Monday, 30 December 2013

Champion Kendou (SG-1000)

I don't know much about kendo, though it seems to be a sport that's mysteriously under-represented in videogames. Other than this game, there's a Simple 1500 release on the Playstation, and oddly, a few games on 80s British computers and very little else. I guess other types of fighting are seen to make for more exciting videogames?
Anyway, the game has two main modes of play. The first, and most realistic is a tournament mode featuring teams of five fighting one by one. A pint is scored by getting a clean hit on your opponent, and the first to score twice wins. Their opponent is eliminated, and the first team to lose all five memebers loses the match. I don't know how many rounds are played in this mode all together, but I've been able to get to the fifth team of opponents so far. Though the box art depicts the competitors as men, the in-game sprites are simple and plain enough that you can, should you be so inclined, project any kind of personality onto them. Like if you're some kind of weirdo, you might decide that you're controlling a team of misfit teenage girls, led by a seemingly aloof sempai who seems stuck up but secretly she's really kind and protects younger kids from bullies. If you were some kind of weirdo, of course.
The other mode isn't so good. It's a one-on-one mode in which the two fighters each have health bars, which for some reason are reduced not only by taking attacks, but also by attacking. You can actuallly knock
yourself out by attacking too much.
For some reason, I instantly took a liking to this game. It's simple, but very satisfying to play, and the primitive graphics somehow manage to radiate a lot of atmosphere. One amusing minor detail is that the crowd of spectators seem to be very one-sided in their tastes: They'll cheer when the player's team wins a match, but only offer a stony silence for AI victories.
I definitely recommend this game! If you're one of those collector types, it might be helpful to know that it was released on Sega's My Card format, meaning it's compatible with the Sega Mark III, the first model of the Master System, a few other, more obscure 80s consoles and the Mega Drive Powerbase Convertor.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Maze Heroes: Meikyuu Densetsu (Playstation)

Finally, I can post here again! The computer on which I play games and emulators was broken, and now it's fixed! (By removing and re-inserting the RAM.)
So anyway, Maze Heroes is a board game-style pseudo-RPG thing. The player moves around a multi-route path of tiles until they get to the tile with the boss on. Beat the boss and go on to the next stage. Other than the Boss tile, there are five types of tile making up the mazes: blank tiles do nothing, tiles with a bat on take
you into a battle with a regular enemy, blue tiles with a star on will either give an item or heal the player, and skull tiles will either poison or hurt you. The last kind, the question mark tiles will randomly give one of the effects of the other four tiles when you land on it. 
Obviously, you'd never bother stepping on skull tiles if you had a choice about it, so the number of tiles the player moves each turn will be a number between one and five, selected randomly. The random number generator is also seen in battle, deciding how much damage you and the monsters inflict upon each other each turn, though unlike movement, the numbers for damage rolls depend on various stats. Defeating enemies sometimes grants items, so fighting is always preferable to standing on a trap, which will only hurt the player with no reward.
The player can improve their stats either by strength/intelligence increasing items that can be won in battle, or by finding new equipment on the star tiles. Spells (which are mostly offensive) and healing items can be found either way. This leads to the biggest problem the game has: the only way to have a chance against the boss of each stage is to go around the board, hoping to get the items and spells you need to strengthen yourself to
fight it, then going and making an attempt at doing so. Luckily, getting killed just means going back to the start of the current stage, keeping your stat increases and new equipment, but even this small blessing only serves to make the game even more of a mindless, random slog.
On the plus side, the game does look very nice, with the artwork for the random enemies being especially nice, and the mindless nature of the game does make it a painless way to pass half an hour or so. Still, I can't really recommend Maze Heroes or anything.