Sunday, 24 July 2016

Devastator (Mega CD)

It might just be my imagination, but it seems like there's a disproportionally large amount of action games about giant robots on the Mega CD. Devastator is one of them, and it's also part of another sizable category of Mega CD games: anime licenses. It's based on a two episode OAV entitled D-1 Devastator, of which only one episode has ever been subbed into english, by the group ARR, who had an infuriating habit of subbing the first episodes of rare and interesting series, and then never going back to them. Of course, since this is a game on an early CD console, grainy clips from the anime play between stages, though the quality is far from being the worst on the system.

But anyway, Devastator is a combination platform game/horizontally-scrolling shooter, with each stage playing out as either one or the other. There's no half-measures, either, as the platform stages are intricate, and full of traps, while the shooting stages are fast, hectic and full of enemies and their bullets. I admit I wasn't expecting much from a Mega CD game licensed from a long-forgotten OAV and developed by Wolfteam, but Devastator was a really pleasant surprise.

I have no idea what the anime is about, but the developers haven't let it hamper them thematically in any way, as there's stages in cities, deserts, jungles, some kind of incredibly enormous space/hell mansion and so on. The monsters mostly seem to be the same for all the platform stages, though each has unique traps and other elements, while the enemies in the shooting stages seem to be different every time. The bosses in both types of stages are great, too, being massive, detailed sprites, with attack patterns that are fun to learn.

Not only does it play really well, with the difficulty level balanced just right, hard enough to be satisfying and easy enough to avoid frustration, but it also looks and sounds great. It's not just a case of a Mega Drive game being dumped onto CD so they could shoehorn in some FMVs, the Mega CD's strengths are really put on display here, with lots of colours, amazing CD quality music, and even the occasional bit of sprite scaling! (Sprite scaling is always very welcome on this blog.)

The Mega CD is a system with more hidden gems than most people think, and Devastator is definitely one of them. I definitely recommend giving it a try.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Curiosities Vol. 9 - Street Fighter II Fangames

So, you might already be aware of this fact, but Street Fighter II was pretty popular when it came out, and it managed to maintain that popularity for quite some time, too. And I'm sure you're also aware that when Japanese nerds like a thing, they tend to make tons and tons of fanworks for it, so why not look at a few SFII fangames, contemporary to the game's original popularity? I've already covered one, the Space Harrier hack Street Harrier, back when I posted all about the wide array of Space Harrier hacks there are on the X68000, which is also the host hardware of the three games I'll talk about today.

First up is the worst of the crop: American Heroes BF 92 Extra Version. It's a fighting game in which you play as a super deformed Guile, and travel the world fighting super deformed guile recolours. Unfortunately, special moves hardly ever work, the collision detection is awful, and in my opinion at least, Guile is the least interesting or cool Street Fighter II character to base a game around. AHBF92EV isn't really worth your time.

Next up, there's the strangest of this motley trio, Blanka in Shura No Kuni. This is an odd single screen beat em up affair, in which you play as Blanka, and beat up as many copies of Vega (claw) as you can before either the time or your health run out. It uses beat em up-style controls, where you have a jump button, a single button for comboed attacks and can walk up and down the screen, and the sprites for Blanka and Vega are both ripped directly from Street Fighter II. The title screen also has three "START" options, for no obvious reason. A decent enough distraction for a couple of minutes, and a headscratching mystery as to why it exists.

 Finally, I saved the best til last! Little Chinese Final Edition is another fighting game, starring a cute, slightly super deformed version of Chun-li. Well, to tell the truth, it stars several cute, slightly super deformed versions of Chun-li, all with other characters' specials added to their moveset. Every version has the lightning kick, and most have the spinning bird kick, too, but only one of them has only these moves. There's also a Chun-li with Ryu/Ken's moves, one with M. Bison (dictator)'s moves, and one with Balrog (boxer)'s moves. Plus, waiting at the end of single-player mode, there's a Chun-li with the moves of all these characters! LCFE is a nice game, it looks really cute, it's fun to play, and most importantly, unlike American Heroes, the moves actually work, and hits connect properly! If you're a big Chun-li fan, or you just like weird old curios, it's definitely worth seeking it out.