Thursday, 30 January 2014

Simple 2000 Series Vol. 104: The Robot Tsukuruuze ~Gekitou! Robot Fight~

Before playing this game, all i knew about it was the title, an from that, I assumed it would be a game about giant robots, or maybe some kind of Angelic Layer/Plawres Sanshiro-esque affair with toy robots fighting. The second guess was the closer of the two, though unlike the fighting toy robots seen in those shows, the robots in this game are much more realistic. Rather than being tiny mechanical superheroes, these robots are
blocky machines, awkwardly stumbling about just like bipedal robots do in real life. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've seen robots pretty similar to the ones in this game in real life, but searches for "bipedal robot sumo/fighting/etc." proved fruitless.
Anyway, the fighting portion of the game has your robot facing another in a sumo-style arena, victory coming from either depriving your opponent of their balance points and knocking them over, or by pushing them out of the ring. The first robot to win three rounds wins the fight.
Of course, the robot in-game belongs to and is controlled by the teenage members of an after-school club, and between the matches, you can instruct the four members of the club to either perform one of four actions (making new robot parts, programming new special moves into the robot,
repairing the robot's parts or changing the robot's parts), or they can spend the week studying to increase their proficiency in one of the four actions.
The makers of the game really got into the high school anime presentation style of the game, even going so far as having the game's intro be in the style of an anime intro, complete with vocal theme song and a fake time stamp in the corner of the screen. The developers' (HuneX) back catalogue (at least as far as their Simple Series entries go) is largely made up of visual novels and romance games, which shows in this game in the form of the unbelievably lengthy dialogue scenes that occur almost constantly between fights, delivered in the format of static pictures with text boxes beneath them. I don't feel like I'm missing much
through my inability to read them, and to be honest, my enjoyment of the game shot up immensely after discovering that you can skip entire scenes of dialogue in one go by pressing select.
In summary, this is a fun game with a nice, friendly atmosphere, even if you skip all the dialogue scenes. It' also very well made, with great production values that really hide the fact that it's a Simple 2000 game. I definitely recommend it.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Zombie Hunter (MSX)

This post is going to be shorter than I'd originally planned, as I couldn't stand to play the game any more to learn more about it. This wasn't always the situation,  though. There were acually three stagfes in my appreciation of this game: at first glance, it seemed low, oring and unfairly hard. Later, I gave the game a second chance and it seemed like there might have been a fun game hiding under the rough exterior. Finally, I realised that the game was centred entirely around grinding, for both items and experience.
Zombie Hunter isn't anything to do with the Oneechanbara series (a few entries of which were released in Europe under the "Zombie Hunters" title), it's a side-scrolling action RPG with a generic fantasy setting. In each stage (there are apparently six stages, though I never got past the first boss), the player moves from left to right, fighting a group of enemies every screen or so. On the controller, you have a button for jumping and a button of attacking, while to equip and use items and check up on your stats, presing Ctrl on the keyboard opens the menu. Out of combat, everything is very slow and jerky, I assume this is down to the MSX having trouble doing the scrolling, as the scrolling stops for battles, and they run a lot smoother. Although you fight the same monsters in the same locations each time, you can walk back and forth to repeat battles (which you will need to do. A lot.)  At the end of each stage, there's a boss hiding behind a big door, that must be unlocked with a key.
Like I said before, Zombie Hunter gives the player a lot of grinding to do. Only about halfway through the first stage, there's an encounter with a group of flying squid-like creatures that are nigh-impossible to defeat without rginding another level on top of the one you hould have gained along the way. All items in the game
are acquired through random drops from enemie, including equipment, healing item and the aforementioned boss key. The item grind wouldn't be o bad were it not for the fact that the enemies will drop gold rather than items a lot of the time, and, in the first stage at least, there are no shops. So to make any kind of progress, the player has to walk up and down the stage fighting the exact same battles over and over in the hopes that they'll get strong enough to be able to progress a little further. And the enemies give less experience every time you level up, too.
Don't bother playing this game. Like I said earlier, it's a slow, repetitive slog.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Bulk Slash (Saturn)

This is actually something of a filler post, having put myself in the unusual position of needing to put a gap between Champion Kendo and Maze Heroes and the RPG and sports game I plan on writing about in the near future. The game itself isn't filler material, though! It's excellent!
It's a 3D shooting game in which the player pilots a giant robot that can transform into a futuristic fighter jet.
The stages are set in the kinds of places that 90s robot anime were set: a city on the bay under a bright blue sky, a blasted desert battlefield, a fleet of big, battling spaceships and so on. While the graphics are generally amazing (definitely disproving the "recieved wisdom" that the Saturn couldn't do good-looking 3D, as if the Panzer Dragoon series, Burning Rangers and various others didn't already do that.), the second stage is especially beautiful, taking place in an amazing cyberpunk city at sunset, during the rain. And then it ends with a boss fight against an amazing looking giant mecha dragonfly with holographic wings!  Easily one of the coolest sights of any 32-bit era game!
The great presentation carries on into the music. The title screen greets you with a short but incredible little
power metal riff, and the in-game music perfectly fits the 90s anime style of the game. There's also a cool animated intro to be seen if you don't press anything at the title screen for a minute or so.
Each of the stages takes place in a pretty big area, which you're free to navigate at will, carrying out your objective, which is different for each stage, including blowing up certain machines, finding ID cards, carrying bombs to the destination in your fighter mode and a dreaded escort mission (which really isn't that hard once you've got a hang of controlling your ship/robot).
The controls are simple, but as effective as they need to be. The d-pad moves, the shoulder buttons turn, A transforms, C either makes your robot jump or changes the speed of your ship, X, Y and Z all point you in the direction of your enemy during boss fights, and B is the attack button.
Using only the B button, the designers hae managed to give the player a wide range of attacks: not pressing it for a few seconds charges your heavy weapon, in robot mode a medium range grenade that causes a big explosion and in fighter mode, an array of homing missiles that seek their prey in a satisfying Itano Circus-esque manner. As for normal attacks, theship mode is simple: press B to shoot your machine guns. In
robot mode, there's a wider variety of options: tapping B when at close range to an enemy slashes with a sword, while holding B shoots your main gun (a machine gun by default, but in robot mode, three temporary power-ups are available: a flamethrower, a raiden-esque toothpaste laser and a short-range three-way gun), though whether you're moving or stationary when you hold the button gives you the Treasure-esque choice between fixed shooting (when stationary) or free shooting (while moving).
I could keep going on and on about how great this game is and other cool things in it like finding co-pilots and so on, but rather than spoiling everything, I'll just tell you to go and play it!