december 28, 2014

Hana no Star Kaidou - a reappreciation

My colleague Fredrik wrote about this game earlier after playing without a guide. After reading other people's reviews, it was easy to agree that it's a bad game. But we found out that many gamers (especially from the US) don't have enough patience with games like these so he brought it to our friends at Videospelsklubben (VSK) to see if they could enjoy it.



Lennie (the guy in green) actually did enjoy it, but Fredrik is still sceptical. Gazi (to the right) agreed with Fredrik about lousy graphics, but at least he thought the game was original.

The game is about a famous japanese pop star duo and you control both of them at once. There is no GameFAQ for this game but we found another page with useful information. The game is definitley more fun and playable once you figure out how to play.

* Instead of going right towards the wall on the first stage, you can go up the stairs to the left, [7:30] making it possible to proceed to the next level (pressing up+right+left+fire button).

* You can walk up to an enemy after you stun them and press up. [8:37] Lennie tried this, and it worked! It gives you items that increase your hearts (time) and a cassette tape needed to enter the studio [10:33].

So the game isn't as impossible as Fredrik thought. You just have to know about these two things. But we all still agree that it's a really weird game. You can buy it from us here when it is in stock.

oktober 09, 2014

Retro Gathering 2014

written by Kristin.

Sweden's 2nd to largest Retro Gaming convention @ Västerås, Saturday October 4th.
I've been working for Japanspel for almost two years now so me and Martin got free entry and the chance to sell some stuff. There were so many people that we didn't have time to take many photos.
For a few, short moments, one of us had the chance to take a stroll to look for things to buy for ourselves. By taking turns, we managed to get our hands on 4 things in 9 hours... we would've liked to find more stuff but I think as a seller it's pretty much impossible to get the same chances as a regular customer. We'll see what the situation is like next year.

Last year we made an article about Retro Gathering 2013, you can see it here.

september 28, 2014

Video gameplays lately (Saturn, FDS)


I haven't been slacking off playing lately but I have been visiting some friends who have a youtube channel with videos they upload where they play games.

It is in Swedish language. I am the guy to the left with the cap!

Here is Twinbee on Saturn. I have previously written about what a fun two-player game it is, finally I have a video:
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Here is Guardian Heroes. I hadn't played this before, but I quickly found out what a great gameplay it has, especially in multiplayer.

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Here we played two games on FDS:
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Well, there is a couple of more videos we've made and more will be uploaded. If you are interested, check out their youtube channel and subscribe.

Next time I visit them I plan to bring a couple of famicom games.

september 04, 2014

Hudson Famicom Stick HJ-7 repair


I recently got one of these for the first time.
Hudson Famicom Stick, HJ-7

It has small rubber pads for the joystick, and these had gotten stiff and it was hard to move.

I read some some recipes on how to fix them, such as boiling them for a couple of hours and then putting them in glycerol, or boiling them in an ammonia solution. Anyways, I put them in boiling water to soften them up. I don't know if it is such a good idea to do with conductive pads, but I didn't have much choice.

While it was boiling, I thought that if I could replace the pads with identical, I wouldn't have to worry about the pads being worn out or not being conductive. They look pretty identical to the pads in a MD1 controller. So tried to replace.

After a little of testing of one of my favorite games Bomber King, it seemed to work perfectly. The MD1 has nice and soft pads that move with little restistance. However! When moving the stick left and releasing, it would bounce to the right and move slightly right... The MD1 controllers are too soft! This was annoying, at least to me. So I was thinking, would this be acceptable to a customer? After some more testing I found it to be too annoying.

So I searched for other pads that would be better.

At the bottom here you can see the MD1 pad (left) and the original pad (right).
My first replacement attempt after MD1 was to cut out pads from a Super Famicom (SNES) controller. They worked alright, but I think they are slightly too short and soft, and gave a little of the same problem as the MD1 pads. Also, they didn't always make contact. I think that because these original rubbers are second hand, one can't trust them.

A video game seller needs to have many skills, such as cutting.

I looked at some other rubber pads.

The Saturn and MD2 pads are completely different and wouldn't fit. I also stabbed myself trying to open an MD2 controller when my screwdriver broke right through the plastic. Evil SEGA design.


Alright, but the SNES pads were still decent so I tried these third party replacement pads. They are stiffer than the original and new, so there would not be a concern about them making uneven contact (when some side might work worse than some other side).
The pads for the A and B button to the left are original and work as they should.

And now the stick seems to work great again. I won't bother boiling the original pads as these pads work great.

The best thing with sticks like these is that they make it much easier to move diagonally. They are also removable unlike original famicom controllers, and you can use an extension cord to make them longer.

Famicom sticks are hard to come by and I don't really know of anyone who owns one. On eBay these sticks are for sale at around 45$ with shipping. Due to my restoration work I'll list mine for 60$ (incl 25% VAT) plus shipping.

I don't know if this will be necessary to do with all of these sticks with time, but I suspect that the type of rubber they used is more likely to have this problem. Maybe it won't happen if it has been stored differently, or used regularly.

Jyutei Senki, Super Famicom


During the weekend I suddenly suffered a tooth inflammation that made it hard to eat, drink, swallow and gave me a lot of pain. Unable to do anyting, I sat down with a strategy game I had, Jyutei Senki.


It has a beautiful box, but I only have the cart at the moment.

I enjoy strategy games. Back when I was a teenager I spent many hours on the PC with games such as Command & Conquer: Red Alert and Heroes of Might and Magic IV. There is an appeal to me in being able to build something good that outsmarts the opponent, without ever feeling like I have to do work myself. The action does itself, and I am the military leader who builds smart strategies. A nice feeling when you plan a battle so that you know in the end your own guys will be able to just barely beat out the enemy and win the scenario.

Also, the computer can never cheat in strategy games. You can see what he has and you both have the same resources at your disposal. He has to follow the same rules as you. And, you can save and load at any time. So you can't blame your loss on a mistake or bad luck. 

Game Description

Jyutei Senki was only released in Japan. It was developed by Tam-Tam and produced by Enix and I would call it a light weight strategy game. I was happily surprised that it required no Japanese knowledge at all. Most Japanese strategy games I've tested so far seem to want to add complexity such as byuing and selling, reparing, and an abundance of options.

I'll show you someone elses video, because it goes faster than my gameplay. Here is a gameplay I enjoyed with someone playing the fan-translated version , and you see the intro and such. Normally I don't like to link to other's videos because I found that people often remove them!

_

Jyutei Senki is simplistic. Take turn to move your units, and if they are close to an enemy unit, they can attack, and the enemy can retiliate. Each unit has a strength and attack range, and all that other stuff we expect from strategy games.

One little extra in this game are the repair spots. Put a unit on it, and the next move it will be fully healed. This is a tremendous advantage if used smart. You can restore your strongest unit from almost dead to completely restored in just one move. You can even place a unit on the repair spot and wait for enemies to attack (and give them retaliate damage), only to have yourself healed the next round.

Another thing that one might not be used to is that from each scenario, your units will get taken to the next scenario. But the ones that died won't come back. With each kill, a unit gets upgraded up to a max of 10 when it becomes "ace" and will get an extra power upgrade. You don't want them dead at that stage! So save often to avoid it... And try to keep your units alive.

The computer isn't particularly smart and often attacks you on repair spots. It also fondly attacks your most useless units first instead of finishing off your strongest units, puts its weakest units in front of its stronger units so they can't pass, and so on. Computer stupidity is one of your main advantages.

My story

Well, as it so happens, I started from a save game on level 7 without knowing. It took me a little while to understand how to play, and unfortunately I didn't understand this "don't die" thing too well at first. Your leader, a big bird called Ark, is stupidly weak until he gets 10 kills, but then he becomes the best unit of the game! So upgrade him quickly, and don't have him killed. He will, unlike other units, return in each new scenario, but at any level below 10 he is a useless crap that just dies as soon as battle starts. If he dies he will restart at level 0 again.

I played through the first couple of stages at about 40-60 minutes each. How many are there?? After each scenario it just says "to be continued". At around stage 12 it started getting more difficult, and I realized I should have upgraded other units earlier.

The gamefaqs FAQ (http://www.gamefaqs.com/snes/570965-jyutei-senki/faqs/39388) goes up to 17 scenaries, but the FAQ is incomplete. The game has 20 scenarios! The last 5 scenarios took me around 2,5 - 3 hours each, except the very last that took less than an hour.

The reason why the later scenarios took much long were:
  • The computer moves take so long. He moves each unit one at the time, and when he has many it will take around two minutes per move. ("beer time")
  • I had to restart a couple of times because I realized my strategy was bad. For example, I had to keep my flying birds alive, and kill off his flying birds quicker.
  • Many Save and Load. Make a bad move and see your strong unit get killed off three moves later, you might have to reload from an earlier point. If it still can't be avoided that this or some other important unit dies, you might have to reload from an even earlier point. You can use a max of three save game slots, so use them wisely.
  • I hadn't upgraded properly and was almost much worse than the opponent and had to find tricks to beat him, at the same time keeping my best troops alive.
Well, like a mad military commander I kept playing a couple of hours each night. Finally, Wednesday night, I beat the final scenario and the game. The ending was satisfactory. After the scenario mode there are expert scenarios you can play, if you want even more challenge.

I don't think this game has anything that can't be found in some app game but I am happy to have beaten this classic 1993 game, in case I ever make a list of games beaten. Starting from level 7 without knowing, it took a total of 25-30 hours, I think. It could have gone in at least half the time if I had known how to play from the beginning.

Here are some other reviews:
  • http://www.videogameden.com/sfc.htm?jse (Jyutei Senki is a fun and unusual War Game. Its overall design is extremely well worked out and unique. Graphics are correct and perfectly fit the game's theme, especially the large animated scenes displayed during battles. However, the difficulty level is quite high. Most of the time any defeated units is lost, and this makes the outcome of any battle greatly influence the rest of the game, especially in later stages. All in all, an excellent game I would recommend to any fan of the genre brave enough to stick out its tough difficulty level. )
  • http://www.gamefaqs.com/snes/570965-jyutei-senki/reviews/review-56263 (This game is not for the faint of heart. It's very good, but the high difficulty level really turns a lot of people off of this game. Maybe if someone makes a PAR faq, it'll become more popular. But if you want a real thinking strategy, then you have found it.)

augusti 27, 2014

Mega CD (Sega CD), repair, impressions and gameplay


I got a Mega CD recently.

It didn't work so I took it apart and replaced some components on the power board that looked like they corroded the board. After that it powered up, but there was problems with the tray. It didn't move in and move out smoothly and the CD didn't read.

So I took a look at http://www.sega-16.com/forum/showthread.php?22027-Sega-CD-systems-repair-thread
Sega CD systems repair thread. It listed a whole bunch of things that could be wrong. But it didn't say what was most common. This is typical of people with less experience who start to replace every possible component.

Suppose your car doesn't start. If you ask some random guy on a forum he might give you 25 reasons that could be wrong, in all kindness. But even I who don't have a car knows that first you should check the battery, then maybe oil, etc, before you start replacing every single component.

People also give long threads about how to move the wheels around and so on. But i know from my experience of calibrating FDS that in 90% of cases, the calibration depends on 2-3 things, and that people who don't know will give you around 20 things they suggest you  should do when in reality the problem is usually careful adjustment of those 2-3 things.

Luckily, I found a thread at digitpress and at the bottom a guy with some experience said he always suggested replacing the drive belt.http://forum.digitpress.com/forum/showthread.php?159943-Sega-CD-Model-1-Repair&p=1914116&viewfull=1#post1914116 . Thank you "oldskool". I went back to the sega-16 thread and saw some suggestions for replacement belts (with some suspicious suggestions in between), of which I chose to buy a "DVD Drive Tray Motor Rubber Belt for XBox 360 Slim" from eBay for 2.5$ and it arrived in about a week.

Worked perfectly, and the the tray moves smooth and with a strong movement. So that was excellent, and it reads perfectly too.

The one little problem is a studdering in the sound, a dudududu sound that is noticeable in some games such as Night Trap. It might actually be that the console makes this sound by default because it seems to be an early model without grounding. I tried replacing a bunch of capacitors ("caps"), and I tried to ground some things in very rudimentary way with wires, but NO CHANGE what so ever... I decided against spending 20 hours more on this, if it might even be the default behavior. Anyways, it is fully playable and I thought it was good enough to sell.

Now, I am going to make the opposite of the AVGN... Here is his "review". He took some games, said they sucked (although he briefly said Sonic CD is the best Sonic game, and Sol-Feace and Terminator were good game) , and then scream that "the Sega CD FUCKING SUCKS!"

_

First of all, I made a review of Night Trap in my last post, so I won't mention that game here again. But I enjoyed it, the way I enjoy many "crappy" games (it might not be for everyone...). In that blog post I also wrote why I like the Mega CD, so do check it out, because I won't write the same here again.

First of all, I want to say that these gameplay videos were recorded with RCA cables and have MUCH worse quality than an RGB cable would have.  

Sol-Feace is a rather generic shooter game. The soundtrack improves the game, I think. A cheap game, around 10$.

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Bari-Arm is a Mega-CD exclusive. I am not a shoot'em up fan in general, so I'll just link to hardcore gaming to explain why this is a must-own game: http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/bariarm/bariarm.htm


_


Sold for 159 SEK (24$, incl 25% VAT). The usual list price is twice that, but this game had the nasties manual I have ever seen. It literally has mold on the pages.


Earnest Evans. It is an Indiana Jones type of game. Not a great game and I wish they would have done a better CD-quality soundtrack, but I think a platforming fan would enjoy it after they learn the controls. (this game is also sold already, for around 15$)
_
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Prince of Persia. First it required me to free some save game space on the console so I had to try to do that for the first time, but I did it without much difficulty. You see, the console has save game space built in, just like a Sega Saturn.

_

No special addition to the original here, it is simply Prince of Persia, if you enjoy that.

Sonic CD - I spent a couple of hours with.
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The higher speed compared to previous Sonic games, more colors, and CD sound shows how to make the most of a 2D sonic game. If you are a Nintendo fan, imagine if someone would have done the same with the Mega Man series. (we didn't need any lame 3D versions of those games, thank you!)

I also played a little of the excellent port of Final Fight. Better than the SNES version in my opinion.
_

I tried some other FMV (Full motion video) games, and they were boring, as is well known. However, I think a console should be evaluated by its good games and not by its unplayable stuff.

Well, my Sega CD is already sold (999 SEK, or 150$ incl 25% VAT) but I liked it so I'm going to be buying more of it. The Mega CD 2 is more reliable so I might try that next, although I suspect most Mega CD 1 can be fixed by simple methods.

augusti 21, 2014

Night Trap, Mega CD (Sega CD)


I recently got a Mega CD, and after a lot of work with it, I got it to play games. I will write about the the Mega CD some other time. It doesn't work perfectly, as you can hear from the audio below there is some drumming noise. It should have been a wind sound... I am still working on fixing that, if possible.

For this blogpost, I will only be talking about one game I played -- Night Trap (or Nighttrap).

I will just briefly give my impressions of Mega CD (or Sega CD). I have previously written about how I find Mega Drive games to lack in story and sort of feel empty in that way. I also find that the graphics and sound doesn't impress me... So what about the Mega CD? I am impressed! The graphics feels slightly improved (even if it may not technically be), the CD quality music is a big improvement, and the games have nice video intros and cut scenes. This is how the Mega Drive should have been!

The video quality of the Mega CD is of course not up to standard with modern video, but it was released one year after the SNES and one could compare those two. The SNES didn't even have video intros, only sprites moving against a fixed background. Too bad the Mega CD didn't have a better fate. Today it is known as another one of Segas failed consoles... Mostly because Sega quickly released another add-on, the 32X, and after that it became known that they were developing the Saturn interest for the Mega CD died down.

So, now let's review Night Trap.
The story surrounding Night Trap is part of popular culture, at least in the US (for more information, see Wikipedia or the link below). Also public opinion is that the game is really crappy... As so often, I think this is likely an indicator of an interesting game, and I hope that you will agree with me. I am at least not alone in thinking that the game is actually a fun "camp" game.
Some argue of its terribleness, and it frequently appears on "Worst Games of All Time" lists. Unfortunately these lists are drawn up by people who have totally missed the charm of the game - the same charm you'll find in Troma flicks like The Toxic Avenger. Night Trap is camp, it's silly, it's low budget, and it's pretty dire at times, but it seems to know it and turns itself into a strange send up the slasher genre. It's all a bit of good fun. -- http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/nighttrap/nighttrap.htm

I agree. And the more I can copy and paste from other sources, the less I have to write myself.

The game has a nice intro that isn't shown in my videos. One reason is because if you watch the video, the time goes so you won't be able to trap the bad guys.Here is some one else's video, English version. (the Japanese version speaks Japanese and that's another reason why there isn't any point to show it)

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It is quite enjoyable to play the game, and the game has several interesting concepts that I haven't found in other games. One is that you are playing a movie, but if you decide to watch the plot you won't be able to catch the "bad guys".  Let me quote again:

The basic concept is you watch footage of a low budget horror film and are required to press a button at certain times to save the characters as they are being attacked. If you do this correctly, footage of them escaping will be shown and the film will continue, giving the impression that you have had some control of the movie. What makes Night Trap more clever than today's DVD games or the FMV titles that followed it, is that you also have to tear yourself away from the movie, which isn't too hard, to check over locations in the film where the main action currently isn't. At certain times, these locations show footage of invading monsters, and require you to press a button at the right time to capture these too. Failure to do so will result in a Game Over. -- http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/nighttrap/nighttrap.htm

The main problem may be that to get the best ending you need to catch all the bad guys... As well as avoiding the many pitfalls that results in an immediate game over! This is almost impossible without following a guide.

Also a bummer is that the best ending is Sheila telling you that no one has ever been perfect and walks away. The less good ending is Sheila telling you that you could do better and walks away... Come on! A game deserves a decent ending, even more if it is supposed to be a movie-game.

I played the game in Japanese of course and I couldn't understand any of the plot. From what I've read, the acting is so bad, it might not be a loss to play it in Japanese!
But I wanted to see if it was playable in Japanese and I think there is no great difficulty because you have to follow the guide anyways. I had a few problems that I will describe how to fix:

Problem 1. How to play
When you see an intruder, wait for the meter to reach red. Then press B to spring the trap.

The C button changes color code. This brings us to problem 2.

Problem 2. Color codes
The color code always starts with Blue. After a while it will change to another randomly chosen color. I recommend following the gamefaq guides if you want a chance of getting the time for change. In the Japanese version, they will speak the codes in Japanese. Please see video part 1 below at around 08:12, where she says "Aka", and at 12:50 where he literally says "Code change" and "Orange".

Orange is called "Orange" ( オレンジ ), blue is called Aoi ( アオイ ), green is Midori ( ミドリ ). Red is Aka ( アカ ). And so on... There aren't that many colors, so one can guess and if the code gives error then try another. Or pay attention to what they say...

At the end of part 1 the code changed again and i didn't hear to what. I think they said the color after I stopped watching, after 14:16 in-game time (20:35 in the video). I tried and failed two colors, and had I not got it when I did a main character would have died and I would have gotten game over. But luckily I got it right with Green. 

Problem 3. Trapping the right people and not trapping the wrong people.
This is trial and error even in the English version, if you don't have a guide. So, follow the guide is my recommendation.

Problem 4. The game ends around 13:00
That seems to be if one doesn't catch enough bad guys. I didn't see this described in the gamefaqs, but it happened to me.


Here are two videos of me playing through the game. As mentioned, there is some sound problem but other than that it played fine.

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I got to the ending alright as you can see below, it is one of the "good" endings. Then climax scene starts around 11:40 in the video. After the ending credits, I used a trick to see an easter egg (Press Up, then A five times).

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Guides. 
 They have some different stuff in them, so look at both, and print them out so you can follow them as you are playing.
* http://www.gamefaqs.com/segacd/920185-night-trap/faqs/45159
* http://www.gamefaqs.com/segacd/920185-night-trap/faqs/53217

juli 27, 2014

Metal Flame Psy Buster, famicom


So I sat down to play another "crappy" and unbeloved game, Metal Mech.
Metal Flame: Psy Buster, 7$
 
Known in Japan by its longer name Metal Flame: Psy Buster, whatever that means.
Of course I thought the game was awesome. Such an original idea, amazing graphics, and bullets flying everywhere, and you just keep moving fast. Amazing.

I had a lot of problems at first trying to understand what the shit was about. But then I read the guide on gamefaqs (seems like I say this in every blogpost) and really got a good understanding on how to play this game enjoyably.

What I enjoyed the most was how powerful the robot is, so you can walk around with the robot for most of the time and ignore all the enemies. Imagine if Contra had been like that, wow.
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In case you don't have the manual and have no clue, I will provide for you the basics.

1. You need the key in each level in order to exit it. If you don't know where the key is, you could spend weeks looking for it. On level 1, the key in in the sewers. On level 2, it is at the most top right of the level, in a camera. In level 3, it isn't the far from the exit. In level 4, you need to take a special powerup before you enter the water, or else you will die. Also, there is a teleporter (big black opening) you enter by pressing Up, and the key is if you walk left from there. On Level 5, the key is if you keep going on the left side while you walk down (sort of). Level 6 however, is a very hard shooter stage that I couldn't beat.

2. Press Select while in the machine to change weapons. Unfortunately, it changes automatically back to a weak weapon every time you exit the machine so you have to change back. For example, I forgot this in the video above around 18:30 so I had difficulty killing the enemies.

3. Press Select + A to eject from the machine. If you die your guy, you restart by the mech. If both Mech and Gyu die, you have to restart the level. If only Mech dies, you can continue on your own without Mech for a while.

_

The levels are pretty big and feel advanced. A bit like Metroid. The last level was too hard for me, but at the end of it there is the mother-alien of some sort you have to defeat. I don't enjoy shoot'em up stages with difficult controls though, so I won't be trying more of beating the last level. Up to that point the game was very much fun.

juli 24, 2014

StorCon 2014

Författare: Kristin Loman. Foto: Martin Nyberg.

Årets första mässa tog oss till Storvreta där vi blivit erbjudna ett helt eget spelrum med utställning och försäljning. StorCon hölls den 27-29 Juni och lockade hundratals tjejer och killar i alla tänkbara åldrar.


Vår traditionella skylt åkte upp bredvid vårt rum. En extra notis fick läggas till då många verkade blyga :)


Själva området var mycket stort då eventet hölls på en skola. Det fanns gott om utrymmen och alla utställare blev tilldelade varsitt rum medans de som endast hade försäljning delade på de största salarna.

Vi dekorerade vårt rum med space invaders figurer, lavalampor och ljusslingor samt inredde med kuddar och filtar, för att skapa en mysig spelstämning.


Så här kunde det se ut ibland i vårt lilla rum. Som tur var hade jag assistants av Martin.


Flödet med folk kunde variera väldigt mycket, vissa stunder var vårt rum fullt med folk som ville spela och fynda spel, medan andra stunder, gissningsvis beroende på andra händelser på schemat, kunde det vara lugnare.


GameBoy kunde spelas på vår Super Gameboy. På N64an blev det mycket 2-player-spelande!


Vi demade Famicom, Super Famicom, Nintendo 64, GameBoy, Sega Mega Drive och DreamCast. Överlägset populärast blev Mario Kart, Pokemon och Tetris, och det var Game Boy och Nintendo 64 som sålde mest.

Efter tre långa dagar bar det av tillbaka till Stockholm. Vi hoppas att folk hade kul i vårt spelrum och att vi ses igen i höst på nästa event!


Dreamcast Mr. Driller till vänster. Till höger det vanliga "behind the scenes" kaoset som lätt uppstår :D

juli 18, 2014

Youkai Club, famicom


Hmm, youkai, that sounds familiar from other games, such as Youkai Yashiki, FDS or Youkai Douchuuki (pc engine, famicom, arcade). Yokai means something like "mythical japanese creatures".

Famicom console with Youkai Club

Youkai Club is a standard action/platforming game. I could compare it to a Castlevania type of game if I wanted to be nice, but there are many other similar games, such as some ninja games I wrote about recently.

_

At first the game seems pretty standard, but you'll notice there is an Experience bar as well as a health meter. You think it is an action/RPG game? No, not really. If you lose your health, you will lose a part of the experience points and be restored. If you lose all Exp points, you are game over. Also, if you don't have enough experience points at the end, you won't be able to complete the game.

Thankfully gamefaqs has this walkthrough: http://www.gamefaqs.com/nes/578411-youkai-club/faqs/62167. The walkthrough also explains the different items you collect and which items are essential for being able to beat the game. It says:
Sunglasses: This item should be used in stage 6 when you require 
more EXP to move blocks out of
your way.

So keep that in mind.

Activate items by selecting it with Start, and then press B+Up (a bit tricky to figure out on your own).

At times it can be difficult to find the way around but I think it isn't too challenging. Figuring out I had to go down the well (08:30) was something I found by accident when I ducked for the fox.

There is nothing in the game that is amazing but it is still a nice little game to play around with. Nothing really bad to say. The controls are alright, the graphics is typical from this "middle era" famicom games, and while the music isn't memorable it is still alright.

As the gamefaqs article says:
I have enjoyed writing this guide and playing the game, and wish that anyone
using this guide finds the game just as fun and this guide helpful.  Good luck
with the game.
 
I found this facebook post too: https://www.facebook.com/opcfg/posts/10202714089234735?stream_ref=10 
Youkai Club, released by Jaleco in 1987. It's a horror-themed side-scrolling platformer, but has a few minor RPG elements that help it stand out from other, similar games released at the time. It's pretty fun, and worth checking out if you can.
 And this http://strategywiki.org/wiki/Youkai_Club
While fun to play, it is otherwise a rather unnoteworthy release for the system. The player controls a character who must make it through six stages filled with apparitions and other afterlife creatures in an attempt to save the world. He attacks by throwing a weapon known as the Psycho Stinger. It was never release outside of Japan.

I think what is lacking is that there isn't any real story to it; no real intro and no great ending. You won't feel any intense atmosphere. And the level design is not too inspired either, albeit okay.

It is still a fun game to play around with. A nice touch is the way you die: you lose Exp points but can still play on. At the last stage you have to have full Exp so you might have to grind there for a while. But as you improve your skill, you probably can play through the earlier stages without losing Exp. This method of playing is more pleasant than having one-death and need to restart the level.

However, the game has no continues, so don't die too much. Also, if you fall into a hole, you are game over. I read there is a cheat that allows you to start on stage 2 or 3 though.

I only played the first two stages so I can't say how hard the game becomes later on. The first two stages felt relaxed with many powerups and nothing really demanding.

The game was only released in Japan but is relatively unknown to most, so it is inexpensive. Around 10$ loose or 25$ boxed. I recommend that you give it a try if you enjoy Castlevania style games. Let's call it Castlevania light.


juli 11, 2014

Galaxy Odyssey, famicom disk system


I asked at the famicomworld forum about this game and was told that it is quite playable.
Ginga Densou: Galaxy Odyssey


So I tried it out and recorded a video.



Here's how it works.
In the shooter stage you collect some kind of power, I will call it Air, that you use when you are walking on the ground (top-down stage).

You collect air either by taking K letter in the shooting stage. You can also collect the glass bottles from enemies in the top-down stage and activate them in the shooter stage as I did the video around 00:10, to fill up the Air meter.

There are some other glass bottles too that I don't know what they do, and I have a talisman that I think increases the gold you collect, but I'm not sure.

In each top-down stage it seems that if you go as far north as possible, you collect that letter for that stage. It will then be shown in white in the select screen. From the manual, I suspect that if one collect all letters A-D, it is then possible to press the WARP option and change around the lit letters, and maybe reach new levels. That's my speculation.

The game has a varied shooter/top-down perspective, and in that sense it is somewhat similar to Guardian Legend that is also a shooter/top-down hybrid with some RPG elements.

Galaxy Odyssey was released with a cassette tape you could listen to. I don't have it though. The manual is half art/text book, with a 100 page story in traditional Japanese writing top to bottom. It has a diagram that explains what cryptic alien writing is in the Japanese hiragana alphabet. I feel sorry that I can't understand any of this. Possibly it is necessary to understand.

I feel that the game is a story driven adventure game more than anything. You are uncovering a story. I haven't played enough to say more.

The shooting stage is quite easy if you have a turbo controller, as I did.
Hudson extension port controller, Famicom


Without a turbo controller you need to have enduring fingers because there is a lot of shooting. Apart from that, the enemies are not hard and you don't need fast reflexes.

The top-down stages are not particularly hard either. With trial and error, and pen and paper, you can get through most of them in 3-4 tries and find everything in them. At least in the earlier A-D stages that I played. But be prepared that they are long ...

If the stages go on through all the letters in the alphabet it might get harder and longer. The game could be quite long. If you enjoy playing longer adventure games where you always seem to be making progress, then this could be worth a try. Personally, I might not be the biggest fan but someone at Famicom World Forum said he loved it!

In the manual there is a screenshot of someone at level 8. It took me an hour to reach level 2 with ONE weapon (20:50 in the video)... The stages feel like a very, very long cave in the Legend of Zelda maybe.

Because of the save function, you will always make progress. So, again, it is like a action/RPG hybrid, but I still feel that due to how simple the action stages are, it is more like a adventure game.

I haven't found out exactly how the Select screen works but I don't think it is too hard to figure out. The game isn't deep enough to be overly complicated. It shouldn't be much problem to play for a non-Japanese speaker, unless it has some hidden secrets somewhere. It is a pity that a non-Japanese won't understand the story then.

Because the game is quite unknown to most, it can often be found at a cheap price. Loose disk 5$. With manual and box 15-20$. Complete with cassette tape is more expensive, around 50$.

juli 07, 2014

Athena, famicom


Athena

I was asked "why is Athena so expensive? It doesn't look fun."
Athena for famicom costs around 20$. Well, it isn't very common for one thing. I thought I should try it out and write about it.

After googling around, Athena is known as a pretty bad game... The game was released on NES in the US.


_

The game does have several typical things for crappy games:
  • No invincibility when hit. You can die all your health just from bouncing on one arrow or being cornered by an enemy.
  • Graphics is badly drawn, as if a child created some of the enemies.
  • Graphics jumps around sometimes and screen flashes.
  • Pressing Select brings up a black screen... Some items get put there, but no one knows what use they have.
  • Weird jumping system. The first jump is small, then second and third jump is high.
  • Really hard bosses! After two hours I finally beat the first level boss. I didn't even know if I was hitting him but I think I'd keep on trying and suddenly he died. From what I've read, many later bosses become almost impossible.
All of this would have been okay had it not been for one problem: No continues! It says "continue" at the start screen, but you can't select it. I have searched the internet. As a result, very few people have beaten this game. I read one comment on a blog post who said it was the hardest of over 200 NES games he had finished ([unrealitymag]).

However, the game is definitely playable. I played it for two hours and it felt okay. While it is hard, it also has some charm to it, and it isn't unfairly hard like Fudou Myououden (Demon Sword) that still has me scarred ([blogpost]).

It isn't all bad either. Trust me! I have played many really bad famicom games. The A button jumps and B attacks, as they should. And the controls are definitely playable.

Gameplay is a bit like Makaimura (Ghosts n Goblins). The charm of the game is that you pick up different rather cool powerups. I felt it was rewarding that as I played the first level, I always found new powerups that made it interesting. And it is fun to go around breaking stuff.

I didn't make it very far and I won't be playing it more so I can't say much about the stages after the second. A good thing is that the first two stages are short. I made it to the end of stage two in the video, as you can see, and it was my second try ever.

If you are one of those people who enjoy playing the same stuff over and over, such as Makaimura, and you want a challenge, I think Athena might be worth trying out. Not everyone hates it, as can be seen from gamefaqs reviews.

Other reviews:
* http://voices.yahoo.com/retro-video-game-reviews-athena-nes-7712838.html?cat=37 ("This video game looks like the aborted student project in coding class by a high schooler who never paid attention.")
* http://www.flyingomelette.com/reviews/nes/athena.html ("The game is somewhat playable, until you reach the third level, where the play control becomes even more impossible to manage when you have to swim")

maj 24, 2014

Image Fight, famicom


Another shoot'em up?! First I would like to make a praise to Irem. The had many ideas for very original games with nice graphics and music, and always great playability. The are like Konami, except that Irem always had much smaller release numbers and so their games are usually harder to find.

Maybe Irem games made their games for adults more than other gaming companies did, becaues in general Irem games have a low amount of stuff that only kids could tolerate, such as cheap deaths, lack of continues, painful music and terrible controls.


I also think Irem famicom carts are the best looking because of their screenshot on the back. 


Image Fight has no passwords or save function and needs to be completed in one go (unless you use a cheat). At first it seemed annoying because of the easy deaths, but then I found that the charm is in the infinite continues. In practice you has infinite lives because even after game over you get to restart at the same checkpoint.

The famicom version has a nice black background like flying in space. From looking at youtube videos, the NES version replaced it with a blue background, which to me seems weird.

There may be other changes between the two version but I have not found them documented.

_
The number at the bottom of the screen indicates plane speed. Change with the A button.

You need to accomplish on average 90% on the first five levels. I have tried looking around the net, but no guide informs what this number refers to or how to get 90%. The guides also say that you have to replay the stages if you get less, but on the famicom version I played you'll be taken to a penalty area (at 5:27 in video). This difficult area is where I took up my turbo-controller, at last, because without it my thumb went numb. The game doesn't otherwise require a turbo controller.

The game isn't always easy, but isn't too hard until the final boss. If you die on the boss there, you'll restart at a check point without powerups that makes it almost impossible. It would probably be easier to replay the entire game. Quite a shame that it went so easy with a good powerup, and so impossible without it. There is a stage selection cheat one can use, maybe I'll try that the next time to replay just the last stage.

You can usually find it cheap. 5-7$ loose, and 15$ boxed, or so. It isn't anything special but it also isn't too bad except that it is annoying how impossible it got in the ending... It has some fun powerups, nice graphics and sound and because you have inifinite lives you'll keep on playing.

The game is also on Pc Engine and is usually considered better than the famicom/NES version. A problem with the famicom/NES version is that it feels like it could need more polish. First you have five "training stage", but they still have real bosses and all. Then three "real battles", that are very easy with the right power ups, but if you die at the final boss the game almost becomes unwinnable.

Here is another review that I thought was most accurate. Maybe because it also reviewed the famicom game, unlike other reviews.

* http://www.videogameden.com/fc.htm?imf

Here is another review. Don't just read the first half of it!
* http://www.honestgamers.com/7780/nes/image-fight/review.html



maj 13, 2014

Parodius on GB, revisited


I wrote about Parodius on GB a while ago, back when I mainly reviwed GB games almost two years ago. (The Japanese game is called Parodius Da!!, the European simply Parodius)


My privilege with a blog is that I can review games how many times I want. Yesterday I took another look at Parodius and recorded a short video too.

Now I can compare it to Parodius on NES/Famicom, a game that is troubled by bad slowdowns. The GB game surprisingly has no slowdowns. Compared to later SFC, Saturn or PS1 games, the GB version is short and has less things going on at the same time. I suppose there is some flickering, although not in a way that makes it harder to play. You can check out the video for yourself.

_
I show some different setups here. It may be interesting to check around 11:20 when things start happening.

Although I still think it is a good game, I now think it lacks depth and while it is fun, it may be too lightweight to be truly memorable. Last time I enjoyed it being simple but I think now I would rate more challenging Konami games like Gradius or Twinbee higher. Or a game like Section Z for Famicom.

Parodius is humorous, a simple joyful playthrough, without demanding too much strategy or thinking. It has infinite continues so you can keep on playing and it is a great shooter for first time shmup-ers (as I basically was back then). I do recommend anyone to pick it up and give it a try. As far as shmup games go on Game Boy, it is one of the best. Grade 5/5.

maj 06, 2014

Othello World, Super Famicom


During the weekend, I played several hours of Othello World.


For this blog post, I will call the game Othello. In the US, the game is known as Reversi. Othello is a trademark name that was developed in Japan in 1971 based on the English game Reversi, developed around 1880. For more information, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reversi.

I enjoy to play Othello against computers and I can usually beat the simpler ones, but not this one. As one reviewer on gamefaqs said, this is a hard Othello game.

There are five world. Eventually I did beat Sky World after I found a strategy I could use, but after Sky World there is the Sky Caslte world that is REALLY hard. I may have had a won game at some time, but in the endgame you have to be a master of calculation and that is very hard against the perfectly calculating computer.

In order to beat Sky World, I had to put some time into actually studying Othello. I read this strategy guide: http://www.samsoft.org.uk/reversi/strategy.htm
and "Othello lesson" on youtube (lesson 2 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=at0g9zibQZY

These strategies didn't work well against the computer, however, so I played  different against it. I played the opposite of what the guides suggested, but I think I did alright. One needs to realize that I am not an expert player and can't remember long lines of opening play or do long lines of precise calculation.

It was an anti-computer strategy. My plan was to take possession of three of the four sides, and give one of the sides to the computer. Most importantly, I take the side to the opposite of his side. Then I would allow him to give me disks and try not to get outside of the inner 16 squares.

Since I have all sides but one, I will have the last move on any row or column and slowly he will run out of good moves. It is useful here to have a few waiting moves. Because I have given him one of the sides, once he runs out of good moves, he will have to move on that side to give me the corner, and a theoretically won game (just needs some hard calculations). 

There videos might be boring for the average person, but I think that someone who is really interested in Othello or Othello World might find them interesting.

Here is how i defeated the fairy


And here is grim reaper. He was harder than the fairy.

On Sky Zone, you are allowed to get three hints. Just press start, and the computer will tell you how to move. This is useful for the endgame. Unfortunately you con't have this on the Sky Castle and I didn't have much chance without my hints.

There doesn't seem to be any password online for this game so here are passwords for Sky World and to Sky Castle. To enter the password, select Continue from the start screen, then you enter your name in 4 letters (press Select to change to Latin letters), and after that you will be able to enter the password. The password screen allows many letters, but only enter the ones you need.

Here is the password for Sky Zone.

And here for Sky Castle.

There isn't much else to say. It is Othello, and it is hard.

april 29, 2014

Captain Ed, famicom



Captain Ed is an uncommon famicom game. Incidentally,  Chrontendo wrote about it just a month ago or so. In his usual negative way, he calls it "an extremely strange game", "one of the least visually interesting shoot-em-ups I've seen in a while", and in his video he calls it "crap". (http://chrontendo.blogspot.se/2014_03_01_archive.html)

Luckily, I prefer to play games rather than superficially analyze them, and I played this game for 3 hours on Friday and another 2 hours on Saturday. I had a lot of difficulties with the last stages until I found a simple trick to beat the Medusa boss. The ultimate final boss was also tricky until I discovered that you can simply hold down the shoot button to have continuous fire until he dies.

The gamefaqs review didn't know either of this. Probably because he didn't have to replay the last stage for 2 hours... When you are game over and have to type in the 20 character hiragana password, your frustration level increases. I think it took me 5-10 minutes each time I had to type it in, although I did get better at it after a couple of times.

_
The video shows my gameplay and last stage. The game is a bit unusual to understand and I think it puts people off giving it a chance. I know it has put me off it for over a year now.  Clearly, this is one of the "weird Japanese games" that could mean just about anything. (if interested, see my review of Hana No Star Kaidou a few weeks ago. *shivers*)

Some basic information: you fly around and can shoot as well as hitting blocks to get hidden items. The red blocks take away some energy, and the yellow blocks takes away a little energy in the beginning of the game, but not on the last stages because you have a stronger shield. You can refill your energy either with hidden items or buy filling up at Gas. Important note about the gas station: TAP A to fill up, don't just wait.

After you have found a couple of warp areas and bought enough eggs and items from the shop (buy everything as you get money), you'll go to the boss stage automatically. Most bosses are simple and are basically just about shooting them straight up.

Did I cheat in the end...? That's like asking if it is cheating to use the pause glitch in Blaster Master. To most people that is a part of the game, unlike a cheat code that is by definition a cheat code. Should I not be allowed to press Select to enter the menu, if this is part of the game mechanics?

I was actually able to beat the Medusa without the trick on two occasions. The way to do it is because her balls after a while will enter a pattern of getting stuck from one corner to the other. But they are difficult to dodge until then.

Well, it certainly is a weird Japanese game, for those who appreciate those games as much as I do. The simple difficulty made me continue to play it until the end and certainly I enjoyed it enough to spend 5 hours with it, albeit the last of them in frustration.


Here is the 20 character password in difficult to read hiragana. I think it is cool, although unnecessary, that the password remembers your name too. My name is the top word up there.


Some bosses are Parodius funny, like this hardrocker. Watch out for his guitar.

The game also has some mini-games that allows you to make money. One of them is a simple betting cardgame that will almost guarantee you a profit, and another is some kind of beatmania game with a drum. My max profit for the drum game was 610$, please let me know if you get more than that.


You can usually get the game cheap. For 7$ or so I think it is well worth trying out.

And here is where airplanes come from.


april 27, 2014

Cobra Command, famicom


Helicopter games are rarely worth anything, no matter if they are scrolling or not. The only exception I can think of is Kyuukyoku Tiger (Twin Cobra). But that game is exactly like any airplane shooter.

For all Apple fans, I remember I played a helicopter game on Macintosh sometime in the early 1990s. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvh0agHVLHQ

Anyways, I played a bit of Cobra Command for a Famicom Friday, then read about how to play it properly and went back to play some more. It helps to learn what the game is about. First, you rescue hostages. You have to rescue all hostages in one area before you can continue on the level.  In the rescue hostages theme, the game probably takes from Choplifter, a simplistic game that does have its charm (also available on famicom, and is cheap like all helicopter games).

You can land on supply depots, as I did twice in the video. There you will get weapon upgrades or other upgrades. Go into the equip menu by pressing Select. The Start button is used to turn around the helicopter.


Most youtube videos have different colors for some reason, but this is how the game looks on my AV modded famicom.

Cobra Command has nice graphics, advanced levels, good looking enemies and stages, and a good strategy element. However, the controls are difficult. The helicopter is sensitive and quickly moves you into a wall for sudden death. And when you move helicopter forward it becomes strangely slow to the point that it will become difficult to avoid enemies. I try to counter that by tapping the forward button, but you can also fly backwards if you feel certain there are no obstacles.

If you can learn the controls and accept them, the game is enjoyable. I read that it has only 6 stages and is beatable without being overly hard. You start with four lives and get more from the supply depots. If you die all lives, there are 2 or 3 continues. I only played the first stage though. I rate the game "decent".

The Japanese version has Japanese text. From what I read on gamefaqs, some hostages give you messages but these messages are virtually useless. So I rate the famicom game 95% playable. As you see in the video, all the names of items in the menu are in English.

april 24, 2014

Kamen no Ninja & Fudou Myououden, Famicom



Full title is Kamen no Ninja: Akakage, and Fudou Myououden is also known as Demon Sword in the US. None of the games were released in Europe. I've played and written about a game called Ninja Crusaders for Famicom earlier. It was a lot of fun so I hoped these two ninja games would be fun, too.


Kamen no Ninja
Here is some information about Kamen No Ninja from a GameFAQs walkthrough:

Kamen no Ninja: Akakage is a relatively straightforward platformer for the Famicom. The enemies are pretty simple, the stages are short, and to top it off, you have a wide variety of great weapons/items to use! The game is quite linear with the exception of one point late in the game, so you really only need to keep moving right to beat it. Even the boss enemies (the ones with health meters) can all be defeated with the same strategy or the same couple of weapons in your arsenal. Nonetheless, this really isn't a bad game, so I would recommend it to any 2D platformer fan.
-- http://www.gamefaqs.com/nes/578587-kamen-no-ninja-akakage/faqs/58865

Personally, I don't like this kind of simplistic platformers. The graphics are simple, just walking from left to right doesn't really do it for me. The music becomes annoying after a while and the game doesn't feel very well thought-out. But as the article says, it's a decent game if you like this kind of games. You can currently buy it in our webshop, link here. When I played, I got tired of it pretty quickly. Here's a YouTube clip I recorded:




Fudou Myououden

The second game was much more exciting! Fudou Myououden is an extremely challanging game, with significant inspiration from Ninja Gaiden. The enemies are thrown at you from every direction. The game is also 3M big and the stages are long. You have unlimited continues and collected magic is saved after you die. With a password you can also keep everything you've collected.

The game is still really hard. For this reason, the game was remade for the american audience. Instead of dying after just one hit, you got a health bar. The stages are made shorter and six stages were removed. The game felt somewhat slower though, and some enemies were easier to beat. My guess is the US version couldn't store as much data, so some had to be removed.

To use magic, press Start and then Down button. Unfortunately, I didn't understand this until stage 1-3, after desperately fighting my way ahead for two hours. After I discovered this, things got easier. By then, I had learned a lot of timing, as you can see in the beginning of the following video:



I made it all through stage 1-4 without any problem but at 2-1, I gave up. I've seen that walkthroughs on YouTube are about 55 minutes long, and that is probably the time spent without dying. For a Famicom game, it's a really long game.

To compare it with Ninja Crusaders, which can be completed in 20 minutes without dying, a more realistic time is about 6-10 hours. So I guess Fudou Myououden therefor would take at least 30-40 hours, and getting enemies thrown at you all the time becomes exhausting. You will need luck and good powerups to complete the stages.

It is a good game in many ways, it has nice graphics, good sound, great controls, fun powerups and the magic adds a strategic element. Reading other reviews, I notice people saying a combinaion between the easier US version and the more good-looking, longer japanese version would be better.



It's funny how I made it to the end of the stage during my last attempt seen in the video, but died when I went back.

To complete the Japanese version you really need to improve your ninja-skills. You'll have to learn exact timing, be an expert at collecting powerups, struggle with mini bosses to get higher magic. But what's most important is to play, play play, and die, die, die. I think people who enjoy Ninja Gaiden might enjoy this. This game was recently sold, but keep an eye out in our Webshop or make a request.

Fudou Myououden is kind of a sequel to another game called Legend of Kage which is much shorter and easier. So if you enjoy ninja games, that is also a game I can recommend.


External links:
* http://lvls.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/cultural-anxiety-demon-swordfudou-myououden-nesfamicom/
* http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/legendofkage/legendofkage.htm

originally posted by Japanspel at swedish blog japanspel.wordpress.com, translated by Kristin Loman.

april 21, 2014

Go Go Tank, for game boy


Go Go Tank was released in Japan by the end of 1990. It isn't very common, but was released in the US too, and you can usually find it for cheap.



The Japanese version is completely in English.

The gameplay is simple to explain. You are an airplane and have to move blocks so that the tank can move all the way to the right in the level. You can't control the tank otherwise.

_

As you might notice, the tank has a health bar the goes down every time it bumps into something. So while you don't have a time limit, you can't take forever.
You can actually pick up the bouncing letters to get different powerups.

It is a nice idea that is original as far as I know. The graphics are nice without slowdowns or flickering, and all the planes and things look nice. The music is varied too. The main problem is the control of the plane. It always flies upwards and also always moves in the direction it is facing. Trying to pick up the blocks is difficult sometimes, and placing them right takes some attempts. Aiming your bomb is hard too. So it can be a frustrating game to play.

What got me through it was knowing that there are only 10 levels of the game (I know because the manual said so). So it isn't like Adventure Island, where the levels just go on and on and on. Getting through all 10 levels took me 3,5 hours, with the last two levels taking 1 hour each. The game has infinite continues and isn't too hard after all.

It is a nice little challenge, and I recommend you to try it out if you can get it cheap. Be prepared for some frustration though. I rate it 2.5/5 because of the frustration level... Most reviewers (mobygames, gamefaqs) give it a higher score, so you might like it more than me.

With two carts and game boys, you can also play this game 2-player coop.

This is the end screen. That's it.

april 12, 2014

ASO (Alpha Mission), for famicom


The game ASO: Armored Scrum Object is a game no one has bought from me in my two years. The game is uncommon (I've only had it twice), is a shooter and entirely in English, so for my Famicom Friday yesterday I was curious about why it is so unpopular.

ASO game was released on the NES as Alpha Mission. On eBay it regularly sells for hardly anything, CIB (Complete In Box) 7$. Since this is a common NES game there are lots of reviews of it. Most of them are hateful it because it is too hard.

Maybe it is another misunderstood game that I need to rescue. It looks cool doesn't it?

I have to admit I bought it by mistake. I thought it was rare and expensive, like these similar looking shooters I once had.
Metal Storm here is worth around 100$, Gun Nac at least 30$. I never understand quite why some games are so much more expensive than others, but I have to follow along and price my games according to market value.

When it comes to vertically scrolling shooters ("shmups"),  I find most of the pure shmups repetitive, dull and uninteresting. There are a lot of simplistic vertical scrolling shooters on the NES/Famicom, such as Exed Exes, Argus, the classic Xevious, Hector '87, Gyrodine, Exerion, Galaga, Dragon Spirit, Star Soldier and Star Force.

I do enjoy shooters if they have some strategy element, like Zanac and Guardian Legend that I have blogged about before. Or Gradius or Twinbee that I have mentioned many times. These are games where you have to think out a strategy and not just madly shoot your way around.


I read that it has a strategy element to it so I thought that maybe I would find some amusement in it.

_

After around 3,5 hours I had found a strategy that took me to stage 5, as you see in the video. A useful strategy is to equip the shield and then collect get E to keep the shield strong. At boss battles I switched to fire that killed them quickly. 

A little explanation of the useful icons: You collect the E icons which will give you energy, up to a max of 24. When you have energy, and possibly collect the airplane icon, you get special items you can use. Change this by pressing Select, navigate to your choice, and press Select again. I soon discovered that the "sheeld" was very useful, while the other special weapons only last for a short time and should be reserved for boss fights.

The M and L icons improve your gun and your missiles. The K icon is useful because it allows you to continue with all upgrades if you die. The W warps you forward. The F icon shows all nearby powerups. S increases speed. Then there is the rare special icon you see at 05:50 that restores your energy to full.

Then the bad icons: The C that takes away all your energy. The inversed K that takes away ALL your ships powerups. The R warps you back (this can actually be useful so you can collect more powerups). Looking at my video, I now realize the inverted E takes away some energy. The C and especially inversed K must absolutely be avoided! It isn't too hard to avoid the negative powerups actually. The inverted K will only appear after you have maxed out one weapon, so after maxing out just be more careful. When your plane is already strong, you have less reason to go around collecting powerups.

Most complaint that the game is bad because it is too hard, except one reviewer who found the game boring because it was too easy http://www.gamefreaks365.com/review.php?artid=1602. I think that is because he played on PSP, PS3 or emulation. On the original NES/famicom hardware, shooters are harder because:
  1. The composite video (or worse: antenna!) on NES makes it harder to see bullets
  2. The NES controller can't move well diagonally. Look at my video how I mostly move back-forward or right-left.
The game only has 6 stages and then it loops, but the stages keep on counting up to 13 before going back to 1. It might get harder the second time. I think that 3,5 hours of gameplay isn't much for an old school games to make it to stage 5 out of 6. With some practice I probably could make it to stage 6 and then maybe beat the boss there.

Well, I enjoyed it enough to keep me amused for 3,5 hours of a Friday, which is more than most games do. I think I would enjoy keep playing it, as it seems like a game one could master and beat in a short amount of time. Playing to stage 5, as in my video, takes 15 minutes. Looping it once would probably only take 20 minutes. Perfect for a quick fix.

I also enjoyed that the game isn't unfair or has insane enemies. Most enemies and bullets can be avoided without having the die EVERY time you first encounter them (as you would in Salamander / Life Force). The gun turrets on the ground only seem to shoot once, so you don't have to worry about a cheap shot when you are flying over them. The tracking bullets that appear later seem hard at first, but I think they only change direction twice and can be avoided with some practice. I don't think the game has cheap deaths. 

Another complain is that you start slow. Well, you are slow in Gradius too, and the solution is to get speed ups and other powerups, and then avoid dying. The game only gives you three lives and no continues so you do have to avoid dying. According to gamefaqs, there is a continue cheat but I couldn't get it to work and the cheat has three "thumbs down" so I think it is fake.

ASO / Alpha Mission isn't the deepest game but it doesn't deserve the univeral hatred it has. I don't think it is worse than similar NES shooters. 

For some more reviews, see:

april 06, 2014

Magical Taruruuto Kun, game boy


After some bad gaming experiences with impossible famicom games (also see review of Demon Sword on our new Swedish language blog, japanspel.wordpress.com) I went back to my trusted game boy.

There were two platforming games with the name Magical Taruruuto Kun on famicom, and the first game is popular, looking like Super Mario Bros 3. However, with the many worlds and levels I think it would be too long for me to have time for. There is also one platforming game on Mega Drive and one on Super Famicom. I read a favorable review of the mega drive game so I might try it out (it is short and sweet!), but game boy is my console of choice.




Usually I don't like to play what I call "generic platforming games", but the box backside has a picture of Godzilla and a helicopter and that looked interesting. Also I hoped the game wouldn't be too long, and thankfully game boy games are usually short. This game is just 4 or 5 stages and they aren't too hard. (unlike the last game boy game I wrote about, Castlevania Adventure, also short but oh so hard)

I haven't played much of the famicom game, but I do know that in that game you play as Taruruutu Kun himself. He uses his long tongue to eat fruits. But in the game boy game, you play as the boy. When you have collected 20 fruits, Taruruutu Kun will appear. You can then press Select to bring up a menu with things he can do.
  • Choice 1 returns you to the game. 
  • Choice 2 transforms him into something helpful, either he freezes all enemies or he collects fruits or he attacks enemies. It may depend on where you are on the stage.
  • Choice 3 will give you bow and arrow, or other things. Again, it seems to be different depending on where you are on the stage.
  • Choice 4 will play a mini-game. I think this may give you an extra life but I am not sure.
When you have Taruruuto Kun and collect another 20 fruits you will get an extra life. You also get extra lives from touching frogs.

It is easy to collect extra lives. Just collect fruits and frogs and you will quickly have 15 or more extra lives. Even when you die you are often brought back to a place where you can immediately get an extra life and more fruit, so the game is very kind to you. Should you die all your lives, you can use up to 3 continues. (I know because I was game over once)

The stages have hidden areas for bonus stages. Simply walk into them, or in one occasion on the last stage you have to duck, and you will enter it. They will give you up to 50 fruits. It is like Super Mario Bros with game genie.

I think that Taruruuto Kun is an anime for kids, like Doraemon that I wrote about in my "mega drive platforming games" blogpost two weeks ago. It plays cute and doesn't challenge you much and that is a potential downside. But it is what it is.


_

The shooter stage was a bit tricky because the helicopter is so big, but after a couple of tries I found a good strategy. None of the bosses are too difficult either. The endboss gave me some difficulties but turned out to be easy once I figured her out. It took me around 3 hours to beat the game from start to finish but if I had understood the controls, the extra life scheme, and had been more lucky figuring out stuff (for example, you can hit some projectiles instead of jumping over them) I would have done it in less than an hour. A good gamer might do it in less than 30 minutes on their first time playing.

When it comes to gameplay, it plays well. The controls are response, the graphics work nicely without slowdowns, the sprites are big and clear. The music is nice too. And the game has originality with the Select screen and a shooter stage. So I rate it 4/5.  If you can find it for 5-6$ I think you should check it out. It being short is just how games are on the game boy.

With early game boy games like this one from 1991 one always need to consider that the first model game boy had a blurry graphic and is difficult to play on, so games that are easy to play today on a super game boy with RGB cable were much harder back then. Only when the Game Boy Pocket was released you could play with a better screen. My favorite handheld console for game boy games is the Game Boy Color anyways. More comfortable than GBA or GBA SP.