can collect enough objects first. The game also features a great soundtrack, so as weird as it might be it is worth checking out.
This has to be one of the most weirdest games in the series. Boong Ga Boong Ga, translated from Japanese to Spank ‘em is an arcade game where the overall goal is to “punish” various characters by spanking them.
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The system itself features a large screen, a fist with two fingers pointing forward and a model of jean covered butt and legs bending over.
The game was created by Taff System a South Korean based company and the game states that playing it will make the gamer laugh and relieve the stress of everyday life. Now in the game you do not actually spank anything, at least not in the traditional way you might think. Instead, you preform Kancho, which is a child’s prank where you poke a distracted person in the butt while they are distracted, although in American I think that’s called 5 to 10 years in prison.
Here is an example of Kancho from the anime Naruto:
In the game you can select from eight characters players can punish including a “Ex-Girlfriend”, “Ex-boyfriend”, “gangster”, “Mother In Law”, “Gold-digger”, “Prostitute”, “child molester” and “Con-artist”. When you select the character, you can see their face on the screen and watch their expression change and you punish them.
It appears you can just hit the butt as well to score points and is that the Adams Family them during the character select?
If that was not weird enough the game also dispenses these cards that rate players on their sexual behavior. For players who receive a high score the machine will dispense a small plastic trophy in the shape of a pile of crap, a perfect ending to one of the weirdest games ever.