Monday, 28 November 2011

Kirby no Omochabako - Hoshi Kuzushi (SNES)

Remember at the end of the Dyna Brothers review, where I said I was worried that I was doing to many positive reviews? Well, this should help buck the trend a little!
This game is terrible. It's an Arkanoid-like, starring Kirby as the ball, and has the player controlling two hamsters carrying a sheet to bounce him upwards with. The fact that this setup is kind of cute is probably the most positive thing that can be said about this game.
It mostly plays like any other generic Arkanoid-like, with the gimmick that you have a constantly depleting "stars" counter, and if kirby hits the ground while it's above zero, he'll bounce once, giving you a chance to catch him rather than losing a life straight away, and you'll also lose 10 stars. The blocks are star shaped, and for every one that's destroyed, a little star falls down which boosts your star counter slightly.
The problem is that it's just incredibly slow and boring.
The first problem is that there are no power-ups at all, unless you count the stars. The second problem is that Kirby's movement speed never increases. The third and fourth problems are that the blocks are really tiny and there are tons of them in each stage.
All of these add up into a game in which you spend long, tedious minutes staring at Kirby slowly bouncing around the screen, waiting for him to hit the two tiny stars at either side of it.
I should also mention that this was an early downloaded title, distributed via the Satellaview system, using some kind of arcane sorcery. This fact might lead you to think that I'm being unnessecarily hard on the game, but I'm not. Kaizo Chojin Shubibinman Zero and The Legend of Zelda: Ancient Stone Tablets were also Satellaview titles, but they were both awesome, fully fleshed out games.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Dragon Fighter (NES)

Sorry it's been so long since the last post, I've been spending lots of time playing fare far too mainstream for this blog, like Dodonpachi Ressurection and Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, and so on. Both of those are really good, by the way.
Anyway, when you first start playing Dragon Fighter, it seems pretty much like any other generic NES platform game: you're a sword guy in a frosty wasteland, it's really hard, you're fighting absurd enemies like killer snowflakes and ninja bears. But then you die and get game over (since there are no lives), and if you're me, you think "That can't be it! There has to be more to this game!", and you find out that there is more to this game, that this game has a gimmick. A really cool gimmick.
There are two meters at the top of the screen while you play. The shorter one is obviously your health bar (don't worry, it gets slightly longer every time you complete a stage), the longer one is your dragon bar. Your dragon bar fills up a tiny amount every time you kill an enemy, and when it's at least half full, hold up and jump together to turn into a dragon. Then proceed to fly around and shoot stuff until it runs out or you change back voluntarily.
Obviously, the cool gimmick alone makes the game a pretty amusing diversion, and apart from that it's not really bad, just a generic NES platform game. It does have one pretty big flaw, though: the only health recovery items are dropped by enemies randomly, so depending on whether the gods are on your side that day, you could get plenty of them or you could get none. In a game as hard as this, that can make a really big difference as to how far you get on a playthrough.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Simple 1500 Series Vol. 24 - The Gun Shooting (Playstation)

Judging by the title of this game, and the fact that it's a Simple 1500 budget release, you'd probably expect a bland, bare-bones target shooter, maybe like a less colourful version of Point Blank. Surprisingly, it's not like that at all: it has a plot, characters, and even an animated intro showing those characters getting aboard some kind of futuristic buggy thing! It also has some pretty cool artwork on the loading screens between stages. Of course, I can't tell you what the plot is about, or what the names of the characters are because all that stuff is in Japanese. Who cares anyway, though?
Anyway, the game is a typical lightgun shooter: you move slowly through the stages shooting at tanks, robots and other mechanical stuff that wants to kill you. The stages are fairly varied in their looks, though they all take place in some kind of exotic outdoors wilderness, there's forests and valleys and deserts and so on, so they aren't all the same. You do fight a lot of the same enemies on every stage, though, but that's one of the corners you expect to be cut in a budget game.
The only problem with the game is the difficulty: it is incredibly easy for most of the game. You can take at least thirty hits before getting a game over, and not only are the enemies not particularly enthusiastic about trying to kill you, but at least half of the time you get hit, you won't lose any health. Plus you're likely to get at least one extra life on each stage. I did say it was only incredibly easy for most of the game though, as once you get to the mid-boss of the last stage, and what I assume is the game's final boss, the difficulty takes a sudden and dramatic spike upwards. These two guys will hit you fast, and take off lots of health when they do. It's really cheap, and i would have preferred a harder game in general to a very easy game with really hard bosses at the end. Until you reach that point, it's a fairly fun, leisurely game and the surprisingly high production values make me wonder why it's a simple series game with a generic title, rather than being sold on it's own right with an actual name and such. I'm also slightly surprised that it wasn't one of the simple series games brought to the west under a different title by budget publishers late in the Playstation's lifespan.