Monday, 29 July 2013

Simple 2000 Series Vol. 114: The Jo'okappichi Torimonochou ~Oharuchan GOGOGO!~ (PS2)

This is another beat em up, and I know almost all the Ps2 games about which I write posts are beat em ups, but this time I did actually intend to write about a Japan-only train racing game entitled Tetsu-1: Densha de Battle!, but that game was way too frustrating for me to play long enough to write about. It seems like it
might be enjoyable if you can muster up the patience for it, though.
So, in this game, you play as a female ninja-for-hire, taking on missions for money. The missions all involve finding a villain in their hideout and capturing them. All the missions take place in the same map, a largish town that mixes elements from modern-day and old-timey Japan. The enemies are all ninjas, geishas and so-on, and this coupled with the darumas appearing everywhere and the power-ups including pieces of sushi and maneki-neko statues makes the game's setting seem like an over the top western stereotype of Japan.
Playing the game is pretty simple. You have regular attacks, a useless projectile attack and a lasso, that can be used to throw sunned enemies. The lasso is also required for beating the bosses at the end of each stage, as they need to be stunned and caught, rather than just beaten up.
There are three different types of mission, though in all of them the final objective is finding and capturing the boss. But in some missions, you just have to wander the town until you see a yellow E on the map, showing where the boss is hiding, in others, you have to collect a certain number of round bottle-type objects that are just lying around the stage before the boss's location is revealed and in others, a few keys will have to be found that will be dropped by defeated enemies at random. The key stages are actually really quick and easy, since the enemies keep respawning, so you can stay where you are and keep beating them until you've got all the keys. Later in the
game, there's also a stage where all the enemies are sword-weilding darumas that kill you in two hits.
This is a pretty good entry into the Simple Series. It doesn't have the terrible grinding that some of them are ruined by, and it's not hard or too easy (except for that damn daruma stage, which I think might be optional).

Monday, 15 July 2013

GunMaster (Arcade)

As promised in my Dharma Doujou post, I'm doing another post on an arcade game by the little-known company Metro. This time it's a platform shooting game, heavily influenced by Gunstar Heroes.
I use the more generous "influenced by" rather than "ripped off" because while GunMaster does have a lot in common with Treasure's masterpiece, it also adds a lot of it's own ingredients, the most notewothy of which being the fighting game-esque special moves the player can execute. Most of these moves are listed in the game's attract mode sequence, except one move, referred to as "BLOODY DANCE". I haven't managed to figure out this move myself (having done so with all the others, as being the impatient person I am, I didn't bother watching the attract mode until I'd already played the game a few times), but according to internet hearsay, the commands for it are revealed during the end credits.
The game itself sees the player going from stage to stage with each stage being a few screens wide and being taken up almost entirely with a boss fight, a la Alien Soldier (yes, another Treasure game, though in this case
GunMaster predates it by about a year).
I did actually intend to throw away my principles and credit feed to the end to take a screenshot of that elusive move for my precious readers, but unfortunately, the game's emulation in MAME has one small, but fatal flaw: while playing, it might at some random point, for no obvious reason, freeze.
But anyway, you can still play it to see what it's like, and it doesn't freeze every time, nor does any specific
in-game situation seem to trigger the bug, so you might make it all the way through if you're lucky! Plus, even if you're not, you can choose the order in which to tackle the stages (except for the final stage and an easy introductory stage), so you can still see a lot of the game. You'll definitely have to credit feed, though. That's the biggest flaw of the game itself: the unfair difficulty. A lot of the bosses have attacks that are impossible (or at least very close to impossible) to avoid. This wouldn't be so bad is the player had some kind of defensive maneouver, like Alien Soldier's Counter Force, or even just something as simple as a block button would have made fiinishing the game a significantly more realisitc prospect.
As for Metro, while trying to find more information on this game, I actually stumbled across their official website, which is still active, as is the company itself. They mostly seem to make licenced shovelware, as well as a few MMOs and even a couple of entries in the Simple series.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Disc Station MSX #11

I kind of got sick of doing DS posts last year, so I took a break from them. But now they're back again, until the next time I get bored of them! Also, I skipped MSX volume 10 because there wasn't anything really interesting on it.
So, the first disc of this volume has two main points of interest. The first is a playable demo of Valis II. You all know the Valis series, right? Those cutscene-heavy platform games full of transforming schoolgirl drama? It's a demo of one of those. The MSX version doesn't look as nice as the ones on Mega Drive or PC Engine, but it does have a lot of its own low-fi charm. It does, however, commit the cardinal sin of using up to jump. One of the two face buttons is used to access the pause menu, but that's not really a valid excuse for a system that has an entire keyboard to use for that kind of thing. It is just a demo, though. Maybe the full game has better controls.
The other point of interest on disc one is a little pixel animation featuring various Compile characters and employees relaxing under a cherry blossom tree as the petals fall (this volume was released in april 1990, so it's seasonal!).
Another item on disc one lets you see a few still screens from one of those graphic adventures that were so popular on the Japanese computers.
Disc two is mainly concerned with all those text-heavy magazine features that are of no use to me, being unable to read Japanese and all. But there are two full games on offer, too!
The first is Randar Burn, which is the "april fool's" edition of Disc Station's serial grinding shooter series Blaster Burn. Of course, instead of being a spaceship shooting badguys, you're Compile's spherical mascot Randar and you're shooting bits of food. Not even cartoony food with faces, just regular fruits and neopolitan ice creams and the like. Even though I'm normally an opponent of grinding, especially when it intrudes on holy genres like shooting or fighting games, I must admit that I played this for so long that I'd totally forgot all the contents of the first disc and had to go back and go through them again.
The second is what appears to be a first person dungeon crawling RPG by the name of Mystery Tower. Obviously, I couldn't really play this due to the language barrier, but what's interesting about it is that it loads up in BASIC, and is credited to someone calling themselves "miichan", rather than to a company. I wonder if it was a winner of some competition Compile ran or something?