Tuesday, 28 June 2016

100 Yen Disk No. 1 (PC88)

100 Yen offered a fair bit of choice to the mid-80s PC88 owner, as there were at least three series of disks on the market with that price in the title: 100 Yen Disk, 100 Yen Music Disk, and 100 Yen Soft. I've picked this one in particular to cover for a reason, though: it features early work by the legendary videogame composer Yuzo Koshiro!

Anyway, if you've read any of the Disc Station posts on this very blog before, you'll know what to expect from this: there's a few games, a text feature and a little bit of advertising. The first game on the menu is the generically-entitled Shooting Master 86, which happens to be the best game on the disk by a long way, so I'll come back to it after getting the others out of the way. A nice little touch is that the cursor on the menu is Samus Aran, and when you select an item, she turns into Takahashi Meijin for some reason.

So, the next game on the list is Graman Bee, the work of Mr. Koshiro himself! Unfortunately, it's either unfinished or for some it's not emulated well, as the graphics are glitchy, there's no music and the first boss' attacks seem completely impossible to avoid. I hope it is just unfinished and there's a full version out there somewhere, I'll keep an eye out, at least.

Following Graman Bee is Electric Novel, which isn't a game, it's a cool-looking title screen followed by a few screens full of text. Then there's The Rotten Wall, which is a spectacularly awful Breakout clone that's terrible in every aspect. There's also an option labelled "The Information of NAO Graphic Lab", which is an advert for an upcoming game called Triangle Panic, which I haven't found a disk image of, unfortunately.

Next is another game, Jumper, which must be one of the earliest examples of an endless runner. You play as a white blob thing that has to jump over a series of walls without crashing into the low, spike-covered ceiling. That's it pretty much. I wonder if it actually was the first?

Finally, we come back to Shooting Master 86, which is actually better quality and more fully-featured than a lot of standalone PC88 releases. It's a kind of hybrid shooting game/RPG thing. There's some things I haven't yet figured out, like how to buy better ships, but basically, you play a short shooting game stage, then you're dumped onto a map screen. You move a cursor (represtented literally by the word "CURSOR") around, until you meet one of the programmers, who will ask you something. Press Y on the keyboard and you'll enter another short shooting stage.

It's a pretty accomplished game that's so far beyond the others on the disk in terms of sophistication, plus, though he didn't do the programming, Yuzo Koshiro did do the soundtrack, so it sounds great too. Unquestionably the highlight of the disk, I really don't know why they chose not to package Shooting Master 86 on its own and sell it for a higher price. Maybe there's some 80s Japanese reason why they couldn't?

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