Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Net Yaroze Round-Up Volume 3!

Samsaric Asymtotes (Phillipe-andre Lorin, 2003)
I've written in an earlier volume about one of Phillipe-andre Lorin's other game, Invs, which I thought was a pretty good game. Unfortunately, Samsaric Asymtotes doesn't live up to its predecessor. Although it does have an attractive and unique visual syle, with a combination of monochromatic sprites and backgrounds with the player's attack being a wide, brightly coloured laser, it's also boring to play. There's no scoring at all, barely any mechanics besides shooting enemies and avoiding their shots. It's just not fun to play.

Adventure Game (Robert Swan, 1998)
I loved this game as a kid, when it appeared on one of the Official Playstation Magazine's coverdiscs. It's not what you would traditionally consider a good game, but it is mildly amusing (admittedly, it was more so when I was 12, but it still has its moments). You play as some guy with a sword, who goes on a quest to save the stupid people of a small medieval town from some vaguely menacing birds. The script is full of silly conversations, with a lot of the humour coming from the low intelligence of the NPCs, though there are also a few jokes about the shoddiness of the game as well as references to other Yaroze games. I'm sure I was able to finish this game at some point in the ancient past, but now the terrible camera in the action parts caused me to quickly give up after going round in circles a few times.

Time Slip (David Johnston, Mike Goatly, 1999)
It might sound a little hyperbolic to say so, but this game has probably the best use of time travel ever seen in a videogame. It's a platform game, in which the player controls a snail who, for some reason, is trapped in an endlessly repeating minute of time. They have to collect a certain amount of coins and reach the exit, while every minute they are sent back in time one minute. As a result, there will eventually be numerous snails going about the stage, holding door switches for each other and so on. The real challenge comes from the fact that if you touch any of you past selves, you create a time paradox and destroy the universe. It's a good game, though it's very very hard, and it's also been ported to the Xbox 360 via the Xbox Live Indie Games store.

Robot Ron (Matt Verran, 2001)
Obviously, it's a robotron clone with an amusing pun for a title. You control a small mushroom thing and shoot swarms of enemies who look kind of like multi-coloured alien glyphs. If you've played any robotron clone, you pretty much know what to expect with this one. There is one nice little touch, that a point is scored for each bullet the player fires, as well as the obvious points scored for killing enemies. This seems like an odd choice at first, but since all power-ups are lost with the loss of a life, and the power-ups make the player shoot bullets faster, it does kind of make sense, since players that stay alive longer will end up shooting vastly more bullets.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Street Fighter 2 Interactive Movie (Saturn)

Everyone knows that there was a terrible Mortal Kombat-esque game based on the live action Street Fighter movie, and that the general visual style and some of the plot elements of the Street Fighter Alpha games were inspired by the popularity of the animated movie (and maybe to a lesser extent the Street Fighter 2 V animated tv show), but the fact that there was an interactive FMV game directly based on the animated movie has been somewhat forgotten by history. Just like FMV games in general, ahhhh!

You'll remember that throughout the animated move, there were cyborgs sent out by Dictator to scan the world's strongest fighters and analyse their strengths, and it is one of those cyborgs the player controls in this game. The way this works is that you watch the movie, and during fight scenes, you hold down the A button to bring up a crosshair, use the d-pad to move it around and press B to "scan" moves. Successful scans are met with a "ching!" noise, and supposedly, doing this will make the Cyborg stronger, in preperation for the game's big setpiece: a fight between the Cyborg and Ryu at the end of the game. I guess I didn't do a good job of scanning, since I was only doing tiny, puny amounts of damage against Ryu and got quickly and thouroughly pummeled. Oddly, pretty much the entire movie is included, despite the non-fight scenes serving no purpose in the game, making the Cyborg seem like a bit of a creepy voyeur. You can also press C during most scenes to bring up information, including character stats, what model of car is being driven and so on. There are even incomplete stats for non-playable characters, like Eliza and the guy Ryu one hit KOs in Hong Kong. The game even acknowledges Akuma/Gouki's background cameo with this feature!

The most interesting thing about the game is the exclusive stuff it has, mainly in the form of new graphics and animation. There's an FMV intro in the style of the movie, with all-new animation and there's some very small extra bits of animation in the game just before the big fight. The fight itself is pretty cool, too. It's done in the graphical style of Super Street Fighter II Turbo, with an all-new sprite and portrait for the Cyborg (though its moves are the same as Ken's), and what I think is also a whole new background for the fight, too.

Unfortunately, I can't really recommend this game. It really is just watching the Street Fighter 2 animated movie, with added button pressing. You'd be better off just watching the movie and then playing a proper Street Fighter game, or if you have the GBA port of Alpha 3 or the 3DS port of Street Fighter IV, both at the same time! Not even the aforementioned exclusive animation or things like the gallery of character design artwork are enough to save it really.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Spark Man (Arcade)

Spark Man is a Rolling Thunder-esque walking shooter from South Korea, with a few of its own eccentricities, both mechanically and aesthetically.

It begins before a coin is even inserted, with the title screen depicting the hand of god bestowing electric life unto an androgynous cyborg. Androgynous apparently being a very apt word in this case, as between coin insertion and the start of the first stage, the player is treated to a profile of the game's protagonist, including their country of origin (Republic of Korea), date of birth (1994, which along with the given age of 16 sets the game in 2010/11), parents (Electroman and Fire Lady) and then sex, for which both male and female symbols are listed. Does Spark Man identify him/herself as being somewhere on a gender spectrum, rather than a binary male or female? Amazingly progressive for a game from 1989!

Most of the game doesn't do anything particularly exciting or innovative, having the player saunter from left to right shooting awkward-looking guys dressed in red (with the odd guy in green and every now and then, a panther or two), occasionally picking up a temporary weapon power up (which last for far too short a time).
There are a few interesting ideas in there, though. Roughly once a stage, a (somewhat stupid-looking) flying platform, allowing the player to fly around the screen dropping bombs on enemies. The bosses have another nice little quirk: they're all (as far as I've seen) giant robots (including what I assume is an unlicenced cameo from a Star Wars AT-ST), and rather than having health bars, they have visible crew members on board, a certain number of whom must be shot before the robot dies.

"Somewhat stupid-looking" is a phrase that can be used to describe a lot of things about Spark Man. The enemies and protagonist have an awkward, uncomfortable way of standing and walking, the flying platform, and the way Sparky sits on it look bizarre, and the stages, apparently set in America and the USSR both look like they were drawn by someone who had only the flimsiest knowledge of the countries. I'm not saying any of the art in the game is bad or poorly-drawn, there's just some kind of vague offness about how it all looks.

For all it's faults, Spark Man isn't a terrible game, if you're curious, there's no reason not to check it out, but if you don't you're definately not missing out on a classic or anything.