Friday, 22 October 2021

Ling Rise (Playstation)

 When you look at the screenshots of Ling Rise, I'm sure you'll probably think the same thing as I did: it looks like some kind of Japanese Crash Bandicoot clone. Once you actually play, though, that similarity only extends to the fact that the whole game takes place in long, narrow corridor-like areas full of enemies and pits. The actual platforming is done at a much slower pace than the Crash games, and there's a bunch of other stuff in the game besides that, too.


So, you play as this very androgynous character (in-game they look like a girl, but the boxart makes them look like a boy?), who's acoompanied by some small floating creatures that are called Lings. You only start off with one of them, but you quickly accumulate a Ling posse. These guys are the way you attack, since your character can't do it themselves for some reason. They shoot forward and ram enemies with their bodies! There's a little bit of a virtual pet element going on with the Lings, too, as you not onlt have to feed them to ensure they have energy to attack with, but you have to feed them the right foods, or their energy will refill, but they'll be in a bad mood and not want to attack. Sometimes you'll meet other characters accompanied by Lings, but I've played for a few hours and done a couple of bossfights, and none of them have used Lings to attack, preferring more traditional methods like magic swords.


I have no idea what the plot is about, but in the time I've played so far, I've done a lot of stuff that's very reminiscent of the legendary RPG Grandia: climbed mountains, explored ruins, walked along train tracks, escaped military prison, and so on. On the subject of RPGs, a lot of database-type sites online have this listed as one, but it's really not. There's some very mild RPG elements, like raising the stats of the Lings and being able/required to revisit earlier areas, but most of your playtime and the bulk of the game's challenge is in 3D platforming. 


The platforming itself takes some getting used to: judging jump distances took me a while to get used to, and I was constantly falling into pits like an idiot for the first couple of areas. It did gradually get easier, though, and there was a stage a bit later on which sees you navigating a lot of moving platforms, while also counter-intuitively moving towards the camera instead of away from it,  but by that point, I'd gotten the jumping down to an instinct. For some reason, collecting the items that enemies and smashed boxes drop never stops being a weird experience of perspective nightmares.


Ling Rise is a really cool and fun game, and other than one small hiccup near the start of the game, there hasn't been much of a language barrier in the way of me playing it. I'd still definitely play a fan translation if one ever comes out, though, since it'd be nice to know what's going on in the game. It's a shame it never got an official English release at the time, actually, I think it's thematically and aesthetically something a lot of people would have gone for during the turn-of-the-century anime boom, and the game itself is unique enough to stand out while also being familiar enough to draw people in. For those reasons, it's also surprising that it doesn't seem to already have any kind of western fanbase. Hopefully that'll change sometime soon, because it's a game that deserves a wider audience.

Sunday, 17 October 2021

Jurassic Park Institute Tour: Dinosaur Rescue (GBA)

 This is a notable game for a few reasons. Firstly, it was developed by KaZe, a company known for their excellent Saturn pinball games Last Gladiators and Necronomicon, and their more experimental pinball games  Power Rangers Zeo Full Tilt Battle Pinball on Playstation, and Akira Psycho Ball on PS2. Secondly, it's a Japan-only release based on a western property, which is mildly interesting itself, but on top of that, it seems to have only been available to buy in one place: the gift shop at Jurassic Park Institute Tour, an edicational interactive museum exhibit thing.


That's where the interest stops, though, as the game itself is about what you'd expect from some cheap knocked-out crap sold in a tourist attraction gift shop. It's a collection of mini-games, which aren't even original, just Jurassic Park-themed knock offs of existing games. There's Cross Dinosaur, which is just Frogger, except you're a little safari man running across a valley while trying not to get trampled by triceratops. Next is Danger Zone, which has you playing as a parasaurolophus who has to repeatedly get from the left side of the screen to the right side of the screen while avoiding volcanic rocks falling from the 'bove.


Egg Guard is the old Game and Watch game Egg, except there's six channels instead of four, and it's a lot slower. It's themed as you being a pteranodon sat in your nest at the centre of the screen protecting your eggs from poachers who come slowly walking down the six channels. I actually had to lose all my lives on purpose in this game, since even when they get to your nest, the poachers will just stand there for several seconds before taking an egg. Rexcercise is another Game and Watch game, this time being Flagman, one of the worst G&W games, which isn't made any better by the presence of a T-Rex.


The final game is Take Meat, which is a slightly more complex and interesting version of Danger Zone (relatively speaking). You now go back and forth across the screen instead of repeatedly going from left to right, and when you're at the right edge of the screen, you can pick up multiple pieces of meat before returning, which gets you more points while slowing down your movement. Also, you're know avoiding mortars being fire by a little man atop a nearby cliff instead of volcanic rocks. There's also a gallery mode, where high scores are rewarded by tiny, very low resolution screenshots from the first three Jurassic Park movies.


The curiosity is all this game has going for it, really. It's not worth your time, and the unusualy circumstances of its release mean that it's definitely not worth the ridiculous prices a real copy fetches online, either. The Game Boy Color and Advance are two systems reknowned for low quality licensed games, and Jurassic Park Institute Tour: Dinosaur Rescue lives up to that stereotype every step of the way.