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november 27, 2013

Hector '87 on famicom


I decided to take another look at this game.
In general I don't like vertically scrolling shooters such as Xevious . Some games just have loads of enemies coming at you with no big variation. I enjoy Twinbee (as I have mentioned about 5 times) because there is a strategy element with the bell system and because the music is nice. I also liked Zanac AI (mentioned in previous blog post) because it was rather intense, had a lot of cool upgrades, and it felt like a genuinely well made game.

Hector isn't as original as these two, but I agree with the article on hardcoregaming (http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/starsoldier/starsoldier.htm) that it is nice with a shooter over land, as compared to others Hudson games such as Star Soldier and Star Force.

After the recent retro-party I wanted to redeem myself just a little and see if it was possible to get a decent score. After searching for a while I found http://instagram.com/hscrhrs and their high score table, which I question because I don't think the SFC game is exactly the same as the famicom/NES game. I don't see how it could be possible to get that high score in this NES/famicom game unless there is a glitch somewhere. But okay, I don't know and I'm not much of a gamer after all.

Anyways, I thought I should aim to get 300 000 points in 2 min to feel satisfied.
After one hour of button mashing my arm was hurting and I decided to connect my Twin Famicom Turbo with auto-fire. Technically this is cheating but I play for my own enjoyment.
It was more enjoyable with auto-fire and much easier, too. I was never good at button mashing.

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The video shows my two last attempts.
Today I went back to play a couple of times without the auto-fire. The best try is added as last in the clip in the video. Not exactly a great high score but it will have to do for this video. If I wanted to improve the score I could focus on killing the enemies that I avoid. For example, in the third clip I had figured out how to kill the two jellyfish looking enemies that arrive at 04:30.

I felt some satisfaction because I don't play 8-bit games often. I felt 8-bit nostalgia. Interesting, because I didn't even play that much NES as a kid. But I could imagine how the kids in those days sat in front of their TV and NES with a difficult game like this. It was frustrating, but also rewarding and fun. The graphics and 8-bit music work well together to creates an experience.

Recently I asked a friend who plays modern games what he thinks of modern games compared to old games. He said the modern games don't have that frustrating challenge that the old games had.

I remember some games on the Game Boy that I could never ever complete. In fact, with more than half of my games I still don't know if they were beatable -- such as Qix, Aero Star and Boulder Dash that I have blogged about before. When I received and beat Kung Fu Master I was surprised that I had come to the end of a game. "Are games beatable? Or am I just so bad that I can't do it with the others?" I thought. That's why I rarely put in real effort to beat a game -- I didn't know if they were beatable.

Maybe modern games really are better, but there are so many of them that I don't feel anything special in regards to them. Now that I have given Hector '87 a try, I feel happier. I don't even know what the second level of Hector looks like, but the first one wasn't so bad. It was like watching some classic movie.

Bonus video! See the music and sound effects in this video I made earlier.
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I wonder if Hudson re-used the sound effects and music on purpose or if they were just lazy.
Bomber King sure is frustrating too. A year ago I sat in a nightly session to beat it and was fully focused, but the game just goes on and on like this for hours and I had to quit at stage 8-1, at 5 AM.

november 24, 2013

Ganbare Goemon on famicom


The Ganbare Goemon series (aka "Mystical Ninja") has a few supporters in the west, but not many. The series was never hugely popular and most games were only released in Japan. The first game in the series was on the famicom ("NES") in Japan. It sold in 1.2 million copies and was around the 20th most sold famicom game in my calculations and sources...

For comparisment, Gradius sold 1 million, Excitebike 1.4, and Super Mario Bros 3 sold 3,9. I don't think the source (http://www.samurainintendo.com/japan/historyranking.html) is 100% trustworthy because there is no way Jackie Chan sold that much, but okay, Ganbare Goemon still sold a lot. I have had the game many times.

Personally I enjoy simpler games so I appreciate the famicom Goemon. I also enjoyed playing through one of the Game Boy exclusive versions. This one that was only released in Japan, until a later Konami GB collection.

There were also 4 games on the Super Famicom. Ganbare Goemon 1,2,3 and a fourth I can't remember the name of.
The games can be confusing until you know how to play. The purpose in each level is, I think, to take three "house" items and then you can progress to the next level. You can either find the house item laying around, or you can buy them in a shop for money. You can easily collect money by jumping over stuff, so it is a matter of how you spend your time.

I enjoy the freedom of the games in how you can walk around freely to discover things. The levels have hidden undergrounds and secrets that can be discovered and it is nice to see a game that feels big on such as small system. It could be mentioned that Goemon was the first famicom game that was 256kB big, when it was released in July 1986.

A game like Super Mario Bros was only 40 kb, while The Legend of Zelda was the largest famicom game at 128 kb just six months earlier on the disk system.

I made a video of the first game. Not great quality but okay. I had found all houses by 04:45 but couldn't find the exit until 09:10, maybe you want to skip those minutes.
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When you die you are game over, but the game is fair in that you can easily get more gold and buy health when you run low. It just takes some time. 

A month later I tried out Goemon 2 also on famicom. This game is more uncommon than the first game.
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Here you can see me just collecting money for a minute... I don't mind, I think non-linear games are more interesting.
The games have the typical nice looking Konami graphics and music, and gameplay is  excellent. There is quite a lot of Japanese text but you may be surprised to know that you can still play it with no problem. I don't even know what all items do, so I bought them all. There are probably guides for what the items do.

If you like more advanced gameplay and nicer graphics, the Super Famicom had several interesting goemon games. Those games also have a platforming mode in combination with the top-down perspective. I am not that big of a SFC player so I haven't played them much, but I know there are several goemon fans in the world.

Later, the N64 had two games, I think. They are in 3D. I have not tried them either. N64 is probably my least favorite console. In addition to these action games, there were several spin off games in various genres and on different consoles. More info at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ganbare_Goemon

If you don't have a famicom console and want to try the original goemon game you could also get the Famicom Mini re-release for GBA. GBA is region free.
I sold this a while ago for 149 SEK (25$ ?). Famicom mini games are very pretty.
 

november 22, 2013

Moto Roader (Pc Engine)



This is a racing game for the Pc Engine where you can play up to 5 players. I think that as a top down racing game it lasts longer than the racing games you drive into the screen. It is probably a lot of fun with a multitap and a couple of friends.
Some people complain that the steering is too difficult but as you can see I quickly got used to it. Secondly, you can easily change your steering in the shop, where you select one of two different types.

This game was so much fun that I spent a couple of hours until I beat it. I had some luck, but I think that's part of the game.

When you reach the end of the screen the car respawns and you lose one on the timer. Go below zero and you are game over. 

The interesting thing is that is a lot of the game is a strategy element in how you spend your money to upgrade your car. If you start by buying a better engine, that money will have been wasted once you buy a better engine. But if you don't buy upgrades you won't win races and get more money. And you can't sell your items for money back, so chose wisely.

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At 00:18 you can see that to change steering, chose between Handle A or Handle B.
Another useful item in the shop is the Gas Tank. It will allow you to fill up the counter once during a game and it can save you from a game over.

I am the white car. In the first race I saved almost all my money but still finished second. Thanks to that, I could be the best possible engine for the second race.


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I cut out some races in between so you'll see the last heats here only. I hadn't played most of the courses before so that's why my actual driving is bad. But I won!

Different upgrades do different things. The Turbo will increase your speed but you will accelerate slower. With higher speeds you will need better brakes and tires.

You can get the game in our webshop right here: http://japanspelshop.se/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=955

november 20, 2013

The Simpsons: Bart's Nightmare (Super Famicom)

 The Simpsons: Bart's Nightmare (US) Bart no Fushigi na Yume no Daibouken (JP)

My colleague fredJ uploaded these videos recently, where he tried to complete the game. Youtube has limited our videos to 15 minutes, as mentioned in the blogpost of Magic Knight Rayearth on Saturn, so the video is cut in smaller pieces. Also, the game has a lot of uninteresting passages that were cut away so that you won't get bored. It took around 1:30 h to play the game from start to finish, and of these 30 minutes was cut away, for a total of around 1h video time.

Played on original super famicom hardware.



My colleague says:
When I was a kid I wished for this game, and since it was relatively cheap I got it for birthday or something. A friend told me what a loser game I got, but I thought it was alright, even if it was very hard. It was frustrating but slowly I learnt some tricks on how to beat the courses. I manage to beat it a couple of times. It wasn't many but I did it completely on my own and am proud of that.
The Japanese version is probably quite rare because we haven't had it before. Since this is the Japanese version it is in full NTSC and 60 Hz, unlike PAL 50Hz. Also, it really is easier to play a game in RGB rather than the crappy antenna cable most people had back in those days.

The game has some fun mini-games and a varied main street. While frustrating, it doesn't get boring and I liked the concept of being able to walk around freely. You can also always recover in the sense that if you fail you can play the same level again and again. But you probably *will* have to play some mini-games many times to learn the tricks to beat them, and until you have figured them out, you will probably hate it. Everything in these videos are played from memory actually. There's probably better ways to do certain things but maybe you'll pick up some other tricks you didn't know even if you have played the game before.



Here you'll see some tricks that you probably have to know to play the game. These things are in the manual so they are not spoilers.
  • When the Z meter is empty, you are game over with no continues.
  • Quickest way to fill up the Z bar is by riding the skateboard a long time. You can also use bubblegum and get Z's up there.
  • Jump over three fishes for three pillows. The will give you an entire extra life bar! This is probably important if you want to complete the game.
  • You have to jump on the papers. I don't actually know any way to find them for sure. Just walk around, try to get points and avoid getting hurt.
  • Shooting on the TV *may* make a paper appear, and following the question mark when it appears.

Also should comment on "bartzilla" that starts at 10:30 in the video above. Some people don't understand the controls. They are simple: Press A to shoot at the train, Down to shoot down, Forward to shoot forward, Up to shoot at the other side of the rails, X to shoot the jet plains, B to shoot at tanks. And don't shoot a laser shot until the previous laser shot has hit its target. Also, don't shoot the car at the end.



My colleague played some more courses but also failed on some. For brevity, he cut away most parts of the courses he failed, for example the House Climb several times even though he always beat it easy in his PAL version. Either he was unlucky here, or the NTSC version is harder.

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The last course, which is the second Indiana Jones course. He also played it in video 1, but failed. He also learned that the green demon doesn't actually kill you unless you hit at him. He died twice and was pretty nervous, he says:
"I knew I could beat it if I didn't make mistakes. This is probably the most difficult of the courses in the game. I had to paus to think, unpaus, etc alot and I didn't keep the recorder on for that that, so you'll only see the end of that course."
Yay, he completed a game. =)

The Japanese version is probably exactly the same as the American version because all the text is in English.

Not a great game, but actually not a bad Simpsons game and it has several original themes. Most people on forums have as a complaint that the game is too difficult, especially the second Indiana Jones level.  But it is definitely beatable if you know some tricks, as the video shows.

november 19, 2013

Currently playing: Mario's Super Picross on SFC

Mario no Super Picross (JP)
Last week I have spent more time than I should playing Mario's Super Picross.
I don't actually play many video games, even though I sell them. Mostly I prefer to relax after work. But this is a relaxing and de-stressing game.

Who ever had the game before me must also have thought so, because in the savegame he solved all 300 puzzles. That probably takes at least 100h in my estimation. The early puzzles are simple but later puzzles take almost all the 30 minutes and may require several tries. Last copy I tested had something like 280 solved puzzles... Yes, addictive game, and maybe not that well known.

I'll borrow someone elses video because I already uploaded a game boy picross video.
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So it is pretty simple to figure out. a 0 means there are 0 black blocks on that row or column. If it says for example "2 2" it means that are two black blocks next to eachother, then unknown emply blocks, then another two black blocks next to eachother.

There are some tricks to figure out where the black blocks are. For example, if a row has max 15 blocks and there are 9 connected blocks on that row, you know there will always be a couple of blocks in the middle.

The difference with this SFC game from the GB games is the Wario mode. In Wario mode you don't get penalized for placing in the wrong square and the timer goes up instead of down. That means you can't lose a level, but the levels also seem more difficult to solve.
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I wish the music of the games were better. It isn't bad but I think it could be nicer to listen to, and more variation would be good too. But I still play it.

I read the game was the first Japan exclusive game to be released on the European Virtual Console. I play it on super famicom hardware, obviously.

november 17, 2013

A retro meeting yesterday


Yesterday I visited my friend and a very good costumer "stopXwhispering" who writes ambitiously at http://retro-video-gaming.com/. A much more popular blog than mine so your likely to know about it I suppose.
Meeting people isn't something I generally do much of but I couldn't miss this chance to see so many of my old games again. I was also always curious in the 2-player aspect of retro games which would be an excellent opportunity. I think around 25 people showed up in stopXwhispering's fine retro room with many consoles and TVs hooked up.

stopXwhispering is a very good collector because she collects to play games, and it is nice to see people enjoying our games. It is much harder to please the museum collectors who seem to collect items as dust collectors and prefer their manuals to be unread, etc. Not that I care why people buy games, of course, but I do care about making customers satisfied.

She had though out a competition of some games and the best total score would get a price. I think that on purpose they picked games that are not common PAL games people might have played before.

I didn't do to well myself. I ended up in the middle of the field. It was only thanks to a somewhat strong performace in the game Tetris (BPS), which I actually have played a little before.
Tetris (BPS)In Tetris (BPS), you turn the block by pressing Down which takes a couple of minutes to get used to. Somehow I must have learnt the skill from all of my testing of the game. It may still be unfair for those who don't know that to get a high score in Tetris you have to get many four-rows or three-rows. I didn't know myself until recently actually. But I am not much of a gamer.

Hector '87 (JP)
We also played Hector '87, also known as Starship Hector. The key to get a high score was probably be to watch others play to learn where the enemies are. A decent shoot'em up game, from the "middle" generation of 8-bit shooters in my opinion. I consider first generation shooters to be Xevious, Twinbee and Argus. With the middle shooters you have more enemies on the screen, better music, and just more intensity.

We also played Musha on the Mega Drive and Ninja Spirit on Pc Engine. It seemed that some people were a lot more experienced than others in playing these games, or maybe they were just better gamers. Anyways, I didn't last long. Ninja Spirit is an expensive and sought after game, I could have played it when I had it, but I never really saw the appeal... I can't think of any "run and kill" game that I have played for more than 5 minutes.

Then, a music quiz that didn't go to well for me either. I think one reason is because I wanted to do it alone and another reason that I never really got into NES as a kid. I don't know the hair color of Metroid or the names of bosses in Mega Man. Anyways, the quiz was well drafted, I think. God, in general I find quizes annoying, but a quiz while drinking beer at least makes for one fun. 

There was also a Halo moment I refused to take part in so I got disqualified.

In the semi final, the best people played Vs. Collection. I remember I had this fun and uncommon for sale at 25$ for at least six months (in great condition) before stopXwhispering bought it. I think many people don't have good taste in games since they passed out on this fun game.
Vs. CollectionIt was fun for me to see it in action with 4 players.
They also played Super Bomberman. The bomberman games are always fun with 2-4 players (or more in some version!). But I think some of the later bomberman titles got confusing, and that the simpler bomberman the better it is.
I set up Bomberman '93 for pc engine to try out multiplayer and it proved popular. Games for 2 or more players are probably good to have for gamer meetings. It would also increase interaction between people that don't know each other. I read that was one major reason why Pong was so popular in bars in the early 70's.
I did find a person to play Salamander (Life Force) co-op with, but that game is too aggrevating for most first time players. I did make it to the first stage boss for the first time so I will call it a success. My co-op player was game over much earlier though.

In the final match, the two best players played Fatman on mega drive. I once tried to sell this game very cheap but no one ever wanted it. I auctioned it away in a lot last week. It is in the middle.


These 9 games sold for 161 SEK.

Fatman is obviously a crappy game but it was fun to watch and fun for the finalists to play, a "camp" game if there is one.
I sometimes compare the artistical side of games to movies. Some people like movies and are called movie buffs. These movie buffs like to think that they are watching some artistical creation that tells us some deep secret about life, when in reality they are watching some pretentious run of the mill production that lives in its own reality and tells us lies that are disconnected from reality (such as "follow your dreams", "the bad guy always get shot and dies" or "one day a prince will come and take you to live happily ever after").
Video games are no worse or better, from an artistical point of view. A game like fatman is like watching a camp movie, I think. I just happen to like video games better than movies.

I almost forgot to say it was a very nice evening, and thank you very much to hostess Stopxwhispering.

november 15, 2013

Magic Knight Rayearth (saturn) and Youtube, and other saturn intros

I uploaded the intro of Magic Knight Rayearth a while ago.
After that, I got a "contentid" warning on youtube, and my account is now restricted to max 15 min long videos... This restriction will last for 6 months, if I don't get more contendId warnings.

I read alot about the contentId thing they have on youtube. If your clip is restricted by its copyright owner worldwide, you will get this warning.

It isn't the same as a copyright strike though. A copyright strike is more serious -- if you get three stikes your account will be permanently deleted. That would be pretty devastating for me...

I have uploaded around 200 videos now. Many of them have third party matches, such as the song from Super Mario Bros that is copyright by nintendo. Bomberman songs is also copyright, but not be Hudson but by a company they work together with: iosyshaitenai. This is confusing. All it says is: the music is owned by iosyshaitenai.

This video has copyright material from a greek geological / weather company. I have no idea what. I thought it could be the logo in the intro, or maybe that the game developers used 3d graphics material.


My videos of Super Mario Bros 2 also have copyright song from "Taigherwuds-Bravo Mario! (Original Mix)" by InGrooves. Another Super Mario Bros 2 video has copyright music from "Organ Donors-Super Mario", by [Merlin] Essential Music.
Basically this means that they get money from the ads that are shown by the video. They can also chose to block access to my video, if they want. (by the way, I don't get or have signed up to make money from the ads by my videos)

If you get a contentId warning you can dispute it. It took me a while to understand what this is and what it does. Youtube has several warnings about doing it wrong, that it might get your account banned and such. You can't actually dispute that material is owned by the copyright holders, so I can't dispute that I use material from "Organ Donors-Super Mario", by InGrooves, whoever that is. I think it is a copyright troll.

You can claim fair use though. What happens is that they send your message to the copyright owner, who then decides if they want to allow me to use their copyright material. Youtube has all kinds of warnings about this. Fair use you only be claimed if your material is non-commercial, does not infringe on the original material, creates something new from the original or is used for critical commentary....

Well it isn't the easiest thing to try and figure out if my Magic Knight Rayearth video is fair use. After reading around, it seems that it might not be, but that you probably won't get penalized for asking a few times. So I sent in a fair use request on my intro of Magic Knight Rayearth, and until TMSanime has decided, the clip will be available for viewing. So take your chance to watch this beautiful intro.
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I really started to like Saturn intros. I like them more than the intros on any other console, for some reason, including on later consoles.

Here is the intro for Langrisser III
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I have NO IDEA on how to play the game so I just shot the intro. LOL.

Here is Cyber Doll. I actually played that game, and I liked it. Check out part 2 and 3 for gameplay.
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Very imaginative story, maybe they used drugs.

I have made a couple more Saturn intro videos that are on Youtube.

november 13, 2013

2 player game recommendations

Article by Kristin

We play a lot of games. A lot of them are good, some are not so good, some are downright bad, but there are a few games that we like for a special reason: the co-op feature!

It might not sound like something very special but back in the days of 8 bit, it was not very common. Many games have a 2 player option but that doesn't necessarily mean that you can play simultaneously. Most of the time, like in games like Super Mario Bros or Gradius, you just take turns in playing, and player 2 has to wait for player 1 to lose a life.

So here are some good 8-bit 2-player co-op games that we highly recommend.


Battle City (Famicom)

Not many people might know about this action game but it's really worth a try. You play as two tanks and the mission is to defend the eagle at the bottom while taking out all of the enemies.
We don't have it for sale right now, but if you are interested you can make a request in our webshop and we might contact you the next time it's in stock.

Here is a video from our YouTube channel, you can skip to 00:20 to see our gameplay:



Salamander (Famicom)

This game is called Life Force outside of Japan and has been a well-known favorite for many of us who grew up with the NES. Our most recent cart only auction of Salamander ended at 106 SEK. There is sequel to this game called Salamander II for Sega Saturn, Playstation and Arcade, which was unfortunately never released outside of Japan.

Salamander is a spin-off to the Gradius series and combines horizontal with vertical shooting action. It is similar to Gradius in many ways but has more smooth controls and you won't have to start from the beginning each time you lose a life! And yes, the Konami code works here as well, on the start screen. You might need it before you learn to master this game!

We don't have our own video of this game online yet on our channel,
but here is a clip from someone else playing the western version in co-op mode:




Twin Bee (Famicom)

This Japan-exclusive shooter title is really popular in Sweden and it sells very well from us at Tradera. There are many sequels as well, for example on Sega Saturn and Super Famicom.

We currently have the Famicom version for sale, you can order the game from our webshop. Here is a video from our youtube channel, but in this video we play as 1 player for the FDS version.



Bomberman GB (Game Boy)

If you put your Bomberman GB in your Super Game Boy you can play 2-player with the second SNES controller. This Game Boy game can be played up to four player with a SNES super multitap.

We recently sold this item on Tradera, here is a link: www.tradera.com/item/300201/192308627/bomberman-gb-till-game-boy.
And here is a video from our youtube channel, recorded from an original Super Gameboy:



Puyo Puyo (Game Boy)

This is a classic puzzle game which has been released on multiple console systems over the years. Unfortunately it has not been very popular outside of Japan, and we think it deserves more attention. We currently have this game for sale on Tradera: http://www.tradera.com/item/300201/192308643/puyo-puyo-till-game-boy.

Here is a video from our youtube channel, recorded from an original Super Gameboy:


november 11, 2013

O-chan no Oekaki Logic, Sega Saturn

Article by Kristin

This game works exactly like Mario Picross, the only difference is that our well-known plumber is exchanged for Sunsofts characters from the Hebereke series. It's a puzzle game where you try to figure out a pattern based on numbers on the side of the board. If you are unfamiliar to the Mario Picross series, you can read about it in our previous blog entry from last year: http://japanspel.blogspot.se/2012/09/mario-picross.html. Also, now that we have a video recorder, here is a video that Fredrik made recently of the Game Boy version of Mario Picross:



O-chan, the cute cat-girl (who is changed into the Lizard boy Freeon-Leon in the NES game Ufouria), is the main character of O-chan no Oekaki Logic, in comparison to all other Hebereke games where Hebe (or Bop-Louie in Ufouria) acts as the main character. The games has been released on many platforms: Sega Saturn, Sony Playstation, Super Famicom and Wonderswan. The Playstation even got two sequels, logically called O-Chan no Oekaki Logic 2 and O-Chan no Oekaki Logic 3.

I don't know much about the differences between all these versions of the game because there isn't much information about them on the internet. But we were able to try the Saturn version and uploaded a video about it on our YouTube channel:

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We recently sold the Sega Saturn version on Tradera, the auction ended at 52 SEK which is about 5 euros. You might still be able to see the auction here. None of these games are very common but they are also not very expensive, so they could be worth checking out if you like challenging puzzle games and have grown tired of Sudoku. We hope to get more copies of this game in the future. Next time, maybe even for another console.