M.A.M.E. of the Game: The Avengers, X-Men, Superman, Spider-man & The Punisher


It’s the ultimate superhero team up in this episode of M.A.M.E of the game. With all the hero movies from both DC and Marvel we wanted to go back and play some of the classic arcade games featuring some of the biggest heroes from both franchises and we did just that.

We started out with the classic Avengers game then moved on to the arcade his X-Men before the Tatio rendition of Superman, the hard to find arcade version of Spider-Man and the ultra fun Punisher game from Capcom.

So sit back and enjoy our journey through classic superhero arcade action with what we hope his witty commentary you would expect on this series and if you like it please let us know and like the video and leave some comments.

Lufia & the Fortress of Doom

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Lufia & the Fortress of Doom

This week we have an incredible RPG for the SNES. It’s Lufia & the Fortress of Doom for the SNES. The game was released by Taito and it’s one of the most memorable RPGs for the 16-bit console. If you want an awesome old school RPG adventure with an incredible story and more, then you have come to the right choice! Lets take a look!
Lufia & the Fortress of Doom
 The music is just awesome. Taito had some memorable music in its time. You will definitely love the soundtrack of this game so much that you’ll have it on your Ipod! Also, the sound effects are superb 16-bit beauties. You can’t go wrong with this one.
Lufia & the Fortress of Doom
 The graphics are the usual RPG graphics for a 16-bit game back in the day. They aren’t at Chrono Trigger standards, but they are definitely good for the eye. You will not be confused in this game as to where is there is a door or not.
Lufia & the Fortress of Doom
 The gameplay is what makes this game shine. It’s fun turn based classic style. You can’t go wrong with this choice of gameplay. Each character has their own style of fighting and can help other members out. If you keep a good balance of attacks and magic, your fights will be a lot easier than you might think. The game mostly takes places in caves where you must explore to your heart’s content. Definitely, addicting gameplay overall.
Lufia & the Fortress of Doom
 RPGs don’t usually have much replay value as the games themselves take hours and hours to complete but there are extra dungeons and what not that makes some outshine. This one is more about going back to previous areas and see if anything has changed. This like many RPGs is not a game you would want to return to multiple times unless you’re deep in love with it.
Lufia & the Fortress of Doom
 One of the most awesome RPGs for the SNES and a must play for the console. If you are just getting into RPGs, then this is the best way to go especially if you’re a fan of 16-bit games. This is a must have for your collection.

Power Blade

Power Blade

Power Blade

Format- NES

Genre- Side scrolling action game

Pretty much forgotten, Power Blade is actually a surprisingly assured action game. It’s a little too difficult for my tastes, but for those who love a challenge this is worth investigating.

I realise that the above sounds a bit like a conclusion, but there’s a few things else I still want to note about Power Blade.

First, is that it has dated in ways that have nothing to do with the actual game itself. The cartridge and box art, for example, looks so cheap and tacky you couldn’t blame someone for simply overlooking or choosing not to play the game.

Nova (the hero of the game) for example, looks ridiculously ‘macho.’ With his John McClane-esque vest he looks horribly out of place in todays gaming world. For Nova’s dignity, perhaps it’s best if he remains forgotten in the mists of the time.

Power Blade

Especially considering the lawsuits he might have on his hands from Gameloft.

The game itself though, is of the solid blade hurling action variety, with a decent range of enemies and obstacles to avoid/destroy. You can choose any of the levels from the main hub in any order you wish, except for the final boss’ lair. I’ve not made it that far though, admittedly.

Some of the enemies however, such as faces that are bolted onto walls, don’t quite fit into the future-setting of the game. They feel like something more out of Castlevania or Megaman. Odd.

The graphics are cutscenes are pretty damn impressive for the NES, and are fortunate enough to hold a certain retro-charm about them. I can certainly see why Power Blade has a little cult audience all of its own.

The Jetsons

The Jetsons

The Jetsons

This week we take a look at a very fun title called The Jetsons Cogswell’s Caper! for the NES. Other than cartoon related games by Capcom, there were other cartoon style games that were actually good from other publishers. You have the Flinstones and Jetsons series for example. This game in particular is quite fun and hilarious at times. George’s way to take a hit says it all just experience it for yourself. Anyways, the game has a lot to offer and it’s a title you shouldn’t ignore!
The Jetsons
The music is decent for this game. It definitely doesn’t make you feel like you are in the future but there is nothing more amazing like an 8-bit soundtrack especially if it’s upbeat and fun. The sound effects are also pretty decent as well. There is no voice acting although it’s possible in the NES but you do have some classic sounds. The music would be above average and some of the tunes actually mimic the cartoon’s music.

The Jetsons

The graphics are pretty kewl. This game definitely doesn’t look like it has recycle graphics from other games. The levels are very large and interesting. They definitely look what they are supposed to look like. The robots, bosses, and even items are quite delicious looking! Putting that aside, it’s a well polished looking game.

The Jetsons

Just like over 80 percent of the NES games from that era this was a platformer. The game is the usual going left to right or right to left. There is a lot of jumping, throwing, and more jumping in it. But it’s quite fun! I only wish George had a gun or something!

The Jetsons

The game is your average platformer with a futuristic spin and it’s definitely a game to come back to. It’s one of those games you can beat under an hour and have lots of fun with it. NES was and still is the master of such replay value. Play it till your satisfaction is achieved!

In the end, the game is quite fun and one that should be in your collection. It is quite pricey but I’ll be sure to pick it up if I ever see it. Other than that, it should be a great hour or so of fun and one you can come back to whenever you have a Jetson urge. There is not much to say except that there is no wrong way to see this game. It’s not the greatest but it goes beyond average on every category.

Little Samson

Little Samson

Little Samson

There are lots of NES games we missed from Japan because they didn’t think we were ready for them. This is one of the few gems that made it even though the NES was well past its prime as the SNES was already taking over the world. Little Samson is not only a hard to find game, but it’s a good one. In most cases, when the game is really hard to find it, it’s mainly because of low production numbers while other reasons would be popularity.

Little Samson

This one is a case of low production numbers due to the fact that the NES was long gone. Many people missed this gem but thanks to wonderful tools like eBay and emulators we can enjoy what we missed. I do remember playing this game back when the NES was still around and it was quite amazing. I had no idea it would be worth so much all these years later. Enough of this history lesson, lets check out the game in the different basis of review.

Little Samson

The music is marvelous. Each character has their own musical number that defines their character. It’s quite enjoyable for your ears. The game is also packed with great sound effects as well as music other then the character’s music. You’ll definitely enjoy this one if you are an 8-bit sound fanatic.

Little Samson

The NES was already past its prime but developers knew every trick there had to be for the console. Programming a beautiful game was no problem due to the experience developers had. In other words, since this game came out in 1992 and was developed by a brilliant team, it means the graphics are awesome! Each character looks as exquisite as the other. The backgrounds are live and vivid and the enemies are just as lively as everything else on the game! Well done!

Little Samson

The gameplay is probably the best part of this game. This game is just amazing to play with. Each character has their own abilities which will help you through the game. You have the mouse that can climb all over and drop bombs Metroid style, then you have the powerful stone warrior with enough strength to destroy anything. The dragon comes in handy as it can fly for a short period of time and then of course the main hero which has a little bit of everything. A great balance of characters makes the game ever so enjoyable.

Little Samson

This game is so enjoyable that it’s great to come back to. You can’t say no to another round especially when you get to use the cute little mouse!! The dragon is also awesome, well all of them are!! You’ll definitely come back to this game for another round because this platformer is just amazing!

The game itself is a gem but it won’t come cheap. I highly suggest you try it on an emulator and then decide if you want to buy it or not. It goes for around 100 dollars cart only. In the end, it’s just an amazing game that having a physical copy of it will look amazing in your collection. There is nothing more to say except that this game is amazing!! I think I’ve said that before but it’s just that enjoyable. Everything in it will give you hours of joy whether it’s the music, characters, and most of all the gameplay.

Flintstones: The Rescue of Dino & Hoppy

Flintstones: The Rescue of Dino & Hoppy

Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars

flintstones-the-the-rescue-of-dino-and-hoppy

Taito is a video game developer/publisher that has been in the industry for decades, from their work on arcade cabinets in the 1970’s to mobile device diversions in the 2010’s. As part of their somewhat storied history, in 1991, they released a license game called The Flintstones: The Rescue Of Dino & Hoppy, based on the popular animated television show. Oddly enough, the platformer was actually pretty good.

Gameplay

flintstones-the-the-rescue-of-dino-and-hoppy

This is a one-player two-dimensional side-scrolling platformer in which the A button jumps and the B button attacks. This is already a promising formula, but with a lot of room to screw up. Fortunately for gamers everywhere, Taito did not take the somewhat typical route of cheaply, quickly producing the license title to try and take advantage of the fleeting popularity of the name recognition; instead, they packed in enough extras to add some intriguing gameplay dimensions, levels designed at least decently enough to provide a simple challenge, and all done with fairly slick execution.

The player controls Fred Flintstone who, beyond just jumping and swinging a big caveman’s club as an attack, has a few other maneuvers in his repertoire as well. Pressing down causes Fred to drop his head into his shirt, making him able to dodge certain projectiles he will encounter. Holding A during a jump will enable him to grab onto ledges, and pressing up on the edge will enable him to climb up, an essential move to completing the stages. Holding B powers up the club for a more powerful hit, during which Fred humorously waves it above his head until the release strike. There are items to collect as well, such as health items to replenish hearts (begins with three, five max), extra lives, and also including additional weapons. Once one of the three are collected, they can be activated by pressing up and B.

flintstones-the-the-rescue-of-dino-and-hoppy

The ammo system is interesting. The three items are an axe, which is thrown upward in an arc that comes back down; a slingshot, which fires straight ahead; and, amusingly enough, Boomasaurus eggs which are laid then, a few seconds later, “explode” to kill all enemies on the screen or harm a boss. Using one of the weapons takes tokens. The tokens can be found by killing most enemies. The Boomasaurus eggs take ten tokens to use, while slingshot shots and axes take three, but grabbing a token adds five to Fred’s total, offering an economy of use whereby one slingshot projectile per each fallen foe giving a token item results in a net profit of two tokens per enemy, although the amount does max out at 100.

The levels express a diversity in physics effects at a couple points, though perhaps feeling a little contrived. There is the usual ice level, with its slippery surface; but also a neat twist on an underwater level where, rather than swim, it is still a platforming stage, but with reduced gravity. The truly contrived, at worst, comes with the Asian level, complete with stereotypical martial-arts enemies and 8-bit “Oriental” music.

flintstones-the-the-rescue-of-dino-and-hoppy

Then there are the three basketball matches. Huh? Yeah, there is an overworld accessed between levels, offering route choice toward completion, which would be notable enough, but the truly noteworthy feature is the three one-on-one roundball rounds against Hard-Head Harry. The strangest part is that, if the player wins by scoring more points in the one-minute time period, the reward is one of three abilities granted by pressing Start and requesting from the Great Gazoo, who himself is a time-traveling alien who appeared on the show as the resident shark-jumper. The three possible rewards are temporary abilities to Fly, in which Fred dons wings and can head upward until hitting something; Jump, for which he hopes on a dinosaur and jumps a crazy height; and Dive, which is supposedly to help travel through water but is not really necessary, and even only helpful on a single level.

flintstones-the-the-rescue-of-dino-and-hoppy

Oh, the plot, by the way, and forgive this second-person-voice reviewer for slipping into more informal language for the moment, revolves around the two beloved dino-pets being kidnapped by a diabolical evil doctor from the future, who breaks Gazoo’s time machine, spreading its parts across the world, which is the whole point Fred is defeating all the stages to complete the machine to chase the villain down. Along the way, Fred will run into other classic characters from the shoe, like Wilma and Barney, who tend to inform him of an upcoming boss fight, which all the stages end which, featuring enormous monsters and even, at the castle, a Dracula-like character, matching giant Frankenstens throughout.

flintstones-the-the-rescue-of-dino-and-hoppy

The point: This is a solidly designed, thorough, professionally developed platformer, and done well by Taito, standing as a great example of what a license title can be and, dare it be said, approaches the level of Capcom’s license platformers. It does play a little slower, a little more strategic with its Prince of Persia-like edge-hanging, so it is not as much of a fast-paced game, but some players may even dig that. On the other side of the coin, the worst parts would have to be the knockback suffered with every enemy hit, and the sinister traps laid by the designers, including the need to take a couple leaps of complete faith to advance.

Graphics

flintstones-the-the-rescue-of-dino-and-hoppy

Flintstones: The Rescue Of Dino & Hoppy looks pretty, sharp, and pretty sharp. The animated sprites are drawn well, the enemy designs are competent, and the levels vary widely in their appearance. Even the signature style from the show is used for Fred’s walk animation, with his exaggerated leg movements. The way Fred can creep along while holding B for a club strike is enjoyable. Yet among the strengths are a couple noticeable flaws: Primarily, the one-color backgrounds in some bits, startling when jumping across a broad chasm; and, in the game’s ambition, there are some minor flickering issues when dealing with the larger foe creatures.

Sound

flintstones-the-the-rescue-of-dino-and-hoppy

A weak point of the game, in this reviewer’s opinion, but for a very specific reason that not everyone may agree with: The background music tracks very heavily rely on painfully high notes. Even though the compositions themselves are fine, even achieving the right range of zany cartoon mayhem, the melody leans on ear-splittingly high notes. The sound effects are okay; if not difficult to comment on, considering the onslaught of eardrum-burstingly shrill tunes.

Originality

The head-ducking effect, the plot twist that shows an amazingly brilliant use of license property near the end of the game, the tokens-as-ammo weapons system, and other elements add up to this being an admirably creative platformer. Perhaps no one of its ingredients is in itself inherently completely original (for example, there are certainly other basketball games on the NES), but the combination is distinctively unique and proves to be a satisfying experience. The rating goes four stars out of five for this one.

Demon Sword

Demon Sword

Overall rating: 4/5 Stars

Demon Sword - NES

Released in 1989 by Taito, a developer perhaps best known for their arcade ports, Demon Sword was a rollicking foray into classic Japanese martial arts action for the Nintendo Entertainment System. With a mysterious warrior set against gorgeous backdrops fighting relentless horde of demon foes, this was a title that implemented some great ideas in a slick package.

Demon Sword was also remarkably similar to an earlier Taito release, The Legend of Kage, which was produced in 1986 from the arcade game of the same title. Both feature identical controls for throwing weapon, sword, and jumping, with storylines featured around lone fighters against out-of-nowhere enemies en route to boss fights and power-ups, and even the same flair for tree-jumping and background-climbing. In fact, the two games were so similar that pirate copies of Demon Sword were often re-labeled and marketed as Legend of Kage 2. It can only be assumed that Kage had such success that Taito decided to reload a the similar development engine to create Demon Sword.

Gameplay

Demon Sword - NES

Demon Sword boasts fast-paced high-flying gameplay that feels like playing a video game version of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (though, in fair credit, that film paid homage to earlier Asian epics). Some may say that giving Demon Sword four stars out of five is awfully high for a cartridge clone of a game that was already an arcade retread, has sub-par presentation, holds limited depth, and offers a quirky difficulty level, but Demon Sword passes the fun test and gives us a game that is truly wondrous the first time you pick it up. If you have not tried it in a while, fire it up again, and remember how awesome it felt the first time you realized you could leap an entire screen upward and from treetop to treetop in one jump.

Demon Sword - NES

The player controls the hero Victar, who wields an old weapon, the titular “Demon Sword,” with which to battle the malevolent forces of the generically named Dark Fiend. Battling across three worlds of two levels each before the final world stage, this game utilizes the somewhat distinctive control scheme of having the up button on the directional pad jump, while the A button is a sword slash and the B button throws a dart. Whereas dozens of other platforms would harbor one button for jumping and one for attacking, Demon Sword instantly offered two buttons for attacking. This delivers wonderfully combative gameplay, and rather than marginalize the jump feature, it is quite

the leap, as the character seamlessly glides across the screen at superhuman speeds and heights. In addition to using the Select button as activation for spells that get collected, it is truly remarkable that so few NES title used a similar control scheme, when this one so clearly works to enormous enjoyment.

Demon Sword - NES

This can be a difficult game to master, especially some of the boss fights, but once you get the hang of the patterns of the infinitely generated hordes of enemies, it becomes a fun little romp. Victar can collect different power-ups; some that increase his life or respawn, others that change his speed or the speed of his darts, one that shortly allows him to throw darts in four different directions at one time, and keys that open special areas that reward miniboss-beatdowns with devastating special spells.

Demon Sword - NES

Demon Sword is one NES game that defies description: It is simply difficult to portray, in words, the b.a. awesomeness of being aiming to slash a sword, throw a dart in eight different directions, and jump like only a handful of other characters have ever jumped before, all while casting spells and collecting power-ups to defeat the relentless demon horde. It may not be for everyone, but this game is to arcade-style platformers what Guerilla War is to overhead shooters: A well-honed near-perfection that learned its lessons from previous, similar titles.

Graphics

Demon Sword - NES

The looks of the Demon Sword game are a step up from Legend of Kage, and intriguingly stylized, with colored outlines on the characters for example. Some of the background elements are perhaps too obviously tiled, almost to a distracting extent, but they are certainly colorful. Games like Ninja Gaiden boasted better and more dynamic level designs; however, Demon Sword definitely delivers in the “wow this game plays really fast and fluid without many flickering or sprite problems” department. A slick, somewhat-polished experience.

Sound

Demon Sword - NES

The musical accompaniment is nothing legendary, but provides an appropriately up-tempo beat for the levels, perfectly complementing the face-paced action. Otherwise, the music here is standard: The boss tracks sound like boss tracks, etc. The effects are simple, not understated or overwrought, and are standard without complaint with one exception: The sword-slash effect is very metallic, and sounds like contact is made even when you are swinging at air. You get used to it, but until then, it can give a moment or two of cofusion.

Originality

Demon Sword - NES

The control scheme for Demon Sword was masterful, seeming to provide an additional layer of gameplay that other NES titles could not offer. It may have been adopted from Legend of Kage, along with other elements, but no matter where it comes from, that control scheme should be lauded somehow, with the up button failing to catch on as a jump effect until the practice became nearly universal in the fighting game genre. Otherwise, the power-up system is well-done, if not completely 100% innovative; it is fun to know that some power-ups are immediate, while the magic spells must be earned in secreted areas and have limited use. The enemy designs are noteworthy as well, especially the bosses (one difficult-to-forget example: the old man boss on 1-2 that lobs overpowered bombs at you).

Demon Sword has its flaws: Quick play-through, learning curve difficulty, a hit detection radius that takes some getting used to, perhaps a penalty for following in Legend of Kage’s footsteps almost too literally, and a lack of polish in its audiovisuals. However, for taking the proven formula of the Kage game and refining it to provide one of the best, most intense martials-arts epic experiences on the Nintendo Entertainment System, Demon Sword throws four stars out of five.

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)

 

 

Renegade

Renegade (1986)
By: Technos / Taito Genre: Fighting Players: Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 29,800
Also Available For: Master System, NES, PC, Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, Apple II

Renegade-arcade gamplay screenshot

Poor old RKS has a tough life as a gamer. Despite being relatively normal in most ways, I only have few friends who share my interest in this particular subject and only one who also likes retro games, and he lives far enough away that I don’t see him often. When we do meet up, one type of game we nearly always play is scrolling fighting games, but it only occurred to me recently that we always play the same few: Double Dragon, Final Fight, Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, etc. Upon realization of this, I decided to give a few other examples a try to vary our rare gaming sessions a little. One of the first games I thought of was Renegade – one of the first such examples of the genre and supposedly also one of the best which, alarmingly, is yet another title I’ve never gotten around to trying. Playing it for the first time for this feature, however, revealed that it’s not strictly speaking a scrolling fighting game at all. Hmmm.

Renegade-arcade gamplay screenshot

As most of you probably already know, each of Renegade’s meager four stages are quite small. They do scroll, but are only about four screens wide – a space which is populated by different ‘hoodlums’ on successive stages as well as a boss character who becomes active once only three of his henchmen remain. Your job as the unnamed (in the arcade version, at least) vigilante is merely to beat the crap out of them. You can move in eight directions and there are three buttons – one attacks in the direction you’re facing, another attacks behind, and the last performs a jump. A double-tap of either direction allows you to run and you can attack while doing this or jumping. Even the most basic enemies require numerous hits to defeat but you can knock them to the ground fairly easily at which point you can straddle them (oo-er!) and continue smacking them up. It’s also possible to grab an enemy and perform a throw but they can grab you as well. All of these moves can also be performed on the boss characters, but since they’re stronger the attacks are often less effective.

Renegade-arcade gamplay screenshot

The four stages take place on a subway platform, a harbor  an alley, and the gang’s hideout, and each is home to unique enemies. The amount of energy their attacks cost you is dependent on what they attack you with. Some have only their fists but others are armed or even riding motorbikes. Thugs wielding knives or guns can even kill you outright with one hit, and this makes an already rock-hard game harder then ten adamantium-coated diamonds! You only get one life, you see, and unusually for an arcade game you don’t even have the option of adding coins to continue. I’m not an especially gifted gamer, admittedly, but I was having so much trouble I even had to resort to fiddling around with the DIP switch settings. However, despite changing the difficulty to easy upping the lives to the maximum of two (!), I was still making little headway. The extra life wasn’t much use as it makes you start the stage again anyway, so I decided to try a more strategic approach of running around and picking off thugs only when an opportunity presented itself. And then I ran out of time instead!

Renegade-arcade gamplay screenshot

Even some sneaky tactics such as knocking enemies off the end of the railway platform on the first stage usually backfired as I was knocked off instead. Boo hoo. It’s quite a nice-looking game though. Stage graphics are good and the sprites, whilst not too numerous, are varied, distinctive, and animated fairly well too. The sound isn’t bad either, with average music but pretty good effects and even the odd snippet of speech (“Get lost, punk!”), and it’s an exciting, action-packed, and enjoyable game to play, but that difficulty means that any enjoyment is usually short-lived. Even having not previously played it, I knew that Renegade was a landmark title that brought with it several innovations, but I wasn’t expecting it to be so unforgiving! Arcade games are usually tough but would a continue feature have been too much to ask? Renegade is actually a Western ‘localisation’ – the original Japanese game is part of the ‘Kunio-kun’ series, so I’ll have to give that a try to see if it’s as tough. For now though, I’m either a wussy who needs a lot of practice, or by jove, Renagade is a toughie – too tough for me!

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Co6e7cg7DSQ[/youtube]

RKS Score: 6/10

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)

 

 

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.

Truxton

 

Truxton - Gameplay Screenshot - Banner

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

Truxton - Gameplay Screenshot

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

Truxton - Gameplay Screenshot

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

Truxton - Gameplay Screenshot

 

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

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

Truxton - Gameplay Screenshot - Cabinet

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

 

Akkanvader

Akkanvader - Taito - 1985 - Space Invader Clone

Akkanvader is a Space Invaders clone made by Taito and released in 1995. It is kind of the Japanese lollypop version of the game being all colorful, cute and all, but it is also fun. So you can select from a wide range of characters and each has a different style and ship that you used in the game. However, it doesn’t matter story wise which you select as they all act the same way.

You have five main worlds as well as sub-stages, all very animated with tons of colors of the enemies and the background. A result of this is the game becomes more difficult because you end up having trouble figuring what’s going on.

The game starts out retro style with little colors and looks a lot like the original invaders, but from there more color comes into play and soon you are fighting all types of strange characters never seen in the original game.

Now some other changes with this game is the ability to charge your laser king of like you would in R-type or Megaman. This really is only useful for bosses which is something else that Akkanvader brings to the table.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFnYmUS-L3E&list=UUWjacbLUfoAT9RHDHAMGXrQ[/youtube]

Expect to see all kinds of weird enemies and even weirder boss as seen in our screenshot gallery below. I guess this is just to make sure you remember it’s a Japanese game.

Pirated Childhood

Very few people here in the States experienced the wonderful yet intriguing world of piracy and that’s due to the fact that companies were on top of each other for copyrights of certain games and what not. Well, where I’m from (Peru) there was no such thing and piracy was as abundant as there could be anywhere in the world. I found myself introduced to the Famicom which over there had various names such as Max Play or Micro Genius. These consoles would come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Most of the mimicking the toaster NES console or the Famicom. I personally loved the Famiclones which would bring lots of mysterious games built in or even with a board inside of them. Sadly, I never bought any of them until recent years, I was one of the lucky ones that had the original NES console while everyone else had their awesome looking Famiclones and NESclones.

Why me?? It wasn’t that bad I guess since there were a lot of kick ass games for the original console like the Mario Brothers and Ninja Turtles (Yes, I like the first ones as well and beat that game when I was six years old!). Furthermore, I was one of the lucky ones to be introduced to the most obscure titles during the NES era.

See, there were these game lobbies where you would pay around $0.30 cents to play video games on any console you wanted for an hour. How great was that huh? But wait, it gets better! The games themselves were mostly pirated and the popular originals. Some pirate titles I came across that were engraved in my brain for years to come. One of these wonderful titles was the pirated version of TMNT 2: The Arcade Game. This game’s label art was so wacky I couldn’t ignore it. Below is a photo of what I’m talking about!

tmnt 2 pirated game
tmnt 2 pirated game

Now isn’t this something? I will never forget these turtles, that’s for sure! Not only do they all wear shades but one of them has a shield! It’s funny though, once I found them on eBay to purchase I would keep getting flashbacks of all the memories I had with this game. I bought not one nor two nor three but four copies of this game! The good thing about pirates is that they release this game with different colored pirates (gotta collect them all!). Playing the game with my Famicom sure brings back a lot of memories and joyful occasions. I even remember one time I was playing this game at the lobby and my mom came to pick me up, she wouldn’t let me finish the game and dragged me away from it and all I could hear was Donatello getting the beating of his circuit life while the ice level soundtrack was playing in the background… That memory still comes back to me every time I play that ice level (This “new” level sure made the game longer unlike the original arcade version).

There is another game that marked my childhood with cherished memories. Many of you never heard of it until the rom was available online and hopefully it’ll get well known for being one of the most strangest but correctly made Mario hacks ever! Behold, Mario 8!

Super Bros 8 for famicom
Super Bros 8 for famicom

This game was the entire reason why I went to the lobby every time I could. This game took me out my seat and brought me to a gaming world I have never experienced, and back. The so called Super Bros 8 is actually a hack of Don Doko Don 2 released by Taito. The whole game fits well for it to be a potential Mario title (if you ignore the storyline that is). You play as Mario holding a hammer and stomping evil looking mushrooms (sounds Mario-like?), as well as other creatures along your way including pigs! I think with some hacking by Nintendo, this could have been the better Mario 2 option rather than stealing Doki Doki Panic. I had to find this game when I had the chance and I did. I currently own two copies of it as well as a copy that’s unhacked for some reason. Once I got my hands on this game two years ago, I couldn’t stop playing it. I even had a Mario 8 marathon once where I beat the game five times in a row. I believe I have beaten this game over fifty times now and it never bores me.

I hope this was an enjoyable article for many of you interested in the obscureness of retro gaming… really you can’t get any more obscure than this! As a matter of fact, there are still many titles I can mention but it’ll have to be some other time. Until next time!

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

Metal Black

Metal Black - Arcade Gameplay Screenshot

Metal Black (1991)
By: Taito  Genre: Shooting  Players: 1-2  Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Arcade  First Day Score: 98,810 (one credit)
Also Available For: Sega Saturn

One of the great things about writing this blog is that I end up learning so much more about the history of gaming. The most recent thing I’ve learnt is that Taito apparently made a lot more shmups that I had realised! This one was originally intended to be a sequel to their recently-covered, slightly odd vertical-scroller, Gun Frontier. If you’ve played both games, however, you’ll know they actually have very little in common! Perhaps the most immediately obvious difference between them is that the perspective has shifted to a side view for this game, but the story seems to bear no similarity to the Wild West theme from Gun Frontier either, with Taito apparently settling for a more generic ‘evil alien invasion’ type story here.

Metal Black - Arcade Gameplay Screenshot

Using a severe meteor shower as cover, the aliens attacked the already-battered Earth with their powerful weaponry, intending to strip our world of all inorganic materials. These aliens and the star they came from were quickly dubbed Nemesis. Before long, mankind discovered that their crafts and weapons were being powered by an unknown but suddenly abundant molecule called Newalone which they immediately set about learning to harness for themselves. Ten years after the initial invasion, Earth’s remaining diplomats were working on a treaty that would allow a peaceful surrender which would see the previously completed ‘Black Fly’ craft unused. However, Earth’s resources were beginning to expire and the population was thinning out. Perhaps it was time someone took control of the Black Fly and struck back.

Metal Black - Arcade Gameplay Screenshot

Each of Metal Black’s six levels has its own title and each sees you gradually moving closer to the aliens home star system. The first takes place over the ruined surface of Earth where the aliens try to use our remaining forces against us, including an aircraft carrier marooned after the oceans dried up. The second sees the Black Fly take to space, fighting the aliens against the backdrop of The Moon, but there’s another moon too. Is one of them an alien weapon? The third level takes place amidst the ruins of Earth’s satellites and nearby colonies. After entering a wormhole, the fourth level takes place in an alternate dimension before the you leave the wormhole for the fifth level which takes place in and around Jupiter. Last but not least, the sixth and final level takes place at the aliens stronghold of Nemesis as you might’ve guessed! There is also some bonus levels used to facilitate a couple of long-distance journeys which are viewed from a first-person perspective and require you to lock missiles onto various targets and fire (although these missiles are apparently not available for use anywhen else).

Metal Black - Arcade Gameplay Screenshot

You might be thinking that Metal Black sounds, and looks for that matter, like any other generic horizontal scroller, and to some degree you’d be right. However, it does have a slightly unusual weapon system. At the start of the game the Black Fly is equipped with a fairly weak, forward-firing beam cannon which was adapted from the same beam weapons the aliens use. By collecting the abundant Newalone molecules floating around (the little red / orange / blue things in all the shots) it’s possible to gradually power the beam up. You can then continue to use the cannon as normal (and, helpfully, you can even shoot some enemy bullets at higher levels), or you can unleash all its power in one Super Beam Attack. This obviously helps destroy larger enemies quicker and acts like a smart bomb, but also reduces your beam level back to zero. However, there are almost always many molecules on the screen at any time so it’s relatively quick and easy to power your ship back up after a Super Beam Attack, or indeed the loss of a life, but it’s not an idea bereft of problems.

Metal Black - Arcade Gameplay Screenshot

The first thing you’ll probably notice is that these molecule’s may well power up the Black Fly’s cannon, but there are no other weapons available to power up! Actually, there’s no collectibles in the game of any kind. This may seem realistic, given the game’s story, but it doesn’t make things easy. The other problem resulting from the chosen power-up system is that the enemy ships can also make use of the Newalone molecule’s to power-up their beams (which makes sense I guess – it is their technology). Okay, not all of them can do this but the bosses certainly can and do, and they can also use their own Super Beam Attack against you! If you use your Super Beam Attack at the same time as they do, you’ll enter into a Beam Duel with the more powerful beam eventually overpowering the weaker one. It’s an interesting idea and it does add something to the boss fights, but everything else suffers a little from the lack of any other weapons. After all, part of the fun of shmups is discovering all the power-ups and determining which ones to use when, etc, so one without any over-the-top upgrades needs to be extra special to get noticed, and I’m not sure Metal Black is.

Metal Black - Arcade Gameplay Screenshot

The music and sound effects here are pretty anonymous and certainly don’t do much to get the game noticed, for one thing, and I’m still undecided about the graphics. They’re generally pretty good, with a majority of the sprites being varied and fairly well-animated, it’s just a shame that the Black Fly itself looks so mundane. It looks like a knackered old shuttle, and it seems to be flying upside-down too! There’s also a bit of a pixellated look to the game and the explosions are pretty poor, but there is some nice parallax and fancy scaling effects. The backgrounds and large bosses are particularly impressive, as are the various beam weapon effects, but I can’t help feeling that everything looks a little washed out, much like semi-prequel, Gun Frontier. Still, the game can certainly handle itself when things get busy, and they often do, especially with two-players at once, with an impressive amount of sprites, weapon-fire, moving backgrounds parts, etc, all moving around the screen at once.

Metal Black - Arcade Gameplay Screenshot

In fact, much of the game is like that. The six levels aren’t very long, but Taito have crammed as much as possible into them despite that. The lack of any fancy power-up weapons here is probably the best and worst thing about the game. You’ll rarely get five seconds peace as you’re constantly on the move attempting to evade and shoot the enemies who attack from all sides with apparently little regard for the limited range of your main (and of course, only) weapon, while at the same time, the lure of finding and using the various weapons is non-existent here. This review marks my first encounter with Metal Black, and all things considered, the result is pretty positive. Like Gun Frontier before it, there’s no major problems here – control over your ship is fine, it has a decent two-player mode, and it plays well enough generally – but it just isn’t really special in any way either. I’ve certainly played better shmups but, in trying something different, this one has neither really succeeded or failed, it’s just a bit different.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3cwogMB9o0[/youtube]

RKS Score: 6/10

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

Game Gallery: Puzzle Bobble

Puzzle Bobble - Bust A Move - Title Screen

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

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Puzzle Bobble

Puzzle Bobble - Bust A Move - Title Screen

Puzzle Bobble (a.k.a. Bust-A-Move) (1994)
By: Taito Genre: Puzzle Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 190,900
Also Available For: PlayStation, 3DO, SNK Neo Geo, Neo Geo Pocket, SNES, GameBoy, GameBoy Color, Sega Game Gear, PC, Bandai WonderSwan… also featured on various compilations and download services

I think it’s safe to say that Bubble Bobble has stood the test of time well and is rightly regarded as an all-time classic. It’s also safe to say that it has perhaps remained Taito’s most popular series. There have been numerous conversions of the games to home systems, particularly Bubble Bobble itself, and some of these conversions have appeared on newer systems in just the last few years. There have also been a number of ‘updates’ or ‘remixes’ of these famous games such as the Evolution/Revolution games on the PSP and DS. It’s odd though, that there had been no all-new, original games from Taito starring their most beloved of characters until Puzzle Bobble appeared. In spite of the fact that the second and third games in the original platform-based series (Rainbow Islands and Parasol Stars) feature Bub and Bob as their real human selves, is it their appearance as dragons in the original that most gamers most fondly remember. It is fitting then, that the latest game to feature Bob and Bob returns them to that popular guise.

Puzzle Bobble - Bust A Move - Gameplay Screenshot 1

As you’ve probably guessed from its title, Puzzle Bobble is a puzzle game. It draws its influence from Columns and its ilk but it’s far more that a mere clone of Sega’s classic colour matching game. It is played on a single screen which, when play begins, is occupied by many bubbles of differing colours. They hang from the top of the screen and descend in various patterns depending on the stage. At the bottom of the screen is Bub (the green dinosaur). He is in control of a bubble-firing contraption of some sort which is located in a fixed position at the bottom of each stage alongside Bub and can be rotated left and right in a circular motion through 180 degrees. The object of the game, you see, is to clear the screen of bubbles.

Puzzle Bobble - Bust A Move - Gameplay Screenshot 2

This is where the main Columns influence comes into play. You are given mere seconds to fire each bubble from your bubble-firing device (otherwise it’ll fire automatically) and their colours are random, though you do get the advantage of a ‘next’ indicator. Each time you fire a bubble into two or more of the same colour, they’ll pop. If you manage to pop some bubbles that have others of different colours hanging from them, the stray bubbles will fall off the screen (they need something to hold onto, after all). This is called ‘dropping’ bubbles. The more bubbles you can ‘drop’ in one go, the higher your score will be. All the while that this is going on, the ceiling of the level is gradually descending too, which obviously pushes the bubbles closer and closer to the bottom of the screen (which can induce a Space Invaders style panic!). If any bubble(s) fall below the level of your bubble launcher (this limit is called the ‘deadline’) then it’ll be game over.

Puzzle Bobble - Bust A Move - Gameplay Screenshot 3

In the ultra-popular two-player mode, the screen in divided vertically down the middle. Bub occupies the left-hand screen and Bob occupies the right, and both players have control of their own bubble-firing devices. Each time you clear a reasonable quantity of bubbles in one go, your opponent’s playfield will be liberally sprinkled with random bubbles. The more you clear, the more they will receive! If a player clears all of his or her bubbles first they are the winner. If a player’s bubbles dip below the ‘deadline’ first they are the loser. Pretty standard stuff really, but who cares when it’s so much fun! And let’s face it –  it’s the two-player mode that most gamers will play almost exclusively anyway!

Puzzle Bobble - Bust A Move - Gameplay Screenshot 4

The one-player mode is pretty easy, comprising of 30 rounds, but it’s still great fun and relaxing to play. It initially appears to be one of those games that any old monkey could be good at, but it does have its testing moments with some screens crammed full of bubbles in no discernible pattern! Some others, however, can be cleared with a single well-aimed shot, and bouncing the bubbles off the side walls of the stage is an extremely useful art to learn. The first stage you play of each new credit will see your bubble launcher equipped with what basically amounts to a laser-sight, which shows the trajectory the bubble will take. This is particularly useful for rebounding shots and is a good training feature. Puzzle Bobble can get rather repetitive for one player though, but it’s also pretty damn addictive too.

Puzzle Bobble - Bust A Move - Gameplay Screenshot 5

Being a single-screen puzzle game, I don’t think anyone will be surprised to hear that Puzzle Bobble is hardly a jaw-dropper, graphically speaking. As I often say, however, it doesn’t need to be either. Bub and Bob remain as charming as ever and the screen is usually very colourful thanks to the many bubbles that fill it. When they pop, they explode in twinkly flashes of colour and some of them even contain enemies from the original Bubble Bobble! The background and playfield-surrounding areas change in appearance every three levels and are mostly different coloured patterns. The background on rounds twenty-five to twenty-seven is different though – it features several star constellations and scrolls vertically, increasing in speed the longer you play for! Sound-wise, the game is pretty much as you would expect from Taito. There’s not many tunes but those that are here are typically catchy, happy tunes, and the sound effects are great.

Puzzle Bobble - Bust A Move - Gameplay Screenshot 6

One thing Puzzle Bobble is renowned for is having been converted to nearly every home system to ever exist in one guise or another. It’s certainly simple enough to be played on nearly anything (even a mobile phone) and yet remains supremely playable in nearly every instance! You’ll probably get bored of the one-player mode pretty quickly (although it is still addictive) but when you’ve got a friend around, you could do a lot worse than give this a go! Its sequels made a few improvements but the core gameplay has remained unchanged since this original. There’s good reason for this, however – its quick, simple fun, end of story.


RKS Score: 7/10

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

Bust A Move for iPhone and iPod Touch

Puzzle Bobble App Store

Fans of the Bust-A-Move or Puzzle bobble series can now play this arcade classic on your Apple device. Today the Taito Corporation (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Square Enix Holdings Co., Ltd) announced today that the 1994 hit will be available on the App Store for $4.99 USD.

Now as the screenshots, show there will be no drastic changes to the classic gameplay that we are all used to. The game will function the same whereas the goal is to match three bubbles of the same color to burst them. However, there will be some additions to the game including new level types and a brand new control method.

In addition to the Tap Shot, in which a bubble is launched in the direction tapped and the pull-and-release Sling Shot control methods, a new attack was added, the Jump Shot. The Jump Shot offers the ability to launch a bubble over interposing obstacles, landing at a point chosen by the player. Skillful use of this technique opens up a new level of exhilarating play and clever strategy, allowing players to drop clusters of bubbles from the ceiling, etc.

This edition boasts a number of features intended to give players new strategic options, including the Hold ability to save bubbles that have been loaded into the launcher for future use and explosive Bomb Bubbles capable of wiping out surrounding bubbles.

Another new feature is the Game Over Countdown. While in previous editions of BUST-A-MOVE, bubbles reaching the bottom of the play field instantly led to a Game Over result, NEW BUST-A-MOVE offers a three-second countdown, allowing quick-witted players to save themselves from defeat. Particularly helpful for newcomers to the series, the Game Over Countdown adds an additional dimension to play that can also be appreciated by veteran players.

In addition to the classic level style, this updated version includes a wide variety of stages that operate under different rules. The game combines the familiar bubble-bursting fun with new gimmicks and quirks that enhance the experience.

BUST-A-MOVE’s 80 Story Mode stages are divided into a number of themed areas, each concluding with an intense boss battle. Collecting special bubbles also reveals challenging hidden stages, adding to an already-packed game.

BUST-A-MOVE also includes a total of 55 Achievements that may be unlocked by accomplishing special in-game goals, creating another level of depth to keep players coming back for more.

To go along with this launch Taito will also be offering Bubble Bobble Double for only $2.99. This offer is good until February 14th.

Bubble Bobble Double

Bubble Bobble Double
Bubble Bobble Double

Finally a Bubble Bobble game on the iPhone that doesn’t come from an emulator. Taito recently released Bubble Bobble Double which allows players to play the classic arcade game Bubble Bobble and a brand new puzzle game featuring the famous dinosaurs Bub and Bob.

Classic Mode

Bubble Bobble Double
Bubble Bobble Double

The classic Bubble Bobble game plays just like the original. The same graphics are there as is the music and gameplay. It is pretty much a perfect port. The only difference is using the virtual joystick with the iPad. As with most games the virtual stick feels a bit off. Sometimes it feels like the controls are too loose and other times it feels as if you don’t have the quick twitch action that you need in later levels.

The other small issue is they place the game in a smaller window and on the iPad this is not really an issue, but on the iPhone I can see that it would be way too small. Honestly besides that the game is fine and is fun to play and especially on the iPad you don’t really feel a major difference.

New Mode

Bubble Bobble Double
Bubble Bobble Double

The new mode has your favorite dino floating through space as waves of enemy’s approach him. These enemies are the same from the classic game and just like the classic game your job is to capture them in bubbles. You do this by tapping them with your finger and that will trap them no matter where they are on the screen. Then you can either tap them again to pop the bubble or flick them with your finger to send them flying and bouncing around the screen.

So why would you want to flick or pop them? Good question. The enemies come out in different patterns, sometimes they are bunched together and sometimes they are apart. When you burst a bubble it also damages enemies around it whether they are inside a bubble or not. However, when you flick them you can hit other enemies that are farther way or to hit incoming enemies.

As with the original game when you pop the bubbles the enemies turn into tasty treats that give you points. The more chains or combo’s you pull off when killing enemies the higher the values of the fruit. In addition power ups will randomly appear on the screen offering additional abilities or augmenting your basic ones.

The Verdict

I have played both versions for quite a while on my iPad and they are a lot of fun. The original is spot on and the new version is addictive with enough of a challenge to keep me interested. The visuals especially in the new version are impressive with a mix of the classic sprites and the new age neon backgrounds. The same goes for the music with the classic tunes with the old and modern engaging music with the new.

At $4.99 at the iTunes store it is worth a pick-up if you are a fan of Bubble Bobble especially, but also if you are a fan of puzzle games in general.

Bubble Bobble

Bubble Bobble splash screen
Bubble Bobble splash screen

Who would have believed that two colorful dinosaurs who love to eat everything in sight and blow bubbles would become a worldwide arcade hit. When Taito released Bubble Bobble to arcades in 1986 that’s exactly what happened.

Bubble Bobble follows the story of Bub and Bob who have to traverse 100 levels to save their girlfriends from the evil Sorcerer. In this platform game you use bubbles as a means to trap the various enemies onscreen and then pop them turning them into tasty treats such as fruit and candy. Each level is designed differently, but the objective remains the same. In addition to busting bubbles you can collect lettered bubbles to spell out “Extend” to gain and additional life and eat special candy to increase your movement and bubble speed.

Bubble Bobble 1
Bubble Bobble 1

There are many different types of bubbles in the game including water, lighting and fire which turn the enemies into different treats that ear points. Of course eating is a big part of the game which is why there are over 30 different foods and items in the game.

Bubble Bobble was wildly popular because it appealed to both boys and girls and two people could play together at the same time. While it was true the cutesy music and colorful levels might have turned away some most found the gameplay fun and addictive. The music itself had a lot to do with the success. The never ending theme remains in player’s heads forever and only changes when you take too long to complete a level.

Bubble Bobble was ported to many computer and console systems and for the most part the ports remained true to the original. You can find it today on consoles such as the Wii and online in flash version.

Bubble Bobble 2
Bubble Bobble 2

I personally loved this game though there were times my mother would hear the “girl-like” (her words) music and walk in questioning why I was playing that game. I could only tell her was it is fun which led to a strange look on her way out. Over-Clock remix hosts several cool remixes of the main theme song as well. Pretty much everything about Bubble Bobble was addicting.

Puzzle Bobble (Bust-A-Move)

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

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

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

Overall Score:
9 out of 10

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

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

Puzzle Bobble screenshot
Puzzle Bobble screenshot

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

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

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

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

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

Difficulty & Difficulty Versatility:

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

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

Value:

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

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

Sound:

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

Music:

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

Stability/Reliability:

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

Controls:

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

Graphics & Performance:

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

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

Conclusion:

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

***

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

Extermination

Extermination insert coin screenshot
Extermination insert coin screenshot

Extermination

In the age of vertical scrolling shoot-em-up games, Extermination attempted to do things slightly different in an attempted to mix things up. Released in 1987 by Taito you played as a solider out to rid the planet of nasty alien monsters.

The gameplay is pretty simple, you can move up and down or left and right and fire your gun at the numerous enemies that fly, run and crawl down the screen toward you. What made Extermination a bit different was you needed to kill the monsters in order to replenish your life.

As you were hit your life score would continue to drop, but as you killed the monsters tiny orbs would slowly drop down toward you. When you collected the orbs you would regain health, this helped to make sure that you killed as many monsters as you could.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FR-j7A7UbpE[/youtube]

As you traversed the landscape you could also collect power-ups to increase your firepower and by destroying rocks and trees in your path you could discover hidden bunkers that housed more power-ups.

After mowing down a ton of alien monsters you would encounter a boss or mega-monster, after defeating it you would progress to the next level.

The game was not ground breaking by any means so much so that it did not even make it to a console system, but it makes for a fun arcade game which you can fine under the M.A.M.E platform.