Saturday, 23 July 2011

Vagrant Fighter FX (X68000)

Vagrant fighter FX is a homebrew fighting game from 1995. With that in mind, it's surprising how well it turned out.
It seems to be pretty well balanced, and it has everything you'd expect from a fighter at the time: special and super moves, combos, etc. Even the ability to cancel normal attacks into specials is in there! It's obvious that the maker (or possibly makers) of this game really loved fighting games, and had a bunch of ideas they wanted to put into one.
There are 8 playable characters (there are four more shown on the character select screen, who I assume are bosses. I don't know if there's any way to play as them though, as I'm so rubbish I couldn't even get far enough to fight against them, let alone defeat them) including a figure skater, an american football player, an armoured claw-weilding guy and a guy who's a blatant rip-off of Joseph Joestar from Jojo's Bizarre Adventure (but what's interesting is that this game seems to have been made before Capcom's JJBA arcade games, making this possibly the first videogame appearance of the series). They definitely aren't what you'd call professionally drawn or animated, but for the most part, they're not especially ugly (the main exception being Arucard, who looks terrible. Also, he's a fighting stage magician, and not a vampire. Strange.), and similar can be said for the stages: for the most part they look okay, but not great. Although the night-time cityscape and european town stages look a lot nicer than the rest, while the russion submarine looks completely awful. The music, like the graphics varies, from moderately catchy tunes to terrible alarm-like cacophonies.
The game itself is a lot more fun to play than I was expecting (I'm slightly ashamed to say that I did initially judge the game on first sight and assume it to be another awful old X68000 homebrew), though it is a little too hard, I had to turn the difficulty all the way down before i could win any fights (of course, it's very possible I'm just rubbish). As mentioned at the start of the review, it's got everything you'd expect from an early 90s fighting game, and despite the slightly choppy animation, it feels pretty smooth, too. As far as I can discern, none of the characters seems to be horribly broken, and incredibly, there doesn't seem to be a resident shotoclone!
VFFX isn't an all time classic game, and won't be replacing any of your favourite big-name fighting games, but it is fun to play, and you can be certain that it'll also be new to whoever you play it with, which is nice.
One final note: despite the name, there doesn't appear to be any homeless people in this game.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

WWF Betrayal (Game Boy)

The basic idea behind WWF Betrayal is a good one: have a bunch of wrestlers star in a beat em up. Unfortunately, it fails to live up to the potential of this idea.
To start with, the premise itself is wasted, most likely due to apathy. There are four playable characters, and the three you don't pick you'll fight as bosses. But this doesn't mean the game has a Sonic Adventure-esque story where the playable characters meet each other at different points, but rather they just play different parts in the story whoever you pick. The story is that the wrestlers you didn't pick have kidnapped Stephanie McMahon, and her dad Vince wants you to go and rescue her. For those readers not versed in wrestling lore, there are numerous problems with this: firstly, by the time this game came out in 2001, Stephanie McMahon was not a character who would garner much sympathy in the eyes of young wrestling fans. Secondly, one of the playable characters is The Undertaker, who only a few years previously, had stalked, kidnapped and tried to force a younger Stephanie into a satanic marriage. But apparently, Vince still trusts him to go and rescue her. Thirdly, one of the other playable characters is The Rock, meaning if you don't pick him he becomes a violent criminal, something that's wildly out of character for him. Pretty much anyone could have come up with a better scenario for a belt scroller starring pro-wrestlers.
The problems don't end with the plot, either. The wrestlers all walk incredibly slowly, and they can't jump. Their repetoire of attacks extends to punches, kicks and one wrestling move each, that is used if you manage to get five attacks in without getting hit. The stages consist of slowly walking across various locations (backstage, some sewers, the streets, etc.) beating up referees, policemen and random passers-by (sometimes with the aid of a crowbar or wrench), fighting one of the other wrestlers at the end of most stages. If you die on your way to the boss, you have to start the entire stage again. Generously, if you die during a boss, you only have to restart the bossfight. Also, you don't regain health between stages.
The game does have one nice idea: if you tap the attack buttons while stunned, you regain a small amount of health. That one idea isn't enough to save the game, though. It's an ugly, boring game that completely fails to live up to an idea that should be a no-brainer in making a great game. And another thing, why is it a Game Boy game? You'd think they'd make such a game as spectacular as they could on one of the home consoles.
(Note: Although the screenshots came out glitched, I played the game on a different, working emulator for writing the review)

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Runner's High (PC-98)

Just a small review, since it's been a while since I last posted, and I did say I'd try to post more often.
It's surprising that it's taken this long for me to post about a game for one of the old Japanese computers, and there's actually a few games on the PC-98 and X68000 I intend to write about eventually.
Anyway, this game is Runner's High. It's a racing game by Compile. You play as a girl wearing a jetpack, and you choose one of three tracks, then attempt to fly three laps though it before the time runs out.
The problem is, that's it. Doing the four laps of any one of the three courses is going to take less than two minutes, and even the hardest course you'll be able to finish in a couple of goes. There's no mode where you race against other opponents, be they CPU or human, no career mode or anything like that. There are rankings boards for fastest times around each of the tracks, but the game isn't really fun enough that you'll want to play it after completeing them all once (if you even bother to get that far). It seems strange that Compile would release this as a stand-alone game, as I've played longer games on their Disc Station diskmags.
It's not all bad, though: as you'd expect from Compile, the graphics and all-round presentation are excellent, and there's some really nice still art in the intro, too.