Friday, 25 May 2012

Disc Station MSX #01

I'm loving these DS posts, aren't you? Each volume is like a little cave of videogamey treasure. Compile must have been feeling amazingly generous when they made them, they're always packed with stuff!
This volume has two discs, though most of the cool stuff is on the first.
"Cool stuff" meaning two full games, one of which is (as far as I know) exclusive to this disc station! The first game, the exclusive one, is a version of Aleste, which isn't a demo like what was on DSMSX#00, but a full game with newly arranged stages! Really hard newly arranged stages! Seriously, it makes regular Aleste look easy! The gameplay and weapons and such are the same as in the original game, of course. Just the stages are different.
Xevious also makes an appearance on this disk. I'm not sure whether it's a full game or a demo, though. If it's a demo, then I'm terrible and can't stay alive long enough to get to the cut off point. If it is a full game, then that makes three on this disk, and Compile are like 8-bit Santa Clauses.
Next up is another Last Armageddon-related item. When I saw it on the menu, I didn't know what to think! Was it the same demo again? Were they giving the game away free, but in a serialised form? It turns out to be neither of those things: It's actually a bestiary, listing all the monsters in the game and their statistics and such. Imagine if Western games magazines gave away RPG bestiaries! I would have loved that, I've had a life-long interest in such things. Unfortunately, the text is all in Japanese, and the pictures are tiny. Boo.
The last point of interest on the first disk is another full game, Megalopolis SOS. It's kind of like a mix between Missile Command and Galaga. You move your little gun/tank/base/thing along the bottom of the screen, shooting ufos and also sending out air-mines (or "floaters" as the game amusingly calls them). There's also six cities at the bottom of the screen, which you should probably protect. It's nothing special, but it's a nice little distraction for a few minutes.
On to disk 2, then! It doesn't contain any playable stuff, unfortunately. Most of the disk is taken up by the usual magazine stuff.
There are a couple of interesting things, though. Literally a couple. Two. The first is an animation featuring a girl standing in front of a taiko drum while Compile's mascot Randar bounces around and music plays.
The other thing is a non-interactive advert for Compile's action RPG Golvellius, which features some nice little pixel animations.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Mystical Fighter (Mega Drive)

This game has so many Japanese stereotypes, you'd think it was a British game, made for the Commodore 64 during the 80s ninja/martial arts craze. But it is, as far as I can tell, an actual Japanese game, made in Japan and everything.
The enemies are stereotypical Japanese things like samurai, running ninjas, sumo wrestlers, kabukimono, and so on. The player character is some sort of kabuki/noh/priest guy (oh dear my ignorance is showing). Even the health pick ups are small platters of sushi!
Other than these things, though, it's a mediocre and generic beat em up, into which not a lot of imagination has gone. There isn't even named player characters, just that one guy, and player two has to be a pallette swapped version of him. Jumping and rolling across the ground use the same sprites, as do the sliding/flying kicks that your guy does when you prress attack while rolling or jumping. There's also a magic system that works in exactly the same manner as in Golden Axe. All the scrolls you're carrying are used up at once when you press the magic button, and more scrolls causing a more powerful attack. One nice little thing I liked though, was that you get a whole three different throws to chuck enemies about with! One has your guy spinning around then flinging the enemy in one direction in a mildly amusing manner, another has you lifting enemies above your head and chucking them (this one is especially satisfying at the liff's edge in stage 2) and the third has you leaping into the air and smashing your victim into the ground. Choosing between the first two throws is a matter of how quickly you press the attack button after grabbing the opponent, and the third is done by jumping and pressing attack after grabbing.
There's not really much reason to recommend this game to anyone, but there's no reason to avoid it, either. It's not especially excellent in any way, and it doesn't look much nicer than most Master System games, but it's not terrible to play or anything.
This game is also known as Maou Renjishi

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Disc Station 98 #00

Considering how great the first MSX Disk Station was, surely, the first volume for the much more powerful PC98 must be way better, right?
Unfortunately not. It's kind of rubbish. Well, the original content part is, at least. People who bought it at the time weren't getting ripped off: it comes on three disks, and the first two are full commercial games! Prince of Persia and Powermonger, to be specific! I won't bother writing about those though, since they're very well known, and there are probably a million other places to read about them.
Onto the third disk, then. It has a paltry four items on it.
The first is a non-playable demo/advert for a game whose title I can't read. But it does say that it's a "SPACE WAR SIMULATION", and theres a "II" in the title, so presumably it's also a sequel.
The second option is something a bit odd. It's an interactive... thing. There's a black and white drawing on the room, and clicking on items in the room makes stuff happen. The painting on the wall changes to a different picture, the cat turns into a weird alien, etc. Also, the pillow, TV and teddy bear come to life and start asking questions in Japanese. I wonder if anything happens when you answer their questions correctly. I guess we'll never know.
The third item is a long, boring and very text heavy animation about a UFO travelling the universe. In its defence, it does look very nice, though.
The fourth option is some kind of text content thing, as you usually get on these disks. I wish I could read the text content that's on the disk stations, it would be a window into a pre-internet nerd subculture in a far-off foreign land. Doesn't that kind of thing interest you? It interests me. BYE!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Odyssey (Amiga)

Apparently, people want to see more posts about european computer games on here. Stuff for the Amiga, C64, Spectrum, and so on. i don't write about these things a lot, as although their games are super-obscure in America, over here, a lot of the game are fairly well-remembered. So it feels like I'm writing about games that everyone knows. Plus, there are people who are obsessed with the games on these systems, and my knowledge of them isn't so great, so I don't want to make myself look stupid, either.
Odyssey, then. It's a platform game with huge stages. Really huge stages. It's also got nice graphics. The best part of those graphics being the fact that the player character actually has different sprites for when he's facing left and right, so his sword stays in the same hand! Amazing!
Anyway, there are seven stages in Odyssey, and as I said, they are huge. They're also split into three segments: The first three stages are the outer islands, and each of these contains a crystal and a sphere of influence. The crystals allow you to turn into animals (one is a grasshopper, another is a sparrow, and the third I haven't managed to get yet.). The spheres allow you to do so on the second set of stages, the inner islands. Each of the inner islands holds a key, and when all the keys are found, you can go to the final stage: the king's castle, where the wizard is being held captive.
You can visit the stages in any order, but you won't be able to do anything in the inner islands until you have the spheres and crystals, and you can't get inside the castle without the keys. Unfortunately, I have managed to find only two of the crystals and none of the spheres, so I can't tell you about the later parts of the game.
But the stages I have played were a lot of fun. You go around caves solving simple puzzles (switches, keys, that sort of thing), and also climb trees, cliffs, ledges and towers high up into the sky. You fight enemies like rock-men that roll around in an annoying manner, and black and red poisonous spiders. You murder harmless innocent little clay-men.
I don't really have much more to say about this game. It's fun, very nice to look at, but also hard. Not hard in the "constantly dying" sense, but rather the "lost and frustrated" sense, though.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Disk Station MSX #00

This is the first in what will hopefully be a continuing series of posts about Compile's Disk Station series of disk magazines. It'll run until either I run out of disk stations or I get bored of it. If the latter doesn't happen, it should run a pretty long time!
I'll mostly be covering the games, because my inability to read Japanese renders the magazine features and other such things useless to me. I might also, on occasion, talk about the pixel art galleries and graphics demos the disks contain, should any of them catch my eye. I'll also be alternating between the MSX and PC98 releases, to add a bit of variety.
So, this is the very first Disk Station release ever! It contains a playable demo of the shooting game Aleste, the start of what would become a famous and revered series. The demo lets you play for a couple of minutes before fading to black and returning to the title screen. I'm sure there are many many places you can read about the Aleste games online, so I won't go into any more detail here.
There's also a non-playable demo of Brain Grey's RPG, Last Armageddon. I'm not especialy fond of RPGs at the best of times, but the fact that this game is Japanese-only, coupled with 80s computer game difficulty (at least, I assume this is the case) makes me not too bothered about playing this. It does have some really awesome artwork in the intro, though!
The only full game on the disk is the classic Hustle Chumy. This game, in case you haven't played it, concerns a sewer rat who heads to the surface to find food to bring home, while avoiding the attention of the various surface dwelling creatures. These creatures include rabbits, people, turtles, bats and an invincible robot. Unfortunately, the really cool-looking cat enemy from the SG-1000 version is absent. The game is pretty good. You wander the stages, collecting the food and shooting/avoiding the enemies. The stage is over when you collect all the food and return home. Your movement slows for every piece of food you pick up, but you can go back home to empty at any time. The disadvantage being that the stages have both a time limit and a time bonus upon completion. You'll have to choose between risking death at the hands of your various enemies due to slower movement, or sacrificing your bonus for the sake of safety.
So! There's only one disk for this DS, but they still managed to pack quite a lot in there! Just think how great the later releases with 3-5 disks will be!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Two Tenkaku (Playstation)

I read somewhere that this game was the winner of the highest award in the Second Digital Entertainment Program (DEP '94) Pro Course. The problem is, the only reference I can find to this program is the same quote regarding this game winning at it, copied and pasted into various pointless game database sites. So for all I know, DEP '94 might not even be a real thing.
Other internet results for this game are mainly made up of scattered forum posts, in which people express their opinion of it. Most of thoe opinions are negative. That's entirely reasonable, too! The game is far from being a must-play classic! It doesn't have an interesting scoring system, the graphics are kind of drab (although the first stage has some nice pixel cityscapes, if you like that sort of thing), and it's hard without
feeling like a fun challenge. To top it all off, it has an incredibly ugly CG intro FMV. Despite all these criticisms, I actually kind of like this game! Or at least, I got mildly addicted to it. If I put it on, I know i'll be playing at least few credits before I get bored and do something else. And the presentation isn't all bad! The title cards for each stage have an unusual "ominous Buddhist chanting" thing going on. The Buddhist theme also finds its way into the graphics in a small way: one of the two bomb types summons a giant Buddha made of fire that shoots fireballs about the screen. (Note: I am not a religious scholar. If I'm wrong and the chanting and the fire guy are from another religion, feel free to correct me.)
I should probably describe how the game actually plays in a little more detail, right? Well, there isn't really a great deal of detail to go into. It's a pretty generic shooter. There are three ships to choose from (I prefer the blue one, as it shoots a cool Dodonpachi-esque laser when you've collected a couple of power-ups), power-ups, bombs, no special scoring system, blah blah blah. In summary, I liked this game, but don't feel like you're missing anything if you never get to play it.