Monday, 30 December 2013

Champion Kendou (SG-1000)

I don't know much about kendo, though it seems to be a sport that's mysteriously under-represented in videogames. Other than this game, there's a Simple 1500 release on the Playstation, and oddly, a few games on 80s British computers and very little else. I guess other types of fighting are seen to make for more exciting videogames?
Anyway, the game has two main modes of play. The first, and most realistic is a tournament mode featuring teams of five fighting one by one. A pint is scored by getting a clean hit on your opponent, and the first to score twice wins. Their opponent is eliminated, and the first team to lose all five memebers loses the match. I don't know how many rounds are played in this mode all together, but I've been able to get to the fifth team of opponents so far. Though the box art depicts the competitors as men, the in-game sprites are simple and plain enough that you can, should you be so inclined, project any kind of personality onto them. Like if you're some kind of weirdo, you might decide that you're controlling a team of misfit teenage girls, led by a seemingly aloof sempai who seems stuck up but secretly she's really kind and protects younger kids from bullies. If you were some kind of weirdo, of course.
The other mode isn't so good. It's a one-on-one mode in which the two fighters each have health bars, which for some reason are reduced not only by taking attacks, but also by attacking. You can actuallly knock
yourself out by attacking too much.
For some reason, I instantly took a liking to this game. It's simple, but very satisfying to play, and the primitive graphics somehow manage to radiate a lot of atmosphere. One amusing minor detail is that the crowd of spectators seem to be very one-sided in their tastes: They'll cheer when the player's team wins a match, but only offer a stony silence for AI victories.
I definitely recommend this game! If you're one of those collector types, it might be helpful to know that it was released on Sega's My Card format, meaning it's compatible with the Sega Mark III, the first model of the Master System, a few other, more obscure 80s consoles and the Mega Drive Powerbase Convertor.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Maze Heroes: Meikyuu Densetsu (Playstation)

Finally, I can post here again! The computer on which I play games and emulators was broken, and now it's fixed! (By removing and re-inserting the RAM.)
So anyway, Maze Heroes is a board game-style pseudo-RPG thing. The player moves around a multi-route path of tiles until they get to the tile with the boss on. Beat the boss and go on to the next stage. Other than the Boss tile, there are five types of tile making up the mazes: blank tiles do nothing, tiles with a bat on take
you into a battle with a regular enemy, blue tiles with a star on will either give an item or heal the player, and skull tiles will either poison or hurt you. The last kind, the question mark tiles will randomly give one of the effects of the other four tiles when you land on it. 
Obviously, you'd never bother stepping on skull tiles if you had a choice about it, so the number of tiles the player moves each turn will be a number between one and five, selected randomly. The random number generator is also seen in battle, deciding how much damage you and the monsters inflict upon each other each turn, though unlike movement, the numbers for damage rolls depend on various stats. Defeating enemies sometimes grants items, so fighting is always preferable to standing on a trap, which will only hurt the player with no reward.
The player can improve their stats either by strength/intelligence increasing items that can be won in battle, or by finding new equipment on the star tiles. Spells (which are mostly offensive) and healing items can be found either way. This leads to the biggest problem the game has: the only way to have a chance against the boss of each stage is to go around the board, hoping to get the items and spells you need to strengthen yourself to
fight it, then going and making an attempt at doing so. Luckily, getting killed just means going back to the start of the current stage, keeping your stat increases and new equipment, but even this small blessing only serves to make the game even more of a mindless, random slog.
On the plus side, the game does look very nice, with the artwork for the random enemies being especially nice, and the mindless nature of the game does make it a painless way to pass half an hour or so. Still, I can't really recommend Maze Heroes or anything.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Galshell: Blood Red Skies (PC)

I hope this post isn't too clouded by nostalgia, since this (along with Warning Forever and Dan Da DAN!) was actually one of the first few doujin shooters I played when I got my first PC years and years ago. Obviously, the main draw of the game is the amazing Gigeresque visuals, though the detailed sprites have a payoff in that there isn't much animation to go with them. Though what there is is used effectively, with enemies and bullets pulsating and wiggling like gross infectious parasites. Even the two player craft have their
own unwholesome little twitches.
Ufortunately, as you can tell from the screenshots accompanying this post, there's a weird problem I've had while playing Galshell on my current PC: all the explosions and enemy bullets are surrounded by ugly black squares. Though it doesn't effect the game itself, it is very ugly, and a shame considering it gets in the way of the great sprites. A little extra bonus is that all the game's graphics and sounds are just regular files in the game's directory to be enjoyed at your leisure.
The game itself is a lot of fun to play too, of course. There's no fancy scoring system like you'd expect from a modern shooting game, though there is a fairly novel power-up and extend system.
The player gains experience points for every one of their bullets that hits an enemy, and killed enemies drop
blobby red throbbing items, which also give experience when collected. Upon levelling up, the player's weapon is upgraded and they get an extra life. Even when your weapon's fully upgraded, you can continue levlling up to keep gaining extra lives.
Along with the three regular difficulty levels you'd expect (easy, normal and hard), there's also an extra mode, which ramps the difficulty up to crazy levels, but also gives the player experience at a much higher rate.
Galshell is a great game, and definitely worth playing, and if anyone can solve the  black box problem, please tell me!

Saturday, 9 November 2013

ChainDive (PS2)

Firstly, I'll apologise for the quality of the screenshots accompanying this post. PS2 screenshots never turn out perfectly, but the shots of this game are even worse than usual.
Anyway, ChainDive centres around a simple concept: your character has a lasso that can be used to swing
from the green dots littered around each stage. There are also enemies, who are defeated by first being frozen by your double-bladed weapon, and then smashed, by attaching the lasso to the frozen enemy and smashing into them.
The genius of the game is that it uses these small ingedients to make every stage different to the last. The first stage seems like a stage from any other mid-00s action game, with the added gimmick of the lasso: you travel from left to right defeating enemies on the way to the end of the stage. But the stages that follow are all totally different. A stage with no floor that has the player swinging from rooftop to rooftop, a stage with an incredibly high tower that must be climbed while fending off attacks, a stage exploring a cave to fin switches, and so on.
All these stages are a ton of fun to play, and the variety ensures that the game doesn't outstay its welcome. The big problem with the game in general though, is the difficulty level. Although the extreme difficulty does
result in a huge feeling of relief and satisfaction, it is still incredibly frustrating until the "trick" of each stage clicks in your head. And there are times when the game seems incredibly unfair, when you're desperately trying to find a dot to hook onto or when you fall into the abyss at the bottom of some stages with seemingly no way back up.
I still definitely recommend ChainDive to curious players, despite all that.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Tenkomori Shooting (Arcade)

So, an evil witch has kidnapped all your monkey brothers and locked them in her towers. Also her towers are full of shooting minigames. You, as one of the two remaining free monkeys must go to the towers to shoot stuffand save your brethren. It's a lot like what Tanto-R or Warioware would be like if they were made by
shooting obsessives.
Depending on which difficulty you choose, you play through either four, six or nine shooting games, each about a minute long. There is a surprising amount of variety among the games, there are a few obvious ones like "shoot this many tanks/planes", "collect this many medals", "shoot the boss this many times". but there are also a lot of games based on premises you wouldn't associate with shooting.
There's a stage in which you must shoot love hearts at a performing idol, making sure to avoid hitting the waiters, elvis impersonators and dogs who will all assault you in various ways should they feel your love. There's also a stage where a man will ask for certain sushi dishes that are scrolling by on a conveyor belt, to be delivered via the medium of thrown plate.
Then there are stages where you're shooting stuff again, but with an interesting twist, such as a stage that gives you three shots to destroy at least 20 planes, making you aim at clusters of planes close together, to set of a chain of explosions. (If you're really good, you can get all twenty in a single shot). Or a stage where the enemy is a single cell organism that splits in two when shot, and your mission is to split it into a certain
number of copies.
Obviously, since it's a Namco game, there are also stages paying homage to Galaga, Digdug and Xevious (Another possible homage to another Namco game is that the monkeys look a lot like the monkeys from Dancing Eyes).
That's enough boring listing of the minigames, I think. I like this game a lot, it appeals to my short attention span, it rarely feels unfair, even when it's brutally hard and it is very addictive. Having seperate high scores for each minigame along with a highscore table for the highest combined scores is a simple but excellent idea, adding an extra little challenge, pushing the player to get better each time they play. I always say this when I write about an arcade game, but it really is a shame there was no home version of this, it has a lot of potential for
extra modes that would only work on a home port, like being able to play each game individually, and infinite survival mode, and so on. Oh well.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Seventh Cross Evolution (Dreamcast)

Seventh Cross was one of the first games released for the Dreamcast, and it definitely shows. When i first played it, the simple landscapes and repeating textures reminded me of creations made in the Dreamcast's Japan-only adventure game creator "DreamStudio". The creatures in the game look a little nicer. You see animations repeated for similar-shaped enemies in different areas, but they do all have a nice low-poly charm
to them.
The game is an action RPG, in which you play as a lifeform who kills and eats other creatures to gain nutrients and experience points which allow it to become stronger and grow new body parts. Mechanically, it has a lot of similarites with the SNES and PC98 game EVO: The Search for Eden/46 Okunen Monogatari, though the atmosphere is totally different. While EVO had a fairly cute, cartoony atmosphere, Seventh Cross is much more sombre, with quiet music, and more realistic-looking enemies. Also like EVO, each stage is an era in time, millions of years after the last, and to complete an era, you must find, kill and eat the alpha predator of the time.
The problem is, it's not very good. The combat, which is the main meat of the game, is almost entirely about how high your stats are rather than skill. As a result, there is a lot of grinding, for the nutrients needed to grow stronger body parts, as well as the Evolution Points needed to use the evolution grid.
The evolution grid is a pretty original concept: it's a 10x10 grid, upon which you draw in six colours. Each colour corresponds to one of your stats (you choose which colour goes to which stat at the start of the game), and drawing in a colour raises its associated stat. Drawing also makes available more body parts for
you to grow. Once you discover the secret (that minimalist designs tend to yield higher stat boosts and better parts), you'll get stronger faster, but towards the start of the game developing weaker parts is necessary, since the higher level parts need a lot of nutrients to grow, and some kinds of nutrients don't even appear until later stages.
On the other hand, developing high-level parts early in the game is fun, since it means you see strange creature names in there such as "Laser Horse" and "Electric Mollusk", which you won't get to see until much later on.
Despite my saying earlier that the game isn't very good, you might have guessed from how much detail I'm going into that I've played it a lot. And I have! I guess this is all down to the atmosphere: Seventh Cross is definitely what some circles would describe as a lonely game, with it's sparsely populated environments, complete lack of dialogue and minimalist plot. In fact, that there even is a plot isn't even made obvious until
you start the second era, and see a giant golden angel killing the local fauna with lasers. I'm about two-thirds of the way through the game so far and not a single word of dialogue has been spoken, nor has there been a single clue as to the identity or purpose of the time-travelling genocidal being.
In conclusion, Seventh Cross Evolution is a boring, ugly, repetitive game that I totally love and can play for hours at a time.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Nekketsu Oyako (Playstation)

So, the title apparently translates as "hot blooded family", and refers to the three playable characters: a dad and his son and daughter. The dad, Rando is the worst character. He's slow, can't pick up most of the guns in the game and has less moves than the other two. His two redeeming features are his Haggar-esque jumping
piledriver and the fact that he's the only character who can use the (very rare) bazooka weapon. There's also a beer health pickup that only he can use, but it doesn't heal very much and it's at least as rare as the bazooka (I've only seen one of each). The daughter, Rio is a little better. She moves faster, and has a fun little move where she can pogo around on top of the enemies' heads. There's also a nice little touch with her when she picks up a weapon and walks around with it, she does so while carrying it on her back. It's a pointless thing, but it adds a little personality. The son, Tora is the best character by far, though. He has a bunch of moves, like a flying kick that bounces off the top of enemies upwards and away, a brutal moves where he repeatedly slashes a knife back and forth, doing and ton of damage, and he's the only character of
the three who can run.
The game itself seems at first to be a regular, generic beat em up, though it does have a couple of interesting gimmicks, like the versatility and mobility of Tora's moveset, and the fact that though you obviously start with a single bar of health, even when its full you can collect more food to fill it up a second bar (like in the Dynamite Deka series).
The setting is pretty cool, too. The first stage takes place on the city streets like any other beat em up, but as soon as the first boss is defeated, things take a more surreal turn. A whale smashes through the bridge on whivh you're standing and swallows you, leading you to spend the next stage inside and on top of the whale, fighting the usual thugs and goons along with boxing gloce-wearing octopi and weird creatures
made of water. The next stage mostly returns to normalcy on a theme park island resort, but includes a really cool section where you fight big crowds of enemies on top of a roller coaster.
Nekketsu Oyako isn't anything special, but it is pretty good. There's also an english path available, though there's barely any Japanese text in the game, and none of what there is is essential for progress. The game's worth playing, but you should definitely play as Tora if you do.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Disc Station 16 (PC)

So, the first game I played on this volume of Disc Station was a platform game called Go Go Ivan!, in which
you play as a penguin, rescuing baby penguins that are hidden around the stages. It's not anything special, though one cool point is the hiden room in one of the stages that looks like a Puyo Puyo screen. Unfortunately, none of the programs I tried would take screenshots or record video of this game, so I can't show it to you.
The rest of the games I could document for you, though! Firstly, there's Geo Conflict 3: Hell's Gate Crusaders which is, as far as I can tell some kind of Auto-RPG in which you equip your party and send them off into the dungeon. I'm not totally sure about that, since it's all in Japanese, but since the characters do seem to do their exploring and fighting without any player input, that does seem to be the case.
There's also [Something] Angler, which is like a more colourful version of the Apple Sauce Room things, where you click on objects and things
happen, but with a scenic picture of a waterfall and some mountains.
There's a puzzle game starring tanukis, who have to push cages onto foxes, but it's incredibly boring. Definitely not as good as the last tanuki puzzle game that was on one of these discs. There's also, as always, another volume of Nazo Puyo puzzles.
As well as the games, there's the usual extra movies and artwork. I've posted the most interesting of the artworks at the top of this post.
Of the videos, the most interesting were this ad for the Saturn version of Madou Monogatari

and this video show Compile recieving an award for Puyo Puyo 2 at the 1997 Tokyo Game Show

Monday, 14 October 2013

Hany on the Road (PC Engine)

Although it's not a beat em up, the easiest way to describe Hany on the Road would be "belt scroller", as belts and the scrolling thereof are a major element in this game.
In it, the player controllers a walking haniwa idol (which, you may be aware, have made many appearances
in videogames over the years) going along a series of long roads, avoiding gaps and enemies. The enemies tend to also be things associated with ancient Japan and Japanese folklore, such as dogu statues, cloud-riding oni, and so on. There are also some gimmick stages, such as one with an erupting volcano in the background, during which the player must avoid falling rocks while also traversing the gaps in the floor.
An interesting point is that the gaps don't kill the player on every stage: on some stages, falling through a gap leads to a hell-like secret stage (similar to certain points in the first two Splatterhouse games). The main hook of the game is that the stages are split into four scolling "belts", and on most stages, those belts scroll at different speeds.
The game is pretty fun in general, though it has a couple of bad points that might ruin it for you. The first is the fact that there are points items littered around the stages in the form of pots marked with question marks. The problem is that these pots give a random amount of points each time, making playing for score a waste of time (if you're interesting in playing for score on an ancient game no-one cares about). The second, much
bigger problem is the controls, which themselves have two problems. The way Hany moves has way too much momentum, stopping and turning a split-second after you tell him to, as if he's constantly on a slippy-slidy ice level and also, his kick attack is far too short range. This means that to defeat enemies, you kind of have to wait for them to come to you, then kick just before they hit you, and it makes hitting bosses far too difficult. There's also a weird little glitch regarding the blue potions which give an extra life on collection of 25: if you get a game over and then start a new game, the potion counter doesn't reset, meaning you start with however many you had when your previous game ended.
If you have the patience to overlook those faults, Hany in the Sky is a pretty fun game, and it does look nice, too. The control issues are the biggest shame, as if the movement was a bit tighter and the attack a bit more useful, this would probably be a minor classic in the field of action

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Kamen Rider Black - Taiketsu Shadow Moon

Obviously, the title is what attracted me to this game. Most Kamen Rider games are either based on the post-2000 series, or are based on the classic series, but made many years later (for example, the Kamen Rider and Kamen Rider V3 games on Playstation), but the game is based on an older Rider and was
released at the same time as the show was airing.
It's a mostly standard single-plane beat em up, in which you travel from left to right, punching creatures along the way, and fighting a boss at the end. Every three stages there's a fight with an area boss, which is pretty cool as the sprites for these fights are double size.
There's also occasional motorbike stages, which, since you walk so slowly in the regular stages are a breath of fresh air. These stages play a lot like the motorbike stages in Alex Kidd in Miracle World and Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle: you ride along at a decent speed, jumping over pits and obstacles.
The walking stages that make up the bulk of the game aren't so fun. As I already mentioned, they're very slow, and there are further problems to be found in the controls, which have two strange and very pronounced quirks. The first one you're likely to notice is the bizarre way jumping works in this game.
Pressing the jump button once will make you jump straight upwards. To actually jump forwards, you must jump upwards, then at the right time (just before the flip at the jump's summit), press forward and jump together. I don't understand why this was done at all, since it does seem to be a deliberate desicion on behalf of the designers.
Whether the second quirk is deliberate design or just bad programming is less clear, though. What it is, is that rather than changing direction instantly when you press left then right (or vice versa), you step backwards for a second, then turn round. This puts you at a disadvantage in boss fights, since you're unable to quickly turn to face your opponent, and, in fact, tapping the directions only makes the problem worse. This is pretty much unforgivable for players used to the quick reactions of later beat em ups (and even contempory ones, like Altered Beast).
A good thing about the game (though nowhere near good enough to redeem it) is the fact that it does look pretty nice. Even though the sprites are tiny, and all except for Kamen Rider Black himself and the big area bosses are a bit crap and undetailed, the graphics as a whole are very colourful, and the backgrounds, though simple, look nice enough too.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Dark Hunter: Shou Kotojigen Gakuen (Saturn)

I am cheating a little bit here, as this isn't actually a game. It claims to be an interactive learning tool to help Japanese teenagers learn english. It comes in the forms of what is essentially an OAV about various
supernatural goings-on occuring at and around a boarding school at the top of a steep hill. It was made by Koei, who released five such things on the Saturn, two in the Dark Hunter series (of which this is the first), and three in the EMIT series.
THe educational element comes in the form of the language options. You can choose to have the story play out with English or Japanese voice acting, as well as English or Japanese subtitles, in any combination. You can also choose to immediately repeat scenes with different language options, and certain words and phrases in the subtitles will be highlighted, and these phrases can be selected, which will show the selected phrase in the opposite language.
Also, at certain points in the story, the player/viewer can choose which character the story should focus on or choose the next line a character might say, making it slightly ahead of Dinosaur Island in terms of interactivity, and the fact that there's an English language option makes it a lot easier and more enjoyable. There are also short "quizzes", in which the player will, for example be asked to identify ten things in the room, by clicking on
them and choosing from three options the correct english name for that item. Dinosaur Island definitely has the edge over Dark Hunter in terms of animation, though. Despite using a similar system of giant sprites over FMV, Dark Hunter's animation is very limited, with a lot of shots of people standing or sitting around, people talking with their faces out of shot and so on. I think it's safe to assume that this is down to the fact that this release comes on a single CD, and still has room for two full voice tracks. And the bilingual nature of the disc could also explain a lack of fluidity in the lip sync, making it sort-of match both languages could have been a preferable solution to concentrating on one and having the other look much worse.
As for the story itself, it's not great. It really could be a low-budget mid-90s OAV, with a slightly awkward sounding English dub also typical of the era. There's a lot of "mystery" which really feels like an excuse to have not a lot happen. Come to think of it, the "language tutor" aspect of the software is also a pretty
reasonable explanation as to why a lot of the story is made up of conversations. THe fact that you can save which scene you've watched up to and come back to it later is nice, too.
IN conclusion, this isn't really a game, but it is kind of interesting, and it could be thought of as a weird pre-DVD example of a bilingual anime release. I wonder if this series (and the EMIT sister series) ever had a small western fandom for that reason? If there was such a fandom, it must have been tiny, since I've never heard people talking about either of them.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Damdam Stompland (Playstation)

Obviously, I can only speculate about this, but it seems very much like this game exists mainly because someone working for a small developer discovered how to make the Playstation do a thing, and they wanted to make a game to show off that thing. The thing in question being the real-time rendering of shadows, which are actually shaped by the models casting them, and which also change length and direction in reaction to the
light source.
The game itself is simple one of shadow tag, as seen in the excellent Urusei Yatsura movie Only You: the idea isn't to tag your opponent's body, but to stamp on their shadow. Do it three times before your opponent does, or before the time (the matches only last a single minute, which goes by very quickly) runs out to win.
You can't just walk on to the shadow to score a point, but must press X to do a stomping action. Circle jumps and square does some kind of sliding tackle type thing that doesn't seem to serve any purpose, other than moving straight ahead very quickly.
There are numerous characters and arenas (arenae?) in the game, though they aren't specific to each other. There aren't any boss characters as far as I can tell. Some of the characters are typical cartoony humans, along with a robot (who bears a striking resemblens to Goriki from Kia Asamiya's Steam Detectives), a
mushroom-man wearing wooden armour, and strangest of all, a severed fish head with human legs. And it really is a severed head, as the wound is visible from certain angles. There's also a nice bit of flavour in the game, with big colourful illustrations between stages and in endings, and the game over screen shows a picture of your defeated character looking depressed (or in the case of the fish head, eaten).
The arenas are all completely different, offering different ratios of safe area and Dead or Alive-esque danger zones. The safe areas also have different features in them, such as conveyor belts, moving obstacles or even just that fact that one stage's safe area is a tiny, low friction square in the centre of the map. Another hazard comes in the form of little sombrero-clad cactus-men, who will stomp on the shadows of the unwary.
I like this game more than I had expected to. It is a lot of fun to play, though I can imagine it might not have a
lot of long-term longevity, being based as it is on a single idea, and it did take me a few games to get used to playing it (though a good part of this was working out the controls, a task of which I have helpfully absolved you). There's also a definite low-budget feel to it, it really wouldn't be out of place in the Simple 1500 series (two notes here: firstly, long-time readers will surely know I would never regard this as a negative point, and secondly, if i remember rightly, there is actually a game of regular tag in the Simple 1500 series).

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Demon Front (Arcade)

This game is by IGS, for their PGS arcade hardware, a company and a system both mostly known for their high-quality beat em ups, such as Oriental Legend and the Knights of Valour series. This isn't one of those, though: it's a huge Metal Slug rip-off.
Well, rip-off might be a bit harsh. Everything about the game is very high quality, and it does have a couple of new ideas. But the general feel of the game, as well as some of the weapons (the most blatant being the machine gun and shotgun) are exactly like the Metal Slug games. You go across slightly hilly horizontally scrolling stages, killing tons of one-hit enemies, occasionally stopping for a bigger set-piece type enemy, and there are even litle hidden paths and points items gained by shooting the right parts of the background, just like Metal Slug. One thing they were right to steal is the concept of having really nice 2D graphics. To be extra clear, the graphics themselves aren't stolen, but it's obvious the developers knew they couldn't compete with SNK unless their game looked just as good, and it definitely does. Well, a lot of people might prefer Metal Slug's "everything is dirty and slightly melted" style to Demon Front's "really really nice use of colours"
style, but either way, Demon Front looks great.
As for the original parts, the first is that each character has a little pet flying alongside them. Holding the fire button for a couple of seconds makes the pet do their attack, which is different for each pet, and pressing the third button turns the pet into a forcefield around the player which can take a few hits. It's obviously a lot safer using the pet as a shield than a weapon, and when playing, I've survived longer when using this tactic. Once the forcefield has taken its share of hits though, it disappears and won't reappear until you lose a life. Some brave players might want to try being a little more tactical, using the forcefield right up until the last hit, then turning it back into the
pet and using its powerful attack for a while.
There is also some kind of levelling up mechanic regarding the pet, and you get different kinds of experience from enemies depending on whether you shoot them, stab them or kill them with the pet's attack. The levelling doesn't really seem to have a huge effect on what happens either way, though.
All in all, Demon Front is a pretty great game, and is definitely worth playing, and even if it's not totally original, its general quality makes up for that.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Waku Waku Monster (Saturn)

It's been suggested that I do more posts on Saturn games, and I'll try to, but the Saturn and Dreamcast both share a problem when it comes to this blog: the two systems are so beloved by all that most of the games worth talking about already have been at great length all across the internet.
I will try to find more interesting things hidden away in their catalogues, though. Like this!
Waku Waku Monster is a versus-type puzzle game that also includes a minor monster-raising element. Although the game was released well after Pokemon Red and Green, the monster raising in this seems to take its cues more from the earlier  Tamagotchi. Having said that, one of the monsters in the game is a flagrant and shameless knock-off of Pikachu.
You start the game with an egg that hatches into a young monster after the first stage, which then changes form after each subsequent stage. I don't know what, if any effect the form of the monster has on the game itself, though the opposite is fairly clear. After each stage a stats screen is shown, the results of which do seem to affect the forms your monster takes, though I don't know exactly how, nor what each stat is, as it's all in Japanese. I've included a screenshot of said screen in case any of my kind readers wants to lend some assistance.
As for the game itself, it's fairly simple. Your character stands at the top of the screen holding a blob, which will be in one of six colours. You move them left and right to decide where to drop the blob. If three or more of he same colour ar touching, they disappear, and game over occurs when the well is totally full, as opposed to ending when the blobs cross the top. As it's a versus-type puzzle game, there are also attacks. Rathyer than happening whenever a chain occurs, as in the Puyo Puyo series, the players each have a power meter that fills up as blobs are removed. When a player's meter is full, they attack automatically, sending junk blobs over to their opponent's field and the meter's maximum is raised. Players can also attack manually by pressing B, and of course, the attacks are more powerful the more full the meter is. This is measured by the amount in the meter, not as a percentage, so filling the meter at least once to raise the maximum is a good idea. If a player have some power when their opponent attacks, they can also press B to
guard, reducing or even completely stopping the attack from happening.
Waku Waku Monster is a pretty good game, though it can't really hold a candle to the giants of the genre, such as Puyo Puyo, Tetris Battle Gaiden or my favourite, the Magical Drop series.