Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Other Stuff Monthly #1

So, this blog has been around for a whole decade now, and I've decided, for various reasons, to add something to the formula. What is that something? Monthly posts about things that aren't obscure videogames! But they will be mostly other obscure things. And sometimes they might also be videogames. Plus, it's only one post a month, so don't worry about the blog's focus changing or anything, okay? It'll be fine. Anyway, the first subject is this cute piece of merchandise from the 90s anime Magic Knight Rayearth!

I saw it on YAJ, with its name machine-translated as "The Book of Rayearth Magic Chapter 2", which is almost definitely wrong, but it was cheap, and I wanted to know what it was. What it is is a kind of Rayearth-themed personal organiser thing, kind of similar to the Funfax line that was popular among UK kids in the early-mid 1990s. The back of the box even advertises what appears to be additional inserts (sold seperately), just like what Funfax had! Some of you might be left in the dark by the past few sentences, so I'll elaborate further: this is a little ring binder/filofax-type thing, that contains various pre-printed inserts for organising your life when you're a mid-90s 10-year-old Japanese girl on the go.

Oddly, it doesn't contain an address book section, which you'd think would be standard for this sort of thing. It does have lots of other stuff, though, and I'll tell you about it, in as much detail as I can muster without being able to read Japanese. The first section seems to be teling a little about each of the three main characters, and contains what I think is a little personality quiz to see which one you're most like. Then, each of them has their own section, in which I think they're giving the reader advice on things like fashion, excercises, making gifts, and so on. After that is the most disturbing part, considering that this is a product for little girls: the "power-up record" section, which seems to contain sheets for keeping a record of one's height, weight, and other measurements over an extended period of time. Why'd you include a thing like that, SEGA?

Finally, there's a series of plastic envelopes containing various useful day-to-day items, like a Magic Knight Rayearth ballpoint pen (which doesn't work. I assume the ink inside has solidified over the decades rather than ran out, since everything else in the box was totally unused when I got it.), a couple of blue plastic magatama, a bunch of cards with some really nice MKR artwork, and a little mirror. Altogether, this thing is a nice little piece of anime merch, with the exception of the power-up record, which is unpleasant in so many ways, like if they made a Dragonball organiser for boys with a page to keep track of like, your bicep size or something? Just really drive home those body image issues early, right? But the concept of it is really cool, at least. So that ends the first post of this new series, I hope you liked it, and look forward to more old toys and stuff in the future.

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Championship Wrestling (C64)

A few weeks ago, me and a friend wondered if there was a World of Sport Wrestling game on C64. There wasn't, but in looking for one, a screenshot of this game caught my eye, with its isometric view and diamond-shaped ring being reminiscent of the Fire Pro games, the best series of wrestling games there's ever likely to be. Does "reminiscent" still apply, when this game predates Fire Pro by a couple of years? Anyway, I obviously wasn't expecting anything anywhere near as good as any entry in that series, but I still had to satisfy my curiosity by playing it.

The out-of-game presentation is pretty bad, even for a game from 1986. That picture at the top of this review with the plain text on a blank blue background is the actual title screen, and all the menus look like that. Also, there's no nice artwork on the loading screens, either: they're just black. Luckily, this is more than made up for by the in-game graphics since, as you can see in the rest of the screenshots, it looks pretty good. Even more impressive is that the animation isn't bad, either!

As for how it plays: it's not terrible. I've definitely played significantly worse wrestling games. As was a standard workaround on these old microcomputers with one-button controllers, you can do different moves by holding the button and pressing different directions. There seems to be maybe eight moves per wrestler, too (though obviously, there's a lot of move-sharing): while the wrestlers are roaming free, you do punches, kicks, and so on, but you can also get your opponent into a headlock, from which you perform a couple of throws. There doesn't seem to be any mat wrestling, though, as pressing the button next to a downed opponent goes for a pin, instead.

The main problem the game has is a lack of variety: though there's eight wrestlers that all look different to each other, they all feel the same when you play as them. Plus, there's only one match type, and there's actually only seven wrestlers, since if you select Zeke Weasel as your own wrestler or your opponent, the game will crash while loading. After ten minutes of play, I was already bored, and after half an hour, I was ready to never play it again.

It's pretty obvious that I can't really recommend this game, but I do feel a bit guilty about it. It wouldn't be a surprise to learn that this was the best wrestling game available in the UK in 1986. It's not 1986 now, though, and you can get literally hundreds of much, much better wrestling games instead of it.