Friday, 24 March 2017

Sion II (X68000)

It seems like the last couple of posts have been a bit negative, but luckily, this one has come along to buck that trend! Sion II is a game for the X68000 which was given away for free with a magazine in 1992, which is pretty amazing to be honest, for a couple of reasons, which I'll get around to shortly. Before I do, I'm going to make a point of mentioning that along with all its other fine traits, it's got an incredibly good soundtrack, right up there with Cho Ren Sha 68k as one of the best on the system.

Now, the reasons it's amazing that this is a coverdisk game I mentioned. Firstly, there's the fact that it's a fully-featured game, that could easily stand alongside any commercial games of the time, on pretty much any contemporaeous system. I mean, it's a fairly simple arcadey shooting game, but you know, it came out in 1992, and it has a proper attract mode and other little bits of presentation polish. It plays well too, but you know, there's been plenty of good games given away free on various formats over the years, but ones with these kind of production values are pretty rare.

The other reason you can figure out by simply looking at the screenshots alongside this review: it's a polygonal 3D action game on a 16-bit system in 1992. That's a year before Starfox hit the SNES, and two years before Virtua Racing on the Mega Drive. It's also two years before the better-known 3D X68000 shooter, the Jumping Flash antecendent Geograph Seal. The framerate might drop a little when things get busy, but honestly, even with that taken into account, it still feels like a technical marvel.

Anyway, yeah, as I mentioned, it plays pretty well. It's obviously heavily influenced by the Star Wars vector-based arcade games from the 80s, as you fly forwards, shooting enemies and avoiding their shots, with a first-person cockpit view. There's even a stage taking place in a trench! The trench is as far as I've been able to get, actually, as it features sections of girder-dodging, between shooting sections, and eventually the girders start moving. I've tried a few times, but I have not yet been able to proceed any further than that. But yeah, it's a simple 3D on-rails shooter, so it's very linear, but only an idiot would complain about that (like the guy who wrote the Panzer Dragoon review in Sega Power a million years ago). I definitely recommend playing it, or at the very least looking up the music on youtube.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Net Yaroze Round Up Vol. 10!

Dot Kuzushi
You can probably figure from this game's title that it's a Breakout clone. I can only assume from playing it that it's also a very unfinished one,as it has almost everything wrong with it, both mechanically and technically, that can be wrong with a game of this type. Firstly, it seems that every brick requires multiple hits to break, and since each brick (in the first stage at least, though I gave up on the game after fifteen minutes of neither progressing or failing) represents a pixel in an old arcade sprite, there are lots of them. To make matters worse, the ball behaves strangely in various ways, all of which are to the game's detriment. It moves very, very slowly  and never speeds up, and rather than travelling in straight lines, it moves in kind of fluttering zigzags. Worst of all, the ball will sometimes just harmlessly pass through the blocks as if they weren't there at all. It is without ambiguity that I strongly recommend never wasting a second of your time on this game.

Come Baa
This is a game that could probably only have been made in the UK, as it adapts a sport/occupation that was once, long long ago, a televised event that drew millions of viewers here: sheep herding with a dog. Come Baa has you controlling a dog in a 3D field, trying to chase sheep into a pen. It's very fiddly though, and after a few minutes of playing, I'd only made the sheep spread out all over the field even more, and had to give up. It's an original idea, and it looks pretty nice as Yaroze games go, but unfortunately, it's near-impossible to actually play.

Hardwire
This is a Tetris-style shape-arranging puzzle game, though it lacks a certain elegance and simplicity that make it hard to figure out at first. The walls and floor of the pit have lots of wire ends, and each block in every tetromino has a piece of wire, either cross- or L-shaped.To make blocks disappear, you have to connect two of the wall/floor pieces and make a circuit. The catch is that the direction of the powerflow can only be changed by the L-shaped wireblocks. It's less compliated than I'm making it sound, honestly. Though Hardwire is a technically sound game that does make sense once you've figured it out, it's not actually very fun to play. Gorby no Pipeline Daisakusen does a similar idea, and it does it much better.

Databugs
Easily one of the nicest-looking Yaroze games I've seen, I'm surprised this one got the tiny bit of extra polish it would have needed to be released on magazine coverdiscs. What it actually is is a slot car-style racing game in which the cars are little technological minibeasts, and the track is the insides of a computer. Like I said, it looks great: it's got cute little low poly models and great use of bold, bright colours on a black background. The only problem with it is that it's too accurate an adaptation of slot car racing, by which I mean that it's almost impossible to keep your car on the track without slowing to an absolute crawl when approaching corners. Worth a quick play for the great graphics, but not much more.