Thursday, 19 July 2018

Kamen Rider Kuuga (Playstation)

2000's Kamen Rider Kuuga, in case anyone doesn't know, was the first Kamen Rider TV series since 1988's Kamen Rider Black RX. And I guess it must have been a success, since Different Kamen Rider shows have been running alongside the Super Sentai shows ever since. Since the show's aimed at little kids, it makes sense to have the licensed videogame on the Playstation instead of the newly-released PS2, too, since it means they can make a quick, cheap little game for the kids to buy with their pocket money. (The 2001 and 2002 Kamen Rider shows, Agito and Ryuki also had their games on PS1, presumably for the same reasons.)

Anyway, as befitting a series that's mainly about one-on-one combat between a hero and a series of episodic monsters, it's a fighting game. There's a single player story mode, that's about fifteen minutes long, and sees you playing as Kamen Rider Ryuki in various different forms fighting monsters. There's different kinds of fights in this mode too, like ones where you only have to get the monster down to 50% health, or ones where you have to survive the attacks of an invincible monster for thirty seconds. The game will also encourage you (in the form of a text prompt) to finish some fights with certain attacks. It's okay, but like I said, there's only fifteen minutes of it and it's done. Finishing it once does unlock survival mode, which is a lot more interesting, though.

Survival mode lets you play as the various Kuuga forms seen in story mode, but also, as all of the monsters you fight in that mode! (After you've unlocked them, but I'll get onto that later.) Other than that, it's just a typical survival mode: you fight an unending stream of randomly-selected foes until you get beat. The game's controls are very simple, which I assume is another concession towards a younger target audience: there's no special move inputs, instead the four face buttons are mapped to punch, kick, throw, and special. Some characters have more than one special, which are excuted by just pressing different directions along with the special button.

Now, onto unocking stuff. Every time you finish playing story or survival mode, you get points, depending on how many fights you won. Each point can be spent to buy one random card in the digital card collection. There's 81 cards to get, and once you get a card, it isn't removed from the pool of possible cards you draw, so the more you have, the harder it is to fill the gaps in your collection. Anyway, among the cards, there are smaller subsets of three cards, which unlock playable characters when you get them all. I think I managed to get all of these cards after finishing story mode once and playing maybe two or three games of survival mode. The rest of the cards are just for completionists and people who like looking at low resolution photos of turn-of-the-century tokusatsu actors and monster suits (and who doesn't?).

So Kamen Rider Kuuga is a decent enough game, I guess. Nothingg spectacular, but it's entertaining enough, and if you know people who you can get to play old licensed games with you, it's probably pretty fun in versus mode, too. On that note, I wonder why it was never seen on the import/piracy scene at the time, considering how import-friendly it is. But on the other hand, English-speaking tokusatsu fandom was still so tiny as to be practically non-existent at the time, and the game isn't really good enough to be worth playing over any arcade-ported figting games without the allure of the license. (Still a lot better than some of the awful fighting games we played back then just because of the license, like Dragonball Final Bout and so on). Yeah, it's alright. Give it a try.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

War: The Final Assault (Arcade)

I'll start this post with a disclaimer: this game isn't emulated perfectly in MAME by a long shot, and while the original cabinet uses some buttons and a big gun handle-shaped analogue stick for controls, I had to make do with a Dual Shock 4 and jimmying together some controls that were pretty close to a modern first person shooter through trial and error. Since it would be unfair to comment on the quality of the game under these circumstances, consider this post as being for informational purposes only.

As far as I can tell, though, it's a pretty good attempt at bringing contemporary console first person shooters (circa 1999, when the game was released) to the arcade! I only played the single player mode, though it seems that it has both co-op and versus multiplayer modes, judging by the attract mode demos and the high score tables. Single player mode has you going through stages killing lots of enemy soldiers and robots. Sometimes you'll get to pick up a more powerful weapon, which is nice, too, and there's a fair few different kinds. Also, when you kill human enemies with an explosive weapon, they burst into chunks of meat, which is also nice.

The game's set in futuristic Siberia, and your enemies are a kind of generic bad guy army that takes vidual cues from both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, though judging by some of the names of later stages seen on the highscore tables, it looks like aliens get involved later on, too. Visually, the game looks great: everything's huge and colourful and chunky, and there's cool propaganda posters on the walls too. The robot enemies are a bit boring, though, which is a shame as the human enemies look alright, despite being a bit generic. Though there was apparently a scrapped N64 port in the works, the whole time I was playing, the thought that ran through my mind was that it looked like a lot of western-developed Dreamcast games. Of course, it didn't get ported there, either.

As for how it plays, it's a mixed bag. I do like the linearity of the stages, and the fact that there's big red arrows telling you where to go, as something that's always frustrated me in single player FPSes is getting lost in the stages. I don't know why, but it always seems to happen! One thing I really didn't like though, is that there's quite a few bullet sponge enemies, and they only get more frequent as the stages go on. I only played until the fourth boss, and by then, just getting through each room was becoming laborious.

Though I was essentially playing it at half speed, thanks to a combination of the emulation being in its early days, and my laptop not particularly being a powerhouse (though I don't know if it runs faster on more powerful computers, or if we will just have to wait for the emulation to get slowly closer to perfection), I mostly enjoyed War: The Final Assault. It's colourful, there's explosions and stuff, and there aren't many arcade games like it. (Off the top of my head, I can think of Last Survivor, Outtrigger, and that Counterstrike arcade game?) Try it, I guess, see how you get on.