Saturday, 21 June 2014
The game looks and sounds very nice, as previously mentioned, it's very much presented in a retro-Japanese style, but even ignoring that, the graphics are nicely drawn and colourful, and the music fits perfectly. One of the bosses even has a mildly impressive faux-3D effect going on in the background, though it doesn't really come across well in a still screenshot. There's also cutscenes between each stage, and though I'm not a fan of cutscenes as a concept, these are also nicely done. Unlike a lot of Mega CD cutscenes, they're almost full screen (with black borders at the top and bottom for a wide screen effect), as brightly coloured as the in-game graphics and not at all grainy. It seems that rather than using low quality FMV, the developers decided to go with a more extravagant version of the cutscenes seen in various cartridge-based games, like the Valis series or Ninja Gaiden. One little technical oddity though, is that if you're playing the game via an emulator, the voices will be out of sync, presumably due to the lack of loading times.
Cyborg 009 is a pretty fun game, I've never read or watched any version of the original story, so I can't vouch for how faithful an adaptation it is, but if you just want to play a decent Mega CD platformer, it's worth a look.
Tuesday, 10 June 2014
Anyway, Express Raider is an arcade game released by Data East in 1986, and it's a pretty early example of a game in which the player is the bad guy. I won't say first, because even if there's no earlier villain arcade games (which there might be, I haven't checked), there's probably something from the 80s british computer scene that features a playable bad guy.
The specific knave over whom your control will be exerted in this game is a nameless train robber/mass murderer in the old west. There's two types of robberies this no-good scoundrel commits: ones where he
The two types of robbery are represented by two types of play. The on-foot robberies see the player walking across the tops of the train carraiges, each of which is protected by a different guardian. This might sound like a beat em up setup, but as the enemies are fought one at a time, in fixed spaces, it's more along the lines of something like Karateka, a strictly Player-Vs-AI fighting game with a single playable character, but multiple opponents, a genre that was pretty much killed by Street Fighter II, and then buried by Rise of the Robots.
Other than the generic tough guy you'll encounter a few times on each fighting stage, there's also riflemen, big guys who try to shove you off the train with a wall of boxes, and the coal-shovelling guy who, on your arrival, diverts his attention from fuelling the train to ending your life. An interesting part of these sections is your health bar, which obviously get depleted via enemy attacks, but also gets restored through your successful attacks, making it something more of a momentum meter than a traditional health bar.
The other bits, the ones that take place on horseback, aren't nearly as interesting as the fighting bits, though they're not the chore I'd originally assumed them to be when I saw them in the game's attract demo. The
Express Raider is a fun, fairly unique game that definitely meets my recommendation. You should totally play it!