Friday, 27 January 2012

Sega Game Pack 4 in 1 (Game Gear)

It might seem strange to review a compilation, but this isn't a compilation of previously released games, the games on here were made specifically for a compilation. Not this compilation, though. Three of the games were originally part of two Japan-only releases called Kuni-chan no Game Tengoku Volume 1 & 2. The other game, Penalty Shootout was made especially for this cartridge, which appears to have been released only in Europe, mainly as a pack-in with the console, but apparently there's also a very rare boxed release of it too.
You might say that a console pack-in might not be obscure enough to fit this blog's remit, but it's not like you see people posting about this game everywhere, is it? It seems to have been mostly forgotten, which is good enough for me.
So, on to the games!
First up is Flash Columns, which, as you might guess from the title, is a cut-down version of columns, featuring only the "Flash mode" from the full version. If you don't know, flash mode gives you a stage partially filled with jewels, some of which are flashing. Get rid of the flashing jewels and go on to the next stage. There are a couple of differences between this version and the version you might be used to, though. Firstly, although the jewels still fall in vertical columns of three, to make them disappear, they have to be arranged so that at least four of the same colour are touching, non diagonally, as opposed to the normal columns rule of putting three in a row, in any direction. The other difference is the scoring system, or rather, the lack of one. In this game, you get one point for every jewel you make vanish. No extra points for chains or disappearing large amounts at once, and also no time limit to get the falshing jewels in. This is the flaw that ruins the game, with no rewards for speed or skill, it feels like a tedious trudge.
The second game is the one made especially for europe, Penalty Shootout! Essentially, it's a guessing game. You choose which direction to make the guy kick the ball, and how high. Then you hope the goalie doesn't jump in the same direction. After five shots, you switch places. There's no way of knowing what the computer player is going to do, making the whole thing a pointless waste of time. Don't bother with it.
The third game, which is referred to by most of the internet as just "Rally", though I'm sure I remember it being called something like "Pan-American Grand Prix" in the manual, though I no longer have the manual, and of course there are no scans of it online (as far as I can tell), so wo knows? Anyway, this is definitely the best game of the four. It's an Outrun-clone, but with no branching paths. So I guess you could also call it a Hang-On clone, but in a car, if you wanted to. Whatever you want to call it, it's fast and fun and has nice graphics. The only downside is that it's really really short and easy. But that's not a massive downside, is it?
The last game, which is also the second best game on the cart is Tennis. It plays exactly like Nintendo's Tennis game on the Game Boy. Obviously this version is infinitely better though, for three reasons: it's made by SEGA, it's in glorious colour, and instead of Mario being the referee, Sonic is the referee. Other than those differences, I assume it's only the game's relative obscurity that stopped there being any kind of lawsuit, as it really does play exactly like Nintendo's game.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Lock n Chase (Game Boy)

The story of me and Lock n Chase is a short, pointless and boring one. This summer, while I was subjected to only a mobile broadband dongle with very limited bandwidth, I noticed somewhere that the entire ROMset for the Atari 2600 took up only 5MB. Seeing this as good value for bandwidth, I downloaded it, and put it onto my GP2X to play while watching repeats of Everybody Hates Chris and 60s Batman.
Overwhelmed by the huge list of games, I started playing the familiar games I played on a real 2600 in times long past (Carnival, Stampede, Othello), then games with interesting titles (Aquaventure, Cosmic Ark) and also, games that I remember seeing advertised in the old (as in pre-dating my birth) Marvel and DC comics I used to buy from the book stall on the market in my teenage years. Lock n Chase was one of those games.
But I'm not writing about the Atari 2600 version, or the arcade game of which it was a port. Today I'm writing about the much later Game Boy port.
It's pretty fun. It's a Pacman clone, as was the fashion at the time, themed around a bank robber being chased by cops. The characters all look like the chicken nugget people that McDonalds had among their many mascots a long time ago (I specifically remember during the 1992 Olympics, Happy Meals came with little plastic nugget-men, each one engaged in a different sport, not letting their lack of limbs stand in the way of their ambitions), and are all wearing hats. The cops are wearing the kind of hats you see cops wearing in old gangster movies, and the player is wearing the kind of hat you see gangsters wearing in old gangster movies.
You waddle around the mazes avoiding cops and collecting round things (which I think we can assume are coins). As usual, collect all the coins and you go the the next stage. There's also moneybags and diamonds, that will periodically appear for a short time every now and then. The moneybags freeze the cops in place for a few seconds, and the diamonds let you chase them for a short time, like the power pills in Pacman.
I should probably go into what makes Lock n Chase its own game, and not just a reskinned Pacman clone. The original gimmick in the arcade version was that there were doors place all over the stages that the player can shut behind them, cutting off any persuing cops (but also possibly creating a dead end for the careless player to be chased down). This feature survives into the Game Boy port, which also gradually adds more gimmicks as the game goes on. The first to appear is kind of the opposite of the original: doors that are closed by default and can be opened for a few seconds by the player walking into them.
I won't spoil any of the other features for you (plus i can't get very far into the game, and have only seen a couple more anyway, but shhh.).
The GB Lock n Chase is a pretty fun game, and even better than the original version. It is also, by extension, better than the PSP version, which is a download over 100MB large from the PSN store, despite just being a ROM of the arcade version packaged with an emulator. THat doesn't even automatically save high scores. Tsk.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Choro Q Jet: Rainbow Wings (Playstation)

I've been meaning to review this for well over a year now, but for some reason, I'm only just now getting round to it. Now that I've built it up like that, I'm sure you'll all be disappointed at how this isn't a classic masterpiece of games writing. Waah.
Obviously, it's a spin-off of the well known Choro Q series of racing games/ talking car RPGs (CaRPGs?), and it's about military aircraft in general, not just jets. Breaking from the usual Choro Q style, the aircraft actually have human pilots, too! There's a bunch of characters/aircraft to choose from, including a bunny-girl in an attack helicopter, a punk in a stealth bomber and a Sakura Wars knock-off in a cherry blossom painted plane. Other miscelleny includes the usual stuff you get in the Playstation games about which I write, like an animated intro, blue skies, and so on.
The game plays like a combination of the All-Range Mode stages from Lylat Wars, and the lock-on missiles from the Afterburner games. You fly around the smallish stages, shooting down enemies with either your lock-on missiles or your non-lock-on machine gun (which can also be used to shoot down enemy missiles, again like in Afterburner!) until you fulfill the target, at which point "WARNING!" will appear on the screen, and the boss fight will start. The boss doesn't just arrive in the stage, though, rather the game does a slightly awkward feeling thing of having the stage reset, but with the enemies all gone and the boss present.
The stage targets vary from destroying a particular building or all of a certain kind of enemy, to destroying all the enemies within a time limit, among other things.
The early boss fights are often very easy, since for a lot of them, as long as you can keep them in your sights, you can fire all your missiles as fast as you can push the button, making short work of their health bars. Of course, this changes as the game goes on, and later bosses are almost chellenging.
The game never seems to actually get hard, though. And though it's fun to play, eventually, the fact that the missions aren't very hard and, despite the variety of objectives, also play very similarly to each other, you'll probably get bored of the game before you complete it. It is fun for a while, though.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Bubble Hero 2 (PC)

Okay, so this review is going to be terrible filler for a few reasons.
Reason one: It had been a while since the last post, and unfortunately, I haven't really been playing anything obscure enough to be worth posting here.
Reason two: There's no screenshots because all the screenshots I took of this game came out all corrupt and strange. This is especially a shame because the graphics were pretty much the only good thing about the game.
Reason three: I could only actually stand to play a few credits of this awful, awful game.

So, it's a Bubble Bobble rip-off for PC. When you first load it up, you might be impressed with its graphics. There's no shame in that, it's got nice big colourful sprites and... nice big colourful sprites. As I mentioned before, that's everything good about the game.
There is no background music, even though there's an option to turn music on and off. There are two buttons like you'd expect from a Bubble Bobble clone: jump and blow. But the jump button only works about three-quarters of the time.
And all these things are leading up to the main event of this games problems, and one that's ruined a previous chinese game I reviewed: the first boss is huge, it's faster than you, it will camp right next to your respawn point to kill you again and it takes a ton of hits to kill. How many hits? I'll never know, as I gave up after four or five attempts. It's even worse than the bosses in Adventurous Boy.
So there's Bubble Hero 2. A legitimately awful game.